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[Archive] With This Ring (Young Justice SI) (Story Only)

Discussion in 'Story Archive' started by Mr Zoat, Jan 30, 2019.

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  1. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    06:53 GMT -5


    "I'm not letting the Reach win."

    "Okay, I thought you'd say that, but hear me out. If-."

    "I've spoken to Abra Kadabra. At length. I know what happens already. Or-"

    She shifts awkwardly.

    "-I know what would have happened except for my intervention. The Reach conquer Earth, take away metahumans for their metaweapon breeding programs and then eventually abandon the place once Larfleeze decides to eat them. Civilisations the Reach created go their own ways before eventually joining back up as the United Planets."

    "Kadab-? Wait, which one was he?"

    "The Flash villain? Pretends to be a magician? Turned him into a wooden puppet one time? I think he actually comes from further in the future than the Legion does."

    "So… You know."

    "So I know." I shrug. "Larfleeze has been disarmed and is undergoing therapy. Qward is in turmoil. The Orange Lantern Corps, the Darkstars and L.E.G.I.O.N. are making inroads into Reach controlled space. Events cannot happen in this timeline as they did in the one the… Legion appear to have come from."

    I give her an exaggerated shrug.

    "Sorry? Hard luck? This isn't something that can be fixed by Saturn Girl showing no respect for the sanctity of the consciousnesses of those around her. I've changed a lot of peoples' lives, yours not least amongst them."

    Actually…

    "No personal slight intended, but honestly, you're probably pretty close to being least amongst them. I mean, you missed the Sheeda invasion and I was in at the death on that one."

    "Oh. Well. Ah, okay. I guess I… I guess they thought I could talk you into… I don't know, easing off or something. But I guess we're, like… Really far beyond that."

    "Yes. Though as I understand it, the changes won't eliminate their present but rather create an alternate past where their history still happened so there's really nothing to worry about. So how long are you here for?"

    "Whow whow whow." She shakes her head. "I'm still not over you changing time."

    "Well it wasn't me personally. It was the combined effort of Time Trapper me, a giant tuning fork, a few hundred mes from parallel universes and a few hundred Jades. I'm sure at least one dated Mopey Arrow."

    "And you've checked nothing got… I don't know, broken?"

    "How would I do that? I can't return to Vanishing Point… Okay, I probably could; we've still got the time sphere in secure holding somewhere. Hopefully disassembled. But even if I got there I wouldn't know what I was looking at."

    She stares at me for a moment. Then she cautiously stands.

    "I… Should get going."

    "But I want to get an all-Supergirl group photograph!"

    "I should get going because this is way too crazy for me." She starts walking back towards the door, trips on her own feet and catches herself with her flying ability. "This is too crazy for me, and-"

    She pulls the door open.

    "-I need to check with someone-."

    FZZZZZ!

    The apartment's defensive shields flash into turquoise existence, a single grey bullet suspended in the air just in front of Dana's face.

    "Agh! Oh, it's just a-"

    I create a construct wall in front of her and construct-lasso her aside as the bullet bores its way though cruiser-grade shields and punches a crater in my construct!

    "-bullet-."

    Angle of fire… No, can't see anyone there. Nothing on visual perception, nothing on scan, nothing on empathic vision. Being in the middle of Gotham we're not exactly short on points that overlook the front door. Check cameras… No, they're designed for observing immediate surroundings rather than sniper perches.

    Ring, analysis of the bullet?

    Projectile entirely disintegrated. Novel energy field observed but did not last long enough for analysis.

    "Did you make any enemies in the future?"

    "Ah… Yeah?"

    "Do any of them have access to time machines? Other than Persuader."

    "I mean, Time Trapper? Ah… I don't think.. anyone else does?"

    "There's probably a new Time Trapper now, so I can't vouch for their behaviour. Did you recognise the projectile?"

    "No. I'm mean, I'm.. bulletproof. I've been shot by railguns and lasers and plasma before. There's no way that would have hurt me." She turns to look at me. "Right?"

    "That shield would stop any Earth-produced projectile weapon, including my crumbler rounds. There are truly indestructible things, but I imagine that you're merely very tough."

    I run a quick check on the shield emitters… Yes, they're fine. I then close the door, putting a new layer of armour between us and any attackers.

    "Is it generally known that you're not kryptonian?"

    "Ah-. Kind of. People just assume that I'm part-kryptonian."

    "That bullet wasn't kryptonite. I'm not sure what it was. Do you have a contact in this era?"

    "… No..?"

    "Contact them and let them know."

    "How do you know they weren't here for you?"

    "They didn't take a shot at me. I was visible when I opened the door to let you in."

    "So was I. I had my back to where that came from."

    "I don't spend much time here and I teleport everywhere. I hardly ever use the front door. Who knows that the Legion is worried about changes to the timeline?"

    "I… Ah. Think I need to call this in. Can..? I stay here for a little while?"

    "Sure. But I need to grab some people to start our investigation."
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2021
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  2. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    06:57 GMT -5


    The turrets deploy, and for a moment I'm worried-. Concerned-. Mildly annoyed to think that I'm going to have a repeat of the first time I did this.

    "Orange Lantern detected."

    And then they clunk back into their housing and the lights return to normal levels. Despite what Tim Burton might want you to believe, the batcave actually has perfectly normal levels of lighting most of the time. It doesn't have them at full daylight levels because Batman wants to be able to see at least somewhat if they either suddenly go out or he needs to go out into the night. He's perfectly capable of setting it up to match the day/night cycle outside, but… Unnecessary complexity? The zeta tube being able to deposit him somewhere at a different time of day?

    Eye strain?

    "Ah, Master Lantern."

    I nod politely at Mr. Pennyworth as he puts down the tool he was oiling.

    "Mister Pennyworth. Is Batman at home?"

    "I shall find out at once, sir. Might I presume to enquire why you are here?"

    "Someone took a shot at a friend of mine using a novel bullet. Also, I think we're about to come down with another time traveller infestation."

    "Most troubling, sir. Will you wait here, or shall I ask him to contact you directly?"

    "If it's no trouble, I'll wait."

    "Certainly, sir." He bows his head slightly, then heads for the stairs. "Please try to avoid getting between the gun turrets and the exhibitions; they've just been polished."

    "The guns or the exhibitions?"

    "Yes, sir."

    Huh. I take another look around as he heads up into Wayne Manor. Wards. Decent ones. I… Oh. I think I accidentally melted the inscription on that one. Take a… Moment to fix the physical aspect. There are a few places that are resisting my scans, but I'm seeing a lot of runic metal rather than something more primitive or off-the-shelf. He trusted someone to work on his cave's defences, but… Not Dr. Balewa, this isn't his style. I'd guess Mr. Zatara, which suggests that he's been using his convalescence…

    When was the last time I saw..?

    His convalescence to keep himself up to date on developments in thaumaturgy. Which is certainly a productive use of his time, though his natural abilities don't really require it.

    Uh, Thursday during school term. Most of the team is going to be busy, and it's not as if I've got any leads

    Ring, what's Dana doing?

    Because I doubt that someone that unprofessional and discombobulated is going to practice good communications discipline.

    A construct image appears in front of me, assembled from the various camera and monitoring devices in the flat. Huh, just realised that I didn't see her wearing a Legion flight ring. And I didn't see one on Chameleon Boy either. Does this version of the Legion not use them? It's actually quite hard to make a ring-sized device that lets people fly safely.

    "…even make sense? No, no, Rokk, I'm not worried about that. … Okay, maybe a bit. No, no, he's not going to do anything crazy."

    I bow my head slightly.

    "Shoot me himself? Why would he use a bullet?"

    Actually, that would have been a good idea, if I were simply trying to extract information. As it is, I'm prioritising avoiding Legion-related problems in the future over convenience today.

    "What did Brainy-? Can we-? Can we check, then? Because that sounds important. I mean, why am I even here?"

    Well, if your Brainiac is anything like mine, because he hates the idea of being outsmarted and won't be happy until he's defeated Time Trapper in some way and if it looks like Time Trapper has just quit the field he might go a little peculiar. I know that Dox would never accept his father just quitting, but I don't know what actual relationship… I want to say… Quirrell? Dox, has with Vril. They're supposed to be from a thousand years in the future, so I doubt he can just be my Dox's great grandson.

    "Yeah, I can-. I can probably get the Atomic Axe. They can't even use it, and they'll see that it's better if it's not in the same era as Persuader. … I don’t know, do we really want him back? No, because this isn't our-. Your past any more. … How would I even test that?"

    "Orange Lantern?"

    I glance around and nod at Batman-. No, no costume. Marriage has really mellowed him out. As Bruce walks down into the cave.

    "Just spying on a woman who really should have realised that I'd have monitoring equipment in my home. Ring, what do the internal sensors say about where she's calling?"

    "No phenomena associated with time travel detected."

    "They're in this era? Interesting."

    "Unable to determine."

    "What happened?"

    I flick a ball of orange light towards the main computer, causing-. Causing the ball to fizzle just before it arrives.

    "I like your defences."

    "Thank you. What happened?"

    He thanked me first?

    "Remember Dana Dearden?"

    "The author of a series of ill-advised and poorly-written opinion pieces on the team."

    "That's the one. Just after that mess with Rip Hunter got sorted out, she went to the future with me and a group called the Legion of Superheroes."

    "Then why am I hearing about it now?"

    That was a bit Batmany.

    "Because after-. Actually, I'm not sure if 'after' is the term. Once they finished with me, they erased the part of time where it happened. All I remember is feeling mildly confused for a moment after leaving the Hall of Justice. Dana on the other hand stayed there for a few years."

    "Why is she back?"

    "Because their old team leader thinks I'm destroying their future and has got a bit obsessed."

    "No. Why her?"

    "Ah. Established relationship? Familiarity with this era? They're from the thirtieth century, after the Reach burned the Earth to the ground. Their records of this period aren't great. And hey: this is a great chance for you to confirm everything Kadabra and I have been saying about the future."

    I reach out with a cable supported by a filament and plug it into the computer's sheep dip compartment, transferring all of my recordings over.

    "I can probably keep her safe, but my scans revealed nothing helpful."

    He nods. "I'll start an investigation. Send me any new data she provides. Where will you take her?"

    "I'll take her to KordTech. That should be safe enough, and we can say hello to Kara on the way."

    I raise my right hand to my-.

    Ah.

    "Thank you."

    He nods as he heads towards where the costumes are stored. "You're welcome."
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2021
  3. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    08:02 GMT -5


    "Oh." Kara blinks, stepping back into her apartment. "Hey Paul. And-. Oh."

    "Morning, Kara. This is-."

    Dana waves. "Hey, I'm-."

    Kara nods, a strained smile on her face. "Another Supergirl."

    I grin. "I know. One more and I get a free one. I'm hoping for Cir-El."

    Kara frowns. "But-? Cir-El isn't even a Kryptonian name. Do you know a Kryptonian with that name?"

    "One of my parallel universe doppelgängers met her."

    That's a great general excuse for knowing things that I shouldn't know, and I intend to use it for everything.

    "Nice girl. Has an ongoing grudge against Brainiac, which is perfect for me."

    "Okay. Ah, why are you here?"

    "Someone just took a shot at her with a bullet that looked like it might have actually hurt her. And if it could hurt her then it might be able to hurt you and I wanted to check that you're not still using-."

    "No, no, no I'm not. I've been getting more used to using my abilities, and… When I.. fought against the Sheeda, I… I think I found out why Kal does it."

    "Wait, you weren't-" Dana frowns. "-a superhero?"

    "No, I'm-. Look, do you want to come in?"

    I nod. "Thank you."

    She retreats into the kitchen, and Dana and I follow her. Dana's looking around more than I am; Kara hasn't changed much since I last visited but I suppose that from Dana's point of view this place is an important historical artefact.

    "This isn't the right place."

    Or possibly not.

    "I thought you'd stopped worrying about that."

    Kara retakes her position at the kitchen table and looks at me.

    "Stopped worrying about what?"

    "I'm from the future, and some people there want Paul to stop changing history."

    "I didn't think you were changing history."

    "You weren't supposed to get out of the asteroid yet."

    She blinks, frowning at Dana. "Was I..? Supposed to die?"

    "No! No, not die." Dana frowns. "Why would you die in a suspended animation pod?"

    "Because it was heavily damaged and leaking while stuck in a kryptonite asteroid."

    "It was?"

    Kara looks at me. "Is this why you get annoyed when people from the future don't know who you are?"

    "At least they've heard of you!"

    "I've heard of both of you. And I.. don't actually think it matters that you got out a little early."

    "'Don't actually think it matters'-. Do you know what that sort of kryptonite exposure can do to a kryptonian brain, to say nothing of starvation and oxygen deprivation?!"

    "It didn't look like you had any problems in the videos I saw."

    "The videos that survived the Reach occupation and the centuries it took to rebuild civilisation?"

    "No, the videos that got recovered from Reach intelligence databases after the restoration. They wanted to know how kryptonian bodies worked, and there's only so much you can learn from-. Ah."

    "From?"

    "The Reach conquered the Earth. What do you think happened to the defenders?"

    Kara regards Dana quizzically. "So in this future I got brain damaged and died? I think I prefer this timeline."

    "It doesn't matter because it's not happening-."

    "And why do none of the other Supergirls dress like Kryptonians?"

    "Because none of them are actually from Krypton. Their first exposure to Kryptonian dress was Kal-El's costume."

    She smiles wryly. "It's a little depressing to think that our lasting contribution to galactic culture will be Kal-El's pyjamas."

    My eyes widen.

    "No."

    She looks at me. "Wait, you didn't know that?"

    "It's not like he tells people. I thought the Ophidian and I were doing fashion a service by hiding his trunks."

    Dana blinks. "That's-. I'm wearing kryptonian pyjamas?"

    "That's more a.. swimsuit. And that's not what the House El sigil looks like."

    "Maybe it is when someone with-" Dana puts her hands to her breasts and presses slightly. "-my figure wears it."

    "I can do spatial warp calculations in my head. I accounted for your mammographic topography; it's still wrong."

    "Ladies, you're both very pretty. If we could return to the assassination?"

    "Are you sure they weren't aiming for you?"

    Dana nods. "That's what I said."

    "The round pierced the force field but not my construct barrier. Anyone aiming at a Lantern would either have a way to get through their construct defences or use overwhelming force. Kryptonians don’t usually wear exotic shields but do have innate organic force fields."

    "A round? Was it supersonic?"

    "No."

    "Then I can just catch it or dodge?"

    "It didn’t make significant noise until it hit the shield, so you might not hear it in time."

    "I can hear things humans can't." She closes her eyes for a moment and shakes her head. "What would you like me to do?"

    "Stay off the streets as much as possible and wear a protective ward. A shielding ward, rather than an anti-magic ward. Something that people on the surface don’t know how to bypass yet. Dana and I are going to investigate, but I'd like to know that you're safe."

    "I can do that." She regards Dana for a moment. "So what was the dead future me supposed to have done?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2021
  4. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    08:51 GMT -5


    "…is where we keep one of the machines that are supposed to stop people from parallel universes appearing."

    Ted gestures to the unimpressive looking device, quietly humming in a secure part of the building. They'd barely finished rebuilding from the angel attack before the Sheeda took a swing at the place, but with the US's internal market more or less functional bringing the building up to specification wasn't too difficult.

    Dana doesn't look too impressed.

    "That's it?"

    "Yeah?" Ted glances at me, but I just shrug. "What's wrong with it?"

    "Nothing. I was just expecting something… Bigger."

    Ted nods. "With green lightning and Tesla coils, right? I know, I know, I wanted to put those in, too. Paul vetoed it."

    "Ted, the rule was very simple. What was it?"

    "I don't think-."

    "What was it, Ted?"

    He looks away, shifting awkwardly. "No mad science."

    "And what happened last time?"

    "An… Invisible cyborg monkey. I don't… Really see how a purely decorative coil of.. wire could do anything like that, but-."

    "Magnetic fields interfering with the device. Sparks. Falling over. But that doesn't matter because it's Mad Science and so you're not doing it."

    Ted folds his arms across his chest. "Says the man who fed fruit from the Garden of Eden to a couple of demons."

    "There's a difference between 'mad' and 'strange'."

    "So this is..?" Dana stares at the device. "This is all that's stopping parallel universe from invading our reality?"

    "No, of course not. The Justice League alone has seven of these, and we shared the design with every UN Security Council permanent member."

    "And we've got another disassembled one to study. Which is not mad science."

    "No, that's just good practice."

    "So Earth's safe?"

    "Earth's safe from anyone not sufficiently cleverer than us. The shield isn't perfect, has a finite range and… It can be bypassed by going back in time to before we built them."

    "I don't think they have these in the future."

    "You can have the design too, if you want. Though if humanity is more spread out I suppose it's less of a concern."

    "Isn't it more of a concern when there's more people?"

    "No, because-"

    "Incoming message."

    "-losing one planet doesn't end the species." I raise my left hand to my left ear. "Illustres here."

    "Hawkman. Are you expecting any Orange Lantern Corps-affiliated starships to arrive today?"

    "No, they should all be over in Alignment space. Are we getting a visitor?"

    "Yes. And according to our sensors, it's kryptonian."

    "I definitely don't have any kryptonian ships. I mean, I know a man in Vega who was offering a bounty on kryptonians and kryptonian artefacts, but I don't think he managed to acquire any ships. How big is it?"

    "It is the same size as Kal-El's pod."

    "A delayed survivor?"

    "Perhaps. Given the condition of Kara Zor-El's ship I do not think that it is likely, but it is possible."

    "An… Adult who modified their pod so that they could fly around in it in adulthood?"

    "My first thought was that it would contain a-"

    The door is removed from its hinges as Kara runs into the room at super speed, catching it before it can hit Ted in the face.

    "-warhead."

    She looks at me, eyes slightly wide and Ted breathes in and edges around the ersatz projectile. "Kryptonian?"

    "Yes. Sorry, Hawkman, Kara just arrived. Have you told Kal-El?"

    "It would take Kal-El half an hour to reach it, and he would want to examine it at close range."

    "Okay. Give me five minutes, then tell him."

    "That may be for the best. It is approaching from the direction of Krypton."

    Krypton is… That way.. and I see it.

    "I have it. Speak to you-"

    Kara appears in front of me. "Take me with you."

    "-in a few minutes." I lower my hand. "That's not a good idea. If it's a trap of some kind-."

    "Then I'm a kryptonian."

