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Thunder over Smallville: Book One

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Thunder over Smallville". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to An Echo of Thunder and Story #2 in the Thunder over Smallville series. Xander Harris arrives in Smallville to start his new life. How will the presence of a Thunder God affect life in this not-so-sleepy Kansas town?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Smallville > Xander-Centered
DC Universe > General
anotherlostsoulFR1551240,4331691326684,88614 Nov 0615 Feb 08No

Chapter 37 – City of Angels III

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…

Author's Notes: There probably won't be a chapter of Year One posted next week, as I'm going to pause briefly and work on posting a couple of chapters of the Champion of Themyscira side story before we start into the next arc here. Don't worry though, it won't take long. Also, I'd like to dedicate a small piece of the dialog in this chapter to the infamous JoeHundredaire, and I'm sure he'll recognize the lines in question when he reads them, seeing as he suggested them to me months ago, when we first started talking about my plans for this story.

-== Chapter Thirty-Seven – City of Angels III ==-

As the three teenaged heroes raced toward their impending date with destiny, they didn’t realize that the eyes of the entire world were turning toward Los Angeles. The news reports complete with live video footage from the news helicopters that were still circling the scene in spite of the risk, had been picked up by every major news service on the planet. The ongoing battle between law enforcement and a bullet-proof, superhumanly strong criminal was the single hottest story on the planet and it was splattered across almost every television on earth, in dozens of different languages, within minutes of first being aired. Everyone was talking about it and watching with baited breath, wondering just how this particular drama was going to end.

Unbeknownst to the teeming masses of humanity, they were not the only beings watching the events that were unfolding in the so-called City of Angels. Throughout dozens of dimensions adjacent to our own, entities that were, or at least had been, worshipped as gods by the various tribes and cultures of humanity turned their attention to Los Angeles. Unlike the millions of mortals who were watching, they knew about the three young champions fast approaching the conflict. They knew also knew that only one of the three champions had been tested, tried in the fires of real combat and they alone knew that this battle and its ultimate outcome would have a tremendous impact on Earth’s future. What they didn’t know, what no one could predict with absolute certainty, was exactly how the battle would end and how humanity would cope with the ending.

* * * * *

Even as he soared toward what he considered his first real battle as an actual superhero, Xander’s mind was busy working out the best way to deal with the fight. The part of his awareness that had allowed him to so easily and accurately pick apart Lex Luthor’s fencing match had already reached a number of important conclusions about their soon to be adversary. Whoever he was, he had never had any formal training in how to fight. He was a brawler, all muscle and no style to his moves, a fact that might be exploitable. The guy also clearly seemed to believe that he was completely invincible, a fact that would certainly work to their advantage…as long as he wasn’t actually invincible.

Unfortunately, neither he nor Clark were really any more skilled in hand-to-hand combat than their foe, since there was a big difference between knowing how it should be done and actually doing it, which might just nullify any advantage they had. The Thunder God was finally left with only one real solution: they needed to take this guy down fast, before he could do any more damage. He just wasn’t entirely sure about the best way to accomplish that noble goal.

He suddenly pulled up short, hovering for a moment as he watched the rampaging psychopath heft a police car, one that was still occupied by a pair of terrified officers, and hurl it toward the top of a nearby building. In a burst of truly god-like speed, Xander moved, imposing himself between the two ton projectile and its destination. He dropped Mjolnir on reflex, letting the magickal weapon fall to the ground below, and used both hands to catch the vehicle some 75 feet above the ground. It was only as he allowed himself and his cargo to slowly, safely descend to the street below that he realized that he had clearly grown powerful enough to fly without his hammer.

As he set the car carefully back onto its wheels, largely none the worse for its unplanned flight, the teenaged deity was confronted by the disbelieving stares of the vehicle’s occupants. He put on what he hoped was a comforting half-smile and nodded at the officers. “You guys should clear the area,” he suggested in a calm, friendly, and confident voice. “My friends and I will take care of this guy… he’s a little out of your league.”

Without waiting for a response, he blurred into super-speed and joined Clark and Midori a short distance from the very shocked looking cause of the disturbance. The young god took a confident step forward, taking the point position while his brother and the Green Lantern held their positions just behind him on each side.

“This stops here,” the Aesir announced loudly, his words resonating with divine authority courtesy of the effect that his armor had on his voice, “Surrender and go quietly while you still have a choice in the matter.”

