1942 – part 21
What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force? Superman wondered this, as he contemplated driving himself at the monster with all his strength and all his speed. Like the Annunki's living subterranean fortress, the Typhon which had grown from that living material did not become transparent to his x-ray like vision.
Aquaman was gone, as was the Green Lantern. The Flash and Johnny Quick had skimmed the waves going them back to shore.
The plan demanded it.
So it was down to him and him alone. Yet attacking the Typhon was at best a desperate gambit, and he knew it.
For a split second he paused as the childhood memory of a bug splattering on the windscreen of his Pa's Model T came to mind.
In flight, as in life, his body's ever present biological energy aura repelled dirt, dust and crucially bugs as he moved faster than speeding bullet. This protective field was a product of his highly evolved biology, that enhanced his natural density making him increasing resilient. Experience taught Superman that he was still evolving, changing, becoming stronger, and harder to hurt. Some called him 'the invulnerable Man of Steel', but as his still aching and healing arm demonstrated, his invulnerability was relative. It was apparent that the magic that had birthed Typhon had empowered this Titan with true invulnerability to physical damage. Superman was a physical being, so in short the Typhon was immune to his powers.
It was then that Spectre made his presence felt.
Appearing before the vast Typhon the Spectre phased into existence taking on similar gargantuan size.
"You will not pass." The Avenging Angel cried.
"Stall me here if you must." Ultra cried. "But we both know that the Lost Land of Atlantis will rise, it's progress is inexorable – see how the sky darkens?"
Superman could see the sky being transformed by a dark purple stain. Ultra was right.
"You will not shatter the Heart Stone of Atlantis." The Spectre declared.
"You can no more prevent the shattering of the broken stone, than you could intervene when Clea chose to break the Heart of Lost Land in two, breaking the seal between worlds, and sending Lost Atlantis back to the real world."
"I can bind you Ghost." The Spectre roared, taking took hold of the Typhons serpentine body in a crushing embrace, vast white limbs gripped the scaly orange copper and gold serpent. Huge white legs tensed immersed in the sea to the Spectre's knees.
"If you do this." Ultra hissed. "If you bind us both in perpetual battle. I will not make it easy on you Avenger, and as we fight Atlantis will still rise, and then Wotan will come to my aid, and then together you, America and her Allies, will all know defeat."
The Typhon body of Ultra began to beat the Spectre with it's vast arms. The non corporeal body of the Avenging Angel was ripped apart like water being splashed from a pool by the whip like lashing limbs. The essence of the Spectre was driven into the air where it became like a mist. Rain that returned to the Avenging Angel, driven back into him by unseen wind.
So the Spectre wrestled with monster to a brutal stalemate. Superman was awestruck, truly he thought this is an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
Yet the balance was about to shift once more.
Robot Man observed the Spectre's intervention. He considered the flattened egg shape of the Kraken adorning the Typhon like a golden crown, a seed from which the greater serpent had sprouted. The Typhon was both mechanical and biological, just as it was magical.
He looked at his own steely coloured hand.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Beside him stood Wesley Dodds, the Sandman, asking him this question. He wore his signature fedora and long coat, that flapped around him. Wind and spray tore through the ruptured walls of the Temple, as did the sound of the conflict beyond the harbour wall. It was this battle of Titans so vast as to create their own weather. It was an unimaginable sight. The Spectre and the Typhon locked in combat.
Moments earlier Wonder Woman had led any who could follow her into the air. Invisible wings carrying the Amazon fast outwards first and foremost. The Princess fast disappearing into the awful darkening purple hue of a sky lit by random jagged flashes of lightning. Starman had accelerated into a red blur, Hawkman and Hawkgirl had followed. As had Stars and Stripes, the former with all the grace of Superman in the air, the latter held aloft a roar of red fire in a manner that reminded Mr America of rocket back packs worn by the fictional future men in the Buck Rodgers Newspaper strips.
Ultra's Orange Dragon made Robert Crane think of his own changed circumstances.
He remembered running with, and ahead of the cat, like Fossa, Aurian mounts, ridden by Americans and slight Ha-Mazon men to the Citadel. He recalled the Tree filled capital where his first steps had been an experiment. This adventure had been a voyage of discovery, allowing him to understand his speed and untiring strength, and when fighting the Raptors and Lycanthropes, he had learned control and precision.
Together these formative experiences had allowed Robert Crane to understand who Robot Man was, and what Robot Man was capable of doing.
Bob, along with kids the world over immersed in the pages of pulps such as Astounding Stories, had in their wildest dreams imagined a Man of Metal. Robotics – automation had been his and Chuck Grayson's life's work. However creating a robot, a machine with greater than human abilities was far beyond the capability of twentieth century science. It had taken the ancient peculiar magic of Lost Atlantis to create Robot Man in the likeness of some hoped for technological future. His already impressive intellect augmented by mechanical means now understood what this body – this sum of individual parts assembled with the help of Chuck Grayson's uncertain hands, could do. Newly constituted bio-mechanical eyes telescoped, viewing and recording. His auditory senses equally amplified the unexpected incoming the transmission. Information streamed into his consciousness, and Bob ever the scientist, processed it.
To the enigmatic Sandman he said. "We are alike. The monster and I."
"Yes, in this way, Ultra's creature and I are both biomechanical chimeras, machinery given life by magic." Bob stated. This troubled him. His robotic senses saw more than the human eye, and were able to compare his own physiology to that of Ultra's creation.
Wesely Dodds nodded. He turned his face his gas mask hung detached from his face. "I dreamt of this moment, you and I in conversation." He explained. "Talking to you here and now means I can finally understand what I saw."
Crane had learned here of the Sandman's precognitive abilities. He considered the nature of dreams, and guessed the limitations this uncertainty placed on Dodds. It was a peculiar burden to bare.
