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Superboy 2099 #4

"Men of Steel"

Writer: Tony Thornley
Editor: Sakura
AEiC: Ryan May
EiC: Lierson Morais

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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 this gang."

"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 consquences!"

"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 anymore."

"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 at me.

"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 telling time.

"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 intruder.

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 into darkness...

***
To be continued...
***

"Strategy"

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 CUSTODY!"

"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 brilliant explosion.

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...
***