#49: Seventy Two Hours, Part 2 (of 3) Dec 28, 2018 4:32:29 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on Dec 28, 2018 4:32:29 GMT -5
THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, ANTARCTICA
"Okay, so here's how today's going to go. You're going to have the best day off humanly possible, and I'm going to fill in for you."
The way Kara spoke made it seem like it was obvious. Of course she was going to fill in for her cousin. Of course it was as simple as that. But in actuality it was a lot less simple. She'd travelled down the timestream from a point ten plus years into the future, traversing the raging torrents of entropy itself to get here, and now here she was, stood in front of her cousin and future cousin-in-law, talking plain and smiling broad.
"I have a question," said Lois, putting her hand up.
Clark smiled. "Really? We're not at school, Lois."
Lois shrugged. "Class in session, what can I say? Kara... I appreciate all you're doing, but how are you going to do this? How do you know everything Clark did in the past... our present... so that you can nip it in the bud like he did? I know what he does in his down time, I know how he pops out the office for a few minutes and does things beyond my comprehension, that's just... Superman. But how do you know? Did he tell you? In the future?"
"Kinda. I also might have read his diary," Kara said.
"You did what?" Clark replied, surprised at his own surprise.
Kara held up her hands. "I know, I know, but I had to make sure I did this right. Plus, it was in Kryptonese, so it wasn't like it was in some secret code or something."
"It kind of was," grumbled the Man of Steel.
"Yeah, to them, but not to us," she replied, nudging him on the shoulder. "And while I appreciate you using your heat vision to inscribe later entries, I think I preferred it when you used your fingernail. Have you ever seen it, Lois? Not inside, obviously, but the diary itself? Massive sheets of indestructible metal..."
Clark positioned himself between the two women. "Could we stop talking about my diary, please?"
"It's so cute though!" said Kara.
"It does sound ridiculously cute, Smallville," replied Lois.
"Anyway, yes, I flicked back a few pages until I found the perfect quiet-ish day for this to work, then my girlfriend did the rest. There are times... it has to be Superman, you know? There's more than just saving lives, there's... an example to be set. But, yeah. Today's the day."
"Well, I appreciate it. Clark was up all-night planning today, and you know what it's like when his brain kicks into overdrive," said Lois.
"Don't get your hopes up. It might be the worst thing I've ever done," he replied.
Lois rolled her eyes. "Please. Anyway. Can one of you explain what I'm wearing?" She gestured down to herself, at the purple survival suit she was wearing. It hadn't been what she'd expected when Clark said he had an outfit picked out for her, but it was interesting to say the least. The fabric resembled leather, but knowing her fiancé, that wouldn't be the case. A synthetic, super-material, probably. She almost rolled her eyes again at the thought. Super-something, super-that, super-this... "It's the most comfortable thing I've ever worn, but still..."
Looking pleased with himself, Clark looked down to the version of the suit he was wearing, though the colour scheme was a deep blue and a dark red-- a reminder of the other set of clothing he wore in his other line of work.
"I found the design in the crystal archives. It's a Kryptonian survival suit. Empathetic and anticipatory of the wearer's needs. We're about to go places where I didn't think it appropriate to wear the cape and tights, but I also didn't want to leave you without protection in case the worse comes to worst."
"Why are you always so pessimistic?" Lois asked, smirking.
Clark replied, "I'm pragmatic! Anyway... one last thing to complete the ensemble." He rummaged through his back pocket and pulled out a small ring box.
"Clark, you already proposed to me... I already said yes," Lois said, smiling and laughing.
"This one's different," he said, flicking it open, to reveal a golden ring with a black insignia carved into the face of it in the shape of an 'L'. "A Legion flight ring. Usually it enables the user to fly, but I had to disable that to make room for some new programming. It also offers additional environmental protection." He held up his hand, though all Lois could see was his wedding band. He moved his fingers around his ring finger, just above the visible band already on there, and pressed down, revealing a previously cloaked piece of jewellery, "I I always wear mine just in case."
"Just in case what?" asked Lois.
"The Legion of Super Heroes ever needs me. That's one of the features-- a distress call. I've modified yours so that it's linked to mine. If we become separated, I'll find you."
"Where are you guys actually going?" Kara asked, her brow furrowed. “I said I’d cover for you for a day, but if you’re throwing yourself into the belly of the beast, I might have to rescind my offer…”
Clark threw his hands up jokingly. "I'm being pragmatic! I know how these things go!”
"I have to admit, I'm becoming less excited by this vacation by the second," said Lois.
"Okay, okay, before you scare her out of marriage completely, you guys head off. I've got a busy day ahead of me. Well, not that busy. But, y'know," said Kara.
Superman took a Boom Tube projector out from his pocket and held it up in front of the pair. "And you're sure you'll be okay?"
"I'm Superwoman, Kal. I've really got this," she replied.
Superman smiled and gave her a warm embrace, which Lois then followed up on.
With the push of a button on the projector, an explosive tunnel opened in the Fortress of Solitude, and the pair stepped through, to parts unknown...
