The Adventures of Superboy: The Liberation of Antareus
Superboy faced the giant window that overlooked Antareus' galaxy. He wondered about the momentous task ahead of him. However, he couldn't complain, since this was his own idea. Troy was stunned at the prospect, but he had complete confidence in Superboy's abilities to carry it out. Superboy took a deep breath and traced the stars with his fingers over the smooth glass. He still felt lightheaded from the Trancer drug, but it was gradually wearing off.
He felt a gentle hand touch his back and turned to Lana. He tried not to make much eye contact with her earlier; he didn't want her to fall under the drug's effects. Troy joked with him that Lana didn't need any Trancers to fall down at Superboy's feet. Superboy knew that Lana was much stronger than that, she loved and respected him and his decisions, but she didn't do it blindly.
"Are you still worried, Superboy?"
He smiled wryly. "Do I look it?"
"A little. I see it in your eyes." Lana carefully moved closer to him and Superboy put his arm around her lower back. "That kind of makes me nervous."
"You don't have to be scared, Lana. Troy will makes sure you and Evie are safely back on earth before I do this."
Lana shook her head. "I'm not worried for me. I'm thinking about you. What's wrong, Superboy?"
Superboy lightly played with her curls. Lana was one of the most selfless women he had ever known. He truly admired that about her, but he never wanted her to needlessly fret over him. "Lana what if…what if something goes wrong? What if I miscalculate the degrees or the angle? I could wind up destroying a whole planet. I've never done this before."
Lana stared at him boldly. "Superboy, you shouldn't doubt yourself. I know it's not every day that a planet is shifted out of orbit, but Troy is getting the accurate calculations for you, he said it would only be a few feet. They have a device to help you. The Antareans need to thrive under a natural sun. I can't imagine living my life under a dome with everything so artificial, even if they can use those awesome gleeping powers."
"I appreciate the confidence, but that's only one problem solved." He knitted his brows and gazed out the window again, his lips pressed firm as he contemplated further issues.
Lana stroked his arm. "What do you mean?"
"It's the Xavarians. One false move and they could lash out again; they're still a barbaric race that loves conflict. Troy and I had to pull mind tricks just to reason with them."
Superboy cocked his head toward the round table, where a group of the beastly Xavarian soldiers sat with their large feet up and laughed boisterously. Tammox had left them in the room to make sure that Superboy and the young women didn't try to escape. Lana got the message and shivered, thinking of Midox and his attempted assault on her. Superboy saw her uneasiness and pulled her nearer.
"I promise you, Lana, as long as I'm here they won't harm a hair on your head. Or else they'll get it far worse than Midox did." He kissed her temple and Lana relaxed, sighing as his soft lips brushed her cheek.
Tammox had demanded to work with Troy and Xander on the calculations. After some mild discussions, and being highly influenced by the Trancer drugs both Troy and Superboy ingested, Tammox agreed to gather his spacecrafts and bring the inhabitants of Antareus to his planet temporarily while Superboy moved Antareus to a different orbit. With their enhanced technology, multitudes of spacecrafts, and hyper speed, the move would only take a few hours. All the preparations were taking place now. However, Tammox refused to let Evie or Lana return home until it was time for the shift. They were still his collateral so that Troy and Xander would relent and give back the Solaris. He also kept his army ready to attack the Antareans should they refuse.
Superboy insisted that the Solaris cube would not be returned until all the Antareans were safely off the planet; otherwise removing it while it was in a processing phase could be deadly to them. It was a grueling hour of heady bargaining over life and death and it tested Superboy's patience. Troy made sure to get a contract down in writing and signed by Xander. It stated in no uncertain terms that full control of all Antarean activities were to be turned over to him.
Troy explained to Superboy that even though Xander, Tammox, and the rest were under the influence of the Trancers, they were aware of their actions as they did them. It was their mental defenses that were skewered. The Trancer user turned the victim, or the trancee, into a helpless follower for a certain length of time and they willingly carried out the bidding of the user. They were very dangerous drugs in the wrong hands and Troy promised Superboy he would have them removed from the planet as soon as he officially became leader.
Lana looked at the long couch in the corner of the room. Evie sat curled in a ball and very still, her gaze plastered on the Xavarians. She was very frightened of them.
"I'm going to stay with Evie. She's so young and so scared. I feel sorry for her."
Superboy nodded. "Me too, but I'm very proud of her. She's a brave girl, like you, Lana." He smiled. "I'll join you. I don't like the way the Xavarians are watching you two."
Superboy made himself comfortable across from Lana and Evie so they'd feel more secure. The Xavarians immediately stopped staring in their direction. Evie soon found herself unable to control her sobs. Lana gently held her close.
"Evie, it's going to be okay. Superboy is here and he knows exactly what he's doing."
"I know. I just wish I could go home. I miss my mom, my friends. I want my dad to come home too. Now he's the leader and he's going to stay here forever."
Superboy looked on sympathetically. He stroked Evie's hair. "Your father has a great responsibility to his planet, Evie, but that doesn't mean he won't be there for you when you need him. You're his biggest pride and joy. Hey, you know, once we get this planet in a different orbit, you and your mom could probably come and visit."
