Conner heard screaming.
And he recognized it.
"M'gann?" he whispered in surprise.
It was like he'd blinked. One second, he was holding M'gann's unconscious form surrounded by Sportsmaster's goons. Then he'd heard those two words, and...
Conner jerked his head around, taking the scene in. He was holding a large-barreled weapon, which looked heavy enough that his superstrength must have started returning. There was one masked man to each side of him, but they were both looking at something else.
Looking at the screaming.
In one fluid motion Conner swung the weapon in his hands like a club, striking the man on his right in the face and hitting the goon to the left in the back with a spin kick. As the guy stumbled forward, Conner brought the weapon down in between his shoulder blades.
"Hey!" someone shouted. Conner didn't care. He recognized the thing in his hands now: It was Mr. Freeze's giant ice gun. Acting on pure instinct, he brought it up to his shoulder and aimed at the main source of light in the area:
The ice gun must have been damaged somewhat in the earlier fight, because it only gave a short, weak blast. But that was enough. The blast engulfed a flaming humanoid figure and the flames went out.
The screaming stopped.
And then Sportsmaster's flail slammed into the side of the gun.
M'gann toppled over. Somehow, she realized, the burning had lasted but a few seconds. Her wrists were still shackled together, her feet were still bound and she had some bruises but other than that she was remarkably unharmed for having just been set on fire.
She tried to get her heartbeat under control and stop hyperventilating. There were cries and shouts above her but she almost felt like simply lying on the ground and waiting.
"What's the matter with you?" shouted Sportsmaster, swinging his mace back at Superboy, who barely jumped back in time. The ice gun had been knocked out of his hands, but it was too bulky to be useful anyways.
"All you have to do is be a good little weapon and do what we tell you to do" continued Sportsmaster.
A backhand with the flail struck Superboy's shoulder, knocking him to the ground.
"Why is this so difficult to understand?" asked the mercenary, bringing the flail down towards Superboy's head.
"I'm not a weapon" Conner spat, rolling out of the way.
"I'm a person" he added, getting to his feet, seething in cold anger. His strength was definitely returning, although whether his invulnerability was back too he wasn't sure.
Sportsmaster instinctively took a step back, whirling the flail over his head.
"I have free will" said Superboy. Sportsmaster struck, but the Kryptonian caught the flail in his hand. "I can make my own choices."
He pulled on the flail and the chain jerked taught. Sportsmaster stumbled forward and got an elbow to the chin.
"And I will never listen to you."
The mercenary fell to the ground. Conner tossed the flail away and stood over him, ready for a knockout blow.
"Nice speech" said Sportsmaster, tapping a small device attached to his mask with his finger.
Suddenly, nausea overtook Conner and he stumbled back.
Two floating red disks appeared and poured electricity into the Kryptonian's body.
He screamed and fell to his knees.
Sportsmaster got up.
Two more goons appeared, one with an Apokoliptan weapon and another with an M16 rifle.
"But I'm really a man of few words."
And then his boot connected with Superboy's chin.