Above the Kansas town of Smallville a giant skull shaped spacecraft floated motionlessly...well, mostly motionlessly. There was the occasional shift from one side to the other as something inside suddenly exerted a great amount of force on its structural frame.
Below, the citizens of Smallville watched the ship as it was rocked one way then the other. They couldn't imagine what was happening, but they were sure of one thing; Superman was doing just fine.
Six robots just like the one that attacked Celestia at the farmhouse swarmed down a corridor to get at the Kryptonian. They moved at the speed of a bullet fired from a sniper rifle. So urgent was their directive to eradicate the intruder that their safety protocols had been shut off, and they beat dents into the carbon fiber nanotube plating that made up the floor, walls, and ceiling.
All six of them slammed to a stop when they hit him, and he kept moving forward. They scrambled to strike him any way they could. They fired their lasers into him at point blank range. He casually grabbed them one at a time and crushed their cpu housing before tossing them aside.
“Where are you?!” he yelled, and the ship quaked from his voice.“I'll keep tearing your ship apart until I find you, unless you want to stop being a coward and come to me!”
Several guns popped out of the walls and ceiling to fire energy blasts at him. They had no more effect than a pellet hitting a car.
“That stings,” he said as he began to lose his patience, and lit his eyes with heat vision.
The alien watched as the video was flooded with a brilliant intense light before going dark. Revealing himself had been a calculated risk. Bringing the Kryptonian to where he had the biggest advantage was worth the loss of resources. Those robots would have been destroyed in any case.
Only moments later the floor of his ship's control center burst open as the Kryptonian found his way to him. A power surge shot through his cpu at the sight of him, his fingers clenched as an illogical semblance of the emotion anger rose within him.
“You!” Superman approached robotic being, “You attacked my child and hurt my mother. Can you even think of a reason why I shouldn't rip you apart right now?”
“How do you know that name?” Superman asked after a moment of silence.
“Son of Jor-El. Last of the house of El.” the robot, if that word could properly describe it, descended from the center of the room where it was held up by numerous cables with many glass containers floating around it. He -the physical design obviously masculine- was dressed in black combat armor with nothing covering his arms or head to hide his organic looking green ‘skin'. The cables detached halfway to the floor, revealing glowing access ports for the exchange of power and data, and he floated the rest of the way down to stand before Superman. “As you are the last Kryptonian, I am the last Coluan. I am Brainiac.”
This is not how Superman thought an encounter with a hostile alien in a giant battleship would go. He held himself ready in case of a sudden attack. “What do you want? Why did you attack my family? And how do you know my birth name?”
“All of your inquiries shall be answered.” Brainiac told him. “And then, when you truly understand why I must eliminate all of your kind,.....I believe you would call it a Clash of the Titans.”
“Nothing's happening.” Lana said as she and everyone else watched from the ground.
It had gone quiet a few minutes after Superman had entered the ship. Everyone was just waiting. Smallville was silent as it watched the spacecraft.
Celestia launched herself into the air to intercept the red and blue rocket as it plummeted down from the ship. If she had not caught Superman with her magic, he would have turned main street into a crator. She set him down and shook him to get him conscious.
“Oh...what hit me?” he asked with a groan and cupped his jaw in his hand. “Ah!” his eyes shot up to Brainiac as the alien flew down to them. “He hit me… He's as strong as me…”
“Please tell me you're joking.” Celestia pleaded with him, eyes bigger than normal.
“Wish I was. Listen, Celestia, I need you to do something extremely important.”
“Oh, sure.” Celestia grumbled quietly to herself. “Send me into the ship full of robots, when I'm scared of robots, by myself to find some little model cities.”
She hovered rather than walk to avoid having her hoofsteps echo around the corridors. It wasn't that hard to avoid the robots, because there weren't any out and about in large groups, and they were so noisy that they could not possibly surprise her.
“Eep!” she squeaked and ducked out of sight as she was surprised by a robot that was just standing there guarding a door. Guarding a random door, she thought.
Using her magic, Celestia made a little ball of light and floated it down the corridor by itself. The robot took the bait and followed after the intruder, leaving the door completely unguarded.
“Well, alrighty then.” Celestia applied a little telekinesis to the door and triggered the mechanism to open it.
Inside she found the things her dad had told her about. The little cities that Brainiac had hidden away after revealing what they were. She huffed and reached out for one with her magic….
“Oh, my….” she gasped and stepped back and let her magic falter. People. It's people. He did this to them?! A bit of smoke began to rise from her mane.
The robot returned to its position at the door. The intruder had vanished and with no other directives, the robot had no other interests.
It noticed a lot of heat coming from inside the room it was supposed to guard. Opening the door...was a mistake.
A great torrent of flames poured out from inside the room and filled any nearby corridors and rooms with enough heat to equal the sun's surface. The robot was turned to glowing sludge.
”I hate robots!” said a voice that shook the ship as much as Superman’s had.
