by Starsky Hutch 76
“Who is responsible for this?!” Kobra bellowed. His servants bowed and scraped, trying desperately to avoid his terrible wrath.
One of his foot-soldiers ran forward. “Great one, we may have tracked down the source of the interception!”
“Where?” Kobra growled.
“To a remote island at these coordinates, great one,” the foot-soldier said, bowing and holding the printout up to him. “Most maps do not show it. It’s as if the island only recently came into existence. But our agents in that part of the world tell us it is known as Black Island.”
“Black Island,” Kobra said coldly. “Then whoever is on this island shall soon know the meaning of suffering.” He crushed the printout in his hand. “There will be great retribution. Great retribution, indeed.”
“We — we’ve been over this a thousand times, Mr. Luthor,” Plato Statler said. “It’s as if the signal simply disappeared.” His siamese twin, Pluto Statler, concurred.
“Then go over it a thousand and one times,” Lex Luthor snarled, wearing his Lexorian suit of armor. “There will be no sleep for anyone until we’ve figured out what happened!”
“The only thing we can figure out is that a third party must have been involved,” Plato said.
“A third–?” Lex Luthor paused. “Of course. We were concentrating all our efforts on the one foe, and we left our ass hanging out.” He turned and punched the wall in frustration. It crumpled under the blow. “Hrmmph. I’ve got to remember not to do that when I’m wearing the armor. Are there any clues to who this third party might be?”
“All we know is that the interception was coming from somewhere in the Middle East, which doesn’t really narrow it down enough for our purposes,” Pluto said. “Whoever it was is really good at covering their tracks.”
Suddenly, the air was filled with the wailing of alarms. “What the hell?” Lex Luthor said, whirling around.
“We’re under attack!” Wanda Nordo cried, running up to Luthor. They all turned and saw an armada heading through the air toward Black Island. A security camera zoomed in on the insignia of one of the aircrafts. It was the mark of Kobra.
“Well, I think we settled the question of who the second party was,” Lex Luthor said.
Kobra’s armada hammered mercilessly at Luthor’s fortress upon Black Island. Force shields rose up to intercept the volleys, and automatic defenses returned fire.
“Their defenses are holding off our attack,” one of Kobra’s foot-soldiers said.
“I have no patience for those who state the obviousss,” Kobra said. “If we cannot penetrate their defenses with force, we shall do it with sssubterfuge. This man… this Luthor… has taken what is rightfully mine, and I will not be denied.”
“Subterfuge?” a foot-soldier said.
“Get into his defense system. Shut it down.”
“Luthor is a brilliant scientist. And asss most scientist are prone to do, he relies too heavily upon the technology he employsss. He is smug in the superiority it gives him. What he does not realize is that it can also be his weaknesss,” Kobra said coolly. “Like Achilles of legend, he feels himself invulnerable. But thanks to the late, lamented Monitor, we have superior technology of our own in our employ, and we shall use it to ferret out his weak spot, and that is where we shall strike.” A cold grin came across Kobra’s face as he eased back into his chair.
“Hammer away!” Lex Luthor laughed. “The mighty Kobra! Bah! I always thought that two-bit world-beater was overrated. Those fools will never pierce my shields. I have the finest technology of the Lexorian ancients working for me!”
“Mr. Loo-thor!” Louto Malono suddenly yelped. “My weapons ain’t working!”
“What?” Lex Luthor said, turning in his direction.
“Mine aren’t responding, either,” Pluto said.
“Mine aren’t responding, either,” his siamese twin Plato echoed.
“The automated defenses are shutting down, too!” Wanda cried.
“What the hell is going on here?!” Lex Luthor shouted.
They watched helplessly as Kobra’s armada began to fly through the area where the force shield had been. The false terrain moved aside, and the runway rose up from underground to await the armada.
A sick feeling came over Lex Luthor as he watched as the imperious-looking aircraft carrying Kobra himself came into view of the main screen and landed on the runway. Its landing gear protruded from the bottom, and it touched down. A stairway then lowered, and two foot-soldiers rolled down a red carpet for their leader to walk down to survey the island he felt so thoroughly conquered.
“Look at that pompous son of a bitch,” Lex Luthor cursed.
“What do we do now, Mr. Loo-thor?” Louto asked.
“We await our guests,” Lex Luthor sighed. The faint sounds of booted heels marching across steel-paneled floors could be heard moving closer.
“The great Lex Luthor,” Kobra said snidely, entering the control room with several of his armed foot-soldiers. “I always thought your genius overrated.”
“I’ve often said the same about you,” Lex Luthor said.
“If so, it’s obvious which one of us was correct,” Kobra said. “You may kneel before me now.”
“If your little snake-in-a-toga outfit wasn’t enough to convince me you were nuts, that clinches it. Luthor kneels before no man.”
“So says the man in the purple and green metal suit,” Kobra said. “You will kneel before me…” He snapped his fingers and gestured at Wanda. “…or we will kill the girl.”
“Lexy, honey?” Wanda squeaked.
“Go ahead,” Lex Luthor said glibly. “She means nothing to me.”
“Lex!” Wanda snapped.
“Care to put that to the test?” Kobra challenged.
