Outside the Smallville Savings and Loan building, Oak Street, Smallville, Earth-33, Sunday, April 23, 1967, 10:03 A.M.:
“This is the best you could come up with?” Ultraboy stood outside the Smallville Savings and Loan building, yawning. He was bored. His two associates — one a brutish, pale-skinned monster in tattered clothing and the other a red-haired teenage girl in a stylized yellow and black costume with greenish armored leggings, a pair of insect-like wings on her back, and a black bug emblem on her chest — were smashing in the bank’s storefront, turning the once-solid brick and mortar wall into a pile of debris. Each of the two were smirking in delight, as this is what they most enjoyed: wanton violence and destruction.
“What’s the problem, luv?” Insect Empress said, stopping as she posed in front of the blue-and-red-clad Kryptonian, flipping her hair sexily as she leaned in close for him to leer at her ample chest. Ultraboy just rolled his eyes at the crimson-haired temptress.
“Bored. Neutro and I just had the battle of our lives last night with goodie-goodie hero versions of ourselves,” Ultraboy said, briefly chuckling to himself, “and you two just want to knock over the S and L… again. I’m bored with this garbage.”
“Well,” Insect Empress began, her tone that of semi-annoyance, “forgive us for not giving you much of a challenge, milord, but we are only simple Earthlings, and we are not of the same caliber as your parallel.”
“Watch it, snot-nose… I’m really not in the mood.”
“Why? You marooned the goodie-two-shoes here on our Earth, with no allies and no hope of returning home. What’s the problem?”
“He comes from a world that is our polar opposite. Where he comes from, every battle he fights, he wins. He might upset the proverbial apple cart while he’s here.”
“Then why, pray tell, did you bring him here?”
“I screwed up. So sue me. Neutro and I were having so much fun last night that I didn’t want it to end. It didn’t occur to me until after we returned here that he might prove to be a problem–” Ultraboy stopped mid-sentence as his super-hearing detected the sound of the demolished bank’s silent alarm, and several high-powered sedans pulled up about ten feet away in a semi-circular formation around the villainous trio. It was the Smallville Police.
“Ultraboy… Insect Empress… Brute…” came a deep voice from the lead police car in front of them, “…this is Chief Jules Luthor. Surrender peacefully. I have no wish to make this yet another Sunday of violence. Please make my job easy for once, and don’t make me get rough with you three.” Chief Luthor got out of his cruiser and stood next to the still-warm police car. He was a tall man in his late forties with brown hair and eyes, a jagged scar at his left temple, and a look of grim determination on his face as he stood his ground. This time, you little punk, he thought to himself, you are not going to get away with ruining my Sunday morning.
“Ha! You and what army, chief? Those uniformed morons? Don’t make me laugh. You ain’t got nothin’ that’ll hurt me, whereas I–” Ultraboy shouted back, glancing over his shoulder toward the Brute, “–I can hurt each and every one of youse without lifting a finger.” Ultraboy snapped his fingers and stepped aside as the Brute flung a section of the demolished storefront toward Chief Luthor.
“Chief!” screamed one of the police officers as he flung himself into the police chief, knocking him to the ground and out of the way of the debris.
“Officer Jeffries… Jim… please get off me!”
“I’m sorry, Chief,” replied Officer Jim Jeffries. “I was just trying to keep you from getting injured… again.” Jeffries stood up, helping the chief to his feet, and as he turned around, he came face to face with Ultraboy, who stood there smirking at the young cop. Pulling his gun, Jeffries stood his ground, much as Chief Luthor had done only scant seconds before. “You’re under arrest.”
Ultraboy, using a super-fast combination of his super-strength and super-speed, swatted the sidearm out of Jeffries’ hands, laughing. Before Jeffries could react, Ultraboy gave a super-hard shove into the cop’s chest that propelled him through the air and into one of the parked police sedans. As his body slammed hard into the cruiser’s driver side fender, he heard two distinct, loud snaps as intense pain shot through his right arm and left leg. Jim Jeffries screamed in pain as Ultraboy laughed.
“Oh… seems like we now got a matching set. Don’t you find that pretty funny?”
“Actually,” came an electronic voice from behind Ultraboy, “I don’t find it funny at all.” The electronic voice came from a shiny, teenager-sized, chrome-plated robot. As the evil Boy of Steel turned to see where the voice came from, he was caught off guard as the robot’s left fist made contact with his face, knocking the teen crook to the ground.
“I should’a guessed,” Ultraboy said as he picked himself up off the ground and dusted himself off. “Robotboy.”
“In the metallic flesh, Kryptonian. Stand down.”
“No. Make me, you tincan. If you can, that is.” Ultraboy smirked as twin beams of heat-vision burst forth from his eyes, slicing Robotboy’s arms and legs off. The robot’s torso, with literally no leg to stand on, dropped to the ground like a ton of bricks.
“Error. Error. Multiple damage to unit.”