"Truly?" he asked. Pointing outwards. "And what of the Monster?" Bob asked hopeful for an answer in the other's dreams to the threat Ultra posed.
Dodds nodded, but his words brought more questions. "Someone is calling you Robotman even now."
"I have a signal." He stated. "How did you know..? Robot Man chuckled – the answer had already been given to him.
The Sandman explained saying. "This is what I dreamed. A voice from the past in a storm. A great dragon at sea."
"Then you know who this is in my head." Robotman tapped his metallic domed head. "Who he claims to be."
"Merlin." The Sandman stated. "A Wizard and a Sorcerer, a man made of magic and of science. As out of place in the dark ages of Britain, as you Robot Man are to the science our modern world."
Robot Man listened while at the same time communicating by radio. He concentrated on Merlin's words. Beyond the towering city Bob Crane grasped the detail of the plan. He watched as Wonder Woman confronted the copper gold Titan. The first to come to Superman's aid. He listened to Merlin as Diana cast her lasso around the flailing wings of the monstrous Typhon.
"Superman." She shouts. "Assist me."
The Man of Tomorrow flies to her, wrapping his arms around her lariat the two super humans pull on the unbreakable thread of gold, and together they slowly dragged the Typhon still flaying the giant form of the Spectre into the water, as the two wrestled the sea boiled, and waves tore outwards in turn crashing into the shore, and lashing the harbour and rocking the tower city.
As the Citadel shook from the fight, the purple caped, bare chested Slam Bradley joined Robot Man, the Sandman and the others remaining in the ruined Temple. Ducking and dodging the falling masonry to come to the portal. With him was Cyclotron, and in Curtis's arms a human child. Robot man concluded that this must be his lost daughter Terri.
"I'm glad to see your still with us." Bart Regan said to Bradley.
"Me too." Sally Norris agreed with a broad smile of welcome.
Lois Lane asked "What happened to you?"
Bradley kissed the Spy's cheek and showed concern for her injury – Sally's arm was in a sling. Crane noted that the Atom appeared unsurprised to see his friend back from the dead. Logic indicated more was happening here than could be seen.
Lois Lane was looking at Terri Curtis - the little girl in her father's arms.
Wesley Dodds beckoned the Private Detective to join them. Seeing the Sandman's gesture Slam Bradley detached himself from Lois Lane, Sally Norris and De Winters, and came over to join them, suffering the spray from the tumultuous sea far below.
Robot Man's vision shifted through the invisible spectrum not unlike changing channels on the radio, he noticed a imperceptible aura clung to the big Private Detective. It was as Merlin even now explained, another legacy of the Heart Stone.
Bradley frowned. "I hope you don't rust?" He said.
Robot Man's face formed a mechanical smile. "I think the Sea Tiger gifted me that much."
Across from them the Bat-Man leapt athletically onto the back of an Aurian Flying Fox Bat. It's head held steady by an attendant Ha-Mazon Warrior. The Dark Knight fastened himself to the saddle using the restraint harness, and confidently took the reins. Robin joined him. The woman called Mercy and the Sandman also took advantage of the Aurian Monarch's offer of winged transport. Each taking hold of the reins of the fury flying foxes.
"The Aurian Knights tell me flying with one of these is much the same as riding." Terry Sloane advised the Dark Knight in his role of interpreter of all things Aurian. "Then again she isn't referring to a horse, but to the other Aurian mount of choice, the Giant Fossa."
Robot Man observed these exchanges while listening to the voice from dark ages, and at Merlin's insistence, he switched perspective. His robotic eyes telescoping across the other side of the tower, out through the ruins. Crane observed wings of Aurian and Ha-Mazon's flying out toward the centre of the Lost Land and the Heart Stone. Among them was Queen Eeras.
These Warriors from both sides were riding to the location of Poseidon's Trident. Drawn to the promise of it's power, and the mystery of what had happened to the source of Lost Atlantis's magic – the Heart Stone.
"I hope your right Mr Terrific." Mercy said to Sloane, using the title Lieutenant Holden had first used. "I can ride a horse." She said as she rose into the Aurian Fox Bat saddle. "But I'm not so sure about one of these."
Sloane laughed. "I am also assured that these animals know how to fly, and that the rider's job is to prompt them where to go – that and stay in the saddle."
Mercy stroked the neck of the large flying mammal, before fixing the buckles of the harness. "I sure mean to stay put." Mercy noted. She looked like a child fastening the leather belts to the smallest setting.
"Fossa – Fox Bat! Much the same as riding?" Captain Sherman observed with a laugh. "Yes. Okay those cat things obeyed the same signals, listened to the reigns, but those Fossa don't move like a horse, and I wager these Bats will move ever more differently." He gestured with his hand, waggling up and down, side to side, and then up and over.
Mercy tugged on her harness, checking it once more. "Yes I don't imagine your Fossa did loop the loops way up, several hundred feet over the ground."
Sherman smiled. "True – those cats sure could jump though, but yes – of course Miss Mercy, rather you than me. I'm no fly-boy. Give me a boat any day."
Robot Man felt the Captain's eyes resting upon his metallic hide. Bob Crane had risen phoenix like from the ashes of the advanced Submarines destruction, and the Scientist had worked with Sherman long enough on this project to understand the feeling of loss the Captain must suffer.
"I fear I am too heavy to ride." Robot Man told Sherman. The Navy men were to remain with the Portal, guarding their Axis captives, while protecting the civilians and each other. Along with the Atom, Hour Man, the Green Arrow and Speedy, the Scarlet Avenger and Wing.
"You're as needed here as in the search." The Submarine Capitan replied. "There could be – hell we should expect pockets of resistance within the Citadel."
"No doubt." Robot Man shook his head. "But I think I am needed out there." He said pointing to where the Spectre held the Typhon back in their violent stalemate.