* * * * *

Lenny couldn’t help but laugh as he lifted an occupied patrol car with no more effort than it would take to pick-up a football and hurled it away toward the upper floors of a building. So far the LAPD and the Feds had hit him with the entire array of small arms and tear gas that they had their disposal to no avail whatsoever. The most effective thing they’d used so far was the tear gas, and all it had really done was piss him off even worse.

The fact that reinforcements kept arriving as quickly as he could seriously injure or kill them was also beginning to wear on his non-existent patience. These cops were beginning to seem like a lot of blue-clad cockroaches, for every one he stomped on, two or three more appeared. Apparently, they hadn’t gotten the memo telling them that they were completely out-classed and stood no chance whatsoever of stopping him.

A sudden blur of motion in mid-air caught Lenny’s attention and he slid to a dumbfounded halt as the police car he’d thrown stopped dead almost a hundred feet above the ground. Almost instantly the entire street feel completely silent as all eyes turned to watch the vehicle slowly float back down to the ground and come to rest on its wheels as though it were nothing out of the ordinary. As the man responsible for catching the car drew himself back up to his full six-plus foot height, Lenny and the other spectators were still trying to comprehend what they were seeing, because it should have been impossible. Not only did human beings not fly without a plane or helicopter, they certainly didn’t move as fast as this guy did, nor did their voices sound like his. They also generally didn’t wear such outlandish clothing either, since he looked like he just walked off the set of a movie about Vikings.

A moment later, the big guy vanished and reappeared closer to Lenny, where he joined another man in a blue on blue body suit and mask with a red ‘S’ in a shield on his chest and a young Asian woman wearing a green and black school girl outfit with another odd symbol on her shirt. The three together looked they had just walked out of some kind of sci-fi or comic book convention, a fact that would have made Lenny want to laugh if he hadn’t seen the Viking guy catch that cop car.

“This stops here,” he heard the big one say in his oddly intimidating voice, “Surrender and go quietly while you still have a choice in the matter.”

Those words did force a laugh out of Lenny, a deep, full-on, belly laugh brought about by the utter absurdity of being confronted with what could only be described as superhero wannabes. Hadn’t they been watching what he was doing to the cops? Didn’t they realize he was unstoppable? Even if they were all as strong as the guy in the helmet, if they hit him, he’d only get even stronger, so what were they going to do? Talk him to death? Cry him into submission?

“Just who the hell do you think you are?” he demanded incredulously as his laughter faded.

“You can call me Thor,” the big Viking answered with a grin. “My friends here are the Green Lantern and Super…man.” He hesitated for a split-second while naming the second would-be hero, as though correcting himself. “So are we gonna do this the easy way or the hard way…and by hard way, I mean it’ll be hard on you.”

“Oh gee, let me think about that for a minute,” Lenny retorted sarcastically. Moving quickly he scooped up a nearby man-hole cover and flung it as hard as he could at Thor’s head, like some sort of lethal Frisbee. To his utter amazement, the man’s hand snapped up and grabbed it out of the air mere inches from its target.

“Alright then,” the Viking said matter-of-factly, “The hard way it is. Green Lantern, play defense and keep the cops out of harm’s way. Superman, let’s show this guy what strength is all about!”

As the man-hole cover whipped back through the air nearly as hard as he’d first thrown it, Lenny grinned. Killing cops had been fun, if a little bit too easy. Killing these super-powered clowns would be even more enjoyable.

* * * * *

Willow and Chloe stood for a long while staring out toward the not-so-distant city, watching for signs of their friends impending return. The silence between them was easy and companionable. There was no need for talk, no need to fill the uncomfortable space between them with words. At this moment, in this place, they understood each other all too well. It was hard to be the ones left behind, but it was the place where they both belonged for the moment. Out there, in the thick of a fight, their weaknesses, their lack of control over their abilities would be a distraction to their friends. It would be too easy for one of their friends to get hurt trying to protect them. It was a fact they both knew and accepted, but it didn’t make the waiting any easier.

It was Chloe who spoke first, finally forcing the question she had really wanted to ask Willow from the moment she saw her look at Xander to the fore. “You’re in love with him, aren’t you?” she asked, almost immediately wishing she could take the question back.

