Trolling The Galaxy, Part 2

He felt so lost, so small. His destiny was unknown, and all he knew was about to be left him behind forever. As he stared up at the setting twin suns of his desert wasteland home, he instinctively knew he would never return.

For some reason, that image of Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars’ haunted Renee since she saw the movie during her first week on Earth. She could relate to it so well, having left her beautiful home and all she cared about to take up residence on some strange planet where she too felt lost, and small. She remembered crying the first time she saw that one scene. It felt so real to her.

But as Renee slept, her eyes and mind closed to the world around her, she found one clear difference between herself and Luke…in the end, he proved himself to be strong, someone who was in control of his destiny. Renee, on the other hand…proved herself only to be a victim, someone who found herself hopelessly tossed by the currents of fate.

“Reya?” She heard a soft voice calling her name, from far, far away. She closed her eyes tighter and turned away from it. She didn’t want to see the world again. As far as she was concerned, it was gone…and she was happy to see it go.

She felt a soft touch on one arm, instantly bringing her senses to life. She silently cursed the one who brought her back. Renee wanted to drift away, to keep herself in a place where she wouldn’t have to relive her humiliation again…


Her eyes slowly opened, giving her a blurry view of someone very familiar to her, a pair of blue eyes and strands of blonde hair hovering over her. She unconsciously smiled – her only true friend had found her. Renee turned her head away as tears began to flow from her eyes…and she began sobbing as memory of her harsh reality flooded her senses again. “No…I don’t want to…”

“Reya, it’s me.” Sharon leaned closer, gripping Renee’s hand tightly. “I’m here for you. Everything’s going to be fine.”

“Not…fine.” Renee kept her eyes away from Sharon. But her hands could feel a warmth, a power…almost as if she were touching pure energy. It filled her with feelings of euphoria, like a drug…but she still resisted.

“I have to restore you, or you’ll die,” Sharon whispered softly as she held Renee’s hands tighter within her own. “Your energy is low–”

“No…I…I want to die–”

Sharon suddenly let go of Renee’s hands and took a step back, leaving Renee suddenly feeling cold and drained. Renee’s words echoed in her mind as she watched a pair of blue eyes turn to her from the hospital bed. Those eyes…the looked empty, cold…they were missing the energy which was usually behind them.

“My God, Reya…You’re…you’re willing yourself to death? What happened to you? Please, talk to me.”

Renee frowned and slowly began propping herself up in the bed. She could feel every muscle cry out to her with pain…not from injury, but rather from…disuse? She felt something burn in her arm…it was an needle inserted by the hospital, to feed her nutrients – and it was pierced through her skin. That man…he must have known what she was…and he stole her energy as well as her dignity.

“I–” Renee took a deep breath, trying to slow the dizziness she found herself which was her reward for speaking too quickly. “I was attacked. I…I–”

“The police told me about that. But…God, Reya–” Sharon walked over to the bed slowly and held Renee’s hand, careful not to try and flood her with energy this time. “You’ve been out for almost two weeks.”

“Huh? Two–” Renee nearly sat upright, but more dizziness prevented it. She began feeling…terrified. Two weeks? She began to understand why she felt so confused and weak – a Velorian could not survive on the simple sustenance provided by the needle in her arm for any length of time. Velorians needed pure energy as well. But she still didn’t understand how she could have used all of her remaining energy while dormant. “What happened to me?”

Sharon continued to hold Renee’s hand gently and sat down on the edge of the bed. She seemed a little concerned as she took a deep breath and began to explain. “You were attacked by an Arion, Reya. He was on a rampage and you…well, you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“An…Arion?” Renee suddenly gasped and sat upright, her breathing speeding up suddenly to compensate for the sudden dizziness. “He raped me! Am I…?”

A few seconds of silence prevailed before Sharon closed her eyes and nodded slowly. “Yes, you’re pregnant. That’s why all of your energy has been drained. But you don’t have to suffer through this…I can take you back to Velor, and–”

“No…I want this to happen.” Renee suddenly tore the needle from her arm and slid out of bed, stumbling into Sharon’s arms as she struggled to steady herself. “I will not be a victim any longer.”

Sharon laughed as she caught Renee, her amazing strength propping her friend to her feet quickly. She felt better as she noticed Renee trying to stand under her own power. It was a sign…a good sign, that her friend Reya had not given up yet.

“Are you sure about this, Reya?”

The smile which formed on Renee’s face gave Sharon inner warmth. It felt like she had given life to the lifeless…or given her friend a second chance at life. “I’ve never been more sure of anything, Sharon. What happened to me is in the past…”

Renee placed both of her hands on her stomach, her eyes reflecting a little contentment…and a little hope…as she looked at Sharon. “This is the future. I want it to be a future where no one ever has to fear as I did.”

Sharon nodded and let go of Renee slowly, smiling as she noticed that her friend was now retaining her own energy, standing steadily on her own two feet. “That’s the Reya I know.”

‘That’s the Reya I know.’ Reya smiled at the words floating in her mind. For some reason, they stuck with her since that day in the hospital…that day when Renee permanently changed her name to the one she had been born with, and decided to embrace her lost heritage.

Humans were a fragile species. Yet they walk the Earth, totally oblivious to the fact that they had such sort life spans, and a frailty that most conquering species in the galaxy would love to prey upon if given the chance. They were fairly fragile beings, both physically, and in their tendencies to become so dependent on one another.

But it was those same traits which made them stronger, more powerful, and much more resilient than any other species. They tended to bond together, to find comfort in numbers…and then they would defend their numbers with a vengeance.

Earth…a backwards, primitive place torn by war, hunger, and battles between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Or so it would seem to an outside force. But a closer look reveals a hidden power, potential beyond imagination. And admittedly…the all-powerful Velorian race was one always flirting with extinction, the Ancient Ones were gone forever…and even the Arions wouldn’t survive long with their tendencies toward self-destruction.

In the end, it would be the backwards species…like humans…which would ultimately inherit the universe. And with them, they would bring peace. It was almost humorous to consider – but when looked at closely…it made perfect sense.

As Reya lay back on her small sailboat off the coast of southern California, watching the sunset, her mind filled with philosophical thoughts. Earth was a majestic place, a world hidden away from the unthinkable terror and chaos which filled most of the universe. It was almost as if…some God intended it that way. Almost like some higher intelligence meant Earth for greater things.

She could tell those greater things were far off into the future…but not too far. The months she spent with a child growing inside her were evidence of that. Reya knew she would raise her daughter to be not a protector of Earth…but its guardian. Someone who would look after the sweet backwards little planet.

Since Reya was a child, she remembered reading about Earth, how its technology was feeble compared to that of the simplest Arion weapons. And how the Velorians must prevent Arions from destroying the place at all costs. She always wondered…if the Arions were so capable, so bent on destroying Earth…why didn’t they?

As she grew up, she learned that no one else knew that answer, either. Sure, the Arions have tried…but some little glitch always managed to cause them to fail. There was always something – as if an invisible, higher power were making it impossible for them to do so. Or perhaps it was simply…fate?

Reya laughed at her own thoughts as she stood and unfurled the small sail on her boat, preparing to head back to shore. Fate. That was such a human concept…and yet, the proof was there. In a matter of weeks, fate would become reality – a child would be born…and Earth would never be the same.

“Relax, mom, I know what I’m doing.”

Reya sighed as she watched the brunette, blue eyed teen tug at the rope which pulled a giant sail up along its mast, to unfurl it to its full potential…as both a large decorative symbol and the sole method of propulsion for the small boat as it bobbed along the waves of the Pacific Ocean, dyed orange by the setting sun over the horizon. The symbol on the sail meant nothing…but to Reya it meant everything.

She couldn’t believe it was sixteen years ago when she used to go out in a smaller boat for solitude, and to commune with natural forces which dwarf the power of even the heartiest of Velorian protectors – none would be a match for the relentlessness of the oceans.

“I know, Natalie,” Reya said as she watched her daughter quickly reel in the rope, hand over hand as she’d been taught, with the skill of a career fisherman, even though she had only been shown how to do it once. “Frankly, I’m more worried about the boat, and the sail.”

A splash of water hit Reya, just as she began laughing. The two discovered, something interesting during the last few years, something which Reya feared telling anyone, especially other Velorians, including Sharon.

Natalie had the ability to project small amounts of energy outside of her body. She had yet to master the ability, and could do little more than throw small objects or splash water without any physical contact. It was something which made Reya feel very proud – though Velor didn’t know, Natalie was the next evolution of Velorian.

But Natalie’s ‘advancement’ left her at a disadvantage. She was shorter than most of her kind, almost fully grown at only five foot six. Her own mother looked like an amazon next to her. Her reduced size meant she had a lower threshold for energy storage, meaning two things – she needed to eat more often, almost as often as humans, and she could never store enough power to visit Velor on her own. She may be the next stage of Velorian…but one who is doomed to exile from Velor.

Reya was not saddened by that fact, however. In fact, she was relieved – upon finding out about her pregnancy, the Velorian council had ordered her home several times. She refused, knowing full well that it meant she could never return home without facing a harsh judgement from the Velorian council.

But that was a moot point now. Earth was her home, because it was her daughter’s home. If before by choice, now it was from necessity…and no one could take her or her daughter away.

“Mom, why are you always so lonely?”

Thinking that Natalie was kidding, Reya looked up smiling – only to notice that Natalie wasn’t. She sighed deeply – she had pretty much dedicated the last sixteen years to raising and protecting Natalie…but hadn’t really thought much about herself. “I…I don’t know, Natalie. I guess I never really made the time for anything besides work and us.”

“You know, I can help you–” Natalie smiled and walked across the small sailboat, sitting down next to her mom. She knew that her mom saw her as a success – she was thoroughly entrenched in the ways of Earth. She went to school just as a normal teen did, had a boyfriend at one point…her blood was not of Earth, but her mind sure was. “I know, it sounds stupid…”

“No, no. It’s not stupid at all.” Reya smiled at her daughter, hugging her gently with one arm. “I’ve always tried to make you a better person than I was. I want you to experience everything I’ve missed, and never feel the pain I had to feel.”

“I remember. It’s so sad, your having to leave everyone behind to come here alone.” Natalie smiled again, her bright eyes easily giving away a sudden thought which burned behind them. “Hey…maybe you should write a book about it.”

Reya laughed…only there was a little seriousness in that laugh, as if she too wished she could. “It’s not something that’s safe to write about, Natalie. Velor has scribes like Sharon for that purpose…they are trained to know what they can safely write without arousing suspicion.”

“So? Maybe Sharon can help you.” Natalie turned around to look behind her, noticing that the shore was approaching slowly. They were almost home. “Your story is too good not to tell! You can’t just let it fade away into nothingness.”

“Natalie–” Reya paused and smiled in spite of herself. She knew that Natalie was pushing her relentlessly, but with good reason. Her daughter was a creative type, she hated watching good material go to waste – whether it be physical material, ideas, or history. “I’ll think about it…all right? In the mean time, give it a rest.”

Natalie laughed. “Okay, mom.”

Not another word was spoken between the two until the boat finally struck land. They didn’t need words at that point – both simply enjoyed the cool Pacific air, and the glow of the vanishing sun from the horizon. It was a rare moment, meant to be shared in silence.

“I saw, it.”

Reya swallowed hard as she looked across the living room at her friend, Sharon. Or so she thought, for the past eighteen years. Now Sharon stood before her, accusing Reya of hiding something from her. The worst part was that she was right. “I’m so sorry, Sharon. I couldn’t tell you–”

“Why? Why couldn’t you tell me?” Sharon folded her arms, her eyes firey with anger.

“Because–” Reya leaned forward and dropped her face into her hands, allowing her hair to hang down dangerously close to the floor. She wished she could hide herself between her own hair strands, slide down, and gradually vanish into the floorboards. “It’s your job to report everything you see and hear back to the Velorian council. I couldn’t ask you to keep this from them.”

“Don’t you think they deserve to know?” Sharon sighed, her anger dissolving as she watched her friend Reya hiding her eyes, most likely close to tears. She had such a difficult life, and most of the time she made the best of it. Yet she still remained as sensitive as the day she arrived from Velor.

Sharon glanced toward the kitchen as she sat down next to her friend, rubbing her back reassuringly. Natalie was in the kitchen, attempting to make chocolate chip cookies after briefly mentioning that she needed sugar. “Natalie is very special, Reya. She shouldn’t have to be hidden away, she may be the next evolution of us. She may be the future.”

Reya nodded slowly. “I thought about that. Maybe she is what the Ancient Ones had in mind. Maybe the reason they vanished was because the constant war between Velor and Aria meant their failure–”

“Maybe you should have become a philosopher instead of a protector.” Sharon smiled at Reya for a few seconds before Reya finally burst out laughing. “Don’t worry, Reya. If Velor is to find out about Natalie, it will be in an appropriate way.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Sharon. I do.” Reya stood and swept her hair back nervously, looking at the floor rather than at Sharon. “I’m…just afraid you’ll underestimate them. You might think everything will be fine, when it’s–”

She paused and smiled as she watched Natalie enter the living room from the kitchen, carrying a plate full of hot chocolate chip cookies, straight from the oven. Natalie walked around the couch carefully, placing the plate onto the coffee table before sitting down.

“You guys are talking about me, aren’t you? Don’t forget, I can hear every word.” Natalie sat down, grabbing a cookie and taking a bite out of it as she smiled at Sharon and Reya. Both noticed that the cookies were fresh out of the oven, far from being cool enough for normal humans to eat without being scalded.

“Nothing you need to worry about, Natalie.” Reya glanced over at Sharon for a moment, giving her a half-smile, half warning.

“I think you should tell them about me.” Natalie shrugged, ignoring Reya’s horrified expression. “I don’t care. There’s not a lot they can do about it.”

Sharon laughed out loud as she reached forward to grab a cookie. Reya seemed less than amused. “She has a point, Reya. They can’t take her back to Velor, after all.”

Natalie nodded. “Besides, I can defend myself. I took Karate last year in high school.”

“What?” The question came in unison from both Sharon and Reya. The two looked at each other, before realizing that Natalie had neglected to tell either one.

“How did you get a signature for that, young lady?” Reya folded her arms, giving an almost mock gaze of anger to Natalie.

Natalie bit her lip, trying not to laugh as she answered. “I forged it. Same as when I took archery two years ago.”

Sharon began laughing out loud again as Reya covered her face and shook her head slowly. “I love this kid, Reya. I really do.”

Natalie cursed to herself as she parked her small electric motor scooter in front of her high school. She could hear the warning bell ringing as she entered the parking lot – meaning she had about five minutes to grab her books and get to class.

As soon as she removed the key, the wheels locked and raised off the ground, activating its built-in security system. Earth technology may not even be close to what her mom described on her home planet, but it was pretty impressive.

She pulled her backpack free from the cargo net, and raced for the front doors of the school. Most of the people who were loitering outside as she drove up had already gone inside to head to class, with the exception of a few who had no plans to do so.