Sherman nodded, at a loss for words, he said at last. "Good luck."
Robot Man nodded and turned back to where the Flying Foxes were being made ready.
Sherman was right, they should expect the unexpected – resistance from the Citadel. For that reason he kept quiet about Merlin and the plan. This was a need to know situation, and above all Robot Man saw the wisdom in not letting Ultra or his allies know their intentions. Even if that meant keeping good men like Sherman in the dark as to what was going on.
Robot Man watched as Slam Bradley climbed into the saddle of one Queen Eeras's animals. The Private Detective once seated and strapped in place, waved to Robot Man. Crane thought to himself, each one of us has our role to play, and Slam must do his part, as I do mine. He looked at his steely palm again, and flexed his metal fingers, thinking, we all must do what comes to hand.
The Bat-Man took the lead. He gestured upwards and outwards saying "Let's find our lost friends – if we can."
"Isn't this just killer diller Bat-Man?" Robin enthused, he was strapped in behind his Mentor. There was ample room on the large Ha-Mazon saddle.
"I prefer my Gyro." The Gotham Detective told the boy as he twitched the reins, urging the winged beast into the air, the giant bat scuttled out of the temple and fell from the broken steps into the sky, letting the wind catch the leather wings. One after the other the Americans and an Aurian escort flew after Queen Eeras in search of lost Magicians.
Aquaman leapt out of the waves and landed onto what had been the grassy plains beside the shore. Muddy and stained where the sea had pounded the land not once but twice. Once through Clea's attack using Poseidon's trident, and then again as the vast Typhon fell into the waters fighting with the giant manifestation of the Spectre.
Safe beyond the reach of even these tumultuous waves, the Flash had carried the injured Green Lantern to the unsullied high ground.
Now it was Aquaman's turn to allow himself to be assisted. Johnny Quick took hold of him and applied his magic formula to achieve his incredible land-speed to air translation. Quick unlike the Flash didn't retain contact with the ground at his greater speed, his all out sprint launched them both skywards, into flight. However below the Flash had no problem maintaining the efficiency of his bee line, matching his fellow speedster's progress. That Arthur Curry could observe all this in the seconds it took to cross the Lost Land, said much about his own accelerated abilities. Both Speedsters and passengers arrived at the blackened crater that contained the Heart Stone simultaneously.
They briefly paused on the lip of the ancient hollow, observing the tragic scene of bodies in water, and the source of this newly formed lake. A great geyser of artesian water spouting skyward, a beautiful natural fountain, water pouring from amidst the Heart Stone itself. In the sky circling were the great aerial mounts of the Lost Land, lizard and mammals of Venturia and Auria.
"Aquaman. Is it truly Merlin?" Shouted Alan Scott.
The Sea King heard a question loaded with surprise, doubt and at the same time hope, emotions he shared. Arthur guessed by some arcane means the legendary Sorcerer had made the facts known to the Green Lantern, just as he had appeared to Superman and him. Aquaman's colleagues sought reassurance – confirmation from the Sea King.
"Yes. It is Merlin." Arthur responded. "I believe it." He rubbed his wet blond locks. "Can you do what he asks – without you we won't make it?"
Alan Scott nodded, and raised his uninjured arm. "I am better by the minute. Yes I can do it."
Arthur saw the Green Lantern stood steadied by the Flash. He swallowed his doubts. Across in the bay the vast Typhon roared, waves crashed from the titanic struggle onto the shore. Above them the sky over the lost land had begun to darken, to take on a purple hue. Lightning flashed. The barrier between worlds was being breached. Soon Atlantis would rise again in the midst of the ocean. There was no time. Aquaman now answered in action. Leaping upwards in a tremendous bound the powerful muscles of the Sea King carried him out across the blackened scorched landscape. Alighting on the flat uppermost face of the Heart Stone, now an island in fast rising lake. Aquaman skidded to halt across the slick wet glass like surface, grasping at the irregular ridges on the unpolished gem stone. All the time rain fell from the geyser of that drove the water high into the sky. He reached out for the crack which ran through the body of the Heart Stone. Finger wide, it was such a small fault, but big enough to rewrite the rules of Lost Land. From it water ran, fresh from some hidden aquifer.
Above him beat the wings of giant bats and pterosaurs, as the Ha-Mazon's, Venturian and Aurian, circled this sacred centre, adorned by the plume of escaping water. Aquaman's highly developed senses allowed him to see further and hear more clearly. The Sea King observed that the heat and fire was gone from the Atlantean's enchanted weapons, and also their hearts. Clea's selfishness, and Ultra's greed had broken them too. Now they just watched. The corpses around about the geyser served as a salutary warning.
Then joining the flyers Arthur recognised the distinctive cape of the Bat-Man, his dark serrated cloak fluttering behind as he rode the Aurian flying fox bat, holding the reins as a horseman might.
Aquaman's eyes saw through the water spout to the Trident of Poseidon. The adamant shaft three pronged fork was embedded in the glassy stone. Creating the dividing jagged crack. Woven around the spear danced tiny rainbows of seven coloured lights as a man might see in the spray of tumbling water.
Around the spear lay most of the fallen. Self sacrificed. Ha-Mazon's of both nations of the Lost Land of Atlantis, driven by the mythic imperative one after the other to suffer the same fate. Each greedy enough to believe that their hand could free the Trident, where their sisters had failed, but each had died, wishing to bind the old magic to them.
Merlin's instructions had sounded simple enough. These bodies told a different story.
Now in front of the Sea King was the reality of the Trident's power that now resonated with the force of the old magic that had sequestrated the Lost Land into a pocket universe, separating it from the real world. To touch the three-pointed spear was a death sentence.