    "Tough, but hardly immortal. When we dug you out you were insensible, and while whoever this is probably won't be quite that badly off, they might be. It's been a long delay. If you go to the Fortress of Solitude, I'll take them there if there's nothing untoward happening."

    She doesn't look entirely convinced.

    "A power ring will make sure they can understand me and everyone knows what Lanterns are. I understand that you're excited, but it's a bad idea."

    She looks away. "Okay. Yeah.. yeah, you're right." Her eyes alight on Ted, and then on the door in her hand. "Uh. Sorry."

    "It's just a door."

    I step out, homing in on the bundle of desires in the outer system before

    returning to the material universe and disrupting the pod's drive, arresting its acceleration. It clearly has a different design to the pods I've seen before. It's shaped more like a rocket, and there's no way to see in-.

    The pod door snaps open, and I immediately extend a shield around it and fill it with breathable air.

    "Are you alright? Please-."

    "Don't worry! I'm alive without a scratch!"

    A blue shape-.

    And that's five!

    "I'm Kara Zor-El from the planet Krypton." She looks around, frowning. "I didn't think Earth would be this dark."
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2021
  5. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2011
    08:52 GMT -5


    I want to ask 'Is this really necessary?', but given that I ended up pissing blood after last time I spoke during this part I think I'll hold my tongue.

    And anyway, I know that it's not. Manacled wrist and ankles and with a bag over my head, all I can do is shuffle along as directed. To be fair, the soldiers who escort me are usually 'reasonable' about that part; any defiance is met with a beating, but they don't hit you for failing to comply faster than you physically can.

    This time.

    "Halt."

    I stop. It's been a while since GCSE German, but I think that's what he wants.

    No part of my body is exposed, but the slight change in air pressure pushes the material of the bag slightly and I feel that. A door opening.

    A slight tap to the back and I start moving again, the echo… A small room. As expected, I'm led forwards, turned and then sat down. There's a clicking, chinking noise as my ankle manacles are attached to the floor, then the manacles holding my forearms together are released so that my arms can be attached to the chair's arm rests.

    A cheeky 'danke schoen' at this point is not wise.

    "Danke. Wegtreten."

    I recognise that voice. One more day with all of my remaining teeth intact. Wonderful. I hear the guards who escorted me march out. The doors here are muffled so I don't hear it close, but I do hear the sound of footsteps cut off.

    And then the bag is pulled free, and joy of joys the light isn't blinding.

    "Prisoner."

    Strange that a man who has spent so much time in America still has such a pronounced accent.

    "Overman. How may I be of service?"

    Because if vanishing from my world wasn't enough, I appeared on one where the Nazis won the Second World War. And they are rather thin skinned about being called 'Nazis'.

    Overman himself is actually not that bad. The Second World War was effectively over while he was still a teenager, so I can hardly blame him for how things turned out.

    I didn't actually notice that there were literally no black people around until Doll Man pointed it out to me.

    "I have thought about what you said."

    I just about manage to shrug. I think these seats were made for people a great deal stronger than me, and I can't get a lot of motion out of my shoulders.

    "Could you be more specific? I have said a great many things in chairs like this."

    "The state of the world. Your thoughts on how mankind naturally divides itself in whatever way seems logical, and then fights amongst itself."

    "Absent a unifying ideology, yes. I doubt that the first generation fascists would recognise what your society is now, even if they weren't displeased with it."

    "An enemy outside and an enemy inside."

    "People are easier to convince to take radical action when they feel threatened. If you want to arrest your political opponents, it's easier if people believe that there are people living around them working to destroy the things they value. Even if it's only a simpleton trying to burn down a public building."

    He looks at me impassively.

    "I thought that you had learned to be more careful with your words. If I was Leatherwing, you would have lost another tooth."

    "If you were Leatherwing, I wouldn't be bothering. You want something. From me."

    "Even so…"

    "Leatherwing didn't hit me because I was incautious. He hit me because I couldn't tell him what he wanted to know. Everything else was a rationalisation." I shake my head. "I don't-."

    "I am ordering your release."

    I blink.

    "What?"

    "You are right. You do not know anything. You broke a few minor laws that you did not know existed, and which are only there to make people afraid to step out of line. If it were not for your ring, you would not be here now."

    "I assume that I'm not getting it back."

    "No. But you were right when you warned us about its negative mental effects. That was what finally convinced Leatherwing to stop opposing your release."

    "Ah, thank you. I rather assumed that he'd just have me shot."

    Overman nods. "He eased off when I made it clear that I valued your input. My… Speech to the Reichsmen has made several people in the upper levels of the Party uncomfortable. They are making sure not to press me over minor matters."

    "May I ask why I'm chained up? Are you afraid that I'll break my knuckles on your face?"

    "I am concerned that someone might use the fact that you are unbound as an excuse to shoot you. The paperwork is still being processed. Once it is complete, you will be a citizen of the Kingdom of Britain. Until then, you are a prisoner."

    I nod. "Do you..? Want to tell me what the speech was?"

    "It concerned… Some thoughts I had concerning the Reich. The events of the post-war period."

    "The genocide."

    "Genos..? Ah." He nods. "From the Greek. 'Tribe-killing'."

    "And… What did you say about it?"

    "I said that I bitterly regretted it."

    I frown. "I… Didn't think that you… Personally…"

    He shakes his head.

    "They killed a great many people. 'Enemies of the state', I was told. I put it from my mind, as you said. Other people were moved into ghettos. Most of the killing happened when I was away from the Earth. Even I cannot hear through vacuum."

    I nod. "And what do you want to do about it?"

    "I want to free a talkative Englischer who knows what modern society is when it is not formed by the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei."

    "Right, but… Do you want to talk about reform to your civilisation, or..? Something more extreme?"

    He looks me directly in the eyes-. No, higher. Forehead? Is he planning on using heat vision on me, or is he looking at the patterns of activity in my brain?

    "What do you mean by that?"

    "I remember hearing in a history documentary about a letter Hitler wrote to a party official who was trying to get promoted to head of his local party office. Hitler told him that if he was certain that he had majority support, he should 'just take over'. Social Darwinism was a big thing in the Party back then. You're the strongest man on the planet, and you're popular with every generation since the war."

    "Not with everyone."

    "Uncle Sam is insane. Speaking from personal experience, there."

    "They are told that the 'cleansing' was a harsh necessity that their grandparents undertook for their benefit. They do not see it as I do."

    Like Leatherwing, a man whose grandfather once said that if it was known that he compared Hitler to an ape, 'no chimpanzee would ever speak to me again'. But what am I supposed to say to Overman about it?

    "So are we looking for peaceful reform..? Or are we looking for a time machine?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  6. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    05:56 GMT -8


    "Hah!"

    We're standing in the living area of the Fortress of Solitude and Kara and Kara are staring at each other, Kara confused and Kara excited.

    "Hah hah hah hah!"

    "Hi!" The newcomer sticks out her hand, and my considerable exposure to super speed allows me to detect that she does so at faster-than-human speeds. "I'm Kara Zor-El!"

    "Yes, me too." Kara takes Kara's hand and gives it a small shake as the expression of puzzlement spreads from Kara to Kara.

    "Hahahaha."

    New Kara's expression is far less subdued than old Kara's, head tilting, brow furrowing and mouth opening as she tries to frame a question.

    Old Kara beats her to it.

    "Paul, what's going on?"

    "Unless your father was messing around with cloning, I'd guess that she's from a parallel universe. There's a lot of that going around."

    New Kara looks shocked. "Cloning! That's illegal, and completely immoral! Daddy would never have anything to do with that! And what do you mean, parallel universe?"

    "You're both Kara Zor-El, daughter of Zor-El and Allura In-Ze. And given that I tracked-."

    New Kara gives her head a small shake. "Allura."

    "I'm sorry?"

    "Kryptonians are patrilineal. Women stop using the name of their house when they marry. So unless you were specifically talking about genealogy, you shouldn't use it."

    "Ah. Well, thank you, I'll bear that in mind."

    Old Kara roils slightly. "What is this, Bizarro Krypton? Mom used her full name-."

    "No, if it was Bizarro Krypton she'd have chalk white skin, and-." I raise my eyebrows. "Was your Krypton cuboid?"

    "No?"

    "And she didn't mean 'yes' when she said that, so she's not a Bizarro."

    "You're using it as a proper noun. 'Bizarro' is a thing?"

    "If you clone a kryptonian incorrectly, they tend to come out with certain predictable congenital flaws. Mitchell was probably going to end up like that if we hadn't helped him."

    New Kara's hands go to her mouth as her eyes widen in shock.

    "You're cloning kryptonians?!"

    "Not me personally, but there have been a few attempts made. They're fine, and the project has been shut down. Also, tone that attitude down when you meet them, will you? They're good guys."

    She immediately looks guilty.

    "So as I was saying, I tracked this- " I gesture to Old Kara. "-Kara's pod from out Krypton to the asteroid it ended up in, so she's almost certainly the native one. So I'm going to try and work out how you got here, and once we know you can decide to stay here or go back. Any questions?"

    "Where's Kal?"

    "I asked Hawkman to give me five minutes, so he's probably -"

    "Recognized, Superman, zero one, Overgirl, B two three."

    "-heading here now. Though going back to the cloning thing, given that there's a bit of a shortage of kryptonians at the moment, I wouldn't dismiss it so quickly if you want to resurrect your species."

    Kal-El walks in, and I can tell from how his eyes are focusing that he's making use of his full visual spectrum. Angelika comes in just after him, favouring me with a small smile.

    New Kara looks slightly puzzled by Kal-El. "Ah. Yes, another universe. You are definitely not my Kal-El. And… You're another me?"

    "No, I am not."

    New Kara sags. "This is getting so confusing."

    "Angelika is one of two survivors of Nazi attempts to merge human and kryptonian physio-."

    "Ooh! Nazis!"

    The four of us… Stare at the suddenly excited New Kara.

    Angelika shifts awkwardly. "This excites you?"

    "Aren't they the most evil humans ever?"

    "Technically, no, but I understand what you mean. Why does that excite you?"

    "Then fighting them is the most heroic thing-" There's a blur, and then she's lying lengthways in the air with Kal-El's hand on the top of her head stopping her from flying any further. "-we could do?"

    "Calm down, Kara." She tilts her head up to look at him and his hand ends up covering her face. "Angelika's here from a parallel universe. There aren't any Nazis…"

    His eyes flick my way. I give my head a small shake.

    "On this Earth."

    "Are the other two coming?"

    Angelika frowns. "Other two?"

    Recognized, Supergirl, B two zero."

    "Noriel and Dana? Dana Dearden came back from the future this morning having joined the Legion of Superheroes under the name Supergirl. We have five Supergirls now."

    "That is a surprising number. Individually, the arrival of each one makes sense, but-" Angelika looks at New Kara. "-I think there is something strange happening for us to have this many."

    Noriel enters the room from the direction of the zeta tube, a flaming aura faintly visible around her.

    "This many what?"

    "Supergirls."

    "Mxyzptlk?"

    Kal-El shakes his head. "No, I've still got another week. And if it was him, they'd all turn up at once. He's not a very patient imp."

    "Anyone know of anyone else with a motive?"

    Kal-El thinks for a moment. "I.. don't suppose these appearances could be linked to the fact that the Legion thinks that you've changed their history, could they?"

    "I don't see how. None of the various mes privileged their own parallel when we were working on the problem."

    Kara frowns as Kara floats back out of Kal-El's grip and lands on the floor.

    "Didn't you say that Nylor Truggs came from their era?"

    "Yes?"

    "Do you remember what happened to him?"

    Do I..?

    "No. I don't. Why don't we ask Dana what happened to him and go from there?"

    New Kara jumps for joy!

    "Yay Team Supergirl!"
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2021
  7. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:03 GMT -5


    Dana looks around the semicircle of assembled Supergirls.

    "Another one?"

    "Hey!" New Kara raises her right hand and waves, smiling brightly.

    "Yep. That's five. I'll take my free one now, please."

    New Kara frowns at me. "Free?"

    Angelika nods. "It is a common promotion in American cafés. Each time you buy, they stamp a card, and when you complete the card your next is free."

    "But he doesn't own us."

    I nearly make a 'what consenting adults do in private' comment, but I'm not sure that she'd get it, and I suspect that I'd be asked to explain it until we both became mortified.

    "No. I was merely trying to derive humour from a strange situation. I do not own you, nor would I expect to own the next Supergirl who turned up, assuming that one did."

    "Okay. As long as we're clear that slavery is bad." She zips forward into Dana's personal space. "Hello, I'm Kara!"

    "Ah, hi? Paul, what's going on?"

    "I was joking earlier, but we just acquired another Supergirl. I'm a little worried about how many times this can happen before we get an evil Supergirl."

    That gets Old Kara's attention. "Are there a lot of evil Supergirls?"

    Angelika awkwardly looks away, and I just as awkwardly look away from her. Which is a bit unfair as I don't think that she ever did anything evil. But… Yeah.

    "I'd have said 'no', but I've been to a parallel where there was an Evil Mary Marvel. And if there's an evil version of her, then I can only assume."

    Noriel sits down against the far wall, arms folded across her chest. "Why am I here?"

    "If there is something that is bringing us here, then it is not limited to different versions of Kara Zor-El." Angelika shrugs. "I was made with genetic material taken from-."

    New Kara's eyes widen. "You're a clone?!"

    "Kara…"

    "Ah..." She visibly squirms. "I mean… You're a clone?"

    "No, I was born human and had Karl's… Ah, Kal-El's, genetic material added to me by a virus."

    "So it's like you're his daughter?"

    "Yes." Angelika nods. "Somewhat like that."

    "That's completely different!" She spots me staring blankly at her. "Not that there would be anything wrong if it wasn't, but… It… Is."

    "Nylor Truggs, Dana."

    "What about him?"

    "What happened to him?"

    She frowns. "How do you remember that? It shouldn't have happened for you."

    "Remember what, Dana?"

    "You d-? Oh, damn it!"

    New Kara looks at her sternly. "That's a naughty word. As a superhero and more importantly as a Supergirl, you need to set a better example."

    "Who is she?"

    "Kara-? Is it just Kara?"

    "Not until I get married."

    "I still can't believe that's actually how it works where you're from."

    "Kara Zor-El. You know how this is parallel sixteen?"

    "I… Think I remember someone saying that."

    "She probably comes from somewhere else."

    Though her mannerisms do spark a memory. Is this the Earth One Supergirl? The one who… Tried pushing the Earth out of the way of an asteroid manually in one of the more recent comics where her appearance was never really explained? Who was killed by the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis?

    I mean… I knew that the main canon DC universe was out there somewhere, I just… Assumed that I wouldn't have to go anywhere near it.

    I'm… Actually a little worried now.

    "But Truggs. What happened with Truggs?"

    "We-. They picked him up first. He was kinda obvious. He spilled his guts right away. He seemed to think that the whole mess was funny. At the time, the Legion didn't know whether all of the changes they picked up was you or him. He was the obvious source, but… He wasn't actually connected to a lot of things that had happened."

    "I thought he was from before the Legion's era."

    "No. It's the same era. It's just… Earth? It-."

    "Is a backwater far from the centre of human civilisation. A Thanagarian protectorate, and not part of the United Planets."

    "No, it's an actual part of the Thanagarian Empire. They've got a governor and everything. As far as we can tell, he stole the H-Dial he used to come back in time from a Legion vault."

    "So they've still got him."

    "Ah… No. What we did to erase… Your time in the future, that meant that he had to go back too."

    "So he doesn't remember what happened in the future either."

    "He shouldn't."

    "Are your colleagues at least tracking him?"

    "They were, but he's got plenty of friends in this era and he's really good at getting away."

    New Kara perks up. "Have you got a picture of him?"

    I shrug. "Yes." I use my ring to generate a hologram projector construct and create a three dimensional full colour hologram of Nylor Truggs. "That's what he looked like last time I saw-."

    There's a blast of air, and she's gone.

    Darn it.

    "I'll get after her. Everyone else-."

    Angelika nods.

    "I think that we should come."
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  8. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:11 GMT -5


    "Hey..!"

    Kara is glaring at the man hanging from where her right hand grips his jacket.

    "I didn't do it!"

    "Didn't… Do… What?"

    "Whatever got you pissed off!"

    Okay, he does look quite a lot like Nylor, but the face beneath the beard isn't quite the right shape, the hair's too long, and the DNA and mind state are completely wrong.

    "Supergirl, that's not him."

    She cranes her neck to get a closer look, narrowing her eyes at him as he grins and nods.

    "Are you sure?"

    "Fairly sure. I mean, Mister Williams doesn't even have any outstanding warrants at the moment."

    I'm going to ignore the small packet of dried hallucinogenic plant in his back pocket, because it probably came from Swamp Thing and so is safe in the conventional sense of the term. Puking up your own lungs, no. Profound revelations about the world and your place in it, maybe.

    Kara frowns slightly as she puts him down.

    "Though if you don't mind me asking, Mister Williams, what brings you this far north?"

    "Brazil. Not all-." He straightens his jacket and clears his throat. "All that many people in the US of A know much of anything about magic plants, and I guess my name came up since the big guy wasn't answering. Ah… You know who I am?"

    "I've had the pleasure of meeting Swamp Thing on several occasions. Who exactly called you up?"

    "The Senate Foreign Relations committee. Normally I'd try to avoid the federal government, but I figure that if they hear me out they're less likely to try anything stupid."

    Kara narrows her eyes suspiciously.

    "I can see your brain."

    He shifts awkwardly. "Hey, a guy's gotta live. It's not shilling if all I'm doing is telling the man to stop being the man."

    "No, that sounds entirely legitimate. I'd much rather the US didn't nuke Brazil. Keep up the good work. Supergirl, might I have a moment of your time?"

    "Of course!"

    She turns her head upwards and starts to rise off the ground.

    "But is there something that you'd like to say to Mister Williams first?"

    "Oh." She nods. "Yes." She raises her right fist to her mouth. "A-hem."

    She looks directly at him, her expression completely serious.

    "Take a bath, hippy."

    And then she shoots into the air.

    Mister Williams watches her go with his mouth slightly open.

    "What was that about?"

    "I'm sorry, she's.. only just arrived on Earth. You look a little like a man we're looking for, and she mistook you for him. Have a nice day."

    I transition up to where New Kara is staring into the distance, her eyes searching for Nylor Truggs. Or possibly a Republican rally, though I imagine that Senator Knight can win this without her help.

