Posted by HumanX (161 posts) - - Show Bio

Ch04 12th Level Intellect, the Limit of Human Potential

Readers beware. Red X Japan contains violence, sexual content and other crap that some readers may find offensive. Discretion is advised.
Red X, Johnny Rancid and other characters are property of their respective creators and DC comics and have only been modified by Human X to fit the story. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance these characters or situations have to anyone in your own life are purely coincidental…maybe.

Clark Kent sits in his hotel room bed thinking over the evens of the past few days as night begins to fall. He lays back on the bed and sets his eyes on the TV, which plays over the interview he gave last night as Superman. Taking down both the Parasite and Metallo drained him of his energy, even if he did have help. He rubs his tired eyes and grabs a laptop computer from the table beside his bed. He looks over the files given to him by Red X.

"My hunch that the file containing a date and co-ordinates where directions for me to fallow brought me right to Metallo's smuggling operation, but that doesn't explain the other files." Clark flips through each one, studying them carefully. "Metallo taking control of this city's gangs and using them for his hired help would explain the drop in crime rates back to one month ago. And Parasite's breakout speaks for itself. What I don't understand is how it all fits in with a map of the rebuilt Oscura sewer system."

Clark looks out his window from the bed.

"Even if I'm not sure I can trust the person who gave me this information, what he's given me so far has been reliable. Then there's that girl from last night who disappeared. There's also Johnny Rancid and his odd regenerative abilities." Clark's eyes peer into the city as if he's trying to find a glimpse of another costumed hero lurking on the rooftops. "I could really use their help. But what still bugs me is what Metallo was trying to smuggle into the city. From what I saw it wasn't the kind of stuff you could sell easily on the streets. It seemed more like something Luthor would keep locked up in a lab somewhere until he could figure out how to use it as a weapon. But no matter how I look at it, I don't have a clue where to go from there. All I have is a map of the sewer system from a source which hasn't let me down so far. I don't like putting all my eggs in one basket, but..."

Clark decides to call it a night and continue in the morning.

---

The next day comes and finally Johnny is released from the hospital. He sits on the couch watching TV and drinking beer until Alex bursts from his room and grabs the beer from his hand.

"Uh…Hello." Johnny says as he watches Alex drip some of the beer into a vile in his hand.

Alex watches the liquid in the vile turn green before fading back into black like it was before he's added beer.

"Welcome back." Alex places the beer on the table and shakes the vile, noticing it switch from black to green as he shakes it. Johnny reaches for the beer but Alex slaps his hand away without tearing his gaze from the liquid. "Beautiful."

"That's my reaction to a cold beer too, but you should get your own." Johnny swipes the bottle off the table and takes a gulp. "What are you even doing?"

"Experimenting." Alex hops over the couch, still holding the vile of now black liquid in his hand. "Do we have any wines or alcoholic anything?"

"No." Johnny lies.

Alex grabs the last case of Johnny's beer from the fridge and walks back to his room. "Thanks."

"Come on!" Johnny calls after him. "I just got out of the hospital! Have a little compassion for a man who almost died! You don't even drink!"

Johnny calms down after Alex has been in his room for a few seconds and he slumps back.

"That guy's crazy." Johnny pouts. "My poor beer."

---

Superman descends into the sewers. The walls are new or partially new with hints of what was left behind by the earthquake. Of course the smell is bad but the muggy air is what really gets to the superhero. Its as if the stench is crawling into his costume and climbing over his skin, like a swarm of bugs.

Superman doesn't have time to let the horrible stench bother him. The sewer map is his only clue to what's been going on in this city. He floats a little above the water, hoping no big waves stir up while he's around visiting. After about seventeen minutes of searching he finds something of interest.

Superman turns the corner and looks down at a tunnel filled with high tech machinery lining the walls.

"This looks like the same technology Metallo was smuggling." Superman uses his X ray vision to look inside of the stone walls. "And there's more of it hidden behind them. I guess Metallo was taken in before he could cover these ones up."

Superman looks around but doesn't notice as a small creature scurries above his head.

