Captain Challenge was draped over Tharka's shoulder as the Woman of the Future flew forward at top speed. As soon as they were outside the battlements of Castle Ianus, she stopped short - and Challenge continued to fly forward, fell to the ground, rolled backward for a while and finally came to a stop. He was on his feet before she landed, which surprised her; she'd expected to take him out instantly by battering him through that wall. They were near the rocky landward shore of the Bay of Carate, a sandy beach scattered with boulders of all sizes. There were a few people on the beach; they scattered in panic.
"I've been looking forward to a rematch!" she said as she landed. "This time, there's nobody to sucker punch me and save your can!"
"Well, you know me. I love a challenge!" he laughed confidently. "I hope you don't make things easy by surrendering too soon!"
The Girl of Destiny stepped forward and delivered a roundhouse right. She hit into something that pushed back at her; the closer her fist came to her, the more resistance she felt. Her fist slowed to a halt a good half inch from his face, and he didn't seem to have felt the impact at all.
"Force field!" she exclaimed. "Inverse cube?" even in a fight, she retained her interest in the nature of the universe. She hadn't asked the question on purpose, just in her thoughts, but it slipped out anyway. She certainly didn't expect Challenge to answer her. Yet he did.
"Yes, an inverse cube force field." He boasted. "That fool Urungas let me use her electronics lab to recreate the force field I used against the Green Lanterns. Her technology is more advanced than ours on Earth, so I was able to make the generator smaller and more powerful than my original."
"I suppose it's governed by the inverse cube law because your device creates a virtual "mass dipole" to generate artificial gravitic repulsion?" Her scientific curiosity was more powerful than her urge to fight.
you're absolutely correct." He was stunned at how quickly she'd figured out the principal behind his invention. "No scientist on Earth has even worked out the theory behind this device, much less built one. Nobody here on Zor, either, according to Urungas," Chllenge was almost smug in his pride.
"She's right," Tharka conceded. "You could make millions off an invention like that. Why bother with being a villain?"
"I've made my millions already," he replied, "and it was much too easy. I needed a bigger challenge, so I decided to rule the world. The two Green Lanterns stopped me, but once I'm ruler of Zor, I'll go back and take over Earth as well!"
"It's not going to be that easy. Computeer has imbedded a mind-control chip in your head!" she warned. She decided not to tell him about Muscleman's change of allegiance. Always good to have a surprise or two on your side!
"That's why she's a fool - she never expected my force field to block her mind controller!" Challenge crowed. "Perhaps you would be interested in ruling at my side? Our combined powers and genius would be unstoppable!"
"If I really wanted to rule this world, I'd already be doing so, don't you think?" As she spoke, she lunged forward and punched again, using her super speed to add power to her punch.
His shield didn't quite deflect the blow entirely; he took a step backward to keep his balance, then launched a powerful combination of his own. Unfortunately, his own blows were also slowed by own force field, and Woman of the Future felt them more as a shove backwards than as punches.
"Crap!" he swore vehemently. He obviously hadn't thought this out. 'I never used the field to attack the GLs, just to defend myself' he thought. If they couldn't hit each other effectively, this wouldn't be much of a fight! Tharka was also figuring this out, and she thought much faster than he did. She disappeared for a second, and then was back, wielding a girder pulled from the rubble of the collapsed wall.
"I've seen baseball on TV, and it always looked like fun!" she quipped. "Batter up!" She swung the girder, and caught Captain Challenge in the midsection. "Going
gone for a home run!" she laughed as she knocked him high into the air.
He recovered more quickly than she expected, popped out his glider wings and stopped the tumble, then dove on her like a hawk on a rabbit. "Nobody plays with me like a children's toy!" he yelled at the top of his voice. "And I mean, nobody!"
She shuffled to one side to avoid him, but he guessed correctly and managed to slam into her, knocking her backwards into a large boulder. Chips of rock flew like shrapnel from where she hit. She raced forward, grabbed the front of his uniform, and drove him to the ground as she did a handspring off his chest. She retained her grip and as she spun forward, she threw him with both hands, and he smashed into the outside wall of the castle.
At that instant, Doctor Computeer's throne roared up from the castle and flew towards Tharka's rocket. The Woman of the Future was momentarily distracted, and Challenge smashed into her, using his shoulder as a battering ram, and she tumbled backward, ending in the shallow water just a few feet from the beach. When she recovered, she launched herself into the sky. He picked up the largest boulder he could find. As Tharka continued to rise, Challenge threw the boulder towards her with all his strength.
Dr. Computeer sped towards the waiting rocket. But as she got closer, she could see that something was wrong. The hatch was not sliding open to admit her, and the view window of the control room was smashed open. The instruments in the throne were reporting that there were no acknowledging signals coming from the ship.
"Damn that bitch! She and that traitor may have won for now, but Dr. Computeer is never without resources. Time for plan C," Dr. Computer swore to herself as her throne swooped up to the side of the rocket. The would-be Empress touched another button on the arm of the throne. A section of hull, hinged at the bottom, swung open, until it was almost horizontal, forming a launching ramp for a one-person flier, already mounted to the ramp. "Fotunately I made the emergency systems independent of the main controls!" she crowed. She slipped off the throne and into the open cockpit of the miniature flier. Flames roared from the back and the flier rocketed away, just as Muscleman soared up from the Hall of Nations. He watched helplessly as the speedy flier rapidly vanished into the cloudless sky.
The speeding boulder was going to miss her, so the Girl of Destiny turned her attention back to her foe. This battle had gone on long enough; it was time to use her super brain and put an end to it! 'He can't fly,' she reasoned. 'If I dropped him into the Bay, he'd be relatively helpless, with no place to stand and nothing to throw.' Acting as she thought, she swooped around and approached him from behind. Before he could turn, she picked him up under the shoulders and carried him a half mile out to sea and then dropped him.
He came back to the surface, gasping desperately. "The gear on my costume makes me too heavy to float! You have to help me!" he pleaded.
"Dump the gear" she responded calmly.
"The water's too cold. Even if I could float, I'll die of exposure," he insisted, closer to panic with every second.
"I'm not so sure," she responded matter-of-factly. "I'm not an expert on Earth human physiology, but I suspect that if you dump the extra weight and start swimming, you'll make it to shore well before you die of exposure. But, you won't be in much of a mood to fight any more. I'll be waiting for you." She flew off towards shore. He had a moment of hope as he saw Bear standing on shore, but instead of fighting her or trying to help him, they two of them just watched him! His allies had both abandoned him; his hope of rescue was shattered.