"Lucius, get everyone out now!" Bruce Wayne shouted into his cell phone. His heart raced and his chest tightened as he gazed out the helicopter's windshield at the alien ship hovering over Metropolis.

"I'm on it, Bruce. Security's directing everyone out of the building as quick as possible."

Bruce watched a beam shoot down from the alien ship. Debris rose and fell back to the ground. "Make it quicker."

"You know I will."

The Bell helicopter's skids barely touched the helipad deck when he threw open the door and jumped out. He ignored the downdraft from the rotors and hurried to the waiting black Jeep Renegade. The roar of jets filled the sky. He lifted his head. A whale-like C-17 transport plane flew overhead, followed by a squadron of arrow-shaped F-35s. He drew a breath, praying they could destroy the alien ship.

"I just touched down," he told Lucius as he slid into the Jeep. "I should be at Wayne Technical soon."

"It may be better for you to go back to Gotham. I can handle this."

"I know you can, but I'm the boss. My company, my responsibility."

"Yeah, well, taking risks isn't new to you, is it? Hopefully we'll be on the street by the time you get here."

Bruce nodded and started the engine. "I'll see you soon. Be careful."

"You too."

He flung the phone onto the passenger's seat and sped away from the heliport. He crushed the steering wheel, whipping around slow or stopped cars. Thousands crowded the streets and sidewalks, fleeing from the ship. Several times he braked or swerved to avoid them. Other times he turned down side streets or alleys when his route was blocked.

Tremors rippled through the vehicle. Each time he took a staggered breath. He looked up between the tall buildings, watching a shower of debris fall around the alien ship. Sweat covered him, waves of fear rushing through his soul. Not fear for himself. Fear for the people of Metropolis. Fear for his employees at Wayne Technical.

Fear for his old friend Lucius Fox.

Please be okay, please be okay. Without Lucuis, there may not have ever been a Batman. How many vehicles and gadgets had the man built for him? How many times had he spilled his guts to Lucius when everything he'd witnessed as his alter ego threatened to overwhelm him?

Why did he have to tour the damn place today? Bruce gritted his teeth. He'll be all right. He has to be.

He whipped the Jeep down another street. He should be about twelve blocks from Wayne Technical. Not long until –

The car bounced off the ground, then slammed back to the street. The quake rattled Bruce's insides. He thought the car would shake apart.

A pile of debris crashed on the street in front of him. He slammed on the brakes. Tires squealed. The Jeep's hood came within inches of the pile.

Bruce threw the car in reverse. He twisted the wheel left, then braked.

More debris littered the street.

His aggravation burned hotter. He shoved open the door, grabbed his phone, and ran. He weaved around some debris and climbed over other chunks of steel and concrete.

The evil horn sounded again. Bruce turned to the ship. Its beam flickered on and off. Debris rose and crashed back to earth.

His fist closed around the cell phone and shook. I should be doing something. But what? His bat suit was back in Gotham. Even if he had it, alien spaceships were way out of his league. Same with those superpowered Kryptonians.

When have you ever let the odds stop you? Right now, he had no idea how to stop that ship or the aliens it brought here. All he could do was focus on his people at Wayne Technical. Afterwards, he could think of something.

If there was an afterwards.

He charged down the street. His lungs burned. The muscles in his legs turned into metal coils. He may be in better shape than most men his age. Still, 41 was 41. It was hell getting old.

A mass of people ran past him. He dodged them, gazing up at the tall glass tower that housed Wayne Technical. He started to dial Lucius when he caught something out the corner of his eye.

The C-17 dove toward the alien ship. Bruce held his breath. A kamikaze run? Would that really –

A bright blue flash blinded Bruce. He turned away and blinked a few times. When he turned back around, both the alien ship and the C-17 had vanished.

Relief swelled within him. They'd done it. The ship was destroyed.

He dialed Lucius, his gaze returned to the Wayne Technical building. "How's everything going?"

"I think we have most of our people out," said Lucius. "I'm making one last sweep, just to make sure."

"Okay, the Air Force just took out that ship. Still, one or two of those Kryptonian freaks might still be around. So get out of there and -"

A brilliant red beam sliced through the lower half of Wayne Techincal. Clouds of flame and smoke burst from the windows.

"LUCIUS!" Bruce stared at the flaming building with unblinking eyes. His body grew cold with terror as the top half fell.

"Bruce!" Lucius cried out. "I can't . . . oh God!" His voice cracked. "Tell . . ."



Bruce still screamed as the building crashed to the ground. An enormous brown cloud kicked up and swept through the surrounding streets.

Everyone ran away from it. Bruce ran into it, throwing his arm over his eyes. His throat clenched. His eyes grew wet. Lucius. No, no, no.

He emerged from the cloud slowing as he came upon the rubble of Wayne Technical. Bruce gaped. He'd held out a slim hope that Lucius may have found a way to survive, but looking at this . . .

His legs shook. A tear slide down his cheek. Lucius? Dead?

"Somebody help!"

Bruce whipped his head left. Two men, one in a suit, the other in a white security guard shirt, crouched over someone pinned by rubble. He rushed over to them, hearing a woman's agonized cries.

"C'mon." He shoved his hands under the block of concrete and groaned, muscles straining and burning. The other two men also lifted. The slab rose a little bit, a little bit more.

Another man climbed over the rubble and pulled out the woman. She wailed. Once free, Bruce and the others let the slab drop.

He looked down at the woman, a thin blond in her mid-twenties. Tear stains streaked her face, covered in gray soot. The name badge on her blouse identified her as Gabrielle Lynns.

"My legs," she sobbed. "I can't feel my legs."

Bruce gritted his teeth at the blood covering the woman's legs. "Don't worry. We'll get you help." He looked around the street. Would firefighters and paramedics already be on their way? Would they be overwhelmed by this disaster?

If I have to, I'll find a doctor and drag his ass back here.

He took three steps when he caught something soaring across the sky. Fireballs, and in the middle of them, two small objects. He squinted his eyes.

They were people! One dressed in black. The other in blue with a cape. Kryptonians, including the one the Daily Planet called Superman.

The two crashed through a building. Another beam blasted out of it. The Kryptonians emerged from the wrecked structure and slammed into another building.

Bruce watched the fight, jaw tight, fist clenched. He thought of the articles he'd read, the news reports he'd seen that depicted Superman as a hero, especially after that battle in Smallville, Kansas. But would a hero allow all this destruction? Even cause it?

Lucius was dead because of this battle. So were hundreds, maybe thousands of others. Did this Superman even give a damn about all the collateral damage, all the deaths he'd caused?

And if he didn't, God help the human race.