Kara watched them go, waving as they went. When the Boom Tube sealed, her expression shifted. Hardened. There was a resolve there that hadn't been present previously, she pulled her cuff up an inch to check her watch, and then she nodded to herself, knowing full well what had to come next. She had a lot of work to do. And only some of it had she shared with her now absent cousin...
“Time to start the clock,” said Superwoman. She untucked the Legion Omnicom she’d kept inside the lining of her cape, and then nodded to herself. “Time to change history.”
Issue Forty-Nine: “Seventy-Two Hours”
Part Two (of Three): “What Price Tomorrow?”
WILKINS / IBARRA
Emerging from event horizon of the Boom Tube, Lois could immediately smell the difference in this planet’s air. It was like the entire atmosphere was infused with the scent of the most beautiful roses, but she wasn’t overpowered by it like she expected to be initially. Instead, the scent settled, became normal to her, and she couldn’t help but breathe in as deeply as possible, her entire body buzzing as it was invigorated by the change in locale.
“Where are we?” she asked, looking around the plateau they’d arrived on. They were on top of a vast mountain top, but instead of craggy, rocky outcroppings, they were atop a gigantic tree, like the giant sequoia that littered Californian National Parks. Bark and winding ivy, flowers blooming higher than she’d ever think possible, and the sky streaking colours she’d never thought possible in her old life, the life she’d lived before Superman had come into it.
Clark looked around, taking in the sights for himself. “Deep within Space Sector 586. This world is intergalactically known as J582. Part of a tightly woven cluster of five-hundred and eighty-seven worlds. Nearly six hundred planets spinning in perfect harmony around violet binary stars. Renowned for--”
“Clark,” interrupted Lois, reaching out and taking her fiancée’s hand.
“Yes, sorry,” he replied, gently giving her hand a squeeze.
“It’s really beautiful,” said Lois.
“It is. And it’s almost funny… everything I do… everything I’ve been part of… sometimes I don’t get to slow down and… well…”
Lois stifled a laugh. “…Smell the roses? Were you going to say smell the roses?”
“Maybe,” he replied.
“You’re such a dork. I love you.”
“And I love you too,” said Clark, kissing the love of his life tenderly as the skies continued to change colour on this vast, alien world, so far from where they’d both started back home on Earth…
“Ray-Ray? Are you all right?” asked Mackenzie Jensen, nervously tapping her knuckle against the bathroom door. She’d heard her husband stumble in late last night, listened to him vomit into the toilet and then pass out in front of it, and she almost felt bad about it all-- but didn’t want to deal with whatever mess he’d inflicted upon himself during his latest outing.
That said, it was 6am, and all she could hear from the bathroom was gurgling and gargling, and not the good kind. He’d never been known to break into her stash of mouthwash, so the noise confused her, and if it got any louder, it might wake the kids.
“Mmmmfinnneeeeee,” came the clearly-not-fine voice of her husband.
“Hon, can you let me in? Can I see you?” she asked.
“Said… said m’fine,” he replied, coughing horribly.
Mackenzie could hear him move around inside the locked room, stumbling around like he was still drunk. And yes, he did like to down a few crates of beer before coming home at night, but he had the metabolism of a machine, and four hours sleeping it off on the bathroom floor? Probably the soberest he’d ever been.
“You sound awful,” she said, concern radiating from her.
“Feel… kinda hungry…”
“Ray, c’mon, you’re kinda scaring me,” said Mackenzie.
“I… I did something stupid last night…” he said. His voice was muffled like he was talking through cloth, but at least he wasn’t slurring anymore.
“What happened, honey? Open the door. Let’s talk,” she said.
There was a gentle thud on the other side of the door, and Mackenzie could feel his weight against it.
“The boys… they needed… they had…”
She blinked, and the room began to spin. She felt lightheaded, like she was the one who’d been drinking on an empty stomach. What was up with that? She hadn’t stayed up fretting over her husband’s late night absence, nor his early morning arrival, but it was like she hadn’t slept… she was suddenly exhausted.
“You weren’t hanging around with Tony Mannheim again, were you?” she asked, turning her back to the door and leaning up against it herself, trying to brace her suddenly weakened knees.
“No! Well… yeah… Tony… they… they turned up at the bar… they… they heard about… our…”
“You told them about me being laid off, didn’t you?” Mackenzie said. She slipped down the door. Her poor, desperate husband had gone off half-cocked and done something stupid. Tony god damn Mannheim. Sleazy son of one of the scariest men Metropolis ever produced. Son of Intergang’s head honcho, Bruno Mannheim, and only kept out of prison because for all the bad the boy had done, his father had kept the heat off him.
“I’m sorry, hon.”
She closed her eyes. She could have fallen asleep then and there. “What… what did you do?” she managed to ask.
“Tony had a job…” said Ray.
“But… but it went wrong… and I… stupid… I was so stupid…”
“I’m just… I’m just so hungry…”
A key turned in the bathroom door, unlocking it. Mackenzie stumbled forward so she didn’t stumble back and managed to turn to see her husband standing in the doorway.
“oh my god,” she whispered.
Raymond Maxwell Jensen was two hundred pounds lighter than she’d last seen him and covered in purplish scar tissue. In fact, his entire body-- previously obese-- was covered head to toe in the disgusting scarification that obscured his features, hid his eyes and mouth, and gave him the overall appearance of a ghoul.
