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Stains of Time

By theamerican91

Adventure / Action

The Destroyer

One Fateful Day in Metropolis in the year 2009...

A blinding light had hit Batman in the face.

"You're on," Batman replied to Lex Luthor who was next to him.

"I'll take some of that action," Superman offered sarcastically.

The trio watched as the recently resurrected New God Darkseid descended from his ship, undisturbed by the action happening around him. Batman couldn't help but internally feel a little nervous. Darkseid was a lot bigger and a lot more powerful from the last time Superman had faced him. Batman hoped Superman realized that as well. Darkseid despite his massive size gently floated onto the roof of the Daily Planet in front of the trio. His Parademons meanwhile had bowed at his descent.

"I hope you appreciate Kal-El," Darkseid said dramatically in a hoarse voice while looking at Superman and ignoring the two mortals on the roof.

"That everything that happens from this point is on your head," the New God said as he slowly walked closer to Superman.

"The skies will rain fire…the oceans will boil…the streets will run red with the blood of billions," Darkseid threatened. "Only then after your last pitiful hope is extinguished, will I end your life."

Darkseid's eyes glowed red.

"Let's go," he whispered evilly.

At that moment, Luthor had foolishly charged at the New God in rage.

Darkseid lazily lifted up a hand and a force field separated the two from each other. Luthor struggled and yelled pitifully as he floated in the air. Despite the barrier, Luthor still tried to break through it even though his human strength was no power against Darkseid's.

"You destroyed Brainiac!" Luthor cried defiantly. "I'm going to make you pay!"

"Unlikely," Darkseid said calmly which sharply contrasted to Luthor's rising voice.

Luthor screamed as he was blasted off the roof. Batman sighed and reluctantly sprinted after Luthor. The man was responsible for so much tragedy, but Luthor was still their ally at the moment. Cursing his own moral code, Batman ran off the roof and dove after Luthor. It didn't take long for the Dark Knight to catch the falling man. The minute he grabbed Luthor, he shot his grapple and swung around, heading straight towards an office window. Batman closed his eyes in anticipation; this was going to hurt. The two broke through the glass and were flung into the room violently.


Superman didn't really have time to think about Luthor or his friend who went after him. His priority was the alien tyrant in front of him.

"I'm more powerful than I've ever been," Darkseid warned, clenching his fists. "And the last time we met, you barely managed to hold your own."

Superman just glared back.

"Funny. That's not how I remember it," he taunted.

Darkseid didn't show any signs of hurt at that remark, but Superman could tell that he had gotten under the New God's skin.

"Allow me to refresh your memory," the New God said angrily.

Before Superman could react, Darkseid went up to the Daily Planet globe on the roof and picked it up with his superior strength without any struggle. Superman couldn't help but groan inwardly. Why was it always the globe that had to get destroyed? He was sick and tired of putting it back on the roof. Darkseid slammed the globe onto Superman who tried to put his arms up to block it. But Darkseid's strength was too fast and strong for the Kryptonian to stop it. The globe landed onto Superman, sending them both crashing through the roof and into the top floor.

Yet the globe's momentum was too strong and Superman found himself falling through every floor of the building as the globe kept pushing him down. He struggled to regain control and tried to force it back up or at least slow it down. There were still people in the building, including Jimmy and Lois.

"Look out!"

Superman could hear the cries and screams of the Daily Planet staff while they moved to get out of the way. The globe showed no signs of stopping as it continued to smash Superman further down the building floors.


Batman got up to his feet at the same time as Luthor. However the Dark Knight's senses picked up the faint sound of something happening a few floors above. Something big was falling.

Immediately he pushed Luthor and himself out of harm's way. They both barely managed to avoid the falling Daily Planet globe as it kept falling through the floors of the building. Batman briefly saw Superman trying to push the globe back up as it went down the next floor. That was way too close.

Unfortunately that wasn't the end to their troubles. The ground, cracking from the impact of the globe's fall, had continued to crumble. This time Luthor and Batman weren't so lucky and before they knew it, they both had fallen into the abyss after Superman and the globe while the entire floor collapsed.


China

BOOM!

Wonder Woman dodged the blasts from one of Darkseid's war machines. She was in China with a few League and Legion members along the Great Wall.

BOOM!

She managed to dodge another blast and roped her lasso around the machine. Using her Amazon strength, she grunted as she slammed it into a cliff face.

A part of her wished she was fighting Darkseid herself and not wasting her time with the small fry. But deep down, she knew Superman was the only one who actually had a chance to defeat the invader. Her fight with Mongol about two years ago had taught her sometimes it wasn't wise to face a foe head on. Even she had her limits although she probably had more than she cared to admit.

What bothered her was the fact Superman wasn't taking on Darkseid alone. She didn't care if Luthor went with Superman. If that idiot wanted to get himself killed, she wouldn't stop him. It was the other one with Superman she was worried about. Why would they let Batman, a man with no powers, try to fight Darkseid? Batman was gifted but she had a better chance than him to survive. She couldn't help but remember the conversation she and Batman had moments ago on their commlinks before Batman and Superman got ready to engage Darkseid.