“I am,” the red-head replied softly. “I always have been, I think. Ever since I was little, he was always the one I imagined marrying someday. But you already knew that, because you feel the same way about him.”

“I…I don’t know,” the blonde stammered. “For so long, I thought I was in love with Clark. I thought he was going to be the one, you know, the greatest love of my life, the one that I would always think about even if things never really worked out between us. Now…now I’m not so sure. Now, I think I might be falling in love with Xander…”

The silence that fell in the wake of Chloe’s words felt somehow tense this time. As though there were still things that needed to be said, things that they both needed to say actually. Yet, for several almost eternal-seeming moments, neither girl spoke.

“You’re not falling in love with him,” Willow said finally, in an almost resigned tone. “You’re already in love with him and are just starting to realize it.” She turned away from the cityscape and looked at the blonde girl. “And he feels the same about you.”

“How can you be so sure?” Chloe asked.

“I’ve known Xander since kindergarten, Chloe,” the red-head reminded her with an oddly sad note in her voice. “The whole becoming a god thing was the first and only secret he’s ever managed to keep from me.”

The blonde nodded her head, understanding how much it must have hurt the other girl to have to hear the man she was in love with talk about other people. “He…he told you how he feels about me?”

“Not in so many words, no,” she answered with an honest smile. “But with the way he talks about you and the things he doesn’t say, yes. I think he’s just afraid that you’ll do what Buffy did, that you’ll choose someone else over him.”

“Buffy?” the blonde repeated in surprise. “Suddenly, that explains a lot. After everything that happened, she still chose someone else over him?”

“Not just someone, a vampire with a soul,” Willow confirmed with a nod. “It’s all very Romeo and Juliet in Buffy’s mind and probably destined to end just as well…”

“What about you?” she asked pointedly. “Does he even realize how you feel about him? Or is he like Clark in the respect, totally unable to see you as anything other than a friend or a sister?”

“I think he always knew how I felt,” the red-head admitted finally. “He apologized to me once, just after he met you and saw how blind Clark was to how you felt. But that doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t see me that way; we’re too close to ever be more than just friends.” She sighed softly and turned back to staring off at the city. “If you really love him, you’ll have to make the first move,” she said after a moment’s pause. “He won’t do it because of what Buffy did to him. He’s just not ready to be rejected like that again.”

The companionable silence fell between them once more, the momentary tension having drained away as they talked about their mutual feelings for Xander. Now all that was left was the waiting…

* * * * *

Xander grit his teeth as the laughing madman swung a streetlight like a Louisville Slugger, sending him and his brother sailing down the street with a single stroke. So far, the battle was not going well for the good guys. After the guy had shrugged off the man-hole cover, Clark had hit him at super-speed and sent him smashing into a nearby building, only to get flung backwards just as hard into another building. For every hit they landed on the psychopath, they got hit back just as hard. Admittedly, he and Clark were holding back and pulling punches for fear of accidentally killing the other man, but it really didn’t seem to matter. Nothing they’d tried so far had fazed him.

“Come on!” he heard the criminal shout at them as he hefted another car, having broken the streetlight across the Kent brothers already. “Is this the best you assholes can do? Honestly, I expected more from you…” He turned and hurled the car straight at Midori harder and faster than he’d thrown anything so far.

The world slowed down to a crawl as the Aesir leapt to his feet and shouted a warning to the girl, “Look out!!”

To Xander’s even greater surprise, Clark ‘I’m afraid of heights’ Kent exploded off the ground and into the air. The Kryptonian flew faster than a merely human eye could have followed, moving quickly in an attempt to intercept the fast-moving projectile. He was too slow, however, as Midori abruptly shot sideways out of the path of the car. At the same time, a beam of green energy lanced out from her ring and wrapped around the flying vehicle.

“Right back at ya,” the Japanese girl shouted angrily. She spun in a quick circle, using her ring, along with the missile’s own momentum, to slingshot it back at the guy even harder than he’d originally thrown it. The move caught everyone by surprise, including its intended target. The car slammed into him full on, throwing him backward as the impact caused the vehicle to explode in a ball of orange flame.

Seeing movement beside her, she whirled toward it, prepared to defend herself from another attack only to find Clark floating beside her. “Superman!” she exclaimed in surprise. “I didn’t think you had learned how to fly yet because of that whole acrophobia thing?”