Superman was thrown into telephone pole spine first. The weak wood snapped into splinters at the point of impact, and the rest of the pole collapsed into the street. He picked up the twelve foot piece of foot thick wood and swung it like a bat, hitting Brainiac in the shoulder. But the hostile alien had seen this coming and braced himself, he slid only two feet and absorbed the rest of the momentum.
“Resistance is futile, Kal-El.” he said. “This body is built with combat against a powered Kryptonian in mind.”
Brainiac grabbed the telephone pole and repeatedly swung it at Superman. Each strike was blocked and shrugged off, or just barely avoided.
“I am as strong as you,” Brainiac threw the lumber like a spear.
Superman punched through the projectile, shattering it and sending wood chips everywhere. Brainiac dashed in and punched him in the gut twenty times.
As Superman bent over from the blows, Brainiac brought his knee up towards his face, but Superman moved at the last second and aimed an uppercut at opponent's jaw…
“I am as fast as you,” Brainiac said and grabbed Superman's wrist and elbow before spinning in a circle a jet turbine speed. He released his hold and Superman went through a building.
A moment later Superman rushed back through the building and reared his right fist back for a haymaker blow.
“And I am smarter than you.” Brainiac told him and moved to block the punch.
Superman lashed out with his left hand when it was already past Brainiac’s ability to block, and rammed his left fist into his chin. “What was that?” Superman asked as Brainiac got his head burried in a nearby car's engine.
Brainiac pull the car off of him and threw it aside. “Clever. But I will prevail.” with that the three lights in the middle of Brainiac’s forehead lit up and let out a series of beeps.
Krypto looked on towards the town as his ears picked up the almost forgotten sound of his master in battle. Not since before the dog had last worn a cape had he known something to truly challenge Superman. He wanted to join in and protect his home, but unless the situation escalated soon then any collateral damage from him fighting would not be worth it; or that was the intelligent canine’s reasoning anyway.
Truthfully, the dog was plenty smart compared to normal creatures. But he was still a dog and he still thought like one. He did not want to get in trouble. He was still worried about getting in trouble for blasting a hole through the house.
His head cocked to one side as he suddenly heard a beeping sound. A moment later he saw a swarm of robots defending from the ship.
Bad, he thought to himself. Quickly he ran into the house to retrieve something.
Brainiac and Superman clashed together, a shockwave radiated out from the impact of their bodies colliding and rocking the nearby buildings on their foundations. They punched and kicked each other, and it was like the sounds of a thunderstorm. With a sudden uppercut, Brainiac caught Superman unaware and knocked him on his back.
As he lay there, Superman saw the robots coming down. He began to rise, but Brainiac pressed a boot into his chest and ground it down hard.
“Do you see now? I am inevitable. I am knowledge, and in the end knowledge is all that exists.” Brainiac noticed something unpleasant. “Why are you smiling, Kal-El?”
“Because, Brainiac,” Superman grinned and pointed at something, “I was stalling for backup.”
Brainiac turned, and saw a white dog in a golden collar with a red cape...ripping into his robots like they were paper.
Superman grabbed Brainiac's leg and threw him off. “What? Did you think I had forgotten about the army of robots you had?”
A mechanical growl escaped Brainiac's mouth. He charged his enemy.
“Let's take this out of town!” Superman yelled. He drew back and slugged Brainiac in the jaw.
Krypto zipped through the air at a non-stop bullet speed. His indestructible teeth shredded the robots’ armor. His hear vision melted them like butter.
One robot grabbed the super dog's collar and fired a laser beam into his head. Krypto just flew into several more robots, digging straight through them, until the one holding his collar was dislodged. He then turned around and blew his cold breath at it and a few other robots. He kicked one of the frozen robots and sent it crashing into the others, shattering them.
Brainiac suddenly was blasted through his own robots, destroying several of them. And was followed by Superman who blasted more robots with his own attacks.
“Good boy!” Superman told Krypto as he quickly passed and gave the dog a pat on the head.
Krypto yipped happily, and returned to savagely rending the robots to shreds with his teeth.
As they descended from the sky, Superman accelerated and kicked Brainiac in the face. The robotic alien fell to Earth like a meteorite.
“Get up!” Superman called out as he landed next to the small crater Brainiac lay in. “I'm not done with you. Not even close.”
“It is interesting that you think you have won when I still can stand.” Brainiac stood and turned on an emergency feature. A barely visible energy field flickered to life around him; an omega symbol glowing over his waist.
“What's that, a force field? I've punched through those before you know.”
Superman moved to punch Brainiac's face, but the energy surged outward and turned hostile. It was almost like electricity, but a thousand times worse. Brainiac kicked him in the gut, exposing him to the pain again and knocking him down.
