Justice League of America: To Conquer the Stars, Chapter 3: Power Drain

by Libbylawrence

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Black Canary shivered as she surveyed a scene of death and loss on a distant planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. “This world is like a huge burial ground,” said the blonde bombshell. “Starbreaker has drained the life from the whole colony. It’s like a nightmare!”

Hawkwoman put her arm around the blonde and said, “It’s truly terrible, but we owe it to these people to stop their murderer.”

Black Canary nodded. “I know. I never meant that we would not do so. I just hate to think of the loss and needless suffering of these poor people!”

“One as soft as you should be a nursemaid or a pretty plaything,” scolded Maxima. “You lack a fighting spirit!”

Black Canary frowned in irritation and muttered, “If she wasn’t wearing Lana Lang’s body right now, I’d show the Lady Maxima how soft I am!”

“My friends, beneath this ruined landscape I detect my imprisoned body and living beings!” said Vartox in Jimmy Olsen’s body. A moment later, Jimmy said in his own voice, “He’s right! My — I mean his — hyper-senses show people are alive down below!”

Superman moved at super-speed and removed the cover of metal and debris to reveal a strange sight. “Great Krypton!” he gasped. “It’s exactly as you described it! A power plant fueled by living beings!”

The heroes entered a hollowed-out chamber that held clear tubes containing alien beings, including the fiery redhead Maxima and the stalwart Vartox.

Maxima charged forward and shattered the tube holding her curvaceous form. In seconds, her mind returned to her rightful body, and Lana Lang fell into her arms, gasping. “Superman! What is this place?” she asked.

“It’s the cell where Starbreaker was holding the real body of Maxima,” explained Superman. “She’s the alien mind that has dominated you of late!”

“Vartox!” cried Lana. “Oh, it’s been so long!

Vartox, who had merged his intellect with his body after breaking the containment tube, hugged her. “My dear girl! I wish we could have met under better conditions,” he said. “I would share my newly found marital bliss and still give thanks for what we shared!”

Jimmy frowned and said, “Gosh! My hyper-powers are gone!”

Vartox clasped his arm warmly. “Young Jimmy, you served me nobly.”

Maxima embraced Vartox passionately and said, “I see little in that woman to have merited the affection you had for her.”

Lana snorted in anger. “Do I need to listen to this?”

Hawkwoman swooped low and said, “Superman, I’ve been freeing the others. Most will recover in time. One of them is an old foe of yours!” No sooner had the feathered femme fatale warned the Man of Steel than a purple figure slammed into him with anger.

“The Parasite!” gasped Black Canary as Superman fought off the raging villain.

“I was living here with my family!” the super-villain screamed. “I was happy and depowered until suddenly my old powers surged up and drained the life from my wife and kids! I couldn’t do a thing! I ran, but it was too late! Now I see why my powers surged again! It was contact with you! You landed here and robbed me of all I hold dear! I’ll never rest until I’ve done the same to you!”

Superman swept him aside with a hastily generated whirlwind, while Vartox stunned him with a mental bolt. “My friend, this man is mad with grief,” said Vartox. “You did nothing to harm him or those he loves!”

Shaking his head, Superman said, “I can only wager that Starbreaker’s choice of this planet to house his living batteries sent Parasite’s powers raging out of control. Still, from the look in his eyes, he’ll never believe that it was not all due to my arrival.”

Slay the purple swine and be done with him!” said Maxima.

“No way, Your Highness,” said Black Canary. “We don’t take life.”

Hawkwoman called out, “Superman, all of these aliens want to escape. They all want nothing more to do with our space vampire. I fear most of them will not help us!”

One will help!” the Canary said, gesturing to a striking blonde woman in a brief white and green costume and green slippers. She was blonde and beautiful, and in seconds she had flung herself into Superman’s arms. She kissed him passionately, and he responded in kind.

“Luma!” he cried. “Praise Rao you live!”

“I was captured by that alien fiend, and he destroyed my world,” said Luma Lynai tearfully. “I never dreamed you might come to free me!”

Lana watched the couple with amazement. “Well, I never!” she said.

Jimmy grinned. “I’d like to!”

Superman released the attractive blonde and led her toward his friends. “Luma, these are my friends, Jimmy, Lana, Hawkwoman, Black Canary, Maxima, and Vartox,” he said.

Luma smiled radiantly and replied, “My thanks to you all as well.”

Hawkwoman said, “Hate to break up this love-fest, but hadn’t we better join the others? If Starbreaker has been cut off from all of these human batteries, then he might be weaker!”

Black Canary nodded. “My thoughts exactly!”

“Luma, I have a favor to ask,” said Superman. “Will you safeguard my friends Jimmy and Lana while my team and I go after the vampire?”

Luma tossed back her blonde locks and said, “It would be my honor, Kal.”

***

Meanwhile, on the planet Overworld in the Andromeda Galaxy, Karb-Brak felt the thrill of finally returning home. “My old allergies are not affecting me! How can this be?” he asked. “Normally, contact with the super-powered members of my race would have left me fevered by now!”

“My ring has explained that,” said Green Lantern. “It detects no superhuman metabolisms on this world, with the exception of Starbreaker himself. His stolen energy must not hurt you.”

Karb-Brak’s eyes widened. “My people live! I see and hear them all around us, but in some way they’ve all lost their superhuman powers!”

“I can explain that, too,” said Aquaman. “Starbreaker drained them all of their enhanced metabolisms. Since they are normal now, they cannot aggravate your allergies. Once we defeat him, you can live here in peace, although it will be a big adjustment for your race to live as non-super-powered beings.”

“Lead us to this vampire,” said Wonder Woman. “I’ll prove that Amazonian steel can tame even the worst predator!”

