“Don’t forget, Clark,” Lana Lang called to her classmate and lifelong friend. “The gang is getting together at my house tonight at seven. Don’t be late!”
“Don’t worry, Lana, I’ll be there,” Clark promised. “I need help with my trigonometry, you know!” This was a fib on the part of Clark Kent, the high school junior who was secretly Superboy. His Kryptonian mind had mastered all the higher mathematical sciences when most of his peers were learning to ride two-wheelers, but it would be suspicious if Clark breezed through high school with top grades. The occasional bad grade and attending study sessions with his classmates were all part of his cover.
As he walked the streets of his hometown of Smallville, Clark’s super-hearing picked up one of the many words he had trained himself to notice even in the cacophony of everyday noise. This word was attack. Clark tuned his hearing to the source of the word and found himself listening to a news broadcast from a radio in Findlay’s Appliances, seven blocks over.
“It is not known at this time who the two strange beings are or where they may have come from,” the broadcast went on. “They simply appeared in the sky over Nebraska and began battling each other with strange weapons, devices which would not be out of place in science fiction stories. It is possible these beings are of extraterrestrial origin, perhaps even the advance scout for some kind of attack force. The governor of Nebraska is expected to try to contact Superboy momentarily.”
But Superboy was already on his way to Nebraska. Seconds later, his super-vision spotted the two men. They were garbed in strange clothing — futuristic and yet somehow unmistakably militaristic. Their skin was a deep orange, their large eyes black and without pupils. They floated in the air high above Nebraska, shouting at each other in a language Superboy did not recognize and occasionally firing at each other with energy-projecting pistols.
“OK, boys, break it up,” Superboy said authoritatively as he flew into the scene. The two strange beings turned their heads to gape at the young intruder with expressions mingling confusion and anger. Superboy tried again in Interlac, the universal language of the known galaxies. One of the strange beings aimed his pistol at Superboy and fired. The other one barked something in their strange language, something obviously exclamatory.
A sizzling bolt of blue-white energy struck Superboy squarely in the chest. It must have been a very powerful bolt, indeed, for Superboy actually felt it. It stung the Boy of Steel like nothing he had felt before. He returned fire with his heat-vision, attempting to melt the pistol. Its alien metal resisted the heat, however. The two beings snarled at each other in their native tongue and apparently came to an uneasy truce. The other being drew his pistol, and both now trained them on Superboy.
The Boy of Steel was uncertain what effect a double dose of that strange energy would have on him, so he dodged the twin blasts. This proved to be a mistake. Instead of striking Superboy, the bolts met each other in midair. The result was an explosive backlash that threw all three participants, the two aliens and Superboy, hurtling to Earth.
Superboy was able to check his fall and come out of it, but not in time to stop the two aliens from crashing through the roof of a circus tent. The orange-skinned combatants landed in the center ring of the small circus, drawing the crowd’s attentions away from the high-wire act.
“Wow!” a small four-year-old boy in the audience cheered. “Look at that, Dad!” The boy obviously thought this was part of the show. His father was unconvinced.
The high-wire performers halted their act until they could figure out what was going on. The orange-skinned men were only slightly dazed by their fall; they rose to their feet and looked around them, examining their new surroundings.
The crowd cheered deafeningly when Superboy flew in through the hole in the tent ceiling. One of the aliens fired his pistol at Superboy. Instinctively the Boy of Steel dodged the bolt; it sizzled past the high wire, startling the performers on the platform, before ripping through the tent ceiling.
“Mom!” a little five-year-old boy in the circus performers’ area cried, breaking away from the clown who was supposed to be watching him but was obviously paying closer attention to the spectacle. Superboy was determined that no innocent bystanders would be injured by these beings. He power-dived at the one who had shot at him, intent on taking the pistol away from him. As he flew, however, the other one got a bead on him and shot him in the side with his pistol. The blast threw Superboy off-course, and he crashed right into the sawdust-covered ground of the center ring.
“Superboy’s hurt!” the boy in the audience cried, and leaped over the rail. His father called to him to come back, but the boy was running right for the fallen hero. The other boy, the child of the circus performers, had reached the orange-skinned being and was hammering on his leg with his small fists. The alien kicked the boy away in contempt; he skidded across the sawdust to where Superboy lay, just as the other boy rushed in to try to revive Superboy.
The two orange-skinned beings said something to each other in their own language and aimed their pistols at Superboy. The two small boys on either side of the colorful hero screamed in horror. The triggers clicked, and twin bolts of blue-white light stabbed forth.
Suddenly, Superboy’s head snapped up, his face full of determination. His heat-vision lanced out, and the laserlike beams met the alien energy-beams head-on. For a long, tense moment, Superboy, the two toddlers, and the aliens were bathed in the eerie purple light resulting from the meeting of the two energies. Then Superboy’s heat-vision won the struggle, and the blue-white beams lanced backward upon themselves, traveling back up to the pistols that had fired them. In a brilliant flash, the orange-skinned aliens vanished.
“Wow, Superboy,” the boy from the audience said in awe. “That was so cool!”