“Runnin’ late again, Nat?”

Natalie smiled as she heard a familiar voice, pausing to turn and greet the source of it – her boyfriend. Actually, they were more like best friends – they spent most of their time together just hanging around each other and talking. “Hey, Allen. What’s new?”

“Nothing much.”

She gave him a quick hug, ignoring the sound of the second bell as it echoed through the halls, officially marking both her and Allen late – that meant they would be unable to go to class without a pink slip, which wasted further time. “Looks like I have to go to the office again. Want to come along?”

Allen smiled and held up his hands in an exaggerated shrug, his backpack nearly sliding off of his shoulder to add to the drama. “Do I have a choice? You made me late.”

Natalie laughed and shoved him gently before grabbing his forearm and leading him down the hall. She walked backwards as she talked loudly in a dramatic voice. “It’s off to the principal’s office for you, Allen! Let’s go!”

The two were laughing by the time they both entered the school administration office, earning them both a stern look from the older woman sitting behind a tall desk. “Shouldn’t you two be in class?”

“We were late.” Natalie leaned her elbows on the counter, smiling across the linoleum border at the woman, trying her best to raise her to the same mood she felt. “We need pink slips.”

The woman frowned further, resisting Natalie’s attempts to cheer her up, even adding a shake of the head. “Natalie, that’s six times this quarter alone. I can’t possibly excuse this absence.”

“So…make it unexcused?” Natalie shrugged. “I don’t care, I just need to get to class.”

“And you, young man,” The woman continued, “Have four unexcused absences of your own.”

Allen shrugged as well, but decided against commenting. The woman rewarded him by handing him a signed pink slip. He took it and patted Natalie’s shoulder as he left the office. “See you in class.”

Natalie sighed, her smile disappearing as she watched the woman behind the desk – quickly becoming her nemesis – motion for the vice principal to come over. The two began discussing something behind the desk – and Natalie started to concentrate, trying to tune her hearing into what they were saying. They spoke of giving her detention, or even suspending her–

“What? That’s not fair!”

She didn’t realize that she had been eavesdropping beyond the capability of humans until both the nemesis behind the desk and the vice principal looked at her in shock.

“Young lady,” The vice principal quickly admonished, “It’s extremely rude to eavesdrop. For your effort, you’ve earned yourself a three day suspension, effective immediately.”

Natalie restrained her enthusiasm as she left the office, purposely shuffling her feet as she headed out into the hallway. As soon as she was clear of the door, she raced for a classroom at the end of the hall, her feet barely touching the floor.

“Nat, wait up!”

She stopped quickly, her shows squealing against the polished floor as she realized that Allen had been waiting outside the office on a bench the entire time. She turned around and headed back, slowly.

“Geez, you can run fast!” Allen laughed as he spoke, seeming a little surprised that Natalie didn’t seem the least bit tired or winded. “You should try out for the olympics or something. Did you get a pink slip?”

“No.” Natalie shook her head quickly, the smile never leaving her face. “They gave me three days off.”

“They suspended you?” Allen shook his head slowly. “But you’re already so far behind…how are you supposed to catch up now?”

“I can always join the olympics.” Natalie bit her lip as she started laughing.

Allen joined in as he gave her a quick good bye hug. “I’ll see you later, Nat. Good luck…uh…lounging around at home. Don’t fall off the couch or anything.”

“See you when you get home from school…sucker.” Natalie shoved him a little and laughed again as she turned to head out of the exit doors at the end of the hall. Allen didn’t even realize that it was a fire exit, and would set off an alarm – but Natalie did. It was to be a last bit of revenge before she went home for her mini-vacation.

But as she headed for that door, something stood in her way. A tall woman with jet black hair and blue eyes stepped out of a doorway to stop her by grabbing her shoulder. She wore an expensive dark blue jacket and matching slacks, which sort offset between her eye and hair color. She looked too young to be a teacher…but why else would she even be wearing such an outfit?

“I’m not wandering the halls, I’ve been suspended,” Natalie said, a little contempt in her voice. “Ask the vice principal.”

The well-dressed tall woman said nothing – she simply grabbed Natalie by her throat and threw her, sending her sliding quickly down the polished hallway floor until she crashed into a set of lockers nestled in a corner of an intersection.

“Hey!” Natalie stood quickly, not even noticing that the lockers behind her looked like a small truck had plowed into them. The doors were bent in, and its frame was severely twisted. “You’re gonna pay for that!”

Before Natalie had time to react, she watched the woman in the blue suit approach Allen quickly. She stood in front of him for what seemed like an eternity, staring at him with interest. Allen froze, either paralyzed by fear or from assuming that the woman had to be on the school’s staff. Or maybe both.

But it was that pause which cost him dearly. The woman placed one hand on his chin, and one on his shoulder. He simply looked up at her, confused by what she was doing…and then, in the blink of an eye, she violently pushed down on his shoulder and up on his chin…

…and Natalie screamed as she watched Allen’s head detach from his body, and fall to the floor. A fountain of blood shot up from what was left of his neck, drenching the woman’s clothing and covering her face with a thick layer of red. She began shaking her head as the woman’s attention turned to her…it had to be a dream. It couldn’t be real.

Natalie screamed again as she turned and burst through the doors at the end of the hall, ignoring the sirens which went off inside the building as the bar marked ‘Emergency Exit Only’ went flying into the schoolyard. Her screams turned into sobs as she cleared the stairway with a single leap, not even pausing as her feet finally touched the sidewalk.

She kept running until she reached her small electric scooter, parked at the edge of the lot – she knew the woman was still chasing her, even though she couldn’t see it.

Natalie was crying hysterically by the time she stepped onto her scooter and raced its small motor beyond its tolerances – it screamed as she tore through the center lane of heavy traffic at nearly fifty miles per hour. A traffic light changed to red, but she wasn’t stopping. She spotted a truck, too late…

As her eyes closed, and she screamed once again, the small scooter slammed into the side of the truck hard enough to cause it to shake. The truck stopped almost immediately – the driver realized something was wrong.

She stood up and looked at what was left of her destroyed scooter, now trapped under the truck’s tires. The side of the truck’s fuel tank was crushed, and fuel spilled onto the pavement. The driver was outside, yelling something…but she didn’t pay attention. She had to get somewhere safe.

Now lacking her electric scooter, she began running alongside the street. At first, it seemed difficult, her lungs burned and her muscles protested…but after a while, she felt herself settling into a sort of rhythm. Her breathing began to slow, and she actually picked up speed as her muscles began to relax. She smiled as she watched the other pedestrians jump out of her way as she easily breezed past them, dodging a few who couldn’t move fast enough, even leaping over a baby in a stroller.

Natalie just happened to glance to her left as she ran, noticing that she was moving much faster than the surrounding car traffic. At first, she figured that maybe there was a traffic jam, and the old joke about walking to get there faster rang true once again…but after a quick comparison, she realized that the cars were moving along just fine – but she was moving faster!

Exhilarated, she purposely started taking longer strides, trying to push her legs and lungs past some imaginary limit which she had obviously shattered a while ago. She didn’t even blink as she approached an intersection where cars had begun driving over the crosswalk – she simply paused her running long enough to drive both of her feet against the sidewalk, launching her into the air, and hopefully across to the other side of the crossing.

She miscalculated her leap – only instead of crashing to the ground and causing a multi-car pileup, she launched herself with blinding speed high above the familiar sidewalk, into what was, to her, another world. Suddenly, she found herself looking down at rooftops – the ground below, the people walking, and the cars on the street all became smaller and smaller as she kept ascending.

Then she suddenly felt terrified – still ascending? Just when she wondered how she could stop, she held her arms out to her sides, and simply willed herself not to climb any higher. She could feel the air in her lungs shift rapidly as she came to a sudden stop, hovering high in the air.

Once she regained her senses, her memory reminded her with horrific graphic reality that she had to go home. Her new discovery would have to wait until another time…until she was safe.

But she wasn’t ready to return to the ground just yet. It only took her a little more effort to learn that she could control her travel – just as she willed herself to stop climbing, she found that she could will herself to travel forward or turn as well. It was like swimming, only without having to tread water.

By air, she made it home in mere minutes. Not having mastered landings yet, her feet slammed into the concrete sidewalk outside her house, causing it to spilt and part of it to sink – but she had more important worries at the moment. Natalie burst into the living room, slamming the door behind her as she headed into the study.

“Mom–” Before Natalie even got the rest of the sentence out, she was already sobbing. She ran over to the overstuffed chair where Reya sat and buried her head in her mother’s lap. “Mom…it was horrible. A strange woman showed up and killed Allen…she tried to kill me too–”

Reya wasn’t sure at first if Natalie was making up some creative excuse for why she returned from school so early…but the fact that her daughter couldn’t stop crying, and she was in shock – pale and shaking – quickly changed her mind. A wave of panic rushed through Reya as she grabbed the television remote and turned on the local news.

“No…Oh my God, no.”

Reya and Natalie sat silent as they watched the high school which Natalie had left less than an hour ago. Police, fire engines, and ambulances surrounded the building, and dozens of bodies were lying on the lawn, covered completely by dark sheets. Blood covered rescue workers as they struggled to save those that they could.

According to the latest report, scrolling across the bottom of the screen, there were forty five reported dead. No explosion was detected, no weapons were reported. Each of the teachers and students killed were simply butchered by what looked like extraordinarily strong human hands.

After an evacuation, A police search of the entire building turned up no one…whoever had committed these atrocities was long gone.

“If it weren’t for the quick thinking of someone who managed to set off the fire alarm,” The school principal was quoted as saying, “The other students may not have had a chance to escape.”

Reya and Natalie shared a look for a moment, one which required no words. Reya just knew it was her daughter who had set off the alarm during her escape – while she was raised as any other child on Earth, she was still a Protector at heart. She hugged her daughter tightly, as she began to shed tears of her own – tears of thankfulness that, above all, her daughter found the power to save herself.

“I love you so much, Natalie…”

After watching an hour of local news footage, it was Natalie’s turn to hold a sobbing Reya instead. She didn’t understand why her mom was crying – she knew very little of the history behind it. Her mom did tell her about a violent, conquering race of enormous power called the Arions, and that one had attacked and beaten her viciously. But Natalie always thought of these Arions as something distant, or rare. She never thought she would see one.

Reya wasn’t sure, either – and once she got over her moment of terror, she called Sharon. As soon as she told Sharon that Natalie had seen one close up, Sharon cut the conversation short.

“I’ll be right over”, she said. It wasn’t so much the words which scared Reya…it was the slight quiver in Sharon’s voice, as if every nightmare she had ever dreamed or written was coming true at that moment. Sharon wasn’t nearly as upset when she heard about the male Arion who attacked Reya – but the woman Natalie described seem to terrify her.

“Natalie, this is very important,” Sharon slowly spoke, her voice a little condescending. “What did she look like? What did she say?”

Natalie shrugged. “She was tall, jet black hair, blue eyes. And she didn’t say anything, she just threw me into some lockers and then attacked Allen.”

“I don’t get it.” Reya shook her head slowly and sat up slowly in her chair, trying to dry her tears. She was far from completely calm, but she didn’t want to be left out of the conversation. “Sharon, you told me that Arion scouts visit here all the time. Why is this one so much more destructive?”

Sharon frowned, her eyes telling the story before she even spoke a word. “Because she’s not a scout. She’s a warrior. They don’t bother to try to keep a low profile.”

“But–” Natalie sat up suddenly, looking between Sharon and the television. She already knew the answer to her next question…but she couldn’t believe it until she heard it from someone else. “Why here? Why my school?”

Reya looked at Sharon with fearful eyes, as she began to put together the mystery as well.

“I fear,” Sharon said, “That she’s come here for you.”

#9 – On Wings Of Eagles

Kara walked slowly through a thick mist. She placed one foot in front of the other, as if she were walking a tightrope, afraid of falling if she deviated an inch from her course. She felt chilled as the mist touched her face and hands. Not a sound was around her, except for the faint noise generated by her own clothing and shoes.


The sound of her voice, nearly a whisper, echoed as if it was projected through a mountainous valley. She turned completely around, trying to get her bearings…but all that she could see was that mist.


She nearly leapt out of her skin as she watched a tall, dark figure approaching her through the mist, without making a sound. She backed away a little as the figure loomed larger…as well as another…and another…all approaching her slowly.

As she spun around quickly, she realized that she was surrounded by people…and they looked like her. The terror began to seep out of her as she took a look around. They seemed…sad? Why?

“What’s the matter?”

“You,” One old woman piped up. She stepped forward, and gripped Kara’s chin tightly – Kara struggled, but couldn’t get away. “You let us die….We needed you!”

“No…I don’t understand–” Kara tried to back away again, but the old woman held her still. “What did I do?”

“You’re a coward,” A man in the crowd piped up. “You ran away when we needed you most!”

“No…I didn’t, I swear!” Kara shook her head, trying to back away from the old woman as tears began to stream from her eyes. “I just woke up, and–”

Kara froze as another man appeared from the crowd, one which she recognized immediately – it was her father? “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry…”

He shook his head slowly, taking Kara from the old woman’s grip, and holding her gently. “I didn’t want you to leave…but it’s too late now. What’s done is done. Take care, my daughter. I will live on…in you.”

“No…” Kara’s eyes widened as he let go of her, and began backing away. She turned around quickly to see the other figures backing away as well. “No…please don’t leave me–”


Kara awoke to darkness, soaked in sweat, as she cast aside the covers of her bed. The glow of the television lit the room only slightly, but made it feel familiar as she tried her best to calm herself. She reached behind her and turned on a lamp.

As soon as the room was bathed in light, she remembered where she was. The previous day, Linda had decided that Kara was capable of a remarkable amount of independence. Being held like a prisoner in the Kents’ home, forcing them to look after her, was fair neither to the Kents nor to Kara. So she had been given a hotel room a short distance from Linda’s and Charlie’s rooms…and a large measure of independence.

She stood up and walked outside onto the balcony, letting the cool wind high above Metropolis whip through her hair. She thought about how wonderful it would be to fly around the city…but alas, a flying blonde teenager zipping past windows in such a place would become front-page news in a matter of hours – especially if she were still wearing a borrowed night gown.

The biggest rule of packing – always make sure you bring pajamas – had been violated…which brought Kara the embarrassing fate of having to borrow someone else’s. She was rather disappointed that Linda had developed such fancy tastes in clothing, causing Kara to end up with a rather breezy night gown made of a light fabric.

Kara tore herself from her thoughts as she noticed movement in her darkened room. That alone didn’t alarm her – because it was possible that Charlie’s dog Rupert had been left there by Linda. She took a deep, slow breath, and started to listen carefully. It was a human being…she could hear someone else breathing in the room, too slowly to be a dog.

“It’s you, isn’t it?” A soft British voice whispered from the darkness, as the movement came closer. Kara tensed a little bit, but relaxed as she realized that the voice’s sound was more curious than ominous. “You’re the reason we found the gateway.”

