By SAMUEL HAWKINS
Chapter 10: Faster Still
In an instant, the war between the Legion and the Dark Lord had changed from a contest of power to one of resolve. Suddenly, they were locked in a deadly chess match, and Triplicate Girl, for the moment at least, controlled the board. As the Legionnaires staggered to their feet, comprehension of the situation, and its implications, spread like wildfire.
"Do it!" Colossal Boy shouted, and a few of the other Legionnaires seconded his exhortation.
"Yeah, do it!" Chameleon Boy screamed.
"Get rid of Mordru!" Sun Boy added.
"Wait!" Cosmic Boy ordered. "Triplicate Girl, remember the code. Youíre a Legionnaire! We donít kill!"
"Thatís right Luornu," Lightning Lad said from the side of the gradually awakening Saturn Girl. "Not even someone like Mordru."
"But Ö" Triplicate Girl protested weakly. "Itís Ö he Ö. heís Mordru. How else can we stop him?"
"I donít know," Cosmic Boy said firmly, "but weíll find a way. Just donít kill him."
For the merest second, Mordru peeled his eyes away from Triplicate Girl to look at Cosmic Boy. Was the youngster a hopeless fool?
Or something more?
Then, there was a moment of chaos on the communications link as, with one exception, all the Legionnaires simultaneously voiced an opinion on the matter at hand. At first, the group seemed to be about evenly split.
"Do it!" Invisible Kid offered.
"No!" Phantom Girl yelled.
"You have to!" Shrinking Violet stated.
"Itís against the Legion Constitution," Brainiac 5 reminded everyone. "Paragraph 4.0, subparagraph 4.3."
"Youíre a Legionnaire," Saturn Girl said as she fought to orient herself.
"Remember the code," Cosmic Boy reiterated, and pointing at the red caped figure beside him, added, "His code."
As Mordru watched the indecision creep across Triplicate Girlís face, he was finding it difficult to suppress a lurking smile. Would the girl actually handicap herself this way? Would her teammates let her? He could scarcely believe it. These children were indeed foolish, acting almost as if theyíd forgotten that he was there. She was cracking, Mordru realized. Her hands were shaking with a lack of conviction. Another second or two, he suspected, and she would likely drop the Nullifier in a hail of tears. Then victory would be his. With the Nullifier no longer trained on his person, he would be free to blast this child and her teammates without fear of damaging the ancient and precious artifact.
Oh, he exulted, how sweet this would be. To have an enemy so eagerly forfeit victory was something you didnít see every century. But it was about to happen. Too many of these children were naively praising their precious code at the expense of all else for it to be otherwise. The remainder of the group, Mordru knew, would quickly pass through their moment of blood lust, and remember that they were indeed Legionnaires, and that Legionnaires, like their inspiration, do not kill.
How delicious, Mordru thought. He would savor this moment for an eternity.
But then, the last Legionnaire to offer an opinion spoke. For some reason, heíd been silent until now. Until now, heíd stood quietly, a slightly puzzled expression on his face. That look was gone, replaced by one of calm and understanding. And in her moment of indecision, and in her need for guidance, he was the Legionnaire to whom Triplicate Girl looked.
And as his teammates watched her eyes go towards him, those Legionnaires encouraging Triplicate Girl to act fatally remembered the oath they had sworn upon joining this group. And they remembered their code, and its inspiration. And they too looked towards its flesh and blood embodiment, and felt a sense of shame, and resolution, overcome them.
And they watched Superboy say, "Luornu. Trust me. Itís okay."
She looked at him more closely, and he replied with a look and a nod that were an unspoken promise.
And as the Legionnaires felt the bittersweet emotion of knowing that they had preserved their ideals at what might be a great cost, their inspiration, the universeís greatest hero, the ultimate Youth Scout, surprised them all.
"Do it," he ordered.
So she did.
With eyes half-shut, Triplicate Girlís finger pressed down on the ebony button at the center of the Nullifierís metallic shell. As Mordruís spell of time distortion gave him the slightest taste of the alien and deadly energy headed his way, the Dark Lord screamed and let slip the bolt of mystic force heíd prepared for the entire Legion. As he felt the fatal blast fly free of his fingertips, Mordru knew that he would at least have the consolation of annihilating the Carggite nuisance who had dared to unleash the Nullifierís power towards him.
But, with his magical orientation and an accompanying tendency to ignore science, Mordru had overlooked some critical facts.
Light moves at a speed of 299,792,458 meters per second.
Mordruís mystic energy moves slightly faster.
Beyond all explanation, a Kryptonian under the influence of a yellow sun moves faster still.
Or at least, one does. When he really has to.
Two point four nine femtoseconds before Mordruís blast would have irrevocably erased this version of Triplicate Girl, Superboy hurled himself between Mordru and his teammate. As the Boy of Steel arrived at the intersection of Mordruís bolt and the Nullifierís beam, there was a blinding flash of energies in collision. A thud followed, as a relatively unharmed Triplicate Girl was thrown to the ground by the impact. Briefly, an intense tangle of mists haunted the spot where Superboy should have been.
Then, there was only silence and void.
Without a trace, the Last Son of Krypton was gone.
The Legionnaires gasped collectively at the effect of the dual barrage. Dazed, they looked from one to another. Only their leader was able to speak.
"What have we done?" Cosmic Boy whispered across the communications link. "What have we done?"
|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.|