    "Kara, I don't know how you did things on Krypton, but on Earth it's considered impolite to pick people up, insult them and then leave."

    "But he smells weird!"

    Oh. Right. Super smell.

    "I'm afraid that on Earth, 'smelling weird' is not an excuse for treating people like that. I appreciate that super senses can take a little getting used to-."

    She frowns, her eyes moving from the distance to me.

    "You don't smell at all."

    "Environmental shield. No chemicals are leaving my body, and the environmental shield doesn’t interact chemically with the air around me. If I took my rings off I would smell similarly strange to you."

    She wrinkles her nose. "Uuuuuugh."

    "Are you having a problem? I could create some sort of nose shield-."

    "No, I'm okay." She exhales sharply. "I really thought I had him."

    "Nylor hasn't remained at liberty by being easy to detect. Though… How good is your vision?"

    "If I focus really hard, I can see your DNA molecules. But it looks like that means I smell and hear everything, too."

    "Nylor's got a lot of bio-mods from the future. He should be the only person on the planet who does."

    She shrugs. "Yes, but I don't know what they look-." She cuts herself off and points into the distance, perking up at once. "Is that him?"

    Ring?

    "No."

    Her face falls, then perks up again. "Is that him?"

    "No."

    "Darn it! Oh, how about that?"

    "Kara, I appreciate your eagerness, but I don't think this approach is going to work. There are several billion humans on the planet, and-"

    "That one?"

    "-you-. No, and you won't be able to see them all. You can't see through lead or other dense materials, and I wouldn't be surprised if Nylor had some sort of magic disguise by now."

    Below and well behind us, the other Supergirls are catching up.

    "If detecting Nylor was easy, he wouldn't have escaped from the Legion and he wouldn't have dodged the Justice League for so long."

    "But-!" She sags. "Okay. Do you know how we can find him?"

    "If I knew-."

    Hang on.

    "Exactly how good is your hearing?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2021
  9. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:19 GMT -5


    I shrug as another possible number goes to an answering machine.

    "Oh well. It was worth-."

    "Connection made to monitored phone line."

    I raise my eyebrows and Old Kara frowns, unable to believe that it was that simple. New Kara on the other hand closes her eyes completely.

    "Answer."

    "Hey Paul."

    "Good morning, Nylor."

    "How you been?"

    "Gosh, it's been a while, hasn't it?"

    "Lonely. You don't call, you don't write… Not like I gave you a forwarding address."

    "I died again. The Reach managed to get hold of some qwa-matter."

    "Ah, I've heard of that stuff. Pretty powerful. But here you are."

    "Here I am. The war's going in line with expectations; the Reach are being pushed inwards and they're losing Scarabs at a satisfactory rate."

    "Always makes me smile."

    Dana frowns. "Are you..? Two..? Dating?"

    I roll my eyes and shake my head. "Hey, do you remember Dana Dearden?"

    "Heh, 'This is live?' girl?" Dana rolls her eyes. "Yeah, I remember her. Something happen?"

    "Back when we had that problem with Eliminations, Inc. Do you remember some of your memories being… Disjointed?"

    "Enough hits t' the head an' yah get used to it. … I remember. Something happen yah wanna tell me about?"

    "Apparently, we were both briefly guests of the Legion of Superheroes in a patch of time that got erased afterwards. I don't remember it, and I assume that you don’t either."



    "They caught me?"

    "That's what alarms you about it? We had-."

    "I knew they were going t' come for me. Thought I was ready for them."

    "If it helps, Dana told me that you got away from them, so maybe it worked. But this sounds believable to you?"

    "In one of your interviews, you said that orange power rings give people what they want. You also said you had a perfect memory. I could see you calling me up if someone made you forget something. Maybe."

    "The Legion isn't happy with me, either."

    "Are you telling me you actually are a time traveller?"

    "No. And-. Wait, did I ever explain to you that I changed the structure of time so that alternate pasts and futures can exist?"

    "N-. W-? Y-. … How?"

    "Vanishing Point, Krona the ex-Guardian, giant temporal tuning forks. So while your future is still the same, this future can be something different."

    "That-. I need a moment here. Ah, so you're telling me that changing the past doesn't matter, because the present would stay the same, and all you're doing is creating an alternate timeline."

    "I think… Minor things get incorporated, so you could go back and hide something, then return to your original present and find it. But for big things, yes. It's an energy calculation."

    "Okay, that doesn't-. I don’t think it changes what I'm doing. I mean, if we're going to improve humanity's future, it's a good thing we're not erasing a future that already exists to do it, right?"

    "That was my thinking, but apparently Quirrell Dox has got a bit of a thing about us, and-."

    "I'm sorry, who?"

    "Quirrell Dox? Brainiac Five? Formerly leader of the Legion of Superheroes?"

    "His name is 'Querl'. Querl Dox."

    I frown and look at Dana, who takes a moment to notice and then nods.

    "Oh. I must have misremembered."

    New Kara opens her eyes slightly, squinting at me.

    "Making me think I should take back what I said about perfect memory. Or is it only-."

    "Perfect for anything that happened while I was wearing my rings, because-."

    "Because you can't reconstruct a memory that isn't all there, yah?"

    "So if you see any Legion members around the place, let me know and I’ll send them on their way. Also… Bit of a silly thing, but you wouldn't have anything to do with all of the Supergirls, would you?"

    "Ah? Supergirls?"

    "Yes, we've been getting a lot of them and we don't really know why?"

    "Parallel universe Supergirls?"

    "One is, but the rest-"

    New Kara's eyes open wide.

    "Found him."

    "-are other women who happen to use the name."

    There's a rush of displaced air as New Kara disappears, and Angelika activates a Justice League issue computer so that she can track her.

    "What's that got t' do with me?"

    "I'm just trying to eliminate you from my enquiries. I mean, if it's not you then I've got to try and get in touch with Ambush-."

    "Ghk!"

    "Ambush Bug. See you shortly."

    Angelika shows me her screen. "It cannot detect her exact location, but her last known location is here."

    "I'll set up a zeta tube when I arrive."

    I step out

    and reappear… Hm, yes, it's obvious where Kara went. Have to make sure that the road is still structurally sound later. I'm picking up runic patterns and.. novel materials that are disrupting more mundane scans. I accelerate, following Kara's path until I emerge in a… Mad science warehouse, seeing Nylor dangling from Kara's hand.

    "Can I pick him up like this?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2021
  10. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:23 GMT -5


    "Yes, yes you can."

    I generate a zeta tube construct and ping the system.

    "Recognised, Overgirl, B two three."

    I walk a little closer to him and smile.

    "Hello, Nylor. Keeping busy I see."

    "Khhhhrk. Khhhhrk."

    "Oh, knock it off. Your neck's as tough as the rest of you, and she's from Krypton."

    "Why am I here, criminal!"

    Nylor holds his arms out to the side, and I swiftly denude him of anything that looks even vaguely threatening. Nehru jacket, gone. Runic bracers, gone. Radio, gone. Radio implant, removed.

    "Hey!"

    "Recognised, Supergirl, B two zero."

    Armoured undershirt, gone. Charms and pendants-

    "Ow!"

    -one of which heats up when a construct makes contact, reddening his skin where it touches.

    "If by some dark miracle you're acquitted, all of your possessions will be returned to you."

    "'Dark' miracle? I don't move in those circles. You look better when you're not fat and horny."

    "Recognised, Kara Zor-El, A four five."

    "Thank you. I definitely prefer the full beard you have now to the moustache you had when we first met."

    New Kara turns her head and gives me a puzzled look.

    "It's a British thing; full set or clean shaven and nothing in between. So Nylor, mind telling me what you were doing here, with special attention to anything that I need to stop while you are absent?"

    "Ah, I plead the fifth?"

    "You can do that, but I will warn you that it may harm your defence if you fail to mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court."

    "Ah, pretty sure this is America."

    "Well, they say that jurors shouldn't make any inference from someone pleading the fifth, but do you think that's what actually happens?"

    I look over to where Angelika is investigating some… Slightly worrying looking cylinders. The outer casing is armoured and coating with runes both for evading detection and… The promotion of good health? The general design is worrying reminiscent of Kon's pod.

    "Recognised, Supergirl, A six five."

    "Overgirl?"

    "You weren't joking about the Supergirls. Ah, or should I call them Superwomen?"

    "I'm pretty sure that Overgirl is the only one out of her teens."

    Noriel pauses in her study of Nylor's amulets to glare at me.

    "Physically. Overgirl? Feel like becoming Overwoman?"

    "I do not like what it would imply about my relationship with Overman. Also, I do not look old enough. Nillor Trugs, why do you have cloning tanks here?"

    "They're not just cloning tanks." He tries to twist around, but New Kara has a firm grip. "You can do all kinds of biological research with those."

    "Would you care to elaborate?"

    "Biomods! I gotta make money somehow. So I was working out how to share my improvements with people."

    "Are they occupied right now?"

    "No. Okay, it's technically illegal t' do what I was doing with them, but I'm sure you've done worse."

    "Much worse, but I have to say that in your case I'm minded to throw the book at you."

    "Hey." Old Kara picks something up from a workbench. "Recognize this?"

    "That's an H-dial."

    Nylor slumps slightly in Kara' s grip. "That's the H-dial."

    "Are you telling me that it didn't explode?"

    "Of course it didn't explode. That was before you rewrote time. It had t' survive in the past for me to pick it up in the future."

    New Kara looks at it in fascination.

    "What does that do?"

    "If you dial the letters 'H', 'E', 'R' and 'O' in that order, it gives you random superpowers."

    "It completely reconfigures your body in a way which fits your requirement. You literally aren't you for a while. The last person I saw use it started as a man. When he changed he became a woman who was super strong and tough, could fly and throw lightning."

    Nylor awkwardly nods. "Which is better than ninety percent of the powers it gives out. One time it turned me into an airing cupboard with a face."

    Dana walks over to look at it. "What happens if you dial 'E' 'R' 'O'?"

    Nylor looks away. "Absolutely nothing. And before you ask, 'R' 'O' 'E' doesn't make it fire a stream of fish eggs either. And 'H' 'E' 'R' doesn't turn you int' a woman."

    "Good to know. Dana, is there any chance that the Legion will go away if we give that back to them?"

    "How?" She shrugs. "You changed time, didn't you? Even if they went to the future, it wouldn't be their future, it would be your altered future. Unless you've changed your mind about losing."

    "I'm still not convinced that I can change time like that, but… Okay. We could… Probably find a way to send them back to their future. I mean, it's effectively just another parallel universe at this point. Even if all we did was send them to their me-free now, they could just stick themselves in suspended animation for a few centuries until they reach their time."

    "Ah." Nylor looks at me. "Or you could just use the H-dial. It always gets you something you can use."

    "Excuse me for not taking anything you say on face value. Or using an already unreliable device that's spent months in your workshop."

    "Of course. But you know I want the same things that you do, including not going back to my Earth."

    "I wouldn't mind going back to my Earth. It has a great many problems I could fix very easily."

    "T' stay?"

    "No."

    "Get the Legion people here, get one of them t' dial up a power and you're done. Can she put me down yet?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
  11. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:32 GMT -5


    "So what was up with the Sheeda?"

    Nylor face-shrugs, his bindings making his shoulders immobile.

    "I don't know. I never heard of them."

    "Really? Because they seemed like a big deal. Even if Earth fought off the Harrowing Fleet, there would have been a lot of casualties. And it would have certainly influenced the Earth's reactions to the Reach."

    Nylor sags as far as his bonds will allow him.

    "You're forgetting something. What do the Sheeda want?"

    "Raw material, food, slaves, a sense of superiority..." I nod. "If they looked back in time and saw a world devastated by the Reach, they wouldn't bother coming back."

    "Bingo. Not t' this era. Maybe I should find a way t' warn Thanagar."

    Huh.

    "Was that us?"

    "More you than me. You did a whole lot more t' improve things than I managed."

    With his protective charms gone Nylor can't stop me looking into his soul. And… He's more prideful than I am, but it's easier to be angry at historical figures who created a situation when you don't know them personally. When you aren't aware of the difficulties they were dealing with, or how they actually felt about what happened. For him, teaming up with Vandal Savage or Lex Luthor would be like me teaming up with Blackbeard or Cecil Rhodes. Or raging at Karadeg for not doing a better job of fighting off the Romans.

    "I mean, I woulda if I could… Not like I was planning on not being important enough t' change history."

    For a moment I think about trying to encourage him. Given how long he can expect to live, a few decades in prison are nothing that he can't manage. And given Ms. Waller's moves to enable prisoners to work off their debts to society, it wouldn't be that bad. And then I remember the murders he's implicated in, and what are most likely others he's committed as well. And the one he actually confessed to, of the Japanese collector he killed to take the first Bozo.

    Japan has the death penalty, but that's usually reserved for serial killers. If he only murdered one person, he'd be realistically looking at a thirty year stretch… Though diplomatic pressure could result in him serving it in Belle Reve.

    "You didn't know about Klarion, right?"

    "That he was deranged? Sure, but I don't make policy."

    "That he was planning to murder that many children."

    "I got told that I should prepare to get a hold of Starro's tissue samples while everyone was 'distracted'. I thought they were going t' call in a bomb threat."

    I raise my eyebrows, looking unimpressed.

    "Supervillain bomb threat. I mean, Gotham. Not what actually happened. Say, what's the chance of me getting the deal yah gave the big grey guy?"

    "Remember when you said that if you'd known about me before you sided with the Light, you'd have picked me?"

    He nods.

    "That's the deal you'd have got if you'd changed sides then. Finish your sentence and we'll talk."

    "You ever think that a retributive system of justice might not be all it's set up t' be?"

    "I know it's not. But I do believe in the efficacy of retribution. You should have at least sent the superheroes of this era a message, Nylor."

    "Yeah." He nods. "I think you're right. Might not of done anything, but at least I could tell yah I tried. I tell yah, I was spitting jealous when I found out what you were doing with magic."

    "The Reach not into magic?"

    "Couldn't use it on most of the worlds they moved humans to. Which meant they thought it was useless. What's your plan for getting around that restriction?"

    "Study the Dream and work out how to make it connect to other places more intensely. Mother of Mercy gave me a vision where we.. had a thing called a Root of Yggdrasil which maintained an artificial connection, but I don't know whether those can actually exist or not."

    "Was it actually a root of Yggdrasil, or was that just a brand name?"

    "Brand name. It was actually a complex piece of thaumic engineering. I've got Venturia researching it now, but it will probably be decades before we get anywhere."

    "And then, magic everywhere. No aliens are going to be ready for that."

    "A few will be. Earth's not the only place with a magic tradition."

    "But no one will be on our level."

    "Yes, that's the-."

    The floor explodes next to me! I see a brief blur of blue and red through the concrete dust before red light lashes out-

    Armour!

    -and scythes through Nylor's equipment.

    "Someone, report!"

    There's a bang as New Kara hits one of the cylinders and crumples it to wreckage as she keeps going, her impact being absorbed by the second cylinder.

    "You do not bear the mark!"

    Ah. Another Supergirl. Blue miniskirt and long-sleeved halter top with red cape. Her eyes glow red, her teeth are.. weirdly distended and there's a red 'S' burned into her forehead. The skin on her legs and hands appears to be cracking up to reveal a red light glowing from within.

    "Nylor?"

    "What, yah thought I was going t' come quietly?"

    I glance-. He's causing the skin on his forehead to bioluminesce an 'S'.

    Noriel and Angelika fly up through the hole, Angelika tanking zombie Supergirl's heat vision and metabolising it.

    "No mark!"

    Zombie Supergirl blurs forwards, striking Angelika on the side of the head before dipping under Noriel and punching her in the stomach!

    "You're just compounding your-"

    The zombie fires heat vision directly into Noriel's eyes-.

    "Ah!"

    -before backhanding her, sending her spinning into the ground, cratering the concrete. But with that heat vision boost Angelika's moving faster, fly-kicking zombie Supergirl directly in the kidneys and unlike the zombie she knows not to let up. Rather than kick and retreat she keeps on, shoving her target into and then through the wall!

    "-problem."

    "Ah, am I? How many Supergirls did you start with again?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2021
  12. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:36 GMT -5


    Angelika hurtles back through the room-

    "No mark!"

    -but recovers in the air, planting her feet on the far wall as the zombie flies at her.

    "There's a planet full of people without House El tattoos out there, Nylor."

    "Ah, yeah. Want to know-?"

    I fire a construct into his neck, burning through enough of his spinal cord that even his regenerative abilities should struggle to restore his mobility anytime soon. Next I cut off his hands and feet and gouge out his eyes.

    "No."

    Fire ripples over Noriel as she pulls herself off the ground, and zombie Supergirl gets smacked out of the air as New Kara uses a medical cylinder like a baseball bat! I spend a fraction of a second cursing that I haven't had time to explain why that sort of thing is inefficient in super strength combat even as I form a kryptonite ray, then track and fire.

    The golden beam hits zombie Supergirl in the left leg, and… Does nothing but get her shield!

    My kinetic barrier judders and glitches on the first punch-

    "Worship him!"

    -resulting in her physically pulling the barrier apart with red-glowing fingernails. I'm forming a railgun construct as she pounds on my construct armour, her arms blurring to the point that even accelerated I can't see them as distinct objects. Come on come on! Construct done load-

    My armour construct shatters and her next punch hits my power armour directly!

    -mage slayer point and fire!

    "RaGH!"

    As she staggers back I see that the shot hit her in the chest, blasting off her halter top and revealing more angry red lines cut into the skin beneath.

    "I smell a demon!"

    Golden fire blazes over zombie Supergirl, and me, and Truggs. It… Agh, stings, my spell eater overheating and returning to subspace immediately while I feel hands, feet and eyes burning, the pain unmitigated by my rings!

    "YAAAAAGH!"

    I collapse in my armour as the pain recedes, my-. Yes, everything still there, apparently the Source just wanted to put me on notice. Walk it off.

    "N-. Nugh. Noriel, what happened?"

    "There was a sarcopha-huh." She coughs, wincing. "Sarcophagus, in the basement. The ditz opened it to 'free the mummy'."

    "Kara, don’t touch things!"

    "Sorry!"