“Remind me to hit Thor later for saddling me with that name, but apparently he was right all along, I just needed to get over it,” Clark answered glibly, “I saw that car about to hit you and suddenly being afraid of heights didn’t matter anymore…”

“Oh! You flew for me?” she asked with a smile. “That’s really sweet, but I had it under control…”

“Just be glad I didn’t go with my first thought…you’d have ended up Superboy instead. Now can you two flirt later?” Xander asked as he soared up to join them. “We’ve still got a bad guy to deal with here.”

The two mortals turned to see their opponent getting back to his feet and not looking much the worse for his experiences so far. “Son of a…” the Green Lantern muttered angrily. “Does nothing affect this guy?”

“Not so far,” the Kryptonian replied with a sigh. “You two have any better ideas? Cause so far we aren’t accomplishing much.”

“Alright,” the Aesir half-growled as his temper flared. “No more games. Don’t hold back when you hit him this time, go all out. Superman, fly at him as hard and fast as you can from the left, I’ll do the same from the right…”

“And I’ll throw a battering ram down the middle as hard as I can,” Midori added with a nod.

“And if he shakes all of that off too?” Superman asked skeptically.

“Then we do something more permanent,” the Thunder God said grimly.

* * * * *

Lenny’s head was spinning slightly as he pushed himself back to his feet and eyed the burning wreckage of the car he’d hurled at the little girl in green. What had the Viking guy called her? The Green Lamp or something? He’d assumed that since she was hanging back from the fight, she must be the weakest of the three. He certainly hadn’t expected her to sling that car back at him harder than he’d thrown it. He also hadn’t expected it to actually hurt, but as the angry red welts peeking through the tattered areas of his clothing where the flaming debris had pelted him attested, he wasn’t quite so immune to heat and fire as he was to being shot or hit.

Maybe he wasn’t actually quite as invulnerable as he originally thought, but since flamethrowers were hardly standard police riot gear and none of the would-be heroes had one, he was fairly certain he could still take down these clowns. Especially since the majority of their efforts to pummel him into submission so far had done little aside from keeping his super-strength charged up. Of course, between their attacks and the rain of bullets earlier, he had finally reached a point where he wasn’t getting any stronger now. By the same token, however, if they hadn’t resorted to hitting him, he’d probably already have burned through most of his strength and would have been left in a serious bind.

He watched for a moment as his three super-powered adversaries conferred in mid-air, which was actually a fairly neat trick he had to admit. As they split off and rushed him at blinding speeds, Lenny came to an important tactical conclusion. If the Green whatever was actually the weakest of them like he figured she was… she was a woman after all… then Thor and Big Blue must have been holding back. And if that was the case, then he really needed to quit fooling around and put one or both of them down permanently, preferably before they both decided to really try to hurt him.

With a loud grunt, Lenny spun toward the Viking as he and the guy with the ‘S’ on his chest attempted a two-sided bum rush on him, like he didn’t see that coming. These guys were complete amateurs when it came down to an old fashioned brawl. Timing it just right, he cut loose with the hardest, most vicious uppercut he could manage. His fist made solid contact with the do-gooder, sending Thor skyward with the force of a rocket ship blasting off. Keeping up his momentum, Lenny quickly twisted out of blue boy’s path, nailing him with a spinning back fist that sent him flying through the outside wall of an already slightly battered building.

Nobody but nobody lived through hits like those, the criminal decided confidently. He whirled back toward the chick in green, firmly expecting to see her turn tail and run now that he’d disabled her friends. To his great surprise, however, his entire world washed out in a brilliant flash of green light as a giant, green battering ram smashed into him, literally driving him feet first into the pavement like a nail into a board.

Clearly, he’d underestimated this little bitch…

* * * * *

Midori watched in dismay as their foe anticipated Xander’s plan and reacted, sending the Thunder God sailing up toward the outer atmosphere with a well placed haymaker. When she saw him twist around and knock Clark straight through an older, concrete walled building a split-second later, her world turned red. Clark was her not-quite-but-definitely-working-on-it boyfriend and she’d be damned if some low-life, punk-ass, moron was going to hit him like that and walk away from it. She lashed out angrily at the bastard, crushing him into the ground with her ring’s power and leaving him buried up to his chest in the middle of the city street. If that didn’t at least slow him down, nothing would.

