The machine thrust its arms out into its opponent's chest and gut, the force of the impact driving the latter back. His body spun as part of it slammed against the far wall, chipping loose paint and concrete. Before the teen had a chance to recover, the machine was on him again, lifting him high into the air and then slamming him back down into the tile of the school floor.
The machine didn't know where its new found enemy had come from. It knew that the kid wasn't human though, despite his appearance. No human could've survived such punishment. And no human on record possessed both the speed and strength the machine had seen this teen display during their duel. But the machine did know one thing. Its enemy, though obviously not human, was an organic nonetheless, an inferior life form, to be utilized... or crushed, depending on the circumstances. The machine lifted its enemy once more and flung him down the hallway.
The kid was quite resilient. His body smashed the lockers at the far end of the hall, and he coughed out spit mixed with blood, but still he rose to his feet yet again. The teen still had an ace in the whole. The machine's strength may have more than made up for the kid's speed, but he still trusted in his regenerative capabilities to tip the scales in his favor. His internal bleeding had already ceased, and his bruised bones had mended. The machine, on the other hand, could not regenerate; it bore every scare, every dent, every mark of their ongoing battle. No, the machine could only be repaired, and the longer the battle lasted, the more the kid knew that this fact would tip the odds in his favor. He charged again.
The machine yanked a piece of copper piping from one of the damaged walls, and sparks flew as the wires that ran through it wire ripped apart. The lights in that area of the school flickered, went out, and then the backup systems came online and the whole scene became painted in a dull orange glow. The machine stood ready to swing at its charging opponent, like a batter at a pitcher's fast ball.
But the kid just grinned and used his greater speed to out maneuver his enemy. He shifted his running so that he was moving at an angle, instead of directly towards his target. Then, without breaking his stride, the teen stepped from the floor to the wall.
The machine noticed the change in position too late and missed its opportunity to strike. The kid managed to reach it, and pushed off of the wall. In midair, he twisted and nailed the machine with a roundhouse kick, the force knocking the machine down.
The machines knew that its true target and his protector unit were long gone; and it realized, perhaps too late, that the battle was turning. The kid, who'd initially been nothing more than a distraction, was slowly but surely starting to gain ground. The machine was both stronger and more durable than its opponent. However, the kid's regenerative ability was proving more and more of a problem.
The machine did make note of the fact that its enemy was not regenerating quite as quickly as he had been when the battle started, and that meant that it still had a chance at victory: but only if it could cause enough damage to quickly drain whatever reserve was responsible for mending its enemy's broken bones and turn flesh.
The kid tried to pin the downed machine, but this proved unsuccessful, as the machine managed to roll over and grab the kid while he was still in the air and unable to dodge. The machine rolled again, placing the teen beneath it and began repeatedly punch the kid's face. Blood spurted and gushed as the teen's face gradual took on an appearance of akin to that of raw hamburg. Blood coated the machine's fist, which continued to ram into the teens face with the indifferent precision of a piston, and the machine knew that if it could keep up this level of punishment, its enemy's regenerate abilities must surely give out and he would die.
In truth, the machine cared little about this enemy's death. He was an anomaly, a distraction, and his death would be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Only the fate of the machine's true target really mattered. But this teen had proven an obstacle to the elimination of said target, and as such, he had to be neutralized. Dead, he could cause no further interference. And thus, the machine sought the destruction of its current opponent as nothing more than an event that would bring it one step closer to its ultimate goal.
The kid's hand reached feebly out to the side, but the machine paid its enemy's near death throws little head as it mercilessly continued its pounding. Little did it know that that oversight would prove its undoing and change the course of history forever.
For it was not without cause that the teen reached out. It was not for nothing that it groped in the dark. That same piece of copper that the machine had wielded scares seconds ago was still there. And as the kid's hand closed around the copper piping, he found his life in the cold, hard metal.
