Two on Two
Conner and M'gann leaped in opposite directions as a shot from Mr. Freeze turned the ground they had been standing on to ice.
Superboy managed a surprisingly graceful roll and ran through some bushes. M'gann used her long legs to jump high into the trees above and disappear.
Sportsmaster took the scene in. The two freaks of nature may have appeared to have split up, but they wouldn't stray too far from each other. And that would be their mistake.
"Take the Martian" he ordered Freeze, jumping off his branch and landing on the forest floor. "The clone is mine."
This was not going how Superboy was hoping it would. As far as he knew, he and M'gann were the last ones standing, with the possible exception of Rocket, who was untrained and powerless. M'gann had lost most of her powers and his strength was probably not much more than that of a normal human, if that much. They were facing two experienced supervillains, one of whom was a skilled mercenary, the other wielding a weapon that could immobilize them in a single hit.
So, all in all, a poor ending to a pretty bad day. Or a bad beginning to a probably worse day, depending on if it was after midnight or not.
M'gann swung through the trees, thinking mostly the same thing as she dodged another shot from Mr. Freeze. She had to admit, though she still felt ashamed of her White Martian form, without telekinesis, it was physically superior in combat to her "Megan" form, with long limbs perfect for rapid, agile movement.
She then of course, promptly tripped and fell, probably because she was out of practice in this form. Not that she had much experience in physical combat anyways, since telekinesis rendered it pointless.
M'gann shook those thoughts away as she rolled out of the way of another freeze blast. Nothing good would come of distracting herself now. Killer Frost had frozen her once in Belle Reve and she was not looking to repeat the experience.
Conner had told her how he'd beaten Freeze in the prison break by breaking his suit, since he needed it to keep him at low temperatures to survive. Unfortunately, she did not look forward to charging an armed man to engage him in melee combat. How did Robin do it?
She gave a little smile, or as much of one as she could in her current form. She'd asked the right question.
What Would Robin Do?
M'gann dodged yet another blast (seriously, did this guy ever have to reload?) using a handstand flip like what Robin had shown her in their week as the Daring Dangers. Trying to confuse Freeze, she dashed on all fours to the left, only to dart to the right, trying to circle her foe.
Flying through some bushes, she rolled and took refuge behind a tree, hoping the darkness would conceal her. Mr. Freeze looked around.
"If you really wish to play hide and seek with me, Martian..." he said in his emotionless voice as he activated his suit's thermal scanners. "You needed only to ask."
Superboy ducked as Sportsmaster's flail came out of nowhere, putting a good sized dent in a tree. He'd taken one good hit from that earlier when he was at full strength and he sure didn't want to take another now.
As much as his pride hated it, Conner was outmatched. Sportsmaster had years of experience versus his six months and the mercenary fought for keeps. Without his powers, there wasn't all that much Black Canary's lessons would let him do.
"What's the matter, kid?" teased Sportsmaster, hiding in the shadows. "Aren't you invulnerable? Like your old man? Or is that kryptonite taking all your power away? Not much of a weapon, are you?"
Superboy knew it was dumb. He knew it was dumb but he lashed out anyway. Sportsmaster didn't even bother using the flail, simply dodging to the right and giving the Kryptonian a shove, sending him stumbling away.
The mercenary laughed. "I guess if it was Superman with that arrow in his back, he'd probably be in a coma by now. So I have to give you props for that. Though I suspect Luthor's DNA helps."
That hit Conner hard. Not literally hard, of course, like all the other punches, but still pretty hard. Sportsmaster knew his secret and was taunting him about it. The tiny, rational, let's-think-before-we-act part of him flew out the window and he charged again. The mercenary ducked and let Superboy's fist connect with the trunk of a tree. Normally, this wouldn't do much much than get some save-nature group mad at him, but normally he had super-strength and invulnerability. His knuckles cracked and he cried out, clutching his hand. Sportsmaster pressed the attack, kicking him in the stomach.
"Aw, does the poor little boy need some help? Maybe his little alien girlfriend to save him? How 'bout some shields to increase his little powers because he can't fight without them?"
To be completely honest, Sportsmaster actually let him throw the punch this time, only to catch it at the elbow and twist, flipping Superboy over his shoulder and stomping on his chest, driving the air from the Kryptonian's lungs.
