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1267The Crimelords 8

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  • lawrenceliberty
    Mar 8, 2014

      Meanwhile, in the domed Argo City, Ultra Man had found himself enjoying life back on a facsimile of his lost home planet.  He started to smile more often and he no longer made any references to either returning to Earth or using the resources of Kor-LL’s city against Luther or his enemies.

      Owlman casually scanned the thoughts of the two siblings and he was somewhat astounded to find that Kor-LL’s story seemed to be genuine and his affection for his sibling was equally real.

      “He may be deranged or delusional to the point where his thoughts do not reveal deception since he truly believes or remembers events the way he tells them. I don’t like the way Kel has embraced his lost brother either.  Something seems wrong here. That odd chalky dust is everywhere and my own tests do not reveal anything. I can’t identify the substance nor can I deduce why it is all over this city!” he thought.

      Finally, while the brothers were drinking and dining one evening, he slipped away and made his way down an aisle that led to what clearly seemed to be a hidden passage. He had located it after studying the complex from all angles. Opening it was simple enough for someone with his talents.

      He made his way down a staircase that led into a passageway that opened up into a narrow hall that ended at a doorway. He frowned as his powerful mind detected another strong intellect within the cell.

      He peered through a wire screen that covered part of the door and he saw a tall, powerfully built old man with white hair and a beard.

      The occupant of the cell glared at him for a moment and then his expression changed as he realized this masked visitor was clearly not the run of the mill Kryptonian.

      “Who are you?” he asked.

      Owlman said, “You may consider me to be a seeker of wisdom. Who are you? You appear to the only prisoner in a community oddly united by devotion to their leader!”

      The old man approached the door and said, “Once my name carried a certain mystique. I was notorious and then I became merely a public servant of sorts.  My name is General Oz.”

      Owlman nodded slowly. “Surely such a peaceful community has no need of an old soldier!”

      Oz laughed bitterly and he replied, “True enough.  I had already gained a name for myself as one who betrayed his world in order to acquire personal power. I served myself and one another and that kind of ambition and greed is never popular among idealists!”

      Owlman said, “You served the so-called Crimelord of Krypton- Jur-LL! You also betrayed him didn’t you? You turned him in to the authorities in exchange for a pardon! You came here afterward seeking to claim his hidden resources for yourself! It was your arrival that led to Kor-LL’s activation of the dome! He thought you were his father because you were piloting one of his crafts!”

      Oz said, “You know me well although your accent betrays you as someone not from this world!

      Owlman grinned as he said, “And I assumed my mastery of your language was flawless!”

      Oz said, “I have been imprisoned here for years! The master of this lost city is a madman! You must sense that. You are clearly a man of some discernment!”

      Owlman said, “He has good reason to hate you. He idolizes his father and sees you as a betrayer.”

      Oz said, “And yet he owes his little kingdom and his happy subjects to my genius!”

      Owlman said, “I’ve noticed the people here are uniformly blissful and docile. There are no raised voices or even mild expressions of discontent. There is also a chalky substance everywhere. Is it some kind of mind altering drug?”

      Oz laughed and said, “Now you are thinking small and you showed such potential earlier!”

      Owlman frowned in concentration and then smiled coldly.

      “I was limited by my lack of familiarity with Kryptonian science! Your thoughts reveal the truth about this place! If it was possible I’d say your thoughts reveal a type of mental gloating! You created the residents of this place didn’t you? Kor-LL and you are the only living beings here except for Ultra Man and myself! The microscopic chalky substance is some residue from the artificial beings that comprise Kor-LL’s mindless subjects!” he said.

      Oz smiled broadly and he said, “Excellent! You are correct! Shortly after my arrival here and Kor’s activation of the environmental dome, Krypton exploded and launched this piece of land into space but the process was hardly a smooth one! The environmental controls  failed and the atmosphere proved toxic! It killed everyone here shortly after Kor activated the dome.  The dome itself can kill as well as safe! I saved his life and my own because I had access to enviro-suits in the hover craft that brought me here. We managed to restore a safe atmosphere in time but by then everyone else had perished!”

      Owlman said, “And yet your pseudo- men lack any will or depth. They are mindless and unquestioning like the perfect soldiers!”

      Oz agreed and said, “That was ever my purpose in creating them. They were to be my personal army with which I would claim some other world as my own; however, I underestimated that freakish Kor-LL and he trapped me before I could make use of my humanoids!”

      Owlman started to reply when the building shook from a powerful impact of some kind! He turned and raced up to the surface as the walls cracked and rubble rained down on all sides!

      He reached Ultra Man and Kor-LL as the brothers determined the source of the tremors!

      “It was some kind of meteor. The dome deflected it but the impact caused a massive earthquake!” said Kor-LL.

