Legion Clubhouse, Earth
E P I S O D E O N E
S M A R T E R
C H A P T E R O N E
The Thirtieth Century: 2999
“Lightning Lad, it’s fantastic to see you! Has your first week’s stay in the Legion Clubhouse lived up to your expectations?”
“Yeah. It’s great. Really ritzy,” he said, kicking one of his heels into the other.
“That skyblue shock in your eyes has returned. Is everything to your liking? Please don’t feel pressured to say that it’s perfect. I know it’s not. My research team employed a trio of focus groups over the course of several weeks to try and make it feel as homey as possible but, as an entrepreneur, I know as well as anyone that getting that many opinions on anything tends to have a blanding, sterilizing effect.”
“Oh, in that case. Yeah. It, uh, doesn’t really feel like home. It doesn’t feel real. It feels more like a dream. I wake up and everything’s spotless. The menu looks just like it did in the old neighborhood on Winath, like, it tastes like you literally hired their staff.
“I’m glad to hear that you hate it,” Brande chortled magnificently, “I was afraid you’d try to spare my feelings. I thank you sincerely. It feels too presentable. I’ll amend that at once. Don’t worry: next time you see the place, it’ll be scummier than your belly button!”
Garth looked at him with a pair of evershifting eyes, perplexed. He couldn’t tell if he felt grateful or insulted. Maybe something else, not that he knew what that would even be. He was speechless. Absolutely speechless until the second when he wasn’t: “Wait. Did you say next time I see it
“I told them you were a bright one. Yessir, pack your bags for an all-expense paid trip to the planet Colu! We’ll be leaving in four hours. If you’d be so kind, please go rouse Imra, Rokk and Chuck. Tell them that you’ll be undertaking your first case as the Legion of Superheroes before night’s end!”
The Mark 494 Legion Cruiser “Forneus”
Outside Colu’s Atmosphere
“Pop Quiz!” Brande spouted as he stood in front of the teenagers.That’s the worst kind there is
, Garth thought to himself.
“Within the United Planets, one planetnation produces an amount of data exponentially larger than every other member of the Union combined. What is that planet?”
Garth’s fist shot up like a bolt of lightning, standing on his tiptoes like a toddler peeking over a fence before being upstaged by Imra’s unceremonious utterance, “Colu.”
“Ah, see! I knew you were a smart cookie. Say,” Brande began, “how’d you know?”
“I read your mind. Also, Garth told us we were going to Colu before brining us down here. So… I dunno, a bunch of reasons really,” she shrugged, politely grinning out of courtesy.
“Okay, I’ll have to bear that in mind from here on out,” Brande said, pausing his breathing for a moment in an attempt to think only clean
thoughts. “How much do the rest of you know about the line of Coluan succession, though?”
Imra stayed silent, waiting for the others, who were even silenter exempting the staccato shrugging sound of softly slumping shoulders.
Brande grinned. This was what he was waiting for. “The Coluans would have conquered the universe several times over if not for the simple fact that, by and large, they want nothing to do with it. They’re generally too preoccupied with their internal bickering, espionage and mind-games. In spite of the formidable processing power of their minds, they sabotage each other’s research in their casual cat-and-mouse counterintelligence games so thoroughly that their ability to progress as a society is hindered to merely being good
or occasionally earth-shaking
as opposed to fundamentally redefining the pace of intergalactic society on a daily basis
This should come as little surprise given that their roots lie with the age-old beings known as The Computer Tyrants, a collective of sociopathic bean counting androids who crafted the entity known as Brainiac as a living encyclopedia to slither through the stars, sampling and stealing away data at any cost. Though he had been operating as a tenth level intelligence, he was assisted by a lowly engineer who unshackled his mind and enabled him to ascend to the twelfth level, every bit as psychically robust as his creators and with a bevy of life experience behind him. He slew them like dogs before seizing the seat of Colu as his own and creating a race of people in his own image, tasking them with the exact same manner of scientific fieldwork that he had been designed to perform with one significant difference.
Their every thought was monitored and censored by his own mind. Unfortunately for him, this put such a strain on his ability to perform other functions once they anomalously began sprouting individuals also of the twelfth level. Ever since, he has been at rest in the heart of Colu, kept latent by his own laborers enlightenment. Naturally, there are loyalists who would like to see Colu returned to the control of the monarch Brainiac, but twelfth level intelligences, the first level at which a meaningful contribution can be made to processing the massive load of data, are only born every two or three hundred years on average. None of them have been interested in shouldering the burden.”
“Wait, wait, wait, wait,” Chuck demanded. “Didn’t you say that you were talking about succession or something? This can’t all seriously be relevant! Can it?”
“Sorry for the exposition dump, my boy, but I’ll get to succession in just a moment. It just seems severely improbably that anyone would be likely to fill you in on the social context that their society has existed within for the last several hundred years organically
. I had some of my best researchers working on compiling and abridging their extremely well documented history, sorting through the intentional misinformation overloads so that you could have this neat little two minute speech. Speaking of which, as I was:
“The Brainiacs are the descendants of Brainiac who possess their own twelfth level intelligences. To date, there have been five of them. Only four. The most recent of which is Querl Dox, a young man, particularly bright even amongst the twelfth level intellects, that has survived a comically intense sequence of assassination attempts. The previous three Brainiacs are all, in some form or fashion, incapacitated and therefore not straining the original’s processors. If he falls, then the original Brainiac, the great tyrant shall return with a vengeance. Otherwise, the amount of terrorist attacks on the planet has skyrocketed. From an average of none
to three dozen per year
. We theorize that this is an attempt to lighten the load on his processors as well. Your job is to assist young mister Dox in preventing any further attacks and attempts on his life. Understood
Imra nodded curtly. Chuck looked like his brain was buffering. Rokk worked his eyelids like an abacus, trying to work out how they would pull it off and Garth snapped his fingers, spelling out Y E S
with a trail of electrons buzzing in the air.
“Excellent,” Brande grinned. “We’ll be embarking briefly.”