Superboy 2099 #4
"Men of Steel"
Writer: Tony Thornley
AEiC: Ryan May
EiC: Lierson Morais
The metallic body of one of the Metal Men slammed into me. I grunted and drove
my elbow into the cyborg's chest. His breath exploded from him in a wheeze. I
spun around and slammed the energized end of Cadmus's staff into the base of his
skull. The psi energy discharge short circuted the cyborg's nervous system and
he slumped to the ground.
Superman was nearby, holding his own very well. I reached out with my psi
powers to see if he needed help, but where his mind was supposed to be I could
only find... a computer.
Superman was a machine. On a hunch, I used my speed powers to send out a sort
of sonar wave. My hunch was correct. The image I saw which slightly resembled
the twencen Supes was a hologram. Superman actually was some sort of android.
I shook myself out of the private history lesson.
I knew more about the past than any other person my age, except maybe Kara, my
love. I have the Cadmus Project to thank for that, as well as my fantastic
powers. I have a mysterious man called Cadmus to thank for my knowledge of how
to use those powers.
I flew to Supes' side and used a blast of energy from Cadmus's staff to clear
away several cyborgs and tech-enhanced gang bangers. "A robot, eh?" I said.
"What?!" Superman said, a little surprised. He brushed back a Metal Man and
turned back to me. "What are you talking about, Superboy?"
"You're a machine," I said.
"Oh," Superman replied. "Well, not entirely. I'll explain once we get rid of
"I know them," I said. "I'll take care of it." I took to the air and started
scanning the gang. The Metal Men had grown since I'd encountered them last.
'Was it only yesterday?' I thought to myself. It seemed like an eternity.
I found who I was looking for and swooped in like an extinct peregrine falcon.
I grabbed Tech by his scruffy collar and pulled him above the fight.
"I thought I told you punks yesterday!" I roared. "Disband, or face the
"You did, Kid," Tech replied, "and the wussy Titans listened to you. But us
Metal Men, we're strong. WE don't listen to two-bit punks that think they're
superheroes." Tech spat at me. "The Metal Men got us some new members. Some
are fresh out of the bionic surgery. Some weren't too willing about it though.
Those 'uns are the worse off. They're all metal, although they ain't got too
much man, if you know what I mean."
"You sick, shocking scum!" I screamed. I'd read about several of the
disappearances. Influential men and women. I picked them out. They were the
Metal Men that looked how Superman would without the hologram. Zero humanity.
I slammed my free hand into Tech's gut. Pretty much all the fighting had ground
to a halt below me. It was all me and Tech.
"Where are their bodies?" I said. I knew that Tech had transfered their
brains directly to their suits. Cut the brain out and about three inches of
spinal cord and wired it to the suit. Chalk that knowledge up to being a psi.
I couldn't get deep enough into Tech's partially computerized mind to find the
information I asked him for.
"Dumped 'em into th' river." Tech smiled at me. "We have no use for them
"Bastard!" I screamed. I flew higher, over the top of Metropolis. Higher than
the highest skyscraper. Higher than anything man-made on the planet. I then
dove. Straight down. I held Tech out like a shield. He was going to take
every ounce of momentum from the impact. I was going to kill him.
He'd ruined the lives of innocent people. He had to pay. Tech was the first
being I'd encountered when I escaped from the Project. I knew he was evil then,
but I knew the extent now. I flew faster and faster. I saw the ground rush up
"Any last words?" I yelled over the wind.
"See you in-" His last words were drowned out by the ignition of a jetpack.
The shocking cyborg had an escape route the entire time. He flew away, leaving
most of his gang. My momentum was too fast to stop, so I did the only thing I
could. I vibrated through the street and splashed down in the sewers
underneath. It hurt. A lot.
I vibrated back to street level. Superman had gathered the remaining Metal Men
into one cluster and had lassoed them with some electrical wires that had been
broken off in the fight.
"Good work, kid," Superman said. "I've alerted the police, but I doubt they'll
like the fact that a couple of metas busted this gang. I'll give you ten-to-one
odds that they'll be on the street again within a week on some technicality."
"Wouldn't surprise me," I replied. Superman and I left the scene together. We
got to a rooftop several blocks away from the scene and stopped. It was truth
"What did you want before the Metal Men attacked?" I asked.
"I wanted to make sure you weren't some psycho vigilante who would tarnish the
shield. You proved that you weren't during the fight. Except for that little
outburst with Tech, but I heard everything that was said."
"Yeah," I said, "he was the first person I encountered, uh, in Metropolis." If
Supes noticed my hesitation, he ignored it. I didn't want to tell him where I
was from. People from the Project were widly regarded as freaks.
"You wanted to know about the robot thing?" he asked. I nodded. "Well, it
started a while ago. Someone attacked me at my job." I noticed some hesitation
in his voice. "I used a special suit to defend myself. I stopped the
attackers, but then I found that I was dead. My body anyways. My mind, my
consciousness had been tranferred into the suit. There's a little more to it,
but I don't want to get into it."