On the floor of the bathroom behind him were wet slabs of what his wife suspected was his old skin, where it had been sloughed off in sheets. He looked like he was in so much pain, but at the same time, his hands were outstretched, reaching toward her, and she felt so damn tired…
“I’m just so hungry…” he whispered.
Before he could touch her, Mackenzie Jensen vanished.
There had been a gust of wind, then woosh, she was gone. By the time Raymond had made it to his children’s bedroom, they were gone too.
“Just… need… to eat… where’s… where…” he mumbled.
“There’s no one in this apartment building but you and me,” said Superwoman, her arms crossed and standing in front of the man. “You won’t harm anybody.”
“you’re a star,” whispered Ray.
“I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry I couldn’t prevent it. But at least… I could stop you doing something you’ll live to regret,” she said. Shrieking, he lunged forward and tried to touch her-- but his hand bounced off her arm like there was a barrier between them. She shook her head as he grasped his aching hand, and then said, “Last night you were exposed to a xenobiological material that S.T.A.R. Labs was in the process of destroying. The same mineral that transformed Rudy Jones into the Parasite. Do you remember what happened?”
“so bright so bright,” whispered Ray.
Behind the scarred flesh lining his eyes sockets, beady black eyes sparkled with a ravenous light.
“You were exposed to the mineral, and in your shock-- and completely against your will-- you absorbed the life energy of the three men you were working with. They’re dead now, but their psyches are in your head. They’ll surface soon. And I’m sorry it’s come to that. Hopefully, with S.T.A.R.’s help, you’ll be able to hold onto your own memories. Your family will want you to get better, Ray. Hold onto that.”
Ray blinked. What was this star saying? How was this star speaking? So bright. So delicious. But he couldn’t touch. Couldn’t eat. She was talking and talking, and he was so hungry, so hungry it made his belly growl and his bones ache. He wanted to feed. But what did her words mean? What was happening?
“So, I’m sorry. You’re wondering why you can’t feed on me? That’s fine. I don’t blame you. It’s instinctual now. I wonder what kind of beings created the mineral that transformed you. It’s not something I’ve ever considered before. A mineral that transforms those exposed into beings whose existence is predicated on taking life energy from others. You can’t feed on me because I’m wearing a special forcefield belt. I came prepared. And I’ve kept you talking because the energy emitter behind you is drawing out all the extraneous energy you stole from your friends, and then you’ll pass out. In fact--”
Ray collapsed to the floor in a pile.
Superwoman’s own eyes flashed, checking on the unconscious man’s life signs, and then sighed sadly. She bundled him up and placed him in the containment unit she’d left outside the apartment door. She then descended the stairwell with the device in her arms, until she arrived on the street where the S.T.A.R. Labs team, backed up by the Metropolis Major Crimes Unit, were waiting, along with the men, women and children who’d inhabited the building mere moments before.
Kara had contacted the Metropolis authorities as soon as she left the Fortress of Solitude, collected the equipment she needed to contain what Jensen had become, and then evacuated the apartment building to stop him from drawing any more life energies from those around him. She couldn’t stop his creation, but she could mitigate the damage done afterwards.
Approaching the containment unit tentatively, Lieutenant Lupe Teresa Leocadio-Escudero, second-in-command of the MCU, peered inside and said, “Holy crap, this guy’s the new Parasite? Jeez, that’s bad news.”
Superwoman shook her head. “No, his name is Raymond Maxwell Jensen. He’s been in a terrible accident, and he cannot control the changes made to his biology. Yes, he’s currently a danger to everyone around him, but that doesn’t mean he’s a supervillain. Not if he gets the support he needs.”
“Sure looks like the Parasite,” said Officer Lyle Beedler, the blond policeman backing off nervously from where Jensen was currently contained and unconscious.
Kara explained calmly, “I’ve spoken to S.T.A.R. Labs. Informed them of the side effects of his infection. They have equipment to contain him, but it’ll only get worse before it gets better. He’s absorbed the psyches of three hardened criminals. That’s enough to twist any man’s mind into knots. Now, but for now, the threat has passed.”
“Just like that? Without a fight?” said Officer Russ Tenclouds. The Native American policeman was less tentative than Beedler, but more prepared to throw down if necessary.
Ignoring the comment, Kara loaded the containment unit into a S.T.A.R. Labs vehicle, then approached Mackenzie Jensen and her two children, who were huddled together on the back of an ambulance. Ray had inadvertently absorbed some of his wife’s life energy, but with some vital fluids and dedicated medical attention, she’d be fine.
“I’m sorry about your husband. He’s in the best possible hands now,” said Kara, placing a hand on Mackenzie’s own.
“W-who even are you?”
Kara nodded slowly, trying to present as unthreatening as possible. “I’m Superman’s cousin. But from the future.”
Mackenzie shook her head, not completely understanding, but with other concerns right now. “A-and my h-husband?”
“S.T.A.R. can help. I’m sure of it. He’ll need you now, more than ever. But the thing that did this to him… it’s made him… he’s not entirely himself anymore. Sometimes his hunger will get the better of him. And all we can do is hope that S.T.A.R. can help bring the man he was back to the forefront. I’m sorry, I have to go, but know, they’ll do everything they can for him.”
