“Tango Leader, this is Tango Five,” the radio crackled as the men in the ops center stared intently at the radar screen, trying to understand what they were facing. “I am approaching target area. I have a strong lock.”
“Tango Five, do you see the bogey?,” Colonel Anderson demanded as his bald head gleamed brightly in the well lit room, the sweat covering his entire head plainly visible as he focused only on the screen with the others. “What is it?”
“I’m climbing over the clouds now, Tango Leader. Give me a sec,” the pilot radioed back.
“Tango Five, Tango Four, I see it. I see it. I just…..Jesus, what the hell is that!” “Tango Flight, cut the chatter, and form up! I’m coming up under you, Tango Three…….”
“Tango Leader, I see it. I see….”.
“Hell…I don’t believe it!,” the pilot rasped as the men in the ops room on the new carrier frowned at the shock in their men’s voices.
“Tango Five, report,” the Colonel ordered.
“Tango Five, this is Captain Saunders. Report, man. What’s up there?” “A…..A man, sir,” the pilot sputtered. “I swear to God, there’s a man up here who is flying like….like some kind of damn comic book hero.”
“Describe him, Flex,” Colonel Anderson barked at the pilot. “Tell me exactly what you see!”
“I can’t make out his features, sir, but he’s…..white. Maybe Caucasian. Dark hair, not quite shoulder length. He’s wearing…..Sir, he’s wearing nothing but a tee shirt and jeans. He’s not even wearing shoes. And he’s starting to pull away from us like we’re sitting still!”
“Tango Five, are you telling me that that there is a man up there flying around our airspace?”
“I know how it sounds, colonel,” the pilot answered, still sounding stunned. “But if we’re not all seeing things, that is exactly what is up here.
“And he’s pulling away at more than Mach 3,” the pilot exclaimed. “These old birds just can’t match him.”
“Target the bogey, and bring him down,” the captain shouted over the mike. “Now. Shoot him down.”
“Roger, Tango Leader. Locked on, firing two.”
“Two away!,” the man reported as the men tracked the flight, and its target.
“Direct hit,” the pilot shouted.
“I’ve still got the bogey on radar,” another pilot shouted.
“Jesus he…..he’s stopped. He’s just hanging in the air,” another exclaimed over the tiny speaker. “And there’s not a scratch on him.”
“Blew by him,” Tango Five reported. “Where is he? Where…..?”
“Tango Five! Flex, he’s on your ship! He’s on your ship! Roll, man. Roll,” another of the two wingman shouted.
“Holy Mother of God!,” Five screamed. “He’s ripping into my fuselage. I’m losing hydraulics and power. I’m going down. I’m going down.”
“Bail out, bail out!,” Three shouted.
“I can’t punch out,” Flex shouted as the speakers were suddenly filled with the sound of twisting metal. .
“Mayday ! Systems are out! I’m going down! I’m going…”
The speaker squealed shrilly, then the pilot’s voice was gone even as a dull boom that was audible even in the ops room sounded from high over their heads.
“Tango Five is clear,” Four shouted. “He got out. He got out. Scramble rescue. I’m switching to cannons. Engaging the bogey now,” he reported.
“Tango Three, firing two,” the other wingman called out.
“Another hit. The bastard is still coming,” the pilot screamed over the hammering of machine gun fire over the open mike. “He can’t be human! He can’t be…..”
“Tango Three punched out, but the target just shredded his bird like it was made of confetti,” Tango Four reported.
“Tango Four, abort. Repeat, abort,” the captain shouted now. “Get out of there.”
“I’m bugging out,” the pilot reported even as he banked away from the impossible creature just turning away from Tango Three‘s falling bird to look his way. Even as he did, he felt his aircraft shudder, and he shouted in alarm.
“I’m punching out. Power’s gone. This bird is on fire! I’m on fire!,” he screamed, and then was lost.
“Scramble rescue, and get the ship on full alert. Have the escort go to battle stations, now!,” Colonel Anderson ordered the men around him in the ops center.
“Bogey is headed northwest, accelerating again,” the radar man reported. “He’s not staying after all.”
“Track him. Track him,” the captain shouted. “I want to know…”
“He’s gone, sir. Completely off the scopes.”
“Impossible,” Colonel Anderson swore as he returned to look over the man’s shoulder. “We’re tied in with satellite surveillance for this entire hemisphere. He couldn’t have disappeared like that unless….”