The teen's hand flew up with as much force as he could muster, jamming the copper piping into the neck of the machine, piercing the unit's protective armor at its thinnest point and temporarily shorting out its systems. The machine rerouted to its secondary systems as quickly as possible, but the teen was able to use this lull to slither out from under it. He grabs the two ends of the metal protruding from the machine's neck and began twisting back and forth. Straining as hard as he could, and grunting from the exertion, the kid's efforts were finally rewarded as the machines cranium detached from its torso.
As the machine's optics stared vacantly at its detached body it made a desperate attempt to access the body's remote motor functionality. But the attempt was unsuccessful. The body's remote receiver was too heavily damaged. And as the teen turned the severed head to star into its cold, calculating, red eyes, the machine realized that it had failed... for now.
Chapter 1: A New School
Disclaimer: I don't own any material contained within this story. All copyrighted content remains the property of the person, people, or organization that holds the copyright. This story is solely for fun.
AN: Okay, I started this story more than three years ago as a writing experiment. And five chapters in I picked up a co-writer - Chris St. Thomas - who's been a great help, especially with all the expanded DC universe stuff (I mostly just follow the 'Super Family' stories). But, I'd like to think that I've learned a few new tricks and refined my writing a little over the last three years. So, I've decided to break this story down and begin reworking it from top to bottom... er, make that bottom to top. ;P Chris has also expressed dissatisfaction with a few aspects of the story, and will likely be assisting me in some of these rewrites as well. Our goal is to give you, the readers, a smoother, more engaging and entertaining story to enjoy, and I sincerely hope that we succeed in that goal.
Backstory: I've set Superman Returns in 1997. This takes place in 2007. Lois and Jason have been traumatized by Superman's death after his battle with Doomsday. Richard has moved his family west, hoping it will help them cope. Jason's powers are currently set right around 'golden age' levels. That means no flying, freeze breath, heat vision, or x-ray vision, and his maximum lifting strength is about 10,000 pounds (5 tons). If you've watched the movies, were Superman's lifting continents and moving moons, this may seem a little weak. However, please keep in mind that Jason's only fifteen and half human. For the TSCC elements, only episodes up to and including "Vick's Chip" are considered 'canon' (at least as far as this story goes). Everything after that point is 'in flux' (as Doctor Who might say), and thus AU from the established TSCC timeline.
Jason stepped off the bus and shrugged his backpack further up is shoulder. He looked up into the cloud covered sky and sighed. The clouds were already darkening and it was obvious that it was going to rain today. And Jason hated rainy days. Well, a lot of people did. But Jason's dislike ran deeper than most peoples. His Kryptonian blood, his alien cells drew power from the sun. But as a half-breed, his body didn't store that energy as efficiently as his father's. Thus a rainy day meant a weaker Jason. It wasn't a great difference of course, just enough to make him feel a tiny bit more tired and a just a hair more sluggish than normal, not exactly the best mood for one's first day at a new school.
Jason felt the throng of the other students moving past him, pushing and bumping into him unintentionally as they passed, friends and young lovers all chitchatting about the events going on within their own social structures. There was no malicious intent, no deliberate shoving. He was the new kid, and had done nothing to garner attention, good or bad. He was tall for his age, but not terribly so. He was a little border than most, but his bulky jacket covered that up, nothing to attract attention. And even one passed him by as they continued with their own lives. And for the day, that was exactly what Jason wanted.
Other kids might've been concerned about making friends and creating an image on their first day of school. But this was a solemn day for Jason, the one month anniversary of his father's death. And all Jason wanted this day was to be alone with his thoughts... and his memories. He didn't want to be popular or make a good first impression. All he wanted was to keep his head down and get through this first day as unnoticed as possible. The rest... well, the rest could wait until tomorrow.
