Twelve US Air Force F-35 Lightning jet fighters and eighteen F-22 Raptors now filled the sky above Metropolis attacking the invading troops of Darkseid. They had been scrambled from a nearby Air Force Station. Fifteen minutes earlier six boom tubes opened up and pockmarked the blue sky releasing a combination of parademons and elite guard to overwhelm the city. They began bringing destruction and chaos to the Big Apricot, the shining city.
From the twentieth story window of Perry White's office Clark Kent along with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, and Perry White watched in horror as the battle unfolded. Clark's instinct was to join the fray and fight, but just last week his alter ego of Superman had been declared an enemy of the state after he escaped a military facility where they were attempting to torture him, as well as dissecting him to see what he was capable of. For now he fought against his instinct to protect Metropolis and its people.
The newly formed Justice League suddenly joined the fight. He watched as Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Stargirl, two Green Lanterns, and Shazam appeared out of nowhere to augment the air battle, while on the ground the Flash, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Batman, Fire, Ice, Elemental Woman, Catwoman, Katana, and Cyborg supplemented the three Ospreys full of marines that had landed and offloaded. Guilt began to gnaw away at Clark as he watched. Too many innocent lives were being taken, though, and too much destruction inflicted on the city.
As jet fighter after jet fighter was destroyed by these invaders, his muscles tightened. He could hear the voice of his biological father in his ear: You must lead by example not as a dictator. It was the government that called him an enemy of the state not the people. He couldn't stand by any longer and watch the carnage and destruction. Just then an image the size of thirty story building appeared in the sky. It was a grey colored granite face, red dead eyes imposing figure dressed in black.
"Citizens of earth, I am Darkseid. I am your conqueror and your new god. Do not resist me. If you do resist me then you will die," he spoke in a deep, emotionless voice.
So that was what a real dictator looked like. Clark stepped back. This was too much for him to watch, as Darkseid now unleashed his Furies, ten super powered females who appeared to love battle and blood. Once he had got to the stairwell, he used his heat vision to destroy a security camera then opened his shirt to reveal the House of El crest underneath. Touch it a certain way, he released nano-technology that began to form his Kryptonian armor, boots, and cape. Once he was dressed in the blue armor, red boots, and red cape with his yellow and red crest prominent on his chest, he sped through the stairwell at a speed only the Flash could rival until he was on the roof and in the air.
Batman used three explosive batarangs to protect marines from parademons. The marine fire team fell back in a defensive position then two more fire teams joined them.
"Fall back," Batman ordered them.
"When did you get a commission?" asked one of the gunnery sergeants.
"It's for your safety," Batman stated.
"We don't retreat unless there is no alternative," barked the gunnery sergeant, who then looked at his fellow marines. "Let's kick some ass."
"Boooray," came the response.
The marines moved forward and opened fire on the coming parademons. Batman allowed himself a grim smile then looked up in the sky and was shocked at what he saw. The alien that the newspapers had nicknamed Superman had joined the battle and it was a chilling sight. Using his heat vision he cut a path through the parademons. He watched with fascination as Superman reached one of the super powered females and engaged her. She had an electrified whip, which she started to use on him. Instead of falling back, he got angry, grabbed the whip, pulled her towards him, and then he hit her with a right that sent her careening into more parademons. Just from that display alone, he was sure that this Superman's strength surpassed Shazam's and even Wonder Woman's.
From the little Batman researched this Superman, he knew that the government had overstepped their powers and took the alien prisoner. When they brought Lex Luthor in to torture and dissect Superman, he was tempted to get involved, but decided against it. He wanted to see how this Superman handled it. Superman escaped and then was declared a fugitive and enemy of the state.
An explosive arrow hit one of the parademons near Batman in the chest then it exploded. Batman brought his attention back to the fight as the Green Arrow came up beside him.
"Keep your mind in the game, Bats," the Arrow said.
"We have a new ally," Batman pointed out then he pointed up at Superman.