Evie looked up startled. "You mean that?"
"Well, I won't say so for sure, that's up to your father. But my intention is to make the planet's orbit similar to earth, so Antareus will not have to be covered with domes and they can start growing real grass and have a water supply. That was the reason for this whole mess with the Solaris cube."
"I know you can do it, Superboy. I believe in you." Evie smiled and hugged him.
Troy, Xander and Tammox entered the room. Superboy rose up to attention.
"Superboy, we're ready for you. Are you ready to do this?"
"Yes. Are you sure the planet has been evacuated? I should do one more search around."
Both Xander and Tammox wanted to disagree, but Troy held up his hand and smiled. "You can never be too careful. Do what you have to Superboy. As for my daughter and Lana…" He turned to Tammox. "A deal is a deal, they go back to earth now."
"Fine. Hurry it up, we need the Solaris back!"
Lana jumped up and clung to Superboy's arm. He turned and hugged her.
"Superboy, please be careful."
"I will Lana, I promise." He winked at Evie. "And I didn't forget my other promise to you, next weekend I'll be coming to take you and Lindsey on that flight."
Evie grinned. "It's a date!"
"Lana and Evie, come with me to the transportation room. This will take more than a gleep to send you home." Troy said and motioned them to follow. "Superboy, go do what you have to do, I'll signal you when they've gone."
Lana couldn't leave without a proper send-off for Superboy. She ran back to him and he caught her in a firm, passionate kiss. "Promise that you'll come to me when you return to earth, just so I know you are okay?" She sighed.
Superboy gently ran his hand over her cheek. "I will, Lana."
"I love you!" They both repeated in unison. Superboy smiled and Lana rejoined the others.
Superboy stood on the cliff near the Palace, the highest peak of Antareus. There was an eerie silence that pervaded the City below. He focused his super-hearing, but came up with nothing save the usual moans and groans of metal and a few electronic devices that were left on in the rush to get people to Xavariax. Satisfied, he flew into the air. It was time to make the move. He anticipated structural damage, but Troy told him everything would be restored. Troy locked two enormous hooks into the planet's core. On Superboy's telepathic signal Troy was going to start up an extremely powerful device known as a Gravitational Mass-Shifter and aid him in pulling the planet along.
Keeping in mind the coordinates – he was to tilt the planet 25 degrees to the right and push it out of orbit two feet lower, Superboy geared himself and took a deep breath. After considering his options he decided to use his super-speed to accomplish most of the task.
Superboy started making slow rotations around the planet on an angle and gradually built up speed. He was amazed how much energy he spent and the speed at which he flew, it was much greater than earth. He made a mental note to 'sun bathe' more often for enhanced power. The entire planet lurched.
"Troy! Pull down now!"
Superboy's flight kept the planet stable and easier to handle. He flew down to the hooks and grabbed one, feeling the tension of the mass-shifter at work. Superboy helped it along and within a half-hour of intense exertion the planet made a two-foot drop. Superboy released the hook line; the pressure had left deep indentations in his hands. He hovered high above the small planet to catch his bearings. His muscles burned and sweat dripped down his face, but the exertion felt wonderful. He flew around to check the position.
"It worked, Troy! And there's minimal surface damage."
"That's great, Clark! Let me know when you're ready for phase 2. I'm going to reset the hooks."
Superboy helped him along by burrowing himself into the ground and pulling the hooks up. The tethers went taut and soared back into the spacecraft that housed the Mass-Shifter. Five minutes later they shot back out and landed on another section of the planet, burrowing and tightly attaching into the core.
"Okay, Superboy, this is it. I have also powered down the Solaris. Once the shift is complete I need you to bring it to Xavariax as soon as possible. You'll find it in a containment unit beneath Xander's quarters. He'd lied to Tammox and us. The Solaris was never in a processing phase. He was holding it hostage until he would be able to destroy Xavariax with the war-head."
"Troy, what's going to happen once the Trancer drug wears off?"
"Don't worry about that. He already signed leadership over to me, but to be fair about all this, I guess we'll take a page out of America's playbook and let the people decide. So far the odds are in my favor."
Superboy readied himself for the next flight. "Troy, one more thing, what about Evie and her mother? Once you become leader, would you be able to see them again?"
"Evie told me what you said to her about them visiting the planet. It was an option I didn't consider, but you are right! Once Antareus develops an atmosphere similar to earth, they can, and being the leader, I can surely lift the rules a bit."
"I think Evie would love that. Okay, I'm set."
"Superboy, literally, God's speed." Troy replied.
Planet Earth – The Bureau of Extra-Normal Matters
Evie and Lana transported into the lobby within a hot pink haze of swirling colors. Lana stumbled and let out a shout of relief. She looked around, everyone was still frozen in time.
"We made it! I hope Superboy does." She said worried.
Evie smiled. "Lana, I think Superboy is going to be fine. He has my father on his side and they know exactly what to do. I must return home now. When I unfreeze everyone, it'll be as if nothing happened. Only you and Superboy will remember everything. One more thing, when I first came to the office I thought I saw Clark somewhere outside running late…" Evie fibbed. "I'm going to make sure that the boss doesn't remember he was late for work. I feel bad."
