by Starsky Hutch 76
The construction crew loaded the chunks of kryptonite rock into the bed of the flatbed truck to be carried to the dumping grounds. Actually, they were dumping grounds in name only. Once there, the the large chunks of kryptonite were loaded onto a transporter platform. The work had been going on for almost three months now, but it took a long time to gather all the pieces, even with the help of the Green Lantern Corps. After all, a kryptonite asteroid the size of Metropolis had been dropped on the city.
“This is Alpha-Delta-Niner,” the officer overseeing the transport said into his headset, “The latest cargo is now loaded, and transport is ready to commence.”
“Roger, Alpha-Delta-Niner. Transport sequence confirmed. You may commence transport.”
The officer signalled to the transporter technician who turned the controls of the transporter, and machines hummed to life. There was a flash, and then the huge cargo of kryptonite disappeared.
“Alpha-Delta-Niner, have you commenced transport?”
“Y-yes, Alpha-Delta-One,” the officer stammered. “Didn’t the cargo arrive on your end?”
“Where is it, then?!” the officer exclaimed.
“Where isss it?” Kobra shouted, pounding the control board as he looked over the shoulder of one of his men at the screen that showed soldiers running onto the platform where the kryptonite had been and waving their arms in dismay. A second screen showed soldiers on a platform in a hidden bunker on the other side of the country, where it should have arrived, doing the same thing.
“I don’t know, great one.”
“You moved to intercept the transsssport, did you not?” Kobra said.
“Y-yes, great one.”
“Then where isss it?!”
“Where is it?” Ra’s al Ghul asked.
“I do not know, Father,” Talia said. “Our people performed the necessary sequence to intercept the transport perfectly, but the kryptonite never arrived.”
“Interesting,” Ra’s al Ghul said thoughtfully. “Obviously, there are other players on the field.”
Meanwhile, on Black Island, Lex Luthor laughed heartily as he received his new prize.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Lex Luthor cried jubilantly, grabbing two fistfuls of kryptonite. “Look at all this beautiful green rock! Enough to kill the Kryptonian a hundred times over. And there’s more where this came from. Enough to fuel a hundred-thousand plans against him.”
“Your plan worked so well, honey,” Wanda Nordo said. “You’re so brilliant.”
“Yes I am,” Luthor said, staring at the kryptonite.
“So what are you gonna do with all this stuff?” Luthor’s one-armed henchman Louto Malono said, picking up a rock with his mechanical arm.
“First on my agenda?” Luthor said. “Upgrade my armor.”
“So how’s the clean-up progressing?” Superman asked Kilowog as they stood on the roof of the same building they always used for their weekly meetings ever since the beginning of November.
“Pretty good,” Kilowog said. “It’s been a lot easier since guys like Firestorm started joining in. He’s a good kid.”
“He certainly is,” Superman said. “He’s proven himself on more than one occasion during his time in the Justice League.”
“He’s been knocking out a lot o’ the rocks the crews have been having trouble prying out of the ground,” said Kilowog. “He’s converted a lot of the dust that’s been floating around into oxygen. You could probably take that helmet off and breathe the air without really getting sick.”
“I’ll wait until the clean-up’s one-hundred percent, thank you,” Superman said.
“Can’t say I blame you there,” Kilowog chuckled. “It’s got to be good to know it’s almost over, though, don’t it?”
“It does,” Superman said. “But it’s still troubling to think of this much kryptonite being added to the world supply. Practically enough to go around for any crook who wants some.”
“Don’t worry, pal. Everyone’s doing what they can to make sure they ain’t gonna get it.”
Nearby, a Kobra agent watched as another army truck drove in the direction of where the next transport would take place.
“I hope there won’t be any more surprises,” the general said.
“No, sir,” the transporter technician said. “The code is scrambled, and only the people on the other end know how to receive it.”
“It had better be,” the general said. “We don’t need that much kryptonite floating around. It’s to be in our hands only.”
“Why not just destroy it here?” the technician said.
“What makes you think it’s being destroyed?” the general said.
“It’s not?” the technician said, alarmed.
