#2: Back to Basics, Part Two Oct 3, 2018 14:19:50 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Oct 3, 2018 14:19:50 GMT -5
Issue Two: "Back to Basics, Part Two"
Written by Eric Guptill
Cover by azzh316 (click the link to view his DeviantArt)
Edited by Mark Bowers
Issue Two: "Back to Basics, Part Two"
Written by Eric Guptill
Cover by azzh316 (click the link to view his DeviantArt)
Edited by Mark Bowers
It didn’t matter that the ship came from space, only that the house was full of life.
“Ma, get up, get up.”
Jonathan could feel Clark jumping up and down on the bed, Martha still asleep next to him. Contrary to popular belief, Martha was the sound sleeper, while Jonathan woke at every sound. It wasn’t anxiety, just a need to keep his wife and son safe.
He sat up, grabbed Clark and pulled him down onto the bed. “What’s all the racket for, Champ?” he asked as he began tickling his son.
Clark squirmed and giggled. “Stop, Pa, stop.”
Jonathan gave him another few seconds of tickling before stopping. “Now why are you here making a fine ruckus before the sun is out?”
“The snow. It’s snowing and it is so pretty and Santa will be coming tonight.”
Jonathan smiled and got out of bed. “Let’s leave your Ma to sleep.” He grabbed Clark’s hand and led him out of the bedroom. They walked down the stairs, keeping as quiet as possible, then out to the porch. The chilled air bit into Jonathan, but he didn’t mind. He sat in one of the rocking chairs, Clark crawling on his lap. They rocked as the small snow flakes fell down, piling ever higher on the ground. He could tell Clark was falling asleep, so he continued to rock, kissing his son’s head and telling him he loved him.
Superman hovered in the air, his telescopic vision pouring over the prison. There was very little damage, the attack had been specific in nature. That was the only blessing, but that bit of positivity couldn’t break into the horror. In the courtyard lay the husks of ten guards, his X-ray vision seeing three other bodies within the corridors of the prison. Only one person could drain a body like that, the Parasite. If only I hadn’t been caught up with something else, he thought before quickly wiping those thoughts out of his mind. He knew that he couldn’t be everywhere, and helping Kitty had been his priority at the time.
He flew down to the courtyard, recognizing Maggie Sawyer, the head of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit and landing beside her. “What happened here?” He already had an idea, but needed to know the specifics.
Maggie looked at him and then did a double take. His eyes were glowing orange, something she had never seen from the Man of Steel. “Superman, are you okay?”
He looked confused for a split second before remembering about his eyes. “Yes, I am fine. Nothing to worry about.”
Maggie took him at his word. “We know very little. An unknown assailant, most likely powered, based on the speed of the attack, smashed into the metahuman wing through the courtyard. It was evident they were heading straight for Metallo’s and Parasite’s cells. From there, both escaped, to the courtyard where they seemed to disappear.”
“Was there any melting or explosive debris? How were they freed?”
Maggie smiled, Superman was beginning to think like a cop. “Initial reports seem to link the attack with blunt force, either a punch or some sort of force blast. We will know more after we examine the scene more closely.”
“And their escape?”
“That one is odd, Superman. No one saw the assailant, nothing on video and with the two disappearing, it is either teleportation or maybe superspeed. Some of the guards heard a sound like wind.”
“Thanks, Maggie, it narrows down who could be behind it, but still leaves a very long list. Was anyone else hurt besides the guards?”
“No, no one else died.”
“That’s good to hear. Ron Troupe is okay then?”
Maggie knew Superman had a soft spot for the Planet staff, the question did not surprise her. “He got a little injury from a flying piece of concrete and is in the infirmary, but will be fine.” While she spoke, she noticed small beads of sweat beginning to form on Superman’s forehead. His eyes also began to glow slightly brighter. “Superman, are you sure you’re okay? I’ve, umm, have never seen you sweat.”
Again he looked confused. He reached up to his forehead and wiped the sweat away, looking surprised. He could feel the energy pushing and pulling inside his body. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and forced down the building desire to release the energy he had absorbed. * “I’m fine, Maggie.”
*See Superman #1
She was struggling to believe him. She hadn’t seen him this stressed, or maybe it was full of energy. He even seemed to radiate a little heat, but that could have been her imagination. “We hope that we can pick them up quickly, but truth be told, with the way they disappeared it may be quite difficult.”
“I’ll let you know if I come up with anything. With the unique way they disappeared, it is still a laundry list of suspects. Let me know if you find anything else.”