Aquaman was aware the geyser was growing in strength. He imagined it beginning as a trickle. How simple it must have appeared to those first Warriors arriving here, how tempting to grab hold of the weapon of magical domination. However the geyser was growing in intensity with each passing moment. To any mortal the water plume in its current state would have presented an insurmountable obstacle. The raging torrent, the pressure of water would be a barrier, a wall to the grasping hand. Merlin had said to him "the Trident protects itself" in time Aquaman wagered the crater of the Heart Stone would fill, becoming a lake – submerging the magical talisman.
Aquaman's hands plunged through the stream of subterranean waters and his fingers grasped the three pronged spear. In that moment old power surged through him, but here and now it recognised Arthur Curry's right, just as Merlin had promised. Previously the Trident had rejected those who had dared to try, but not this man. Not the Sea King. With ease Arthur withdrew his own spear of destiny from the magical gem stone, at the same time riding skyward on the torrent of the geyser, Aquaman swam up up and away through crystal waters into the blue of the sky.
Tex Thompson had enjoyed the fantasy spectacle of the Thief of Bagdad Christmas of 1940, this film came to mind for a couple of reasons. Across the Venturian's Citadel wide harbour he watched the confrontation between the giant form of the Spectre which had grown from nothing to equal the immensity of the copper and god dragon of old, the Typhon. This Towering Titan made the fictional giant genie in the Thief of Bagdad appear small, less than Faye Wray in the hands of King Kong. Yet the Spectre like the Jin had altered his size radically, matching Ultra's immense vessel. The Avenging Angel struggled against the Typhon, halting Ultra's progress beyond the curving sea walls of the artificial bay. The waves generated by these two titans as they wrestled washed over the impressive sea defences and crashed around the base of the Citadel. The Tower City shook as the ground moved, such was consequences of this titanic struggle.
Robot Man had rested his smooth metallic hand on Tex Thompson's shoulder. "Mr America." Bob Crane said to him. "I would prevail on you for a ride."
It was odd to see a face of metal smile, and yet Robot Man was more than able to be present an amiable if unusual set of expressions along with his words, it was very human, while at the same time precise – like clockwork.
Flying with the Man of Metal presented a different kind of problem, carrying Aquaman had been straightforward enough, but put simply the Man of Metal was weightier. Whether it had been the climatic scenes of the Arabian adventure film or perhaps some silent prompt from the magical cloak itself, maybe both, that inspired Tex really did not matter. It worked – and the end result was very much like the flying carpet that had transported the Thief of Baghdad through the air. The red cloak responded to his touch and he and the Metal Man stepped aboard, and rode out across the turbulent sea.
The Typhon's vast wings were ensnared, pulled together by an invisible hand, causing the beast to tumble into the sea.
"That's Wonder Woman's Lasso." Robotman told him. "Superman has come to her aid. They are both pulling against the Typhon."
Thompson reasoned that Bob Crane's mechanically enhanced perception allowed the Metal Man to see these heroes, as yet too small the human eye to perceive. Even so Thompson was able to observe the consequence of their superhuman effort. The immense monster took a backwards step.
Moments earlier the flying heroes had taken to the air. Now Tex saw them, Hawk Man and Hawk Girl swept from above striking at the beast with Nth metal empowered weapons, the energy crackling from mace to the armoured carapace of the Typhon. With them the armoured frame of Pat Dugan whose fiery blasts from his arm mounted cannon ricocheted from the same orange gold hide of the beast. Superman and Wonder Woman held the four fold wings tight, the Typhon's tail splashed in the water, and Mr America could see the monsters of the deep snapping at the great serpent's body, here these most massive of aquatic fauna, huge lizards, fearsome fish, an huge cephalopods were like fry, tiny snapping creatures against the copper colossus. In truth every thing, even the Citadel was made small by comparison to the Typhon. Save one - the Spectre. The Avenging Angel held his ground, even as his translucent form was torn apart again and again by the lashing limbs of Ultra's monster.
All the while Atlantis was rising, returning to the real world. Darkening the sky deeper purple.
It was now that Robot Man launched himself into the water.
Alan Scott watched as the Sea King swept upwards through the tower of water, that now reached into the purple sky like the Citadel itself.
It was natural, given his job as a radio engineer that habitually his power ring monitored those air waves for information. Hearing the voice of Camelot's legendary mentor identify himself had raised many questions. Now as a clear water arch formed bridging the distance between the heart of the Lost Land and the Sea beyond the Citadel, the Green Lantern was reassured. He watched the geyser's waters obeying Aquaman, just as the waves had obeyed Clea. It was confirmation of the Wizard's assurances.
His doubts dispelled, he did not regret them, even in here, in Atlantis, the methodical engineer that was Alan Scott was certain he had been right to question the idea that Merlin was both real and still living.
The Green Lantern smiled, defying pain, as the emerald light coursed through him. It was both healing and revitalising, but it was a process non the less, and it took time. Time was something Merlin's plan didn't have in abundance, he could not be certain he was strong enough, that he had the capability but what he did have was a wealth of determination.
The Green Lantern redirected his power rings energies and now a green ghost-like figure, the Emerald Knight dived into the waters of the forming lake. Alan Scott ignored his injuries and dove toward the fractured Heart Stone. For a moment he wondered, this was old magic made solid, not some modern construction of men, but like a concrete wall always yielded to the power of the Lantern, so the diamond hard stone permitted him to pass inside.
Immersed into the fractured Heart Stone images and sensations assailed his mind, Alan Scott heard voices from the past and echoes of distant possible futures blended into a kaleidoscopic of images projected from every side, showing every possible angle of each moment, every one significant, although sometimes apparently mundane. A horse casts a shoe, a battle is lost. A blanket carries Small Pox to the new world. A frightened youth in the trenches of the great war becoming a passionate orator filled with ambition and hate, a Fuhrer. Machines rolled forward, an endless sea of mechanical death bringers, folding into the black of night, star filled sky, and space above and beyond. More machines like men in red and blue. Stranger and wilder, futuristic visions, different armadas of space craft rise and fall. Then an eclipse as a dark shadow passes before the sun. Falling now the Green Lantern concentrates all his will into the power ring, green light pierces the darkness, punctures the shadow of the mocking giant, deeper into the broken crystal.