Kara took a step forward, closer so she could clearly see a dark-haired young woman, not much taller or older than herself, dressed in jeans and a black shirt, as well as soft leather hat – and carrying only a light beige backpack. “Who the hell are you?”

“Such language,” The woman scolded, “My mum would have washed your mouth out with soap. The name’s Sharon Holmes.”

“And should that alone impress me?” Kara gave Sharon an amused frown and folded her arms stubbornly.

Sharon shook her head in frustration as she tossed her backpack on a table in the center of the room and sat in a chair next to it. “Don’t Linda and Charlie tell you anything at all?”

“No.” Kara shook her head and paused for a moment. “I never know what’s going on. What’s this ‘gateway’?”

Sharon nodded knowingly, and placed one hand atop her backpack as it sat in the center of the table. “Get dressed, Kara. We’re taking a little midnight stroll.”
Linda awoke to the sound of a motorcycle’s engine starting up outside the hotel. It wasn’t at all unusual to hear one once in a while…but for some reason, at that late hour, the sound grated on her nerves.

She slid out of bed carefully and walked over to the window, gently shoving the heavy curtains out of the way. As she slid the glass door open and stepped onto the balcony, she could see the motorcycle below – two people riding one of those Japanese racing bikes – tearing down the street quickly.

Just as Linda was about to dismiss the bike completely, she recognized the young passenger – it was Kara! She raced back out onto the balcony, her heart beating quickly as she began to fear that the teen was being kidnapped…but another quick look confirmed that the driver of the motorcycle was Sharon Holmes.

She sighed with relief, knowing that Kara was in no danger…but she also felt anger. Why would Sharon take Kara somewhere in the middle of the night without saying anything, or even leaving a note?

“Calm down, Linda,” She told herself quietly as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Kara’s practically an adult. It’s none of your business.”

But it was! Linda promised Clark that she’d look after Kara…and practically right on the heels of that promise, Kara managed to sneak away. Linda frowned as she sighed again. She’d never be able to get to sleep anyway with so much worry on her mind…

In a blur, she raced across the room to her backpack, stored in a corner next to a desk…and changed into her costume in an instant. Without even thinking, she raced out onto the balcony, and launched herself into the air in two steps.

Just as she’d done a few nights before.

And just as before, she found herself careening through the air, feeling almost out of control until she steadied herself. She still hadn’t yet mastered takeoffs…but at least she knew she wouldn’t be plummeting back to Earth, as long as she concentrated on staying aloft.

Her heart was beating quickly, betraying the fact that she was once again an amateur in the skies. It took concentration. If she ever had to battle anything in the air…she shook her head, trying her best to discard such thoughts. Instead, she watched the motorcycle speeding along below – it seemed to be headed to…the airport?

The motorcycle finally stopped next to a small fixed-wing dual turboprop plane, parked on the edge of the airport’s lot. Linda watched as Sharon jumped off of the bike, with Kara following, and opened the left side door of the plane.

“Oh, no you don’t.” Linda descended quickly…but then realized that she did so much too quickly. She was paying too much attention to the plane, and too little to her landing. “Nuts…oh, nuts!”

Her feet slammed into a concrete taxiway, and collapsed under her, sending her tumbling a few times before she finally stopped. Linda stood quickly and tried to dust herself off…but it didn’t do much good. She now looked like she had been doing road construction all evening.

She stood quickly and raced toward the airplane, just as it began slowly moving toward the runway. If she attempted to stop the plane now, she would most likely destroy it – so she decided instead to tag along for the ride. Linda grabbed the tail of the plane as it sped down the runway, clinging to its moist, slick surface as best as she could. She’d find out where it was headed…one way or the other.
Sharon spun around in the pilot’s seat, after setting the airplane’s autopilot, turning to face Kara who sat directly behind her. She smiled, noting how amused Kara seemed, watching the clouds breeze past her window. “First time in a plane?”

Kara nodded. She was hypnotized by what was outside the window. “It’s loud in here…but it’s so warm and comfortable. No clammy air, no drops of water crawling on my skin–”

“All right, all right.” Sharon laughed as she stood and headed toward the small galley behind the cockpit. “Like a glass of water?”

“No…no thanks…I just want to watch.” Kara leaned her forehead against the inner plastic layer of the window, staring outside at the clouds whisking by.

“Suit yourself.”

Sharon had only left the cockpit for a few seconds before an alarm started beeping, accompanied by several flashing lights. She raced back to the pilot’s seat, and seemed panicked as she started making adjustments to the controls.

“Bloody hell!” She finally slammed her fist against the panel in front of her before leaping to her feet and racing to the back of the cockpit – where she tore open a small panel and removed a backpack, pausing before she could remove a second one. “I trust you can fly on your own.”

Kara nodded. “I can. Why…are we crashing?”

“Yes, Kara, we are.” Sharon nodded as she slipped the backpack on quickly. “Something’s gone wrong with the elevator control. We’re losing altitude.”

“Wait–” Kara stood up and blocked Sharon’s way. “Maybe I can just go out there and fix it?”

Sharon nearly laughed, but suppressed the chuckle to only an amused smile. “Really? How much do you know about airplane mechanics?”

“Well…we can’t do much worse. We’re already crashing.”

It only took a moment of thought to convince Sharon that Kara was right. The worst she could do would be a failure to repair the tail control…and there would still be time to bail out.

Without another word, Sharon pulled a lever on the airplane’s exit door and pushed outward, forcing it open against the outside air pressure. She stepped back quickly, trying to balance herself against the sudden rush of wind, as she watched Kara slowly approach the opening.

“Good luck, Kara,” Sharon shouted over the sound of the engines and buffeting wind noise.

Before Kara stepped through the opening, she turned around and smiled, giving Sharon a silent ‘thumbs-up’ gesture. In another instant, she leapt into the wind…and vanished into the clouds.
Linda was so shocked to see what looked like a human being whisk by above her, she nearly lost her grip on the left tail wing. She looked up quickly to see a small hand gripping the upper tail section, and two legs wearing jeans extending from behind the steel structure. She felt confused for a moment…it would be impossible for an ordinary human to survive such an encounter with an airplane, let alone be able to grab the tail.

She watched as another small hand gripped the edge of the tail as well…and then the owner’s head popped out from the other side. A teenager with blonde hair and bright blue eyes was staring back at her…a teen she recognized. “Kara! What are you doing out here?”

“I could ask you the same question.” Kara looked down at the tail wing Linda held onto tightly, noting that the corner of it – where the fixed part of the small wing met the mechanical part – was bent, jamming the mechanism. “You broke the plane, didn’t you?”

“No, I didn’t break–” Linda moved the edge of the mechanical part of the wing, shaking it up and down a bit to see if it still was working. She cringed when she heard metal squeaking against metal. She did indeed break it by accident. “Okay, maybe I did. I’ll fix it, if you tell me where we’re going.”

“Kansas, of course. Sharon wants me to see some gateway she found with you.”

There was a short lull in the conversation as Kara waited for Linda to bend the wing section enough to free it, so it could operate as it was supposed to. She launched herself toward the still open door, waving for Linda to follow.

As soon as Linda was inside, Kara planted her feet firmly inside the airplane and grabbed the door’s handle, pulling against the resistance of air moving past at two hundred and fifty miles per hour…and slammed it shut as if it were no more difficult than closing the barn door back on the Kents’ farm.

She latched the door and turned to face Linda. “Now tell me why you followed me.”

Linda smiled weakly, trying to dismiss her question with a light chuckle…but Kara stared at her with an almost threatening seriousness. “I was worried. I didn’t want Sharon to take you somewhere unfamiliar, or–”

A short silence filled the space between them as Linda’s smile turned to a frown, and she bit her lip. “Wait a minute. The gateway? Now I’m glad I followed you, Kara! You could have ended up stranded on some strange planet light years from here!”

Kara folded her arms and smiled, seemingly amused at the anger Linda displayed. “Yeah, right. I’m not completely brain-dead you know. I can think for myself.”

“Are you amused by this?” Linda glanced at Sharon, who stood leaning against the doorway to the cockpit, a big smile on her face.

“As her about the dreams, Linda.”

Linda’s eyes switched back to Kara again, waiting for the teen to fill in the blanks of what Sharon had just started.

“Something’s calling me, Linda,” Kara said as she walked past her and sat down in one of the rear seats of the cockpit. “It’s like this…mystery that’s tearing at my heart. These dreams were depressing me, and I didn’t know why…until Sharon mentioned the gateway.”

“She told me that she had a dream of being thrown from a platform, and falling into the middle of a city.”

Linda looked at Sharon again, and then back to Kara. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”

“Because…you were kind of a mess, too.” Kara looked down and began fidgeting with her watch, an obvious attempt to avoid eye contact with Linda. “And…I’ve already been enough trouble to you and Clark.”

“No, no no.” Linda sat down in the seat across from Kara, ignoring Sharon as she walked past to sit in the pilot’s seat. “Kara, you’re like the sister I never had.”

“Then why did you leave me with the Kents, and then with Clark and Lois…when you knew they couldn’t deal with me? Do you have any idea what if feels like to be unwanted?”

Linda’s mouth hung open as she watched Kara look down, eyes closed tightly as if her own honest words stung her. She began to understand why the teen had always been so silent, so introverted – because she was afraid of hurting and shaming those who had taken care of her.

“I had no idea you felt that way, Kara,” Linda whispered, “I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry is for losers, Linda.”

Kara sat, arms folded, without speaking a word as Linda tried her best to respond – but Linda was coming up empty. Luckily, she found a small interruption which would ultimately end the conversation.

“We’re here,” Sharon announced, before putting on a headset meant to contact the nearest tower and make sure she could land in a nearby field safely without hitting any other planes.

A think, depressing silence filled the cabin of the airplane as it slowly headed back to Earth. Linda kept giving Kara sad looks, wishing she could say something to brighten her word. But Kara didn’t see any of them – she stared out the window, once again lost in her own world.
“Excuse me…Have you seen Kara?”

Charlie looked up from his newspaper slowly to see Clark Kent standing in front of his desk in his office. He laughed as Clark pushed his glasses up from the end of his nose, amused at how the man could become so deeply immersed in his civilian persona when the world knew his alter ego as Superman.

“I haven’t seen her, but I know where she is.” Charlie dug in the pocket of his jacket, hanging on the back of his chair, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper. “Sharon’s taken her to Kansas to see the Gateway. I assume Linda’s gone, too.”

Clark frowned. “She just up and left in the middle of the night?”

“I guess she’s a night owl.” Charlie shrugged. “And Sharon…well, I have no idea what kind of hours she keeps–”

They both turned abruptly as a soft tap at the window sounded through the nearly silent office. Charlie frowned as he noticed who it was – Power Girl.

“Oh, bloody hell.” Charlie pulled the window open abruptly, allowing Power Girl to enter the room before closing it. “You know, if you super hero types keep dropping by, my rent will go up.”

Power Girl smiled and gave Charlie a quick laugh before approaching Clark – who had a confused look on his face. He’d never seen her laugh so easily before. “I just talked to Kyle this morning, Clark. He says the Guardians know about the Gateway, and–”

“Wait, wait–” Charlie suddenly stepped between Power Girl and Clark, raising both of his hands. “This isn’t the JLA headquarters, you two. Must you hold these kinds of meetings here?”

“As I was saying–” Power Girl frowned at Charlie and stepped around him, ignoring him as she continued. “They want it destroyed, and Kyle is on his way to do their dirty work. I figured since Kara and Linda are on her way there–”

She turned and looked directly at Charlie, giving him and ‘I told you so’ look, raising her voice a little. “–At least one of you might be interested in knowing.”

“Um–” Charlie smiled weakly. “And you’re planning to fly over there?”

“What do you think?” In a blinding blur, Power Girl grabbed Charlie’s left upper arm quickly, pulling him quickly enough to the window that both of his feet left the carpeted floor. Before he could even open his mouth to object, he was airborne alongside her, being held only by one arm…yet he didn’t feel like he was being pulled.

“Wait a minute. Linda has always had to hold me aloft by–”

“I’m not Linda. My flight power’s a mystery.” She gripped Charlie’s arm tighter and made a gut-wrenching turn, heading toward the west. “Now shut up, or I might lose my concentration and drop you.”

Charlie swallowed hard, obeying her request. He hoped it wouldn’t be long before they landed.
Once the plane had stopped completely, Sharon opened the exit door and extended the small stairway to allow everyone to exit. She stood in the doorway like a flight attendant, waiting for Linda and Kara to leave first. As soon as they did, she returned to the inside to get some equipment.

“Linda, I’m sorry.” Kara turned around to face Linda, but then looked down at the ground. “You’ve been nothing but notice to me…I shouldn’t have lashed out and insulted you.”

“You call that lashing out?” Linda smiled. “Kara, when I was your age…God, that makes me sound old…your ‘lashing out’ would have been what I did on a good day.”

Kara smiled mischievously, walking backwards for a few steps before turning and walking, ahead of Sharon, toward the entrance of an underground cavern only partially hidden in the a field about a quarter mile away. Linda shook her head and followed.

For Linda, the walk through the field in Kansas was nothing new – she had gone through the same journey with Sharon and Charlie once before. But she was amazed at how Kara had spotted the entrance and headed straight for it. It was almost as if she too somehow remembered where it was located.

Linda suddenly found herself bathed in green light. She froze, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end, for a moment unsure of what it was. But then, her mind finally connected the color with her memory…Green Lantern?

She looked straight up, nearly giving herself a neck cramp as she searched the skies for the familiar green and black costume of Kyle Rayner. It didn’t take her long to find him – he was descending quickly from just below the clouds, surrounded by a green halo.

“I should have known you’d be here,” Kyle joked as he slowly settled to his feet, “Every time there’s trouble, you’re nearby.”

“Chaos, actually,” Linda pointed out as she smiled. “Every time there’s chaos, I’m nearby.”

Linda suddenly ducked as she noticed something flying toward her. It was a loose rock made of sand – it pelted Kyle, breaking into dozens of small pieces. She turned quickly – Kara stood a short distance away, dusting off her hands and smiling.

“If you two are done with the so-called witty conversation, can we follow Sharon inside?”

Kyle looked at Linda and rolled his eyes. She laughed and followed Kara down the slight hill toward the hidden entrance to the Gateway. “Is this the place I’m supposed to destroy?”

Sharon and Kara wheeled around at the same time. Neither seemed happy as they gave Kyle a threatening stare. Sharon decided to speak first. “You’re planning to do what?”

“Didn’t you know?” Kyle looked at Sharon, and then at Linda. “Nuts…I thought Power Girl would have told one of you by now. I met with the Guardians, they think this…Gateway…is dangerous.”

“Dangerous? Of course it’s dangerous!” Sharon laughed as she removed a crystal from her backpack, waving it in front of a hidden door. It slid open silently, as if by remote control. “So are nuclear weapons. Why don’t the Guardians destroy those?”

