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The Apprentice, chapter 8

Location: Happy Harbor

J'onn felt the mental scream before he heard a noise no one had ever heard before. Kon recognized the voice, but did not immediately realize what was happening.

Match was screaming.

J'onn saw what Jacob had used on him and charged, insubstantial, to his aid. He solidified enough to grab the red kryptonite and sped off to dispose of it.

All thoughts of the plan left Kon's mind when he heard his brother in pain. He barreled through to see him burning. He went over to smother the flames and realized that Superman was there, helping him. Miss Martian and Supergirl had charged in after them and were confronting Jacob.

J'onn returned to find his allies pinned by the force of Jacob's powers, with the exception of Match, who was lying on the floor.

Jacob turned to the Martian Manhunter. "Give up! I've beaten everything you've thrown at me! You're no match for my powers!"

"Why are you doing this, Jacob?" J'onn asked.

"The world's a disgusting place, and I'm going to make it better! I'll make a utopia, but first I have to get rid of the less desirable parts!"

"If your parents were scared of you, that's no reason to-"

"Shut up! They weren't scared of me, but they would have held me back! That's why they had to go."

J'onn found himself surrounded by a circle of fire. He shrank before it.

"I've won!" Jacob exclaimed. "No one can stop me!"

Jacob's eyes then bulged in terror. He was in someone's telekinetic field and at their mercy. His eyes darted to Match. Then, his eyes went to Superboy, who was staring at him with an intense gaze.

"How?" he choked out.

"You always did get ahead of yourself, Jake," Kon spat out. "Holding us against the wall, starting fires around J'onn, keeping the rest of the heroes under your control. That spread your focus too much. I only have one psychic power; I don't let that happen to me."

"Let me go, or I'll-"

"Not likely."

"What are you going to do, hold me here forever?" Jacob laughed. "In time, I will break your hold on me, and then this will be over."

"Not quite," Match said, standing up.

He was quite clearly in a lot of pain, but he advanced on Jacob. "Kon has stopped you, and I will end this."

"What are you going to do?" Jacob demanded. "I already know everything you've taught me!"

"I was your teacher, but I didn't teach you everything I know," Match hissed as he put his hands on Jacob's temples. "You could have been the most powerful of us all, but you chose the wrong path. As the teacher, I have to make up for the deficiencies of the pupil."

Jacob screamed, and the rest of the heroes were no longer pinned to the wall. The flames around J'onn died down.

"What, what did you do to me?" Jacob screamed.

"I lobotomized your psychic powers," Match told him. "I've taken away what made you special."

Jacob held his head in his hands and wailed. "You've destroyed me!"

"J'onn remove his personal knowledge of us," Match ordered.

"I'm not sure-" Supergirl began.

"Do it!" Match shouted.

J'onn stared at Jacob. "It's done."

Superman frowned. "I know something had to be done, but I don't like having people's minds be altered."

Match replied, "The alternative was to have him killed. He may have regarded that as preferable."

Kon said nothing. He had come to that conclusion and was on the verge of doing it before Match stepped in.

"We're going to get you some medical attention now," Kon told Match.

Location: the JLA Watchtower, the monitor room

After being treated, Max insisted on getting out of the medical bay, claiming that he'd spent enough time there. Conner joined him. Neither was surprised to see Batman waiting for them.

"I was unaware you could destroy someone's psychic powers," he said.

"It was a theoretical technique that I didn't think I'd have to put into practice," Max replied.

"We're going to have to talk about what other techniques you've come up with," Conner told him.

"Were there no other options for Jacob?" Batman asked. "I reviewed the tapes, but I'd like both of your views."

"He was out of control and too powerful," Conner said. "It was this or death."

Max nodded. "I agree with Conner."

"Personal issues didn't enter into this? He betrayed you both and controlled your friend."

"That's not fair," Conner said, growing angry.

"He controlled all of you," Max pointed out. "Had either of us been acting from emotion, he would most likely be dead."

Batman nodded. "I agree. Others may question it, but I'll talk to them."

"Thank you for your assistance," Max said. "You fed Jacob what he was looking for and nothing more. He was looking at the tactics rather than the overall strategy."

"You think I was resisting him?"

Max gave him a small smile. "I know it."

"I think it's preferable that we not come into conflict. It could be...messy."

"Are you two going to hug now?" Conner asked with a grin. "If so, I want to get a camera for it."

Batman glared at him, but Max laughed.

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This went on a little longer than I had originally planned. Ah well.

Any and all comments welcome!