She gave a gentle wave to the children then lifted off, heading to the next crisis on her list…
Legion Omnicom - Historama Update – Notable events of the 21st Century: Due to accidental exposure to a mysterious xenobiological agent, Raymond Maxwell Jensen was transformed into the second Parasite, after Rudolph 'Rudy' Jones, thirteen years prior. During the manifestation of his abilities, he inadvertently drained the life from his wife and children, along with three dozen innocent bystanders who lived in his apartment building, an event that drove him irrevocably mad. S.T.A.R. Labs were unable to reverse his condition, but his abilities were utilised during the Appellaxian Meta Plague Crisis of 20XX to save countless lives.
“Smallville, you absolute-- oooph--!”
Without any grace or warning, Lois landed face first on a knoll of crimson long grass and was followed by a deluge of water-- or what seemed to be water-- that drenched her entirely.
The Boom Tube she’d arrived through faded as Clark floated toward her, looking sheepish. “Lois, I’m so sorry.”
“Christ, my entire body, ow ow ow,” she replied, as he helped her up.
“I didn’t know that was going to happen.”
“As majestic are they were to see in person, Thanksgiving parade float-sized water balloons that burst if you breathe on them aren’t difficult to miss on first pass, aren’t they? So, you sure you didn’t know?”
“Yes! Of course! I mean, that wasn’t water, but completely harmless liquid energy, but that’s beside the point-- are you okay?”
Checking herself for damage, she replied, “Your forcefield thingamajig did the job, but still, I feel like my body is a trampoline, and it also twisted itself inside out to do a double jump on it.”
“That’s… colourful,” he replied.
“Okay, okay, so where are we now?” she asked.
“Breakfast,” said Clark, gesturing toward the vast cityscape that stretched out from the bottom of the red-grassed hill they’d landed on. “This is Rann, and that city over there is the capitol, Ranagar. An old friend of mine lives there.”
“You have an old friend from space? What am I saying, of course you do. Of course.”
“He’s not actually from space. He’s from Earth but he lives here with his family. He always said, if we’re in the neighbourhood to drop in. I thought if we were going to grab breakfast, we might as well drop into one of the best places for coffee this side of Sector 2682. They grow the beans specially ever since Swamp Thing energised the environment a few years back… but that’s a story for a different time.”
“Coffee on an alien world with views as beautiful as this and company as good as yours? What’s a girl done to deserve a life like this?” asked Lois, as the pair headed toward the capitol.
A month or so prior, he’d tried to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Joker’s nanotech plague, the one that had infected countless men, women and children and transformed them into rampaging, cackling superhuman zombies*. He’d been taken down hard by a group of Germanic heroes, who strove to prove that his was not the ideal meant for the world-- for Germany-- in this day and age…
*Justice League #75-80
Since then, Captain Nazi had been wrapped in power-cancelling chains under power-cancelling lights, stewing with impotent anger after he’d been beaten into unconsciousness by the ad hoc teaming of Donner and Blitzen, and their old friend the Wild Huntsman.
The media had been full of celebration for the trio, who had since vowed to stay together to combat threats to Germany’s sanctity under the banner of the Nibelung Verteidigungsteam-- when asked what that name meant, the super-smart speedster Blitzen explained that the original Nibelung was a mythical guardian of a treasure, and that after his death the various subsequent owners of the treasure called themselves Nibelungs. To the trio of heroes, Germany was a treasure they vowed to protect, so they took on that name, with Verteidigungsteam translating to ‘Defense Team‘.
In the weeks since their formation, Nibelung Verteidigungsteam had accepted the mecha flight suit wearing Hell Hammer-- the great granddaughter of a WW1 air ace-- into their ranks, as well as the counter-terrorism expert and national hero Jaeger Weiss, along with the mystical heroines Buschgroßmutter and Wiedergänger, and the pyrokinetic Lindwurm. Theirs was a fledgling team, unsure of each other but confident in one thing-- they all wanted to do the right thing.
When it was announced Albrecht Krieger, aka Captain Nazi, was to finally go to trial for his deluge of war crimes and terrorist acts at Bundesgerichtshof-- the highest court in Germany-- the government reached out to Nibelung Verteidigungsteam and formally requested that the super team be present during the court proceedings.
Donner and Blitzen pointed out it was a publicity stunt-- the government pally-pally-ing around with the hot, new thing, but the Wild Huntsman didn’t care. It was affirmation that the path he’d led his entire life hadn’t been for naught.
Anyway, it was a good thing they decided to take the German government up on their offer, because when Katrina Krieger-- aka Madame Libertine-- and her army of raving Neo Nazi followers attacked the ornate courthouse to free her grand-uncle, it meant that they immediately met resistance!
“You make me sick!” bellowed the Wild Huntsman, swatting away a machete wielding attacker, while the others fought on.
In a feat of immense super-strength, Donner lifted seven burly men over her head at once, then threw them across the grass of the park that fronted the court.
“Yeah, you make me sick… too!” she shouted.
