"Diana, this is J'onn," the Martian's voice cut into her mind, rather than using her comlink. "I just received a distress call from Plasti-Girl."
"What's going on?"
He told her.
"My….God. J'onn, if that thing hits population?"
"Captain Atom is already on his way. As is Dragon. The others are still tied up with securing their sites. Are you free…?"
"Teleport me there, now," the Amazon warrior demanded.
"Give me a moment to lock onto you. You should know, they found several of our missing members there. Including Superboy."
"Is Kal back from space yet," she demanded, waiting impatiently for the transport.
"No. Nor is he close enough for me to contact him. We're on our own for now."
"Typical," the Amazon growled. "Just get me to my granddaughter!"
A moment later, she vanished in a burst of translucent light even as the others stared.
"Get those people out of here," Meta shouted at Dreadnaught as they battled the thing with all they had, but barely held him back as they tried to evacuate the small town of several thousand.
"Did your friend get through to the League," Superboy demanded, sitting up after being knocked flat. Not for the first time.
He wasn't up to full power after being deprived of the sun for so long, and they both knew it. It didn't stop him from throwing himself back at the creature again right beside her.
"If Pinkie said she got through, she got through," she said, barely ducking another blow from the seven foot Failsafe that was walking through them as if they weren't there. Even Dreadnaught, mystically empowered as he was, was no match for him.
Something about the creature's energy field kept him from truly harming him no matter how hard he hit. Only Meta and Connor's punches slowed it down at all. That was all they had to delay it to give the others time as they slowed it down long enough, hopefully long enough to get the town evacuated.
"I warned Superman about letting the government control metas," Connor swore as he slammed joined fists into the monster's nape. "Time….and time…..and time again," he growled, hammering the thing hard with barely any effect. "He just….doesn't…..listen," he swore, and barely ducked being sucker punched when the creature abruptly turned to swat at him.
"Meta," Gaia shouted, running toward her just then. "Get everyone back, I'm going to try to bury that freak! Let's see him move with fifty tons of rock on his head," she shouted, and pointed not at the stomping creature moving toward her, but the ground before her.
Connor, and Adana both flew up, and away, and ensured no one was close as the ground began to rumble, and crack open as if someone had simply pulled a long zipper back under the creature's feet.
"Deeper," the straining teen told herself as Meta flew down near her, ready in case the creature avoided the trap.
The ground split right under his feet, and he gave a droning howl as he tumbled into the stygian abyss that had grown right under him in the middle of the small town's main road. Then Gaia slapped her hands together, and the earth rumbled again as the crack slammed together with the force of a dozen freight trains.
"Good job," Connor grinned, flying down.
Gaia still looked as if she were straining.
"It won't….hold. You have to finish getting those people….out of here," she told them.
"How can you be so….?"
The ground cracked audibly again before Connor could finish speaking. Rumbling came from deeper down, and it seemed to be moving.
"I can feel the earth around him. It won't hold," the girl cried, and almost dropped to her knees, bathed in sweat from the effort of whatever she was doing.
"Hold him as long as you can," Adana told her. "Has anyone seen Spark?"
"He went back to recheck whatever was left of the computers," Dreadnaught said as he came over to nod at her. "He's hoping to find a failsafe for Failsafe. Don't worry. The last trucks are away now, and the locals are sending out warnings for everyone in the area to bail."
"Good," she nodded, even as a pale fist wreath in that green armor split the earth, and rose before them.
"No good," Gaia rasped, sagging. "I'm spent. I can't…."
"Robbie, get her out of here," Ada told him without looking back as she flew up, and then slammed down with both fists on the head of the emerging monster.
Both of them tumbled back into the still open pit below, and the ground shuddered violently at whatever was happening as Robert just stared at the cracked highway before him.
"Are you deaf," Connor shouted at him. "Get your friend clear while you can. Go," he shouted, and hovered just off the ground with fists curled, ready to move himself.
"I'll get her to the caravan, and be back as fast as I can," he told the apparent Superboy.