“Will do.” She saw streams of sweat now coming down his temple. She put a hand on his shoulder and pulled it back. The amount of heat that was radiating off of him and had almost burned her. “Superman, are you”
Her sentence was interrupted by a scream of agony as Superman collapsed to the ground. As she reached to help him, he looked up and shook his head. His body began to tremble and energy began to leak out of his eyes. Wisps of reds and yellows that looked like fluorescent trails of smoke, crawled up into the sky. He knew he was losing it and had no other option, he had waited too long as it was.
Maggie was knocked on her backside as Superman flew into the air, quicker than she could see. She looked up just as the sky lit up in a burst of blinding whiteness, but there was no concussive force to follow the explosion. Instead, she blinked the spots from her eyes, just in time to see a blue-and-red-clad body falling from the sky into the nearby water
Lois hung up the phone, finishing a call to file her story with the copy desk. It would be edited and put online within a few short minutes. She had even been able to coax some photos from a few college students. They were always willing to help the press; it gave her some hope for the upcoming generation.
She began to walk down the street, planning to take a trip to the hospital to check on Kitty Faulkner. She hadn’t mentioned her in her article, but had named the creature she had become. Rampage, that was a fitting name and would surely pull online traffic to the Planet’s website. She had to admit, marriage to Clark would not be dull.
Parasite and Metallo stood in the alley, the former seeming at ease, the latter anxious to get out of the area. Before them stood a figure, cloaked, anonymous, but Parasite could taste his energy. “You smell so good, buddy. I can taste it in the air.”
The figure did not bother to acknowledge the Parasite’s comment. Instead, he pulled a lead-lined box from somewhere under his cloak. “I want nothing from you, except to do what you do best.”
“Eat, that’s what I do best,” Parasite said as he walked closer to the individual.
The figure only shook his finger at him in warning before pointing to a bracelet. “I am not a fool. No doubt you tried to drain me on the ride over. This, this protects me from your little games.”
The Parasite just shrugged, while glancing at the bracelet and wondering what it would take to get it off.
“This is for you Metallo, but open it only after I have left.” The figure walked toward Metallo, slamming Parasite into the wall as he went past him. He handed him the box. “Good hunting.” Then he turned to Parasite. “Aren’t you hungry, friend?” he asked before moving so fast he disappeared.
The Parasite pushed himself off of the wall. “Matter of fact I am. Have fun Metallo, see ya around.” He didn’t wait for a response. Heading down the alley, he saw a homeless man, asleep under a blanket of cardboard. He pulled him up, drained him and donned his dirt-covered sweater and jeans. Then, rifling through his few possessions, he found a long-brimmed hat. Ready to brave the streets, he began to head out of the alley, thinking only of his hunger. I need something young, sweeter, to wash away the aftertaste of that guy. Dessert sounds good!
Superman awoke on a gurney. It took him a minute to realize where he was. The prison attack, then his need to release the energy. His memory hazy and fearing that he may have exploded in the prison, prodded him to sit up quickly. Ron Troupe and Maggie Sawyer jumped back, the speed of the movement catching them unawares.
“Calm down, big guy,” Maggie said.
“Yeah, I don’t need another bandage on my head,” said Ron, a white bandage wrapped around the top of his head, a hint of blood seeping through.
“How long have I been out?”
Ron looked over at Maggie before answering, “About two hours.”
Superman jumped off of the gurney. “That’s way too long.” Even though he had just discharged the energy, his body felt strong, stronger than he had felt in a long time. Energy was still brimming through him and he planned to use it to find the two escapees.
Ron stepped up to him. “Hey, man, I know that you gotta find these guys, but maybe you should get checked out.”
Maggie stepped toward him as well. “I agree with Mr. Troupe, you need to see someone at S.T.A.R. Labs.”
“That’s what you said before,” countered detective Sawyer.
Ron grabbed his arm and prodded him towards a mirror. “Take a look, Superman.”
Superman let Ron lead him. He steeled himself as he stood in front of the mirror. His eyes, it was his eyes. They were not glowing anymore, energy was not leaking from them, but they were no longer clear blue. Instead they were pure orange, no white could be seen, no pupil, just a solid, yet swirling orange color. It explained why he felt so strong, the energy wasn’t begging to be released, that had been accomplished, but it was filling him to nearly overflowing. He hoped that it was not a permanent change, but he couldn’t worry about that now.