Lightning fast, Blitzen shot across the park, punching the Swastika-clad thugs hard in the face and even harder in the groins, careful to exact as much damage as she could in as little time possible, because if there was one thing she hated, it was Nazis.
“That was nice, Gerri. Real cute,” said Blitzen, screeching to a stop to throw a barb at her lover.
“Ah, shut up,” replied Donner, grinning.
Flying overhead, Hell Hammer fired non-lethal armaments at the superpowered enforcer Madame Libertine had dragged into the fight, a horribly hulking, nine-foot tall monstrosity she’d announced as ‘Vergeltungswaffe‘-- which translated to ‘Vengeance Weapon-- who shrieked with pain with every step it took, and roared in agony with every punch it threw.
Where had the Nazi monster found this thing? Its skin was grey and pallid, nothing resembling skin but instead pure musculature. Tendons and thew were bundled together like hundreds of closed fists. Across the body of the thing were dense metallic tubes embedded deep into whatever it was that comprised its flesh, all-in-all making his body unlike anything the assembled members of Nibelung Verteidigungsteam had witnessed.
And that scream? The pain it was in? It wouldn’t leave them, not even in their dreams and nightmares.
Using the gnarled summoning stick she carried in her creased and lined hands, Buschgroßmutter-- the aptly translated ‘Shrub Grandmother’-- summoned thick, clasping vines from under the grassy lawn.
“You silly, silly boys and your silly, silly games. Let Oma teach you a lesson.”
The creepers she’d summoned bundled themselves around the limbs of the Neo Nazis and dragged them to the ground, pinning them down as they struggled and failed to escape. The old woman cackled to herself, her stubby, ducked body quivering as she went about her business restraining her enemies.
While Lindwurm kettled the villains down the side of the courthouse, her liquid flames licking and crackling at their feet, Wiedergänger-- which translated to ‘One Who Walks Again’-- stood waiting for them at the end flame tunnel, her hair bone white and her face twisted into an expression that caused the once rage-filled and violent men to shake in their boots.
“Oh, you’re in for it now,” said Lindwurm, allowing her flames to lessen ever so slightly-- she didn’t want to miss this.
Wiedergänger’s pale skin turned cadaverous, black tattoos suddenly visible and lining her lips and cheekbones, circling her eyes and giving her face the secondary appearance of a skull. She opened her mouth to scream-- and the noise that emerged summoned the dead!
Spirits clawed up from the ground beneath the Neo Nazis’ feet, and pulled and tore at their clothing. There was no escape, and within a matter of seconds, they were unconscious, their hair shocked white, their bladder control non-existent.
Her job done and the spirits slipping back into the land of the un-living, Wiedergänger exhaled, her face returning to normal, and she waved Lindwurm off, who was giving her a double thumbs up.
Finally, Jaeger Weiss kept his distance, liaising with the police who cordoned off the area, and it was he who heard the sonic boom crack in the distance-- and spotted the streak of red and blue as it shot into the courthouse!
“What was that?” he asked, unsure of what he had witnessed.
Without warning, Captain Nazi was punched out of the courthouse, and landed in an unconscious heap in front of his grand-niece-- his nose broken and at a rough angle.
“Uncle Albrecht! No!” Madame Libertine cried out, looking shocked-- so much so that she gave up trying to take control of the minds of those assembled-- then turning to see Superwoman emerge from inside.
“You’re done here,” said Kara, in perfect German.
“Alien bitch!” Libertine cried out, psionic power crackling from her head toward Superwoman’s.
“Rude,” replied Kara, holding up her hand, in defiance. She inhaled quickly, then exhaled even faster-- breathing out a micro-blast of Arctic Breath that knocked Madame Libertine onto her backside and off her game. Less than a second later, Superwoman crossed the distance between them, and gently pinched her downed opponent on the neck, immediately rendering the Neo Nazi villainess was unconscious.
It was an elementary move from Horu-Kanu, a Kryptonian martial art based on pressure points-- one her mother had taught her during her youth-- but Kara was adamant that if she didn’t have to throw a punch, then she wouldn’t.
“Whoa, that was… impressive,” said Blitzen.
Noting her tone, Donner gently punched her girlfriend in the shoulder, but then nodded in agreement. “I mean, yeah.”
Turning her attention to Vergeltungswaffe, Kara approached slowly, quietly saying in a reassuring tone, “It’s all right, I’m here, I understand.“ She looked back at rest of the Nibelung Verteidigungsteam, and said, “I can help.“
“What’s she doing?” asked Jaeger, who had recovered the shaking Wiedergänger from the alley she had stumbled out from.
“I can sense… so much suffering… in that thing… like it’s being tortured…” said Wiedergänger.
“Tortured?” repeated Jaeger. “How…”
The Vergeltungswaffe creature was shrieking, but Hell Hammer had veered off, allowing Superwoman to take the lead. The mecha suit-wearing Ilsa von Hammer didn’t know the Woman of Tomorrow, didn’t fully understand her presence, but recognised what the symbol on her chest meant and acted accordingly.
“Can you understand me?” asked Superwoman.
Vergeltungswaffe howled, and took a stammering step toward her.
“I can see what’s happened to you,” she said, “and I want to help. Will you let me help”?