"All of the pieces are coming to light." Superman rubs his chin as he puts the pieces together. "Metallo chose to move to Oscura so that he could start a new crime wave in an area without heros monitoring it. He used that seclusion to smuggle these machines to the harbour late at night and had the hired help he was using transport the machines to the sewers. He realized that he needed someone to distract any would-be heroes who might try to make a name for themselves and broke the Parasite out to act as muscle and this all explains why I was given a map of the Oscura Sewer System. I thought something was wrong when I checked out the map online and found that the sewers had shrunk by a small amount. That only leaves one question."

The creatures leaps from the shadows, blades swing out and prepare to strike, but disappear in a flash of red light. Superman's laser vision leaves only a heap of smouldering metal.

"I've seen this technology before, and it is far beyond Metallo or the Parasite. Isn't that right?" Superman looks up and a hulking mass of metal as it lumbers towards him. Its glowing green eyes peer deeply through the darkness towards him. The symbol on its head pierces the sewer tunnels with its radiance as it stands against the man of steel. "This technology is Kryptonian. Isn't that right Brainiac?!"

"Commendable Kal-El." The machines arm reaches out and glows with an intense flame of green. "However, you are too late to stop my plans."

The tunnel behind the first robot fills with reinforcements.

"Far too late."

---

Back up out of the sewers onlookers stare in fear and awe as Brainiac's ship rises from the harbour and descends on the city. It plants itself in the centre of Oscura city, Cimmeria Park. From it an army of Brainiac robots spill out onto the city.

---

Charlotte, Johnny and Mary watch the news report on the Brainiac ship incident.

"Wow." Mary slurps down the last of the sushi in her hand. "That's pretty awesome."

"Think they'll try to destroy the whole city or just take us hostage?" Johnny asks.

"Maybe they'll drop an EMP bomb and take out everyones computers so they're the only ones with advanced technology." Mary thinks over the possibilities.

"What?" Johnny asks her. "EMP?"

"It's a burst of electromagnetic radiation." Mary starts to explain but remembers who she's talking too. "It can make computers not work."

"Oh crap!" Johnny runs to his room. "I gotta save my games! Oh man, where's that one Alex leant me? I almost beat the Hitome arc! Come on! I was just two flags away!"

"What kind of game is it?" Mary asks innocently.

Charlotte puts a hand on her shoulder and looks at her with a half dead gaze. "He borrowed it from Alex."

"Oh…" Mary realizes and nods her head. "So it's one of those games."

"With all the time they spend on those games they could go out and get real girlfriends." Charlotte laughs.

"Don't mock me." Johnny yells out form his room. "If Alex where here he'd tell you."

Just then Charlotte's phone rings.

"I got a text." Charlotte opens her phone and looks at the message. "It's from Alex. It says "get down there". Weird."

"You think he means we should help keep the city from being overrun by robots?" Mary asks. "Guess we could. After all we do live here and if they cause too much damage it'll suck."

"Yeah." Charlotte sighs. "And they might break the mall."

"The chinese food place by the bike shop." Johnny suddenly stands up and clenches his fists. Pure rage seeps out of every muscle on his body. Fury radiates from his eyes in a burning rage of red. "If they lay a hand on it blood will rain from the sky!"

"You need to stop hanging around with Alex for a while." Charlotte tells Johnny.

"It looks like your eyes are on fire." Mary points out. "Or maybe its just an effect."

Charlotte's phone rings again and she reads the message out loud.

"Get down there now. Also, buying dating sims is cheaper than paying for dates with real girls and you can get more than one if you go for the harem end." Charlotte throws her phone. "Disgusting pervert!"

"Does he have us bugged?" Mary asks.

"Well…" Charlotte gets up and stretches her arms over her head. "I guess if Alex says we might as well."

"Problem." Mary stops her. "Weapons, plan, and an army of giant robots. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure my little pistols don't have what it takes to fight off an army of Brainiac-bots. Also, your suit's destroyed."

"Tsk, tsp, tsk." Charlotte waves her finger with her confident smile plastered across her face. "Ye of little faith. Do you think I've been sitting on my butt all night since my fight with Metallo?"

"You fought Metallo?" Johnny asks but the others ignore him.

"My suit may have been destroyed, but out of the ashes a new phoenix shall rise." Charlotte grabs a basket full of stuff from her room. "I give you the latest line of Xenothium based weaponry, by Charlotte Sullivan."

Charlotte starts tossing things into peoples arms.