He remembered the day it had happened. The sky had seemed abnormally red that morning, as if tinged with blood, the morning a mining crew in the Midwest unearthed Doomsday. They'd been digging for oil, or so the reports said, when their industrial diamond drill struck the hull of a metal capsule deep underground and awoke the beast slumbering inside. Of course they had no idea what they'd done, not for several hours anyway. All they knew was that there was suddenly a deep, rhythmic pounding coming from somewhere beneath their feet, a pounding which shook the ground like an earthquake and wouldn't stop. It continued for hours as the single minded beast strove to free himself from his prison. And then all was suddenly quite as the monster began his assent through the tunnel they'd dug him. It was the calm before the storm, and when said storm finally hit, only one of the workers was left alive. And he had no idea where he'd been spared. He only knew that somehow, he alone had escaped Doomsday.
Having killed the miners and destroyed their equipment, the monster cut a great swatch through America, indiscriminately killing and utterly wrecking anything he fancied along the way. The Justice League had tried to stop him... and failed. Perhaps they'd succeeded in slowing him down, but even that remained in question, as the monster beat a more or less indirect path towards Metropolis and the home of the Man of Tomorrow.
Superman himself entered the fray not long after the Justice League, but by the time the monster reached the East Coast, Superman alone remained standing and fighting. The battle lasted for hours, terrible, horror filled hours as Earth's greatest champion and a mindless force of primal destruction battled across entire states with all of humanity hanging in the balance. And through the Man of Steel tried his best, it was only after the monster reached his home, that Superman found the strength, or perhaps the will to finally take him down.
Lois Lane, Jason's mother, who'd been there during those final moments wrote about the change she saw in their guardian as Doomsday reached the Daily Planet building. "It was the first time I'd ever seen him [Superman], fight to kill... not to simply to protect."
And only when the Man of Steel so committed himself to the battle was he finally able to match the monster's fury and tip the scales. That day the man from the stars did the impossible did what no one else could. He stopped Doomsday. But a terrible price was paid for that victory. For, like weary boxers in the final round of the world championship, both combatants poured everything they had left into those final moments. And in the end there was nothing left... for either of them. Yes, Doomsday was stopped... but only at the cost of the life of Earth's champion. The end of the Earth had been averted, and humanity was saved... but their light from the stars was extinguished. And now, and now the Earth continued to spin, and people went on about their daily life, as they must. But Jason was very aware of the subtle yet profound change around him. Darkness had fallen, the long night had come, and the Son of Superman wondered if humanity would ever see the dawn again.
Jason entered the school and passed through a small metal arch where an obnoxious buzzer went off, breaking him from his thoughts and memories and trusting him into the here and now. "Empty your pockets," a school official standing next to the metal detector instructs, and Jason complies.
The throng was not indifferent to the disruption as they began to redirected around the new kid, and Jason caught a few of them giving him nasty or dumb looks as he fished in his pockets for anything made of metal. But none bothered to take the energy to speak. They just continued on, moving through the other metal detectors and getting on with their own lives.
Jason deposited the contents of his pockets into the small, dish-like receptacle. One item caught the school official's attention, and he picked up the red Swiss-army knife. "And what do we have here? Planning on starting trouble mister?"
Jason thought it odd that the school seemed fine with him carrying what they apparently considered a weapon onto a buss of thirty other students and only thought it necessary to intervene when said 'weapon' was about to be brought into the teachers' classrooms. But he didn't bother to note this discrepancy in his reply. "Sorry, Sir, I forgot it was in there."
The man stars at Jason appraisingly. "I don't remember seeing you here before."
"I just transferred. It's my first day."
"Well don't let it happen again."
"Good. You can move along now."
"Yes, Sir. Uh, where should I go to get my knife back once school's over?"
The man lets out a half snort, half chuckle. "Sorry kid. Once we confiscate something, you don't get it back."
And Jason resists the urge to protest the permanent confiscation. The Swiss-army knife was far more tool than weapon. The most worn attachment on it was clearly the flip out screwdriver. And the blade, measuring scarcely an inch and not all that sharp, was hardly threatening. Even still, he knew there was little point in arguing with bureaucracy, and so continued on into the school. He could already tell, though, that he wasn't going to like this place.
