Man of Tomorrow: Last Son
CHAPTER I: DEATH
This story begins with a planet that resided millions of light years away from Earth. This planet was called Krypton, and inhabited by a people quite similar to humans called the Kryptonians. It would seem simple enough, but it was not so. The Kryptonians were perpetually, for whatever reason, locked in a sort of a feud between two factions of the entire population of the planet. These two factions embraced two lifestyles: one adopting a militaristic culture, and one with a scientific culture. The militaristic members of the Kryptonian race were led by General Zod, a man who'd risen in the ranks of his people through sheer show of prowess. He was known to be a great and fair leader, and one who wouldn't tolerate injustice. The scientific people of Krypton, however, had no one leader but acted together in councils, one of which was headed by Jor-El, a man like none other. His pursuits showed that he only held concern for the rest of the people, never for himself. He always made proof of his devotion not only through his scientific inquiries, but also through his love of his wife Lara. The day that everything changed on Krypton is one that is burned into the fabric of the universe. Though they might not have been felt on Earth, the ripple effects made on that day were sent to nearly every other galaxy, letting people know: Krypton's doom had come.
To have a better understanding, it must be noted that not far before the day came, Jor-El and Zod had decided, with the universe becoming more and more hostile every day, that they must create something to benefit both sides. And so, combining their respective expertise in secret, they created an android, with the likeness of the Kryptonian gods. They made him with a simple green, artificial skin and a marking of three circles in a triangle on his forehead. They gave him the capability to analyze any situation and determine what was best. They gave him strength beyond any mortal creature. And they gave him a name. After much debate, they landed on a simple name, yet one that would infer power. They called him Brainiac. But since he was of no use at the time, Jor-El and Zod simply kept Brainiac secret. And so, they kept him there in waiting for a need to arise that would require their creation. And on the day when Brainiac was finished and all was decided, they both went home. Jor-El went home to his wife, who at the time was pregnant with their first child. This may not seem significant, but on Krypton such a thing was of massive importance. You see, on Krypton, all offspring was born of predetermined and mass-produced DNA. It had been that way for hundreds of years. All Kryptonians but Jor-El and those who believed him saw something wrong with it.
Jor-El had discovered that the DNA they were using was going stale, so to speak. They were running out, and he could tell. But that wasn't even the worst. Both factions had individuals who, whether authorized to do so or not, created vast mining shafts to gather materials in the event of all-out war between the factions. Jor-El and a few others had noticed that a destabilization was taking place on Krypton as a result of this rampant mining. And Jor-El and these other few, no matter how many times they tried, never were able to convince anyone that they were in mortal danger. Jor-El knew it was unlikely for the destabilization to cause major damage for years, but he knew preparation was needed. One day, he approached Zod about his startling findings. "Zod, my friend," he said frantically, "You must help me. Look at my research and see what danger we're in." Zod had eyed it for a few minutes, carefully considering what Jor-El had brought before him. Eventually, Zod waved it off and said, "Are the elders of your people worried?"
"No," admitted Jor-El, "But they are blinded by age and pride! No matter what I bring before them, they carry on as if it will be all right!"
"Then maybe it will be," said Zod, "They may not be as blind as you think. I have to go now. If we're seen talking, it'll be the ruin of us both. If you're confident about this, go to the elders as much as possible. I may not believe it, but if you're persistent, you're bound to convince someone." Jor-El was left in disbelief. Now even his best friend didn't believe him.
And then, the day came. The hostility between the factions had come to a head. Jor-El and Zod were powerless to stop it. Zod himself was thrown out of authority, on account of his lieutenants thinking he'd become too soft. Jor-El soon contacted Zod, saying, "Zod, I think…it's time. We need him."
"Are you sure?" said Zod, "All of our progress on Brainiac didn't yield any results as to how he'd act. We don't know how he'll be once he's activated."
"If we don't do this, Krypton will collapse on itself one way or another," said Jor-El, "We have no choice." Zod said, "If I've learned anything living in my culture, it's this: you always have a choice. Always." Jor-El sighed, saying, "Zod, what do we have to lose?" Zod paused. He eventually replied, "Fine. But whatever happens, it's all on you."
"I realize that," said Jor-El, "In science, risks must always be taken. And the scientist must always take responsibility."
"I'll meet you there," said Zod.
"Of course," said Jor-El, "In fact, I'm already here." Jor-El ended their call and looked up at the face of Brainiac, who was suspended by cables attached to his limbs. His cold, lifeless eyes seemed to stare into the distance with no purpose. He almost seemed lost. Jor-El put his hand on Brainiac's chest, thinking about his creation. He was unsure, above everything else. He had no time to ponder this, however, as Zod walked through the door. Jor-El took his hand off of Brainiac.
Zod walked to a panel they had constructed reserved for Brainiac's activation. Zod said, "This could have terrible consequences."