"Johnny. Here's your new jacket and pants. I'm looking into making a new metal in light of my Metalla failure but these should do for now. When I make the new ones I'll use the same design." Charlotte also tosses him an ear piece and a couple of brass knuckles. "That earpiece is directly linked to my glasses for my costume and can access my new computer system HARDAC incase you need help. I designed those brass knuckles to be pressure sensitive and let off a xenothium shell around the tops. Since the shell is nearly invulnerable energy it can be used as a shield and will give the enemy a good shock, like a high powered taser. If you punch in just the right way your can launch a beam attack too."

"Beam attack?" Johnny looks down at the knuckles and smiles. "Sounds fun."

"For Mary I have your redone suit made to be lighter and sustain more damage than the last one. Both of these factors will be brought into my new metal when I finish it but this should still do for now. I also included these little guys." Charlotte pulls out two dolls, each one nearly half Mary's size. One is a blue Oni with red hair and wide circular eyes with a spear in its hand and an open mouth. The other is a red Oni with blue hair and angry eyes. It carries a club in its hand and has a sinister smile. "The blue ones name is Aoi and the red ones name is Aki"

Mary just stares at the dolls Charlotte shoves into her arms.

Charlotte ignores Mary's silence and continues explaining her creations. "They each use Xenothium as their power source and there triggers are in the backs of their heads. They fire Xenothium blasts from their mouthes and eyes. With this kind of power backing you up you'll have no problem."

"Those things look like carnival toys you'd give a kid. Messed up, freaky carnival toys." Johnny says in his mind but doesn't dare mutter a word of it out loud. "With how Mary feels about the age she looks she'll rip Charlotte a new one for sure!"

Mary keeps starring down at the two new weapons and blushes as she hugs them in closer. "They're really cute."

"No." Johnny tries not to react out loud as he watches Charlotte help Mary get her hands in the back of the weapons and find the triggers. "How does she like those things!? She looks even more like a kid than she did before with those hanging off her arms!"

"Now, Aki and Aoi use two different methods of firing Xenothium. Aki fires in waves and Aoi fires in spirals. They each work off of a new system I'll tell you about later. If you have any questions about how they work just ask me on your com-link."

"Thanks Charlotte." Mary smiles like she's a kid who just received the greatest Christmas present ever.

"Now that I look at it more closely…" Johnny peers at the red weapon Aki. "That smile looks a lot like Alex…It's creeping me out..."

"Alright!" Charlotte stands up and grabs her costume. "And with my new suit hardwired with HARDAC and slimmed down to the basic armour instead of the heavy stuff I'll be all set for this too."

The group goes to their rooms to change and comes back out in full costume.

"We ready to move out?" Charlotte asks as she places her glasses/mask on her face and boots up HARDAC.

"Let's kill em!" Johnny pumps a fist into the air.

"Even though they're technically not alive." Mary raises one of her Oni Dolls mimicking him.

---

A Brainiac droid stands silently by a stretch of rock a short ways from town. Alex tosses an X at it from a cliff close by. The X sparks to life with crimson energy and explodes, blowing the mechanical watchmen apart.

"Why thank you mr. Robot." Alex shakes its smoking hand as he passes it. "I'll let myself in."

He charges up his right gauntlet with energy and punches the rock the robot was guarding and it crumbles away. Where the rock used to be Alex finds a door leading into the ground.

Alex opens the door and climbs in. "Secret agent man, secret agent man. Oh, there giving you a number and taking away your name."

---

The Brainiac droids spread out from the park. They start to fire green laser blasts from their hands at civilians who run away in a panic. One of the laser blasts hits a car trying to speed away. The driver looses control and the car flies towards a lost child.

The sound of metal crushing against itself cuts through the air. The child works up the courage to open her eyes.

"Hey kid, where the hell are your parents?" Johnny asks her as he holds the car back.

"I can't find them." The child breaks into tears.

"Oh, crap." He sets the car down. "Don't freaking cry. Uh…Look!"

He tries to make a funny face but it just scares the kid and she cries some more.

"Idiot." Mary shows up and pats the kid on the head. "Let's go find your parents okay?"

The kid nods and Mary leads her away to find the parents.

"You saved my life!" The man in the car thanks Johnny from the window.

"You're welcome." Johnny focuses his attention on the robot who shot the car. "You could have killed someone!"