    To be fair, she does actually look sorry. Zombie Kara is lying on the floor, the cracks in her skin being replaced by horribly burned flesh, her own… Body fat having bubbled up through the rends in her flesh. The 'S' brand… Appears to have actually been a tattoo and is still there, while her mouth…

    Magic induced transformations are usually somewhat 'generous' when they're undone. Changes just revert to their 'before' state with only externally applied changes remaining. Not in her case. Her mouth has returned to normal size but the supernumerary teeth tried to stay, resulting in…

    Some appear to have been pulverised, some are twisted… In some cases entirely out of their sockets, in others just… Sideways, tearing the gums as they went. I-. Right, clear her airway, check for injuries beyond the obvious and then put her in the recovery position. Reconstructive dentistry can wait.

    "What happened to her?"

    "A demonic curse of some kind. I have unmade it."

    "I'm really sorry. Is that-?" New Kara floats closer, then puts her hands over her mouth as she gets a better look. "Did I do that?"

    "No." Noriel folds her arms across her chest. "I did."

    "Kara, she was already possessed, or… Ensorced. Your mistake was in opening a container you couldn't see inside without appropriate caution. These injuries are probably the least bad reasonably probable outcome that could occur."

    "Okay." She nods her head three times in rapid succession. "Can we help her more?"

    "Um." New Kara's spotted Truggs. "What..? Happened to him?"

    "I made sure that he couldn't escape. He can regenerate, and if-."

    "Oh! That's okay, then." She nods. "Maiming regenerators obviously doesn't matter."

    Ah…

    Ignore it.

    "Noriel, does she need any other help?"

    Noriel shrugs as New Kara takes off her cloak to-.

    "No! No, don't put anything on the burns!" New Kara freezes, clutching her cloak to her chest. "Here." I take a purple healing ray out of subspace and hand it to her. "This will help with her injuries, but we'll leave a thorough examination until we can take her back to the Fortress under guard."

    New Kara nods and begins playing it over the ex-possessed Supergirl.

    "Of course, we still don't know what this Supergirl was doing here." I frown. "Where are the other two?"

    Angelika stretches, wincing slightly when she pulls her bruises.

    "They are still in the lower level. Should we take this as proof that Nylor Truggs was responsible for us being here?"

    "No. After that stunt, he gets a full telepathic trawl until we know everything he's been up to. I'm not assuming anything. Noriel, with me. I'm going to scan that sarcophagus and then you're going to burn it."

    "That is sensible. It is undoubtably tainted by unholy magic."

    "Angelika, are you alright?"

    "It has been a little while since someone hit me that hard. But I will recover."

    "Okay. Kara, you and Angelika stay up here, Noriel, you're with me."

    My armour glows as I patch it back up, a new spell eater slotting into place from my subspace arsenal. Lot of good the first one did, but I'm not really prepared to fight the Source yet. Once I'm in fighting shape I fly across the room and into the breach in the floor. Down through the dust and debris, and into… Some sort of secure holding warehouse. This isn't a recent thing; Truggs has been here for a while.

    "Kara? Anything going on down here?"

    "I found Nylor Truggs' kryptonite locker."

    I land and head towards her voice.

    "Are you alright?"

    Kara drifts out of the dark, a shimmering black crystal in her right hand.

    "Never better."

    I smile. "Glad to hear it. Where's the sarcophagus?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2021
  13. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:39 GMT -5


    I study the sarcophagus for a few moments. As far as I can tell it's not actually all that interesting. It's a tool for confining people tainted with demon magic. Optimistically, I would guess that it might originally have been intended for holding them until an exorcist could be called in. But if whoever they were holding was that dangerous, how would they get them in there in the first place? The next possibility would be sample collection, and… I'm not sure when this would be a superior option to binding chains of some sort. They would even use the same sort of runes.

    "Was there a lot of kryptonite?"

    "Not much. Just a few small stones."

    "And you're sure that you're alright?"

    Kara smiles.

    "Better than ever. Dana's cataloguing it now."

    "She probably doesn't need to bother. I'm just going to destroy it all anyway."

    "Oh? You aren't interested in what it does?"

    "I know what it does. I took samples from your asteroid. But aside from gold or green they don’t have any useful applications, and they only do anything to kryptonians anyway. Noriel, your opinion?"

    "Kryptonite does nothing to members of the Host. However, since this human body is vulnerable to cancer I would prefer to avoid it."

    "I meant about the sarcophagus. Though I thought that you were resistant to things like that?"

    "'Resistant' is not 'immune'." Her flame aura flares. "The sarcophagus was made with demon magic. I will be glad to destroy it."

    "Why would they make something to contain one of their own?"

    "I see little gain in speculating. The hellspawn fight amongst themselves. One might wish to imprison a rival, or contain a feral demon to use as a weapon. Have you not heard of such things?"

    "The demon Rosacarnis dealt with her invulnerable uncle by tricking him into drinking poison, then keeping his body submerged in more of the same poison. Sticking someone in something with a door and no other defences seems like asking for trouble."

    Old Kara smiles. "Sounds like my kind of woman. Have you met her?"

    "Yes, but only briefly. We didn't talk much."

    Noriel's eyes narrow as she turns to glare at Old Kara. "Do not be to quick to praise the fiends of Hell."

    "It was pretty clever. She wasn't very old when she came up with it." Hm. "Actually, I know that I said I wanted to destroy this, but the longer I look at it the more I consider possible trading-."

    Golden fire blasts out of Noriel's eyes, washing over the sarcophagus. Some of the runes briefly light up but the unholy magic cannot stand before the wrath of Heaven's local contractor. The maybe-ceramic material gets hotter and hotter as the metal melts until-

    BANG!

    -it explodes! Red hot ceramic sprays across the warehouse, shattering against Kara's skin and stopping and dropping as it hits my kinetic shield.

    Kara's eyes glow red. "Be careful!"

    "I destroyed the magic; all that hit you was mundane matter."

    "It would have taken me all of half a second to put up a shield. A little consideration wouldn't hurt."

    "It was demon magic."

    "And it being demon magic for an extra half-second would have hurt how?"

    "If a piece of high purity uranium were in a reservoir, would you hesitate to remove it for fear that someone might be splashed?"

    "I'd probably be making an umbrella construct at the same time as I made a fishing rod construct, Linda."

    Noriel starts, then takes a deep breath. She looks away, nodding.

    "That.. is not unreasonable."

    "And..?"

    Noriel faces Kara. "I apologise."

    Kara's eyes dim slightly. "Don't do it again."

    "Noriel, perhaps you could check this place for other demonic artefacts. And -please?- document before destroying. We will need to present what we find in court in order to convict Truggs."

    She nods, then turns and flies away down the corridor.

    "So; what now?"

    "Now the clumsy bitch has gone? Why don't we talk about Jade?"

    "I'd rather talk about that black kryptonite you're holding."

    "This?" She lifts it up slightly, smiling at she stares into its depths. "What about it?"

    "I'm not really clear what it does."

    "I thought you tested them all."

    "I tested them on cell cultures. Some things are only apparent on the macro scale. They're not healthy for kryptonians, but I've only got an approximate idea what this one does."

    "Oh, and what does it do?"

    "The description I heard is that it makes you evil. But I don't believe in evil."

    "So you don't think it does anything?"

    "It's clearly affecting your mind; you wouldn't normally get so angry about Noriel's poor judgement."

    "You said I was right."

    "You were, but as I said, you usually would have brushed it off. Would you say that you're feeling shorter tempered?"

    "Would that make me evil?"

    "No, but it might be associated. You know, poor impulse control. And what looks like increased self-confidence could just be the kryptonite making you blind to certain social conventions, like… 'Don't heat vision off this woman's face because she blew dust at me'."

    She smiles pleasantly. "Are you worried about me?"

    "I'm torn between worried and fascinated."

    "But you want me to get rid of it."

    "I think it's probably for the best."

    "Alright. On one condition."

    "I'm.. a little surprised that you're willing to agree. What is it that you want?"

    "I want you to fuck me."
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  14. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:43 GMT -5


    I frown, and since my helmet isn't designed to block exotic kryptonian visual modes she can probably see it.

    "I'm curious as to 'why'."

    "Oh, so many reasons. I think part of being blind to social conventions is that I'm more liberated about following through on my desires."

    "Not necessarily. You also need confidence, otherwise you end up just finding social situations intimid-."

    "Don’t care." She takes a step close-. No, she struts a step closer. "I also want to own you."

    "That sounds pretty evil."

    "She likes you. She… Me, when I'm not using black kryptonite. You're safe, you're nice to her, you help her without asking for anything… She feels safe with you. It's all very primal." She shakes her head. "I don't think you learned anything from Zatanna at all."

    "If I was supposed to learn not to be nice to girls, then no, I didn't."

    "And if Jade… Win? Was on Earth right now I'd just go and kill her-"

    "I'd rather that you didn't."

    "-but she's hardly ever around. Which is ridiculous."

    "She's doing good work."

    "Villain or hero, she's being a weapon for other people. You went on about how happy you were that she changed, but she hasn't changed at all."

    That… Sounds a little more plausible than I'm comfortable hearing. But she wanted something that was at least a little familiar. I'm going to need to talk to her about that.

    "But why would evil you want to have sex with me?"

    "Because I'll be forcing you to betray her, but you'll do it because there's no other way to make me drop this." She holds up the kryptonite and wiggles it at me. "It's the only way to make sure that precious little Kara Zor-El is safe. And everyone else I could kill."

    "Okay, clearly Kara's been focusing on me in a way that's not entirely healthy and needs to meet more people."

    "And Jade will split up with you because she can't cope with people betraying her trust, even for a good cause. And even if she agrees with your decision she'll never feel the same way again and because you're an empath you'll know, so that's the end of that relationship. And Kara will feel so bad about what I did that she'll try avoiding you, which will make you spend more time with her to try and make her understand-"

    She pantomimes an expression of concern and remorse.

    "-that it wasn't her fault at all. And that will bring the two of you together and then I can finally do what my dad wanted and get out of this primitive backwater."

    "So you are unhappy here? Because I'm perfectly happy to move you somewhere."

    "But that would make Kal unhappy, and she'd feel guilty." Kara rolls her eyes. "How long does it take for this to become permanent?"

    "I don't know. I haven't experimented."

    Just holding the crystal isn't anything like as intense as a laser, but she's got a point. With gold kryptonite there's a point where it kills all of the photoreceptive organelles. With green, there isn't an equivalent point… As far as I know. That sort of exposure would just be fatal to the kryptonian suffering from it.

    "I don't mind if you want to wait. Frankly, I think I'd do a better job of being me than she would."

    "Given that you're… For the sake of discussion let's say 'evil', how will I know that you'll follow through?"

    "How will I hold onto it when both of my hands are busy?" Her eyes flick over my armour. "You're still wearing.. clothes."

    "I'm sort of hoping that New Kara is going to hear us."

    "I don't think that's going to happen. This section has a separate environmental filter and sound dampening system. She could probably hear if she made an effort, but I think she'd stop trying if she heard me talking about fucking you."

    "Okay, how about you put the kryptonite in a lead-lined box and I talk to you about this when you're in your right-."

    "EEEEEh. Wrong answer." Her eyes flick around our surroundings. "I'm going to count to five, and then I'm going to start killing people. One."

    I scan the black kryptonite, isolating it's vibrational frequency and form a small sonic cannon constru-.

    Kara's eyes flash red as she destroys my construct.

    "My sense aren't quite as good as 'New' Kara's, but I can still spot things like that. Two."

    I bend the frequencies of the light around us, creating a wave of gold kryptonite radiation. Kara's eyes go out, and I start forming another sonic cannon construct.

    "Kara, I need-"

    Kara blurs, and my construct's gone again.

    "Did you think you were the only one who noticed Dana's 'lucky' coin collection? That's three, by the way."

    Okay… Filament through the floor. No immediate reaction. An environmental shield should be able to block kryptonite radiation immediately, but that won't do anything for what she's already soaked up. And I can't remember whether gold kryptonite exposure renders kryptonians immune to other colours of kryptonite. Brief exposure… Probably wouldn't, because the organelles are still there. Higher levels of exposure should grant immunity, but I don't know if I can actually inflict that on her before she can get away. Or how fast her behaviour would revert.

    "What did you do to her?"

    "I ripped them out of her clothes, knocked her out and stuck her in a storage crate."

    "Restrained of you."

    "She's a hostage. You don't know anyone around here, but if I make it clear that I'm going to kill her first then that gives you a personal investment. You always said that you care more about the people you know-." She frowns quizzically. "Would it work if I held myself hostage? How much do you care about Kara?"

    "Kara is a friend of mine."

    "Four." She widen her eyes and smiles. "Oh, hey, I just thought of something. How hot would it be if this wore off half way through, and she woke up with you inside her?"

    "You're not selling me on the idea."

    "I don't care what you think; you're a means to an end. Oh, and the spots on Kryptonian women are in just about the same place as on human women and that's five. Is that armour coming off, or do I start crushing skulls with my bare hands?" Her face takes on an air of curiosity. "I wonder what brain feels like it oozes through fingers?"

    Okay. Construct up, tag the underside of her foot and block kryptonite radiation.

    She doesn't react, but she doesn't look dissuaded either. Taking off my armour should buy a little more time, and it's not like it would stop kryptonian-strength hits anyway. I send my helmet back into subspace.

    Kara puts her right forefinger into her mouth.

    "Shoulda brought some music-."

    "Step away, deviant."

    Kara turns as Noriel floats back in, her flames billowing.

    "Oh. You. It's such a shame this doesn't affect you. I'd have much more fun with Linda."

    Kara lunges at Noriel, fists outstretched!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
  15. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:47 GMT -5


    My helmet goes back on as Noriel's flames wash over Kara-

    "Guess what?"

    -who completely ignores them as she punches Noriel right in the sternum, sending her flying backwards. Storage crates crumple and splinter, the far wall cracking as it breaks her fall.

    "With these coins I'm not vulnerable to magic any more." She glances back at me as I set the environmental shield to feed her carbon monoxide. "And don't think I haven't noticed this environmental shield you've stuck around me. I can go without breathing for hours."

    Ah.

    I extend a filament from the environmental shield and try attaching it to the crystal, but she spots it and waves her hand through it to break it.

    "Do you want me to swallow it? Or crush it and breathe in the dust?"

    No. No, I don't. Getting it out of her stomach is perfectly possible; humans aren't any different from kryptonians with regard to how their bodies flush out the upper portion of their digestive system. But getting it out of her lungs would be difficult, and I still don't know if there's a point at which it becomes permanent.

    "There are hundreds of different parallel universe versions of me. I'm sure that you could be happy with one of the single ones."

    "Not how this works!" Noriel stumbles slightly as she pulls herself out of the wall, her flames billowing. Kara's eyes narrow. "And don't think I haven't noticed that you're nothing like as tough as a real kryptonian. Paul, do you like this one?"

    "She's an acquired taste, but I respect that she's trying to better herself."

    "Because I don’t. I remember all the things she said about having life handed to me on a plate just after I found out that nearly every member of my species-"

    There's a boom and-. Noriel drops, blood running from her forehead. Kara's right hand is in a post-flicking position.

    "-was dead, and I don't remember God, or the Source, stepping in to help them."

    "The Lord giveth and-" Noriel raises her right hand to her forehead, sees the blood on her fingers and then wipes it away. "-the Lord taketh away."

    "Paul, do you have a plan for killing God?"

    "Not a reliable one. It turns out that preparing for a being with poorly defined limitations is extremely difficult."

    "Working on it. Hmm." She looks directly at Noriel. "Hey Linda-bitch, can you die? I mean, if I kill you do you just go right back to Heaven?"

    "I do not know."

    "Let's f-."

    Armour on construct power armour on lunge forwards chainsaw chains wrapping around Kara and ripping at-.

    She spins, smashing my construct apart as her uniform falls apart. Kryptonians project a force field a few millimetres from their bodies but it looks like the coins don't. Now where are-?

    "Find."

    Fingers! Fingers through my faceplate, pulling it apart with a horrifying tearing noise!

    "Out." She smiles patiently at me. "Naughty boy."

    Things… Blur…

    I… Stumble, I-. She hit me-. Focus.

    I see Noriel spin as Kara hits her around the head with my armour's left leg. Which is now not on the armour I'm… Only wearing parts of.

    "You know, this is kinda fun. I should beat people to death more often."

    Noriel increases the intensity of her flaming aura, setting the loose material in the room on fire and incinerating the scraps that were left of Kara's costume. No change. Where the heck are the coins? Did she swallow them or are they… 'Secret compartmented'.

    "Huh. Tickles."

    Kara darts forward, wrapping her hands around Noriel's throat and steadily applying pressure.

    "Come on, Paul. You know what I want. Give it to me, or we see if angels can get brain damage from oxygen deprivation."

    The heat is now so intense that Kara's hair is blowing straight back, not that it's bothering her at all. Noriel grabs at her head and tries gouging her eyes, and Kara responds by biting into the fingers of Noriel's right hand.

    We remove our power

    from her, but there doesn't appear to be any change in her behaviour. Nothing for it.

    Ultra-heavy duty machinery constructs appear around Kara, culled from my records of the efforts of a dozen mad scientists to beat Kal-El with brute force and combined with the latest in alien technology. She loses her grip on Noriel as her arms are jerked apart, and Noriel uses the opportunity to dart away from her and pant to get her breath back. I doubt that I'll hold her for long-

    The machinery is already straining as she pulls against it.

    -but I use the opportunity to send the kryptonite into subspace.

    "Good effort, lover. But you won't-"

    Sonic cannons.

    "-stop me-"

    Two cannons appear, one either side of her head. I don't know exactly how tough she is, but intense sonic energy should be able to render her unconscious.

    "-with-. Ugh-huh."

    The air around her head hums.

    "Hit her!"

    Noriel rallies, abandoning her fire generation in favour of empowering her body as she punches Kara in the left side of her temple.

    And then pulls back again, massaging her hand as Kara smiles.

    "I think I might like this. Hope you like receiving-"

    She vibrates in place, my construct starting to come apart almost at once. I didn't design it with that in-! I add in a kinetic barrier element and that slows her down a little but she powers through!

    "-as much as giving!"

    "H."

    Dana limps in, clothing torn where Kara stole her coins but H-dial in hand.

    "E."

    Kara rips her way free of my construct and punches Noriel in the diaphragm.

    "I studied the H-Dial. Let's see what lame power it gives you."

    "R. O!"

    There's a.. puff of smoke, and then-.

    Kara tilts her head to the side.

    "Looks like… Hoover Girl? I think I can take you."
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2021
  16. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    09:50 GMT -5


    "That's The Sensational Sucker to you!"