The Green Arrow watched Superman for a moment and whistled his approval.
"Son of a bitch packs a punch," he said.
"Kind of glad he's on our side for an enemy of the state," replied Batman.
"Didn't you used to be public enemy number one?" smiled Arrow.
"Get back to work," growled Batman.
Wonder Woman used the swords Hephaestus made for her to battle Stompa and Gilotina. Even with her years of Amazonian training and the powers of a demigoddess, she was pushed to her limits against the two furies. One of her advantages in the fight was flight. The furies needed gravity discs in order to fly, so with a spin, a well placed kick, and one of her swords she destroyed the discs attached to Stompa's feet sending her falling to the ground. Now she could face Gilotina one on one.
Diana was about to attack Gilotina when a parademon came speeding out if nowhere and collided with Gilotina sending her and the parademon spiraling out if control towards the ground. With her temper on the rise, Diana turned to see who interrupted her fight and there he hovered in the air. It was the fugitive she had heard about from Steve called Superman. According to Steve he was an alien who was raised on earth. Diana didn't like someone interfering with her fight.
She was about to fly at him when she saw twenty parademons converge on him. Spinning like a top a hyper speed, he sent the parademons flying off in all directions. Once they were gone, he stopped spinning then targeted one of Darkseid's elite and rocketed off to engage him. Diana watched him. Her anger was dissipated and her curiosity at who this alien was now was heightened.
From his throne room, Darkseid sat on his throne with Desaad and his son Kalibak standing on either side of them. He watched as his army of invaders was being routed by these strangely powered humans. But it was one in particular which held his attention; there was a Kryptonian among them. He had thought there were no more Kryptonians, but it appeared one more existed and he was magnificent.
"A Kryptonian," he sighed.
"Yes, my lord," said Desaad.
"So," growled Kalibak.
"Kryptonians on their home planet with a red sun were a remarkable people. They were strong, not like a New God, but strong and intelligent. They were one of the most ancient races and one of the most advanced. Yet, when a Kryptonian was under a yellow or orange sun their bodies processed the solar radiation making them equal if not greater than a New God," explained Darkseid then he turned to Desaad. "Recall the army. We are going to leave earth alone for now."
"Why, father?" demanded Kalibak.
With a flick of the back of his hand he sent Kalibak into the back wall. Kalibak struggled to get up. Once he was standing he walked back to the throne and bowed.
"I am sorry, father," he said.
"I do not have to explain myself but I will this once," said Darkseid. "I want the Kryptonian. He would be a prize, but first we need to find your sister who is still lost to us. I intend in mating her with the Kryptonian, so that I can have a proper heir."
"Now help Desaad recall the army. We need to start searching for your sister again," he ordered.
The boom tubes closed as Darkseid's minions retreated. The damage done to Metropolis was deep. Ten buildings were completely demolished, while others were damaged to the point that first responders needed to save lives. Most of the Justice League and the military immediately went into search and rescue mode, though Wonder Woman, Shazam, Hal Jordan, and John Stewart sought out Superman.
Clark hovered far above the city scanning the damage done to Metropolis. The Justice Leaguers flew to where he hovered. Hal Jordan took the lead even though no one appointed him to lead.
"Hey, Big Boy, thanks for the help, but aren't you a fugitive?" he asked him.
Clark looked at him for a moment but didn't answer. He was now twenty-two years old and had been Superman for less than a year. In that time Clark realized that the caution his father Jonathan Kent had taught him was better than the self confidence he suffered from when he first started. He continued to stare at Jordan.
"I am Diana of Themyscira. What is your name?" asked Diana.
"Kal-El of Krypton," he smiled.
Clark couldn't help the smile, as she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. With a perfect feminine form, long black hair, perfect olive skin, full lips, and azure colored eyes, she was flawless.
"You should come with us. Maybe we can clear up the misunderstanding you have with the government, so you can stop be a fugitive," offered John Stewart.