“You don’t understand.” Kyle shook his head slowly as he attempted to block Sharon from entering the underground cavern. “This Gateway doesn’t only work one direction, Sharon. If we can open it, so can beings on the other side. Earth isn’t ready for that.”

Sharon frowned, glancing into the cavern around Kyle. “Then find a way to secure it. What bloody use are you super-types if you can’t even do that?”

“I can.”

Kyle and Sharon both gave Kara a look which told her they either thought she was lying or crazy. Kara responded by smiling.

“Really, I can,” Kara continued as she walked between Sharon and Kyle into the cavern. “I…remember this. It’s so clear to me now. I know how to use it, and…”

She wheeled around quickly to face Kyle, deliberately looking at him. “…and how to disable it. It has two keys…one opens the gateway, the other locks it.”

Sharon held the crystal in her hand at her own eye level. “This is obviously the key to open it.”

Kara nodded as she walked toward the wall of solid crystal in the back of the room. She paused for a moment, looking over the surface of it. It seemed to be giving off a light of its own. “See that light? That means it’s activated. There is another crystal inside here somewhere.”

Linda and Sharon looked at each other as Linda passed through the doorway. Neither had any idea what Kara was doing – but Linda watched without speaking a word. She somehow knew that this place was helping Kara recover some of her lost memory.

Kara walked slowly around the perimeter of the room, looking from floor to ceiling – as if she knew something was there. Yet she had no idea what she was searching for. She knew only that she would know when she found it. And just as she had hoped…

“There it is!” Kara pointed high above the glowing crystal wall, where a small, faintly glowing crystal was embedded in a slot near the ceiling of the cavern. Sharon shook her head, wondering how she could have missed it the last time she visited.

But just when she prepared herself to perform a quick leap and snatch that crystal, Kara turned suddenly at the sound of a muffled groan, and a struggle just outside the doorway. Linda turned too, heading immediately outside – but Kara wasn’t far behind.

Power Girl stood outside on the tall grass, one hand over Kyle’s mouth, and her other arm gripping him in an inescapable headlock. Charlie stood a few feet behind her, trying his best not to be injured by accident as Kyle swung his arms wildly, trying to free himself from his captor.

“Let him go!” Kara ordered, trying her best to sound as impressive as possible. She was surprised when Power Girl actually did so, allowing Kyle to collapse to the ground.

Kyle stood quickly, and frowned at Power Girl as he dusted himself off. “What did you do that for?”

“I came here to stop you from destroying this place…with Kara in it.”

“Do I look that stupid?” Kyle immediately realized that his response practically demanded an insult from Power Girl – he waved her off before she had a chance to respond. “Look, Peegee, we had this whole thing worked out before you even showed up.”

Power Girl pointed a finger at Kyle angrily, and frowned. “First of all, don’t call me that, you Nightwing wannabe. Second…how in hell was I supposed to know that?”

“Nightwing wannabe?” Linda whispered to Charlie, trying her best not to laugh. Charlie shrugged, and then pointed to Sharon – she had the second crystal in her hand, tossing it up in the air slightly to emphasize the fact that she spent her time much more wisely than anyone else.

“It no longer matters,” Sharon interrupted as she walked past Linda and Charlie, waving the crystal at Kyle and Power Girl. “The gateway is disabled now.”

“Good. Then maybe certain destructive people can go home…” Power Girl purposely looked at Kyle again, ignoring his frown. “…And tell their puppet masters to mind their own business.”

“Hey! The Guardians don’t control me, Peegee! I’m my own man!”

Power Girl rolled her eyes. “A one hundred percent fictional sentence if I ever heard one.”

Before Kyle had a chance to respond, Power Girl launched herself skyward in a blur. He was still fuming over her attitude…but it would be worthless to follow her and argue with her further.

Instead, he was surprised to see that Kara raced skyward behind Power Girl…and she was fast! Kara caught up with her in only a matter of seconds.

“Words hurt, you know.”

Power Girl suddenly stopped, seeming surprised to hear a voice so close to her. She hovered, looking at Kara for a moment before speaking. “Do they now?”

Kara nodded. “What if after right now, you never saw Kyle again? The last thing he’d remember was you treating him like garbage.”

By the time Power Girl had taken a deep breath and thought of a harsh response, the picture Kara had drawn in her mind had already taken form. She sighed, her eyes turning sad. As super heroes, there was always a possibility that one may never see another again. It was a very risky job.

“You’re right, Kara. Tell him I meant well…okay?”

“Why can’t you tell him?”

Power Girl sighed again. “Because, Kara…when you know Kyle as long as I have, you’ll learn that he can be as grating as myself sometimes. I don’t want that to be the last thing I remember, either.”

Kara frowned as she watched Power Girl fly away quickly. She had initially been used to seeing simple, cooperative relationships. Clark and Lois, a typical married couple…and Linda and Charlie, two friends who regularly behaved as if they could be a couple as well.

The relationship between Clark and Lois, however, deepened in complexity the longer she knew them. Kara even understood things that even they themselves didn’t, or refused to admit. She knew the hurt Clark felt every time Lois went on an ambitious assignment, leaving him alone…and the deep fear that Lois felt every time she watched Clark put on that costume, knowing that this time he might not come home.

She knew that the distance Linda and Charlie kept from each other was for that very reason – but neither one would admit to it. They each feared investing too much in each other…because they feared losing each other. The friendship they had was more comfortable than any other kind of relationship…because it was safe.

Kara wondered still how two heroes like Power Girl and Kyle can work together in spite of their bickering. She guessed that it meant some sort of level of comfort was between them, one where they each knew they weren’t hurting the other that deeply. Kind of a warped type of reassurance.

She shook off her thoughts as she returned to the ground and headed back to the underground cavern, smiling to herself as she noticed Kyle, back to his cheerful self. Maybe that guess wasn’t far off after all.
“I guess we should get everyone home, then.” Linda took a quick count of everyone present at the entrance to the underground Gateway cavern. “I don’t think I can carry all of you, and Kara’s not strong enough. So it’s up to you, Kyle.”

“What about Sharon’s airplane?” Kara’s interruption drew stares from Charlie and Linda. They two of them looked a little sad – it was easy to tell that Sharon wasn’t planning on coming back with them.

Sharon smiled weakly, dangling the crystal in front of Kara. “It’s quite simple, really. As long as I hold this crystal, it’s my responsibility to send it to a place where it’s difficult to recover…for the safety of humanity.”

“I understand.” Kara nodded and smiled half-heartedly.

“Unless–” Sharon walked closer to Kara. She kneeled down to look up into Kara’s eyes, and lowered her voice to a whisper. “You know you’ve come through that gateway, don’t you? Wouldn’t you like to discover your origins?”

Kara smiled, looking at the crystal in Sharon’s hand. “I will…one day. But for now, I’m satisfied.”

“Are you now?” Sharon asked.

“Yes.” Kara nodded. “I now know my place in the world. I know what I’m supposed to do here.”

Linda and Charlie looked at each other, to confirm silently that they were both confused by what Kara was saying. It gave Kara a warm feeling to see that – whenever Charlie and Linda began communicating non-verbally, it meant that everything was right with the world.

And Sharon…Kara wondered if she had some sort of latent psychic ability…or maybe she was just extremely perceptive. Sharon managed to follow Kara’s eyes…and then her laugh told Kara that she knew. She saw the same thing Kara did.

But what Kara remembered about that empty, lonely field somewhere in nowhere, Kansas was one thing – for the second time since her arrival on Earth, among confusion, she had managed to cause every hero in Metropolis to gather, and work together. Not because of danger…but because they all cared about her safety. She had managed once again to do what she believed she was intended to…

…Bring people together.


#8 – Crystal Clear, Part 2

“I can’t believe I’ve been called to this meeting.” Kyle Rayner, known to most of the people of Earth as Green Lantern, shook his head slowly as he stared up at a panel of alien-looking shadows immersed in darkness. “She’s no danger to any of us. In fact, she’s a hero…just like me.”

“That does not concern us,” one of the shadows droned. “Our one concern is balance. What she saw was not meant for her eyes. And there is one new resident of your realm…a young female…who does not belong–”

“Yes, yes…you mentioned that.” Kyle folded his arms and looked defiantly at the panel seated above him. “What do you want me to do about it? Ask every one of billions of people if they belong on Earth?”

“This female is closer then you know, Kyle Rayner. She has abilities beyond that of the average creatures of your planet–”

“Oh, that really narrows it down–”

“–And she is close to the one who has seen what she should not.” The shadow’s voice sounded impatient with that last sentence. “The two are a source of Chaos in your realm, Kyle Rayner. The situation must be monitored closely.”

Kyle smiled mischievously, and nearly laughed. “Hmm…Watch Supergirl closely. Now that’s an assignment I can live with.”

If the shadows frowned at all behind the shroud of darkness, they did so at that moment. They were less then amused with Kyle’s comment. “Kyle Rayner, if Green Lanterns were not in such demand, we would strip you of your ring at this moment! You are the most disrespectful member we have seen in our eons of existence–”

“Yeah, yeah. Send me a memo, would you? I have to get home.” With those words, Kyle vanished in a blaze of green light, leaving the Guardians of Oa behind to fume quietly in the darkness.


Linda knew she was dreaming. After all, orbiting high above the reddish planet she remembered seeing below her the day before would be impossible. Even she couldn’t breathe in space, and she would most likely freeze to death before suffocating anyhow.

But she let herself enjoy the dream, as she coasted through the red planet’s thin atmosphere, feeling the cool moisture from the tops of pink clouds condense on her skin and slide along her arms and legs. It had been so long since she flew at such altitudes in real life…it seemed like an eternity.

Just when she was beginning to enjoy herself, her dream began to slip away. She felt a mixture of anger and frustration as she felt her mind waking from her deep sleep. She wanted to stay longer…

Her hearing began to tune into the sounds of her hotel room, and the faint sounds of Metropolis traffic outside as she felt a chill of cool air on her skin. She sighed to herself as she kept her eyes closed. The air conditioner probably went crazy in the room again – she knew that she would have to open her eyes now, and get out of bed for a moment to find the spare blanket in the closet.

Linda extended one leg to try and reach the edge of the bed as she started opening her eyes slowly. She frowned as she realized that she couldn’t seem to find the edge of the bed…or even the covers. Her eyes snapped open as she began to suspect something was wrong. She sat up quickly…and hit her head on something hard.

“Ow!” She twisted around quickly, getting a momentary glance of the bed below her, stripped of it’s covers, before crashing down to it head first, bouncing off of the mattress once and landing hard on the floor.

Her hands shaking, Linda reached for the lamp beside the bed and turned it on quickly. She sat up and began looking around the room. The bed was still next to her, its covers strewn on the floor around her. She looked up at the ceiling – there was a small dent where…she hit her head?

“What the…?” She slowly rose to her feet and looked up at the ceiling, staring, even dreaming a little at what caused the dent. She remembered hitting her head, and falling from…a smile creeped onto her face. “Could it be?”

Without another thought, Linda raced over to the backpack she left next to the closet and removed the white gloves, the tee-shirt, red boots, and blue skirt quickly. It didn’t take her long to put her costume on…and before she knew it, she was standing on the balcony outside her room, breathing the cool night air.

She glanced back into the room again, looking at the small dent in the ceiling, and took a deep breath. She could do it…she could fly. A quick look down to the hotel’s entrance ten floors below made her feel a little wary…but that dent in the ceiling gave her overwhelming confidence. There was only one way it could be there.

“Well…here goes.” Linda leapt off of the balcony, heading skyward, her right arm extended out ahead of her, fist leading the way. It felt wonderful, the cool air whipping through her hair again, to be free of the bounds of gravity. The joy of flying began to rush back to her…a feeling which had been too far out of reach for too long.

But then something changed. She was slowing down. The tethers of gravity once again took ahold of her…and she began falling. “Oh…no…no…”

Linda tumbled through the air, out of control, as she let the despair of the moment take control of her emotions. Her dream, the one thing she wanted most…torn away from her again. She began crying silently as she plummeted faster and faster toward the Earth…hoping for a moment that maybe this time, the fall might actually kill her. No…she had to dismiss such thoughts. She had to…

…Fly. She knew she must. Every fiber of her being began to fight the gravity pulling violently against her, trying to bring her crashing back to Earth. She remembered something Charlie told her once…’Don’t think, just do.’ And just as that thought crossed her mind…

…She realized that the Earth was moving away from her. Linda still felt herself falling…but she was falling away from the ground. She felt forces which would tear ordinary humans apart tugging at all of her limbs as the hotel became smaller and smaller. She gasped in wonder as she lights below her suddenly became a complete blur. And suddenly, she felt…nauseous.

Somehow, she instinctively found the balcony outside her hotel room in her rush to get safely to the bathroom. She made it just in time, lifting the seat of the toilet just as the remaining contents of her near-empty stomach emptied in an instant into the water. She flushed it down quickly, without even looking or taking a breath. Everything felt like such a rush.

Linda stumbled out of the bathroom and leaned her back against the wall around the corner, sliding down to the floor slowly. Suddenly everything seemed so foreign to her. She was just outside, flying…yet she found quickly that she was way out of practice. Her heart was still racing from excitement…she wanted to go back out and fly some more. But she was so tired. She crawled into bed slowly. It was time to sleep.
“Linda? Linda, wake up! It’s almost one o’clock!”

“Huh?” Linda opened her eyes quickly and looked up at Charlie. She was lying in bed, the covers pulled up to her chin. She had been sleeping so long, her entire body felt almost completely numb. She pulled her hands out from under the heavy blanket slowly, and rubbed her eyes. “Charlie…what are you doing in here?”

“I came to get you because you didn’t call…oh, excuse me.”

Linda watched Charlie retreat around the corner quickly as she sat up in bed. He seemed to be spooked by something…that’s when she spotted the white tee-shirt she was wearing last night carelessly tossed onto a chair at the foot of the bed. She was wearing only her undergarments under the covers. “Oh…I’m sorry. I was so tired last night after…Oh my God!”

Linda suddenly leapt out of bed, catching the robe which Charlie retrieved from behind the bathroom door and tossed to her. She paused to tie the robe’s belt around her waist, and quickly ran around the corner. “Charlie, I was flying last night!”

“In your underwear?”

“No, not in my underwear, Charlie. Come on!” She shoved Charlie lightly, trying not to laugh at the image his suggestion placed in her mind. “I was in my costume. It was wonderful, Charlie…I almost had forgotten what it’s like.”

“Linda…not to be rude but…could you…brush your teeth?” Charlie wrinkled his nose as Linda stood closer to him.

“I’m so sorry…I forgot that…oh, never mind.” Linda raced into the bathroom and grabbed her toothbrush.

“First you forget you’re in your underwear, then you forget to brush your teeth?” Charlie chuckled as he watched Linda hurriedly brush her teeth over the sink. “What’s going on?”

“I had an experience.” Linda spit out a mouthful of water and turned off the sink, wiping her face off on a towel as she headed out of the bathroom. “I dreamt that I could fly last night…and then I went outside and actually did it.”