The grim-faced hero didn't even acknowledge him as Meta came flying up out of the partially sealed chasm, and arched past him toward the nearby town. He flew fast, and caught her before she could slam into the brick façade of a nearly city hall.
"Thanks. He sucker-punched me again. That guy plays dirty," she spat.
"Meta," a familiar voice shouted as a flash of energy burst over her head, and she looked up to see Captain Atom flying toward her. "Report."
"This guy is stronger than anyone I've ever seen, and just about as tough," Superboy told him. "Whatever he is, he's out to kill everyone on the planet, too."
Captain Atom glowered at her, and spat, "You were supposed to stop his activation before he could…."
"Recriminations later," Meta cut him off, pointing as the seven foot creature rose out of the shattered asphalt, and stood looking right at them.
"Cap, meet Failsafe," Ada told him.
"Metas detected. Aliens detected. Protocol. Terminate all preternatural life forms."
"Need I say more," she asked, and flew at him even harder than before, fists first.
She punched faster, and faster, and added more power, but while she drove the creature back, he was hitting back all the while, and finally landed a punch that sent her flying back to smash through three buildings before she stopped.
All in the blink of an eye.
"I'm going to try to use my full energy spectrum," Captain Atom told Connor, not bothering to ask where he had been. Not when it was so evident now. "Stand back."
He flew down, hovering in the path of the creature than now righted itself, and moved toward him.
As Captain began to glow brighter and brighter, his hands all but vanishing as he unleashed the powerful quantum energies that had somehow allowed him to survive in the most unlikely of all mishaps. He focused, and poured all of that energy into the beast's face, and forced himself to all but spend every erg he had left in reserve.
The creature all but radiated with the heat, and light, and then began to raise its hands anew.
And returned all of that energy, shredding Captain Atom's containment suit like tissue as the man that yet remained screamed, and fled the area before he exploded. High overhead, the rupture failed, and the sky was lit by a brighter blue as the resulting concussive wave drove even Failsafe to his knees for a moment.
Meta flew back up to Connor, looking around, and groaned.
"Don't tell me he took out silver-britches that easily?"
"Meta," a tall, silver-scaled, if humanoid dragon hybrid flew down just then. "Did I just see Captain Atom….?"
"Dragon, you might want to get out of here," Ada told him. "That thing will kill you."
The humanoid dragon-meta was strong, and he was fast. But he knew his limitations. He looked down at the creature, and slowly shook his head.
"If it is truly fused with the powers of all known metas, we might not have a chance," he realized.
"Not all," another said as Diana appeared, teleporting just below them at that instant. She flew up and joined them where they hovered just over the town, and eyed her granddaughter.
"Amazons were never included in the genetic sampling those men demanded of us. You were never included. J'onn told me of the fight, granddaughter. You are to be commended, but you have chosen a poor time to follow your lessons."
"Granddaughter," Connor frowned.
"Follow….my lessons," she frowned in turn.
Diana put a hand on her shoulder, and eyed her as the thing below howled a grim challenge.
"We've been teaching you to hold back so long, that you're still doing it even now. But now, Adana, is the time to unleash all your power. In battle, you must face your enemy with all your Amazonian might. It is time to show Man's World that Amazons will never yield. Or bow to an enemy," she said, and turned to face the armored beast.
Adana stared down at it, now ignoring its threats as she lifted one fist, and clenched it.
"I'm ready," she said, and stared down at the beast.
"Then, let us show the beast how true warriors fight," Diana shouted, and flew down to smash into it with both fists.
The beast when flying as if struck by a titan's hand.
Before it recovered, Adana was there, punching one, twice, three times in rapid succession, and driving it back through a brick façade, and back out the other side. The beast howled, and kicked. Adana went flying, but caught herself, and turned and glared at the armored monster.
Red fire exploded from her eyes, and this time, the animal within the man's shape screamed as its face seared away to leave a metallic skull revealed as its humanity was as much a façade as its shape.