Once inside Jason's first stop once was administration where he picked up his class schedule, received his locker assignment, and handled the other various incidentals involved with the first day in a new school. Then he moved to his locker to deposit his backpack, jacket, and other carry-in peripherals in preparation for his first class. And that was when, for the first time that day, Jason provoked a verbal response from one of his fellow students.
"Hey, look at the dork in the superman t-shirt," one student laughed as he lightly slapped his nearest friend's arm. The rest of the pack joined in the laughter, and Jason suddenly realized that perhaps not all of his clothes had been as well selected for blending in as he'd hoped.
He didn't normally walk around in Superman t-shirts. It was a little to on the nose for his taste, but this was a little different. The t-shirt was black, with a dripping, blood-red S stylized on the front. It was a special commemorative shirt given out to every citizen of Metropolis during the week following Superman's great sacrifice. And Jason thought it suiting for the anniversary of his father's death.
And as he stood there, staring at all the laughing faces, Jason the rage of youth; and an odd sort of bitterness began to set in as he realized that the cause of this ridicule was the simple fact that he was horning the memory of his dead father, a man who'd given his life in the protection of others. Jason's hand tightened into a fist, and he suddenly felt a profound desire to jam it down the nearest laughing throat and shut them up. But another voice in his head held him back. His fist unclenched. And, instead of violence, Jason merely shook his head, closed his locker, and moved on.
The classes weren't bad, just the typical high school stuff: algebra; history; chemistry; nothing Jason wasn't expecting... or didn't already know a good deal about from his 'extra circular' summer 'educations'. In fact, he was fairly sure that in some of the classes, math and science especially, he was better educated than the teachers themselves. After all, it wasn't likely any of them had a crystal fortress up in the North Pole filled with the consolidated knowledge of an ancient and once very powerful alien race. Truth be told, the classes were somewhat boring, but they they'd still been the best part of Jason's day.
Halfway through the school day, Jason's luck started to run bad again though. He was in the cafeteria, trying to choke down what could only describe as a 'meat paste', when the 'pack leader' from before came over with his friends. "Aww, why you sitting all alone over here? Doesn't anyone like you?"
"What, is something bothering the little 'superboy'? I know, maybe Superman will fly in through the window and make everything bett- oh, wait that's right. Superman isn't going to make anything better, is he? 'Cause he's dead."
The rest of the pack broke out laughing again, and Jason put his spoon down and stood up. He faced the would be bully, staring him directly in the eye. "I wonder if you realize just how transparent you are."
The other student's eyebrows knit together for a moment. "What?"
"Your life must be truly pathetic if you constantly need to ridicule others to shift the focus away from yourself and keep your 'friends' from discovering what a wretched little thing you really are."
Suddenly, the other student's nostrils flared, and Jason could hear his heartbeat accelerating. He reached out, grabbed Jason's shirt and pulled him to him. "What did you call me?"
"A wretched little thing," Jason replied without missing a beat. "But that's not what you should be concerned with right now. Oh, no, what you should be concerned with is the choice you're about to make. Now, you can either release me and walk away, or you can give into your anger and start a fight. This would, however, be a very poor choice."
"Oh really, and why is that?" the student growled.
"For the same reason you chose to start harassing me in the first place: I'm the new kid. Now, I know what you were thinking. He's new. He hasn't had a chance to make friends. His all alone, with no allies to help him, and so he's vulnerable and easy pickings. Well, sure, but there's a flaw in your logic," Jason replied an excited almost gleeful tone to his voice.