Turning away from the super-powered menace, she raced off after Clark. When she reached the hole the Kryptonian had left in the wall, she was shocked to realize that he’d gone straight through the entire building and back out the other side. Ignoring the startled looks she received from the building’s few remaining occupants; she flew through the path left by the boy’s involuntary flight. She was most of the way through the third building along his path when the trail of destruction ended abruptly in a massive pile of debris.

“Cla…”she began to shout his name before catching herself. It wouldn’t do for anyone to hear her use his real name, no matter how upset she was. “Superman! Are you okay?” she yelled instead. When there was no response, she immediately began using her power ring to start clearing away the wreckage he was clearly buried beneath.

While a Green Lantern’s power ring is widely hailed as one of, if not the most powerful weapons in the universe, it suffers from two very serious limitations. The first is an inability to directly affect anything that is yellow in color and the second is that it requires both willpower and imagination to use it effectively. Normally, the latter of these factors wouldn’t have been an issue for Midori, but she was hardly thinking clearly. Her fear for Clark’s safety, combined with the knowledge that he wasn’t entirely indestructible, kept her from envisioning a more effective way of clearing the rubble as well as distracting her from the fact that the ring’s sensors could have easily ascertained the Kryptonian’s fate for her. Instead she was frantically shifting the pile of debris a few pieces at a time as she used the ring to crudely shove things out of her way.

This is precisely what she was still doing when Lenny managed to extract himself from the hole he’d been mostly buried in. Rather than resuming his offensive against the LAPD, he turned his attention to a new target. No little girl was going to hit him like that and get away with it, whether she had super-powers or not. He needed to put this little bitch back in her place. Luckily he’d seen exactly where she’d gone: chasing off after Big Blue. He ignored the rallying remnants of the city’s tactical police force and ran toward the building he’d sent the so-called Superman flying into. A single leap, powered by his super-strength, landed him inside the hole that the costumed freak had created where he did precisely the same thing that Midori had done, he followed the damage trail left by his super-human projectile.

It was only her power ring’s automatic defenses that kept Lenny’s first punch from taking Midori’s head completely off of her shoulders. The protective field of emerald energy saved her life, but it didn’t keep her from being smashed bodily into a wall and finding herself momentarily stunned by the impact. As she staggered back and tried desperately to clear her head, her assailant stalked forward, shouting angrily.

“How do you like that, you little slant-eyed whore?” he barked angrily. “You think you can just hit old Lenny twice and fly away like nothing happened? Well, you’ve got another thing coming bitch,” he swung again, landing a vicious backhand across her face. Again, her personal force field took the brunt of the blow, but it was still enough to send her sailing backward into another wall, this time driving the air out of her lungs and leaving her gasping for breath.

Things were not looking good, she realized abruptly as the insanely angry and incredibly strong misogynist asshole stormed toward her a third time, raving almost incoherently about respect and knowing her place. She didn’t know how much more of this abuse her force field could take and she couldn’t focus enough to reinforce it or mount an attack of her own.

“Hey asshole, stop!” she suddenly heard an extremely familiar, and welcome, voice shout from nearby. She turned her head to see Xander standing there looking absolutely furious. When ‘old Lenny’ stopped in shock at seeing him, the young god grinned evilly. “It’s hammer time!” the Thunder God announced loudly, whipping Mjolnir through the air to slam squarely into the man’s chest.

* * * * *

Xander’s burgeoning warrior instincts screamed a warning to the deity a split-second too late as his would-be target turned and struck him harder than he’d ever been hit before. The man’s uppercut was short and brutal, turning Xander’s own momentum against him and dazing the god briefly. By the time he recovered his muddled senses a few moments later, he well outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and still sailing away from the planet. It took him a few minutes to stop, get himself turned around, and begin accelerating back toward LA.

The longer it took him to get back, the angrier he became. There was simply no telling what was going on or who else might’ve gotten hurt while he was floating in space. What the Aesir didn’t actually realize was exactly how fast he was going when he hit the Earth’s atmosphere. Within moments he was glowing red-hot as he plowed straight toward LA without regard for the friction his re-entry was generating. As the city came into view in the distance, he shifted his position and began to slow himself down. While his divine will allowed him to blatantly defy the laws of physics, it did not entirely circumvent them and his arrival was marked by the deafening claps of a series of high-altitude sonic booms that sounded like a roll of angry thunder at ground level.

