By SAMUEL HAWKINS
Chapter 13: Lessons Learned
Late the next afternoon, Saturn Girl and a remarkably recovered Superboy strolled through the Legion clubhouse. "So," Saturn Girl asked, "how would you rate your weekend?"
Superboy's eyes went skyward in mock contemplation. "Well, considering that the highpoint of my weekend is usually the Saturday matinee at the Bijou or stopping the drag races out on Route 9, I'd have to say it was ... a little more interesting than usual."
Saturn Girl smiled. "Well, for us too. It's not every weekend that we fight the most powerful being in the galaxy to a stalemate."
"I hope not," Superboy replied. He was quiet for a moment, then said, "But that was hardly all there was to it, at least for me. Let's see. I had a trap door installed in my mind. I learned that I have been holding back on what I can do. And I got beat up." He paused again. "Definitely ... interesting."
Saturn Girl's face turned serious. "Are you ... bothered by what happened?"
Superboy hesitated. "I'd be lying if I said that it didn't bother me. That whipping I took from Mordru ..." he shook his head slowly, "nothing like that has ever happened to me."
He stopped walking. Reluctantly, but honestly, he said, "But you know, I wasn't sure that it could. So maybe it's a good thing that I found out now that it could happen. Before I got, as my Ma would say, entirely too big for my britches." A quick grin crossed the young man's face, then he added, "And I know it's a good thing that I found out here. Where I had my friends to help."
Saturn Girl reached out and patted his back. "I'd also say that Mordru learned as much from you. He knows that while he may be more powerful, you can still stand up to him. You can hurt him. And he knows that you don't quit." She inclined her head and said solemnly, "We all learned that."
Superboy looked at her and smiled. "Thanks. But what Mordru knows is that the Legion doesn't quit."
Saturn Girl nodded. "Yeah," she said softly, and savored a warm surge of accomplishment and pride. The satisfaction was partly because it was Superboy saying this of the team she'd worked so hard to help build.
But mostly, it was because it was the truth.
The pair reached the clubhouse door, stepped outside, and saw that Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad awaited them. In the distance, Sun Boy and Colossal Boy stopped to wave goodbye before heading out for the evening. Superboy returned their waves, then turned to Saturn Girl. "On the whole, I'd say it was a great weekend. I didn't get killed. I learned to play Spaceopoly well enough to last forty-six seconds against Brainy. And I ... I made some great friends."
Saturn Girl was beaming as the other two original Legionnaires came over to say their farewells. Both shook the Boy of Steel's hand. Superboy noted a metal container in Cosmic Boy's grasp and asked, "That the projector?"
Cosmic Boy nodded. "We're taking it over to the Superman Museum. They're ecstatic about getting it."
"Oh," Superboy said. "I kinda expected it would be kept in our Trophy Room."
"We thought about that," Lightning Lad said, "but then not many people would get to see it. Besides, it was your history long before it was ours. It belongs in the Superman Museum."
Superboy, finding himself more comfortable with his relationship to his future self, smiled. "Well, just so long as Brainy is through with it."
"He is," Cosmic Boy said. "He was so excited he was up all last night making 3D schematics and holo-records. This one is burned out completely, but he has everything he needs to build a working version, should the need ever arise."
"Let's hope it doesn't," Superboy said. He took a quick x-ray peek inside the container, then said, "I'm just glad I recognized it. I didn't tell you guys earlier, but I only found the box of Kryptonian weapons it came in last week. Uh, my last week. Anyway, the timing worked out just right, I suppose."
The three original Legionnaires looked at each other, chillingly aware of just how tenuous their victory had been. They turned at a noise from behind them, then stood aside as an exceptionally well-groomed and slightly out-of-breath Triplicate Girl rushed towards Superboy. She almost stumbled into him, then stopped and demurely reached out to shake his hand. The habit, Superboy noticed, seemed to be making a comeback.
"Bye, Superboy," Triplicate Girl said. "Thanks again for saving my life."
Superboy smiled. "Hey, that's what teammates are for," he said. He looked around to include everyone in his gaze, and added, "And we certainly make a great team."
"World's Finest," Cosmic Boy said obliquely, then grimaced as he received a gentle poke in the ribs from Saturn Girl.