"Bruce why are you doing this? Even you can't expect to survive a fight with Darkseid."

"I'm not going to fight Darkseid, I'm just there to make sure Superman doesn't do anything stupid. You remember what happened the last time. He would've been killed if I wasn't there to drag him back."

"But no offense Bruce, I'm stronger than you. I would have a better job pulling Clark back," she pointed out, not caring she had violated protocol twice already by calling him by his first name over the network.

"It's not just that," Batman whispered, his voice a lot softer. "I don't think that both of us are going to be able to come back together."

Wonder Woman had frozen at that statement.

"What do you mean?" she demanded.

"It doesn't matter who we send. The odds of anyone surviving an encounter with Darkseid are low, even for Superman."

And then Wonder Woman finally understood why Batman was with Superman. Batman had volunteered to take a bullet for Superman if needed. Tactically it made sense to her to have the one League member with no superpowers be ready to sacrifice himself if necessary to protect their only hope. It was like sacrificing a pawn to protect the queen in a game of chess. Still, even if the decision made sense on a tactical level, that didn't make it any easier for Diana to accept.

"Bruce you can't…"

"Diana," Batman said softly in a tone she rarely ever heard him use. "We can't have all the powerful ones giving their lives to save Superman. I'm the most expendable…"

"You are not expendable!" 

"In this fight I am. All I can do is make sure Superman has another chance if he makes a mistake."

"Just be careful," Wonder Woman warned.

"Diana…" she heard Batman say her name slowly.

"Yes?" she asked in nervous anticipation.

"I...uh..."

There was an awkward pause on Batman's end and she couldn't help but grin a little. It was typical of Batman to be uncomfortable in moments like this. She always thought that was an endearing trait of his.

"Good luck!" Batman blurted out quickly before the line went dead.

The Amazon shook her head.

"Same to you," she replied.

"AIIHHHH!"

A female scream had broken through Diana's reverie like a knife.

Diana turned around and saw that Star Sapphire had been hit by a stray blast, causing her to fall unconscious to the ground. The Amazon was about to fly after her but then she saw Shining Knight on his winged steed going after the unconscious woman already. Diana couldn't help but give a small smile at the sight of the former knight of the Round Table rescuing the female villain. And they said chivalry was dead. Diana turned around and got herself ready to combat the growing onslaught of enemies that surrounded her.


Metropolis

Superman groaned as he felt what remained of the globe on him lifted up by Darkseid. His costume was torn and he still couldn't move at all. He felt like he would vomit any second while barely making out the form of Darkseid with his blurry vision. The tyrant stood triumphantly over the near lifeless body of the Kryptonian.

"Don't leave us yet Kal-El," Darkseid whispered with mock gentleness as his massive fist wrapped around Superman's neck and pulled him up from the ground.

Superman weakly gasped and tried to break free. He could see that they were standing in what remained of the Daily Planet.

"I want you to see your adopted home world bow down before me," Darkseid commanded as he lifted Superman up higher by the neck. "Only then will I allow you death's sweet release."

Superman glared angrily but before either of the foes could react something whizzed by and embedded itself in Darkseid's fist. Superman noticed the mysterious object was small and black.

BOOM!

The object had quickly exploded and caused Darkseid to involuntarily release Superman from his grip. Superman coughed a little and saw through the smoke Batman and Luthor coming to his aid, both ready to fight whatever Darkseid would throw at them. Luthor began shooting his plasma guns at Darkseid. The New God wasn't even fazed as his body just absorbed the blasts.

"Parademons," Darkseid ordered to his mindless followers that were around him. "Dispose of these annoyances."

The Parademons immediately descended onto the would be rescuers. Quickly the two mortal men began to defend themselves from the Parademon assault. Darkseid stood by to watch it with mild curiosity but didn't notice that behind him, the Kryptonian had gotten back up. Superman took advantage of the distraction Luthor and Batman had caused and managed to get behind the New God.

"Excuse me," Superman said with mock politeness, tapping Darkseid on the shoulder.

Darkseid turned around just in time to receive a hook with the force of a freight train right to the face. His massive body went flying and crashed into some rubble. Superman calmly walked a few steps before taking off after his foe, not noticing that someone had been watching him, unseen in a floating chair.


Metron sat in his chair and sighed as he watched Superman renew his hopeless fight against Darkseid. The New God had seen the original timeline and this battle shouldn't have occurred. He as a scientist had dedicated his intellect and whole life to the study of time and space. Eventually, Metron had built a device that allowed him to see the future. This device enabled Metron to show up at certain moments in the timestream and observe important events of history, hence his title Metron the Observer. He chose the title observer because he knew the consequences of interfering in the past, present, and future. He was a scientist, not a meddler. Often Metron found himself on Earth which seemed to be a catalyst for important moments lately. In fact the machine that displayed the future showed Metron the android Brainiac's defeat on Earth years before the actual battle took place.

Metron still watched the actual fight between the Luthor-Brainiac hybrid and the founders of the Justice League in person unseen. It truly was a battle for the ages. Before watching the fight, the observer's technology had predicted the Justice League would defeat the Luthor-Brainiac hybrid and therefore Brainiac would be forever trapped in the Speed Force where he could no longer terrorize the universe. But it was supposed to come at a price as all victories do; the hero named the Flash was supposed to have died in his attempt to force Brainiac into the Speed Force.