Linda noticed Charlie looking away again before she looked down and then wrapped the robe around her more tightly. She frowned at him as she walked through the room to look for some clothing. “Could you um…wait in the kitchenette? I’d like to take a shower.”

“Sure, Linda. I’ll just raid the refrigerator while I’m waiting.”

She rolled her eyes and sighed as she watched Charlie head into the kitchenette and open the refrigerator. As she picked up an armful of clothing and headed toward the bathroom, she smiled to herself as she closed the door behind her. She knew that she flew last night…and she would prove it by doing so again.
“…right behind this door.” Lex Luthor unlocked a large steel door by placing his palm on a glass pad and typing in a code with his other hand. In the center of the door was a LexCorp logo. He didn’t seem the list bit afraid even as Vlad held a gun to his head.

“And you’re sure this weapon will kill Supergirl?”

“I call it Stardust. It’s a mold spore which grows inside the lungs…easily defeated, but deadly if not treated.” As the steel door slid open, Luthor stood aside and urged Vlad to go ahead.

Vlad slapped Luthor hard on the side of the side of his head, growling at him in a thick Russian accent. “Do I look stupid? You go first, it could be trap.”

Luthor sighed and walked through the doorway ahead of Vlad, walking quickly to stay a few paces ahead of him. Vlad discovered why an instant later – he ran right into some kind of invisible field which was now separating himself and Luthor. He immediately turned around, and ran into another invisible field – he was trapped.

“You’ll pay for this, you snake!” Vlad aimed the gun at Luthor, and fired two rounds. The bullets simply bounced off of the invisible field, landing on the floor at his feet.

“It’s a dampening force field,” Luthor explained. “It not only acts as a wall of energy, it cushions blows to it as well. When it’s completed, it’ll be extremely valuable in the mental health field.”

“You see, while the field prevents what’s inside from escaping–” Luthor picked up some sort of small device the size of a pager from a nearby steel countertop. He pointed it at Vlad, and pressed the button. A bolt of white energy immediately connected to Vlad, appearing and disappearing with the speed of lightning. “–It allows me to easily stun you from out here.”

“Is everything okay, Lex?” Mercy Graves entered the room quickly, carrying a heavy military style rifle and a knife on her belt. Two security men followed her into the room quickly, similarly armed. “We saw you taken into the building as a hostage, and–”

“Mercy, if there is one thing you can always be sure of, it’s that I’m never a hostage in my own building.”

She smiled and nodded, waving at the two guards to remove Vlad’s unconscious body. The two lifted Vlad off of the floor and left quickly. As soon as Mercy was sure the two had left, and the door slid shut, she removed her weapons and placed them on one of the steel counters next to her. “We were all worried about you, Lex. I was afraid that Superman had hauled you off to his fortress or something.”

Luthor smiled, walking closer to Mercy to shake her hand. It caught her a little off-guard, a man who was usually so bitter and stoic displaying friendship openly. “It’s good to be back, Mercy. Of all of the people here, I missed you most.”

Mercy stood frozen, her mouth hanging open from surprise, as Lex Luthor quietly left the room. As the door slid shut behind Luthor, she still found herself lacking words…and her head was swimming. If she didn’t believe it before, now she did…Luthor had changed.
“Can I go for a walk? I’m bored.”

Clark looked up from his desk slowly, a slight smile forming as he noticed that Kara still wore the jacket she left home with, in spite of the fact that it was much warmer since early morning. Much like himself, she was extremely tolerant of temperature changes. “This is a big building, Kara. Why don’t you explore it a little. And take the jacket off, it looks like you just got here.”

Kara smiled glancing over at Lois’ desk. She was out on assignment, having vanished the instant that a rumor began circulating that Lex Luthor had managed to escape from and detain one of his captors. Lois had been on her way to buy breakfast for herself and Kara when she got the call on her cell phone…and immediately detoured to drop Kara off at Clark’s desk. “I know how to get to Linda’s office. Can I go there?”

A deep sigh from Clark answered her question before he even said a word. She knew he wasn’t enthusiastic about her wandering around the city, given the potential for her to attract unwanted attention accidentally.

“I won’t do anything weird, I promise. I’ll just walk over there.”

Clark tapped on his desk twice, lost in thought for a moment, before reaching for his phone. “All right, Kara. But I’m going to call ahead first to make sure they know you’re coming.”

Kara rolled her eyes and slid into a chair at the other end of Clark’s desk, making sure he heard her sigh. As he began dialing his phone, she quickly picked up his steel letter opener, and began weaving it between her fingers as if it were nothing more then a plastic straw. She slid it off of the end of her fingers and smiled as she held it up to show Clark.

“Kara–” Clark sighed and snatched the letter opener from her, quickly stuffing it into his desk drawer as he placed his phone handset on the desk. He took a quick look around the room, leaning closer to Kara as he realized no one had seen what happened. “Don’t do that. Do you have any idea how dangerous it could be for someone to figure out–”

“I know, I know.” Kara dismissed Clark’s scolding with a wave of her hand and rose to her feet. “So…can I go?”

He nodded. “Yes, Charlie says you’re welcome to visit. Please try not to give him too much trouble.”

Clark watched as Kara gave him a quick smile and headed to the elevators quickly. He had a bad feeling about letting her walk around Metropolis alone, even if she was only walking a block. As soon as she was safely in the elevator, he lifted the handset again and took a deep breath as he looked at the letter opener in his open desk drawer. “Keep an eye on her, Charlie. I fear she may be looking for trouble…and I pray she never finds it.”
“I’m sorry, we have no leads yet.” Charlie sighed and leaned back in his new office chair as he looked across his desk at Emil Hamilton and the ‘essence’ who calls herself Sam. She looked and acted so closely to his former partner at LexCorp…he still couldn’t believe that she was almost entirely artificial. She was a testament to the work of the man Dr. Hamilton searched for – Tatsuo Takamura, inventor of the Pocket Protectors.

It worried Charlie a little bit that the Pocket Protectors – small personal security devices designed to increase safety – had to be taken off the market after a child watched his mother killed by one in a mall. If the same man designed Sam, did that mean the same fate awaited her? Or was it simply a manufacturing problem which caused a sound design to become dangerous?

Dr. Hamilton sighed. “I’m so sorry to hear that. If we don’t find him, Sam may be the last of her kind…and any research generated by the process of designing her will be forever lost.”

“Yes, well…” Charlie smiled and sat up, clasping his hands together in the center of the desk. “…I haven’t given up yet. In fact, Linda is out right now–”

As Charlie leaned back slightly in his chair, he couldn’t help but notice an orange glow coming from outside the window of his office. He turned slightly to fulfill his curiosity and look outside – and immediately noticed flames burning through the open fourth floor windows of a small six-story building across the street.

“Oh my God.” Charlie quickly reached for his telephone, dialing 911 as soon as he picked up the handset. But it was no use – the dispatch center had a recording indicating that all lines were busy. Luckily, it didn’t matter too much…the sound of sirens began to fill the streets quickly.

He looked outside again, noticing a teenager with blonde hair who stood on the sidewalk, staring straight up at the burning building, not moving or even coughing as thick clouds of smoke moved past her. It seemed like she was watching, or listening to something. He felt a moment of panic as he watched her remove her jacket and confidently stroll right into the building…but then he breathed a sigh of relief as he recognized Kara.

“Excuse me for a moment.” Charlie quickly raced around his desk and out of his office, heading straight for the stairway. He had no idea how quickly he managed to reach the first floor and run across the street, but it couldn’t have been long.

Unfortunately, as he attempted to cross the street toward the burning building, the heat and smoke drove him away. As he began coughing from breathing some of the smoke, he decided to retreat back to his office’s side of the street, and watch.

“Nobody’s in the building.”

Charlie’s heart began racing before he realized it was Kara’s voice who spoke to him from nearby. She was sitting on the trunk of a parked car only a few feet away. “How did you…I know I saw you go in there!”

Kara shrugged and bowed her head, avoiding Charlie’s gaze as if she were ashamed of something. “Takes some people longer to check then others. But I had to check…I couldn’t not know. I hope you’re not upset–”

“Upset?” Charlie hugged Kara across her shoulders quickly. “You’ve done a wonderful thing.”

“But…aren’t you worried about people finding out about me?”

“Seems to me,” Charlie said as he smiled at Kara, “I’m the only one who knows. But what’s important, Kara…is that you know what you did was right.”

“Right.” Kara laughed and slid off of the car trunk. “Try explaining that to Clark. He wants to keep me prisoner–”

“Clark is worried about you, Kara. If you walk around telling people who you are, you’ll gain enemies. Just look at Batman…he has more enemies then anyone.”

Kara folded her arms and frowned, looking up at Charlie with only her eyes. “That’s defective logic.”

The frown Charlie tried to give Kara dissolved quickly, giving way to a smile, and then a laugh. “You’re one smart teenager, aren’t you?”

He watched Kara return the smile as he pointed to his office building. Kara walked past him, and he followed her to the elevator. A minute later, the two entered the office suite Charlie had left only minutes earlier. He headed straight into his own office…but Kara froze as she stepped into the doorway, looking with fear at Sam, and then at Dr. Hamilton.

“What’s wrong?”

Kara looked at Charlie for a moment as if his question made no sense to her, before approaching Sam slowly. She reached out and poked Sam’s shoulder at arm’s length. “Are you…alive?”

Sam and Charlie both smiled at Kara’s question…but Dr. Hamilton looked perplexed. “She’s an ‘essence’, young lady. A living brain surrounded by an artificial body. But the question is…how did you know?”

“She–” Kara looked at Charlie again. She was almost afraid to explain, until he gave her an encouraging smile. “She…sounds different.”

“Sounds…?” Dr. Hamilton frowned and looked at Charlie. “Did she say that Sam sounds different?”

“She has excellent hearing.” Charlie smiled and nodded at Kara. She smiled in return.

“Very strange. I’ve taken audio readings on Sam.” Dr. Hamilton took a couple of steps toward Kara. “The only one who should be able to hear her is…”


Before Dr. Hamilton finished his sentence, Kara vanished from the room in a blur, leaving a wake of turbulence in the room, strong enough to toss most of the papers from Charlie’s desk into the air. Charlie laughed…but Dr. Hamilton was less then amused. He leaned over Charlie’s desk, and stared him straight in the eye.

“What’s going on here?” Dr. Hamilton’s voice was more serious then Charlie had ever heard before.

Charlie realized at that moment that as a scientist, someone with an innate need to explain what happens around him, it would be impossible to try and fool him. He took a deep breath, figuring that if Superman could trust his secrets with this man…

“Dr. Hamilton…can you keep a secret?”

Linda nearly dropped her backpack as she raced around the corner, heading toward her office. She had been occupied with thoughts of getting there before Dr. Hamilton left…until she noticed that the building across the street had two engines from the Metropolis Fire Department parked in front of it. She felt even more confused as she noticed Kara sitting on a the roof of a parked car, watching the firefighters work.

Kara didn’t even look as Linda approached her…but the movement of her eyes indicated that she knew Linda was there. Linda noticed that she looked a little depressed as she stared up at the top of the tall ladder the firefighters were using to fight the fire from above.

A light spray constantly rained down on the street as the wind blew back water sprayed from the fire hoses. It left small beads of water on the cars, and on Kara’s jacket. It felt refreshing to Linda, who had been walking around Metropolis all day attempting to gather information on Tatsuo Takamura…and coming up with nothing.

Linda easily hopped up on top of the roof of the car and sat next to Kara, watching the teen bow her head sadly. “What’s the matter?”

“Charlie is selling me out. Clark won’t let me leave his sight–” Kara sighed and looked up at Linda slowly. “Nobody likes me. I’m just…excess baggage. It’s like I don’t belong here, and everyone knows it.”

“I like you.” Linda gently put her arm across Kara’s shoulders, almost as if she were trying to shield the teen from an imaginary harsh wind. “I just can’t look after you because–”

“I don’t need looking after, Linda. I may be new to this city…to this planet…but I’m not stupid.”

“Hmm.” Linda looked down the street, toward the hotel where she and Charlie each had rooms until they found more permanent residence in Metropolis. They both learned within days that affordable housing was scarce inside the city…and it made Linda wonder just how much money Clark and Lois had to make to live there. “I may just have an idea…”

She interrupted herself as she suddenly noticed something out of the corner of her eye. A man she vaguely recognized was just standing behind the parked car, arms folded, as if he were listening to every word she and Kara were saying.

“Do you mind?” Linda turned around quickly, aiming an angry glance at the man standing behind the car. She almost followed her question with a couple of insults, before she recognized him. “Kyle Rayner? What are you doing here?”

He shrugged and held his arms out at his sides on dramatic fashion. “Can’t a man walk around on a public sidewalk without–”


He laughed as he leaned against the car, momentarily smiling as Kara turned around to give him a suspicious look. “Some very powerful associates of mine have taken an interest in you…and your little friend here. I’m supposed to keep an eye on you both.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Linda shook her head and slid off of the car, realizing suddenly that she had to look up at Kyle now. “Is this one of your sick pranks? I’ve heard about the ones you pull at JLA meetings. Diana still hasn’t forgiven you for the last one.”

“That was a one-time prank. And I had no idea that material would stick to skin when frozen, I swear.”

“What material?” Kara slid off of the car, looking at Linda, and then at Kyle.

“Nothing,” Linda said quickly. “Never mind. I’d rather not relive the moment, if it’s all the same.”

Kara looked at Kyle, who shrugged, but gave her no other response. She rolled her eyes and sat down on the hood of the car, her expression telling both Kyle and Linda that she didn’t appreciate being left out of the conversation. “Fine. Whatever.”

Linda stared at Kyle, an obvious question hanging between them – obvious enough that he knew what it was, even if she didn’t speak it. Why were these ‘powerful associates’ interested in her? She watched him turn serious, and a little confused before he answered, as if he himself didn’t understand the answer.

“The Guardians…they said you’ve seen something not meant for your eyes. And that you and the kid are sources of Chaos.”

“You mean–” Linda glanced at Kara for a moment before lowering her voice to a near whisper. “That reddish orange planet?”

Kyle turned pale at Linda’s question…at which point she realized that he didn’t know! The Guardians must not have given him such detailed information. “What…reddish orange planet?”

Linda sighed and sat back down on the hood of the car next to Kara. She gave Kyle a half-hearted smile. “I supposed it’s too late to say ‘never mind’.”

“Oh, I’d say it’s much too late.” Kyle leaned against the car’s windshield, waiting impatiently for Linda to tell him more.

Closing her eyes for a moment, Linda’s memory rushed back to the vivid image of that planet. She was floating above it…and it didn’t seem real. It couldn’t have been real…but it felt like she was there. The cold of space intruding on the vehicle which held her aloft, the warmth of the planet’s star glaring against the side of her face. And the planet…it seemed so…alive.

“Sharon, Charlie, and I found this…cave hidden in Kansas somewhere. Inside it was this crystal wall, and some sort of control center. I touched the crystal, and it became a gateway–”

“A…gateway?” Kyle frowned as he kept his gaze fixed on Linda.