Superboy just shook his head, released Triplicate Girl's hand with a smile, and floated skyward. "See you next month?" Cosmic Boy asked.
The young man from the past hung there for a moment, then said, "Definitely. And if Lex Luthor will stay in Reform School for a while, maybe even sooner." He paused for another moment, and glanced at Saturn Girl. "There is, you know, a lot to learn around here."
He paid his friends a final salute, then sped high into the atmosphere and beyond. In moments, he was out of their sight, and in a few moments more, out of their time. They watched him go, and then Triplicate Girl quickly hurried away. The original Legionnaires shook their heads and smiled in her wake.
"We're going to head on over to the museum, Imra," Cosmic Boy said. "Want to come along?"
"Sure," Saturn Girl said, and the trio activated their flight belts and took to the skies. When they'd climbed to a comfortable altitude, Cosmic Boy remarked, "Quite a weekend." After the others agreed with their friend and leader's understatement, he added, "You know, Mordru still scares the pants off of me. But I feel like we really accomplished something."
"You bet we did," Lightening Lad said. "We proved we can stand up to him. And thanks to Imra, now we know his weakness."
"Yeah," Cosmic Boy said. "And he doesn't know that we know. That may be all that saves us if we have to face him again." They flew a bit further, then Cosmic Boy noted, "That Superboy is really a great guy, isn't he? It's amazing how well he's fit in."
"It sure is," Lightening Lad remarked as he dodged a small bird.
"Just amazing," Saturn Girl said with a wry grin.
Soon, they touched down in the plaza in front of the Superman Museum. For several seconds, none of them moved. They just stood there and looked at the sprawling complex. No matter how many times you came here, it was said, a warm chill of awe and inspiration was the inevitable result.
It wasn't due, some also said, to not just what you saw here. Not just the exhibits devoted to Earth's greatest hero, and his friends, and comrades, and cousin, and dog, and descendents. Not just the pieces of actual Kryptonite. Not just the spacecraft reputed (and disputed) to be the one that had brought the young Supergirl to Earth. Not just the original Superman statue that had stood on this very site during the first incarnation of the Superman Museum. Not even the last known surviving Superman robot that would occasionally come down from his perch and wander among the visitors and tell increasingly inaccurate stories of a millennium past.
All these things were special, but they weren't what made this place special.
Rather, it was the sense of perseverance incarnated here. After six world wars, one very large natural disaster, twenty-nine alien invasions, and fifty-four assaults by various individuals named Luthor, this place still stood. Oh, not the original structure to be sure. The actual facilities and artifacts had been destroyed, and rebuilt, and lost, and rediscovered countless times. But in spite of this, or perhaps because of it, it wasn't the buildings, or even their contents, that truly mattered.
It was the spirit of this place.
Always, that endured.
The Legionnaires lingered a moment in silent contemplation, then looked at each other, and smiled almost in unison. "You know," Cosmic Boy said, "Violet is watching the Monitor Board. As soon as we drop off the projector, we have the rest of the afternoon free. Why don't we go do something?"
"Fine with me," Lightening Lad said. "Where do you want to go?"
The Legion's leader shrugged, his decisiveness spent for a while. "I don't know. Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know," the young man from Winath said. "Doesn't matter to me. What about you Imra?"
Saturn Girl pursed her lips in thought for a moment. Then a smile broke across her face. "You know how you never see the tourist attractions in your own town?"
"Sure," the boys said.
"Well," she said, "I propose we remedy that." Offering up an arm to each of her friends, she looked up at the golden statue straddling the entrance to myth, and legend, and yesterday.
"Gentlemen," she said, "take me to the Superman Museum. I want the grand tour."
The boys looked at each other, then laughed aloud.
As each of her friends took an arm, and they all began a stroll into the past, Saturn Girl said, "For some reason, I feel like catching up with an old friend."
|TOMORROW'S LESSON Copyright 2000 Samuel Hawkins.  All rights reserved. This story is neither authorized nor endorsed by DC Comics. Superboy, Clark Kent, Martha Kent, Jonathan Kent, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Colossal Boy, Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, Invisible Kid, Mordru the Merciless, Smallville, Metropolis, & Krypton are TM DC Comics & © DC Comics, Joanne Siegel, and Laura Siegel Larson.|