Gods on a thousand worlds clash, laugh, procreate, create and destroy. New gods arise, old gods fall. Finally a bright flash an ending that was also a beginning, Ragnorok – god-wave.
Green light penetrates the darkness. Here in an extra-dimensional cell are his friends. Scott falls to his knee, blood runs from wounds reopened. "Gentlemen I have come to get you out of here."
Robot Man's feet operated like propellers allowing him to move through the water, beyond he could see the monsters of the deep attacking the tail and lower body of Ultra's immense Typhon body. The were like flies on a rhinoceros. He progressed at speed over to the assembled forces from Tritonis. At the head of the merman army swam their King. A Crowned bearded head on the barrel chested torso of Antonis.
Robot Man greeted at the aquatic army. In the hands of their Monarch and his two Generals were Tridents forged by the hand of Triton himself. Without a word the King of Tritonis handed the Man of Metal the same weapon that had shed Superman's blood, the same three-pointed spear that had sliced through the Sea Tigers high tensile plastic aluminium hull, the very material from which his own steel-like skin had been made. Taking the magical weapon in his hydraulically enhanced fingers Robot Man turned to where the belly of the Typhon splashed into the sea. The copper gold orange hide dipping in and out of the water. Now was his moment.
In the chaos and confusion of the Tritonis's King's attack. As the horde of the sea creatures bit and snapped at the monster. These massive denizens of the deep made small by the incredible Typhon vast carcass. It was now that the ever so tiny in comparison Metal Man, became a human-machine torpedo. Robot man swiftly propelled himself through the water, guided by sonar. He held the magic tridents god forged blades at the ready. Then in the second that the belly of the beast splashed orange into the water, the three-pointed spear struck in the hands of Robot Man, and sliced into the copper-gold scale armour of the machine monster.
Thrusting his hand into the wound, Robot Man observed the orange hide of the Typhon closing around the magic made cut, healing in an instant, healing around his fingers, his wrist, only bullet like speed had meant his hand had been able to penetrate the magical cut, but it was enough. Separating his arm from the trapped left hand at the wrist, the inverse of his assembly by Chuck Grayson. Robot man allowed himself to be driven back into the depths once more, leaving behind inside the great Typhon, a tiny portion of himself. An invisible spell in the now healed wound.
Riding on a wall of water Aquaman crossed the sea. Delivered to the waves by the geyser's arching bridge. He stood on the crest of a vast wave rising from the deep, in his hand the Sea King held a three pronged spear – the Trident of Poseidon.
Aquama's stance was Olympian. Then he hurled the three points at the monster's breast.
The Sea King was not alone. Three Magicians had been freed, along with the Aurian captives, released from the prison of the broken Heart Stone. Now these magical agents of justice came to the Sea King's aid against Ultra's immense vessel.
The spear flew straight and true, and all the while the magical Trident grew in size, clothed in the spray ocean blue, riding on the wind, wrapped in the golden ankh shaped energy of Doctor Fate, burning with the Red fire of Sargon, in the emerald hand of the Green Knight, in the purple of Gio Zatara.
The Trident passed through the body of Spectre as if the giant avenging angel were but smoke, the three-pointed spear fell true and fast plunging to the chest of the Typhon. So when the tri-pointed weapon stuck home it was no longer a tiny pin, but a lance consummate with the vast scale of the Typhon. Old magic struck old magic. Adamant thrice enchanted always to cut, never to lose it edge, and never to break struck orange gold hide, enchanted never to fail, never to break, never to be cut. Irresistible met immovable.
Water crashed around the Typhon passing through the void where the Spectre had been, the Avenging Angel was no longer present among them. There was only the crashing waves of an angry sea concentrated on the Typhon, as the waters around Venturia were brought to bare against the ancient serpent by the Trident's power. Mist rose from the waters, ice fell from the sky and the sea boiled around the twitching limbs.
Ultra roared and staggered.
Ultra let out a terrible scream. It seemed to rip apart the purple sky, as it tore from the lips of the Typhon's sculptured beautiful stolen face.
For a moment Aquaman believed. Then the realisation came, he saw with own eyes, that their plan had failed. The Trident was lodged in the outermost layers of the Typhons copper dermis, preternaturally sharp, magically resilient, three-points had struck and cut - but the cut had not been deep enough. Instead of finding the Typhons heart and splitting that infernal dynamo in twain, the irresistible force had found the middle way with the immovable object, travelling only half as deep as it must.
Deep with in the five fingers of Robot Man swam through the Typhon's hybrid anatomy. Like Bob Crane the monster was part machine – part living creature. Like Robot Man the Machine Monster had been a creation of the Heart Stone's old magic power. Suspended in the cool deep Robot Man had travelled with his lost hand. His mind present in both his body and the part he had left behind in the Typhon. The plastic metal adapting to the new environment. The journey had been slow at first, he had literally clawed his way deeper into the living mechanism. His fingers like knives, even surgeons scalpels. Then on entering what was an artery within the monster, the five fingered spider like probe was taken in the nutrient stream that constituted blood and hydraulic fluid within the chimera to the heart of the matter. Robot Man witnessed the Trident of Posideon strike, the blow falling short, caught by the magical healing flesh of the Typhon construct. Crawling over the surface of the alien Hyperion reactor core, it's surface patched with the living construction material bred by the Annunki in the subterranean world, he vainly scratched on the adamant surface, cutting the reptilian living machine repairs only to watch them heal themselves almost instantly. Robot Man struck out for the surface.