Linda laughed and shook her head. “I know. I wouldn’t believe it either if I hadn’t seen it myself.”

“No, that’s not it.” He shook his head slowly. “I believe it. In fact, it’s all too real.”
Jimmy Olsen stared, his tongue nearly hanging out of his mouth, as a tall blonde he had never seen before confidently strolled through the Daily Planet press room. She was dressed just as most other blondes walking along the streets of Metropolis below, in black jeans, a white shirt, and blue jacket – but there was something so familiar about her hair texture, her eyes…maybe even her face.

As she passed him, she rolled her eyes and sighed. Even that seemed so familiar to Jimmy – something about the way she presented herself, in how she seemed so strange and yet so normal.

The woman paused and glanced around the large room quickly, seeming to be perplexed by the sheer volume of activity, desks, and number of people walking back and forth. Yet she didn’t give up right away. Even her self-sufficiency felt familiar to Jimmy somehow.

“Excuse me.” She spoke in a steady, confident voice, as if she were some sort of royalty, confident that she commanded everything and everyone in her presence. “Could you inform Clark Kent that Karen would like to have a word with him?”

Jimmy nodded, but still found himself at a loss for words. He almost tripped over his own feet as he turned and headed into the newsroom, pointing himself directly at Clark’s desk. It was empty. “Nuts.”

He turned around and walked back slowly to face the blonde, Karen, preparing himself to disappoint her no matter how much he hated to. “Miss…he’s not at his desk. Would you like to leave a message, or wait?”

Karen lifted her hand, tapping her chin gently with her index finger as she pondered a question which, to her, was more complex then it appeared. She obviously went to a lot of trouble to come to the Daily Planet offices. “I’ll wait. I’d rather not travel all the way back here.”

“Drove up from Gotham City, did you?” Jimmy smiled as he tried to punctuate his comment with a dose of humor. But as soon as it left his mouth, his smile turned into one of desperation as he realized how stupid it sounded.

Surprisingly, Karen returned his look with a warm smile as she sat down in one of the chairs next to the newsroom entrance. “Something like that. Listen, uh–”

“Jimmy.” He held his hand out to shake hers, only to find his arm dangling between them awkwardly. He withdrew his handshake attempt quickly.

“Jimmy…could I please have a cup of water?”

“Sure.” He took a deep breath as he headed around the corner toward the water cooler, snatching a cup from the dispenser quickly. He felt confident now…the blonde knew his name, and maybe he could strike up a conversation as she waited for Clark. Maybe she might even get to know him…or even like him.

“Olsen! That water is meant for drinking, not irrigating crops!”

Jimmy instinctively cringed at the sound of Perry White’s voice, causing him to spill more water then had already overflowed from the cup he held as his mind wandered. “Oh…uh…sorry, chief.”

“Don’t call me chief!”

As usual, Jimmy didn’t hear Perry’s last phrase as he rushed back to the waiting room, full cup of water in hand. He paused for a moment as he passed Clark’s desk – he was back. A glance across the room to the entrance, and he realized that Karen was standing again – it was only a matter of moments before she spotted Clark as well. He sighed to himself – might as well face the inevitable, and just tell Clark he has a guest.

“Clark…someone named Karen is here to see you.”

“Uh-huh.” Clark looked up for a moment from his computer, quickly glancing at the waiting room. “Tell her I’ll be with her in a moment.”

Jimmy smiled to himself as he headed to the waiting room. If Clark was busy, it meant that he did indeed have some time to talk to Karen first. He was positively beaming as he entered the waiting room and handed Karen the cup of water. “Here you go. And I found Clark, he says he’ll be with you in a moment.”

“Thank you.” Karen stood quickly and took the cup of water, swallowing it’s contents in one gulp. She gripped Jimmy’s hand tightly, almost too tightly, and smiled at him. “Pleased to meet you, Jimmy.”

With those words, she simply walked into the stairway…and vanished. Jimmy turned pale as he walked back toward Clark’s desk – how would he explain to Clark that his guest had just disappeared?

But as he approached the desk of Clark Kent, he realized that explaining wouldn’t be a problem – Clark Kent was gone as well. “What is going on around here?”
“That’s a good question.” Superman stood on the roof of the Daily Planet building, staring past the large ball at Power Girl. She stood leaning against the large ball with her arms folded. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Kal, I found out where that kid came from. She’s not from this planet.”

He shrugged. “Neither am I.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.” Power Girl unfolded her arms and walked closer to Kal, leaning against an antenna as she moved close to him. “You were bought up here from a young age, with Earth customs and traditions. These things are alien to her. How does she feel about killing, for instance?”

“Karen, we can’t just think the worst of every stranger who appears on our planet.” Superman sighed and looked over the edge of the roof to the street far below. “If there is one thing I’ve learned about people…of any planet…is that they want to be loved, and cared for. As long as we take care of Kara, she’ll fit in just fine.”

Power Girl frowned, a flash of anger appearing across her eyes momentarily before she rose to her full height in front of Superman, in an almost threatening manner. “That, Kal-El, is why this planet is doomed to be a victim of every disaster which comes along. Some ‘people’ out there don’t want caring. Some of them want us dead.”


“Look, Kal…I’m not saying it’s right, and we should train people to hate. But–” Power Girl sighed loudly and sat down on the edge of the roof, looking down at the street as if it were a pond, reflecting her image skyward. “–I dunno. I guess the idea of trying to look after a kid who can destroy the planet is rather…frightening to me.”

“If there is one thing ma and pa taught me–”

“Oh, no. Not that farm boy stuff again.” Power Girl lowered her face into her hands, shaking her head slowly.

Superman sighed and sat down next to Power Girl. “I may be a farm boy…but if not for that, I probably would not be the man I am today. Can you imagine me, or Kara being raised by someone like Lex Luthor?”

She rose her head slowly, looking across town at the LexCorp tower, which loomed over the city ominously. It was a constant reminder of who was ‘in charge’. While Gotham City was well-known for its useless government and law enforcement, few realized that Metropolis was much the same – only cleaner.

“I see your point.” Power Girl rose to her feet slowly, dusted herself off and turned to face Superman with a mischievous grin. “Oh…and by the way, I’ve learned something else interesting.”

Superman gave her a questioning, yet vaguely fearful look.

“Linda and Charlie have put Kara in a room in that hotel where they are staying.” Power Girl almost laughed as she noticed the look of shock on his face. She floated off of the roof of the Daily Planet, the wind tossing around her hair as she ascended toward the skies. “Good luck.”

Superman felt anger…followed quickly by a sense of regret. He remembered Kara’s reaction when he attempted to keep track of her at all times while he worked. He treated her more like a small child then a young woman with a mind of her own – he was much too protective.

And yet she remained so patient, as if she understood why she was treated that way. Still, it was clear that she wasn’t happy living with Lois and himself – because they were too busy to give her the attention she needed.

“I sure hope Linda knows what she’s getting into.”


#7 – Crystal Clear, Part 1

A five foot six young woman, her blonde hair covered by a soft black suede hat, her eyes masked by the hat’s brim, froze with her arms at her sides. As Michael Jackson song ‘Smooth Criminal’ began playing on her CD player, she was acting as if she had been asked to audition for a video. Doing her best to sing along with the garbled lyrics of the song, she stayed on beat. Right on cue, she shed her hat, quickly sending it sailing across the hotel room like a frisbee.

She missed the coat rack, but she wouldn’t let that stop her enjoyment. The fact that she had no audience was a factor – she was free to let herself spin, imitating more lyrics as she casually swept the hat off the carpeted floor to put it back on her head. Unlike a video filming, there was no one to throw the hat back to her.

As she completed her second spin, she suddenly froze, her half hidden blue eyes fixed on a man who had just entered the room. She felt her face begin to heat with embarrassment. “How…how long have you been standing there, Charlie?”

Charlie smiled, obviously masking an urge to laugh as he walked closer to Linda. “Long enough to see that you can dance if you want to. You just don’t like people watching you.”

“Yeah, well…um–” Linda eyes looked up for a moment to notice that she still wore the black hat on her head. She quickly removed it, smiling sheepishly when she realized that it was hopeless to try and play innocent. “It’s your fault, Charlie. You left this hat here…I was staring at it thinking it was like the one in this video I saw, and–”

“–And you decided to play a little”, Charlie interrupted, picking up the hat and placing it on his head leaned a little forward – the same way Linda wore it earlier. “Everyone needs a little fun in their life.”

Linda laughed as she reached over and snatched the hat off of Charlie’s head. “So what brings you here…unannounced…without bothering to knock?”

Charlie gave Linda a mock frown. “I thought you were in a good mood, Linda. Which brings up a question…why? And what did you do to Lex Luthor?”

“Oh, I just gave him a little scare. It felt so good to let go of all of that anger.” Linda headed to the kitchenette to grab a bottle of water from the small refrigerator, pausing to give Charlie a questioning look as she opened the bottle. “Why do you ask?”

“Because Lex Luthor is missing. Don’t you watch the news?”

Linda dropped the bottle of water as she raced across the room and turned on the television. Just as Charlie described, all of the local networks had gone to 24-hour coverage of the police search for Lex Luthor. She began flipping through stations with the TV remote – one local station even interviewed a witness which said that Luthor’s last known contact was Supergirl. “Oh my God. They’re trying to pin this on me, aren’t they?”

“Linda–” Charlie took the remote away from Linda gently, tossing it onto the table next to the couch. He placed his hands on her shoulders, looking into her fearful eyes. “Tell me exactly what you did to Luthor.”

“I–” She tried to look away from Charlie for a moment as she felt her conscience eating away at her. She may not be responsible for his disappearance…but she did try to hurt him, on purpose. She bullied him with her power, her raw strength. “I…kind of choked him a little.”

Charlie exhaled loudly enough for Linda to hear as he blinked once. She couldn’t tell if it was from disappointment, or from relief. “Just don’t tell anyone else that, Linda. Ever.”

Linda nodded slowly as Charlie sat down on the couch, covering his forehead with his left palm. “I suppose you’re right…Clark would kill me.”

“Clark? He’d have to fight off a lynch mob first.” Charlie leaned toward Linda as she sat down on the couch as well. “Lex Luthor, whether loved or hated by the people in this town, is a hero…because he’s rich. People love to hate him. But if he’s hurt, people will band together against his enemies.”

“Meaning me.” Linda slumped down on the couch and frowned as she stared at yet another news report about the search for Lex Luthor. “I guess Supergirl should lay low for a while, huh?”

“Not at all.” Charlie shook his head as he lifted the TV remote and turned off the news. “In fact, you need to show yourself, let everyone know that Lex Luthor will be okay. If you give the people Supergirl to stand behind…they’ll follow you anywhere.”


Lex Luthor awoke to find himself in a darkened warehouse office. Sawdust covered the floor, as well as his clothing. He quickly found that his hands were cuffed together, and a chain attached them to an anchor in one of the office’s steel walls. The office had windows all around from waist level up, though Luthor couldn’t see much in the darkness.

His head spun as he tried to rise to his feet. The last memory he had has seeing yet another costumed hero enter his office. He was lifted by his throat, and felt himself losing consciousness. He was let go, only to land on his head on the floor and pass out. The next thing he remembered was…here.

Luthor squinted as the lights in the office turned on. A tall, thin, brown haired man wearing a long overcoat entered and slammed the glass and steel door behind him, making a loud crashing noise. He circled around Luthor several times before leaning toward him to speak.

“You know why you’re here, I hope”, he said. Luthor cleared his throat to speak, but words eluded him. Everything still seemed so surreal.

The man reached up to a shelf above and removed a wooden baseball bat, smiling calmly at Luthor as he stood over him. “I always wonder why these are called bats. They don’t have wings…they’re not blind. Hell, they don’t even bite.”

“Who are you?” Luthor stared at the man as he began to stare at him defiantly. He would not be shown as the weaker man, no matter what this man thought. He may be a prisoner, but he would not be controlled.

The man laughed, seemingly amused by Luthor’s threatening posture. “Well…I’m a man…holding a bat. I suppose you could call me Batman.”

Before Luthor had a chance to protest, the man brought the bat down upon his
arm with the force of all of his strength. Luthor felt something crack in his arm, he grit his teeth to bear the pain. But he would not cry out. In fact, he would seem even more confident, until the man’s resolve would break.

“You can’t kill me”, Luthor whispered barely loud enough for the man to hear, “I’m much more valuable alive.”

“That’s where you’re wrong”, the man replied with a smile as he paced around Luthor again, “I can kill you. Your life means nothing to me. Your death, on the other hand–”

Another strike with the bat left Luthor seeing stars as it struck him with a thud on his left shoulder blade, leaving pain radiating down his left side. He raised his head once more, looking at the man with one eye, still defiant.

“Your death means everything to me. You see…I’m an old associate of someone who’s life you…you vicious, sadistic monster…snuffed out without a second thought–”

Luthor almost cringed as the man raised the bat above his head, preparing to bring it down with enough force to break more bones. Yet something stopped him. A distant voice from outside the small warehouse office. Luthor breathed in relief as he heard the door of the office slam suddenly – someone else, possibly more reasonable, had arrived.

“Christopher, what the hell are you doing?” The voice had a hint of a Russian accent. Luthor didn’t recognize who it was, but he was grateful that it distracted ‘Christopher’ if only for a moment.

“Glad to see you too, boss. I’m just…softening up our guest a little. Giving him a little taste.”

“Now he bleeds all over the floor!” The man with the accent snatched the bat from Christopher, throwing it across the office angrily. “Get out of here, you loon! Go take care of your other assignments!”

“Hello, Mr. Luthor.” The man with the accent walked around across the office, kneeling down close to Luthor just as Christopher slammed the door behind him. The accented man had black hair, a black beard, and was wearing a long, dark overcoat over an expensive suit and shoes. “You probably don’t know me…but I believe you remember an associate of mine. You remember Vinnie, don’t you?”

Luthor’s eyes widened suddenly, his breathing began to speed up as the name brought about horror in his mind. If these people were associates of Vinnie’s, then he was no hostage – they were going to kill him out of revenge.

The man chuckled as he watched Luthor pale. He calmly lighted a cigarette and stuck it in his mouth. Luthor eyed the sawdust-covered floor, wondering it the man knew just how dangerous it was to smoke in that room.

“I’m called Vlad”, the man said as he tapped his cigarette, spilling a few red-hot ashes into the sawdust at his feet. “I’m sure you don’t know me…but you will. After all…my name is the last one you will hear.”

Vlad kneeled down, leaning forward. He smiled, and blew a cloud of cigarette smoke in Luthor’s face before flicking the cigarette into a corner behind him. “You know…it’s not good to smoke, Mr. Luthor. Especially in a place like this. It could cause a fire.”

As the man stood up and began heading out of the office, Luthor eyed a plume of smoke and a slight glow coming from the corner where the cigarette landed. He knew he was right now – that Vlad was going to kill him.