“Yes, sir,” the radar man nodded. “He went vertical, and accelerated so fast it was like he just….vanished.”
The captain frowned as he stood behind his men, wiping a damp handkerchief over his sweating head. “Are you telling me a flying man just downed three of our best, and went into orbit in less than a minute?”
“Captain, that….man was so fast he not only went through the sound barrier, he was damn near close to reaching escape velocity judging by what we saw here,” the colonel told him grimly. “We’d better notify the brass. This one is way over our heads in more ways than one.”
“Granted,” the officer nodded grimly.
“Clinton, we have the men in sight. Looks like they all survived,” a rescue chopper reported just then. “We’re moving to extract them now.”
“Roger, rescue,” the captain replied, then tuned to the ops commander. “I’m headed to the bridge.
“I want a complete radio transcript, and incident report ready within the hour,” he told Anderson. “If I’m going to give this to the brass, I don’t want to look as bad as I’m likely to sound.
“Flying men,” he grimaced as he walked out of the room.
He looked down on the curved horizon of the planet below, lost in a high cloud bank that reflected the setting sun, which spread a golden glow across the sky around him. He ran a hand through his dark hair, wearing nothing more than a pair of denim jeans now badly shredded by the high caliber rounds that had been fired at him earlier.
His ocular abilities easily penetrated the cloud cover, focusing on part of the northern continent in the western hemisphere he would have called home anytime, and anyplace else. But it was rapidly becoming obvious that he was not on his world. It might look like it. Feel like it. But this was as alien a planet as he was alien to the world he called home.
A careful inspection of the planet, and the orbital debris told him there was no Justice League here. No Watchtower, at any rate. He had yet to find any evidence of any metas at all on this planet. He frowned as he hovered in the air thousands of miles above the earth, and tried to figure out where he was, and how he had gotten here.
His last conscious memory was of visiting his mother in Smallville. He had heard something peculiar coming from the old barn just before daybreak, and had gone out to investigate. He saw nothing obvious, but the strange sound that had drew his attention. He stepped into the barn, and then….nothing.
He woke up laying in a field somewhere near the southern edge of the continent, completely naked, too, but it soon became apparent he was not on his world. He took a super speed jaunt back to Smallville, after borrowing some clothes from a line outside a rural home only to discover it didn’t exist here. There was no Kent farm. No Kents at all in the area he remembered as home. He decided to fly over the planet, to get an idea of what had happened to him, only he had barely gotten halfway over the Atlantic when the jets attacked him.
He tried to outrun them when they fired on him.
Deciding to neutralize them, he found they were far more fragile than he remembered on his home world. A light touch tore through the steel alloy hull like another man might rip through tissue paper. Before he could try controlling himself, he was almost rammed by a second jet after he managed to pull the pilot out of the first jet, before it exploded from a catastrophic system failure. Necessity had him disabling the last jet, and ensuring the other pilots were able to get clear of the debris before their damaged ships fell into the sea below.
Still, even he was astonished at how easily he handled the high velocity rounds, and the rockets that caught him point blank before he could elude them. He had no choice but to go sub-orbital to escape the authorities before someone got seriously hurt. He needed time to think. To plan. One thing was certain, he was not going to be able to walk around other people until he got some clothes.
His costume was still back in Smallville. His Smallville, so he couldn’t change. Not that it was likely to be recognized in this world. He sighed, enjoying the warmth, and invigoration that came from the sun’s rays. At least that had not changed. Still, he was going to have to be extra careful here. It seemed he was even more powerful than ever on this world. At least, it seemed that way.
He decided to wait for nightfall, find an isolated place, and arrange for clothing.
No identification, or money was going to make things tricky for a while, but he was going to have to do a little careful shoplifting for the time being if he was going to get through this without causing more trouble. It rankled, but he figured he could repay whoever he had to ‘borrow’ from later, depending on how things turned out. For now, as his companion who was better versed in these matters would say, survival was the first concern.
That meant he had to blend in.
He continued to wait out the sunset. He could still see the shock on those men’s faces as he pulled them out of the cockpits. He saw the stark terror in their eyes, and knew well enough from some men’s reactions on his own world that he wasn’t always seen as a hero. To the men on this world, they wouldn’t even consider him anything but a menace after that encounter.
He had no choice but to lay low for now.
At least until he could figure out what happened, and maybe get back to where he belonged.