“Try me,” Luthor said. The expression in his eyes was completely free of emotion.
“You’re as cold a bastard as everyone says you are,” Kobra said, gesturing to the soldiers to lower their weapons.
Wanda breathed a sigh of relief, and even Lex Luthor seemed slightly more at ease.
“Looks like you picked the wrong man to tie your fortunes to, my dear,” Kobra said, suddenly dropping his arm in a chopping motion. Wanda barely had time to scream as the foot-soldiers fired, and she was instantly vaporized. Louto, Pluto, and Plato were visibly horrified. Luthor was impassive.
“Well, you flinched, but I wouldn’t call you heartbroken,” Kobra said. He folded his arms behind him and paced in front of Luthor. “Now, what is it here that you truly love? Not the rest of this collection of misfits, I’m sure. Wait… I believe I know. The island itself.”
“The island…?” Luthor stiffened.
“My men tell me this island wasn’t here until very recently. Yet it had to come from somewhere. It probably had not come from below,” he said, pointing down. He turned his hand one-hundred and eighty degrees, pointing to the sky. “So it must have come from above. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t you used to make frequent trips to outer space? To visit a wife? Perhaps even a child?”
Luthor stiffened even more.
“If this island is too much of a painful reminder for you, we have plenty of explosives in those aircraft you see outside on the runway. I would be more than happy to–“
“All right, damn you!” Lex Luthor shouted. He stepped forward into a kneeling position, taking Kobra’s hand.
“A wise move,” Kobra said. “With an intellect such as yours, you shall prove a very useful slave.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t know about that,” Lex Luthor said, looking up with an evil grin.
Suddenly, there was a flash of light. Kobra screamed as the light faded, and he saw that he and Luthor were surrounded by a huge empty void.
“Pipe down, snake-boy,” Lex Luthor said, holding onto Kobra’s forearms.
Kobra quickly regained his composure. “What have you done, Luthor?!”
“It’s really something, isn’t it?” Luthor said, nodding his head in gesture to the void. “It could have been my greatest triumph. But Superman ruined it, like he’s ruined so much in my life. Now it serves as a monument to my pain.”
“You don’t know the meaning of the word pain yet, Luthor,” Kobra hissed. “My men are probably destroying your precious island right now in retaliation for my disappearance.”
“That’s where you’re mistaken,” Luthor laughed confidently. “Time works a little differently in here, my friend. As far as your men are concerned, you never left.” He let go of Kobra’s arms, and he was cast adrift into the void.
“Luthor! Wait!” Kobra cried, floating away from his nemesis. Lex Luthor vanished, and he was suddenly alone, drifting somewhere outside of time and space.
“Sire! That burst of energy! We thought we had lost you!” one of the foot-soldiers said.
“Of course not,” Kobra said. “Though Lex Luthor’s genius is great indeed — probably one of the finest minds known to this or any world — it did not save him. He is slain.”
“Yes, sire,” Kobra’s soldiers said in admiration.
“Now, leave me with his former accomplices. They shall be persuaded to comply.”
“Do you really think such as these are enough to challenge Kobra?” he said with ire.
“No, sire,” the foot-soldiers said, bowing their heads.
“Good. Now off with you. Locate the kryptonite.”
The foot-soldiers filed out of the room, and Kobra was alone with Luthor’s men. Plato, Pluto, and Louto stared nervously at the man they had seen seemingly vaporize their employer.
To their amazement, there was a sudden burst of static, and his image suddenly changed to that of Lex Luthor.
“Mr. Loo-thor!” Louto cried.
“You’re not dead!” Plato and Pluto cried in unison.
“Of course not,” Lex Luthor said. “It’ll take more than Kobra to take out Lex Luthor. This couldn’t have worked out better. It’s a shame about Wanda, of course, but she’s not irreplaceable. Now we have an army at our disposal! Once we locate the rest of the kryptonite, Superman’s as good as finished!”
Kobra’s armada flew in the direction of the Middle East. “Do you have a lock on the signal?” Luthor asked, appearing to everyone in the room as Kobra himself.
“Yes, great one,” one of Kobra’s technicians said. “Utilizing both Luthor’s readings and ours, it was not long in acquiring.”
“Good,” Luthor said. “Then let us be off to the source from which it originated.”
A few hours later, Kobra’s lead airship arrived at its destination in the Middle East. “Now we wait,” Kobra/Luthor said.
He didn’t have to wait for very long. The image of Ra’s al Ghul filled the viewer screen. “Kobra,” Ra’s al Ghul said. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Do we really need to do this dance?” Kobra/Luthor said.
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” the imperious-looking man said.
Kobra/Luthor folded his arms and smirked. Ra’s al Ghul straightened and grew stern. “Very well, Kobra. We both know why you are here. If you’ve come in some misguided attempt to threaten me, you’ll soon find you’ve made a very lethal mistake.”
Kobra/Luthor held up his hand and laughed. “Nothing like that, I assure you. In fact, I have a proposal that could be highly beneficial to the both of us.”
“Kobra wishes to talk?” Ra’s al Ghul said, both amazed and amused. “Fascinating! One of my followers shall transmit the landing coordinates to you.”