“I have been to many worlds, Kal-El. I did not destroy each that I found however. Some I ignored because they had yet to evolve to a point that could provide me with the knowledge I required. Some, like Oa, were too well defended.” Brainiac gestured to the glowing Ω. “Others provided me with their technology in exchange for a truce. This is an energy field weapon called the Agony Matrix. Direct neuro-stimulation of pain receptors... All of them. Imagine the worst pain you have ever felt in your life times a thousand. Now imagine that pain continuing forever.” Brainiac stepped on Superman’s hand, the Agony Matrix expanded over him again. “...Oh, that's right. You don't have to imagine."
Brainiac picked Superman up with one hand on his cape, and turned his head to look at Smallville. “I was going to destroy this pathetic excuse for civilisation and take a bigger more populated area as my trophy from this world.” his mechanical voice getting a slight variation as Brainiac's computer mind had another glitch of emotion; he sounded gleeful. “Begin collection.”
Celestia melted the faces off of three robots before they could blast Krypto from behind. She grabbed them in her telekinesis and applied enough heat to weld them together into a bludgeon, which she then used to repeatedly bash any robot that came near her.
She showed extreme prejudice against those that went after Krypto.
“DON'T TOUCH MY DOG!” she yelled as a robot was pounded into a metal pancake.
Miraculously, Celestia and Krypto had drawn all the attention of the robots and kept them from attacking Smallville. So when the robots all began to retreat to Brainiac’s ship, they assumed that they had won.
“And stay out of Small...ville….oh my…”
Celestia watched as an arm extended from the bottom of the ship. She saw the field start to form…
“Krypto, get everyone out of Smallville!” she told the superdog.
Celestia flew up to face off against Brainiac's shrink ray with her magic. She sent out the golden light from her horn and expanded it to try and contain the weapon’s power.
“Aaarrrgg….please….work…” she grit her teeth at the strain of trying to power through her own immovable object vs unstoppable force problem.
“I will always be able to remember the look on your face, Kryptonian, as you watch your home become a piece of my collection.” Brainiac droned on as he forced Superman to look on at the fate of Smallville.
Superman fought back against the Agony Matrix. He was able to stand and throw Brainiac off of him. But Brainiac pulled him back before he could go stop the ship and they locked up in a hand to hand grappling hold. Again Superman was trapped in the unending pain of Brainiac's weapon.
“I will keep them, all of them, as my pets.” Brainiac taunted him, and turned up the power output of the Agony Matrix. “All of your friends and family. Your old love. Your mother. All kept alive for eternity knowing that I killed you!”
Superman screamed as Brainiac forced him to one knee.
“Though, I have to experiment with them, for the sake of science of course. I wonder how long a human can last against the predators of Pandora. Perhaps I'll start from the bottom and get rid of the weakest humans. Your mother doesn't look like she can last much longer, Clark Kent. Better to remove the weak link.”
That was it.
Roaring in rage, Superman blasted him in the face with heat vision at point blank with almost full power. He pulled with a surge of strength and ripped of Brainiac's arm, and then began to use the computer being’s own limb as a blunt instrument of battle as he slammed it repeatedly into his face while still blasting away with his heat vision.
Finally, the severed arm broke and Superman punched Brainiac's abdomen. His hand went right past the armor, and he grabbed something and squeezed. The pain from the Agony Matrix stopped.
Superman backed away, breathing heavily. Never had he put out as much energy as he had then.
“Impressive.” Brainiac said simply. His face even less expressionable than before now, because the green ‘skin' had been melted off to reveal the metal skull underneath.
“I'm not going to hold now, you know that.” Superman glared at the robot. “You're not a criminal, you're not even a conqueror. You are a soulless monster, a rabid beast that needs to be put down for the safety of others.”
“You are going to kill me?”
They watched each other for a moment.
“You're not alive.” Superman finally said. “Being alive is to feel, to want, to desire. Even if you desire something bad. You? You're just following a program. No, I'm not going to kill you, Brainiac. I'm going to destroy you.”
“Allow me.” Brainiac's chest opened and inside was something to stop Superman cold. His chest closed back up, and he dared Superman to make a move. “The fusion bomb is powerful enough to destroy Smallville from here, as well as most of the surrounding area. Stop me or stop my ship, but you can't stop both.”
“I don't have to!” Superman grabbed him and flew straight up into the atmosphere.
“You are killing yourself.” Brainiac attempted to reason with him.
“It's worth it.”
They fought each other as they rose through the clouds. Brainiac eventually got the upper hand because Superman was more focused on flying.
Brainiac held Superman from behind in a one armed choke hold with his legs wrapped around his body. “Your home is mine, your planet will soon be-
“Excuse me, is this yours?” Celestia asked as she floated up to them, and she was holding Brainiac's shrunken ship in her hooves.
There was silence for a moment… and then Superman burst out laughing.
There was that glitch in Brainiac's mind again. The simulation of the emotion called anger.
It refused to stop.
Perhaps he should give in to it?
Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger. Anger.
“DIE!” He activated the bomb.