“What do you want, Vlad?” Luthor asked his question confidently. Every man had his price, especially criminal types. All he had to do was find the right one, hitting the right chord which would earn his release.

“Me?” Vlad gave Luthor a mocking look as he pointed at himself with his right hand. He turned around and walked closer to Luthor. “I want nothing. I need nothing.”

“Come, now.” Luthor forced a smile, trying to appear as confident as possible. Most of controlling other people is simply displaying enough confidence to shake another’s, to make the other party doubt just a little. “Every man has a dream, something he wants more then anything. I have resources. I can bring you that dream.”

Vlad stood up in front of Luthor, rubbing his beard slowly as he thought. The flames from his discarded cigarette were now crawling up one wall of the office, filling the room with thin smoke. “There is one thing, Mr. Luthor.”

“Name it. Anything.” Luthor eyed the flames wearily as they began to consume a table against the wall. He was running out of time.

“Just a moment.” Vlad opened the door to the office suddenly, unaware that he had just helped to feed the fire expanding at the opposite corner. The fire flared brightly as he stuck his head outside the office. “Chrisopher! Come in here, now!”

“Is there some problem, boss?” Christopher stood in the doorway, glancing at the fire, then at Vlad and Luthor.

“I need you do so something for me”, Vlad said, slowly.

Luthor cringed as the glass and steel walls of small office echoed five gunshots, amplifying the sounds as they filled the small room. Christopher just seemed to stand there for a moment, his eyes rolling back in his head, before his knees buckled and he fell to the floor.

Vlad then walked toward Luthor, causing him to hold his breath. He thought he would be next – but then Vlad suddenly put the gun back behind his belt and began to rifle through Luthor’s jacket, pulling out his wallet. He threw the wallet on top of Christopher’s now lifeless body.

“Now your friends will think you are dead. No tricks, Mr. Luthor. I own you now.” Vlad quickly removed Luthor’s handcuffs and grabbed his arm tightly, nearly dragging him out of the small office to a car parked in the middle of the warehouse. “Get in.”

Luthor opened the passenger door and climbed in, watching Vlad walk around the car to get in and start the car. He kept his eyes on Vlad the entire time, in the hopes of unnerving him to eventually allow his own escape. “You never told me what you wanted.”

Vlad put the car in drive and took off out of the warehouse quickly. Luthor didn’t understand why he was suddenly in such a hurry at first…until he watched the warehouse explode in a ball of flame behind them. Vlad stared straight ahead for several minutes, still not answering Luthor’s question, before he finally turned to face Luthor.

“I want that Supergirl dead.”

“Oh, nuts. I am so dead.”

Linda stared out the window of an empty conference room on the twelfth floor of the Daily Planet building, a denim backpack slung over one shoulder. She still wore civilian clothing, not wanting to attract too much attention as Supergirl just yet.

Outside were hundreds, possibly thousands of protesters shouting and holding signs. Police stood by on the sidewalk in front of the building, in full riot gear. They were protesting the fact that the press, including the Daily Planet, mentioned that Supergirl was the last to see the now missing Lex Luthor.

Linda turned around to give Charlie a fearful look. “I can’t go out there! It’ll be a massacre!”

“Relax, Linda.” Charlie leaned back in one of the conference room’s fake leather chairs, putting his feet on the large polished wooden table. “Clark just asked us to wait here. If he wants you to meet the protesters, he’ll make sure everyone is safe.”

“Send Supergirl to the…gas chamber?” Linda turned away from the window in disgust as she decided to stop reading the signs the protesters held. She threw her backpack onto the table and collapsed with a sigh into one of the chairs. “I am not going out there. Those people will tear me apart!”

Charlie smiled. “From what I heard, Linda, you’ve already survived a riot.”

Linda shook her head slowly as she looked across the table at Charlie. She thought to herself that he was either braver then herself, or suicidal. “I was much more powerful then, Charlie.”

“You know what, Linda?” Charlie slid his feet off the table and leaned closer to Linda. His smile suddenly vanished, replaced with a look of…pity? “I wasn’t worried about you before, but now…you shoot yourself down before you even give yourself a chance.”

“You…think I should go out there? Risk my life?”

Linda watched Charlie stand up and walk around the table slowly. He stood in front of the window, placing his hands on the glass as he watched the people below. “Linda, every day people put their trust in you. They trust that you, and any other heroes, will not hurt them, that you’ll treat them well…and with respect.”

Charlie turned around and stood behind Linda, placing his hands gently on her shoulders. “I think it’s time you gave those same people a chance to do the same for you. You need to trust them a little more.”

Linda took a deep breath, and rose to her feet. She glanced behind her, giving Charlie a lost look as she slid her denim backpack over one arm and headed toward the restroom slowly. She knew that Charlie was right…no matter how nervous she felt, she couldn’t hide forever.
Clark turned pale as he watched Supergirl step through the doorway into the Daily Planet’s newsroom. He frowned even more when he saw Charlie walk in behind her. He knew why Linda was in costume – a rather attention-grabbing white shirt with an S-logo, white gloves, red boots, and a blue skirt. It had to be because of one of Charlie’s little motivational speeches.

“What are you doing?” Clark raced over to Supergirl and whispered in a barely audible voice. “This is a newsroom, you’re putting me on the spot–”

Almost as if right on cue, a flash went off, causing Clark to cringe. Just as he had guessed, Jimmy Olsen came out of the woodwork to snap a photo. He frowned as he watched Jimmy snap several pictures, finally pausing long enough to ask Supergirl for a pose. “Enough, Jimmy, please. She came here to talk to me.”

“Yeah, right. You wish.” Jimmy walked away quickly, laughing out loud as he rewound the film in his camera.

“I’m going outside.” Supergirl folded her arms and looked up at Clark, feeling a little nervous. While in costume, Linda was supposed to be more powerful then who Clark pretended to be – a meek newspaper reporter – yet she still felt dwarfed in his presence. “I need to face this. I have to restore people’s faith in me…and convince them that I’m innocent.”

Clark looked across the room at Lois, who returned his gaze and smiled. They shared something in that look, something beyond words. He nodded once as he turned to Supergirl, lowering his voice to a near whisper. “All right. I’ll be watching, just in case.”

Supergirl nodded once and gave Charlie a long, sad look – almost as if she were heading to her own execution. She turned and headed toward the elevator slowly, a little surprised when Charlie followed her. “Are you sure you want to be standing next to me when I step outside?”

Charlie smiled and nodded. “Someone has to look after you, Linda.”

A smile creeped onto Supergirl’s face as thoughts of Charlie attempting to protect her began to touch her imagination. She knew he was kidding – it was more of an attempt to build her confidence then actual bravery. It worked, too.

As the elevator slowed and approached the lobby, Supergirl felt herself becoming more nervous – in fact, she jumped a little as the elevator car came to a stop. The doors slid open quickly, revealing the lobby, empty except for a single security guard at a desk.

Through the glass doors at the other end of the lobby, she could see people leaning their faces against the glass, their eyes visored by their hands. They were trying to get a look through the mirrored glass, to see why they were being denied access to the building by a locked door.

Supergirl looked behind her once more, trying to hide her feelings of nervousness from Charlie by giving him a weak smile. “No turning back now.”

Charlie stood next to the security guard’s desk and watched Linda take a deep breath and walk slowly, purposefully, toward the glass doors. Her pose as she walked was confident, an image betrayed only by the fear deep in her eyes as they reflected in the glass ahead of her.

The front door clicked loudly as Supergirl gave the push bar the slightest touch. The sound prompted the crowd to move away from the door, they anticipated someone’s exit from the building. The door swung open slowly as Supergirl stepped out onto the concrete sidewalk outside the Daily Planet.

Total silence.

Not a sound was made beyond the traffic on the street as the crowd of citizens, protesters, and reporters gathered outside the Daily Planet stared in disbelief. They didn’t expect Supergirl herself to show herself, to answer to the protests.

All at once, everyone present suddenly began shouting, flashes began to go off, and bright lights from television crews blinded Supergirl. She held a hand in front of her eyes to shield herself from the visual assault.

“One at a time”, Supergirl shouted in futility. No one was listening. “I can’t hear you all at once!”

Charlie stepped outside behind Supergirl, doing his best to avoid the rapidly shifting crowd. He yelled something toward the reporters which wasn’t heard in the confusion. They weren’t paying attention to him anyway. A raw egg, thrown somewhere from the crowd of protesters, hit Charlie in the eye, forcing him to retreat back into the building.

“Who threw that?” Supergirl stood on her toes, trying to get a better view of the protesters. She hoped that they were still civil enough to prevent their more militant or dangerous members from causing trouble. But as she watched a hurled can of peas travel toward her quickly, she realized that she was wrong. Supergirl had enough time to raise her hand to block the canned peas from pelting her, only to find herself beaned with a small can of corn instead.

A quick glance down the sidewalk told her that more even more canned goods were about to become projectiles – the Daily Planet’s food drive for the poor, stored in four drums next to the doors, had suddenly become ammunition for an angry crowd.

“Everyone just calm down. I’m here to answer…Hey!” Supergirl ducked as a third, and forth can barely missed her. “All right. That’s it!”

Charlie watched through the glass as Supergirl forceably waded into the angry crowd, shoving people as they began shoving her, trying to reach the outer edge of the crowd. Those were the people throwing the cans – and he couldn’t help but wonder if Supergirl was angrier about the fact that they were pelting her with the cans, or if it was because they had come from a food drive.

He suddenly ducked as one of the cans impacted one of the glass doors of the Daily Planet, causing the safety glass to break into millions of tiny beads, yet remain in place. He began to worry as he heard the noise outside escalate. People were screaming in terror.

He opened the door quickly to see the crowd running away from the Daily Planet building in fear. Supergirl had opened one of the fire hydrants, and was using her gloved hands to funnel the water toward the crowd, driving them away from the building. At the same time, the shrieking sounds of sirens filled the streets – the police were on their way, in force. Charlie stared in amazement at what he saw – Linda had managed to clear the street without injuring even one person, as the police would no doubt have to when making arrests.

“How’s your eye?” Supergirl suddenly shut off the flow of water and turned her attention to Charlie.

“Huh? Oh…it’s fine, I just rinsed it out.” Charlie smiled and looked around at the soaked, now near-empty street in front of the Daily Planet. Police cars now crowded the street, the officers wandering in confusion as they realized that there was no violent crowd to break up any longer.

Supergirl opened the door to the Daily Planet building ahead of Charlie and walked inside, shaking the water off of her gloves as she went. “Do you think Clark has a towel upstairs or something? I’m soaked.”

“You’ll sure gain a few extra male fans that way, Linda.”

Supergirl looked toward the security desk as she suddenly heard a female voice with a British accent. The security guard was gone…and in his place was a shorter woman in a red shirt, black jeans, and a black baseball cap with some sort of umpire image embroidered on it. Supergirl recognized her as Sharon Holmes, even though she hadn’t seen her in quite a while.

“How did you know…?”

Sharon tossed her a white towel from behind the counter as she put her feet up on the desk. The towel had a hotel logo embroidered on it. “Well…since Charlie’s hanging around you, it doesn’t take the world’s greatest detective to venture a guess.”

Supergirl began drying off her hands and clothing as best as she could with the towel. She wasn’t going to let the fact that Sharon figured out her identity bother her. Sharon seemed harmless. “What did you mean about my attracting extra male fans?”

Sharon shrugged, purposely glancing at Charlie and giving him a sly smile. “Some men have this obsession with soaked women. I never understood it. Do you understand it, Charlie?”

“I’m from London.” Charlie shrugged, returning Sharon’s smile. “With all of the rain, women are always soaked. Maybe it started in Arizona or somewhere that water is more exotic.”

“I love his sense of humor.” Sharon laughed out loud and slid out of the chair at the security desk, reaching into one of her pockets to remove something small and hold it in her palm. It was a small crystal. “What do you two make of this?”

“Oh, no–” Supergirl took a step back, staring at the crystal with a little panic in her eyes. “The last time we found one of those, it snowed endlessly! I don’t want to go through that again.”

Sharon laughed again. “Ah, the weather crystal…what pleasant memories. No…this is just a key, Linda.”

“A key to what?”

“I’m glad you asked.” Sharon slid out of the chair and headed toward the glass doors of the lobby. “Let’s find out…shall we?”
Clark Kent furiously typed at his terminal, trying to record the events he had just witnessed through the window of the Daily Planet building. He was a little impressed, even as Superman, as he watched Supergirl clear the angry mob from the street in front of the Planet without even a single casualty.

The reporter in him just had to record it for all of history, and to make sure that everyone in Metropolis would see her positive side by the time the next morning edition hit the stands. After all, since Lex Luthor’s mysterious disappearance, most people blamed Supergirl. She deserved a break.

He happened to glance up from his terminal for a second to see a smiling Kara, in blue jeans, leather jacket, and a blue shirt with his own ‘S’ logo on its front, looking back at him. “I thought I asked you to wait at home.”

Kara shrugged and sat down in a chair in front of his terminal. “I got bored. Go ahead and finish your article, I’ll just wait here quietly.”

Clark sighed loudly and continued typing, as he wondered where Lois went. She left the newsroom earlier without even saying anything beyond ‘See ya later, Smallville.’ That was two hours ago. He finally signed off his terminal and leaned back, looking at his watch, realizing why Kara came to visit him – it was almost 7 p.m.

“Looks like Lois is working late again.” Clark stretched and rose to his feet slowly, looking down at Kara. “Want to grab some dinner?”

“Sure.” Kara stood quickly, straightening her jacket as she led Clark toward the elevators and tapped the call button. She leaned against the wall and stared at him, noting that he seemed to be a little nervous around her. It suddenly occurred to her why – it was the shirt. She sighed. “I shouldn’t have bought this shirt. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine, Kara. Don’t worry about it.”

Kara followed Clark out of the elevator in the lobby of the Daily Planet building. She paused at the empty-looking security guard’s desk as Clark walked ahead of her toward the glass exit doors. The security guard was on the floor, leaned up against the back wall, unconscious. “Is he going to be okay?”

Clark stopped and looked to see what Kara was talking about. He saw Kara standing on her toes, leaning over the edge of the security desk – which appeared empty. He raced over to the desk to see the security guard slumped on the floor behind it. “Oh, my God.”

“He’s just sleeping.” Kara vaulted over the desk effortlessly, landing lightly next to the security guard. She kneeled down and poked his shoulder, then shook him gently. His breathing responded, but he didn’t wake up. “I think someone clocked him.”

As he walked around the desk, Clark made a mental note to himself to talk to Linda about her teaching Kara slang. “We really should call an ambulance. He might have a concussion.”

“Hey! That phone is for emergencies only!” Just as Clark lifted the handset of the phone, the security guard suddenly woke up. He appeared to be angry as he quickly, yet unsteadily, rose to his feet. The guard looked at Clark as if he recognized him, then turned to look at Kara. “Who are you, and why the heck are you behind my desk?”