He landed gently on the ground where the battle had been taking, followed by a blast of hot, nearly gale force wind that whipped through the area, having been displaced by his passage. Seeing that the battle had clearly moved elsewhere in his absence he turned to face a nearby police officer that had been trying, unsuccessfully, to lift Mjolnir from where it had fallen on the sidewalk. “Which way did they go?” he demanded his tone and manner clearly revealing his mood.

“Through there,” the shocked cop replied, gesturing toward a hole in a nearby wall that hadn’t been there before he got hit as he backed quickly away from the angry deity.

“Thanks,” the god replied quickly, willing Mjolnir back to his hand from where it had fallen earlier. He was officially out of patience with this guy now. If Clark and Midori hadn’t already managed to take him out, the Aesir wouldn’t hesitate to this time. He flew quickly through the hole and followed the path to its end just in time to watch Lenny backhand Midori after inadvertently revealing his own name.

“Hey asshole, stop!” Xander shouted as the man moved toward the clearly winded Green Lantern to take another swing. An evil grin spread over the god’s face as the clearly surprised mortal spun toward him. “It’s hammer time!” he announced as he hurled Mjolnir into the man’s chest. It was a line he’d been dying to use ever since he’d gotten the weapon, back in Sunnydale.

The enchanted hammer carried its involuntary passenger out through several walls before vanishing and returning to its master’s hand and leaving Lenny unsupported several stories above the street. The deity glanced over to Midori and found her getting unsteadily to her feet and glaring at him. “What?” he asked defensively.

“It’s hammer time?” she repeated questioningly.

“Aww, come on,” he replied with a goofy grin as he carried the joke a step further, “You can’t touch that.”

With a sudden heave, Clark managed to extricate himself from the remaining rubble and stand up. “Not can’t,” he corrected Xander with a grin, having heard the entire exchange as he struggled to get the leverage he needed to get free, “Won’t.”

“You guys just don’t appreciate my sense of humor,” he lamented half-heartedly before turning serious once more. “Are you two alright?”

“Yeah,” the Kryptonian replied with a fascinated frown as he watched the myriad small tears and holes in his uniform close up before his very eyes. “I’m going to have some serious bruises, but I’ll get over it.”

“I’m fine now,” Midori answered, not even trying to hide her relief at Clark’s words. “Let’s go finish kicking Lenny’s ass for him.”

“Sounds like a great idea to me,” Xander agreed, hefting his hammer with a smile.

* * * * *

Lenny lay motionless on the asphalt of the street where he’d fallen, trying desperately to force some measure of air back into his starving lungs. In his years of playing football in school, he’d experienced this sensation more than once, but it was never pleasant. The hammer that had hit him had driven every particle of breath out of his lungs and the pain from the impact had been incredible. As his lungs finally re-inflated with a shuddering gasp, a sharp pain stabbed through his chest. Whatever that hammer was made of; the hit from it had broken at least one of his ribs, something that even a speeding bus hadn’t managed to do.

“Alright Lenny,” he heard an angry, but all too human, male voice declare as he forced himself shakily back to his feet. He looked up to see the costumed troublemakers standing a short distance away once again. Apparently, neither Thor nor Superman were quite as dead as he’d hoped, since they were both standing there. “We don’t want to hurt you, but we will if you make us,” Superman announced in a firm, confident voice. “Stop this insanity now!”

Ten years of working in the underworld of LA had taught Lenny a lot about intimidation and bravado, however, and based on their actions, he figured they were mostly bluffing. So far, only the hammer that Thor was carrying and fire had actually managed to cause him pain, but the superheroes didn’t seem to realize that fact. So, Lenny chose to continue his tradition of poor tactical decision-making. He tried what he thought would be a fairly effective bluff of his own. “Would you assholes just give up already?” he asked with an exaggerated sigh. “You can’t hurt me. You can’t stop me. The harder you hit me, the stronger I get. The only way for you to win is to not fight me at all, and that won’t stop me from slaughtering everyone in my path before my strength is used up.”

He paused expectantly, waiting for the heroes’ inevitable responses. They’d do what any good guy would do now, try to negotiate. He’d get to walk away a free man in order to protect other innocent lives and they’d never realize they could have stopped him. Or at least that was what he expected to happen…right up until the part where the guy with the hammer started laughing.