"Abomination," Diana shouted, uncoiling her lasso. "Let there be an end to you," she spat, and caught it around its neck, and began to spin it around. "Adana! Take it! Up, and over," she said, and flung the creature into the sky.
Adana flew up with it, catching it before it could reach an apogee, and kept ascending.
She caught her own breath, unable to believe she was virtually on the very edge of the atmosphere, but noticing that the struggling creature had no trouble breathing. Or, it simply didn't need air. She turned, and flung it down, hands still gripping it as she accelerated, finding a speed within her that defied reason as she felt the heat of the air friction around her heat her flesh to near unbearable limits. Then she slammed into the ground, and the thing truly howled.
Climbing back up out of the crater, she jumped back, and stared into the crater she had created on impact, and saw the floundering beast rolling to its knees even as Diana joined her.
"As I thought, it cannot compensate for severe inertia. Again," she suggested, swinging her lasso at the thing that had lost an arm, but wasn't bleeding.
Black ichors did flow, but it was oily, and a metal prong jutted out from where its shoulder should have been. It looked up with blazing eyes even as Diana's golden lasso flew toward him.
Only this time, the lasso was caught, and the creature tugged with his good hand to try to bring her down.
"Abomination," Diana spat, planting her feet, and holding her ground. "I'm not that easy to take down."
"Batter up," Connor shouted, and Adana had to grin even as Superboy flew up behind the thing, and using part of a previously splintered tree at least twenty feet long, knocked the creature up, and back into the air.
Adana hit him hard, and was flying up again in the same instant.
"Error," the sputtering creature grated over her ears as it struggled with its single limb. "This scenario…..not probable….. Error….."
It suddenly jerked a leg up, kneeing her in the back, and making her drop it.
Connor was right behind them, catching it in the back, and flying upward at nearly the same speed she had managed before.
"Maybe we should toss it into space," he suggested when she caught herself, and flew after him.
"No good. He doesn't need air. Diana's right. Drive him into the ground. Even he cannot manage the force of raw inertia. It's our only chance with this guy."
"Pretty glaring weakness for such a powerful monster," Connor sputtered, reaching the edge of the atmosphere, and throwing the struggling monster back down.
"I doubt anyone conjured this scenario. One-on-one, this sucker is pretty tough."
"My bruises know," Connor laughed somberly, and dove at the creature.
Adana was right beside him.
"Give it everything. We'll crack his frame this time," she swore, and began to heat the green armor with her glowing eyes.
"You have heat vision," he sputtered. "That is so not fair," he growled, just before they hit the ground hard enough to carve a quarter mile crater into the middle of the ravaged town.
Both flew up out of the crater, looking down.
To their shock, the battered, almost bisected techno-organic creature staggered up, and even they could see he was starting to regenerate now. His severed arm showed signs of growing again, and his chest was glowing with a weird energy as it began to seal the cracks in his armor.
"Now, that just stinks," Adana swore.
"Don't worry," Spark said grimly, flashing down to join them in electrical form. "Now that you have him opened up, I know what to do. I found his shutdown codes on the mainframe."
The young hero vanished in a haze of electrical sparks and smoldering ozone that began to rise from the ruptures in the creature's armor as the entire massive frame quivered, shuddered, and then simply fell over. Then Spark rose from out of it, and stared wearily toward them after he returned to human form.
"Good job," Diana told him, joining the three as they stood over the fallen behemoth.
"Where are the others," Spark asked as he looked around.
"Pinkie was helping with the evacuation. Gaia was spent, so I had Robbie take her out of here so she wouldn't get hurt," Adana told him.
"Good thinking," Diana nodded.
"Why couldn't you do that before now," Connor asked him as he eyed the young teen that didn't look much older than some of his own former partners.
"One, I needed the shutdown codes. Two, without an authorized keying device, I had to get inside him. Pretty much impossible until you guys cracked him like a glass."
"It wasn't that easy," Adana laughed, then laughed again.
Out of sheer relief.