Lana laughed and hugged Evie. "Thanks, Evie! Too bad Clark won't know what's going on."
"Yeah, totally. He seems like a nice guy." Her cheeks warmed.
"I think somebody has a crush! Don't worry, I'll never tell. Clark's one of the best." Lana chuckled. "Evie, I'll miss you. Maybe one day I can visit California, I've always wanted to tour Universal Studios and Hollywood."
"That would be great! My mom wouldn't mind. Maybe she'd even let me stay here for a little while too."
"Sure! But Capitol City can be a drag for a kid, but we have our own attractions around Florida. We'll plan it."
Evie closed her eyes and nodded quickly. A piece of paper with her contact information appeared in Lana's hand. "I've always wanted a pen-pal." She said shyly.
"I can do that too, Evie. It's been…interesting. Get home safely."
"Sure! See you around Lana, and when Superboy returns, remind him he promised to fly with me and my friend."
"I'll make sure he does."
Evie grinned and closed her eyes and in a swirl of pink energy, she was gone. The office sprang to life and continued its daily bustle. Lana went back to her desk to start on Clark's reports. An hour later she heard Jackson call out for 'Kent!' and when Lana raised her head she saw him run by her up the stairwell. She hadn't even seen him come in. She closed the folders and crept up to listen.
"I'm very sorry, Mr. Jackson, sir, my utilities got shut off and then I had a flood in my apartment. It was such a mess. It was very irresponsible of me not to call and it will never happen again." Clark said sincerely.
"Kent! I don't know what you're even talking about! You've been here all day!"
Clark stared at him confused. "But Mr. Jackson, I…"
"Clark!" Lana grinned and raced up. "I'm so sorry that happened over the weekend." She glared at him. "Did everything get worked out?"
Jackson rolled his eyes. "Why are you even telling me all this, Kent? If I didn't know any better I'd think you were trying to make an excuse for something, but never mind. Did you finish that pile of folders I left?"
Clark glanced at his desk and then saw the pile on Lana's. "Well, yeah, well, almost! I'll have them all done by the end of the day."
"You better, because there's more where those came from."
"Right, sir." Clark stepped aside to let him pass. "Thank you."
Jackson stared back up at him and then shook his head and wagged his hand. "I don't know…young people today are weird sometimes."
Lana raced upstairs and hugged Clark. "I'm so glad to see you!"
"Really? Haven't you seen me all day?" Clark asked carefully.
Lana pulled back. "Sure, I mean…forget it." Lana nudged him. "You owe me big time! I've been pouring over those files and doing your dirty work as usual."
Clark realized that somehow everyone forgot the events and nobody knew the Xavarians had come into the Bureau. Lana was no doubt playing along, so Clark had to do the same. He grinned at her.
"It's great to see you too, Lana. What can I do to make it up to you?"
Lana pretended to think. "I would like dinner, but not just fried zucchini sticks at the bar outside, I've always wanted to go to the new revolving restaurant at the top of the Capitol State building." She batted her eyes at him.
Clark couldn't say no to her. He put an arm around her waist. "Okay, Lana, you win. And you deserve it. I heard the food was really good there. When would you like to go?"
"How about tomorrow night?"
"Sure! It's a date."
"And you can't break it, Clark. You've stood me up before. and it's pretty demeaning." She pouted.
"I'm sorry, I really am. I promise I won't."
They went beside her desk and Clark took the files back. "Are you sure you want to go out with…me?"
Lana stapled her reports. "Of course I am. Why wouldn't I?" She smiled sweetly. "We're good friends, Clark, I love going out with you." She peered into his face. "Clark, you look really tired, are you getting enough sleep?"
"Yeah, but I had a restless night."
"Oh, okay. I worry about you sometimes." She patted his arm and turned away before he could respond.
Clark stared after her adoringly as she went to Jackson's office and then he took the files to a private nook upstairs again. In less than two minutes with super speed, the files were complete. That simple action wore him out; He was spent. He'd never been put to the task of moving an entire planet before. It was one of the few times he realized his powers and strength had its limits. The orbit re-configuration went more successful than they'd hoped. When he went onto the planet he removed all the oppressive domes as his final saving act.
The heat ratio and exposure was near perfect, almost an exact replica of Earth's conditions. Superboy then helped Troy get everyone safely off Xavariax and home again. All were thrilled and Superboy was sure they would soon look to Troy as their new leader. The Xavarians retreated, satisfied with their Solaris, and a new allied pact was made between the two alien races. As for Xander and Tammox, they were to be tried, and the punishment for treason was exile to a place known throughout the universe as The Phantom Zone. It was the first Superboy had ever heard of such a realm, but Troy explained that it was even used by the Council on Krypton for wrong-doers. Troy promised to keep in touch on the progress of Antareus and told Superboy if he ever needed help or had a desire to learn more of his origins, he was welcome to visit Antareus whenever he pleased.
It was all in a day's work in the life of a superhero and Clark wouldn't change that for anything.