* * * * *

“Could he be telling the truth?” Clark asked just loudly enough for Xander and Midori to hear him.

“At least partially,” Midori confirmed in a pained voice. “The ring says there’s a strong correlation between hitting him and spikes in his displayed strength level. Rather than helping, we may very well have made things worse with how we handled this…”

“Is he human?” the Aesir asked abruptly, as though something had just occurred to him. When no one answered, he repeated himself and clarified the question, “Neurologically, is he human?”

“As far as the ring can tell his neurological activity matches human norms,” the Green Lantern answered a moment later, a response that caused Xander to burst out laughing loudly.

“You think I’m being funny, asshole?” Lenny shouted back at them.

“No,” the Thunder God spat back with a grin. “I think you’re a moron.” Clark tensed up at his brother’s words, wondering why he’d choose to taunt the homicidal, unstoppable, psychopath.

“Do you have any idea how stupid you actually are, Lenny?” Xander asked loudly as he strode forward, away from the others.

“You think I’m stupid,” the man asked angrily. “I tell you that every time you hit me I get stronger, and you think I’m stupid. You can’t possibly stop me and that makes me a moron?” He chuckled. “I think I must’ve hit you too hard, helmet-head, ‘cause I think you’ve lost your damn mind.”

“No, I haven’t,” the Aesir announced, his smile never wavering. “You’ve absorbed every hit, every bullet impact, and every bit of physical trauma we’ve inflicted on you and gotten stronger from it. Big deal,” he continued dismissively, “Because those burn marks on your skin tell me that you can be stopped.” He grinned evilly and raised his hammer toward the sky, which abruptly began to darken and grow menacing, as though a storm were brewing.

“Do you know what the human nervous system is, Lenny?” he asked coldly, all the mirth fleeing from his voice. “It’s one big electrical control system for the human body.”

“So?” Lenny spat back, tensing up at the apparent change in his adversary’s attitude.

“So? So?” the deity replied mockingly. “So, I am THOR, Prince of Asgard and GOD of THUNDER,” he shouted at the mortal that had raised his ire. “And where there is thunder…there is lightning.”

At his words a brilliant bolt of blue-white lightning flashed down from the storm gathering above Los Angeles and struck Mjolnir before arcing off to slam into Lenny. The surge of current overloaded the criminal’s voluntary nervous system in response to the god’s will, paralyzing him. At the same time, it caused every major voluntary muscle group in the man’s body begin to convulse violently, contracting and relaxing as hard and as fast as they could.

As the bolt faded a few moments later, Clark watched in shock as Lenny slumped to the ground, incapable of even standing up. “Is he going to be okay?” the Kryptonian asked quickly.

“He’ll be fine,” Xander answered. “The paralysis will wear off in a few hours, after the last of the overload fades out of his system. Plus the muscle spasms should have burned off the energy he stored up from being hit, leaving him no stronger than a normal man.”

“How do you figure that?” Clark asked, surprised by the revelation.

“He told us himself that he got stronger from being hit and that he would eventually use up his strength,” the Thunder God pointed out with a grin. “I just made him use it up more quickly and without hurting anyone.”

“So as long as no one hits him and recharges it,” Midori began, following the Aesir’s train of thought.

“He’ll just be a normal guy that the cops can handle,” Clark finished, giving his brother an impressed smile. “Smart thinking.”

“I actually got the idea from…our blonde friend,” he admitted, obliquely referring to Chloe, “It’s a variation on how I knocked out those football players…”

Turning toward the cops who were approaching the trio cautiously and keeping their weapons trained on them, Xander spoke again, “He’s been temporarily paralyzed and his super-strength has been used up. You should take him into custody before he recovers.” Despite the obvious threat the police posed with their weapons, he remained calm, trusting that the officers would do the right thing, even as he willed himself to rise slowly into the air.

“Physical trauma, like shooting or hitting him will recharge his super-strength, so you should keep him somewhere that he can’t hurt himself or get other people to hurt him,” Midori added as she floated up alongside the god.

“And we’re…sorry about the mess,” Clark added lamely as he rose up alongside the others before all three streaked off through the air away from the scene of the battle, leaving the battered cops to clean up after them.
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