A flash of x-ray vision; something virulent was rushing through this hulking monstrosity’s bloodstream, a highly toxic, rage-inducing super-steroid, similar in molecular structure to Venom but doing horrific damage every second it pumped around this thing’s body, more so than Venom ever did to its victims.
The metallic rivets piercing its flesh were recognisable to her as control rods, and the way they were vibrating in his flesh-- another reason the Vergeltungswaffe was in so much pain-- matched the vibrations that Madame Libertine exerted with her psychic powers; Kara could see the residual emissions hanging in the air, radiating out from the right-wing psionic’s head.
“She’s made you do this, made you go this far. I understand. And I’ll help you. I’m here.“
She exhaled slowly, numbing the burning sensation that ravaged the Vergeltungswaffe’s skin with her Arctic Breath, and then, zipping around him as fast as she could, she pulled the control rods from his body, knitting together the damaged flesh to the best of her ability with laser-focused heat vision.
It hurt like hell, but before the Vergeltungswaffe could fully understand what was happening, or react accordingly in its confusion and shock, Superwoman was done, and she let the control rods fall to the floor, one after the other, a dozen or so lengths of metal clanging as they landed on the stony ground.
“Th… th… thank you,” groaned the Vergeltungswaffe, before it collapsed into her arms, completely unconsciousness.
She turned toward the others. “Checkmate are already on their way, they’ll be able to help this man.”
“Help him? He just tried to kill us all!” exclaimed Lindwurm.
“Don’t be a cliché, hothead,” said Wild Huntsman, patting the pyrotechnic on the shoulder. “Is there anything else we can do?” he asked, looking toward the Woman of Tomorrow.
“Contain the scene until then. Help the police round up any stragglers. Libertine is a psychic though, Checkmate will be aware, but some of these men and women might be here against their will. The fact she didn’t try to reach into your heads to make the situation worse suggests to me that--” The Legion Omnicron on her belt buzzed. “-- I’m sorry, I have to go. Your police force’s meta-response team will have psychic dampeners, so they’ll want to load Libertine up with those. Good work, today, Nibelung Verteidigungsteam. Keep it up! I see great things for you in the future!”
With a wave, Superwoman shot off, leaving Donner to ask, “So, yeah, she was wearing a Superman costume, but who in the hell was that woman? And how does she know who we are?”
Legion Omnicom - Historama Update – Notable events of the 21st Century: During his escape from Bundesgerichtshof, the combined forces of Captain Nazi, Madame Libertine and their mind-controlled living super weapon known as Vergeltungswaffe slaughtered the recently formed German superteam known as Nibelung Verteidigungsteam and thirty-seven members of the Polizei Karlsruhe, before Superman was able to break away from his Metropolis-based battle with Raymond Maxwell Jensen, the brand new Parasite.
As Lois emerged from the latest Boom Tube her husband-to-be had opened for them, she was shocked at the sight of young children hurtling past them in the air, soaring without a care in the world on circular discs attached to their shoes. She spun around, watching them go, and then her awareness of their surroundings immediately expanded.
The skies were alive with activity; men, women and children zipping back and forth like it was nothing, like they were late for a bus or going for a morning jog. They soared like it was walking, like it was amazing, like it wasn’t some sight that filled Lois with awe.
“Wh-where are we?” she asked, the shock apparent in her hushed voice.
“New Genesis. Home of the New Gods,” said Clark, taking her hand in his own.
“Oh my god,” she whispered, “I knew you said they’d terraformed their old world into something different*, but I didn’t think it would be this… this…”
*Action Comics Annual 2018
“Lush? Vibrant? Full of life?” he offered.
“…Amazing,” she replied.
“I thought, of all the places I wanted to show you, of all the sights I wanted to share, this one is a place you had a hand in. Back before the Apokolips Invasion, you were there when Genesis Corp* was running around Earth, buying up all the human ingenuity and resources it needed to launch this world out into the universe. You were the one they revealed the truth of their nature to. You. And I wanted to show you what they’d done since.”
*Action Comics #7
She exhaled. It felt like she’d been holding her breath since they arrived-- her heart pounded at the sight of the celestial cities built across the lush landscape, and she struggled to find the words-- her-- Lois Lane-- unable to find the words she wanted to use to best describe the sights she was witnessing. If anything, that made it a frustrating experience, but she tamped down that thought and said, “Every world you’ve shown me… every sight I never thought possible to see… I can’t begin to know what it’s like to be you, Clark. To see what you see.”
“You do, though. I see the good wherever I go. So do you. Just because I go further, doesn’t mean you can’t go as high. I’m blessed with these powers, they’re a gift that allows me to see more than anyone else I know, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to share it. And I do. Every scrap, every morsel, I want you to have that, Lois. I want to share everything with you.”
“Clark, are you going to propose to me again? Because I said yes before, and if you asked me now, you’d probably get the same result.”
“Probably?” he said.
“Definitely. Doubly. Triply. This is all so spectacular. Can we explore?”
“Of course. Orion and Lightray are in the palace, and they said to drop in if we had the time, but I wanted to get out of Supertown and--”
“Supertown? Bit on the nose, isn’t it?”