Superman and Wonder Woman together held the Amazon Princesses golden unbreakable rope. Fastened around the Typhons wings, they kept the beast restrained, inch by inch, almost imperceptibly they had dragged the monster back. All the while Superman felt his strength returning. He knew his limits, and this was an impasse. Looking out back toward the Citadel he saw rising above the water the three wise mages. Doctor Fate flew leading, surrounded by golden light, Sargon and Zatara rode upon the Aurian flying foxes. With them came the Bat-Man and Mercy, together on one of the winged beasts.
The the Spectre vanished as Aquaman struck with his god-given weapon.
"The Trident – has it hit the target?" The Dark Knight called out. His winged mammal swept above them, and the spray from the sea below.
Robot man receiving information from his hand broadcast a message to Superman even as the Bat-Man and the Magicians arrived. The Man of Tomorrow heard the radio signal from Bob Crane, and understood the seriousness of their situation at once. Calling back to the Mages, and to the Bat-Man, he told them. "The Spear has fallen short."
Ultra turned the Typhons vast head, adorned with golden Kraken, it was like a long oval crown, Ultra heard them and with a voice like thunder mocked Superman and his friends, saying. "I am hurt, I feel pain, but I am not defeated." Then between clenched teeth, the vast creatures voice became less thunderous, but all the more menacing. "That which does not kill you makes you stronger."
Raising one of its four limbs Ultra touched the adamant lance that rested between the twin mounds that suggested breasts. Grasping the enlarged magic weapon.
"And now I lay claim to the Trident of Poseidon." Ultra laughed. The human face of the Typhon was alive with avarice.
"Diana." Superman said. He did not say anything more, he didn't need to. The Amazon braced herself as he let go. Wonder Woman took the weight of the colossal monster alone.
Superman fell from the sky, back to the monster. He dived, twisting and falling around the stricken Typhon. Ultra's monster, sank into the water stalled, it's wings still bound by the golden lariat of Wonder Woman, as Ultra pulled at the Trident's enlarged shaft. Superman drove toward the vast three-pointed lance. A tiny flash of red and blue. The blunt end of the magically enlarged Trident was a vast circle of polished metal, and the Man of Steel was almost imperceptible beside it.
Superman in that fraction of a second remembered something his Pa had said to him on the farm. "Clark when your only tool is a hammer, it's easy to think of every problem as a nail."
When it came to magic in it's many diverse and complicated forms Superman knew what he had, what he was, a hammer; an expression of brute force, refined and forged by science millions of years more evolved than mortal man might yet imagine, but still purely physical. The man from Smallville also remembered what Alfie Jones had added. "Clark sometimes just hitting it helps." Superman brought the hammer of his being to bare.
"Put your back into it." Said Jonathan Kent, speaking from his memory, as the Man of Steel flew again into the Adamant shaft, a natural hammer blow. His shoulder slammed into the vast Trident, and just like a hammer driving a nail he drove the Trident deeper.
Ultra roared "No!"
The Typhons arms tried to strike Superman, but from above came the golden ankhs of Doctor Fate, fire from Sargon and a blinding mist from Zatara. In the confusion the flying man moved at speed, striking the shaft again and again, so many times in a split second, that each small movement combined to make difference.
Beyond in these active seconds from Doctor Fate's helm came the bass voice of Magic Master, the man imbued with the spirit and power of Sage Nabu – a message to the heroes, to the Citadel, to Venturia and Auria, to the Lost Land of Atlantis itself.
"Shield your eyes."
The command was an imperative. Like a blow to the knee reaction – obedience was automatic as reflex.
As together the Magicians triad wielded their incredible abilities in unison. From Fate, Zatara and Sargon came sorcery. Not against the Typhon, but to Superman.
Bursting around the Man of Tomorrow was fire, a brilliance like a second sun, as magical energy caused the air around him to burn. It the midst of this ever so brief inferno Superman became invigorated.
Superman struck again and again. Where magic had failed to drive the supernaturally sharp, hard, and resistant blades deep enough, the mechanical hammer blows of a being not of the Earth, not even of this universe, a man without magic, but in possession of super powers, drove the Trident towards the Typhon's alien engine.
"I see the blades." Robot man told Superman. "I see them, they are against the monsters heart – the Hyperion Generator."
With the next blow the three points struck home, just as the last wisps of bright flame like the sun dissipated.
The Typhon staggered, the face of Lois Lane of Delores De Winters, of Sally Norris rendered forty stories high in gold became a wide eyed mask of surprise.
Superman past the enlarged magical Trident, through the cracked carapace, he could at last see into the vast bosom of the beast, and to its artificial heart. There the hand of Robot Man continued remote surgery. Scalpel sharp fingers slid between the broken Hyperion Reactor wall.
Superman watched as drone limb cut deftly as surgeon, severing connections. Robert Crane's metamorphosis into a chimera of man and machine had enabled the scientist. In understanding his own magical genesis, the workings of his cybernetic physiology, this provided the knowledge and the wherewithal to execute this mission. To shut down the Typhon, to deprive Ultra of his vast vessel of devastation, and destroy the construct. To cause an over load in biomechanical Hyperion Generator.
"Not again!" Ultra wailed. The scream rocked the Citadel.
Superman still glowing from his baptism of sun-fire, grasped the cylinder protruding from the Typhon's breast. Like an ant grabbing the shaft of spear made for a man, so was the Metropolis Marvel's scale, as he held onto the magically enlarged Trident of Poseidon.
Everything came down to this.
Superman turned in the air as an Olympian athlete might hurl a hammer in the field. So it was the vast beast lifted from the water, sea monsters dropping from its twitching tale and belly. The Typhon rose up at the end of the Trident, lifted by the glowing speck of dust, who was like a fiery diamond against the purple angry sky. The mighty Man of Tomorrow hefted Ultra's colossus away from him and past the Towering Citadel.
Now it was Wonder Woman moment alone.