“Of course not. Kryptonite is our sole defense against beings capable of smashing mountains with their bare hands. No way in hell we’re destroying it all. We don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands, either.”
“Why does the government need a defense against Superman?” the technician asked.
“Don’t be daft, son. These weapons aren’t for use against Superman as long as he’s on the side of the angels. But we’ve seen what damage Kryptonians out of control can do the times the Phantom Zone villains have escaped, most recently when they attacked our nation’s capital while the kryptonite city was dropped on Metropolis. Should we encounter them or others, we need to be able to defend ourselves.”
“You think they’ll be back?” the technician gulped.
“Not according to the Daily Planet‘s report of Superman’s last encounter with them,” the general replied. “But they’ve said that before.”
“The cargo’s ready,” one of the soldiers who had been loading the lethal green rock said as the group stepped off the platform.
“Then commence transport,” the general said. “And see to it that it gets where it’s supposed to this time.”
“Y-yes, sir,” the technician gulped nervously. He switched on the radio and called out, “A-Alpha-Delta-Niner,” he stammered, “this is Alpha-Delta-One. We are ready to commence transport. Do you read me?”
“Affirmative, Alpha-Delta-One. Receiving transport sequence now. You may commence transport.”
The technician turned the controls, and the engines hummed to life. There was a flash, and the kryptonite disappeared. The technician cast a nervous glance toward the general.
Suddenly, the two-way radio sparked to life. “Alpha-Delta-One, have you commenced transport?”
“Affirmative! Alpha-Delta-Niner,” the technician gulped. “Have you not received the cargo?”
“Negative,” the voice on the other end said. “Are you sure you sent it?”
“What? Of course I sent it! There were big green rocks here, and now there aren’t! It’s hard to miss something like that! I’d suggest you check your coordinates, because you’ve done something wrong on your end!”
“There’s been no mistake on this end!” the voice said, sounding clearly offended. “We got your coordinates and were expecting a payload, and we didn’t get–“
“Look here!” the general interrupted. “I sat here and watched this soldier perform his job, and there were no mistakes, so I suggest you get to work and find that signal, unless you want to spend the rest of your military career cleaning latrines!”
“Who is this?!” the voice snapped.
“General Tom Hartley. The man in charge of this operation.”
“Yessir! I’ll get right on it, sir!”
“I thought you would,” the general said icily.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” the technician said as they waited.
“Alpha-Delta-One, there’s no sign of the cargo. It has been intercepted by an outside party.” A groan passed through the room.
“Who keeps doing this?” the technician said in consternation. “That code was supposed to be secure!”
Unknown to them, on the other side of the room, a Kobra double agent smiled inwardly. Unknown to him, another double agent working for Ra’s al Ghul stood across from him. And between them floated a camera invisible to the human eye.
“There seems to be some difficulty latching onto the signal, Mr. Luthor,” Plato Statler said.
“I’m increasing the signal,” Pluto Statler said.
“Don’t lose that signal!” Lex Luthor said to the siamese twins. “Not if you want to keep your particular union intact. I want every last pebble of that beautiful green rock.”
“It’s breaking up!” Plato yelped.
“I think we’re losing it!” Pluto cried.
Lex Luthor leaned into the computer console with them, and his fingers began dancing over the keys. “Dear God! I think someone’s trying to pirate our pirated signal!”
“It looks like we’re running into the same problem as before, blessed one,” the foot soldier said. His screen showed the transporter signal fading in and out.
“Keep in mind what happened to your predecessor,” Kobra said. “You had better not fail me.”
“No, blessed one!” the soldier said emphatically. “I would sooner die!”
The transporter signal suddenly dropped off the screen completely.
“And so you shall,” Kobra said.
“I think we’re regaining it,” Plato said.
“It’s back!” Pluto cried happily.
“Of course,” Lex Luthor said. “All it needed was the touch of a genius.”
“It’s gone!” Plato and Pluto suddenly cried.
“The payload of kryptonite has arrived just as we planned, Father,” Talia said.
“Excellent,” Ra’s al Ghul said, folding his hands in thoughtful satisfaction. “Now my illustrious adversaries may fight it out. Then I will deal with the winner.”