      Ultra Man said, “Where have you been? I’d wager you’ve been skulking about in the shadows, no doubt, Old Chum!”

      Owlman nodded and said, “Something like that. You seem comfortable enough here. I’m surprised that restless nature of yours hasn’t led you to tear this city apart by now!”

      Kor-LL said, “My brother loves it here. Besides, he has no power under the environment of the dome.  You should have realized that!”

      Ultra Man said, “I never thought I could be happy without my powers but being here in what could have been my original home had things been different, makes me content!”

      Owlman gazed at his friend intently and then said, “I’m glad but the pessimist in me expects trouble around every corner!”

      Ultra Man approached his friend and said, “You’re bored. You love a challenge. We’ll find some soon enough!”

      Owlman nodded and said, “Sure.  You’re right.’

      He walked away and then slipped down the hall until he had reached the small room in which the environmental controls for the dome were housed.

      “No guards but then Kor-LL doesn’t need them with Oz locked up and everyone else here just a mindless android!” he mused.

      He studied the control panel and then his keen mind enabled him to discern the nature of the device and its possibilities.

      “I’m sorry, Chum but I have to put an end to this fool’s paradise. I need your power on Earth!”he said.

      He adjusted the controls and waited. He didn’t feel any noticeable change in the temperature or the gravitational pull but then his special belt kept him immune to such changes or so he hoped.

      He looked around and nodded in approval as the ordinary “citizens” began to crumble into the same chalky powder he’d found earlier.

      “I figured the right settings would dissolve those things! None of them were truly alive so this is hardly murder!” he thought.

      He waited and then he heard the rush of footsteps as Kor-LL charged into the room confronted him.

      “What have you done? How could you kill my people!” he wept.

      Owlman said, “They were not real to begin with. You knew that once but you preferred to block that truth out of your thoughts so you could enjoy your role as a king!”

      Kor-LL said, “You’ve betrayed my brother! You’ve turned against your friend!”

      Owlman said, “I notice you didn’t bring him here. You don’t want him to realize that this kingdom of yours is nothing more than one sad madman’s fantasy! I want better things for him!”

      Kor-LL shuddered as Owlman made a final adjustment to the controls.

      The deformed “king” clutched his chest and collapsed at the dark caped man’s feet.

      “I am sorry but you had to go for the greater good! My belt which you so kindly provided shields me from the change in atmosphere!  It’s a shame you didn’t think to wear one yourself!” he said.

      “This should make the atmosphere earth-like even down to the type of artificial solar energy that lights and heats the dome!” he said.

      He raced away from the stricken man and found Ultra Man’s prone form a short distance away.

      “Had to risk hurting you to stop him!” whispered Owlman as he looked down at his friend’s still form.

      He calmly placed a green glowing rock on Ultra Man’s chest and waited until the man began to breathe slowly and haltingly.

      Moments passed and then Ultra Man groaned and began to stir.

      Owlman slipped the kryptonite back in his belt and helped his friend sit up.

      “What happened?” gasped Ultra Man.

      Owlman said, “Another meteor hit the dome and this one damaged the environmental control, unit. I’m afraid the change nearly killed you. My belt saved me and I was able to revive you in time once I adjusted things so you’d be empowered once more!”

      Ultra Man said, “I feel my old strength again! I can’t believe everyone else died!”

      Owlman said, “Kel, they were not real. They were artificial men probably created by your father. I mean this was his old hideout, remember? We were fortunate they teleported us here from Qward out of some programmed order to preserve Jur-LL. They thought you were your father and I was close enough to you to be carried along by the beam!”

      Kel blinked slowly and touched his head with one hand.

      “Yeah, yeah. Of course. Funny, I thought I remembered someone else here. I guess the pressure got to me.”

      Owlman stared at him intently for a moment and then said, “Sure, that’s it. It was only natural that seeing a remnant of your old home had to disturb you. I’d say you were hallucinating before I revived you!”

      Ultra Man nodded and said, “Of course. Let’s get out of here.”

      He failed to realize that Owlman had deliberately blocked his memories of his  late brother nor did he know that Owlman had caused the destruction of the pseudo-men himself.

      Owlman thought, “This way will hurt less. Your brother was just one more obstacle that I had to remove in order to eventually achieve something worthwhile. I will need your power to reclaim Earth from our so-called allies when the time is right. I couldn’t let you stay here no matter how much it made you happy!”

      The World’s fiercest duo climbed into the hover craft that had brought Oz there long before and flew off toward Earth.

      Little did they know that the quakes had also freed the ex-soldier from his cell and he had escaped from Argo City in another craft before Owlman had adjusted the dome to slay Kryptonians.

      Oz relished his new freedom and as he guided his craft through space the crafty criminal made plans all his own!

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