    How.. to describe.. what we're looking at?

    Imagine a vacuum cleaner. Not an old bag-based vacuum cleaner or a modern Dyson. No, imagine a Henry; the red and black ones with the smiley face on it. Imagine that it was lilac and grey rather than red and black. Now imagine that rather than having a hose coming out of the nose it instead has two hoses, each coming out of one of the shoulders. The hoses appear to be able to move on their own recognisance but don’t appear to have a significant amount of strength behind them.

    Now add a skirt, because this is a child-friendly technological abomination.

    Thank you H-Dial.

    Kara is clearly as puzzled as I am, but at least this new stimulus has her attention.

    "Does it come with instructions?"

    "Ah… No, actually."

    Dana rolls back on her wheels a metre, then stops. Then she trundles forward at the same low speed.

    "Okay, I think I've got it."

    I use the opportunity to quash the fires Noriel generated when she ignited the packaging material. Kara doesn't appear to feel threatened, and since I've got the kryptonite she should start recovering. The more she's delayed, the better.

    "We do need this place cleaned up a little. I mean, you definitely can't hurt me with those things."

    "Okay, let me-."

    WWWWWRRRRHHHHHHH!

    The vacuum hoses spring to life, writhing around and drawing all of the loose material in the room towards them.

    Oh gods I can already see where this is going. The Dial must have some sort of twisted artificial intelligence.

    Kara looks around as the hot debris are drawn into the hoses. I'd guess it's all ending up in the Sensational Sucker's storage vessel, but I suppose that it might equally just be being annihilated.

    "Yes, good. Can you suck bigger objects too?"

    "Let's find out, bitch."

    The Sensational Sucker raises her suckers and points them at Kara. The only result I can see is that Kara's hair is now blowing towards the nozzles, and she raises her left arm to keep it out of her face.

    "Yes. Terrifying. I was wondering how hard it would be to rip my way out of your dust compartment, but it looks like you can't even manage that much. Hey, Paul, what happens if someone using the Hero Dial is killed while they're transformed?"

    "Not going to try a HORROR transformation?"

    "Not for our first time."

    "There is no record of anyone being killed while using the Hero Dial."

    "Then it looks like Dana gets to contribute to the cause of science. Don't worry: I'll make sure you're fully credited."

    Dana thrusts her hoses at Kara as she drifts closer, forcing her to wrap her hair around her left hand with an eye roll. Much like normal vacuums, when the end of the nozzle makes contact with skin it forms a seal, causing the skin to bow outwards slightly.

    "Hey, that ticklehey!"

    Kara starts to lunge, then falls to the ground as the coins are sucked out of her.

    "OOgh!"

    I immediately wrap her in construct chains and haul her out of the way-

    "Ugh. Hah!"

    -before adding a straitjacket -.

    "Kinky."

    Underwear and a straitjacket.

    Kara pulls against them for a moment, then relaxes. "What now, lover boy?"

    "That depends on whether you overdosed on black kryptonite or not. If not -and that's what I'm hoping- then you'll turn back into a moderately traumatised Kara Zor-El. I will describe your behaviour in detail after I have destroyed all of the black kryptonite on Earth."

    "And if I have overdosed?"

    "Then we'll have to try something radical." I scan her, getting a picture of her brain and monitoring it to see how the patterns of activation deviate from her baselines. "Well done, Dana."

    "Ah…"

    "Yes, what-?"

    A now enlarged suction hose is pointing at my face.

    "Dana."

    "Yeah, see, now I feel bad about this? But I work for the Legion of Super-Heroes, and… You're… Kind of accused of breaking the law."

    "Do you have a lawful warrant for this state?"

    "Not in… This century?"

    "You said Earth was part of the Thanagarian Empire. Are you a law enforcement officer in the Thanagarian Empire?"

    "No, but the human species is part of the United Planets. It's covered by the fact that our historical origins-."

    "Do the Thanagarians agree with that interpretation?"

    "No, but they don't-."

    Behind her, Noriel presses the 'deactivate' button on the Hero Dial. Another puff of smoke and Dana reappears in her human form, a neat pile of debris-

    I grab the coins from the top of the pile with a construct claw and affix them to my undersuit.

    -made from all of the material she sucked up materialising next to her.

    "Thank you, Noriel. Dana Dearden, you are under arrest for police impersonation, specifics to-"

    "He-y!"

    "-be determined once I find out how that works in this state."

    "I wasn't impersonating a police officer!"

    "You falsely claimed to have the authority to arrest me and I need something to put on the form when I send you to jail. It will most likely not go to trial, but I really want to put this whole Legion mess to bed."

    "Paul?" New Kara descends into the underground level, looking around as she tries to spot me. "Something happened with-. What happened to you? Why is Other Kara tied up like that?"

    "Sometimes adults-."

    I gag Old Kara.

    "Had a bit of an accident with some kryptonite. Nothing to worry about, but-."

    There's a blast of air and she's gone.

    "But you-."

    She reappears, a crate of glowing rocks in each hand!

    She sees my expression and shakes her head.

    "Don’t worry! Kryptonite doesn't work on kryptonians from parallel universes! I'll go and throw this into the sun right away!"

    Another blast of air and she's gone.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2021
  17. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    13th September 2012
    10:11 GMT -5


    I look at the place where Nylor Truggs used to be.

    "Kara, please explain to me where Nylor Truggs is?"

    "'Poof'."

    "Poof?"

    "He was sitting there, then 'poof', there was a cloud, and when it vanished he was gone."

    "Kara, your visual enhancements-."

    "Super vision!"

    "If you had supervision, today would be rather different. Could you see what happened inside the cloud?"

    She nods. "'P-'."

    "Don’t say 'poof'."

    "But that's what happennnnned!"

    "Am I to understand that you were unable to see through the smoke?"

    "Yeah, it was really weird. I've been able to see through almost everything since I got hey!" She suddenly frowns. "What do you mean, 'if I had supervision'?"

    I glance over to where Lantern Stewart is loading Demon Supergirl into a S.T.A.R. Labs metahuman ambulance. She hasn't woken up yet, though her wounds are less horrendous.

    "I've been to parallel universes before. I didn't have any problem with the kryptonians not being compatible with my kryptonite samples."

    She keeps frowning. "What do you mean, 'problem'? Kryptonite is super nasty."

    "Fighting kryptonians is also s-. A rather difficult prospect, and not every parallel has someone as… Well-meaning as Kal-El Sixteen. And sometimes they have a Kal-El who is mind controlled. Or who isn't in possession of all the facts. And if it's necessary to fight Superman, I'd rather have something I know will turn off their powers without causing lasting harm rather than-."

    "Turn him into a super ant?" She nods. "I understand."

    "Given what happened to Kara, I was thinking more along the lines of 'turn him evil'. Kara, you didn't know that our kryptonite didn't affect you."

    "Did too!"

    "How? Did you at some point test samples of kryptonite on samples of your tissue?"

    "N… No?"

    "Are-?" I can barely believe that I'm about to say this. "Are you asking me or telling me?"

    "I'm… Telling, but it's kryptonite."

    "No, Kara. You just told me that kryptonite from one parallel doesn't work on kryptonians from another. That means that either kryptonians from one parallel are different to kryptonians from another, or kryptonite is. Which means that what I call 'kryptonite' and what you call 'kryptonite' might well be completely different crystals."

    "Well…" She looks at the ground, swinging her right leg backwards and forwards. "But I didn't have any problem."

    "Can you see through yourself?"

    She frowns, this time in confusion rather than irritation. "Huh?"

    "Kryptonite is still radioactive, even if it doesn't have any exotic effect on you. Can you examine yourself in sufficient detail that you know for a fact that it hasn't done something to you?"

    Her eyes widen. "Have I got super-cancer?!"

    "I don't know. I can't scan your interior. I wouldn't have thought so; kryptonite radiation is only weakly penetrative. But I don't know so, so please, a little more caution in future where no one's life is on the line?"

    She nods. "Okay."

    "Thank you. I don't suppose that you can hear Truggs, can you?"

    She shakes her head. "I don't think he'd pick up the phone again."

    "Not without hands, no."

    "You know what I mean. That's something we can only do once."

    "Yeah. And we still don't know why you're all here."

    Angelika looks around from guarding Old Kara, frowning as she does so. "We don't know that? I thought that it was Nylor Truggs using the Hero Dial."

    "The H-Dial alters the user to give them powers useful to their situation. Can you think of a situation where 'summon Supergirl' would be the simplest solution?"

    "I cannot think of a situation where 'turn into a vacuum cleaner person' would be the simplest solution. It happened anyway." She shrugs. "I guess a power that lets you summon Supergirls is the simplest solution when you really need a Supergirl."

    "No. I mean, the escape thing looks like it happened when Noriel turned off Dana's H-Dial transformation, so I assume that he just modified the Dial with an escape clause. But he didn't even have the Dial when Noriel merged with Linda."

    Angelika looks thoughtful. "But it was before I arrived, yes?"

    "Yes."

    "And it was before Noriel formally took on the Supergirl name?"

    "Yes." I nod. "But we have no idea when demon Supergirl arrived, and... It shouldn't work. We've had planeshift barriers up for longer than that-."

    "Unless the H-Dial is sufficiently cleverer than us. It did not stop me, and it did not stop Krona."

    "Yeah." I sigh. "Well, we've got the Dial, and we can study it. We can look at everything Truggs had here. And we can probably get rid of any members of the Legion still in this era."

    Kara nods, looking concerned.

    "Is demon-me going to be okay?"

    "I'll call Ambrose Bierce. He's had experience in helping people who've been touched by demon magic. We can use gold kryptonite to remove her resilience and fix her teeth-"

    "Unless she's from a parallel universe where it doesn't work."

    "-and-. Yes." I look around, pick up some of her tooth remnants and expose them to gold kryptonite radiation. Try to crush-. Yes. "It works, so that will handle the physical problem. She can recover psychologically. I'm more worried about Kara. I… Don't know how long black kryptonite lasts."
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
  18. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    14th September 2012
    18:22 GMT -6


    I yank the pizza delivery girl up into the air, the Hawaiians she was carrying falling to the ground.

    At least nothing of value was lost.

    It's noteworthy that she doesn't react with fear. Rather, she does a quick test of her bonds and then goes limp, waiting to see what happens.

    "You know, you're rather lucky."

    "'cause crazy people kidnap me?"

    "Because I found you ahead of the Chinese. Do you know what they do to Durlans?"

    "What? What's a 'Dulan'?"

    "Knock it off, Chameleon Boy. You didn't take the hint when I stopped Persuader killing Superman, but now you and yours are actually making my life difficult. The Chinese are really good at detecting Durlans, and their information sharing with the League covers the technology they use to do-"

    Giving it up as a bad job, she reverts to his neutral humanoid form. Looks like the clothes weren't part of his body.

    "-it. You can use your actual neutral form if you want; I know what it looks like."

    "That's not a good look around humanoids." He tests his construct bonds again. "What happened?"

    "Dana Dearden."

    "What's she doing here?"

    "I can only suggest that you ask Brainiac Five. I'm holding onto her coins until the four of you are back in the future where you belong."

    "That won't stop us coming back again."

    "Yes it will; this isn't your past any longer, something I'd have been happy to explain to you if you'd just asked."

    "'Not our'-? Is that why our communicators stopped working?"

    "I don't know what technology you use to communicate with the-." I wince. "It's not 'write a message and bury it', is it?"

    "We tried that when the normal way didn't work, but we haven't had a response."

    "And telepathy doesn't work worth a damn on Durlans because your minds can run on anything. How long have you been on Earth? In this era?"

    "We got here just ahead of Persuader."

    "'Just ahead-?"

    "Time travel." / "Time travel."

    I nod as I turn and fly across the town that the visiting members of the Legion of Superheroes have made into their base of operations.

    "I'll give you a full explanation when the three of you are together, but the reason for you being here has been rendered null and void."

    "Because you've already unmade our future?"

    "Because it's not this timeline's future any longer. Seriously, if we gave you a time machine and you returned to your era, you wouldn't see the things you remember."

    "That's what I said."

    I generate a construct rope and suspend it in the air in front of him. The upper part has 'future' written on it, and the bottom 'present'.

    "History. You arrived-"

    I generate an arrow construct to point at the upper part of 'present'.

    "-here. Krona and Time Trapper cut it off here."

    I cut it off above 'present' and move the 'future' away from it.

    "Your past has been restored already."

    I have the 'future' rope extend downwards, forming a 'present'.

    "And I don't know what our future looks like, but hopefully it involves fewer time travelling inconveniences. Probably won't involve the United Planets, because I'm going to devote a substantial portion of the next century to burning the Reach to the ground, but that's not your problem."

    I'm not sure whether Chameleon Boy usually does facial expressions, but he definitely isn't bothering now.

    "How do you know about this?"

    "Dana tried arresting me. With everything else that was going on, Justice League telepaths scanned her. Between her and Abra Kadabra's willing cooperation-."

    "He really comes from the seventieth century?"

    "Some point in the future, yes. So other than you, Magnet Boy and Saturn Girl, is there anyone else here? Anyone that Dana didn't know about?"

    "It's Cosmic Boy."

    "Does he manipulate magnetic fields or 'cosmic' fields?"

    "Magnetic, but that's still not his name."

    "Then he should have picked a name that's a little less risible."

    I nod as I see Angelika fly in our direction, a young woman I assume to be Saturn Girl-. Yes, that's the brain of a telepathic human. And a Belle Reve issue power suppression collar because we know what the brains of telepathic humans look like. Saturn Girl flying just ahead of her using her Legion flight ring.

    "Is there anyone else here? Because we've only got one time machine, so if we shove the four of you into it anyone else will be left behind."

    "No."

    "Now, we can't scan your brain, and Saturn Girl could probably keep us out if we weren't willing to inflict lasting psychological harm -and we're not- but I doubt that Magnet Boy is that resilient. Do you want to change your answer?"

    "No. Aside from Dana, there's no one."

    "Glad to hear it. What were you four even doing here, anyway?"

    "Trying to work out what went wrong."

    "And ignoring the fact that you're the ones from the bad future?"

    "Lots of bad things happened in the past. For me, the Reach occupation of Earth-."

    "Nine hundred years ago, and the Durlan Civil War was probably a bigger deal in your history class."

    "Yeah."

    "Good news! It's not your problem any more. Good luck with your future, and may you never darken our doors again."
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
  19. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    14th September 2012
    19:31GMT -5


    "…expecting me to be happy about it. You're still stealing my property."

    Rip Hunter glowers, but he doesn't look around as he continues to work on the time sphere.

    Batman is unmoved.

    "As I understand it, you wouldn't be able to use it for its original purpose anyway."

    "No, I would be able to use it for its original purpose of historical research. I wouldn't be able to use it for the sort of nonsense I ended up getting dragged into because of people like him."

    On the opposite side of the artefact, Jason Goldstein smiles at his former colleague.

    "I'm happy for you to have it."

    Batman is unmoved. "Allowing the construction of time machines would be a dereliction of duty on our part. You should be grateful that neither of you are in custody."

    "Yeah, professor." Goldstein nods. "Now you've got time to actually write those books. Or are you having trouble finding a publisher?"

    Hunter doesn't rise to the bait, but I know it's true. History publishers don't really know how to deal with a time traveller. A series of misadventures appear to have destroyed the majority of his recordings, so while he can describe the societies he saw in considerable detail he doesn't have any tangible proof. That means that they're reluctant to publish his accounts as factual works. Goldstein on the other hand went straight into historical fiction, and while he hasn't hit the best seller lists yet he's earned a solid reader base.

    It doesn't help that as a result he's got more historical data into the public domain than Hunter.

    "You could always go with them."

    Batman shoots me a look, but I mean… Why not? We're not going to let him jump in a time sphere if we can help it, but if some other timeline doesn't share our attitude and we already know that he can't make major changes without just creating an alternate timeline. So even if one of them is evil, then they can't mess things up for anyone in an established timeline.

    "Yeah, Hunter. Think about it: you'll never have to see me again. Heck, you could even find me in the past and kill me and it wouldn't affect me at all."

    "I'll pass, but feel free to leave yourself."

    "Why would I? I've got a book deal."

    Ms. Lance walks in from the communications room. "Everyone's agreed. All of the devices blocking interdimensional-"

    I don't cringe. I don't cringe.

    "-travel will be shut down on our signal to let them go." She turns to me, smiling. "A timeline without you, huh? I wonder what that's like?"

    I smile back, nodding.

    "Probably still has Nabu in it."

    "O-." She looks away awkwardly. "Okay."

    "If it makes you feel any better, Truggs was pretty sure that the Sheeda didn't invade, so in objective terms they may still be in the lead."

    The doors to the lounge area opens to let in the Legion members, Dana and Mr. Queen.

    "…or the axe, and since we're pretty sure he can't make a new axe in this era, it's a whole lot safer for everyone if you just take it back with you."

    Magnet Boy nods, floating the metal case containing the atomic axe alongside him. There probably are people in this era who can use the thing, but I can't even scan the interior. No idea how it was made, and I'll be mildly glad to see the back of it. Chameleon Boy glances in puzzlement at New Kara and Angelika, and Kara gives him a smile and wave.

    Dana heads towards me. "So…"

    "You're going with them, then?"

    "Yeah, I think so. And hey, if we take recordings of the planar variance we can still come back." She takes in my expression. "I can come back to visit."

    "I'm sure that your parents will appreciate that."

    "Y-eah, that's-."

    "And I would be reassured that you're still doing well."

    "Yeah, okay." She swings her arms backwards and forwards distractedly. "A-bout my coins."

    "While I should return them to the museum you stole them from, they were the idiots who put high-powered magic artefacts on public display."

    I take the pouch containing them out of my harness and hand them over. She takes them, then hesitates.

    "You cleaned these, r-?"

    "Yes."

    "Okay."

    "How are the Legion taking finding out about the source of your powers?"

    "I'm not a member-member, though Rokk wasn't too happy about it." She shrugs as she slips the pouch into her cleav-. Br-. Clothing. She then takes a breath, then floats up a few centimetres into the air, beaming. "Great! Supergirl of the Future is back in action!"

    "It's a bit wordy, but whatever makes you happy."

    "So what happens to Truggs? You going to try and send him with us?"

    "Oh no. The four of you were potential existential problems, but the worst we had on you was using a false federal ID. Truggs on the other hand has a long list of criminal offences and he will be punished for them."