Diana let her lasso feed through her fingers, like a golden fishing line, and at its end, a whale of a catch, the impossibly vast Typhon.
Riding on the air currents above the shore, she alighted, her feet touching the green of the Venturian Plain.
"Hera Help me." She said as she dug into the dark the earth with her heels. Connecting with this remnant of the Earth – of Gaia, drawing strength from it. Diana tensed and with perfect timing yanked the unbreakable lariat. The Amazon Princess screamed in rage and determination, as she braked the Typhons flight, and the golden lasso cracked loudly, arrested, then released the beast.
Flaying the vast monster fell, splashing down as the plan demanded into partially flooded crater, and onto the fractured Heart Stone itself.
"Ten, nine, eight..." Robot Man was broadcasting counting. The signal was played through the Green Lantern's power ring.
Alan looked to Slam Bradley. He and the Sand Man had remained behind giving up their mounts to Sargon and Zatara, allowing the Magicians to fly with Fate to Superman's aid.
"Ready?" The Emerald Knight asked.
"Hell yes. If this means we win, save the day and can be rid of this magic nonsense – then let's get on with it." Bradley replied.
The Man in violet nodded, as together they joined hands. Bradley's body reacted, it was instinctive, Alan's ring knew it too. From the big man violet power flowed into the Green Lantern's emerald jewel. In a moment all the energy Bradley had absorbed accidentally during his journey to the Lost Land of Atlantis poured into the Green Lantern. Old Magic from the Heart Stone via the Portal.
Bradley's borrowed Indigo Cloak flashed bright for a heartbeat, then dissipated into nothingness, like a mist in the wind. Yet the consequences of this exchange of primal energies were dramatic. Emerald light poured forward from the power ring on Alan Scott's finger. A bright circle of fire, growing and expanding in flash of green light. Capping the Crater in vast dome of translucent green. Alan willed it so, with all his being, creating a sphere of energy that encircled the vast beast within, both the Typhon and the Heart Stone were swallowed up into this green glassy container.
The Typhon squirmed within, all it's might constrained.
Alan stood his ground. Slam beside him was supporting, but his part – the sharing of his strange violet energy, had past. Bradley had energised – amplified the Green Lanterns power ring, how exactly this was possible Alan Scott was not certain, but that same violet light had saved the Private Detective, transporting him from certain death to safety. That same power he had gladly relinquished now made the last part of Merlin's plan possible.
Clearly these powers were connected, Scott however had not time to think or question. He had to stand and concentrate. To will his wish into reality and hold the containment field in place. If he failed then he and everyone around him, possibly even the entire Lost Land of Atlantis would be destroyed.
His purple cape billowed, the fearful yellow emblem of the magic lantern was brilliant, the red of his shirt fiery, the green of his stout legs bright fixed with grim determination, his pain from his injuries was written in his face as the blood stains and tears marked in his costume. Beads of sweat formed on his brow.
"Three, two, one." Robot Man's radio transmission continued and ended. The explosion did not come.
From within the green energy field the roar of the Typhon echoed once more. "Do you think I'm a fool." Ultra laughed.
"Did you really think that I couldn't heal myself – repair a broken Hyperion Engine?"
The Typhon was laughing, the bass echoed through the ground shaking the Plains of Venturia, and the Forests of Auria.
"He's stabilised the Hyperion reactor." Robot Man transmitted through Alan's Power Ring. "My hand has been neutralised. I can't break it free again. Some defensive mechanism, swallowed – grown around my hand, as fast as I cut, it regenerates."
"Can you hold Ultra?" Slam asked him.
"I don't know." The Green Lantern admitted. "I can only operate a containment field of this strength for a short time. If the plan is to work, we've got to blow that infernal engine in that monster's body soon, or else..."
Alan was interrupted by the roaring of the Typhon.
"Twice today I have done this." Ultra said pushing against the green containment bubble. "Once when I recreated the Typhon I healed the damaged Hyperion Generator within the Kraken, I prevented the seed of my new body being destroyed as you all expected - and so I have done the same trick again." Ultra laughed. "You and your friends must think me a fool Superman, if you thought I'd allow you to defeat me the same way again. That I would perish in the fire of my own engine's explosion."
The Green Lantern leant against Slam Bradley, the big man kept Alan on his feet, kept his arms raised, but with every word spoken the Typhon was pushing against the green dome, even deforming it.
"I have escaped from the Green Lantern's Light once already too." Ultra stated. "It seems Superman the fools are you and your friends, doomed to repeat your mistakes.
"And I am fated to win."
Superman heard the shout. He spied the form of Cyclotron flashing across the sky, a luminescent star visible against the blue sky.
Last he knew Terry Curtis had been in the Atom's care, along with Navy men and the civilians by the Portal in the ruined Temple of Ares. Clearly the superhuman had left the Citadel.
His speed was impressive, his target unmistakable. His anger – his direction was at Ultra. Ultra had played him, abused him, and blackmailed him. Kidnapped his daughter, threatened her life. Terry Curtis was man bent on vengeance.
Cyclotron breached the Emerald Barrier, and passed through it like diver into water. Superman for a moment wondered how it was possible. Then he reflected Alan was concentrating on keeping the Typhon inside the dome, not preventing something or someone like Cyclotron entering.
The ground shook with a roar of anger, as the Typhon's mouth expressed Ultra's surprise at being joined within the green prison of solid light. "What are you.. No..."
The flash of light that followed the Typhon's denunciation was very bright, brilliant even through the translucent green energy shield, without this protective sphere Superman had no doubt that this explosion would have been blinding to human eyes.
For the second time the Lost Land had a second artificial sun.
The ground shook, again the emerald containment sphere did it's work, mitigating what would have been an incredible release of energy. Then it and everything and everyone it had contained was gone.