Thus Metron was surprised when he personally saw the League pull out the speedster from the Speed Force, saving him from death. Metron's technology had foreseen that Flash needed to die to stop Brainiac. Even Metron with all his knowledge and studies wasn't sure why the machine did not correctly predict this alternate outcome. He quickly assumed he hadn't taken the unpredictable nature of the Speed Force into account when setting up his parameters. He should have accounted for more variables when he programmed the technology. But that mistake quickly proved to be more than a simple miscalculation.

After the battle with Brainiac, the machine showed Metron not one, but multiple futures. It was unable to predict a definite future now due to the timestream not following the machine's original projections. But that was the least of Metron's problems. Almost every possible future the machine displayed ended the same way; the death and destruction of reality by the return of Darkseid.

It didn't take long for Metron to deduce what had happened. When the League had pulled Flash out of the Speed Force and therefore changing their projected fates, they had created a small window between the world and the Speed Force. In the Speed Force Brainiac tried to send out a call via the small window to Luthor to help him. Unfortunately for Brainiac, the window closed before the signal could latch a stable control. But still, the damage had been done. A small fraction of Brainiac's signal had managed to embed itself into Luthor's brain, driving the mortal man into madness. Metron had watched over the rest of the year as the man slowly became more desperate and unstable in his attempts to resurrect Brainiac due to the fractured signal in his head. If only Luthor realized what he was doing.

When Metron saw Luthor engage in a last ditch effort to try to resurrect Brainiac by magic, the New God knew it wasn't going to end well. Metron even broke his own personal rule of remaining unseen and tried to warn Luthor, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. And Metron couldn't do anything about it because he had vowed his whole life to never interfere directly. He would at the most try to manipulate others to influence the timestream, but the New God himself promised he would never get his own hands dirty. After all, how could he hope to remain an impartial observer if he got himself personally involved? Scientists of nature do their best to keep their emotions out and not meddle directly into things they observe. Otherwise they contaminate the whole study.

And thus because Metron couldn't do anything but advise, Luthor ignored him and made the grave mistake of bringing Darkseid back to life instead of Brainiac. Luthor had doomed not just Earth, but the entire universe as well. Yet Metron hadn't given up yet. Despite the fact that most of the possible futures that the machine had showed him ended badly, Metron saw one possible future that gave the universe a slim chance of survival. However Metron already discovered the machine was faulty so he knew he couldn't trust it completely. He had based his new gamble on a possible, not definite future. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

To get everything to work, he needed a sacrificial lamb to manipulate and steer into the right direction. Flash ended up not dying so now someone else needed to sacrifice themselves in hopes to restore the balance and save the universe. Metron folded his hands as he watch the two mortals, Batman and Luthor, battle below him. He mainly focused his attention on Luthor. All the New God needed to do was to wait for the opportune moment to reveal himself to Luthor again. He would enact his new plan when Luthor would be desperate enough to do anything.


China

Wonder Woman, Shining Knight, and Star Sapphire did their best to fight off Darkseid's army which had them completely surrounded. Showing no fear, Wonder Woman engaged all the mindless Parademons around her. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw an old man walking along the Great Wall of China. She assumed he was a civilian who hadn't evacuated yet.

"Get away from here!" she ordered. "It's not safe!"

"Don't worry," the old Asian man said calmly and undisturbed by the battle around him. "I'm here to help."

Turning around to fight some Parademons flying at her, she didn't notice the old man, with reflexes fast for his age, had managed to grab a Parademon's staff and send it flying with one punch.

"I appreciate your intention..." Wonder Woman shouted before the sound of a major fight caught her own attention. To her surprise she turned around and saw the old man was easily defeating the Parademons that had surrounded him.

"Hera…" she whispered amazed at what she was seeing.

She and the others watched as the man suddenly took off in the air and transformed into something else. His body changed into a large glowing red dragon that engaged a whole swarm of Parademons with ease. It swatted them away like flies. The newcomer easily dispatched the entire Parademons in the area in just a few mere seconds. The dragon then flew up to the shocked Wonder Woman, Shining Knight, and Star Sapphire. Amazed, the Amazon watched as the dragon began to change shape again, shrinking into the familiar image of a tall green man with orange eyes and a blue coat. She recognized him immediately.

"J'onn!" the heroine cried excitedly and embraced her friend much to his surprise. She didn't care if the end of the world was near. It made her glad at least she got see her dear friend again one more time.

"Good to see you Diana," the Martian Manhunter said softly as he returned the embrace. "I've got a lot to tell you about."

"We'll catch up later," she said happily.

"Wouldn't miss it. First things first?" the Martian asked, beckoning his head.

The group then flew off to attack more of the war machines with new inspiration due to the surprising return of one of the original seven members of the League.


Metropolis

Batman shot a grapple gun at a Parademon and pulled the rope hard enough to send the mindless drone flying to the ground. He hissed annoyed as he felt his shoulder pop out slightly. He slowly backed up into Luthor who kept the Parademons at bay by shooting them.