    Hunter closes the hatch he was working on and then stands up. "We're ready."

    Dana and the others enter the time sphere. It's a little crowded in there, but it doesn't have to be comfortable for long. One jump sideways and then another jump forwards once they've got back in touch with their base and arrange a pickup. There's no joy -their mission was a failure from the start- but I think Saturn Girl and Magnet Boy are at least relieved. Something like I would be if I could return to my own time after months in medieval England.

    A ripple in space time and they're gone, and I don't need to be here any longer. I raise my right hand to-.

    "Orange Lantern." Ms. Lance hesitates for a moment. "Paul."

    "Yes?" I lower my hand. "I'm sorry, the Nabu snap was uncalled for. Unless it turns out that they actually haven't gotten rid of him."

    "No, that's-. Under the circumstances, I can see why you brought it up. Is there..? Anything you want to talk about?"

    "How we're going to track down Truggs? What he's actually being charged with? I thought you'd-."

    "No, Paul. Kara tried to rape you."

    "Oh. Ah… No? She was clearly under the influence of the black kryptonite, so I'm not going to hold it against her. Maybe insist that she get a bit more training not directly related to control of her powers, but I don’t think she's planning on making a habit of this."

    "No, I don't mean, 'are you mad at her?'. I mean-."

    "Do I feel like I was almost horribly violated?" She nods. "No, I don’t. I like Kara. If she'd been in her right mind and I wasn't seeing Jade, I'd be all for it." I shrug. "And if having sex with an attractive woman prevents her going on a murderous rampage, that's fine too. Though, thank you. I do appreciate your concern." I smile at her. "Good evening."
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
  20. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    14th September 2012
    20:02GMT -5


    The Kara formerly known as Demon Supergirl sits in the corner of her room, legs pulled up to her chest with her arms wrapped around them. Her torso is… Bobbing back and forth slightly, eyes staring vacantly ahead and her lips…

    "Any idea what she's saying?"

    Ambrose nods. "Mark. Mark. The mark, his mark. Things like that."

    The light inside the room is red. I don't want to constantly expose her to gold kryptonite but obviously we can't risk her regaining her strengths.

    "Any idea what happened to her?"

    He shrugs. "Some. She wasn't possessed. She just comes from somewhere where there's so much demonic magic everywhere that it metastasized. Must be literal hell on Earth."

    "Earth?"

    He frowns for a moment, then nods.

    "Never been to Krypton, but I know what Earth demons feel like. And that's what it feels like."

    "'Feels'? She's still..?"

    "What, you thought Noriel was capable of subtlety? It's sunk in. No part of her body or soul isn't marinated in it. Noriel just burned off the worst of it."

    "Anything left that isn't made of demonic magic?"

    "Pff, maybe." He shrugs. "I'll do what I can, but I can't see any kind of quick fix here. And that's before we even get to the psychological damage. If she started off a nice girl like the other Karas and then got exposed to an Earth consumed by Hell, I hate to think about the things she's seen. And…"

    He glances into the cell.

    "Probably done."

    "How could something like that happen?"

    "Big enough sacrifice, big enough violation of something sacred…" He sighs wearily. "I couldn't tell you exactly because it's never been done before. Imagine if what Ishmael Gregor was trying to do kept expanding and expanding, more people getting… Caught up in it."

    "Could that actually happen? I assumed that it would eventually burn itself out."

    "Eventually. Yeah. Eventually whoever set it all up would destroy the world that fed them. But the embers could keep smouldering away for a very long time."

    I nod. "Something else to watch out for, then. Thank you, Ambrose. Please let me know if there's any change."

    He nods. "Will do. Listen…" He shifts awkwardly. "Have you had a chance to look up Constantine yet?"

    "He specifically told me that he didn't want me to."

    "Speaking as a member of the Trenchcoat Brigade, we don’t always know what's best for us. I've had a look, and I can't find hide nor hair of him. Something about this isn't right. I don't know if he needs help or needs to be stopped from doing something-."

    "Alright, I'll-. Add it-."

    Old Kara rounds the corner, sees me and then backs away.

    "-to the slate. Kara!"

    I jog after her. If she really can't face me then she's more than fast enough to get away, but with any luck she won't.

    "Kara?"

    I turn the corner to see her leaning against the wall, arms wrapped defensively around her chest and eyes downcast.

    "Feeling better?"

    "Um. Not… Feeling evil, if… That's what you mean."

    "Aside from being mildly frustrated that after telling New Kara off for opening something without-."

    "Um. No, that-." She glances up for a moment. "Dana opened the-. The crate of kryptonite."



    I could probably catch her.

    "Then I can't even blame you for that. Look, mind control happens. If you're worried-."

    "It didn't feel like I was being controlled. I just-. I wanted you. I'm-. I'm so sorry, I-."

    "Don't… Worry about it. My main concern at the time was how you'd react when you snapped out of it. And maybe a bit what it said about the desires you're suppressing."

    "I'm not planning on-. I mean, you're with Jade, and I-. I wouldn't-. Like that."

    "No, I don't think you'd threaten mass murder in order to get a man while in your right mind." I extend my arms towards her. "Hug?"

    She just… Stares at me for a moment.

    "Kara, I've told you what I did the first time I bonded with the Ophidian. You know what the Justice League did when Klarion was controlling them, and you know what Zatanna was like when the Star Sapphire started unnaturally influencing her. This is the same sort of thing. Unless you voluntarily exposed yourself to it, it's not your fault. If the shock has… Made you re-evaluate your life in some way, that's fine. The-."

    Ah…

    "Evil persona wasn't particularly restrained, but… Heh. I'm the last person who's going to tell you not to follow your desires. The fact that the evil persona also wanted them shouldn't factor in your decisions. I appreciate that the… Switching between the two mental states is a shock, but try not to let it get you down too much, alright?"

    "It was… I didn't become someone else. Everything I said, everything I did, that all grew out of something I-. I already-."

    She's tearing up.

    "Yes, that's what it's like for the more subtle forms of mind control. Come here."

    She doesn't move.

    "Seriously, come here."

    Hesitantly, she moves slightly away from the wall, so I step forward and wrap my arms around her.

    "See? You're safe and I'm safe. You can hear my breathing, my heart rate. Do I sound worried?"

    "N-. No."

    "Do I look worried? Smell worried?"

    "No."

    "Then don't worry that this is going to affect our relationship. Mind control happens and can be very dangerous when someone as strong as you gets affected, but it's not your fault. Okay?"

    "M'kay."
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  21. Threadmarks: Past Participant
    Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    Past Participant

    15th September 2012
    09:21 GMT -5


    "How is Supergirl?"

    I take a look around the Batcave interior as I approach Batman's main work station.

    "Better. Not great. I've asked Zatanna to have a chat with her, which was a little awkward. Ah, if you don't mind me asking-?"

    "I don't remember my actions under the influence of Starrotech." He switches tools as he continues his detailed examination of the H-Dial. "Other forms of mind control vary greatly in what the subject remembers. I remember clearly what I did under the influence of both Smilex and fear toxin."

    "I remember everything the Ophidian and I did. The only reason that I don't remember everything we saw is that there was too much of it." I come to a halt on the other side of the work bench. "Any progress?"

    "This technology is centuries ahead of anything native to Earth. But it's designed to look like a child's toy."

    "If I had to guess, I'd say that it was a child's toy. The Reach were using humans as metahuman soldiers. Give things like that to a child when they're young, get them used to having their bodies suddenly changing and them needing to work out what they can do…"

    "I doubt the Reach established a vast interstellar empire by expending resources unproductively."

    "They're rich. They can throw away-" I start taking another look around, then stop myself. "-resources other people can't comprehend if it advances their goals. If a few dozen children die and they get one really useful metahuman out of it, that's well worth it. And they're good enough at social conditioning to make their serfs accept that reasoning."

    "I'm more interested in detecting its use."

    "Why?" I shrug. "That's not our future any more. That comes from what is now an alternate timeline, and there won't be any more."

    "The Chinese don't like sharing intelligence data, but they've been raided by both durlans and dominators. Human biological data is already out in the galaxy."

    "Neither of those races are going to share it. Dominators don't use proxies and.. durlans are severely endangered."

    "Social changes happen. Or the durlans might get an offer they can't afford to refuse. Are you sure that the Reach wouldn't pay for information on your homeworld?"

    "I suppose they… They probably would. But there's no flow of information from here to there. Local trade networks don't go that far, sensors don't reach that far…"

    "You don't believe they could send ships here?"

    "No, they totally could, but it's a very long way and there's no real reason for them to do so. I've mentioned Earth's name, but I haven't done anything that would lead them here."

    "You brought a fleet here. How do you know they weren't monitored?"

    I shrug. "By what? They'd probably know that the ships left, but there's next to no residue to track and they don't have monitoring equipment this far from their space. All communication from the ships are monitored and only the bridge crew get their actual location. And you better believe that the crew are thoroughly vetted."

    "Very well."

    "Any news on the assassination attempt?"

    "I haven't been able to find anyone working on a weapon like the one you described. There's no chatter in the Gotham underworld about what happened."

    He carefully runs a miniature vacuum nozzle along the holes in the dial.

    "No one saw anything out of the ordinary. No one knows anything. If I were you, I would check to see if any members of the former government of the Alignment hired an assassin from off-world."

    "No. The ones who survived the purge know they're being closely monitored, and the ones who didn't… Didn't. But, thank you. It's nice to know that for once no one is throwing weapons at the Gotham underworld and seeing what happens."

    "It's certainly a change of pace."

    "Have you tried that yourself?"

    "No. I won't be attempting human trials for weeks, if at all. Everyone who used a variant of this device suffered psychological damage from repeated transformations."

    I nod. Fair enough. Compared to abilities we can already produce… A random low-tier super power each time isn't all that useful. I could check it more myself, but if I'm not planning on spending much time in Gotham…

    "Can I ask you a personal question?"

    His eyes flick towards me for an instant before returning to the Dial.

    "Yes."

    "Have you ever thought about retiring from superheroism? I mean… When you started, Gotham's police department were mob enforcers in uniforms and Falcone ruled the city. Now the police are actually reasonably good at their jobs, the old crime families are gone, and… Even your supervillains are reasonably under control. You've pretty much won."

    "I'm functionally insane, remember?"

    "So..?"

    "So it doesn't matter. There's always more work to do and I'm always driven to do it."

    "Even if you could do more good doing something else?"

    "Such as?"

    "Running for political office, for example."

    "It's a little late for an Oval Office bid."

    "The mayor's office. Or the governor's. With the disruption to international trade, there's an opportunity to bring industry back to the US; to reverse the events that resulted in it becoming a high crime city in the first place. High employment means less crime. Gotham's problems could be completely solved."

    "Have you ever thought about retiring?"

    "I retire the moment I'm more of an impediment to my objectives than a boon. Not sure what I'd do with my time instead, but I'd be satisfied to see our civilisation improving."

    "It wouldn't work for me. Without the violence, it doesn't feel like I'm making a difference. The proximate cause of my parents' death was a violent thug, and that association is indelibly linked in my mind. Even if I was completely certain that there was a better way to fight crime, a better way to bring about the world my parents would want for me, I wouldn't be able to do it. That's why it chilled me to hear that you considered becoming more like me a desirable option. To say nothing of what actually happened."

    "I guess mentally stable people don't dress up in bright costumes and punch evildoers in the face."

    "On the contrary. In my experience the people who take the route I was forced down and you chose for yourself are in the minority."

    "But if you really think it's that bad for people… Why stay on it? You can change."

    For a moment he stops working on the Dial and looks directly at me.

    "Just because I realise that it's a bad way to live, that doesn't mean that I actually want to change. I like being Batman in a way that I've never liked being anything else."

    I nod, turning away.

    "And I'm the last person who'll criticise you for that. Thank you for your help."
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  22. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2011
    09:21 GMT


    So this is Britain.

    Amazing how fast things can move when someone in authority wants them to.

    Kryptonian technology isn't something that humans can just make; even now we're centuries behind what they were able to make towards the end. And a lot of the more remote places… I imagine that they're much the same. But here in London, I wouldn't know it was the same country.

    Aside from anything else, the trains run on time. And all the union officials got shot.

    Overman regards me curiously. Which is probably the most open expression I've seen him use in my presence. I suppose that with just the two of us here he doesn't feel the need to play a role quite so much.

    "How does it seem to you?"

    The old parliament building was annihilated during Operation Sea Lion, absolutely levelled in a demonstration that there are some situations where you can't just keep calm and carry on. Once Prince Edward was reinstalled as King Edward VII, and… The immediate occupation ended, the country obviously needed a new centre of government.

    It's… Not the Mother of Parliaments.

    The old building was gothic. And I feel mildly bad for not remembering who designed it, but it came to being after the Great Fire of London destroyed the previous one. And I seem to remember that they celebrated the fire as providing a tremendous opportunity for architecture, so maybe I shouldn't feel quite so bad for forgetting their name. The new thing looks a bit Greek, a bit Roman, and a lot German.

    "Did Adolf Hitler have any actual involvement in the design?"

    "He looked at it once. By that time, he had begun to use amphetamines and his ability to command fine details was weakened."

    "He took more than amphetamines in my timeline."

    "By the end, he took more than amphetamines here as well. Conquering the world is easy when you have overwhelming power. Controlling the world was not so easy."

    Which is why the Kingdom of Britain exists. It actually kept most of its pre-war territory, though the nature of that rule changed somewhat. And the government…

    "Did they actually kill Baden-Powell?"

    "I do not know that name."

    "He was the man who invented the Scouts' Association, what Hitler based the Hitler Youth on. There's a funny story about an exchange the two organisations did before the war, actually. In an attempt to promote peace between Britain and Germany, he arranged for a platoon of ten year old boys from the Scout movement in Britain to go to Germany and stay with the families of Hitler Youth boys. They spent a summer learning about German culture, doing outdoors exercises… Normal youth group stuff. Then the next year the Hitler Youth sent a platoon of boys to Britain. Sixteen and seventeen year old boys who spent the summer bicycling around Britain drawing maps!"

    He gives me an awkward smile.

    "Did that really happen?"

    "I've probably gotten some of the details wrong." I breathe out. "Okay, post war, Britain made a huge effort to attract people from the colonies to come and live in Britain. I'm going to assume that didn't happen here."

    "British colonists returned from places awarded to Germany's allies."

    "Ah, no. I meant black people from British territories in the Caribbean."

    The awkward smile dies.

    "No. That did not happen here."

    I look down at the streets from our balcony on the up of the parliament building. Yeah, no… Non-white people. That wouldn't be too strange somewhere like Leonard Stanley, but immigrant communities in the post-War period generally went to live in major industrial cities. Even today… 'Today', people who can trace their descent from those immigrants are far more common in cities. This is weird for London. I mean, I didn't pick up on it immediately when I visited Eastbourne. The lack of Eastern Europeans would be more obvious there-.

    Yes, that… That wouldn't have happened here either.

    I think that the clothing is more conservative, but this is September in Britain. And it's not as if I knew anything about London fashion before I came here. The cars are all electronic, running quietly along well-ordered roads. No… Swastikas or anything like that, but there are a few touches which suggest… I don't know, that there was a bit of an 'Imperium chic' trend a while ago.

    "What about..? India? I thought that people from that part of the world were officially okay."

    "During the Chinese campaign, Germany was stretched thin due to the manpower required to hold its European territory. The Fuhrer authorised the use of biological weapons. Unfortunately-." He closes his eyes for a moment, takes a deep breath and huffs it out. "No. It was not a matter of fortune. The genetic elements which the organism targeted were shared between the Chinese and the majority of brown-skinned Indians. There are some who were more genetically similar to the people of the Middle East, but a large part of India was depopulated."

    "Who lives there now?"

    "Some people who survived in remote areas. Colonists from Britain, and other places. It is a… I do not remember the word in Englisch. A political entity which manages its internal affairs but is ruled by the King of Britain."

    "Dominion?"

    "If that is the word."

    I suppose that with all of the natives dead, there would be more cultural commonality between Britain and India. The same religion, the same customs, and therefore no particular desire to be… Independent, but… That could be said of the United States of America as well, and look what happened there.

    "Well, it's more advanced, obviously. The people as a whole are different. I imagine that they're taught German in schools?"

    "Yes. Does that not happen in your timeline?"

    "Ich kann nicht Deutsch gesprechen."

    "That is not correct-. Ah, I see."

    "It gets taught, but it's three hours a week from twelve to sixteen. And that's if you don't do French or Spanish instead. Beyond that, I can't really tell you until I've had a chance to experience a little more of modern Britain."

    He nods.

    "I have spoken with the editor of Die Tägliche Welt. He has agreed to sponsor your writing, though the censors are more strict in Germany than they are here. Also, a gift from me, for your birthday."

    He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a watch, offering it to me.

    "It will never run out of battery power, it will work in extreme environments and it emits a sound that will allow me to find you." I take it from him and wrap it around my left wrist. "It also has an alarm function which will allow you to alert me if your life is threatened, though I will ask you to only use that if there is genuine need. Calls on my time are many."

    "Thank you, and I'll try not to end up in peril. You know where I am if you need someone to bounce ideas off."

    "Yes. Have a good day."

    He looks up, and then shoots up into the sky. I watch him go as he gets smaller and smaller before vanishing from my sight, though I know perfectly well that he could still see me. And hear me, of course.

    The official escort who had been hanging back while we spoke begin walking towards me. I get a small flat and a job as a journalist -and apparently as his Jimmy Olsen- and he gets to talk to someone who gets it. I suppose this is as good a life as I can reasonably expect, given the circumstances.

    I shrug, and walk towards the functionaries, singing quietly to myself as I do so.

    "Es gibt ein Haus in Neu-Berlin,
    man nennt es Haus Abendrot.
    Es war der Ruin vieler guter Jungs,
    von mir, mein Gott litt ich Not.
    "
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  23. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    16:01 GMT


    Jade relaxes her grip on her phase knife as she sees me pushing the byht fritters around the frying pan.

    "I'll cancel the alert."

    I smile at her as she sheathes it and actually puts it down rather than keeping it on her.

    "No need."

    She regards me sceptically, but she's smiling faintly as well.

    "Someone broke into our secure accommodation."

    "I'm pretty sure that I have permission to be here."

    She comes closer, leaning into my right side so she can see what I'm doing.

    "We're supposed to get notified anyway. That one's done."