“Thanks, you two. I’ll get a thorough physical, but after I have taken care of the two escapees.”
“There’s been no sign of them, Superman.”
“I know, Maggie, but I can still search. Telescopic and X-ray vision will give me an advantage. I’ll keep you posted.” He nodded and headed out of the room, quickly taking to the sky.
Lana finished the article about Rampage. The news alert she had set-up on her phone let her know about any new Superman stories. She still loved Clark, she was sure that she always would, but he did not love her. That had been plain since they were younger.
In high school, they had dated, but it had always seemed that she was more into him than he was into her. Lana had loved growing up in Smallville, the smell of freshly mown hay, the mooing of the cows, the town where everyone knew everyone. She had never wanted to leave, but Clark was another story. He had always had his head in the clouds. He dreamed big, always asking questions, always wanting to know more. Then once he had told her about his powers, she had known that it was all over. Clark would leave and she wouldn’t. He would have a life that was bigger than her and all she had wanted was to be the center of his.
Through all of the pain she had experienced, once he left, she had found a way to work through it. She was genuinely happy that he seemed to be doing okay. She just wished that he would get over his obsession with Lois. She knew that Clark and Lois had been dating for a while now, but he still hadn’t told her that he was Superman. As Lana saw it, Lois was a Superman girl, while she was a Clark girl.
She shook her head, this was not what she needed. Jealous for a man that would never be hers. It had been over for a very long time.
“You ready, sweetheart?” Pete asked Lana as he came into the room.
She stared up at him. Yes, she would always love Clark, but Pete was a good man and he gave her all of his heart. “Yep.” She got up, put her phone away and kissed him on the cheek.
He walked to the door and opened it. Lana walked out, but quickly ran back in. “Almost forgot.” She grabbed her and Pete’s ‘We’re Expecting!’ announcements. “We have to mail these little bad boys out.”
Superman hovered over the middle of Metropolis, his cape flapping behind him as the wind began to pick up. A few hours and nothing, he thought. Even with his X-ray and telescopic vision and his super-hearing, he had no luck finding either Metallo or the Parasite. Normally, he would have given up, but with the memory of those guards, guards with families and friends, he couldn’t stop looking. The Parasite was top on his list because of the horrible disregard that he had for life. He knew that of the two, he would leave a bigger body count.
Still, he knew that he was done for the day. He flew back to his apartment. The use of superspeed, an automatic action from years of operating out of a major city. He had been in the apartment for so long, yet was excited about the prospect of getting an apartment with Lois. They had talked about it, but just in passing. They had known each other so long and were now engaged, what was stopping them. If it came down to it, it would be Lois’s decision. He knew that it was her desire for complete independence that would make moving in together a battle. It was a battle that he was going to let Lois wage with herself until she was ready.
He turned on the shower, removed his uniform and stared into the mirror. His eyes still had that uncanny glow. They were nearly mesmerizing and with each swirl he could feel the energy pulsing through him. It would hopefully drain away as he used his powers, but if it didn’t then Clark would be a man who only wore sunglasses. Who was he kidding, that just didn’t seem doable.
He got into the shower, enjoying the cascade of water. Tomorrow would be a busy day for him, a visit to Emil to see if he could help him with tracking either Metallo or the Parasite, followed by more searching. He would call Lois after the shower, to see how the rest of her day went. But for now, he would enjoy the feel of the water over his skin.
Superman walked into Emil Hamilton’s lab, passing by a host of repairmen and police officers. Emil was examining something on his computer screen. His attention, as usual, was on some experiment.
He looked up, “Oh, Superman, your eyes?”
“They’re fine, Emil. I discharged the energy I absorbed from Kitty, but seems like I still have a little overload. How is she anyway?”
“Kitty is fine, I plan to run some tests when she gets out of the hospital. I ran some at the hospital, but the staff really wasn’t helpful, mad scientist indeed. Anyway, I didn’t find anything, but the equipment was portable, not the in-depth machines we have here.”
As Emil talked he began attaching a scanner. Superman tried to protest, but was ignored as it was turned on. It was only a few seconds before a readout began pouring out on the screen. Emil made some adjustments and then ran the scanner again.
“Emil, do you have anything that can help me track Metallo or Parasite?” Superman asked as he tried not to grow impatient.
Emil looked over the readings, “Hmm, no. Nothing at the moment, but I’ll see if there’s anything I can whip up. We have complete physiological data on both of them.”