“It’s unrelated to me, I promise. But yeah, we’re in Supertown, which is just the first of the floating cities that the New Gods are building on this world. Are you ready for the full tour?”
HALL OF JUSTICE, METROPOLIS:
“Are you following this?” asked Hawkman, his finger tracking the sub-sonic speeds being demonstrated by Superwoman as she flitted back and forth across the globe. The team had her up on the main monitor, and Katar Hol was utterly entranced by what she was doing across the world stage. “Seven Heavens…”
Doctor Light shook her head. Kimiyo Hoshi had only just returned to the team*, and she was wholly baffled by the turn of events. “Superman said his cousin was visiting from the future… and that she’d be covering for him today… but I didn’t expect this to be what he meant by it all.”
*As of Justice League #75-80
“She’s preventing disasters before they can even begin,” said the Engineer, gesturing toward the screen. “In the last four hours, she prevented the rampage of a Parasite-level meta downtown-- plugged an unexpected eruption of Kilauea in Hawaii-- helped Big Science Action and Metamorpho prevent a Biollante outbreak at Lake Ashi in Honshū-- she put the Alpha 9 satellite back in orbit after it spun out of Earth’s gravity-- prevented a group calling themselves the ‘Disciples of the True Queen’ from assassinating Colonel Harjavti in Bialya--”
“Take a breath, Angie. You’ll hyperventilate,” said Katar.
The Engineer beamed, saying, “I have back-up lungs on the go, don’t worry. But… god, she’s brilliant, isn’t she?”
“Try not to ‘fan-girl’ over her, either,” he replied.
Angie Spica shrugged. “What if I am? She travelled from the future to give her cousin the day off! That’s pretty damn cool.”
Kimiyo threw her hands up in the air. “But why didn’t she warn us? Give us a list of what to do and where, instead of taking it all on herself?” She sighed, then slumped down in her seat. “Supermen and women. They’re all the same.”
“You’re mad at her for saving the Justice League a job?” asked the Engineer. “I mean, I know I’m new to this whole life, but at the same time… I count myself lucky if a crisis is taken care of without the need of the Justice League going all in.”
“No! I just think no one should have to do this alone, yet she’s taken it all on herself. It’s sad, isn’t it?” said Doctor Light.
Considering that, Hawkman replied, “I see your point, but from what Superman told us last night, she’s more than up to the task.”
“I guess. Hey-- where’d she go?” asked Kimiyo, pointing at the screen behind the Angie and Katar.
The Engineer spun around and frantically type on the pad in front of the screen. “Whoa, she just went faster than-- she’s outside!”
High above the Hall of Justice, Superwoman had arrived, and was now looking around with a concerned expression on her face. Nearby, there was a distortion in the sky, a veritable heat haze that caused a purple shimmering that was becoming darker with every passing second. She breathed in deeply, put two fingers to her lips, then blew as hard as she could-- and no noise came out.
“Ah, Devils!” said Katar, grimacing as he covered his ears.
Both Angie and Kimiyo looked at him, concerned by the turn of events.
“What’s wrong?” asked Light.
“High frequency ultrasonic noise…” he replied, through gritted teeth. “What’s… what’s she doing?”
The purple distortion above the Hall of Justice continued to shimmer, and deep within it, if you looked carefully, an entire armada of alien vessels was visible--! But as Superwoman whistled, the distortion began to lighten, then within seconds, the skies were clear, and the only sign that anything had been amiss was the fact that across the city, cats mewled, and dogs barked, their sensitive ears piqued by whatever ultrasonic sound she had been making with her mouth.
Before more questions could be asked, Superwoman darted into the Hall of Justice, “I’m sorry! I had to cancel out a vibrational warp portal appearing above the city. That was the only way!”
Hawkman pulled off his mask and stuck his pinky into his ear, trying to alleviate the pressure in his skull. “Who… who was that?”
Kara checked Katar over and was relieved to see that there was no permanent damage made to his ear drums. She nodded to herself, then replied, “Dhorian Raiders. Gamma Man O’ Wars.”
“Kanjar Ro?” asked the Engineer.
“Probably,” replied Superwoman. “I reversed the portal’s frequency, so it was a return to sender. They were sent straight back to the Antares star system.”
“That’ll scarify the immediate area of space as well,” said Katar. “They won’t be able to come back any time soon.”
“You just prevented an alien invasion?” asked Kimiyo, taken aback by the news.
“I have to go, plenty left to do before the day is through. Sorry about your ears, Hawkman.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you are,” said Katar. “Thanks for the help, Kara.”
Superwoman smiled, then shot away from the scene, back to her day’s work.
Legion Omnicom - Historama Update – Notable events of the 21st Century: Commanding the entirety of the Dhorian space navy, notorious intergalactic dictator Kanjar Ro invaded Earth using vibrational warp portal technology stolen from the Controllers. During the armada’s arrival in Earth’s lower atmosphere, the Hall of Justice was demolished, and Justice Leaguers Doctor Light, the Engineer and Hawkman were killed in the process. It took the combined forces of the Justice League and Justice Society to turn Kanjar’s forces away, though tens of thousands died during the conflict.