Then Alan collapsed, if only because Bradley fell, the Sandman caught them both as best he could, and laid them on the ground.
The crater which had contained the Typhon, that had been encircled by the Green Lantern's containment field was changed, what had been a partial lake, was gone, what had been scorched earth was consumed. It was bare rock now, melted and metamorphosed by heat and pressure. Glowing red like hot coals, but more importantly, Merlin's secret promise had come true, the destruction of the Typhon had been an healing act. For at the heart of the land once again was single gem stone – the Heart Stone of Atlantis had been fused together whole once more.
Superman looked skyward, the dark foreboding purple angry sky was already changing, turning blue and bright. The Lost Land was slipping back into the pocket universe that had been created to contain it. No longer would this fragment of Atlantis threaten the real world.
Diana came to his side.
"What happened Superman?" She asked.
"Terry Curtis happened." He told her. "I saw it all. He exploded himself, like some great bomb."
Diana nodded clearly stunned by the enormity of this.
"He dived into the wound we made with Trident of Poseidon." Superman continued. "That first explosion – his explosion, as great as it was, acted like a detonator, the Typhon's artificial heart was ripped apart and then exploded itself, Ultra couldn't prevent it, and that explosion was many times greater again."
"Which in turn reforged the broken Heart Stone." Diana observed.
"As Merlin said it would." Superman replied.
"We did it Kal." She smiled, taking his hand. "Look at what we did."
Superman did look, he squeezed her fingers tight. She alone could appreciate his strength of feeling as expressed in touch.
As they flew together back to the Citadel, the devastation to Venturia was extensive, from the battle with the Tyhpon and the crashing waves, that fight generated, to the hand to hand conflicts between the Ha-Mazon's. Even to the broken and burned American Submarine – the Sea Tiger. Every victory in war had its blood price.
He was not surprised when Diana seemed to understand his misgivings, she was very adept at reading his emotions.
"Kal the Lost Land is free of Clea, the Ha-Mazon's of Venturia are free of her cruel rule, and Auria the threat she represented. The Trident of Poseidon is gone, swallowed up in the explosion along with the greatest of all monsters the Typhon. The Lost Land is where the gods decided it should be, back in it's own reality – not threatening to emerge into ours."
Below them was the tower city, and mid way the ruined Temple of Ares.
They alighted inside, coming to stand close by the all important Portal. It was here their friends and colleagues either waited, or as time past the others returned. Among them the Bat-Man, and Mercy. Also the Green Lantern, the Sandman and Slam Bradley, now just shirtless, his violet cloak having been lost. Tex Thompson too came riding back to them aboard his red cloak.
"So much has changed. Not just here, but to us – to our people." Superman told the Princess. "Look at Bob Crane." He pointed to Robot Man who was stood with Pat Dugan, they were comparing bio-mechanical technology of Crane's new body with the machinery of the armour Stripes wore, driven as it was by Power Stone.
The Lost Land could once again use the latter principal to power its technology. The reconstituted Heart Stone broadcast invisible energies to the various Atlantean devices and artificial lights burned once again in the Citadel and beyond.
Diana nodded. "I see his left hand Robot Man lost to Ultra, is growing – if that is the right word."
Superman looked at the stump, at the shoot of metal that rather hook like protruded from Robot Man's wrist. "Assembled perhaps - or some word that mixes the two up."
Diana's nose wrinkled with a laugh. "Growembling?" She said.
Superman joined her, it was good even now in this ruin perched on the Citadel, to take time to laugh. Diana was right, there was much to celebrate, despite the destruction and death. He was sure the Ha-Mazon's could rebuild now they Heart Stone was whole once again.
"I learned through my lasso." Diana began. "From Clea's thoughts that Ultra promised her the Hyperion Reactor in the Kraken."
"I see." Superman noted. "I guess as alternative source of power."
"Exactly once she broke the Heart Stone, she broke everything." Diana noted. Adding. "Although that was what Clea believed. That the Kraken's reactor could somehow replace the Heart Stone, I doubt Ultra ever meant to honour that pact.
"I believe Ultra's intention was always to raise the Typhon once more. Ultra was too greedy for power to have given up the Kraken's ancient engine."
Lois Lane and Doleres De Winters joined them. Lois had the young child Terri Curtis in her arms.
"She is an orphan now." Dee Dee told them as Wesley Dodds approached.
"Her father died a hero." Superman said. He smiled warmly at Lane. This was a side of Lois he had never seen before. She appeared almost broody. He dare not suggest it, but he thought motherhood suited her.
"And she is not alone in the world. This war," Diana gestured to the captured Nazi's – and Axis allies, threatens to make many more orphans – and many more heroes like Terry Curtis."
"No greater love." The Sand Man noted. "Than to lay down your life for your friends."
"Terry Curtis certainly redeemed himself – redeemed Cyclotron." Lois added.
Superman looked out to where Doctor Fate worked with Gio Zatara and John Sargent – Sargon the Sorcerer, worked with the Portal. Healing the broken Heart Stone of the Lost Land also meant the Doorway between this realm and their Earth could be reopened. It's power source returned. In due course, and soon, Superman knew they all could at last return home to the real world.
Out in the sea the forces from Tritonis were processing back to the aquatic portal that their undersea city guarded. King Antonis had done his duty to his gods, and his oath. Without him Superman reflected evil would have won the day. With them was Aquaman. His choice was to swim his own way home.
Shortly the Magicians were successful. Tapping the energies of the newly reforged Heart Stone, Fate, Zatara and Sargon together opened the portal to the Los Angeles Underground.
As the great Iron Doors swung open once more revealing the dark purple mists of the inter dimensional rift Superman wondered what kind of world waited for them on the other side. Time travelled more quickly relative to the real world here in the lost land, and as the Heroes entered that gate between worlds Superman reflected that if his maths were correct, at least he would be home for Christmas.