by Goose Gansler
The red sun had set once again on the trans-dimensional world of Rokyn. Night fell across the planet that had been settled by the former miniaturized citizens of the bottle city of Kandor. It was a sparsely inhabited world, but it did boast the largest concentration of survivors of the doomed planet Krypton. However, not all who walked the world of Rokyn were Kryptonian in nature. There were two in particular who had no drop of Kryptonian blood in them, though if they had their way, they would have that blood on their hands.
The capital city of New Kandor had expanded well beyond the dimensions of its former size on Krypton. The enlargement of the city had allowed the populace to expand beyond the limits into which the glass walls had formerly confined them.
New towns had also sprung up, such as New Argo and New Kryptonopolis. However, this still left a great percentage of Rokyn’s landmass untouched by Kryptonian hands or science. It was in these uninhabited, undeveloped areas that these two scoundrels had come to live their days. It was disgusting to them to need to put their sixth-level intellects toward the mundane tasks of survival. Nonetheless, it was necessary. It was either that or a return to a grahu cell in New Kandor. The years in a plastic prison had weighed on them.
In their underground cave near the outskirts of New Kandor, the devious duo plotted. The faint light of the campfire revealed the green hue of their rough skin. Without the creature comforts such as a laser-razor, it was difficult for them to maintain their bald pates — an homage to their leader, Brainiac. They were onetime members of a cohort of criminal Coluans. Their names were Grumm and Boz.
Grumm stroked the fire with a stick. Based on the typical combustion rate of Rokynian wood, he mentally calculated that it would be another 1.23 standard galactic hours before the fire would extinguish itself. He wasn’t sure if Boz was making a similar calculation. He expected his comrade to do so, since their mutually-agreed-upon schedule dictated that tonight was Boz’s responsibility. Grumm looked up and met Boz’s gaze. “Well?”
“I know,” Boz sighed. “There’s 1.23 hours before refueling is imperative.” He was beginning to resent Grumm’s assumption of authority. The schedule wasn’t mutually agreed upon as Grumm claimed, it was dictated by Grumm. With his greater meteorological expertise, Grumm had calculated the days of the most inclement weather and assigned those days to Boz.
“Good. I want no interruptions in illumination. I will be working on a very delicate portion of our trans-cosmic radio presently. Our escape from this world is imminent.”
“Imminent,” Boz laughed to himself. Then again, after the years spent in a Kandorian prison, a matter of days or weeks could be considered imminent, relatively speaking. He turned his attention to his bowl of soup. He wasn’t sure which type of Rokynian beast Grumm had killed in order to flavor the soup, but it was as horrid in taste as any other before. How he longed for the micro-encapsulated compressed nutrition pellets of Colu — that was dining at its highest intellectual level.
“Finish your consumption and resume your duties,” Grumm ordered emotionlessly. “The Kandorians’ search parties may intersect this area. Signal if they come within visual contact, and I will extinguish the flames.”
Such was the life of these two Coluans on the run from the Rokynian police force. They had been imprisoned in Kandor, back when it was still the bottle city, after a foiled attempt to use Superman’s comrade in an attempt to destroy the hated Kryptonian. Since they were members of Brainiac’s criminal organization, Superman felt it appropriate that they be tried and imprisoned in the micro-metropolis. They had been miniaturized and delivered to the Lilliputian citizens. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Helmet of Hate,” Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #68 (April, 1963).]
Kandorian justice was swift, but it was not necessarily harsh. They could have been sentenced to the Phantom Zone, but the sentence turned out to be ten orbits in prison. The Kandorians had tried to rehabilitate Grumm and Boz, but the Coluans were adamant in their ways and their devotion to Brainiac. They waited patiently through the years, knowing that their master would come back. With a Coluan lifetime extending beyond two-hundred Terran years, a few years of imprisonment was a small inconvenience.
Their limited freedom had come a short while ago. A devastating attack had been launched on Rokyn. At first it was unknown who the invaders were. The skull-shaped ship was unfamiliar to the Rokynians. As the battle raged, Grumm and Boz learned from their jailers that Brainiac was the mastermind.
The Coluans had watched with glee as the events unfolded in the tridimensional screens in their respective cells; only their master could have given a Kryptonian super-powers under a red sun — Rokyn had been beset by super-powered armored beings.
“Ah, the genius of the master,” Grumm had gloated. “Only he could devise a way to give a Kryptonian super-powers under this red sun.”
“Agreed,” Boz had chimed on. “Those armored men must be Kandorians whom he has electronically converted to the cause.”
Their guard had approached on the other side of the energy bars. “Quiet in there.” Lor-Av, the aged jailer, had pointed his finger very nervously at them. He had been terrified by the devastation being displayed on the screen. He had been a raw rookie when Brainiac had stolen the city from Krypton. This had brought back all of the terrifying memories to the surface again.
“Heh-heh.” Grumm had shown his contempt for the veteran guard. “I wonder what Brainiac will do this time. Perhaps he will put the entire planet in a bottle.”
“After he frees us, of course,” Boz had added.
“Of course,” Grumm had replied, nodding. “That must be his prime motivation in this endeavor.” What other reason could there be for Brainiac being here? It would only be a matter of time before the master’s minions located and freed them. Grumm and Boz had started discussing probability functions to estimate how soon they would be freed.
However, neither Brainiac nor the super-powered Madaxites in his employ had come to liberate the Coluans, at least not deliberately. After the battle had turned against the insidious android due to the efforts of Superman, Nightwing, Flamebird, Valor, the Rondor, and the Green Lantern of Rokyn, a terminator switch had been activated in the armored suits of the Madaxites. The distant relatives of the Daxamites dropped from the sky, adding to the destruction of Rokyn. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman: Rokyn Attacked.]
One of the lifeless had Madaxites happened to fall on the prison that had housed Grumm and Boz. In fact, he had crashed through the outer wall of their cell.
Grumm and Boz had immediately seized the opportunity. They had rushed outside before their dumbfounded guard could do anything. They had clambered over the mangled body of the Madaxite, expecting to see some type of transport awaiting them, perhaps Brainiac himself in his crimson saucer. They had been astounded to see that nothing awaited them. They had looked up into the sky in hopes of seeing a teleportation beam, but nothing descended from the sky. This result had not arisen from their probability calculations.
“It seems that we are in error,” Grumm had declared downheartedly. They were out of prison, but they were still trapped on Rokyn.
“The conflict seems to have terminated. We would be well-served to exit the city before forces can be mustered to close off our escape.” Boz had surveyed the wreckage and the battle had wrought.
The chaos had helped to mask their escape, but they had needed to stay out of the open — their green skin made them markedly different.
The following days had found Grumm and Boz on the run from the Kandorian police intent on apprehending them. Their sixth-level intelligence had made them (at least in their own opinion) superior to the advanced Kryptonians, but the Kandorians had weapons and telepathic hounds, while the Coluans had nothing at their disposal. It took a few days of circuitous movements to completely confuse the police. It was only then that they had been able to establish their base in the cave. The next few nights had been filled with stealthy raids on the remote farms for technology — a weather-control monitor here, a servo-robot’s head, and so on.