"Where is Ember," Diana asked.
All three looked grim now as Spark turned to where he had last left his friend's body.
"He….didn't make it."
"Hera," Diana murmured somberly.
"He died fighting," Spark told her. "He didn't quit. Not even when…."
Gordon looked away now, his expression eloquent.
"That is all that can be asked of any of us," Diana told him, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"I just want to know one thing," Connor cut in, uncomfortable with the somber mood now.
They all looked at him.
"How does she get heat vision?"
Diana couldn't help but laugh.
"Guess you have been out of the loop," Gordon murmured blandly.
"I'm Kal's granddaughter," Adana told him.
"Kal's….? But that means you….?"
He turned to Diana.
"You? And Superman?"
"We had a moment of…..weakness," she smiled fondly at a memory of her own.
"I have got to meet your mother," Connor declared. "I suppose she's just as tough."
"Funny you should say that," Adana murmured even as J'onn appeared with half the regular League in tow at that moment.
"You….stopped it," he asked Diana.
"They stopped it," Diana smiled, gesturing to the three younger heroes.
"Not without cost," Spark said, turning to walk toward the forest. "Todd didn't make it. We have to take him…..home."
J'onn said nothing as he stared after the grieving young man.
"It seems you have all acquitted yourselves well this day," he told Adana as he looked back at her. "What of the rest of your team?"
"With the civilians we evacuated," she told him.
"That's likely for the best," he said, eyeing the devastation around him. "I think we had best get a cleanup team here now, and start making repairs. These people are going to want their homes back when they return."
"First, we get that thing out of here," Adana pointed at the fractured creature, and drop it in the sun, or something. It's too dangerous to leave laying."
"I agree," Diana nodded. "And we need to follow-up, and make sure this Cadmus, or Janus, doesn't have any other prototypes laying around."
"There were nineteen other metas with me in hibernation, too," Connor told J'onn. Plastic-man, and Black Canary among them."
"Canary," J'onn frowned. "I remember when Oliver swore someone kidnapped her. Only we never found a lead."
"So, you can tell him you found…."
"No, I can't. You've slept longer than you realize, Superboy," J'onn told him.
"If Superman has a granddaughter, I guess so," he sputtered. "I didn't even know he had…. Well….kids."
Diana eyed J'onn, and both were as blank as ever.
"Long story," Diana finally said.
"Do I get to hear it," Adana asked.
"Later," Diana told her. "For now, we do have to finish this job. And take out the trash," she said, eyeing the fallen monster herself."
"And then I can get back to college?" She frowned, then asked, "Oh, and did anyone find Barb's dad?"
"No," J'onn murmured. "And it is worrying. Either he is…..gone, or he may be at the very apex of whatever conspiracy is behind this madness."
"And I really wanted to wrap this up now," she groaned.
"Life is seldom that simple," J'onn told her.
Connor glared at him.
"Still playing the sourpuss, Martian," he demanded. "Jeez, after all this time, you think you would have learned to relax," he huffed.
J'onn just stared, and turned to start directing the League members that were present even as Spark came out of the forest carrying Ember's battered, scorched body.
Adana sobered herself, and went over to join him.
"Captain Atom was wrong about their team," J'onn told Diana as she joined him. "They are rue heroes."
"That is obvious, J'onn," Diana told him quietly. "My granddaughter is impetuous of late, but she is right. Captain Atom can be…..a stick-in-the-mud at times."
"Indeed. Incidentally, I have a reclamation team gathering his residual energies already. I believe we should be able to restore him without problem."
"Adana will be thrilled," Diana murmured.
"I don't have to be a mind reader to know she really doesn't care," he told her as he glanced over at where she was standing with Spark after he turned over his friend's body to one of the members who had brought down a gurney form the shuttle that was arriving with emergency supplies, and provisions in case the civilians needed them.
Considering the rush job on the evacuation, and the running fight to get them clear, Diana suspected they would soon be needing all the help they could get.
To Be Continued….