    It… Looks a slightly different shade of orange. Which matches the shades I've seen in local media narrowcasts. I was going to give it a little longer, but I scoop it up, give it a moment for the excess fat to drip off and then move it to the warmed plate sitting on the work surface.

    "I wanted to surprise you. I was going to serve this to you in bed."

    "We're being relocated again. I'm trying to adapt to another new sleep schedule."

    I shrug. "Your squad medic should be able to proscribe something to help with that."

    "I don't-. That-"

    I move my spatula, dividing the fritters between the two plates along with the fried dough discs that remind me of scotch pancakes.

    "-one is done as well. And you know I don't like using that sort of drug."

    She steps away from me, picking up a plate and heading for the window side table. The view of the town outside is… Well, you've seen one majority humanoid mildly post-industrial world then you've seen enough of how they organise themselves to start to get very used to it. The new parts are low density because there's no need for high density living, but there's enough of the old parts left that high towers and mid-height complexes dot the sight lines. I watch the traffic as I walk over to sit down opposite her as she picks up her cutlery.

    "What happened?"

    "We got a couple more Supergirls."

    "Parallel universes?"

    I nod. "One was, the other probably was. Briefly had Truggs in custody… The main.. thing, was that our Kara got exposed to black kryptonite."

    "The one that makes them evil. What did-?" She nods, cutting a slice of fritter but continuing to watch my face. "She hit on you. Of course she hit on you."

    "Demanded that I have sex with her or she'd go on a murder spree, actually. We dealt with it, but it-." Her eyebrows go up slightly. "We dealt with it without sexual relations occurring."

    "I thought so, but I prefer to hear it. How's she coping?"

    "Not… Great. She accepts intellectually that she wasn't responsible for her actions, but she still remembers exactly what it felt like to think like that."

    "Does she still want you?"

    "I think it was more that the evil version wanted to sabotage relationships. Petty evil."

    "So 'yes'."

    "Some women find me attractive. And there aren't that many people on Earth who come from space aged societies, s-."

    "And who aren't related to her?"

    "So-. It probably doesn't help. The…" I shake my head. "The point is, it made me think about-. Well, alright, I was thinking about it anyway, but really brought home..."

    "I miss you."

    "We saw each other last week."

    "I know. And I know the whole… Plan… Knock back the Reach, then get together full time… Was my suggestion. But I-. I've reluctantly reached the conclusion that everyone who j-. Who made jibes about it was right. I miss you being.. around all the time, and a… Couple of dates a week isn't enough. I want us to be together more."

    "Did-" Her eyes move away for an instant before returning to my face. "-something happen to my apartment?"

    "Oh, someone tried to murder either me or Dana Dearden, but the shield absorbed the shot. The place is fine, just…" I shrug again. "Feels empty."

    She cuts off a piece of fruit and fried dough, eyes staring blankly at the plate as she considers what I've said. She doesn't like agreements being changed on her and she doesn't like people pressuring her to agree, but…

    "Are you looking inside me?"

    "No. Turned all the way down."

    "Ok-ay. So… You'd move in here?"

    "I can teleport in a way that no one else can. It's… Easier than building a giant zeta transmitter wherever you're stationed."

    "And I doubt that you could get a building permit."

    "No, that would be easy. Bir Tawil's building codes are extremely relaxed."

    "You're living in the trade post now?"

    "I am until I work out who took a shot at me. And I needed to redecorate it anyway. Your apartment just.. sort of reminds me that you're not in it."

    "I hadn't realised this was such a big deal for you."

    "I was keeping busy enough that I didn't really think about it much. And obviously, when we're actually together, you're there."

    "We don't keep the same hours."

    "My hours are very flexible. And I.. don't need to take part in your duties-."

    "If I need an Orange Lantern then I'll call you in. I'm not that proud."

    "And that's… Something else that came up. I talked to… Batman."

    "Did you ask his permission for me to come-?"

    "No." I shake my head. "No. He said… He said that he doesn't want to be anything other than Batman. Even though he's got other options. And it… I helped you join the Darkstars because it's a good fit for you. Because it's a framework for you to do the things you want. I didn't really think about whether or not this was something it.. was.. good for you to want."

    "That's my decision."

    "Yes." I nod. "But I want to support you. I should have considered it."

    "Don’t worry about that." Her expression softens slightly. "But I wouldn't mind you being around more either."

    I smile.

    "Thank you."
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
  24. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    13:24 GMT -5


    I can't help but smile as I look down on the Earth. Sure, Jade had to go to work, so we didn't really have time to discuss things in detail, but… Yeah, feeling good. I-.

    There's a near-hurricane force wind, and then New Kara is floating in front of me.

    "Hey, Paul! How's Kara doing?"

    "Which one?"

    Her eyes widen. "Is Demongirl talking?"

    "Ah, yes, but she's not responding to external stimuli."

    She tilts her head to the left. "So how do you know her name's Kara?"

    "Basic pattern recognition. She not just a Supergirl, she's a kryptonian Supergirl. Based on all of the examples I have, those are called 'Kara'. But, yes, technically I don't know for certain."

    She smiles, tilting her head back proudly.

    "Then I'm technically right, and that's the best kind of right!"

    "Sure. I don't know that her name's 'Kara'. The other Kara is recovering."

    "So are you two going to date now?"

    "No. Still dating Jade."

    She looks at me uncertainly. "Are you dating Jade? I was starting to think she was Canadian."

    "Yes, and after a brief talk about our relationship, we're going to be moving in together in the Darkstars barracks."

    She blinks. "Are her parents okay about that?"

    "Ah… Her mother is? … Did you want something?"

    "Yes. I… Kinda need a job? Or something?"

    "Oh, right."

    "I've got plenty of qualifications but none of them of them are for Earth and… All my referees are dead. I could probably stay in High Admiral Har-Zod's asteroid, but it wasn't really designed for long-term habitation."

    "Your Zor-El didn't send you with a device to seed your own Fortress of Solitude?"

    "I would still need somewhere to put it, and everywhere is owned by someone."

    "Not everywhere. Plenty of space in Bir Tawil. The sand should be enough for your c-."

    Uh! Crushing!

    "I can move in with you?! Thank you!"

    There's a little more meat on this Kara than on Old Kara, and it's currently pressed against me as she celebrates her new residency. Alright, use the rings.

    "While you can live in the trade post if you want, it's more that I was offering you somewhere to plant your crystals."

    "I can live there while it grows?"

    "Certainly. It'll add visual interest."

    She leans back, grinning.

    "So we'll be roomies?!"

    "Ah-. No, as I said, I'll be living with Jade in the Darkstar barracks, so you'll… Pretty much have the place to yourself."

    "Oh." She sinks in the air, mood subdued. "That sounds lonely. Are there any cute animals?"

    "No, not really. There's basically nothing there; that's why no country actually wants it. You could.. always build a habitat?"

    "Then I could have all the animals I want!"

    "All the animals you can look after, certainly. Ah… Kara." I frown. "I've been meaning to ask: I don't seem to be able to see your emotions. You sound very upbeat, but if you're feeling-."

    "Torquasm." She nods. "Uncle Jor was a huge fan of ancient Kryptonian society, and Grandpa Seyg actually let him study things like that, so he really encouraged us to learn it. It'll be fun to work on it with Angelika!"

    "I'll be nice for her to have access to someone who could study the original texts. Ah, I don't.. really have anything that needs my attention right now, so I can help-"

    "Connection made to monitored phone line."

    "-you… Move in. Sorry. Answer?"

    "Hey. Paul."

    Truggs.

    "Nice. Trick. With. Super. Hearing. Have. To. Use. Voice. Modulator. And. Even. Better. Sound. Proofing.

    "Why are you phoning me, Truggs?"

    "I'm. Explaining. My. Plan. We."

    "I'm not interested in listening to you w-."

    I glance at Kara.

    "Pleasure yourself to the sound of your own voice, Truggs. I'd put up with it if I thought there was any chance of you turning your back on the Light, but that's clearly not going to happen."

    "Demon. Supergirl. There. Are. More. Where. She. Came. From."

    "Obviously."

    "They. Know. We. Took. Her. And. They. Know. Where. We. Are."

    "Why am I not surprised?"

    "Supervillain."

    I could ask 'why?', but I don't suppose that it matters at this stage. There are plenty of reasons for travelling between parallel universes, and I can't check his motivation.

    "You. Could. Send. Her. Back."

    "I'll check with an expert or two, but I really doubt that Demon Earth will just give up like that. If they can reach us, we'll become their next expansion target. It's not worth trying to give them anything to delay things."

    "Your. Choice."

    "No, it's not, and I'll be warning the Justice League."

    "Thank. You. For. Getting. Rid. Of. The. Legion. Not. Thank. You. For-."

    "Just go away, Truggs. End."
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  25. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    13:32 GMT -5


    I lower my ring, and return my full attention to Kara.

    "Right. Sorry about that. Did you have any design preferences, or do you just want to browse?"

    "Shouldn't you do something about the demon invasion?"

    "No. I told the Justice League what Truggs told me and told them that I'm happy to help. Working out how to defend the planet is their responsibility, so until they actually call on me I'm at your disposal."

    She frowns with mock-crossness. "Defending the planet is everybody's responsibility."

    "Yes, but organising it isn't. Complex endeavours like this require clear direction, and Angelica and Zauriel know more about demons and how to fight them than I do. Aquaman literally rules a country of wizards, every single one of whom is in a better position to ward the Earth than I am. When N.E.M.O. wants to use wizards, we have to go cap in hand to the Atlantean city states."

    The frown has faded.

    "The little fish?" She beams again. "He's so cute!"

    "The.. fish-? No, not the fish; the umbrella organisation for the Maltusian military forces conducting our war against the Reach."

    "Nemo?"

    "Network for the Establishment and Maintenance of Order. In English anyway; they probably use something different in other languages."

    "NftEaMoO?"

    "Probably not. Anyway, would you prefer-"

    Euanthe. She isn't in contact with the League. I don't know if her ability to manipulate antediluvian wood is limited to her avatar or something that she can do over an area.

    "-something based on-"

    The League doesn't have contact with Hell, as far as I know. I think Mammon would understand why it's better to ensure that there's a strong non-demonically dominated human population in order to ensure that there will always be people to corrupt. There are probably all sorts of things that the demons mostly keep to themselves.

    "-old Krypton, or-"

    If we're going to ward the planet then they're probably going to need to expand the runic satellite network and do it in a hurry, something that I could do faster than anyone else at their disposal.

    "-more recent Krypton, or-"

    "Nnno. Modern Krypton had dreadful style."

    "-something else entirely?"

    We both look at each other for a moment.

    "I need to get on this, don’t I?"

    "No." She zips closer. "We need to get on this."

    "Right." I hold out my right hand and fabricate an environmental protection harness. "Here. This will shield you against low to mid level radiation exposure and refresh the air around you."

    She takes it from me.

    "I don't care about radiation."

    "Then in four hundred years from now, when you have super tumours, don't come crying to me."

    "Oh. I thought you just meant kryptonite radiation. Because that can't affect me because it's from the wrong universe."

    "We're dealing with parallel universes. They might have kryptonite that can affect you. But this will also deal with other radiation, and you still need to breathe."

    "Not very often!"

    "But you still need to breathe, we don't particularly want to have to deal with the hurricanes your deep breaths cause and at some point you might move away from a yellow sun."

    "Okay!"

    She clips it on over her uniform, and for a moment there's a very faint haze as the shield engages.

    "Remember, it's not a true defence shield and can't deal with actual radiological weapons. It's for environmental exposure only."

    She nods. "I understand."

    "And one of these, it's called a Spell Eater. It will deal with ongoing magic effects placed on you but it won't completely stop sufficiently powerful spells cast directly at you."

    "That means I'm basically unstoppable!"

    "That's not what it means, it just means that if you have to take part in a counterattack that you should remain sane despite the exposure to demonic magic."

    "What if someone throws a fireball at me?"

    "Avoid it."

    "What if I can't avoid it?"

    "That depends on exactly what it is. If it's just conjured fire, it shouldn't do anything to you anyway, because it's almost exactly the same as if you stuck your hand in a bonfire. If the fire is itself magical then the Spell Eater will absorb the energy making it function, but only after it hits you."

    "But I don't wanna be hit."

    "Then avoid it. So our first stop is Brazil."

    "I've never been to Brazil!"

    "You've been here-. Okay. Do you have any kryptonian plant cultures or seeds with you?"

    "Ah, well…" She squirms awkwardly. "I ate some fruit before I got into the pod-."

    "Right." I hold up my right hand to stop her. "Right. I'm going to assume that passing through your supergut will have thoroughly destroyed them."

    "I don't think that's how it works."

    "Do you want to spend the rest of the day staring at mixed sewage until you spot the seeds?"

    "Ew! No."

    "Then they were destroyed. Euanthe-."

    My rings blink.

    "Illustres here."

    Lantern Savenlovich's head appears.

    "Orange Lantern, we have detected a powerful act of magic close to your current location. Please perform reconnaissance and report in."

    "Demonic?"

    "Yes. If you require additional help it can be provided."

    "But you need everyone you have to work on countering a potential attack from Demon Earth. Don't worry. Kara and I will handle it."
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021
  26. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    12:37 GMT -6


    Liberty, Iowa.

    It used to be a medium sized farming town. Then farming techniques improved and farming itself became less profitable, and the vitality started ebbing away. And then some combination of John Constantine, the Resurrection Crusade and an actual resurrection of the town's war dead completely destroyed it. A few survivors were written off as delusional and are now either happily living somewhere else or guests of the state in various secure hospitals.

    A ghost town. My rune stone says that it's mildly thaumically active, noticeably above background. I don't know whether it's a literal ghost town or not. All known sites at which the Resurrection Crusade practiced magic ceased functioning when the last of their elders were killed, but no one ever checked the place over.

    "Orange Lantern and Supergirl... Three, on-site. Beginning search."

    "What are we looking for?"

    "Anything that looks like a demon. Anything that looks like it comes from a parallel universe. Anything-. No."

    I roll my eyes as Kara points to herself.

    "Unless you're secretly a demon and want to mutter about no one else having 'the mark'."

    She taps the middle of her chest with her right forefinger.

    "I have the mark. It's the symbol of House El."

    "I'm not sure it counts if it's worn on clothing, but well prepared."

    Scanning for intruders… Nothing, but that's hardly a surprise. If you're establishing a bridgehead into hostile territory you either flood the place or you send a small team who won't be spotted easily. And with there being no one around…

    "Are you seeing anything odd?"

    "I don't know. I've never been here before." She sniffs. "There's a strange smell, though."

    Ring? Oh. Chemicals consistent with burned flesh. Burned human flesh. Doesn't seem to go anywhere, though it does suggest that something strange is happening. Incendiaries were used when the town was destroyed but the residue shouldn't be airborne after over a decade.

    "Do you know what it is?" She sniffs again. "It smells like bacon. I think I like it."

    Ring, anything unexpected but not demonic?

    Ah. Recent signs of habitation. A couple of the cars are out of place from where they were abandoned when the survivors fled the town. Wood has been removed from some of the less intact buildings, and it looks like someone has gone through the gardens.

    Someone or some people has/have been living here. Living here for a while… But then Truggs didn't tell me how long Demongirl had been here for.

    "Ooh! And I smell people!" Kara flies off to the north. "Over here!"

    I fly after her, generating construct armour to go over my power armour. Nothing on infrared, nothing on sonics, someone is definitely hiding themselves. Only question is, are they magic-using hermits or are they our target?

    "HELLO!"

    I consider remonstrating with Kara as she puts her hands to her mouth to announce our presence. But we're hanging here in the open sky within easy view of the ground. Just announcing ourselves isn't a terrible way to go, especially if whoever is there is nothing to do with the Demon Earth.

    "IS THERE ANYONE THERE?! WE'RE SUPERHEROES AND WE'RE HERE TO HELP!"

    Kara bows her head slightly and closes her eyes. Trying to hear a response. I'm still not picking anything up, but I could try more exotic forms of scan if this doesn't-.

    Kara's eyes snap open and she points to a house in reasonable repair. "That one."

    "Sure?"

    She nods. "The sounds don't match what I can see. And the-" She sniffs again. "-smells coming from it are weird."

    "Weird how?"

    "Like… There's one smell… And then there's a different smell? You know?"

    "No, I don't know. Is the kryptonian sense of smell actually sensing chemicals in the air, or does it work in some other way?"

    "I don't know. I've only had it for a couple of days, silly."

    "Alright."

    I free the hellwraith from my ring and send it forward towards the detached house indicated. Huh. Actually, this would be a decent place for a superhero base, if the superhero in question could do long distance teleportation. An attacker would find it very difficult to hide their approach, there's plenty of space and-.

    "Mastaaaaaaaah!"

    I watch as the hellwraith is consumed in golden fire as it enters the house's garden. I instruct it to pull back but the flames don’t relent. It burns for few seconds and then it's gone.

    I give it a moment, but there's no sudden rush of knowledge that would come from it returning to my rings. I try deploying it again and nothing happens.

    Couldn't happen to a nicer demon.

    I create a megaphone construct.

    "Whoever's in the house! This is the Justice League! Please come out with your hands visible and carrying no arcane paraphernalia! You have until the count of five to comply or reply, then we will force entry!"

    "Stop! Stop!"

    "Sir?! Are you under threat?!"

    "I can't-! He won't let me take it off!"

    I can't locate the speaker. Even looking right through the windows reveals nothing.

    "Sir, please come out of the house, and we will endeavour to render aid."

    "O-okay! I'm coming out with my hands up! Don’t shoot, or whatever you do!"

    I generate a construct railgun and load mage slayers.

    "Sure!"

    Kara frowns disapprovingly at me, and I dismiss the megaphone construct.

    "I won't shoot. I just want it in place in case he does. This is a very precise instrument. I can use it to negate defensive and offensive spells without killing the caster, or injure them without killing them."

    "Oh. Well, that's okay then."

    "I'm at the door!"

    "Alright sir, you can come on out."

    The door swings open as far as its hinges will allow it, slamming into the house's outer wall and bouncing back. A man with pale skin dressed in loose fitting cotton and denim clothing slowly walks out, my eyes immediately drawn to the golden skull-helmet covering his entire head.

    "Please, help me. It won't let me take it off."
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  27. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    12:41 GMT -6


    White mist rises from the eye holes, obscuring whoever is inside. Faint trails of green sludge run down from the tear ducts, the nasal area and the edges of the rictus-grinning teeth. Parts of the helmet look… Rusted? Or encrusted with something. I don't recognise it, and nothing's coming up in the database, but that definitely wasn't demonic magic.