"Problem?" Luthor asked when he and Batman were back to back.

"I'm out," Batman admitted reluctantly. This rarely ever happened to him. He hated himself a little for not coming more prepared.

Luthor presented one of his guns to Batman.

"Take my extra," he said nonchalantly.

Batman gave a disgusted look. He may have been vulnerable now, but he didn't want to sacrifice his principles for his mistakes.

"Not my style," Batman said arrogantly while feeling insulted at the same time.

"Suit yourself," Luthor shrugged. "I'm planning to live through this..."

"EEEEEIIIIAAAKK!"

The sudden shriek of an attacking Parademon interrupted the conversation and Luthor ducked to avoid it. Batman took advantage of the opportunity and grabbed the Parademon's staff and jerked it free from the monster's grip. The now weaponless Parademon went crashing down. Batman then ran away from Luthor who had resumed his shooting of the Parademons. Superman needed all the help he could get and at least Batman had a weapon now.


Superman fought Darkseid on top of a giant pile of rubble. Together they exchanged all the blows they had. But Superman deep down knew what Darkseid proclaimed earlier was true. He was a lot more powerful than last time. It cost Superman every ounce of strength just to stay in the fight. Reaching back for another blow, Superman lunged forward only to find his punch falling into the big hand of Darkseid who clenched on it. He struggled and tried to free his hand but Darkseid was too quick.

Darkseid head butted the Kryptonian, knocking Superman off his feet and onto the ground. Superman groaned slightly as he saw Darkseid calmly stepping forward. That head butt had almost knocked him unconscious. He struggled but could barely keep his eyes open as his triumphant enemy stood over his almost paralyzed body.


The minute Batman saw that Darkseid had managed to get a good blow to Superman and knock him down, he knew it was time to act. He came here to ensure Superman wouldn't get killed so now it was his time to shine. Without even thinking, the Caped Crusader kept running and suddenly jabbed the staff he had stolen from the Parademon to launch himself toward Darkseid like a pole vault. Batman, using his momentum to his advantage, managed to knock Darkseid a good distance away from the body of Superman. Unfortunately, Darkseid wasn't completely knocked off his feet and had managed to regain his bearing. A lot quicker than Batman had anticipated. The New God was angry now.

"Flee," Darkseid whispered as he turned around and shot Omega Beams out of his eyes towards the man who dared to strike him.

The Omega Beams came out faster than Batman had anticipated. For a half-second he had almost thought it was too late to react. But it was only for a half-second. Not minding the situation around him, Batman did a backward handspring that would've made Nightwing proud. He immediately fell down into a lower level of rubble. If only Dick could see him now. Batman knew the Omega Beams would follow their target relentlessly until it was destroyed. It was time to put that theory to the test.

As if fate was sending him a gift, a lone Parademon flew by Batman's side as he fell from the pile of rubble that Darkseid and Superman were on. Batman could hear the sound of the beams still chasing him. Shifting his body, he managed to get on top of the Parademon just as he was about to hit the ground.

Wasting no time, he used the Parademon as a spring board the minute the minion impacted the ground and jumped away as far as he could. The Omega Beams weren't as quick as Batman and they hit the Parademon that Batman had used to cushion his landing before they could change direction.

BOOM!

Batman was still in midair from his jump when the beams had evaporated the unfortunate Parademon. The blast caught him off guard and sent him flying smack into a wall of rubble from the remains of the Daily Planet. Batman groaned and fell to the ground, trying all his best to stay conscious.

"I'm getting too old for this…" Batman thought to himself as his world went black.


Superman opened his eyes and rolled over the ground to look over the edge. He looked over just in time to see Batman avoid the Omega Beams. He let out a sigh of relief. Bruce was always too stubborn to die.

"Impressive," Superman heard Darkseid say who was looking down below at the now unconscious Batman.

"No one has ever avoided my Omega Beam," Darkseid said with a little admiration for the one man who achieved a feat thought impossible.

Darkseid then noticed Luthor in the distance shooting at a bunch of Parademons.

"I wonder if the other one is as agile," Darkseid mused and looked at Luthor.

Luthor made eye contact with Darkseid just as the New God's eyes glowed menacingly. For a second, Luthor froze, showing complete fear on his face like a deer in the headlights. Then the man turned around and ran faster than Superman ever thought possible.

"Excellent strategy," Darkseid commented with benign amusement.

"Luthor!" Superman shouted angrily as he tried to get to his feet. He should have known not to trust a self-serving coward like Luthor.

Darkseid turned around and kicked Superman before he could get up. Superman moaned as he was knocked down another level. Before he even had time to catch his breath, Darkseid had landed nearby him.

"Your friends have abandoned you or fallen before my might," Darkseid said calmly as he moved in closer to Superman, ready for the kill.

The New God proceeded to repeatedly beat his weakening foe. Superman tried to fight back and defend himself but Darkseid was too fast and strong. He healed a lot faster than Superman could ever hope for while at this point, the Kryptonian was barely even capable of standing up. Darkseid mercilessly continued to unloaded his beating on the Man of Steel who eventually collapsed to the ground helplessly. Triumphant, Darkseid picked his defeated opponent up from the ground.