"Affirmative." The robot aims its laser blasts at Johnny. The green light flows over him like a waterfall of energy but he emerged without a singe.

"Affirmative huh? You don't think I know what that means?" Johnny snarls at the robot and takes the man out of his car. He lifts it into the air and chucks it at the robot. "It means you think I'm an idiot!"

The car knocks the robot out of the sky and it blows up when the lasers hit the gas tank.

"Teach you for callin' me names." Johnny laughs.

"Affirmative means yes." Charlotte's voice comes in through Johnny's com link.

"Oh." Johnny starts feeling sorry for it. "Teach you for agreeing with me."

"Just hurry up and try to push the robots back into the park." Charlotte cuts through a robots chest with her gauntlets and fires a xenothium blast at another as she gives Johnny instructions.

"Right." Johnny sees a bunch of the robots in one group and rushes at them.

Charlotte charges both of her gauntlets as HARDAC pinpoints the weak spots of the robots.

"And charged." Charlotte grins as she flies into Snake Bandit and scratches each of the robots weak spots in an instant. The robots which where touched break and fall on the ground, while Charlotte flips into the air and lands on a flying robots back she digs her gauntlets nails into its shoulder blades and rips it open, firing a blast of xenothium straight into the opening. She steers its that it creates into another robot and jumps off before the one she was riding explodes.

As soon as Charlotte lands she flips up and lands on another robot, digging her claws into its eyes and using her legs to force its blasts at the ones surrounding her before it stops working. Then she jumps off and slashes one in the stomach before she kicks another one behind her over and grabs a third with her free hand, tossing over herself and launching a waves of xenothium blasts at the rest of the surrounding enemies.

While this is going on Mary has found the kids parents and returned to the battle. She fires a shot from Aoi and two red xenothium blasts come out of its mouth. One straight blast and one which swirls around it like a spiral. It pierces through a line of robots and rips them apart.

"Holy crap that's awesome!" Mary eagerly fires Aki. It sends out a wave of blue xenothium from its mouth in an arc and melts away a large group of robots.

"I wonder what would happen if…" Mary faces towards a sea of them and fires both Aki and Aoi together. The waves converge into a single ball of energy which knocks Mary back as it fires. The ball lands in the centre of the robots and expands, swallowing them all and leaving nothing behind. Mary gets a big happy smile on her face and starts giggling like a mischievous child. "This is gonna be so much fun."

She fires Aki and Aoi, taking out hundreds of the robots with every blast. The robots try to surround her but she gets an idea and fires Aki at the ground. The force of Aki's blast pushes her high into the air like a geyser of blue xenothium and the energy spreads across the ground in a wave, blowing apart the surrounding enemies. They try an air attack and Mary tries firing Aoi this time, straight into the air. The the spiral blasts swirls out like a whirlpool and cuts the enemies to ribbons.

Mary excitedly cheers into her com link as she snuggles Aki and Aoi. "Charlotte! Thank you SOOOOOOO MUCH! I love these guns"

"I thought you would." Charlotte smiles as she slams her hand onto the ground and a big red energy X springs from her fingers. It fires straight up and evaporates a big group which was trying to surround her. "Hey Johnny, haven't heard from you in a while. How you doing?"

"I'm good." Johnny sits on top of an enormous pile of dead robots. One of the robots isn't dead yet and tries to attack him from behind. Johnny just grabs its head and crushes it without putting in much effort. "Yeah. I'd say I'm just about wrapped up here if you guys want any help."

"No way!" Mary giggles as she takes down another group. "This is way too much fun!"

As her foot touches the ground a hand reaches up and grabs her. She almost shoots it but recognizes the blue fabric on the wrist.

"Uh…I may actually have a problem."

---

Johnny comes to help Mary and they pull the hand out of the ground.

"Ah! The hand has a guy attached to it!" Johnny jumps back.

"Holy crap it's Superman." Mary looks at him.

Superman gets to his feet and knocks the dirt off his shoulder.

"It's you." He looks up at Johnny. "That's a relief. Looks like I didn't have to worry so much. You people seems to have this under control."

"More or less." Mary blasts a robot who was trying to fallow Superman up from the ground.

"Did you dig up from the sewer?" Johnny asks.