"The government captured me by using a combination of gas grenades with sedatives capable of killing elephants and sonic weapons that screwed with my senses. They then proceeded to attempt to experiment, torture, and dissect me to no avail while pumping more of the sedative into my cell until I regained my senses and my body became used to the sedative then I broke out of their specially designed cell. I'm not a fugitive, and I am not coming with you," Superman stated calmly and coldly.
"Batman to Wonder Woman, back off Superman. I know what happened to him and he is not a fugitive. Don't back him into a corner because I assume that he'll revolt against such actions," came a message to Diana in her ear bud communicator.
"I recommend you come with us. We outnumber you," said Shazam.
Shazam had bolts of lightning that occasionally surrounded him like a nimbus. He assumed that his powers were magical based, which he didn't like. The two green lanterns Clark understood that their power came from their rings which were created by the Guardians. The one he wasn't sure of was Diana of Themyscira, though he knew Themyscira was Amazonian in origin.
"No, but thank you for the offer," he replied with a smirk.
Shazam started to move closer to Clark. There were times that Diana felt Shazam was a child in a man's body as he allowed his ego to get in the way of things in a puerile way.
"I'm not impressed by you," Shazam said trying to impress his fellow leaguers.
"I thought you had the Wisdom of Solomon," stated Clark.
"I do," grinned Shazam.
He now hovered so close to Clark that he felt his breath on his face. His olfactory picked up the scent of pizza and Chocolate on his breath. Clark slowly shook his head.
"Too bad that you don't use it," Clark said then with speed that Shazam couldn't match he gave him the back of his hand sending him tumbling in the air.
The Lanterns and Diana looked at Shazam fly off for miles before he stopped his momentum. They turned to face Superman but he was gone.
"Damn, he is fast. I mean he is Barry fast," said Hal.
"Next time we meet him I suggest we are less aggressive. He has a chip on his shoulder from what the DOD did to him," said John.
Diana remained quiet. She wasn't sure if he wasn't another Heracles or something more, something better. It was too early to tell. Shazam rejoined him.
"Where is he?" asked Shazam.
"He's gone," said Diana.
"Ran, huh? Smart move because now I'm pissed," said Shazam.
"What are you twelve?" groaned Hal.
"No, I'm older than that," sniffed Shazam.
John shook his head then said, "Let's get to work on clean up."
Clark entered the Daily Planet running slightly late, which was unusual for him. Lois was at her desk. She stared at him for a moment. He looked today much like he looked most days dressed in cargo pants, a white oxford dress shirt that was two sizes too big and rumpled, faded leather bomber's jacket, a messenger bag across his shoulder, out of style glasses, and mussed up, unruly black hair. In some ways he was attractive, very attractive, but there was something about his brooding intensity that told her that he'd make a horrible boyfriend. He got to his desk and put down his bag and took off his jacket.
"Help a little old lady across the street this morning, Smallville," she said teasing him.
"I was up late last night finishing off my piece on a slum lord," he said.
"Do you ever have fun, Clark?"
He looked over at her and smiled, "No."
"Just as I thought," she said then looked at him deeply with her violet eyes.
Clark felt as if he was being studied and suddenly felt exposed. Lois was always the one he feared who would see through his disguise. He waited for her to speak.
"I know Cat has a crush on you, but I don't understand it, Smallville," she smiled.
"Thanks, Lois," he said then he stood up. "I need coffee."
He walked away. Heading into the break room, he slowed himself to open up his senses and stop overly focusing. Suddenly, he heard and smelled what felt like everyone and everything in the city. Strains and melodies of music blended together so he heard Hip Hop with Heavy Metal and Bossa Nova with some classical and pop standards all mixed in making one dysfunctional and headache inducing song. Someone ate egg salad while someone ate a burger and then there was the stench of death mixed with a hint of sex and people sweating while they worked out. Quickly, he refocused until he heard one heartbeat clearly and smelled the coffee in the coffee pot. The heartbeat belonged to Jimmy.