"Super or otherwise," Darkseid said calmly as he raised Superman's near lifeless body over his head. Superman could barely even hear his foe.

"You're merely a man. And I am a god!" Darkseid announced as he brought Superman to his knee, cracking his spine.

WHAM!

Superman felt it pop and yelled in pain. It was a miracle his back didn't break. Darkseid tossed him aside like a bean bag. The Kryptonian moaned as he slowly felt himself passing out from the pain and shock.


Metron watched grimly as he saw Darkseid crack the Kryptonian on his knee. He winced a little when he heard Superman's cry and closed his eyes for a second in resignation. These events shouldn't have happened. This timeline wasn't the future he had hoped for.

"You, Metron!"

Metron turned to see Luthor had returned and noticed him. It was time to set his plan in motion.

"You knew this was going to happen!" Luthor replied angrily and arrogantly, seemingly forgetting that Metron had tried to warn him hours earlier.

"This outcome was the most likely possible result of your foolhardy actions," Metron said coldly and with a little disdain. Luthor didn't sound desperate enough yet so Metron decided he needed to tantalize the mortal man some more.

"You can help me! I demand that you help me!" Luthor complained.

"You are in no positions to make demands of anyone," Metron sneered as he navigated his chair around Luthor. "I warned you that you were dabbling with forces beyond your comprehension…"

"You would be surprised at what I can comprehend!" Luthor interrupted as Metron continued to slowly fly away on his chair.

"For instance if you know so much about Darkseid I'll wager you know how to beat him!" Luthor accused.

Metron tried hard to not smile. He had predicted Luthor's reactions so accurately. Metron suddenly stopped his chair.

"There is one possibility," Metron said dramatically turning around to look Luthor straight in the face. "One thing in all the universe that might…"

Metron stopped right there to pause for a second. It would be better to play off of Luthor's ego to ensure the man would take the bait. Metron turned away from Luthor.

"But no...the risk..."

"I know a little something about risk myself," Luthor interrupted with a mixture of anger and arrogance. "Care for an abject demonstration?"

Luthor pointed his gun at Metron, not even thinking that if it would even be able to harm a being that traveled through time and space on a chair. Metron let out a satisfied grin. The observer had Luthor hook, line, and sinker. His manipulations had paid off. Soon the timeline would be set right and things would end up as they should have been. And the best part was, Metron wouldn't have to violate his vow at all.

"Very well," Metron said as he turned his chair around while smirking with smug satisfaction. "I will take you where you want to go."

WWWHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIRRRRR!

Metron hit a button on his chair and a teleportation bubble surrounded both of them. In a flash they were gone, leaving the losing battle between Superman and Darkseid.


Batman stirred when he heard the sound of moaning and punching. He looked up and could see Darkseid had beaten Superman back with ease. Superman looked like he had no life in him. It was only a matter of time before…No! He wouldn't think that. He refused to! With new inspiration, Batman got up to his feet and sprinted at Darkseid. He wouldn't let Superman die before him. Relying on pure adrenaline and willpower, Batman tackled the New God.

"NUNGH!" Batman grunted as he tackled Darkseid by the shoulders. Unfortunately, like the last time he attacked Darkseid, Batman didn't succeed in knocking his target down. Darkseid may have lost his balance for a second but he soon regained his bearing. Batman then tried to choke Darkseid out even though he reluctantly knew it was hopeless; Darkseid's skin was too rough.

"You still try to fight?" Darkseid asked in mild surprise.

Batman ignored the remark, even when Darkseid reached back and grabbed him by the head. Darkseid tossed Batman onto the ground. The Dark Knight hit the earth hard and groaned as he rolled away from the New God, his body nearly broken already.

""Can't you see that it's hopeless?" Darkseid taunted.


Superman fell to his back just in time to see Batman attempt to tackle Darkseid. That sight confused him. What the hell was Batman thinking? He couldn't beat Darkseid physically head on. But then Superman came to a realization. Batman had done all he could, even without powers, in his futile attempt to beat Darkseid. But despite the hopelessness, the Dark Knight refused to give up and would fight until his last breath. Superman then felt angry at himself. He was the most powerful member in the League and yet he had given up and rolled over? Bruce was no match for Darkseid but he still kept fighting! With a second wind, Superman slowly got to his feet, ignoring the pain. He felt the rage boiling up in him as he saw Darkseid throw Batman aside.

With a new found inspiration, Superman flew at Darkseid just as the New God taunted Batman on the hopelessness of his situation. Superman had flown at Darkseid with such surprising renewed speed and energy mixed with anger, that the New God was completely caught off guard. Darkseid was knocked off his feet and skidded a good fifty yards. But Superman wasted no time. Despite feeling like he would black out soon, he made his way to the New God. As Darkseid slowly got to his feet, Superman responded with another quick punch.