The pretty enchantress known as Zatanna called out suddenly, “Guys and gals, he knows we’re here, and here he comes!”

Starbreaker, a tall, stately being with reddish skin and an elegant manner, lowered himself from the sky to face his old foes. “The Justice League! How good to see old acquaintances once more!” he said. “How nice to remember our time together, and how desirable it is to end your petty lives!” He gestured with his arms, and energy blazed out toward them.

“Get back, Zee!” Aquaman cried out, tackling the woman and rolling to safety before the pink energy burned a wide band across the ground.

As people fled, Karb-Brak charged the vampire, and his super-fast attack was met with a swift raised arm. Starbreaker grabbed him by his neck and lifted him skyward. “Mmmm! A good snack, as you Earthers say!” he drawled.

Wonder Woman spun her gleaming blade and raced in to slice directly through the alien’s long arm. Karb-Brak fell to freedom and gasped his thanks as Nubia stood defiantly over his fallen form. “Face a true Amazon if you dare!” she said.

But as she moved closer, she received her own surprise as the vampire regenerated his limb in seconds and slapped her across the street with ease. “My cells restore me after any wound. Can you say the same, fleshling?” he asked. Nubia groaned and rose slowly to fight again.

Aquaman slammed into the vampire and frowned as his best efforts were diluted. “Kinetic energy is sapped. My punch was as weak as a jellyfish on the shore!” he realized.

Starbreaker laughed and said, “So very many ways to slay you!”

Green Lantern flew closer and almost fell as his emerald energy was drained by the vampire. “Ah! I’ve rarely tasted anything as sweet as the green energy your Guardians concocted,” said Starbreaker. “Excellent cooks, those little blue men!” Green Lantern’s mind raced as he saw his friends return to battle.

Zatanna spoke her backwards spells, but all she could do was watch in dismay as one effort after another failed to harm or capture the vampire being. “I do feed on magical energy, too, my dear!” he explained.

“Let his energies flow in reverse! Empower us all!” she said in her backward manner.

Starbreaker groaned and said, “Not very nice! You rob me of my precious powers.”

Wonder Woman and Aquaman moved as one and delivered blows to the towering alien, even as Karb-Brak added his own might to the attack. “By Ziras! Nothing stops him!” he cried.

Indeed, Starbreaker was countering the spell by slowly robbing his foes of the very power they had briefly gained from his own supply of stolen energy. It was an endless cycle, but a futile one.

“He trapped those bodies of super-beings like Vartox,” said Green Lantern, “but their minds escaped to summon us here. That gives me an idea!” He waited until the energy sapping and draining cycle was at a point in which Starbreaker was weakest, and then sent a bolt of green power to the creature’s mind. As he did so, the greatest of the Green Lanterns whipped off his power ring and tossed it to Zatanna. “Aquaman, knock me out!” he cried as his eyes changed, and his expression took on a demonic cast. Aquaman belted his friend and saw him fall to the ground, stunned by the hero’s considerable force.

Starbreaker smiled and said, “You did it! It’s really me, Hal, in here. I used my ring to switch my mind with Starbreaker’s on a slightly delayed timetable, then I removed my ring and had Aquaman knock out my body with Starbreaker’s mind inside. In my body without my ring, he was just a normal man.”

“I took you at your word,” said Aquaman, “but I hope I didn’t injure you!”

Zatanna said, “This reminds me of another case I read about in which Superman had to knock you cold to prevent a foe from stealing your power!”

Green Lantern nodded. “Right. I need either a new strategy or a harder chin!” Green Lantern used his ring to warp to Oa and place himself in stasis. He had timed the mind exchange so that his own brain and body would be reunited at a precise moment. Thus he soon found himself back to normal with their enemy trapped in slumber in one of the Guardians’ sciencells. He returned to the neighboring world that Starbreaker had been using to temporarily store captured super-beings and greeted his friends.

Superman and the rest cheered his return. “Green Lantern, you didn’t leave any work for the rest of us!” said the Man of Steel with a grin.

Green Lantern shrugged. “This time I got lucky. Next time, one of you will pull my fat out of the fire!”

Zatanna smiled. “Modest and handsome.”

Karb-Brak thanked them all as his people gathered around the heroes. “You saved our world and gave me a new chance at life on my homeworld,” he said.

Superman glanced to the shackled Parasite, the arrogant Maxima, and the stalwart Vartox. “I’m glad we did so, but so many have lost everything,” he said softly.

“You have ever been a friend to me,” said Vartox, “and I tell you now, as one that some would say was cursed to bring doom to every world upon which he dwells, we will recover. In fact, if Tynola II is no more, then we shall find a new world to protect.”

Maxima strolled over and caressed the balding warrior. “Indeed we shall. I suggest we return to Earth. It is a world full of crime and peril. If I am not to be the ruler, then perhaps such a world would afford me the chance to merely be the woman!

“Vartox, you are welcome on Earth, as is Maxima,” said Superman. “I suppose Parasite will also need help on Earth. Poor Jensen. He has lost all he held dear. If only I could have done something for him.”

Black Canary touched his arm and said, “Don’t blame yourself. You are not to blame.”

“Katar and I have known exile before,” said Hawkwoman. “They will adjust. What about Luma?”

“Her metabolism won’t allow her to live on Earth,” said Superman with regret.

“But perhaps she has been altered by her time as a thrall to Starbreaker,” suggested Zatanna. “His body did serve to refine the energies that once sickened Karb.”

“Great Krypton!” said Superman. “Perhaps that’s also true for Luma!”

“It’s about time Superman got lucky,” said Green Lantern. “I meant was lucky. What are you all staring at? You’d think I was Green Arrow!”

They all laughed as another case was concluded, with possibilities of new lives for several heroes.

The End

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