"Hey, CK," Jimmy greeted as he poured a cup of coffee. "Late night and you?"
"Yeah, late one," he said.
Jimmy moved away, so Clark could pour himself a cup of coffee. He did so then added half and half along with four sugars.
"I hate a date with a redhead. It's funny I thought together that we looked like Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy," he joked.
"You should have taken pictures," smiled Clark at his friend.
"Did I tell you that I'm taking a course in working a camera? I might be going from photographer to cameraman soon," he smiled.
"Sounds good, Jimmy," he said. "I better get my article to Perry so he can read it."
By one o'clock Clark finished his work on the landlord and was now working on his bi-weekly addition to the on-line addition of the Daily Planet. In many ways he was better known for his acerbic and caustic observations in Kent's Corner then his investigative journalism.
As he leaned back in chair, he suddenly heard a sharp noise that hurt his ears. Flinching, he noticed no one else was bothered then it became clear why.
"Superman, it is Batman. I wish to meet with you. I'm in Metropolis visiting. I suggest midnight in Centennial Park on the bridge over the Duck Pond. No trap, just talk."
The Batman had used a frequency that his ears would pick up and not a normal human ear. Clark's interest was piqued.
Clark flew over Centennial Park double checking that he wasn't about to be set up. He then checked the skies for miles and saw nothing to concern him. Focusing in on the bridge over the Duck Pond he saw a lone, figure in black standing in the middle of the bridge. Slowly, he descended until he was standing behind Batman.
"I'm glad you showed up," rasped Batman.
He turned around and faced Clark. Clark could have easily looked to see who the man was behind the cowl but he decided to allow the man his privacy.
"What did you want?" Clark asked him.
"Just to talk," said Batman.
"I know you aren't an enemy of the state, Superman. A.R.G.U.S. was behind your detention. Its Director Amanda Waller acts as a friend to the Justice League, even supplying us with a liaison in Colonel Trevor, but she distrusts metahumans and aliens. She believes that they need to be controlled," explained Batman. "You were not part of the league so she thought she could get the military involved in your capture in order to see what makes you tick. I think she wanted to either clone you in order to have a controllable super powered being or find a way to control you."
"You aren't a metahuman," Clark stated.
"How do you know?" asked Batman.
"Deductive reasoning. You referenced aliens and metahumans as they not we and you wear some serious high tech body armor. I assume the armor is to protect you from serious injury. You also carry an array of non-lethal weapons and small explosives," Clark pointed out.
"You wear armor," countered Batman.
"I don't need it. The armor I wear is from my home planet Krypton and is genetically coded to me. It has many functions but I don't really use them. I don't need them," stated Clark.
"Then why wear it?" asked Batman.
"An homage to a dead race. Krypton no longer exists. My father sent me to this planet when I was an infant. Krypton exploded due to an environmental disaster," Superman told him.
"Why the S on your chest? You like the nickname Superman," said Batman.
"Not an S. It is Kryptonian script. It's the crest for the House of El, which I am the last member of. My Kryptonian name is Kal-El. The House of El was considered a noble house of Krypton and my father was considered one of the planets greatest scientists. My mother was also a scientist," Clark explained.
"You are giving me a great deal of information," remarked Batman. "Why?"
"Call it an act of trust," said Superman.
"When the White Martians attacked why didn't you join us? The Justice League was formed to deal with their invasion. We would have lost if it weren't for J'onn J'onzz," stated Batman.
"My powers were developing. They still are. I fought the White Martians but from the shadows."
Batman was fascinated now by Superman. He estimated his age at 22, no more than a year younger than him. When he got the chance he'd speak to J'onn about Krypton to see if he knew anything about this alien race. Batman offered Clark his right hand for a handshake. Clark shook it.
"I offer you an ally if you need one," offered Batman.
"I think I would like that," said Clark. "I don't trust your fellow leaguers, though."
"I offered my alliance not theirs," growled Batman.
"To quite a famous movie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," said Clark.
"I don't watch movies," replied Batman.