Darkseid was again caught off guard and flew into a wall. Superman grabbed him by the throat tightly. He was angrier than he had ever felt before. All that bottled up anger he had kept buried all those years had exploded. He always feared that rage would make him lose control of himself. But for the first time in his life, Superman didn't care about losing control. He wanted to punish and stop the tyrant before anyone would get hurt again. Besides, it felt therapeutic to let his anger out for once.

"That man won't quit as long as he can still draw breath. None of my teammates will!" Superman responded angrily. "Me? I got a different problem…"

Superman reached back and threw a frenzy of powerful punches at the villain until he had forced the tyrant through the wall. Darkseid groaned as he fell backwards into the streets of Metropolis. Superman triumphantly stepped out into the sunlight, ready to use all the power he ever had as his cells hungrily absorbed the energy from the Sun.

"I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard," Superman explained as he walked closely to his foe who struggled to get up. "Always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control. Even for a moment, someone could die."

Darkseid finally got to his feet and glared at Superman who kept bravely stomping toward him. He tried to throw a fast punch but it was blocked. The New God received an aggressive upper cut to the face in response. The tyrant went airborne and flew across the street. As Darkseid angrily tried to get to his feet again, Superman continued his rant.

"But you can take it. Can't you big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you, just how powerful I really am," Superman announced as he got into a fighting stance. He then flew towards his enemy, ready to throw one massive punch. The hit had come so fast and so hard, it sent a shockwave around the two fighting giants.

"ARRRRGGGH!"

Darkseid went flying into the air across the entire city. He crashed through all the buildings of Metropolis. He hadn't expected Superman to suddenly show this much strength. But Superman wasn't done yet. Using his powers of flight and speed, Superman flew onto the other side and right into the trajectory of Darkseid as the foe flew through another building. Superman calmly waited as Darkseid out of control flew towards him. Lifting up both his fists and clenching them tightly, Superman slammed down on Darkseid when the New God got close.

The force of the blow sent the New God violently falling to the ground with so much force and speed, the impact on the street caused a crater. Smoke and debris flew everywhere. Truly this was the most power Superman ever showed. A part of him felt relieved. It felt like he had just lifted a huge weight off his shoulders. But he knew it wasn't' over yet. Like a cockroach, Darkseid had an unnatural ability to survive He slowly descended to the crater when the smoke cleared to see Darkseid, despite taking the massive beating, was still alive. But the New God finally showed signs of weakening.

"Had enough?" Superman taunted, ready to cut loose even more.

"Not…quite…yet…" Darkseid whispered weakly as he slowly turned around, daring Superman to attack him again.

Superman angrily charged forward to deliver another mighty blow. But it was here when Superman made his mistake. He had in his anger lost control. His pent-up rage may have aided him in his fight, but it also had made him not think as clearly as he usually did. He should have expected a trap from Darkseid. Superman was about ten feet away from Darkseid when the alien tyrant threw an electrical ball of energy at the charging Kryptonian.

ZZZZAAAAPPPPPP!

Superman screamed as the electricity hit him. He tried to fight through it but he never felt this much pain before. It felt like he was on fire while simultaneously getting stabbed repeatedly. Despite his attempts, he couldn't move his body because of the shock going through all of his nerves. His fists had clenched tightly against his will while his limbs jerked and his muscles contracted. Defeated, he fell to the ground as the pain continued. There seemed to be no end to it. He wasn't even aware that he had been screaming this whole time as well. The only thing he could comprehend in his mind at the moment was the eternal pain.

"It's called the agony matrix," Darkseid gloated. "Direct neural stimulation of pain receptors. All of them."

The New God began to slowly trot over to his defeated enemy.

"Imagine the worst pain you ever felt in your life, times a thousand. Now imaging that pain continuing, forever," Darkseid narrated wickedly as he walked over to his squirming prey. Superman tried to fight but what Darkseid said was true. This was the worst pain he ever felt.

"Oh that's right," Darkseid said with mock realization. "You don't have to imagine it."


Somewhere in the Universe

Metron used his Mobius Chair to transport Luthor to their intended destination. This plan was very risky and a long shot but it was the best plan Metron had at the moment. His technology had predicted that this was the only way to stop Darkseid. This course of action would lead to the only possible future where Darkseid would meet his defeat. Metron couldn't help but feel a little smug at how Luthor gasped at amazement at what they were approaching. He had led Luthor to what looked like a wall floating in the middle of outer space. The wall seemed to go on for infinity at both directions. Many ugly carvings of giant heads adorned the endless wall. Somehow it oozed an aura of menace, wonder, and fear at the same time.

"Behold the Source Wall!" Metron said with hints of dramatic overtones in his voice. "Behind it is the single, greatest secret of the universe. This is as far as I dare to go."

Metron transported Luthor to the outer ridges of the massive Source Wall.

"I warn you one final time. Only a twelfth level intellect has the slightest hope of surviving of what you are about to experience," Metron warned.

"Then I'm overqualified," Luthor said with smug defiance.

Metron released the bubble and watched as Luthor took off into space towards the Source Wall. He couldn't help but feel a little amused at how little resistance Luthor offered. All mortal men were the same. They all were vain, self-centered, and petty. If it wasn't for superior beings like Superman or the New Gods, mankind would have died out long ago. Metron from his chair brought up a screen so he could resume watching the fight between Superman and Darkseid across the universe.