"Yes. And there's more of them down there." Superman tries to catch his breath. "Those blasts the robots have use kryptonite. Brainiac knew to be ready for me."

"Too bad for him we're not effected by kryptonite." Charlotte takes down another attacking robot with her claws as she reconvenes with the others. "He'd need a lot more firepower than these foot soldiers if he really wanted to do anything here. We'll be done clean up in an hour tops."

Just as she gets close Superman fires a shot at her with his heat vision. The blasts sends her flying right before another attack hits the ground.

"Nice save." Johnny compliments Superman as they all look up at what attacked Charlotte.

Parasite descends from the sky but his eyes are dead and Brainiac's symbol is attached to his forehead. His arms pulsate with green fluids running through his veins.

"Parasite!" Mary gets ready to fire at him.

Superman feels his stomach as he tries to size up his current condition. "He's been altered by Brainiac and he has my power. He's stronger than I am now. And he's not alone."

The ground rips apart as a giant robot rises from the earth. A burning heart of kryptonite blazes from its chest.

"He got Metallo too." Superman starts walking forwards but the group is swallowed up by a kryptonite blast from Metallo's heart.

Charlotte, Mary and Johnny emerge from the blast with Superman behind them, untouched by the attack.

"What are you doing?" Superman asks them.

Johnny grins maliciously at the giant robot. "Don't sweat it. A wimpy looking robot like this can't be much stronger than a Core Gunmen."

"These guys are just a bunch of upgraded bullies." Mary aims her weapons.

"We'll dismantle them in three seconds flat." Charlotte has HARDAC scan them for weaknesses. "So you can just relax. We'll be taking it from here."

---

Brainiac's last guardian robots go down as Alex continues through his secret hideout. He makes his way through the last door and walks into a pitch black room. He looks up at the only light, three glowing dishes in the darkness, and calls out.

"I hope you don't mind." Alex walks further into the room and lets the door close behind him. "I let myself in."

"I have been aware of your presence for some time now." The lights come on and the lights are revealed to be the little disks on Brainiac's head. His body is attached at the base of the neck to a large kryptonian computer covered in screens. The large cord connecting him lowers his body to the ground to properly greet Alex. "It is impressive that you have made it to me."

"Not really. Your security is pretty lax." Alex walks to the table in the centre of the room.

Brainiac does the same. "What is your purpose in coming here? I sense no hostile intent."

"I'm here to play a little game." A chair rises from the ground in front of Alex and he decides to sit in it.

"I have no time for games." Brainiac sits in the chair which appears on his side of the table.

"You're going to want to play this one." Alex grins at him, not holding back any of his ill intent. He waves his hand over the table and a chess board appears. "It seems to be a favourite among my enemies lately."

"Chess." Brainiac remains motionless.

"Yes, but not just chess." Alex leans in and waves his finger in Brainiacs face. "It's so much more than that. We're going to play with peoples lives."

"Sadism is not a quality I have programmed into myself." Brainiac refuses the game. "I will simply kill you now."

"But then I might press this button." Alex holds up a controller.

"I do not see the relevance."

"I know what those machines you have lining the sewers are. They're solar conversion devices." Alex eyes Brainiac, watching for any sign of emotion and loving when he find one. "The robot attack on Oscura, Parasite and Metallo, this entire little mess, has all been a distraction."

Brainiac says nothing.

"Of course I noticed it from the beginning." Alex kicks his feet up onto the table and strokes one of the holographic pieces on the chess board. "The change in weather patterns, the smuggling of solar conversion equipment. The fact that the sky is now two point six inches closer to the earth. "

Brainiac leans in and Alex smiles, knowing what he's got.

"Didn't expect me to catch that one did you?" Alex stops stroking the chess piece and folds his arms behind his head. He watches as Brainiac's interest rises. "The sky above us right now is fake. You've projected an image in order to prevent anyone from noticing what your machines in the sewers have been doing."

"And that it?" Brainiac asks.

"Poisoning the sun." Alex spins his chair, ecstatic that he was able to get Brainiac's attention. "Kehehehe. I gotta admit that using Metallo's smuggling ring as a cover for your plan to set up solar converters and slowly turn the sun red was quiet the layered plan. And brining your operation to an unprotected area like this was perfect. No one would stand in your way and by the time Superman noticed his strength fading away it would be too late. The sky would be your weapon and your could wipe out this planet's greatest protector like a bug."

