Superman: Solitude Interrupted, Chapter 2: Survival at Any Cost

by Starsky Hutch 76

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After walking for a while, the third Lobo turned a corner, and what he saw made him blink in surprise. There was Superman standing in the middle of a laboratory as if nothing were out of the ordinary. “Whaddaya think yer doin’!” the last Velorpian said.

“I’m through playing your games,” Superman said with his back to him.

“Oh is that a fact?” Lobo number three said.

“Yes, it is.”

“Feeling suicidal, huh?” Lobo number three said menacingly.

“Not really.”

“Talking to me that way, you must be!” Lobo said, shoving him. His jaw dropped as Superman appeared to collapse into a pile of unassembled robot parts.

“How can I be suicidal when I’m not even there?”

“What the frag?” Lobo number three said. With those words, the floor opened up beneath him, revealing the disintegration pit, making those words his last.

“Guess he never read the tar baby,” Superman said from a distant part of the Fortress.

“He may not have been where you really are, but I am,” a voice behind Superman said. The speaker struck him with enough force to send him flying to bounce off the far wall.

Superman attempted to push himself up from the floor, and a sharp pain ran up his arm, forcing him to roll over onto his side. When he looked up, he saw the second Lobo staring down at him.

“In case ya forgot, Velorpians reproduce by budding. Ya tear any of us off, it becomes a new Lobo.”

“I didn’t forget,” Superman said.

“That’s twice you’ve tried ta frag the main man, and this time ya actually got one of us! I can’t believe ya did that! Superman ain’t supposed ta kill!

“I don’t consider getting rid of you duplicates killing. The real Lobo, perhaps.”

“We are real!” the second Lobo said, hitting his chest. “I’m real. We’re all Lobo!”

“Oh, really?” Superman said. “Which one of you do you think has the soul?

A perplexed look came over Lobo number two’s face. “I…”

He never got to finish that statement, because a blue streak slammed into him, driving him across the room. Before he could react, a fist slammed across his jaw with a right cross, then a left.

As Lobo number two’s vision cleared, he looked up with laughter. “Bwah-haa-haw! I don’t believe it!” Standing before him was Clark Kent in a finely pressed blue suit. “Now I seen everything. OK, four eyes. Prepare to get disassembled.”

Before he could rise to his feet, two more sets of hands belonging to two more Clark Kents hoisted him up and threw him across the room. He landed with a crash upside down in a glass booth whose door immediately slid shut. Superman, who had risen shakily to his feet, limped over to the booth and typed on the keypad by the door.

“You think this can hold me? This ain’t no–” Lobo number two was interrupted as he dissolved in a burst of light.

“Master,” one of the Clark Kent robots said, “according to my observations, I believe you were in error. You used the JLA transporter to send him to Earth-Six. There is no longer a world by that designation.”

“There was no error,” Superman said. “One Lobo is enough for any universe.”

“Looks like you saved me the trouble of offing those other two bastiches,” Lobo said over the remote mike. “‘Cause their signal has dropped off my locator.”

Mine, too, thought Superman, looking down at the device in his hand. The red icon marking the life sign of Lobo was still there, but the two green icons that had been the duplicates were now gone. Even with the device, Lobo number two had managed to get the drop on him. That just proved how deadly a killer he was.

Finally, Superman came to the area he’d been seeking. He stared at the thick metal door. He’d planned never to go into this part of the Fortress again. What lay on the other side held too many painful memories for him. Luckily, Lobo had overlooked this one area.

***

Lobo was smiling as he walked down the hallway. So Superman of all people had taken out those two wanna-be Lobos. That would save him the trouble of a fight to the death with two just as powerful, sadistic, and vicious as he was. He’d considered the possibility that he might lose such a fight.

All of a sudden he stopped and stared straight ahead. Before him was a vision of loveliness in red hot-pants and elf booties. The way the light hit her hair and lips caused a stirring in him. Technically, though he mimicked a humanoid male, he was asexual. Still, he had an appreciation for the female form.

“So, what brings you to the Fortress, babe?” he said, walking toward her with a swagger.

She said nothing, but her smile looked encouraging. “Say, you’re wearing a cape and have an S on your chest, too. Are you a relative or something? Shy type, huh? Don’t worry. The main man‘ll be gentle.”

The blonde wrapped her hands around his neck, and he cooed, “Oh, yeah, baby. That’s it. Don’t be scared. I don’t bite… much.”

Suddenly, her hands began to tighten on his head and neck, driving him to his knees. “Yeee-agh!” he cried out. He brought both his arms up, swinging them into her forearms and was shocked to see them fly in either direction with a shower of sparks. “What the frag?

She stood there, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she now sported two stumps that protruded wires and exposed circuitry that sizzled and popped with live voltage. She brought up her foot to his face and kicked him across the room.

“Oh, that’s it,” Lobo said, bringing the back of his hand up to wipe the blood away from his mouth. “The main man is through playin’ around!”

Lobo leaped for the damaged Supergirl robot, and two more tackled him from either side. One was dressed in the uniform she wore upon first arriving on Earth. The other was in the red thigh-high boots and miniskirt of her go-go era costume. Lobo felt something crack in his back and was very thankful for his healing factor.

The two continued to pummel him with their fists as the first kicked him. More robots dressed in Supergirl costumes of every variety appeared and joined in the beating. As he knocked one down, another would appear to take her place. They managed to land several blows for each of his.

By the time he managed to fight his way through, he was in bad shape. One leg dragged behind him as he limped away from the scrapped robots. His jaw hung at an odd angle on his mangled face. “I… I gan’d bewieve I foughd my way frough dem. I tawd dey were s’posed ta be as sdrong as da real ding.”

“That’s a common misconception,” he heard a voice say. He looked ahead through the eye that wasn’t completely swollen shut for the speaker.

“Nngh… you!” Lobo exclaimed through a mouth that sounded as if it were filled with cotton and marbles. “Ngg… your liddle twap didn’t wawk. Nnnow I’ng gonna finnish the jawb!”

“I don’t think so,” Superman said, floating forward.

“Fwag…” Lobo groaned.

“If I could get them to fight you, don’t you think I could get them to return the lighting to the yellow sun spectrum?”

Lobo’s expression was one of impotent rage. “You wuh soffening me up,” he said as he turned and spit a mouthful of bloody spittle. “You wuh soffening me up, cuz yuh knew efen wif yuh powahs, yuh couldn’d take me cuz a the numbah I did on yuh.”

“True,” Superman said, punching him with the arm that was still usable. “But I think I more than returned the favor.”

Lobo fell to the floor unconscious, and the Lois Lane and Perry White robots entered carrying manacles made of Kryptonian metal to bind him for transport to the prison planet of Takron-Galtos.

Once Lobo was safely bound, Superman slumped to the floor wearily and painfully. Emergency medical droids floated over and lifted him up to a nearby hovering stretcher to be carried to the infirmary.

As he drifted down the hallway and weariness began to overtake him, he realized that he had dealt with a calculated ruthlessness that he had never shown before in any other life and death situation. In those incidents, he had never been forced to compromise his principles because he had the luxury of being single and childless. Now he had family at home who needed him. The only thing that he could think of was how Jasma had already lost one father. He couldn’t put her through that again. He had to survive at any cost — for her.

Continued in DC Universe: Invasion, Book 1, Chapter 6: Alliances

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