Darkseid had trapped Superman in the agony matrix at the moment. Metron saw the Apokoliptian watch his enemy slowly suffer to death with restrained glee. According to Metron's calculations from his machine, the key moment was supposed to happen soon. As hoped looked grim for the Kryptonian, Luthor would suddenly reappear beside Darkseid and give him the Anti-Life equation, trapping both of them in the Source Wall forever while saving both the universe and Superman.

But still the machine was wrong before. For the first time in his life, Metron felt uncertain. A lot of variables were still unaccounted for. All he could do was watch and hope that his calculations would be proven right.


As he entered the Source Wall, Luthor felt like he was flying...No he was floating...No he was standing! Actually, he couldn't tell what his body was doing. He wasn't even sure he could feel. He felt his head was about to explode by all the flash of colors at him. All of sudden he felt great pain in his head.

Everything!

Everything was entering his mind. The entire secrets of the universe and reality were his to know. His brain almost exploded from the overload. The knowledge was so powerful and overwhelming. He knew everything now. He knew how to stop Darkseid. He needed to trick the alien god. He needed to destroy…

But wait. Why should he try to defeat Darkseid? He didn't care if Darkseid destroyed the Earth now! His world was meaningless compared to the infinite power and knowledge the Source Wall offered him. Luthor would easily be able to destroy Darkseid later for revenge. The former man now had all the time in the world to know everything. This was what all he ever wanted. He finally uncovered the means of unlimited power; infinite knowledge.

The world would burn as Darkseid destroyed it, but Luthor would have the ultimate prize in the end.


Metropolis

Superman tried to struggle through the agony matrix. He didn't care if every nerve in his body was on fire. He refused to give up! But all his efforts and determination were in vain. The matrix still trapped him in a prison of endless pain. Darkseid scoffed at Superman's futile attempts of resistance.

"Still alive?" Darkseid asked with fake surprise and flattery. "You impress me, Kryptonian. More, your valor has touched my heart. Yes, there is still some small part of me that knows mercy."

Darkseid searched for something in one of his armored gloves.

"I will end your pain," the New God taunted as he pulled something out from one of the secret compartments on his gloves. "With something special I've been saving for just this occasion."

Darkseid revealed a knife made of kryptonite and grinned wickedly. It glowed a sickly green color. Superman couldn't help but groan in even more pain as he felt weakened by the exposure of the nearby kryptonite radiation.

"I'm going to cut out your heart and put it on a pike in my throne."

Superman struggled helplessly as Darkseid slowly got onto a knee. He knew the villain purposely drew this out for his own evil amusement. But Superman couldn't free himself and there was no one else who could stop Darkseid. Everything had fallen apart.


Somewhere in the Universe

Metron sat in his chair shaking his head as he continued to watch the recording of the fight between Superman and Darkseid. His predictions were wrong. Luthor needed to reveal himself with the Anti-Life to defeat Darkseid the very second the Apokoliptian pulled out his kryptonite knife. The machine that predicted the future had shown Metron it was crucial that Luthor show up before Darkseid could murder Superman.

But Luthor hadn't appeared. Frustrated, Metron watch Darkseid get onto a knee so he could stab Superman with the knife. Metron closed his eyes when he realized he had made a mistake again. His technology for predicting the future had not only failed to take the variability of the Speed Force into account, but human greed as well. Metron had seriously underestimated Luthor's thirst for power. The future's prospects were bleaker now.

There was no hope. No one could save the universe or Superman now.


Metropolis

Superman groaned as he felt Darkseid grab his fidgeting body and roll it onto the side. Superman knew the sight of his own broken body entertained Darkseid. Despite the pain all over his body, Superman managed to force his eyes wide open and glare at his enemy in defiance.

Darkseid grinned with amusement.

"Your last stand has been a valiant effort. But unfortunately your story ends here Superman, right beneath my feet. The last son of Krypton will fall at my hand!"

Darkseid lifted the knife up, ready to strike.

Superman still glared even when he saw the knife making its way towards his heart. He wouldn't give Darkseid the satisfaction of showing fear. As if time had slowed to a halt, Superman helplessly watched the glowing knife make its way towards his heart...

"Not today!" a deep voice shouted, which caused Darkseid to pause. The alien New God turned around just in time to be hit by something black flying at him.

WHAM!

Someone had tackled Darkseid at that moment with so much force and speed, they took the New God by surprise and knocked him to the ground. As the stun Darkseid fell, the knife slipped out of his hand and flew across the other side of the crater. Superman, while still trying to fight through the never ending pain, realized who his rescuer was.

"Bruce!" Superman painfully cried out in disbelief.

Batman, feeling a little bit triumphant that he finally managed to knock Darkseid off balance on the third attempt turned around and looked at his ally.

"Hold on!" Batman said and made his way to Superman's body to see if he could free him.

However Darkseid recovered a lot faster than Batman had anticipated and managed to intercept the vigilante with a sudden light punch to the gut that sent him flying to the other side of the crater. Batman was getting double vision and trying his best to keep his eyes open but he couldn't even move his arms. His body was sore all over.

