Superboy was tired. Really tired. He just wanted to lie there for eternity and never get out of bed.
He felt something nudge him gently, but he was too tired to figure out what it was.
He was dreaming. They were fairly good dreams. He'd picked up M'gann and flown her to the sun (which made perfect sense at the time) and then Wally had somehow gotten there too, but somehow that just made things better, which was odd, since he normally couldn't stand the guy.
He rolled over, shifting in the comfortable sheets of his bed.
M'gann reached out to him. He stared into her eyes, and then...
...And then the thought occurred to him.
He wasn't in his bed.
He wasn't at the Cave.
He was lying on the ground in the middle of Canada with fragments of a kryptonite arrow sticking out of his shoulder.
And his team needed him.
Superboy opened his eyes. Standing above him was what he could only really describe as a monster, or maybe a really, really weird Genomorph.
It was six feet tall and pale white, its skin stretched over a bony skeleton, with bits of reddish muscle here and there. It had a pointed skull, deep red eyes and rows of sharp teeth. There were two long, twisty fingers where the hands should be.
And it was grabbing his shoulder.
Superboy reacted to this as most anyone would (or at least anyone with combat training and super-strength). He cried out, smacked the ghostly hand away from him and swung his legs around, knocking the monster's out from under it. It fell with a guttural shriek.
Superboy leaped to his feet and smashed his fist down at its head. (Offense was the best defense, he'd always said.) The creature rolled out of the way, surprisingly agile for its size. It came out of the roll crouching on four legs and leaped into the air. Superboy prepared to block an attack on the way down, but his opponent did no such thing.
It grabbed a tree branch in its long fingers and swung, flying twenty feet away from him. The Kryptonian charged, but it jumped into the air again and disappeared.
Superboy stopped and thought for a second. Whatever that thing was, it wasn't native on Earth. And it was probably the best lead he had as to what was going on here. Besides, for all he knew, it could be heading back to a nest or a hive or something to get reinforcements. Or maybe it was just waiting for him to let his guard down and take him from behind.
Regardless, he needed to follow it.
And it might be faster than him, but it didn't have super-vision.
The creature stopped about ten minutes later. It hunched behind a tree and curled up into a ball, though for what purpose Superboy couldn't tell.
He rubbed his hand. In his ten months of existence, he hadn't punched very many things that had hurt him. The Amazo robot, Blockbuster, that time he had stupidly tried to smash through 40 feet of reinforced concrete just to see if he could. But for some reason, a simple punch into the dirt had left his hand feeling sore.
It didn't take long to figure out why. The kryptonite was draining his powers. He wasn't sure what the long-term effects would be, but he'd heard that Superman had once nearly died of a kryotonite bullet.
Well, I'm not Superman he thought.
Another thought had dawned on him. While he had been assuming that this creature was hostile, all it had really done was touch him while he was unconscious on the ground.
They were near an old Cadmus base. Maybe it was some kind of Genomorph that had escaped or something.
In that case, it was a brother.
Superboy emerged from the bushes a few feet from the creature. It spun to face him, startled.
The clone put his hands up in front of him in the most non-threatening way he could manage.
"It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you. My name is Conner. Can you understand me?"
The Genomorph (if that was what it was) took a step back and then turned to run. Conner jumped forwards and grabbed its arm.
"No!" came a telepathic shriek that echoed through his head. Superboy let go in shock and the creature stumbled and fell forwards.
The telepathy shouldn't have surprised him, especially not if it was a Genomorph, but he knew it wasn't.
He would recognize that 'voice' anywhere.
The same voice from his dreams, the one that had restored the shattered pieces of his mind back in the Bialyan desert.
The voice from all the private conversations they'd had, both on missions and of a... personal nature.
The creature, no, the alien looked up at him, realization in its (no, her) eyes.
Finally, after a moment, he had the strength to ask the question, but only a whisper, to confirm what he already knew to be the truth.