“Like I said, Chief, you and what army?”
“Boys,” Chief Luthor shouted, “fall back! Get out of their way.”
“That’s a good idea, Chief,” came a youthful voice from above, “leave this jerk and his cronies to us.” Dozens of eyes jerked up to take in the imposing image of two costumed teenagers and a glowing green dog standing atop a floating metal disc. It was Dav-Im, the crusader from Krypton, and the Kryptonite Kid and his Kryptonite Dog. “Well, Kel-Ll,” began Dav-Im as he floated down to the ground, “it looks as though it’s finally about time for us to teach you that lesson we’ve been promising you for hurting others.”
“I’d like to see you three try. Those two dolts can’t hurt me, since they radiate kryptonite energy, and all that does is make me more powerful. And you, well, you are too evenly matched with me. But you’re more than willing to try.”
Dav-Im breathed out a slow and measured breath. He knew that Ultraboy was right. This fight would not go well, and since he did not have the same basic combat training that the son of Jur-Ll did, he was more than likely about to have his head handed to him by the Smallville Scoundrel. Dav-Im ran his hand through his short brown hair. He knew that he had to try, regardless of whether or not he would win or lose. He looked up toward the floating hover platform upon which the Kryptonite Kid and the Kryptonite Dog were still standing. K.K., he thought out, knowing his friend and comrade in arms would be able to “hear” him via his Blorian telepathic powers, make sure that Alex knows that he owes us for this.
The Kryptonite Kid nodded back toward his best friend as he and his dog continued their telepathic assault on the Insect Empress and the Brute. The glowing green youth and dog had, for the last several moments, been using their native telepathic abilities to keep the Brute and the Insect Empress docile and out of the fight. This tactic had helped him and his friend on more than one occasion in the past against Ultraboy, allowing them to beat a hasty retreat when the odds were no longer in their favor. The Kryptonite Kid was hoping that this time it would be enough, and that finally, he and Dav-Im, would be victorious.
Dav-Im flew straight at Ultraboy, arms outstretched, ready for the impact of invulnerable body against invulnerable body. He was determined, ready for a fight — a fight that never came, as just seconds before he collided with the Smallville Scoundrel, Ultraboy’s right fist flashed up into his chin in a super-speed uppercut that knocked him end over end into the pavement of Oak Street, unconscious.
“Anyone else wanna try?” Ultraboy laughed. This was a nice diversion, but it wasn’t the kind of fight he had been looking for. I guess Superboy ain’t showing up, he thought to himself.
“How about me, you twerp?” The voice came from the sky above the Kryptonite Kid and his dog. Everyone once again looked skyward, this time seeing a youthful doppelgänger of Ultraboy clad in a blue and red costume with a stylized crimson and yellow letter S emblem on his chest. His arms were folded across his chest as he floated in the air next to a white dog in a red cape, both his and the dog’s eyes flashing a look that combined sheer annoyance and grim resolve.
“Superboy and Krypto,” said Ultraboy after a few tense moments, smirking, “it’s about damn time that you two showed up.”
“We got stuck in traffic,” Superboy replied as he placed his clenched fists at his waist in a classic heroic pose. “As you said last night when you attacked me outside my Earth’s Smallville Hospital, ‘Let’s rumble.'”
The Kent House, 321 Maple Street, Smallville, Earth-One, 10:11 A.M.:
Jonathan Kent sat at the kitchen table, slowly sipping his coffee. So far, it had been a nice, quiet, leisurely Sunday morning in the Kent house. He had gotten up fairly early, pulled on his clothes, fetched the newspaper from the front porch, and gotten into the car and headed into town to stop off at the bakery and pick up some rolls and assorted pastries, a prune Danish for himself, a Boston crème for Martha, and an apple turnover for Clark. He had said that he was going into town for this once a month “rolls and cakes” on a Sunday ritual, because he wanted Martha to sleep in a bit this morning without having to get herself up and start cooking one of her patented hearty breakfasts, but that wasn’t his real reason. Clark hadn’t come home the night before, and Jonathan Kent was worried.
When he had arrived in town, he had found his old friend Chief Douglas Parker out near the parking lot for the Smallville Medical Center, overseeing the cleanup and assessment of the damages from the night before. Approaching his old friend, a brown paper bag filled with breakfast rolls in one hand, and a white cardboard box of assorted breakfast pastries tied with string in the other, he had nonchalantly asked, “What’s going on here, Doug?”
Chief Parker, who looked like he hadn’t slept since at least Friday night, gave him the full rundown of the previous night’s events: the break-in at the Savings and Loan by Jim Jeffries and the subsequent attack on him by the costumed Ultraboy, Superboy’s arrival on scene and the attack on him outside the hospital by Ultraboy, the appearance and destruction of three of Superboy’s robots, the arrival of Krypto and Neutro, and finally, Superboy and Krypto’s leading away of Ultraboy and Neutro. It was a lot for Jonathan to take in as he walked home; on the one hand he was proud of his son for how he acted in battle, trying to use every possible way at his disposal to try to keep innocent bystanders safe and property damage to a minimum, but on the other hand there was that nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach that his son was missing. He was worried about what had happened to Clark, but said nothing to Martha after he had returned home and they had commenced eating their breakfast. It was a full twenty minutes before Martha had said anything about Clark’s disappearance.