"You see, I'm the new kid, and though that may mean that I haven't made any friends, it also means that I'm a complete unknown. You have absolutely no idea who I am or what I'm capable of. I could be a third degree black belt, who can flatten you in a millisecond. Or worse, I could be one of those deeply disturbed students that you see on the news every once in a while, the kid who sits alone in his room and makes hit lists and looks up bomb schematics online. Start something now, and for all you know, I could snap and coming back with an AK47 and start blowing holes in you and all your friends here. So, what you should be thinking about, what you should be considering very carefully, is just how much are you willing to risk by going up against a completely unknown opponent," he continued his voice growing darker and taking on a surprisingly threatening quality.
And the would be bully looked taken back by his intended victim's sudden switch in attitude. He set Jason down, slightly stunned look upon his face and turned away, leaving the new kid to his 'meat paste'. But then he saw the faces of his friends, the look of disappointment, and realized the respect he'd lost. And the student's lust for popularity and the admiration of his friends suddenly got the better of what little common sense he possessed. "You know, what, I'll chance it," he quibbled as he turned and flung his fist at the back of Jason's head... only to have the latter dodge and catch the blow in midair.
"Wrong choice," Jason replied, as the other student's eyes went wide, and pulled his tormentor to him. He grabbed the would be bully's shirt, lifted him into the air and hurled him against the wall. And then the rest of the pack joined in.
If it wasn't for their stupidity and the fact that this fight was mostly of their own making, Jason would've felt almost sorry for the punk pack as he threw them around like rag dolls. But instead, he simply felt insulted by their thick headedness. Still, that little voice that held him back before was in the back of his mind, making him pull his punches and ensuring that he don't actually kill anyone - just roughed them up enough to teach them a lesson... and maybe blow off a little steam.
A crowd had begun to gather around and watch the fight. And to no surprise they seemed to be quite enjoying the show. Various cries of: "Oh, yeah," "That's gotta hurt," and "Ooh, wouldn't want to be him," rang through the air. Whether the crowd was so pleased because the pack of punks had tormented them in the past or if they're just excited to see a fight, Jason didn't know. And he didn't much care. He'd wanted a day of quite reflection and morning, but a brawl to blow off steam wasn't bad either. And Jason found he wasn't above playing to the crowed a little too, as he let a couple of the punks actually land a punch or two and feigned being hurt by the insignificant impact of their weak fists... inwardly grinning the whole time, and then turning the battle back in his favor whenever he had a mind too. He was playing with the punks now, but the crowd didn't seem observant enough to notice.
One student, however, did try to break up the fight. An unremarkable looking teen, about Jason's age, but a little shorter, managed to break through the crowd, inserting himself in-between the pack of punks and the new kid playing tag with them. "Come on, they've had enough."
But Jason was running high on adrenaline and intoxicated by the shouts of the crowd and he didn't want his fun spoiled by some interloper. The would be bullies had made their choice and Jason wasn't quite through 'educating' them on just how foolish a choice it had been. He pushed the interloper up against a support pillar and growled, "You shouldn't get involved in other people's fights."
Then that voice cut into the lad's head, louder now than before. 'Why not? I did all the time.' It was the voice of Jason's Father, calling to him from beyond the grave. When Jason had been five, and was first discovering his power, his father had told him that, as his son, Jason would carry him inside him all the days of his life, that he would make his father's strength his own, see his life through his father's eyes, that son becomes the father and the father the son. It had taken years before I Jason truly understood what his father had meant. A part of his father would always be watching over him, a whisper in his head trying to keep him from giving into his baser nature and guiding him along the path of enlightenment and selflessness. And even though his father's body had died fighting Doomsday, that part of him was still with Jason. If anything, it seemed to have grown stronger after his father's passing.
"That's different," Jason whispered aloud, drawing bizarre looks from those around him closer enough to hear.
'Really? Stepping in to protect people from someone obviously stronger than them? It sounds pretty familiar to me,' the voice responded, and finally Jason began to calm.
