by Earth Elemental 99
Darkseid’s fleet began its automated sweep of the great asteroid, firing blasts in a concentrated effort to draw Brainiac’s ship out of hiding.
Suddenly, the surface shuddered in an earthquake as the Swamp Thing crashed forth in the form of a monstrous new plant creature, standing over one-hundred feet tall.
Reaching out, he grabbed the first of the attacking drone ships, crushing it. It exploded in his hand.
Continuing his counter-offensive, the Swamp Thing destroyed more ships that came into firing range. His arm swung out, and a ship was vaporized in its own fuel. A fist struck another, and it exploded in a harmony of execution. And the great elemental was proud, for these were drone ships which he slew were flown by non-living automatons. But then again, he thought, so was Brainiac.
Darkseid’s command ship:
“Father!” said Kalibak. “That giant creature came out of nowhere! It is destroying your fleet!”
“I have eyes, fool,” replied Darkseid hotly. “Hmmm. An elemental force of Terran nature. I have not seen one in eons! Teleport my being down to the surface, DeSaad. I wish to examine this creature after it is dead. It must have many secrets.”
“As you command, great Darkseid,” said DeSaad.
On the asteroid, the giant Swamp Thing destroyed the last of the attacking ships. All was quiet and peaceful.
Then the thunderous, fiery blast of an omega beam discharge rent his mammoth form asunder.
Falling, he was struck again, repeatedly. Body parts were lost so fast that he could not regrow them quickly enough.
In desperation, he regrew himself from his central mass into his natural seven-foot-tall frame. Then he saw his dreaded foe for the first time: Darkseid.
Swamp Thing tried to run, but before he could make it very far, he was struck down in two devastating omega blasts. The last blow finally struck, leaving only his damaged head.
Darkseid walked over the the smoking, half-shredded remains of Swamp Thing’s still-living head and spoke to him. “So, elemental… did you really believe you could defy the will of mighty Darkseid? A false notion, and one that will bring about your ultimate doom!”
Swamp Thing spoke slowly. “I have not… reckoned without… this grim circumstance. Measures have been taken… to ensure that your victory… will not be an easy one.”
Overhead, a thousand flashes of brilliant light flashed down. Instantly, Darkseid recognized the red and blue metallic beings that descended from high above the nearly barren asteroid.
Darkseid was furious. “Manhunters.”
The Manhunter horde filled the dark sky surrounding the asteroid. Darkseid listened as the mammoth-sized commanding android unit spoke in a droning robotic voice.
“Attention! Cease and desist all hostile attacks immediately. Your being is not registered in this Manhunter-patrolled space sector. Surrender, or be destroyed. We are the Manhunters. We are of superior authority to the Guardians. The Manhunters are a myth. No man escapes the Manhunters. Ours is the pride of the predator. The Manhunters are invincible. Resistance is futile.”
“Manhunters!” exclaimed Darkseid. “How did this intervention have come about? I want answers, base being!”
Swamp Thing’s severed head spoke. “With pleasure. When I knew for certain… you would not let us escape… I asked Brainiac to summon them. He did not much like the idea… but I persuaded him.”
Darkseid said angrily, his red eyes smoldering, “I could annihilate your very being within an instant.”
“Still with the threats? No act of terrorism… on your part… can be worth the cost… of even this battle… of the worser of two evils.”
“So it would seem — that you are correct. It is not my wish to destroy the Manhunters within this star date and timeframe. They serve a perfect counterbalance to the Guardians. They are a staple to the institution of Anti-Life. Thus, I cannot eliminate them. You and that accursed synthetic Brainiac are free to go. But be forewarned. Before you complete your journey through the reaches of space, your every secret, desire, and the source of your power will be known by Darkseid!”
Darkseid dropped Swamp Thing’s head and walked away. Soon, the command ship beamed him up and departed. The Manhunters took off in pursuit of Darkseid’s vessel.
Swamp Thing regrew his body. The Brainiac ship came out of hiding and rejoined him. After uncertain moments, the hatch finally opened, permitting the earth elemental to board. And now he was filled with great hope.
“Perhaps now… after this tremendous success… Brainiac will take me home… to Earth.”
Inside Brainiac’s tentacled ship, the Swamp Thing faced the Brainiac prime unit for the final time. Confidently, he said, “Well, Brainiac… I kept up my end… of our arrangement. I have saved you… and your ship… from Darkseid’s eternal domination. Now… will you take me home?”
Swamp Thing looked shocked. “But… you promised!”
“Systems designate a faster way to commence your journey to Terran homeworld: Sol-3. You will proceed to the barrier outside of the Source wall, where lie the Promethean Giants. There, you will retrieve a Mother Box unit long abandoned by its creators, the New Gods.”
“This… Mother Box… unit… you speak of — it will send me home… to Earth?”
“Affirmative,” said Brainiac. “Your powers have increased due to your time spent beneficently with Green Lantern Medphyll. Your damaged wavelength pattern was repaired and now alternates in the capacity of a Green Lantern power ring. However, you are still an inferior being. To understand the workings of advanced technology, you must become attuned with it. Your essential current objective is to analyze the data flow of silicate microcircuitry itself. Brainiac prime unit alpha deems you worthy for this knowledge transference. Prepare yourself.”
But there was nothing that could prepare Swamp Thing for what happened next. In an instant, he was at one with the Brainiac ship’s immense database. Information filled his mind as his disembodied essence traveled through countless wires and system bases at the speed of light. Only the Flash had performed faster journeys.
“That… was… incredible. I can already feel… the pulsing… of the… Mother Box unit. She is calling… out to me.”
“You are granted permission to immediately depart. Brainiac unit will archive this historic encounter. End communication transmission. Brainiac prime unit signing out.”
Without warning, Brainiac projected a beam from his fingers and destroyed Swamp Thing’s body. His elemental essence immediately penetrated and left the ship, shooting out purposefully into the vacuum of cold, deep space. Swimming into the depths of infinity, soaring the very cosmos — the Swamp Thing journeyed ever onward, alone.
The Swamp Thing’s ultimate destination was the final resting place of the legendary Promethean Giants on the border of the fundamental Source wall itself.