"Ouch," I said. "I'm sorry."
"I've got to go," Superman said, standing up. "Patrol and everything."
"Thank you," I said, holding out my hand. He took it and we shook.
"You're welcome." With that Superman blasted into the sky. I didn't know if
I'd ever see him again.
I arrived back at the apartment I'd lived in with Cadmus since I escaped the
Project. Cadmus was gone, off to find heroes to save Earth. Kara had taken his
place. I flew silently into the apartment.
Kara was asleep on her cot. I was slightly confused until I looked outside.
It was dark. How hadn't I noticed that? I'd been gone all day. She must have
been worried. So why hadn't she come to find me? She was a metahuman as well.
Then I noticed something.
Kara was tied to her cot. Her clothes were torn. Someone had beaten Kara.
And the wounds on her chest and stomach were still bleeding.
Someone else was there. My psi powers flared on to scan the room. I was too
late. The intruder pounced on my back. I attempted to draw my staff, but I was
too slow. It was gone, in the intruder's hand. I got a good look at the
It was a woman. I thought to the claw marks on Kara's body. It made sense.
She had flame-red hair, and was built like an exoctic dancer who lifted weights.
She wore little, as if she was overheated. She smiled at me.
"Hello pup," she said. "I thought you and your ladyfriend would be more of a
challenge. You're nothing like my mother's Superboy."
"Who are you?" I growled.
"Tsk, tsk, Jake Collins," she said. I was taken aback by the use of my real
name. Then I realised Kara had probably screamed for me when this woman
attacked her. Then it just took a little torture to get the rest of my name.
She smiled at me.
"Yeah, I tortured the pathetic girl for your name," she said. "That's what you
were thinking, right?" The woman laughed. "And no, I'm not a psi. Knockout
has many powers, but that's not one." With that, the woman called Knockout drew
up to me and kissed me heavily, pressing her ample frame against me seductively.
As she stepped back, she drew a stun-blaster and fired on me. My world fell
To be continued...
Cadmus looked over the city of Gotham. It was here he would find the strategic
member of Young Justice. Batman had come from this city, Nightwing had come from this
city, Batgirl had come from this city, and Robin had come from this city. The four
were masters at strategy and detective work in their time.
Cadmus scanned minds, searching for the one in the streets below him. Little
he knew that the answer would come in the form of one of Gotham's enforcers.
WayneCorp hover tanks. They were firing on a person on the street below them.
A resounding order came from the lead tank.
"YOU WILL SUBMIT METAHUMAN!" it said, "ALL METAS ARE TO BE TAKEN INTO
"I'm not a freakin' meta," came the reply. It was a feminine voice. "The
name's Redbird, and I have no superpowers!" Cadmus started his descent to
street level. He could see that Redbird had little chance of defending herself.
"NEW DATA PROCESSED," the tank boomed. "YOU ARE A VIGILANTE, AND THEREFORE-"
The tank paused. Cadmus laughed at the thought that a robot understood the
concept of dramatic pauses. "-YOU ARE TO BE ELIMINATED!" Cadmus was close
enough to street level to make his presence known.
"NOT ON MY WATCH!" Cadmus cried. From where he was, he suddenly sped up attack
speed and crashed into the lead tank feet first. The top crumpled inward. One
of the other two tanks moved its sensor to Cadmus.
"META IDENTIFIED!" it said. "CADMUS, TYPE A METAHUMAN. EXTREMELY DANGEROUS."
"You bet I am!" Cadmus retorted. Silently though, he cursed. How did
WayneCorp know about him? Redbird suddenly appeared on the tank's back. She
held in her hand what appeared to be a formed charge. She slammed it into the
metal plating near the tank's visual sensor.
"Bye, bye!" she said and lept clear. 'The kid is good,' Cadmus admitted to
himself. She was perfect for Young Justice. The last tank decided on a
tactical retreat, but Redbird had other plans. She sprinted towards the tank,
and took advantage of an oil slick to slide under the tank and throw another
formed charge into the tank's hover coils. The tanks was engulfed in a
Cadmus lept away from the tank. He immediately regretted it. Even though he
only appeared to be twenty, his joints and bones felt like a seventy-year-old's.
He'd have to rest up for the coming battle.
"I'm too old for this," Cadmus muttered as Redbird joined him.
"Dude," Redbird said, "You're only in the shockin' twenties, aren't you?"
"You have no idea," Cadmus retorted. He stuck his hand out. "The name's
Cadmus. I'm from Metropolis. I'm forming a superteam, Young Justice. I'd like
you to join."
"Thanks," Redbird said, taking off the mask then taking Cadmus's hand. Her
costume reminded Cadmus of both the twencen Robin and Spoiler. "The name's Val
Cast, although Redbird works just as well."
"Welcome to the team, Val," Cadmus said, shaking her hand.
To be continued...