Sportsmaster pocketed his flail and pulled out a large hunting knife.
"Let's see how invulnerable you really are. Say, did you ever wonder where your patches disappeared to? Here's a hint. She's tall, white and ugly."
"M'gann would never..." Conner started, but Sportsmaster cut him off with another kick.
"Oh come now! She's been feeding us intel for weeks, all to keep her little secret. Doing little things for us here and there. Providing distractions. Giving us the means to penetrate Martian camouflage. How do you think we took your ship down in the first place?"
"Liar!" shouted Conner, lunging at Sportsmaster as best he could. The mercenary's boot connected with his chin and sent him rolling several feet.
"Ever wonder why she never talks about what happened in Qurac? To anyone? Even you? It's because she doesn't want to admit what she's done."
"No!" roared Conner. This time he actually managed to get to his feet and slam into Sportsmaster, sending them both rolling in the dirt. Sportsmaster lost his grip on the knife and Conner scooped it up. But before the fight could continue, a telepathic scream struck their minds.
"M'gann!" cried out Superboy as he dashed off in the direction he thought it had come from. A second later, Sportsmaster was right behind him.
Two grey cylinders rolled next to M'gann's feet. It took her a second to realize what they were and leap out of the way, but that was one second too long.
The freeze grenades exploded, coating her left foot in liquid nitrogen. She screamed as she stumbled and fell, ice clawing at her leg.
"Silly girl" said Mr. Freeze, coating her lower torso in ice with his weapon. "Not only can I track your thermal signature, but there's a small tracking device implanted in your shoulder, courtesy of your stay with us earlier. You cannot escape. The only question is if you can handle the chill."
M'gann tried to crawl forward, but she couldn't move her legs. She could feel her strength weakening, her body going numb. There was a rhythmic beat through the night as Freeze moved closer.
The villain stopped and looked around. The beat continued. It wasn't him that was making it.
But it was footsteps.
And they were running.
Conner smashed through the brush. It hurt, it really did. The branches scraped against his now-vulnerable skin, but he didn't care. It didn't matter. Only one thing mattered.
He emerged into a clearing and slammed into Mr. Freeze from behind. The villain stumbled, but quickly recovered enough to backhand the Kryptonian, sending him flying into a tree. Freeze advanced on his new target.
"No!" cried M'gann, flexing her leg muscles with all her might. Ripping them free of the ice, she gave Freeze a furious spin-kick to the face.
"Don't you know?" she shouted. "IT'S COLD ON MARS!"
Taking advantage of the distraction, Conner slashed at Freeze with Sportsmaster's knife, cutting open part of his suit.
The villain fell, dropping his ice gun. Superboy landed on him, smashing an already bloodied fist into the glass helmet, again and again, cracking it.
Mr. Freeze reached up, grabbing Superboy's face in his mechanically enhanced hands and lifting the hero into the air.
"Now" he said "I think you should die!"
Conner considered a witty retort but instead simply slammed his foot into the tear in Freeze's suit, opening the rip further. Light blue liquid began to pour out and vaporize.
M'gann leaped a good ten feet in the air, landed on Freeze's helmet and delivered a hard strike with both her fists. Freeze let go of Conner in shock as the glass shattered, exposing his vulnerable skin to normal temperatures.
Conner and M'gann landed on the ground next to each other and exchanged a short smile. They started to get to their feet.
That's when two flying red disks appeared, sending electricity arcing through the Martian. She collapsed, Conner catching her as the disks retreated.
Sportsmaster emerged from the treeline, slowly swinging his flail. Around them, several masked men had appeared, all holding either regular or Apokoliptan weaponry.
"So, you took out Freeze" said Sportsmaster. "Congratulations. I never liked the old icebox anyways."
Said icebox was a few feet away, furiously messing with his cooling system, but he seemed to be out of the fight for the moment.
That left Sportsmaster and ten other guys.
"But this is really getting a little old" continued the mercenary, pulling out what looked like a tape recorder. "So I've got a message for you, clone, from Daddy dearest."
Superboy tensed for a fight, even though he knew he could never take this many men without his powers, not with M'gann down.
Sportsmaster pushed the button on the side of the device.
A voice echoed out. A familiar one.
There were just two words, and Superboy already knew what they were.
And then the world froze.