He removed the equipment and looked over the results.
“Anything interesting?” Superman asked.
“Nothing that I didn’t guess. Your body was not able to process all of the solar energy that you took in. The fact that you held it in as long as you did is incredible, but that caused the problem. Your body is hyper-efficient and when it reached its maximum amount of solar energy, it still had an excess and continued to process it. That excess is still flowing through your system. It will bleed off, but I don’t know how long it will take. It may even mean higher levels of strength and speed, so you should be careful.”
Superman nodded. He had figured out the same, but it was nice to hear it from an expert. “Thanks, Emil. I need to do some more searching, but I’ll be back.” He went to Emil’s window, flying out. As he picked up speed he heard Emil tell him that he needed to talk to him about some transmissions at a later date. He filed it away, knowing that if Emil brought it up then it was something he would want to pay attention to.
Metallo sat in the lowest and darkest corner of the parking garage. It was a strategic position, just across the street from the back of LEXCorp. He opened the box that the stranger had handed to him. The faint green glow of kryptonite bathed his metallic skin and he was happy. His power levels were much lower with the charge that was currently sustaining him and power is what he would need to go through with his plan.
His chest plate opened and he placed the kryptonite inside. Instantly the power surged through his body, his eyes burning with a green light. Yes, I love the feel of this energy, he thought to himself.
He embraced the power for a bit longer, before re-thinking his plan. The truth was that he did want revenge on Superman, but not any time soon. He knew he wasn’t the smartest enemy, but an all-out attack never worked. Instead, he needed time to plan something. For that, he would need Lex Luthor.
Luthor would be able to graft skin over his metal frame, allowing him to go about in broad daylight. He wanted the ability to blend in and he could only get that from Luthor.
Metallo’s plan was simple, go in the back entrance, use the freight elevator to get as close to Lex’s office as possible, and then demand the skin. Lex was slime, but smart slime and he figured that he would help him. Anything to knock Superman down a peg was good enough for Luthor. Metallo planned to use that to his advantage.
The security guard looked out through the glass doors. A homeless man was coming towards the school. That, he was okay with. With all of the high school shootings in the news, he was glad that he worked at Metropolis High. There had been no threats of violence here and the student population was respectful, for the most part. If a homeless man was the worst he had to deal with, he could live with that.
He pressed the radio mike on his collar. “Front Office, it’s Fernandez, over.”
“Go ahead, Gabe.”
“Homeless guy coming up on the front steps,N
Nancy. Gonna go redirect, over.”
“Gotcha, let me know if he causes a problem.” There was a slight chuckle through the radio, but Gabriel Fernandez ignored it as he headed outside.
He walked towards the homeless man. “Hey man, there’s a homeless shelter about ten blocks south. They should be able to help you out.”
The man kept coming towards him, his pace picking up instead of slowing down. He seemed more determined than he should have been. Gabe, looked down and began fumbling with the latch on his baton. He didn’t want to use it, but would if he had to. He finally got it undone and pulled the baton, but it was too late. As he looked up, the man’s hand grabbed his throat. Weakness immediately poured through Gabe’s body, his last thought of his wife as blackness engulfed him.
The radio on the security guard’s collar beeped. The Parasite grabbed it and hit the button. “Everything is good out here, office, homeless guy took a hike.”
He didn’t listen for the reply, but dropped the husk that remained and headed into the school. The first stop, the office. Nancy was a pain in Gabe’s ass, so why not have another appetizer before moving on to some youth. The anticipation of the meal excited him.
Jerry rolled his eyes as Mr. Delgado droned on and on about civic responsibility. It was his senior year, why did he have to put up with these boring classes? Everything his teacher said, he had heard a million times from his dad. He was the head of the Daily Planet, after all.
“Did you catch all of that, Mr. White, or did you have a question? You seem a little lost.”
Jerry looked up at Mr. Delgado in surprise. Damn, he always got called on when he wasn’t paying attention. He could hear Chad giggling at the next desk over. Jerry glanced over at him and smiled. “No, Mr. Delgado. Chad had a question.”
The teacher looked over at Chad. “Is that true, Mr. Herman?”
Chad looked in shock, but recovered quickly. “I just need to use the bathroom, Mr. Delgado.”
Jose shook his head. “Go ahead, but don’t take forever.”
Chad got up and smacked Jerry in the arm playfully. He grabbed the hall pass and headed out of the room. Jerry loved their little games of trying to get each other in trouble, but he was pretty sure that Mr. Delgado knew about them too. He grabbed his pen and began taking notes as his teacher continued with his lecture.