"Do you see a flaw in my plan?" Brainiac asks.

"Only one. But this is mostly my opinion." Alex looks him dead in the eyes. "I'd have killed the sun completely. Then everyone on Earth would freeze and there wouldn't be anyone left alive to stop me from draining the data from the planet. The way you have it now you're only effecting Superman. What about Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the rest of the superheroes this planet's riddled with. The way your plan is now you don't have a chance of winning."

"And why not?" Brainiac asks. "My plan is perfect. Kal El has already been weakened. The sun has become red and my robots will destroy him."

"That's all fine and good. I mean your plan is zip locked, but you're missing one key factor." Alex grins. "Me."

"You are only one human." Brainiac peers through Alex's taunts. "How can a mere human hope to stop me?"

"There's nothing mere about me." Alex cracks his knuckles and gets ready to play. "Play me and find out. If you win I'll tell you how you can salvage your plan and defeat the rest of Earth's heroes aside from big blue."

Brainiac doesn't say anything so Alex explains the rules.

"Here's how we'll do it. We each have one king, representing ourselves and the regular amount of pieces on the board. Except here's the kicker." Alex grabs one of the pieces and it takes on Charlotte's form. "If one of our allies representing one of our pieces goes down out there, we loose that piece."

"You are at a disadvantage." Brainiac informs him. "The amount of robots I have are more than the amount of pieces on my side of the board. The the amount of allies you have are less."

"I know." Alex shifts in his chair, ready to start the game. "Doesn't that just make it more exciting?"

"Then I will choose random robots to represent my pieces." Brainiac decides to join the game.

---

Charlotte dodges Parasite's arms as he swings at her. He comes in with a punch and she throws up her gauntlets to block it. The punch is stronger than she expected and damages her gauntlets so she ducks out of the way and kicks him over her shoulder.

"This guys is freaking strong!" Charlotte complains into her com link as she dodges a laser vision blast. "Can I get some backup here?"

"I'd love to help." Johnny tells her as he dangles from Metallo's giant jaw. "But I've got a bit of a situation."

Mary dodges Metallo's kryptonite heart blasts and fires both Aki and Aoi right back at him. "This is ridiculous! How thick is this things armour?"

Parasite catches Charlotte with super speed and knocks her to the ground. Superman blasts him off of her with heat vision and nearly collapses. "Metallo is still just a man. His organic self should still be in there somewhere. I'll see if I can find him with my x-ray vision."

Charlotte watches the Parasite get up. "And I'll keep him busy while you do that."

She blasts Parasite with so much xenothium energy that he smashes into one of Brainiac's droids.

---

Alex moves a piece across the board. One of Brainiac's pieces disappears.

"Looks like we're making some headway." Alex mocks Brainiac.

"I do not see why you appear confident." Brainiac moves one of his own pieces, taking down one of Alex's pawns. "I have already removed most of your pieces from the board."

"Yeah, but you're fighting so hard to get them." Alex smirks.

"I admit that your defensive strategy has caused me to utilize much of my resources on this game. And by making the regenerator your pawn you have ensured that most of your pieces will not disappear before the end of the game." Brainiac watches the board, looking for a place to strike. "However you have made several fatal mistakes. By only utilizing your pawns to attack you are loosing precious pieces. By only remaining on the defensive you have yet to take any of my pieces. And by focusing all of your pieces except for your pawns on building a defensive wall around your king you have made it so that as long as only one of your comrades fall you will be open to an attack. You have paid extra attention to your Rook."

"It can only attack in a straight line, but second to the queen it's one of the most important pieces." Alex pokes the piece in the forehead. "I taught one of the fighters out there how to use a technique similar to this."

"The rook is your most important piece in your defence." Brainiac watches Alex carefully. "What if she where to fall in battle?"

Alex leans back in his chair and laughs. "If you can make that girl give up you deserve to win. I chose Mary as my knight because with her size she can pass other players and sneak past your robots without them noticing. Superman is the Bishop because with his flying ability and laser vision he can hit enemies from long distance as long as no one's in his way. We know I chose Johnny as the pawn because I need those pieces to survive longer than the others and thanks to you I can't count on Superman for that role. Not that I'd choose him for that anyway. Plus, Johnny is a short range fighter. As for the queen I have it as a second me. After all I am the most powerful piece in my corner. But if you want."