    "Sir, can you tell me your name?"

    "Mich-. Mike Brown."

    "Hello Mike, I'm Orange Lantern. And this is Supergirl."

    Kara waves. "Hiyah!"

    "That's an interesting helmet you've got there. Would you mind telling me where you got it?"

    "I didn't want to put it on!"

    "Alright. I'm not accusing you of putting in on of your own will. I'd just like to start by learning where you found it."

    "He didn't give me any choice!"

    "Mike, is anyone in danger?"

    "Everyone is!" He turns his head, looking around. I… Can't see anything special that he might be looking at. "It's showing me… It's showing me such horrible things."

    "I deal with horrible visions by shooting them until they die. I'm happy to help you do the same."

    His head snaps to me, the white vapour emerging from his eyes briefly flowing sideways.

    "Not on your best day, Lantern."



    No.

    I make a small effort, but I can't entirely prevent myself from smiling.

    "Nabu? Lord of Order? Looks like you've seen better days."

    "Order. It's offal. Just another name for the same old thing: the gurgle, ooze, purl and spurt of protoplasm, deluding itself that there is meaning."

    "Is this your Goth phase? Should I get you some eye-liner?"

    Since that's not his body, I won't offer him a razor blade.

    "Do you think that your mockery of me has some meaning?"

    "Makes me feel better. I realise this is supposed to be some sort of shocking turnabout, where we meet a demonically corrupted alternate of an ally of ours, but honestly? Our Nabu was an arsehole too, and I'm not exactly sad that I'm going to get to kill you so that it sticks."

    I don't say 'again', because Kara's not in the loop and Mike Brown doesn't need to hear that.

    "What difference do you think killing me makes to your miserable, delusional, monkey existence? Your feeble attempts to find meaning in a meaningless universe?"

    "Oh you're one of those. Look, the thing as it is in an absolute sense is not the same as the thing as it is experienced. I know perfectly well that there's no absolute truth or value to our actions or thoughts, but you see these rings?" I hold my fists out. "Orange. I am the Superman. I make-."

    "No you're not."

    I frown at Kara.

    "I'm sorry?"

    "You're not Superman. I mean, he wears red and blue, and you wear grey and orange."

    "No, not.. 'Superman' as in 'Kal-El, son of Jor-El'. The Superman, in the Nietzschean sense of someone who creates their own values rather than finding them in the external world."

    Kara frowns. "That sounds weird. Why did he name that after Kal?"

    "And this is the value you have created, Superman?"

    Kara turns to him and frowns. "No, he literally just said that he's not Superman; he's the Superman." She turns back to me. "How come you don’t like him, anyway?"

    "It's to do with how Nabu -our version of Nabu- uses the bodies of the people he possesses. They put the helmet on, and then he gets control of their bodies for as long as he wants."

    "But he's a hero. I'm sure he doesn't use their bodies for longer than he has to."

    "Are you afraid to tell her the truth, Superman? The scent of murder is upon you."

    "I've killed a lot of people. I've come pretty close to exterminating an entire species."

    Kara clasps her hands to her mouth, her eyes going wide.

    "But they were all really bad. Look, weird demon Nabu, you're a powerful magic helmet. If you can't think of anything to do with your time, pick something at random and stick with it. Sheer pride will eventually result in you valuing your skill, and there's really no material benefit to proving that what you're doing has some non-subjective value because even if 'true' reality exists we will always be stuck in our own perspective."

    "I never said that I was a demon, fool."

    "I never said you were a fool, demon. Mike, are you still with us?"

    His shared head lolls for a moment, and he brings his right hand up to support it.

    "They're… They're starving, and he smiles as he hears their despair!"

    "Who is, Mike?"

    "The.. people, everyone! On the world, their world! Everything's… Gone! Their civilisation, their… Hope."

    "We'll get right on to fixing that, Mike, but right now we need to help you. Are you able to take the helmet off?"

    "Yes, please take the helmet off."

    "Change of plan: don't take the helmet off."

    "It kills them. The cultists, they… They beg him but he makes them do it anyway! Oh God!"

    "Taking off the helmet is fatal for the host?"

    "The flesh melts off their face and their brains melt out of the skull!"

    That's a little more difficult, and I don’t have mana batteries prepared. I do however have suppression chains and this Nabu has no friends.

    "Alright demon, are you going to come quietly, or do I have to beat you-."

    Yellow lightning writhes around his body and then leaps for us!
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
  28. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    12:45 GMT -6


    Dodge shield low power shot chain fire.

    Kara disappears, complying with my suggestion to avoid incoming fire extremely swiftly. My construct barrier goes up and then shatters almost immediately, but it appears to have soaked all of the attack. My railgun round hits Demon Nabu squarely in the forehead, causing his head to jerk back and the white mist rising from his eye holes to momentarily stop flowing.

    I can't immediately think of any manifestations of demonic magic that involve golden lightning. It's not theurgy -that's a different shade- but instead looks far more like the colour of our Nabu's ankhs. Order magic? Can demons use order magic? I wouldn't have.. thought so-.

    "I can't stop him! Please, help me!"

    "Sir, I appreciate that this is distressing, but I've fought Lords of Order before. Any information you can give me-."

    "He said if I put him on-. Put him on quick that I'd be able to-. My son, Jules, he found-. Oh God!"

    He found the helmet and put it on. His father agreed to put it on so that Nabu would save his son from his injuries, but he was already dead and then Nabu was in the driving seat.

    "Sir, is there anyone else here? We can evacuate-."

    "Magic.. draining."

    "Oh, what a world, what a world."

    "But simple to-"

    I shoot him in the forehead again, but this time an odd… Squiggle appears over his forehead before it strikes home. His head jerks back from the impact, but the glow from his eyes remains the same as he levels his head at me.

    "-neutralise."

    How did-? Did he just drain power from the enchantment on the round while it was in motion? I mean, sure, I dialled down the power quite a bit so the kinetic force didn't take his head off at the neck, but that's quick.

    "The binding is interesting but the spell is weak. It is a simple matter for me to-."

    "Drain it right back, yes yes. Clever, but hard-"

    This time I fire an angel feather round.

    "-ly incomprehensible."

    The mandala forms again, but this time his right arm glows as well as it blurs to interpose itself, catching the round in Mike's bare hand. That would hurt, unless he's using a physical reinforcement spell of some kind.

    "Angel magic? Is there nothing you won't do?"

    "I have decided what I value the most, and am willing to give up everything else to obtain it if that turns out to be necessary."

    Extra railgun, spread them out, load solid rounds, prepare assimilation tendrils, fire!

    Demon Nabu waves, lightning blocking the metal slugs that I aimed at his head while the tendrils are… Being neutralised just before they can touch the shield causing them to be neutralised.

    "I am ancient, Lantern. Do you believe there is anything that you can do-"

    I increase power, strands of orange power scrabbling for purchase against his aura.

    "-against a being such as-"

    There's a click as Kara closes the collar of the suppression chain around his neck from behind him.

    "-me?"

    His defensive aura winks out and Kara gets away from him just before his helmet is enveloped in orange.

    "You tell us."

    Kara darts out of the way. "Or you could not tell us. I don't really want to listen to you."

    "I'm sorry, Kara, but I was referring to myself and the Ophidian."

    Demon Nabu pulls himself up slightly at the name, as orange light begins to invade the structure of his helmet.

    "Heard of her, I take it?"

    "The Great Tempter. The serpent of the Garden of Eden."

    "Temptress, and I'm not convinced about Eden at all. So; tell us everything we want to know and accept subordinating yourself to Mike there, or I have her eat you."

    "And eat him."

    "She can be surprisingly discerning when she puts her mind to it."

    "You think yourself a hero, do you?"

    "I think myself the man with the giant snake plugged into his soul."

    "This chain stops me drawing power from Order or Chaos, or even from the thaumosphere of this miserable planet."

    "Tested it on our Nabu. He couldn't break out, either."

    He reaches up and tugs at it, but the chain is unyielding. The orange light is now covering his helmet in a wire frame, fragments of rust-gunk flaking off as it spreads.

    "Mike?"

    "Yeah?"

    "Take me off, Mike."

    Their arms drop.

    "No!"

    "Take me off, Mike."

    Their arms start to rise, then Mike pulls them back down.

    "OhGodnonono!"

    Construct chains snap into place, binding all four limbs to a base plate construct. He's… Stronger than his muscle mass suggests, but I've tried this on Kon and Nabu is nowhere near that strong.

    "Take me off, Mike! Take me off."

    "Nnnnuuuuurrrrghhhh!"

    Kara darts forward and punches him in the head. Presumably pulling the blow, given that his head doesn't explode. Their body jerks against my construct chains, but Nabu appears unfazed.

    "Come on, Mike. Don’t you just want this to be-?"

    My mage slayer round hits him in the forehead, making his eyes blink out. Then Kara punches him again, and he lolls in my chains.

    "Nabu of Cilia, you belong to the Orange Lantern Corps."
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  29. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    18:52 GMT

    Dr. Balewa cautiously studies the construct helmet.

    "I can not feel anything of the demonic about it. Are you well, Mister Brown?"

    "I don't-? I mean, what do you mean? This thing just… Killed my son. Of course I-. I'm not… 'Well'."

    With the helmet being a construct, I can just about see his face through the translucent orange. He's clearly distraught, but now that the immediate danger has passed at least the yellow has receded a little.

    "Are you seeing visions? Are you in pain?"

    "No. No, he hasn't said anything or done anything since…" Mike glances at me. "Since Orange Lantern did this." He looks around Dr. Balewa's workshop in the Hall of Justice. "Can I-? Take it off? I mean, no disrespect or anything, but I don't wanna… Wanna be here."

    Dr. Balewa raises his eyebrows at me. "Orange Lantern?"

    "I.. don't know. I mean, there's not normally a problem with removing Construct-Lanterns from things, but I don't know what magic Nabu is using to keep himself anchored."

    "Can you not order him to end it?"

    "Only if he can end it. If it's part of the mechanism that allows him to bind himself to people, that won't help. And I'll have to order him to tell us."

    "I am heppy to research at length, but Mister Brown wishes to return to his family, and we have urgent matters to attend to."

    "Mike, do you mind me waking him up a little?"

    "Just… Get it off."

    "Nabu of Cilia, can you be removed safely?"

    "No."

    "No what?"

    "No... Master."

    "Can that state of affairs be changed by magics known to you?"

    "There are… Rituals. Rites. Vitality transfer techniques. But my magics are embedded in the body and soul of my host. It is supposed to be hard to remove me. Master."

    "Can you be hidden?"

    "Hidden?"

    "Made completely transparent and intangible, made so that people don’t notice that you're there, or anything like that?"

    "I… Can, yes."

    "Explain in more detail."

    "I am a being of spirit bound to an energy construct. This form is malleable in certain ways."

    "Any side effects for the person wearing you or those around them?"

    "Any halfway competent magician would feel my presence. And you appear to have-" Mike's turns his head to look at Dr. Balewa. "-those."

    "Less of your lip, Nabu. Are you able to perform these alterations yourself?"

    "No. I require use of my host."

    "Then I'm afraid that's the best we can do for now, Mike. Obviously we'll keep working-."

    "Where did this bastard even come from?"

    "A parallel universe where Earth is ruled by demons. We intend to prevent-."

    "What-? That's what it was showing me?"

    "Probably."

    "And they're coming here? Oh God."

    I shake my head. "I wouldn't worry about it. We're trained for this sort of situation, and while it would be helpful to have access to Nabu here, we can probably manage without him."

    "Shit. Ah, but… He could..? Could help?"

    "He lived in their world. He knows what they're likely to be able to throw at us. Or… Just what you saw. I appreciate that you've had an extremely traumatic experience and you have my utmost sympathy, so once Nabu hides himself I can take you right back to-."

    "But they're… They're still coming."

    "Unless we ward them off or attack them" I nod. "Yes, probably. But this is hardly the first time we've been attacked by demons or parallel universes. That contribution-."

    "Shit, man, the Sheeda killed like a billion people!"

    "Of course, if you would like to contribute, Doctor Mist is the best person you could describe what you saw to. The more we learn about their magic, the easier it will be for us to counter it."

    "Then I've got to, haven't I?" He shrugs helplessly. "Ask whatever you want, Doc. Telling you… That's the least I can do."

    Dr. Balewa nods. "I would appreciate thet. Orange Lantern, will Nabu remain obedient in your absence?"

    "Yes." I lean over and put my right hand on Mike's left shoulder. "This is a good thing you're doing, Mike, and we really appreciate it."

    "Just get those bastards for me."

    "Can do."

    I raise my left hand to my forehead and

    step out, returning

    16th September 2012
    12:55 GMT -6

    to the material universe above Liberty. Kara is comforting Mike's wife and their other two children, but there is only so much you can do when they've just seen their son and brother… Melt.

    "Kara, Mike's fine and he's sharing what he learned. We can make Nabu invisible, but getting rid of him's going to be a longer term thing. I'm-."

    My ring flashes.

    "New job. Answer."

    "Orange Lantern."

    I smile faintly. "Green Arrow. What can I do for you?"

    "Remember what happened before Overgirl showed up? We're picking up those signals again."

    "Where?"

    "Hamburg. I don’t know-."

    "Nazi Earth has a major physics research institution there. We might be getting intentional visitors. I'll grab Angelika now."
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2021
  30. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    16th September 2012
    19:59 GMT +1


    "I can see it."

    Angelika is shaking with excitement, her hands clenching and unclenching as she tries to work out what to do with them.

    "I can see it. They're coming!" Something occurs, and her hands still. "They're coming. What do I tell them?"

    "Okay, firstly, we don't know for certain that it's them. It's a way to access parallel universes. This could be anyone. Secondly… This could just be a test. It's entirely possible that they're using the equipment for the first time but aren't going to send through anything more sophisticated than a biological sample container."

    She nods. "I know."

    "And given how injured you were, it's possible that nothing is going to come through intact."

    She takes a moment to steady her breathing.

    "Yes, yes, I know."

    "But on the off-chance that someone comes through and it's not Karl Kant, have you thought about how you're going to handle it?"

    "Almost every day since I have been here." She looks around, taking in 21st century non-national socialist Germany. "Most of the other New Statesmen or other heroes do not have improved vision, so they will not immediately see... Ah…"

    "All the wanton degeneracy?"

    "Ah. Yes. So that will be easier."

    "Are you planning on going back?"

    "That-. It would depend. If this portal can be maintained and I could travel back and forth, then I would rather visit home and then return here. If it is harder… It would depend on what the restrictions were." She frowns. "Why do you think this is happening now?"

    "We did turn off the devices blocking travel to parallel universes for an hour a few days ago."

    "It does not appear to be a barrier."

    "Not an absolute barrier, no. But it blocked some types of inter-parallel sensors and disrupted some… Things it couldn't block completely. This could be the result of them now knowing that there's something here to access." I shrug. "Or… Something else. Maybe this is just how long it took."

    "Are you worried that it might be the demons?"

    I take out a rune stone and hold it towards to point of maximum oddity. No reaction.

    "No. A demon portal would require huge amounts of magic. I'm honestly not sure if it's even possible to move from one parallel reality to another with magic."

    "Are demons incapable of using machinery?"

    "It's not that they can't, it just… Demons aren't usually good at technology. Even with everything Satanus devised, it relies on the presence of a high magic environment to allow the damned souls operating it to remain manifested. Or for the weapons themselves to work. A soul can't just step through a portal to the material universe and carry on as if nothing happened."

    "So if demons from the Demonearth come through, then their weapons will not work."

    "I'm not sure. Demon Supergirl wasn't possessed, just highly tainted. If they attack with infused cultists and metahumans, those should still function… For a while."

    "And then what?"

    "Without a source of demonic magic they would… Eventually lose most of the taint. I think. By default, anyway; there are ways to get around that with magic use."

    "They would be freed?"

    "Ah, they would no longer be compelled with demon magic. I imagine that after spending that long in such an environment that most of them would remain 'Markist'."

    "Because even without the compulsion, it is what they are used to."

    "I was thinking more that the shape of their thoughts would have been altered rather than it being a matter of pure habit, but, yes."

    She's quiet for a moment.

    "They would have a Kal-El, wouldn't they?"

    "Probably, but I can't say for certain."

    "They had a Supergirl."

    "Yes, but one doesn't necessarily follow the other. For all we know, House El might have been involved with Earth for years before the whole demon thing happened. Or the fixation with the mark might come from a Kryptonian ship or data probe that arrived on Earth."

    She looks at me.

    "But you don't believe that."

    "But I don't believe that."

    "How much stronger would Kal-El be if he was given power by demons?"

    "I'm not really sure how demons could give him power. He… Shouldn't be sufficiently in tune with Earth's thaumatic fields to use magic. They could make weapons for him; he'd be able to use those. But as for physically enhancing him, I wouldn't think so."

    "We can fight him, then?"

    "How much better than yours is New Kara's hearing?"

    "I am only partially kryptonian. But her hearing is better than 'old' Kara's hearing as well." Angelika nods. "So the kryptonian of one universe is not the same as a kryptonian of another."

    "And he'd be far more savage than the Kal-Els we're used to. He'd be fighting to kill from the start, and not at all concerned for collateral damage."

    "Why is his mark so important?"

    "It's important to their Kara. Nabu didn't seem bothered." She nods. "I don't know. It might be-."

    Her eyes widen. "It's opening!"

    Alright. Send a notification to the League and to the German government, prepare a railgun but keep it in the at rest position and generate construct armour-.

    A red circle with black patches about two metres across swells into being, hands… Somehow holding the edges and pushing it open. I see the pale skin redden and blister as the owner somehow forces the primordial energies of the universe to comply with nothing but brute strength.

    "Karl!"

    Angelika darts forward, grabbing the edge of the portal from this side and helping the man I assume to be Overman maintain it. He notices her and smiles before shifting his body to this side. A three count and they both let go, allowing the portal to close up on itself.

    Overman studies the area the portal was in for a moment, presumably checking that it's behaving as expected. Then he gives Angelika his full attention, smiling warmly at her.

    "Angelika."

    They both check each other over and then blur together, arms wrapped around one another, her face in the crook of his neck and his pressed into the top of her head.

    "Karl."

    Ah.

    This… Feels awkward.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
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