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  •   forum   •   THIS WEEK'S CHAPTER: "RETRIEVAL!" •   fortress   •  
Tomorrow's Lesson, by Samuel Hawkins
By SAMUEL HAWKINS


Chapter 1:  City of Tomorrow


Time narrowed, stood still, then blossomed in a collage of boundless color.  Space inverted, then shuddered as it was fractured by a blatant defiance of nature’s speed limit.  Reality smeared, as the electromagnetic spectrum was Doppler-shifted beyond even his perceptions.

Briefly, Superboy was certain that his feet were at least four hundred years from his head.  For an unpleasant moment, he understood why Ma Kent hated to ride in the back seat of a car.

Then, suddenly, he was through the Time Barrier.  Like a newborn baby, he burst into the future.  Below him, gleaming like a bright and shining star, lay Metropolis of the 30th century.

Immediately, Superboy shook his head to clear away the cobwebs of his thousand-year leap.  Time travel was still the most difficult trick in his ever-expanding repertoire, though it was getting easier.  This was time trip number seven for him, and thanks both to his increasing experience and a suggestion from a new friend, his discomfort with the procedure had decreased to little more than what most ordinary people would feel after a cross-country flight.  The improvement from his first journey through time was monumental.  Then, he’d sat motionless in the 18th century for close to an hour just to regain his bearings and stop his head from spinning.  For a while, he’d thought he might even throw up.

It was so much better now.  Soon, he hoped, he might even be able to take passengers.  Ma wouldn’t do it, but Pa might, and Lana and Pete would flip at the chance.  And of course, he owed a trip to Mr. Asimov, since he was the one who’d suggested in the first place that defiance of the bounds of time might be within the means of the young Kryptonian.

Superboy dipped towards the majestic capital of both Earth and the United Planets and took a quick x-ray look at the master clock in the Time Institute.  Precision timing was still a bit of a problem for him, but he was getting better at that too.  Only a few minutes early for the meeting, he determined.  As he hadn’t seen much of the 30th century on his two earlier trips here, he decided to spend the time getting in a little sightseeing.

On his first trip here, he’d been too busy jumping through phony hoops during his initiation into the group of super-powered teens known as the Legion of Super-Heroes. During his second journey, his time had been monopolized by the flock of historians who’d peppered him with questions at every turn.  He’d done his best to answer them, but it did become a bit tedious after a while.  He was determined that this trip would be different.  Nothing would occupy him but the Legion’s monthly meeting, a quick mission or two if necessary, hanging out with his new friends, and learning more about the remarkable advances humanity had made over the millennium.

Nothing, he was certain, would prevent this from being a great weekend.

Turning his attention toward the future that was now his present, he began his tour.  Past the Presidential Palace, past the now aptly named Galaxy Communications complex, past the intriguing but necessarily avoided Superman Museum, the Boy of Steel flew a long, lazy spiral around the city of tomorrow.  It was, he soon decided, breathtaking.  So active, yet so efficiently organized, the area was a remarkable mix of modern city planning and historical preservation.

The plentitude of sights and sounds was nearly overwhelming to someone accustomed to the quiet life of a small town, yet Superboy found himself at ease here.  His comfort puzzled him, until he recalled that he hadn’t always been a small-town boy.  The similarities between this century and the Krypton of his earliest years were provoking a kind of second-hand nostalgia in him.  It would be easy to lose himself here, he realized.  He also realized that it was nearly time for the meeting.  Cutting across the memorial to the Veterans of the Second American Revolution, he increased his speed and headed directly for Legion headquarters.

He dropped into the courtyard outside the rocket-shaped clubhouse promptly on schedule, and was pleased to find that the Legionnaires were out in force to greet him.  They were all here.  Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, and Invisible Kid, all beaming brightly at their distinguished member from the past.

A large crowd of onlookers had also gathered to await his arrival.  They were quickly on him, a multitude of hands and tentacles suddenly reaching out to touch him.  The attention made Superboy uncomfortable, but he tried his best to comply with their requests.  As the Legionnaires stood patiently by, Superboy spent a few hectic minutes signing autographs, donating scent traces, and allowing his electromagnetic field to be recorded.  When one being asked for a cell sample, though, the Legion’s leader moved in.

"All right folks," Cosmic Boy said in a voice ringing with an authority far exceeding his fifteen years, "that’s enough.  Superboy is here on important Legion business.  Let him through."

The crowd groaned a bit, but quickly dispersed when they saw a growing Colossal Boy, a sparking Lightning Lad, and a Chameleon Boy-turned Zoonian Spider-Dog headed their way.  Cosmic Boy watched until the three Legionnaires had ushered the crowd safely away, then turned to Superboy.  "Gotta watch out for those Centaurians, Superboy," the young master of magnetism said.  "They’re clone brokers."  With a laugh, he added, "And we don’t need an army of you running around, do we?"

Superboy laughed in return, though to him, cloning was just a science fiction fantasy.  "It’s great to see you," Cosmic Boy said as shook the hand of the newest Legionnaire.  Superboy returned the handshake eagerly, noting that of all his new teammates, Cosmic Boy, amateur historian that he was, seemed to be the only one who regularly practiced the ritual greeting.  Somewhen in the last thousand years, probably in some plague-stricken era, it must have fallen out of favor.  "How was the trip?"

Superboy nodded and smiled.  "Not bad at all.  Brainiac 5 was right.  A little less torque through the seventh dimension really does smooth out the whole ride."

"Well," Cosmic Boy gushed, "that’s our Brainy."  Then the Legion leader turned towards the rest of his team.  Superboy noticed that they were hanging back in an almost … formal manner.  "Well, guys," Cosmic Boy said, "come on over.  He’s here."

With that encouragement, the Legionnaires quickly gathered around their new teammate in a manner almost reminiscent of the recently dispersed crowd.  "Thanks for coming," Invisible Kid said.

"Great to see you," Sun Boy said with a gentle punch to the Boy of Steel’s shoulder.

"Hi, Superboy," Triplicate Girl - or at least, one of her - said with a smile.  The other two just giggled and smiled.

"Hi everyone," Superboy said enthusiastically as he exchanged greetings with the young heroes.  As they headed inside the clubhouse to begin the monthly meeting, Superboy couldn’t help but grin.  It was great to be with other kids who understood what it was like to have super-powers.  Especially ones who were a great bunch of kids on top of that.

No doubt about it, he thought with a feeling of anticipation.  This was going to be a great weekend.


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TOMORROW'S LESSON Copyright 2000 Samuel Hawkins.  All rights reserved.  This story is neither authorized nor endorsed by DC Comics.   Superboy, Clark Kent, Martha Kent, Jonathan Kent, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, Invisible Kid, Mordru the Merciless, Smallville, Metropolis, & Krypton are TM DC Comics & © DC Comics, Joanne Siegel, and Laura Siegel Larson.


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