Alex moves the queen piece out so that Brainiac can easily claim it.

Alex's eyes meet with Brainiac's. "Take it."

---

Parasite tries to get a hold of Charlotte but she matches his movements using Snake Bandit to keep ahead.

"I have it!" Superman calls out to her. "Behind the kryptonite heart. Metallo's real body is there."

"Did you get that?" Charlotte asks Mary through her com link.

"Loud and clear." Mary fires both Aki and Aoi at the heart but the kryptonite beam takes down the blast before it can hit. "Johnny! Get me an opening!"

"Right!" Johnny drops off of Metallo's mouth and grabs a park bench. He tosses the bench at Metallo. The massive robot fires his laser at it, incinerating the bench and showering Johnny in the blaze. "It needs a second to recharge! Hit it when it's done with me!"

"Gotcha." Mary waits until the blast stops and then fire Aki and Aoi. They hit and shatter the kryptonite heart. "I got it!"

"Good." Johnny runs at the robot and climbs up its leg. He gets up to the torso and rips through the remains of the kryptonite heart. Metallo is plugged into the robot's core so Johnny rips him out and the robot come's crashing down.

"Oh crap." Mary realizes it's falling her way and runs for her life asJohnny leaps from the robots chest.

"You okay?" Johnny asks Mary who's fallen flat on her face inches away from being smooshed.

"That was scary!" Mary starts whaling at the top of her lungs.

"Uh…" Johnny tries to think of what to do but just flaps his arms trying to get Mary's tantrum under control. "Please don't cry! We caught the bad guy! Let's go help Charlotte with Parasite now!"

"Okay." Mary sniffs, her eyes still full of tears.

---

"So…" Alex takes one of Brainiac's pawns with one of his own. "Still not going for the queen, huh?"

"It is your most powerful piece." Brainiac returns the attack by claiming two of Alex's pawns with his knight. "You would not sacrifice it without reason."

"I don't do anything without reason." Alex looks at the board and chuckles. "Looks like your knight is gone."

"It was an unessential piece." Brainiac waits for Alex to make his next move.

"But that's just it." Alex makes his move. "Every piece is essential. You only need to know how to use it."

---

Charlotte dodges under each of the Parasite's attack and delivers a few blows of her own.

Superman watches in awe. "He has all of my power and she's dodging him."

"Hang tight." Charlotte calls back to him. "The other have taken down Metallo. Once they get here we'll gang up on this guy."

"They defeated Metallo?" Superman is shocked. "That regenerator and little girl took him down on their own."

"I'm not a little girl." Mary tells him as she appears on the scene.

"That guy wasn't that tough." Johnny yawns. "Don't know why you have so much trouble with these guys."

"A little help here." Charlotte calls out as Parasite finally catches her and knocks her to the ground.

He tries to touch her face but Mary blasts him off of her with Aki.

"HARDAC says that the dishes on his forehead are what's controlling him." Charlotte tells her.

"Right." Mary aims Aoi but Charlotte steps out in front of her.

"This guy's been annoying me for a while now." Charlotte gets ready as Parasite charge at her. "I want him."

Right as Parasite moves into range HARDAC gives Charlotte the signal and she kicks the dishes right off of Parasite's face.

The Parasite falls unconscious on the ground.

"Bored now." Charlotte grumbles. "These guys weren't even worth the time."

---

"Are you ready to end your turn?" Brainiac asks Alex who has left his last pawn out in the open for an attack.

"My turn doesn't end until my finger leaves the piece." Alex waits. Brainiac's bishop disappears from the board and Alex removes his finger. "And there goes Parasite."

Brainiac looks at the board and becomes enraged. "What is this?"

Alex chuckles and stretches his arms behind his head. "That my friend, is a hopeless situation."

Brainiac looks across the board for any possible move to give himself the edge.

"It's impossible." Brainiac places his hands on the table. "My systems utilize the most sophisticated software on any planet. I have played this over and I should have won, but those pieces. You predicted which pieces would fall and how I would move so you laid out a trap. Now I am unable to move, or I will loose."