"You dare strike a god during his finest hour?" Darkseid replied angrily as he slowly walked to Batman, while forgetting his other prisoner momentarily.

Superman found new energy and tried to open his fists and break free from the matrix. He didn't even care if it was impossible. His own friend was in danger. He wouldn't let Darkseid harm Bruce!

"At first I was impressed at your skills for a mortal. I was tempted to recruit you to my ranks, but when you had struck me again I thought you were foolish for thinking you still had a chance to beat me."

Out of the corner of his eyes, Batman saw the kryptonite knife. Darkseid was still advancing toward him slowly.

"But now you have insulted me and for that I will punish you. I will make you suffer and wish you were never born."

Batman tried to move his now dead arms.

"But I won't end your life until you get on your knees and bow to me as I kill your savior. Only then will I grant you the gift of a quick death."

At that moment Batman had regained his energy and lunged for the kryptonite knife. The mortal man then pointed the knife at the New God. Darkseid stopped and hesitated for a second, alarmed by the second wind Batman had displayed. Even though kryptonite wouldn't hurt the New God, Batman's actions had bewildered Darkseid.

Batman angrily glared at Darkseid as he got to his feet slowly. While still keeping eye contact with the New God, Batman crushed the kryptonite knife in his fist, breaking it into a million pieces which he dropped at his feet. In a last act of rebellion, he kicked the pieces to the side where they were scattered and buried in the dirt. Darkseid fumed with anger at that slight.

"You dare?" Darkseid growled angrily and ran up to Batman.

"Bruce!" Superman shouted between screams in pain as he tried to break free. He was surprised he was even still conscious.

Darkseid picked up Batman and brought the mortal's head to his level. Batman continued to calmly glare back at him without any fear. He knew he had served his purpose and protected Superman. He had provoked Darkseid long enough to hopefully give Superman time to break free. He just hoped Superman would possess the will to do so.

"You have defied me for the last time, you pathetic human!" Darkseid threatened and threw Batman to the side of the crater. Batman grunted when he made impact with the wall and fell to the ground.

"I should kill you right now..." Darkseid mused as he walked up to the cornered and broken Batman.

"But death would be too merciful. Instead I will give you the most painful punishment of all; the death that is life!" Darkseid threatened, his eyes glowing a mixture of bright orange and red.

Superman struggled to get free. He couldn't hear what Darkseid had said but he had seen the glow in the New God's eyes. Darkseid was going to kill Batman! Clenching his teeth and screaming in pain he slowly fought through it. He could feel his muscles tensing even more but he could tell he was close to freeing himself from the electric prison.

"You will suffer greatly," Darkseid explained. "But don't fret. I will eventually end your suffering by letting you die as my weapon. You will help me destroy this planet after I have finished off Superman and the rest of your allies.

Batman didn't flinch or let Darkseid intimidate him. Whatever plans Darkseid had for him he didn't care. He knew Superman would stop him.

"Good-bye Batman," Darkseid said as he shot a particular bright pair of Omega Beams out of his eyes.

Batman didn't even bother to flee this time. He didn't have the energy anymore. Funny, he always thought he would go down like this; fighting until his body couldn't move anymore. When he saw the Omega Beams heading towards him, it felt like time had slowed down. He looked at his side to see Superman in the distance getting to his feet. He couldn't help but smile. It worked. He had distracted Darkseid long enough for Superman to break free.


Groaning, Superman got to his feet and using all his might and mental strength fought through the matrix. He looked at Batman and Darkseid just in time to see the Omega Beams shooting out of Darkseid's eyes. They headed towards the helpless Batman. Superman broke free at that moment. He didn't know how but the electric shocks had somehow stopped. But it was too late.

"BRUCE!" Superman shouted in horror.

Batman in that split second had turn his head towards Superman. The Dark Knight let out a satisfied knowing smile just as the Omega Beams struck him.

ZZZZZZAAAAAAAAPPPPPPP!

A blinding flash of red and white light appeared when the beams had struck Batman. It caused a blast that sent Superman flying across the crater wall. Recovering quickly, Superman hissed in pain as he immediately looked back up in desperation, hoping that Batman had pulled one of his impossible feats and dodged the blast in the last second or somehow survived it. But he couldn't see Batman anymore. Instead he saw just Darkseid standing triumphantly at where Batman was moments ago. Below Darkseid's feet sat a small pile of ash.

Batman was gone, forever.


Tartarus

Sitting calmly on his throne was the Lord of the Underworld himself, Hades. The god of death closed his eyes and laughed. Darkseid had just disposed of Batman. Everything was going according to plan.

"Oh Darkseid," Hades said in a condescending tone as he shook his head. "You think you will actually succeed in invading Earth? You will fail."

Hades opened his eyes and rubbed his beard as he mused over his plans.

"You are not the Destroyer. I am the true Destroyer of Worlds and it won't be long before I accomplish what you have failed to do; the absolute destruction and subjugation of the entire Multiverse. I will bring about the End of All Things."

The god then stood up from his throne.

"All I have to do is bide my time. I've waited three thousand years for my revenge, I can wait a little longer."

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