By Adrian Tullberg
The body fell into the ocean.
Lex Luthor watched as the alien was swallowed up by the Atlantic.
He should feel better about this. He should be laughing, smiling, cracking jokes, telling the others about the book deals they could negotiate for beating the crap out of Superman.
Perhaps watching him fall off a cliff wasn't the best idea. They should have gotten a few knives out, and performed their own version of the Roswell Autopsy. Then he could have sold off the organs, and had the last member of a once great race stuffed and mounted in a glass case.
Stabbing, cutting, and carving exotic meat.
He shouldn't have skipped breakfast.
Luthor turned away from the cliff. "Anybody remember to bring some lunch?
Stanford was looking out at the ocean with a pair of binoculars.
A good sign. Someone who would remember binoculars would have remembered to pack lunch.
"Luthor! We got company!"
Captain Byrne scanned the activity around the bridge. Everyone was working smoothly, efficiently.
Good that everything and everyone was operating on all cylinders. After all, when a brand new whole island rose up from the ocean, everyone on board needed to have a clear head.
Byrne turned back to the monitors. The Department of Defense had retasked the nearest satellite and parked it's orbit over the new landmass, transmitting exceptionally clear shots despite the cloud conditions. Various officers and experts flown in from the Pentagon a few minutes ago were analysing and debating the new information.
Lt. Watson drew up, and handed him a few sheets of paper. "Sir, the mass seems to have stabilised at it's current size, but there's still growth below sea level according to seismology reports."
Byrne scanned the data. "Just how big is it?"
"Right now, about the size of New York State."
Byrne handed back the report and looked for his XO "Birmingham!"
"Get some of our birds in the sky, for aerial recon. Then contact the NSA. I want some VELA shots from their satellites. If they give you any grief, contact the Admiral, he'll light a fire for us. How long before the SEALs arrive?"
"ETA thirty minutes, sir."
"I want a full briefing created from the intel as soon as they touch down. We are not going to launch an assault half-assed."
The ships looked small from this distance.
One of them was much larger than the others; flanked by two smaller ships.
Luthor had looked at them indifferently, and walked back to the spot he'd staked out for himself.
Kitty and Stanford watched as Luthor selected one of the crystals from the velvet cloth and pointed it at a crystal wall.
The wall glowed.
The glow soon died down, then a distinct shape began to form in the light.
Three distinct shapes; the ships on the ocean.
Kitty was suddenly reminded of the face that had talked to Lex for hours in Superman's palace.
"They're quick, I'll give them that."
Kitty looked at Lex, who pointed at the image in the crystal.
"The USS Carl Swan, a Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier. Full complement of eighty-two planes, including fighter-bombers, helicopters and Hawkeye radar craft. Those escort ships…" Lex pointed at the smaller images "… are two Arleigh Burke class Destroyers. The thing we have to watch from them are guided missiles … probably the Tomahawk and the Harpoon."
Luthor pointed the crystal at the image, and twisted it slightly, counter clockwise.
More men were entering and exiting the bridge, the urgency was palpable, almost physical.
Birmingham approached Byrne.
"Latest images show only five people…" Birmingham coughed onto the back of his hand "…on the island."
Byrne nodded. "Weapons?" He cleared his throat "Emplacements? A camp?"
" Negative sir. They're just…" Birmingham coughed again "…standing around watching us …" He tried to clear his throat "… looks like a bunch of civilians." Birmingham started coughing again, more strongly.
Byrne hoped to god it wasn't infectious. "Contact CINC and..."
The convulsion bent him over as the wracking coughing fit hit him, a deep seated bronchial hack that would prompt him to give up nicotine if he'd ever smoked in his life.
After a full minute, Byrne stood up, eyes watering.
Half the bridge were either coughing, weezing or hacking. Lt. Fabry on the conn was practically choking.
Byrne turned to Birmingham, who looked as worried as he felt. " Seal the bridge! Order a sweep for gases, chemicals, biologicals ..."
"Sir, we're on alert! We are sealed!"
Watson added his two bits. "The bridge has more sensors here than anywhere else on the ship! If there was anything, every alarm would have gone off …"
Watson started his own coughing fit, turning an unhealthy shade of red.
Lex had gone to the cliff overlooking the ships, and was watching them, looking almost bored.
Kitty was worried. She'd gone out with this guy in the Marines once, who claimed he could kill a guy a mile away with his rifle.
How close were those ships anyway?
"Ever pay attention in high school biology Kitty?"
"Well, if you did, you've learned a few things."
The wind was picking up, blowing Lex's coat around like a cape.
His mouth twitched upwards like he was just about to smile.
"Like the fact that the human body is made up of over eighty per cent water."
Now everyone on the bridge was coughing, hacking, gasping for breath. Watson had stumbled towards the conn, but couldn't speak on the intercom.
Byrne had collapsed near the bulkhead, not finding the strength to move, the convulsive coughing robbing all power in his limbs.
Birmingham was beginning to convulse, having turned from red to blue.
His XO's head had galvanically twitched back, gagging, twitching…
Something was emerging from his mouth, a solid piece of material slowly growing upwards towards the roof. Birmingham finally stopped convulsing, but the … substance was still growing from his mouth, protroduing a foot out of his teeth.
Byrne looked around, the same stuff visibly emerging from half his officers …
A sharp pain starting from his sternum and lancing around to his back detracted him from the choking sensation of his coughing.
The substance was crystal.
He could see it clearly now, because a three inch shard had punched through his ribcage from inside his chest, and was growing by the second …
The deck, even at peacetime, would be bustling with activity.
Now the order of the day was an alien silence, only the lapping of the waves against the sides in the air.
A seagull circled the deck, before landing on a crystal shard, protruding from the top of a deck officer's skull.
The seagull hopped down, and experimentally pecked at the man's eyeball, before turning to the face.
Luthor turned away, and approached Stanford. A droning sound of an aircraft was buzzing in the background.
"Take the chopper, land on the carrier, and go get me a ham sandwich."
Stanford looked over Luthor's shoulder at the ships.
"Are you sure ... is it safe?"
The drone was growing, faster …
Kitty jumped, shrieking as a plane dived straight down, crashing a few miles away, further inland.
The fireball was impressive, even from this distance.
" Pretty sure."
Stanfor nodded, a hint of fear etched in his expression.
Luthor shook his head as he watched Stanford round up the others for their foraging expedition.
"You know, it's not worth ordering out these days."