"No worse than the foreseeable future of our world," said Jor-El, approaching the panel. They hovered their hands over activation pads. They hesitated, looking each other in the eye. With sharp intakes of breath, they both pressed their hands to the panels, and energy surged through the cables, awakening Brainiac and dropping him to the floor. He landed on his knees as Jor-El and Zod walked towards him. Brainiac's gaze was fixed on the ground. Jor-El ventured to say, "Brainiac?" Brainiac lifted his head, and his eyes glowed purple. He spoke slowly, "Are you…my…creator?" Jor-El smiled and said, "We both are."
"What is…my purpose?" said Brainiac. Zod and Jor-El lifted Brainiac to his feet and led him to the doorway, overlooking a cliff. What they saw was Krypton's landscape beginning to be torn, war spreading across the plains. "What is this?" asked Brainiac. Zod said, "Your purpose. You must stop this."
"Why?" asked Brainiac coldly, "All this is, is the end of an age. You've given me knowledge to determine this. This 'war' is an inevitability in all worlds, and it is not my purpose to stop it." He walked over to a shrink ray, as Zod and Jor-El tried to convince him to stop.
As Zod put his hand on Brainiac's shoulder, Brainiac said, "Do not attempt to stop me. I do not wish injury upon you." Zod withdrew his hand, saying, "Brainiac, if you don't stop, I'll have to stop you myself." Brainiac froze. He turned to Zod, saying, "Could you?" Zod steeled himself, saying, "If I have to, yes."
"I will not stop," said Brainiac, "And if I don't stop, you intend to stay me yourself. Therefore, you must be stopped." Brainiac extended his hand, firing a bolt of purple energy at Zod's chest. Zod flew across the room, hitting the panel they had used to bring Brainiac to life. Jor-El ran to Zod's side, saying, "He's dead! Brainiac, what have you done?"
"What is necessary to fulfill my purpose," said Brainiac, "I must not be slowed. I do regret that he had to die, but my greatest concern is advancement. If you wish to go the same way, try and stop me." Jor-El didn't go forward, as he knew he still had his wife and unborn child to care for. "As you wish, Brainiac," he said, "But just remember that all the death that will surely come soon is your fault."
"No," said Brainiac, "According to your research, it is your people who have brought Krypton's doom upon themselves. I have no part in it." Jor-El realized that Brainiac was thinking just as he and Zod had intended. He was thinking logically and critically. They hadn't accounted for the possibility that Brainiac might, in fact, be unfeeling. "How foolish we were," he said under his breath.
"Foolish, indeed," said Brainiac, picking up the shrink ray, "You would try to lay the burden of a self-destructing world on someone who has no business with it." With that, Brainiac flew away with the shrink ray.
Where Brainiac went with the shrink ray would have been obvious, indeed, if Jor-El had thought of it. Only one large and prosperous city omitted itself from the two factions, instead making its own government. Incidentally, they were also those few who believed Jor-El, and so put up a shield. The city was called Kandor. Brainiac was now hovering over the city, with the shrink ray poised in his hand. He knew that Kandor would be the most likely to survive the experimental process of being shrunk with its shield, and therefore was the perfect candidate. He also knew that if Krypton was destroyed, even the shield around Kandor might not protect it. And so, he decided that if he were to preserve and study the ideal Kryptonians, the generally peaceful and wiser people of Kandor was who he had to keep. With his decision firmly rooted in place, he shrunk the city. He could hear alarmed yells emanating from the streets below, becoming quieter and higher in pitch as the city shrunk, eventually becoming too quiet to hear. He produced a bottle out of raw materials he extracted from his own being. He was able to regenerate using pieces of metallic earth on the ground. He landed on the ground, walking towards the now miniscule city. He picked it up by its tiny foundations, carefully putting it in the bottle and sealing it.
Then he turned to the rest of Krypton, saying, "The wrongs of this planet and its people are bringing it to an end. These others are not worthy, not even my own creator. They are inferior." He flew far above and in the middle of the large, even cataclysmic battle ensuing on the surface. He looked out over the landscape with his large purple eyes, scanning for one of the unauthorized mines. Eventually, he saw one, and he immediately flew towards it. He smoothly landed inside, seeing that there was a vulnerable spot in the mine that was unstable enough to set off the destruction of Krypton much faster. But as a small delay for Brainiac, there were already Kryptonian soldiers from the military faction inside, digging for more materials. Brainiac landed directly behind them, and he announced his presence by saying, "I will not take it kindly if you fools strike the final blow against Krypton before I do." They all turned, and one raised his gun, saying, "What are you? And what are you doing?" Brainiac quickly went forward and grabbed the questioning soldier by the head. He lifted him, soon forming part of his hand into a blade, spearing the soldier's head. He dropped the soldier and said, "It is no business of yours." The other two soldiers backed away. Brainiac turned in a flash and fired from his hands twice, killing both soldiers.
He turned back to the trigger spot in the mine, saying to himself, "This planet has been stewarded poorly. It is too broken to defend. And so, it must be allowed to deteriorate." He aimed at the spot, firing. The battle, far away, stopped as quakes and rumbles of mammoth size enveloped it.