“Jon,” she began while spreading some homemade strawberry jam on top of the thin layer of butter she had already spread on one half of her breakfast roll, “you know that Clark never came home last night, don’t you?”
Jonathan Kent gently placed his steaming cup of coffee down on the table and gave his wife an intense, loving look. “Yes, Martha,” he said after a few moments, “I know.”
“When I went into town earlier for our breakfast, I ran into Chief Parker and questioned him about what happened last night.”
“And what did he tell you?”
With that, Jonathan related the events of the previous evening and what had happened to their son after the attack at the hospital. “And that’s all I know, Martha. I hate to say this, but I’m worried about him.”
“So am I, Jonathan. So am I.”
“How are you remaining so calm right now, Martha?”
“That’s my job, Jonathan. I’m a mother. We have to be solid in the face of adversity. After all, as my own mother taught me while growing up, a mother is the foundation of the family.”
“Well, I’m glad that you are the foundation of our family,” Jonathan said to his wife, smiling as he gently squeezed her hand in his. “I hope he’s all right.”
“You know he is, Jonathan,” Martha replied in a reassuring tone. Like last night when they had had a similar conversation about their son, she only wished that she were as confident as she sounded.
Outside the Smallville Savings and Loan building, Earth-33, 10:15 A.M.:
“So,” Ultraboy said, smirking at Superboy, “I guess the tables have turned.”
“Oh? Do tell.” There was a slight hint of sarcastic annoyance in Superboy’s voice.
“Well,” Ultraboy began as he slowly ascended into the sky to come face to face with the hero, “last night I was the interloper, insinuating myself into your life. Now you are the interloper, insinuating yourself into my life… interfering with my state of normalcy.”
“Isn’t that what you wanted? A challenge?”
“Indeed, Superboy — that was what I thought I wanted. But since I stranded you here, I began to have second thoughts as to my actions.”
Superboy cocked one eyebrow. This I have to hear, he thought.
“You come from a universe where good always triumphs over evil. Your victory is always assured. Here, things are reversed. Good always loses to evil. Now, using the analogy of a scientific experiment, what happens when you introduce an alien element into an environment that it has never existed in before? There are three possible answers to this: one, the alien element will either perish in the new environment, two, the alien element will adapt to the new environment, or three, the new environment will change and adapt itself to suit the alien element. Now, given these choices, of them there are only two possible outcomes in dealing with you as the alien element — either you will perish in this new environment, or this environment will adapt to suit you.”
“Why would the possibility of me adapting to the new environment not be a possible outcome?”
“Well, it is quite simple, Superboy. The only way that you would be able to adapt to this environment is to either become tougher as a heroic protector or for you to become one of the bad guys. Neither of these options are probable given your innate personality traits, which is the direct result of your upbringing on your world. Hence, you will either perish here or change my world.”
“Flawless logic, Ultraboy. And which of the remaining two options do you think is the most likely?”
“Simple. Your death.” No sooner had the words exited from Ultraboy’s lips than he was flying at super-speed into Superboy. As he slammed into the hero, Ultraboy grabbed him around his waist, accelerating faster and faster as he pushed Superboy with all his might into the upper atmosphere. Once the two super-beings had reached the atmospheric layer commonly referred to as the mesosphere, Ultraboy relaxed his grip and let go of the hero, beginning a super-speed pummeling the likes of which Superboy had never felt before, and it put the one that Superboy and Krypto had leveled upon Ultraboy and Neutro the night before to shame.
Superboy couldn’t react fast enough. All the strength was being drained from him, either from the intense beating he was receiving, the lack of oxygen, the kryptonite energy that Ultraboy’s body radiated like body heat, or all three.
“You’ll notice,” Superboy heard Ultraboy’s voice in his ears, obviously due to the evil Boy of Steel’s use of super-ventriloquism, “that you appear to once again feel weak and nauseous. Well, we both know that that is because I had my Corn Flakes this morning.” Ultraboy was laughing as he said this. Obviously, Ultraboy had exposed himself to green kryptonite sometime this morning, either before he and his associates had attacked the bank, or during the confrontation with Dav-Im and the Kryptonite Kid; most likely it was the latter as opposed to the former, since Ultraboy did come into close proximity to this world’s Kryptonite Kid as he levitated up to confront Superboy.
Even a momentarily brief exposure, thought Superboy as he tried to remain conscious, must be enough to give him added strength. Fighting to stay awake, Superboy had to try to employ a bit of strategy, like he had the night before, to regain the upper hand in this contest. Think, Clark, think.