He was just about to let the kid go when a girl suddenly appeared beside him. "John, run," she instructed and slammed a fist down on Jason's extended arm. And to the latter's surprise his elbow actually bent from the force of the blow, pulling his outstretched hand away from the kid - "John" presumably- he was about to release anyway.
Jason was shocked, to see the least, to see find that another student, and one smaller than him too boot, possessed the strength to bend his arm against his will. And his surprise only grew as she proceeded to grab him and spin him around with enough force to pull my feet from the ground. She then released him, and sent him flying into the air. Jason crashed strait through a table as he landed, pulverizing it in the process. Jason wasn't really hurt though, just surprised. This girl, who didn't look like she could bench more than a hundred pounds, had just lifted him from the ground and thrown him across the room with all the visible strain of a man tossing a Frisbee.
The girl was advancing on Jason again. He flipped himself upright, but she managed to nail him the gut before he could ready himself to block. The punch knocked the wind out of him for a few seconds, and she used that time to pull down his head and knee it. Jason heard a cracking sound as his face slammed into her leg, and his nose started bleeding. And, in utter shock, he realized that it was broken. For the first time in Jason's life, he had a broken bone.
He recovered enough of his senses to dodge the next attack though, then managed to get his foot around hers and trip her. Jason's nose had already healed, but it wasn't straight, hadn't been set right after the break. In the blink of an eye, he grabbed it, and with a scream re-broke it and set it properly. The girl was still on the ground, but Jason found himself hesitant to press his advantage.
Under normal circumstances, he knew how much force he could can apply without being lethal, but these circumstances were hardly normal. And he was still trying to decide what to do, when the girl's legs went up, and she kicked him in the chin. Jason went down, and the girl was on top of him in an instant. Her hands went for his throat. He grabbed them before they could reach their target and found himself in near disbelief as he had to strain with all his might to keep the girl's hands from advancing any further. Just where was she from anyway? Tamaran? Apocalypse?
It was then that John, the kid Jason had previously pinned against the pillar, cut in once more. "Cameron stop!" he exclaimed, his tone oddly making it sound like an order, and suddenly the girl did stop. A puzzling moment passed as Jason's brain assimilated all the new, and surprising information, and then he released his grip on the hands of the young woman still straddling him on the cafeteria floor. John, who actually had managed to stop the fighting this time, came over and surprised Jason even further by turning to him and asking, "Are you okay?"
"I-I'm fine. Do you think you can get your girlfriend off of me though? I do believe this is how those nasty high school rumors get started. Best to avoid that, right?" Jason answered, and John turned an unhappy look on his 'girlfriend'.
"He could still be a threat," she responded.
"Cam, let him go," John replied, and the girl finally got off. He then extended his hand and offered it to Jason, to help pull him up.
Jason accepted the olive branch, and apologized for his previous behavior. "Hey, sorry about before. I was just upset and…"
"Don't worry about it. Are you sure that you're okay?" John cut in, seeming genuinely shocked that Jason was alright. And the latter realized that if another student had gone three rounds with the former's girlfriend, they'd probably be rushing the kid to the emergency room... or the morgue.
"Yeah, fine, really," Jason assured, all while wondering about the strange girl. There were questions he wanted to ask, his parents' reporter blood rising up in his veins. But he realized that those questions had to wait for the time being. After all, given the girl's capabilities, this Cameron probably had some kind of 'secret origin' that her and John would be unlikely to discuss in public.
"I'm tougher than I look," Jason continued. And that was when the vice principal walked in, saw the aftermath of the fight, turned an unnatural shade of beet-red, and sentenced Jason, John, Cameron, and all the others involved in the fight too detention.
If you're a previous reader returning to see what's new, please let us know what you thought of reworking. And if you're new to this story, we'd love to hear your initial impressions of it. ;) The second chapter will be up again once I've finished reworking it, and more chapters will follow as we find the time to rework them as well. Hope you enjoy.
Have a good day, and God bless.
Metropolis Kid and Chris St. Thomas.