It was only a second before the door opened, Chad must have forgot something, but instead of his friend, a husk of what used to be Chad flew into the room. It gently floated to the floor, making the same sound that fall leaves make when they are stepped on. The sound pierced the room before setting off screams from many of the students.
They all got up and began moving towards the back of the room as a figure walked in. He had a large smile, his purple skin clearly visible. This was Metropolis, everyone knew who the Parasite was and that knowledge caused even more panic among the students.
Jose Delgado saw the creature enter and immediately grabbed the phone on his desk. He punched in a code and an alarm began sounding. The Parasite ignored it, still walking towards the students. The first student he reached was a girl in a pink tank top and red skirt.
“You look good enough to eat,” he said as he grabbed her and drained all of her life-force. “Sweet too, y’all gonna make me so happy.” He dropped the husk and walked towards Jerry, grabbing him.
Jose saw his second student die faster than he could imagine. He couldn’t let it happen to another. He grabbed the bat he kept next to his desk and ran up behind the Parasite. He swung it at the back of his knees, just as he began draining Jerry. Then he smashed him in the face, causing him to let go of the student. Jerry fell to the floor, looking so still, but he was still breathing. That was something to root for.
“Well, well Teach, you got some fight in you,” the Parasite said. “ It's always more fun when your food fights back.”
He began walking towards Jose, only a few steps away. Jose prepared himself, knowing that this was the end. He raised the bat just as the window exploded into the classroom and the Parasite disappeared through the open door.
Superman flew out of the front doors of the school, the Parasite in tow. He flung him onto the ground as he felt power being leeched from him. His body bounced on the ground, rolling nearly ten feet before he stood up.
The Parasite used his hands to dust off his pants. “Supes, I hope you know that these clothes were gently used and you just ruined them.”
Superman hovered in the air. “You’re going back to Stryker’s.” There was no room for debate, he wouldn’t let the Parasite kill anyone else.
“Aww, Superman, are you mad? I hope so, it makes it more fun. You don’t know how good you taste. So much energy. It makes me want to play with my food, like a game of cat and mouse. I call cat.” His words were a distraction as heat beams flared into a nearby fire hydrant. The explosion of water distracted Superman long enough for the Parasite to leap onto him, draining more and more energy.
Superman felt the energy leaving his body. He acted quickly, spinning his whole body in a tight circle to break the Parasite’s grip. The move worked and before he could latch on again, Superman flew straight up. He knew that the Parasite wouldn’t be able to resist chasing him.
He was right. He could hear the laughter as the villain flew into the sky, hot on his trail. They weaved in and out of buildings, Superman barely staying out of his grasp.
“So fun, Supes,” the Parasite said as he blew a gust of super-breath towards the Man of Steel. It hit Superman and flung him into the side of a building.
Parasite hovered outside of the building, looking at Superman. “You know, you are a great meal, but you ruined my appetizers. Those kids were great, like tapas. You know what tapas are? They are these cute little dishes, Mexican or Spanish or something like that. Anyway, they're these little dishes that you can just eat and e”
His words were interrupted as a piece of masonry slammed into him. It knocked him out of the sky and towards the street below. Superman watched him fall under the large chunk of cement. Once it hit the ground, he flew down towards the site of impact.
He looked around the rock, but there was nothing there. He lifted it up, but still nothing. He looked around, the thought of the Parasite escaping, eating at him.
Just a few feet away stood the entrance to the subway, it was the only way the Parasite could have escaped without him seeing. Superman flew down just as the train was leaving. He looked through the window and saw the Parasite in the last car. He followed the train, just as Parasite turned around to face him. He held a woman, pressed against him, with one hand, while his other waved his index finger back and forth. Superman got the message, he was being told not to get any closer or the woman would die. He followed the train, preparing to rush in at the first possible opportunity.
Jose watched as the EMTs loaded Jerry into the ambulance. He heard one say that his body was shutting down. They didn’t know if Jerry would survive. If only Jose had been fast enough. Until now this school had not been hit with violence beyond a fist fight. Now things had changed. Yes, this city had Superman, but he was for the big problems. There was still tons of street-level crime riddling the city. It was something Jose had grown up with and he had vowed to do something about it. Teaching had allowed him to reach students, but now it was time for something else, something more. Something that could have a better chance at even holding off the Parasite.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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