If the first world they landed on was a wonder, and the last one a sensation, this new world was subdued in comparison. Yes, two suns were setting, and five moons that were moving in synchronicity were becoming clearer as the purple skies were darkening, but the landscape was Earth-like; vast, emerald fields sweeping across the planet as far as the eye could see, and behind them, more mountains, piercing the atmosphere and touching the void above. She stepped forward and clasped her arms around her shoulders, and Clark watched her eyes explore their new surroundings.
"What do you think?" he asked.
"Yeah. Yeah, it's nice," she said.
He chuckled softly and stepped beside her. "Not much to look at, is it? After everything we've seen today."
"I've never seen anything like those before," she said, pointing toward the moons.
"No, they're a rarity. Ambulatory satellites, or so I'm told."
"...But, yeah. It's been a long day. Lots to take in. This is nice, though. After all the sensory over-stimulation of booming from one world to the next, one dimension to another, it's, well, I think 'nice' is the best word for it."
"Good. I'm glad you like it. This is the last stop of the day. I bet that Rannian caffeine buzz is wearing off by now."
She shook her head, and conspiratorially leaned over to her fiancé, whispering, "Lightray slipped me a Red Bull."
"Ever since he spent that time on Earth, he's become a fiend for it. But we all have our vices. Martian Manhunter-- J'onn-- he's got a Chocos problem."
Incredulously, Lois replied, "Those off-brand Oreos?"
"One and the same," he said, laughing.
"Why did you choose this world then?" Lois asked. "A palette cleanser?"
"Well, a couple of reasons..."
He took her hand and motioned for her to place her feet on his.
"...First, close your eyes..."
"Are you sure? There's still so much to see," she said.
She did so, and then she placed her other hand in his, the pair lifting off the ground and beginning to gently float across the fields beneath them.
Clark cleared his throat, and began to whisper in her ear, and act that sent an excited shiver down her back. "...Due to the unique gravitational exertions on this planet... if you're exposed to a heady dose of solar radiation on the violet side end of the spectrum... submerged in the unique liquid energies of a low gravity world... your cells repeatedly given a tweak via the X-Element that powers a Boom Tube..."
What was he talking about, she wondered? Her brow furrowed, and she said, "Clark..."
"It's okay, let me finish. If all that, and your body is energised by the specially grown coffee beans that can only be grown on the atmosphere of Rann... and the excess, ambient radiation of every other very specific world we've happened to travel to is stored and processed in a Kryptonian survival suit... then after ten hours of skin-to-skin contact with 31st century Valorium, like the stuff your flight ring is made of, then the human body, for a short period of time, can manifest--"
Lois opened her eyes, and she realised that her feet had slipped off Clark's, that he only had one of her hands in his, and that she was now flying of her own accord, floating above him as he beamed up at her.
"--Superpowers," he finished.
She cried out in shock, then clamped her hands over her mouth-- that meant she was no longer holding onto her fiancé at all, yet she floated in place, flying of her own accord. "You didn't--!"
"I did. Happy... birthday?" he said.
"My birthday isn't until August!" she declared.
He smiled, a twinkle in his eyes. "Oh! Well. I guess I just wanted to do something nice for you."
She flapped her arms to go higher, but then shook her head at the thought. Instead, she remembered the stories he’d told her about flying, about how all he had to do was think, and feel, and soar. She concentrated on that thought for a moment, replaying it in her head like a lesson well learned and then opened her eyes-- a look of pure determination mapped to her face.
She whizzed around Clark, and as she went, she began to laugh, shocked by this experience. "This whole vacation... whisking me from one world to the next... it was all for this?"
“I wanted to share something with you that you’d never experienced before. I’ve been planning something like this for so long… it’s in my diary, which Kara must’ve read… but I never had a chance to actually spend the time zipping around the cosmos to put all the pieces together. But now we’re here and we can have some fun.”
“More fun than flying?”
“Have you ever flown through a volcano before, Lois? Because there’s a network of seventy-two waiting to be explored on the far side of the world. After that, we can fly through the deepest magma well and emerge out into the ocean, and I’ve--”
Lois interrupted him with a kiss that lasted for minutes, and then moved onto other things. Volcanoes could wait, and so could the oceans. She had other things on her mind, and nearly immediately, so did he…
SOARING OVER EUROPE:
Eyes closed, letting her body listen to the subtle motions of the skies, Superwoman soared toward the last destination on her itinerary, basking in the Sun as she went. She’d bounced from one place to another at super speed, preventing historical disasters before they could even begin to manifest, all so she could do this one final thing without interruption.
She’d kept her promise to her cousin. She’d done everything she’d said she would, but with one clear difference-- instead of slipping into his shoes, she’d cheated. Where she could, she averted crisis and crisis before they could get worse. She’d saved lives where once they’d been lost. She’d changed the future time and time again over the course of the day, until the slate was clear, and the ledger was empty.
To her, it boiled down to this: There was one last event she had to ensure didn’t come to pass. She knew the time it took place. She knew the location where it would unfold. And with this information, and the formidable powers at her disposal… she could prevent the end of the world.
And all it took was looking her cousin in the eye and telling one colossal lie.
Inevitably, the truth would come out. It always did. But until then…
TO BE CONCLUDED
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