"You could give up your turn." Alex leans in and taunts him. "But then I will just wait for one of my people to destroy one of your pieces and then…"

"Then I will still be open for attack." Brainiac realizes. "You weren't playing defensively. You where leading me into my own downfall. Waiting for me to place my pieces in the correct place for you to launch a counter attack."

"And by the time I'm done you wont have a piece left on the board." Alex tells him, his sadistic smile burning into his opponent.

"How?" Brainiac asks, gripping the table. "I am a twelfth level intellect. No one on this planet should be able to outmanoeuvre me or read what my moves will be."

"Well, you know what that must mean." Alex rocks in his chair, ready for the big punch line. "I must be above a twelfth level intellect."

Brainiac starts to see what he is truly up against. "What are you?"

"My name is Alex Arkham." Alex's grin widens as he claims his prize. "And I am a fifteenth level intellect."

"Impossible." Brainiac stands up. "The limit of human potential in this time is-"

"Then I must be above human potential." Alex leans back once more.

"Then you shall be studied." Brainiac raises his hand and two tentacle-like cords come out from the chair.

Alex raises three fingers and lowers them one by one. When the last finger falls so do the cords.

"They look a little limp." Alex taunts Brainiac. "Don't worry it happen to everyone."

"What is going on!" Brainiac grabs his head and falls to the ground. "What is this!"

"You never asked why I wanted the chess board to simulate the battle going on back home." Alex stands up and walks over to Brainiac. He stands in front of him to make it look as if Brainiac is bowing to him. "Your logical brain is just so predictable. Its how I knew you'd move right into my trap. I just needed to prod you into the right direction and you placed your pieces perfectly. And I am so glad you did. After all if you weren't giving it your all to beat me then you might have noticed my virus eating through your systems."

"A virus!?" Brainiac snarls.

"Yeah. A virus." Alex smirks down at him. "Don't worry. It wont kill you or anything. It's just going to erase the past few months from your memory. You're going to forget everything that happened, including me and my friends and I've made sure you will never try it again."

"So you copied my plan and used the game to distract me as your virus did this."

"Give the man a prize!" Alex laughs. "There is something working that little green head after all! But you also missed that at the same time I was here distracting you I had a friend of mine rewire your little solar converters so now they're healing the sun instead of killing it. As for your robot army they're going down with you."

"I'll kill you." Brainiac swears.

"No you wont." Alex pats him on the cheek. "You're going to sleep and when you wake there wont be enough of me left in your memory banks to haunt your nightmares."

Brainiac's eyes close and his systems shut down.

---

Everything happened as Alex said. Professor Chang had rewired the solar converters so the sun returned to normal within a few days. Parasite and Metallo suffered memory loss as a result of Brainiac's brainwashing and couldn't remember past the time they fell under his control.

A short time passes and it is time for Clark and Lois to go home.

"See ya around." Johnny waves as Clark and Lois get ready to board their plane.

"If you get anymore big scoops like that invasion incident I'll be around." Lois tells them.

"That was an interesting day." Clark laughs. "I don't think I'd want to go through something like that again."

"That was pretty awesome." Alex gives Clark a look and checks his watch. "Oh, crap. I gotta go to work. I'm sorry."

"No problem." Lois waves as he runs off. "That kid needs to get his head on straight."

"I need to go too the bathroom." Clark hands Lois his stuff.

"The plane's about to leave!" Lois calls after him.

"I won't take too long!"

He meets up with Alex beside the bathroom.

"How much do you know?" Alex asks him.

"Johnny is a regenerator, Mary was that little girl who helped him take out Metallo. Charlotte has to be the other girl and I have a pretty good idea about who you are." Clark gets serious. "Thank you for all the clues."

"What are you going to do about it?" Alex asks him. "Both Johnny and I are criminals."

"Well, I guess I should take you in." Clark smiles and pats him on the back. "But if it weren't for you this whole mess could have gone a lot worse. Let's just say, you keep my secret and I keep yours."

"Deal." Alex looks out where Lois is standing. "Better get back there before she blows her top."

"Oh, right. Lois." Clark waves and runs out. "See you around!"

"See ya." Alex waves back.

---

Paul here. Wow. I couldn't believe my eyes. A horde of giant green robots. I thought I was going to be crushed but one of them accidentally knocked the rubble keeping me trapped away and now I'm free to walk again!

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