Kara stepped closer to the man, shaking her fist at him as she began fuming over the guard’s response. “You ungrateful son of–”

“Kara!” Clark grabbed her arm quickly and pulled her around to the front of the desk, noting that her natural strength gave him much more resistance to overcome then any ordinary human. He quickly herded her toward the exit, gently shoving her outside the doors before stopping. “Who taught you to talk to people that way? Linda?”

“No…Lois.” Kara bowed her head slightly and started slowly walking ahead of Clark. “I’m sorry…I lost my temper. He just–”

“I know what he did. Some people just behave that way.” Clark stopped at his car and tapped a button on its remote control, unlocking all of the doors. “Just move past it, Kara. Pretend he said nothing at all. Let his verbal blows slip right through you, as if he shouted them into the wind.”

Kara smiled as she opened the passenger side door to climb in. “Wow…No wonder you’re a reporter.”

Clark didn’t answer as he climbed into the driver’s side. He didn’t have to – his smile answered for him. Winning an award, or a special commendation for his work was one thing. But heartfelt praise from another was a lot more personal.


“We’re out in the middle of nowhere, Sharon.”

Charlie pulled over the car quickly after Sharon leaned between the front seats and shouted in a panic for him to do so. She was searching for something specific – though he wasn’t sure what, since she just told him ‘We’ll know when we see it.’

“Some people call it Kansas.” Sharon opened the back door of the car and stepped out onto the dusty road. She looked back and forth slowly, as if searching for something again. Then she raised her arm and pointed. “See that hill?”

Linda, now in her civilian clothing, climbed out of the passenger side and stood next to Sharon to see. She shrugged. “It’s a hill. So what?”

“So…beyond man-made structures, this area is supposed to be entirely flat.” Sharon swept her arm around to indicate the rest of the area. “See for yourself.”

“Hmm.” Charlie took the initiative, beginning to walking toward the hill first. As he approached, he noticed something else strange – that on the other side of the hill, the ground appeared to be carved away, leaving a shallow pit which led into some kind of entrance.

“I knew it.” Sharon raced past Charlie and leapt straight into the pit, removing a flashlight from her backpack quickly. She could see just inside an arch which appeared to be an entrance…where it had been sealed by solid rock. She dropped her backpack to the ground, and removed a bag full of small sticks of plastic explosive.

“Um…Sharon?” Linda approached Sharon slowly and folded her arms. “Could we please try not to blow up the entire state?”

“Relax, I know what I’m–” Sharon’s expression suddenly changed as she remembered the crystal she brought with her. She removed it from the pocket and pressed it into her palm, waving it in front of the solid rock blocking the entrance. Without a sound, the rock seemed to dissolve from existence, revealing a large underground cavern…which had it’s own light source. “Wow.”

Linda and Charlie followed Sharon into the cavern slowly. It was a large room, about the size of a movie theater, with the same type of slanted floor. A dim, orange light seemed to come from all around, just enough to aid in sight, but not to be bright. Near the opposite end of the room was a large dial with four indicators, and some kind of symbols carved into it. In it’s center was a slot. On the wall above the dial was a huge chunk of perfectly carved, perfectly smooth translucent crystal…about the size of a movie screen. It was polished enough that Linda, Charlie, and Sharon could vaguely see their own reflections.

“This is–” Linda paused in mid-thought, as she suddenly found herself without words. She gazed steadily into the smooth crystal as she walked toward it, before finally reaching out and touching it. “It’s cold. It feels cold.”

Sharon nodded and walked straight toward the dial, dropping the crystal into the slot in the center. She ran her finger along the edge of the dial, attempting to read the symbols carved into it. “These words are so familiar…but they make no sense. They have no structure.”

“That’s because they’re not words.” Charlie stepped in next to Sharon and moved two of the four indicators on the dial. “It’s a combination, like a padlock. Maybe this is some kind of giant safe.”

“Maybe the crystal is upside down.” Linda reached out quickly and snatched the crystal – but before she had a chance to even remove it, it began to glow brightly. She felt her skin tingle, and her hair begin to stand on end as electricity filled the room. And as she turned around, she noticed that the formerly clear, smooth chunk of crystal had turned cloudy, and waves seemed to travel within it as if stones were being dropped into a pond.

Sharon took a step closer to the large crystal window, reaching out to touch it’s surface again. It seemed soft, like a silk sheet, giving to her touch. Her fingers sent waves through the crystal’s surface. She smiled, her eyes telegraphing only a fraction of the excitement she felt at her discovery. “Tap the small crystal again, Linda.”

Linda nodded, reaching out with one finger to tap the small crystal again. She felt both nervous and thrilled, unsure what would happen…but prepared for whatever would.

As soon as her finger touched the tip of the small crystal on the dial, the huge crystal window on the wall behind her began giving off a soft white light of it’s own, filling the room with luminance. She watched Sharon poke a few fingers into the glowing screen – they disappeared into the formerly solid chunk, creating dozens of small waves.

“It’s some kind of gateway.”, Sharon whispered excitedly. “I’ve got to go through. This is everything I’ve wanted–”

“No, I’ll go.” Linda gently moved Sharon aside as she stepped over to the large crystal gateway. She felt chilled at her own words – yet she knew that of the three, she had the best chance of surviving whatever was on the other side. “I’ll just step through, and step back. If I don’t make it…don’t go in after me.”

Charlie nodded, placing a friendly yet firm hand on Sharon’s shoulder. He knew how much Sharon wanted to go…but he also knew that Linda was right. He wanted to make sure Sharon stayed until Linda made it back safely.

Linda stood in front of the wavering sea of intangible crystal before her as she blinked once and took a deep breath. She was frightened, to be sure…but if she didn’t step through, Sharon would be sure to do so – and it might kill her. Linda, at least, had a chance of surviving the trip.

“Here. Tie this around your waist.”

Sharon tossed Linda the end of a rope. Linda caught it and tied a double knot at her waist. She looked again toward her destination, once satisfied that both Sharon and Charlie were holding the other end of the rope. At least she would be able to find her way back.

It was time to stop stalling…and just go. Linda took one large step forward, her heart racing as the cold fluid which was formerly solid crystal surrounded her. It was like walking through a swimming pool. Fighting her urge to close her eyes against the cold, she stared steadily through the pale glowing fluid until her left hand felt a lack of resistance only a few inches ahead of her.

She bravely stepped through. It was cold…very, very cold. Darkness surrounded her, but she could see a powerful light source…a sun…spreading warmth over her. The air was breathable, but thin. Everywhere she looked, there was nothing around her…yet she felt as if she wasn’t alone.

Linda looked away from the light source, and gasped when she saw what she missed on her initial encounter. It was a planet, which looked much like Earth, but had a red-orange tint to it’s atmosphere. It was a living planet…and she was in some sort of vehicle, high above it.

She almost resisted when she felt the rope tugging against her waist. She wanted to see more, to explore, or at least to find out where she was. But then reality dawned on her – she owed it to Charlie and Sharon to return safely, as she promised. This place would have to be explored later.

As she tumbled back through the gateway, she took a deep breath of Earth’s rich atmosphere. It was so difficult to breathe on the other side of that gateway. She looked up at Charlie, and tried her best to slow her breathing long enough to speak.

“What happened?” Charlie did his best to prop Linda up as he led her to a large stone to sit down.

“Did you see anything?” Sharon sounded excited as she asked her question. She was considerably less helpful then Charlie, but Linda assumed it was because she was still preoccupied with her discovery.

“I saw everything, Sharon”, Linda said between deep breaths. “And it was beautiful.”


#3 – Learning Curve

Linda stood in the middle of an open field, in the middle of nowhere, Kansas – or to those who lived nearby, Smallville. The Kents had always been nice enough to lend their somewhat large farm to Clark, no questions asked. They just…understood that from time to time, he would bring strange guests for strange reasons.

But the Kents didn’t exactly ‘let things be’. They welcomed every one of Clark’s visitors with open arms, made each person feel like they’ve come home again, to a family they’ve never had.

Linda looked over at the blonde teenager Power Girl had found – the one they now called ‘Kara’ – as she sat cross-legged in the middle of the tall grass of the field, a book in her hands. Since she left the hospital, she hadn’t spoken a word – but she seemed very interested in Pa Kent’s book collection. She had done nothing but read since they arrived.

Ma Kent had given each of them a hug as soon as they arrived, starting with Clark, then Linda, and even Kara. Kara seemed to be happy for the attention, even though she had been rather withdrawn since. Linda guessed that it was because of her lack of memory of her past – that would be enough to depress anyone.

“What?” Linda looked down at herself as Superman stared at her with a raised eyebrow. She was dressed in her new costume – a white cut-off tee shirt with the S-logo, a blue skirt, red laced boots and white gloves. She no longer wore a blonde wig – she elected at one point to dye her hair blonde and grow it a little longer. It saved time when changing into the costume – and so far, no one seemed to notice. When not in her Supergirl persona, she just hid in plain sight – one of millions of blonde women wandering the streets of Metropolis.

“You know, I could ask Ma to sew you some–”

“No, absolutely not.” Linda shook her head. “If I replace this costume one day, I want to do it myself. For now, it’ll do just fine.”

Superman nodded. “Suit yourself. Are you ready?”

“To crash-land?” Linda laughed nervously. “What makes you think you can train me to fly?”

“Linda–” Superman sighed and folded his arms. “I didn’t know how to fly from birth. I had to learn. I crash-landed a few times, but I learned.”

“But I used to–”

Superman held out his hand to interrupt Linda, and shook his head. “You inherited that. It was artificial. The power you have now is different…and better. Once you learn how to use it, your power will seem even more natural then ever before.”

“Just remember to concentrate, Linda. I’ll be flying alongside you.”

Linda nodded and leapt skyward, launching herself high above the farmhouse and barn of the Kent’s farm. She began worrying that she might be hurt falling from so high up.

“You used too much power to leap.” Superman drifted up beside her gently. “But don’t worry, you can recover.”

“Recover? I’m going to fall as soon as I stop climbing!”

“No.” Superman looked into Linda’s eyes with a steadying, steely gaze. “You will not fall. You’ll feel the wind against your skin, and it will make you feel lighter. You’ll visualize a point ahead of you in the sky, and move toward it.”

“I can’t–”

“You can, and you will. You must concentrate.”

Linda took a deep breath and spread her arms out to her sides as she closed her eyes to visualize a point just ahead of her. She felt herself slowing to a stop – but she also felt the wind blowing through her hair. The freedom of flight…feelings of the sheer joy of it began flooding back to her. By the time she opened her eyes, she was breathing the cool misty air high above the Kents’ farm – and she wasn’t falling. “Oh my God…Clark–”

Superman nodded. “I told you, didn’t I? It’s like learning to swim. You have to learn to tread water first.”

“It…feels different then it used to. It feels like some kind of outside force is holding me here.” Linda smiled and started spinning slowly in the air. “Wow…this is so cool.”

“It will feel different, until you get used to it.”

Linda glanced over at Superman, a smile still on her face, as she watched him suddenly turn pale. But he wasn’t looking at Linda – he was looking past her. Linda turned her head to see what he was looking at. It was Kara, floating toward them, a mile above the Kents’ farm.

“Oh, my God.” Linda suddenly lost her concentration, and found herself falling quickly. Before Superman had a chance to yell clear instructions to her, she crashed through the roof of the barn, sending various farm animals running outside.

“Ma says dinner’s ready.” Those were the first words spoken by Kara. She spoke purposefully, slowly, as if she had to concentrate to form sentences in English – it must not have been her first language.

Superman was still floating, frozen, as he stared at Kara floating directly ahead of him. He then realized that he almost forgot about Linda – and raced down to the barn to make sure she wasn’t hurt.

“Linda? Are you all right? Are you hurt?”

“No…I’m fine.” Linda sat up, brushing brand-new hay from bales she landed on out of her hair. “Just let me die quietly of embarrassment, please.”

“Not just yet, Linda.” Superman offered her a hand, pulling her back to her feet. “We have to clean up and change. Dinner’s ready.”

“But what about–”

“Let it go for now. We’ll ask her about it when it’s appropriate.” Superman turned and left the barn, with Linda close behind. Before she had a chance to say another word, he interrupted her again. “And don’t worry about the barn, I’ll fix it.”

“Doesn’t the fact that we snuck in here invalidate any evidence we find?”

Lois Lane smiled and looked at Charlie as she stood in a darkened office at LexCorp. “That’s only for cops, Charlie. Reporters get information any way they can.”

“So…What am I doing here?”

“Because you know your way around here.” Lois snatched a file from an open file cabinet, and then pinched Charlie’s cheek. “And because I need a big strong man to back me up.”

Charlie frowned. He could tell that Lois was being sarcastic. “Very funny, Lois. Where did Linda and Clark go this morning? They seemed a little secretive.”

Lois turned and smiled at Charlie, seemingly amused that he would refer to Clark, a man with two identities, as ‘secretive’. “He took Linda to his parents’ farm, to teach her to fly.”

“To…what?” Charlie’s question was just slightly too loud, enough so to prompt Lois to quickly press her hand against his mouth.

“Keep it down, Charlie! You should know better.”

“Sorry.” Charlie paced around the room a little bit as confusion over what Lois meant started his mind going. “I thought Linda already could fly.”

“Clark says that she still can.” Lois finished taking files out of the file cabinet and closed it quickly. She then paused to tap the side of her head. “She just has a mental block or something, he says.”

Charlie followed Lois out into the hallway, toward the elevator. He was a little surprised that they had gone in and out of that office without encountering any security guards. “What do you think?”

“I think–” Lois paused in thought for a second, tapping her chin with a folder as they waited for the elevator. “Linda’s been through a lot lately. She needs her friends to help her through it all.”

Charlie and Lois both turned as the elevator doors opened. Their jaws dropped as they saw the two people they didn’t want to see in the building – Lex Luthor and Mercy Graves.

“Lois Lane and Charlie Lewis.” Luthor stepped out of the elevator and stood in front of the two of them. Mercy stayed close behind. “And stealing my files, no doubt. What will I do with the two of you?”

“You could let us go.” Lois smiled and nudged Charlie, who began snickering.

Luthor didn’t even crack a smile as he motioned for Mercy to move closer. “Escort these…people out of my building. And destroy that file.”

Mercy nodded and gently nudged Charlie and Lois into the elevator, snatching the folder from Lois as the elevator started it’s descent toward the lobby.

“Hey, I thought you liked me.” Charlie turned around and looked up at Mercy as she simply smiled and placed her finger in front of her mouth, indicating that Charlie should be quiet.

Lois laughed and folded her arms. “That’s what you get for trusting one of Luthor’s apes, Charlie.”

As soon as the elevator doors opened, Mercy put one hand on each of their shoulders and gently escorted them to the door – but it seemed a little unusual when she also walked them across the street, to Lois’ car. She continued to stand next to the car as Lois unlocked the door, and Charlie climbed into the passenger side.

“One more thing.” Mercy leaned into the window of the passenger side of the car.

“Let me guess.” Lois started up the car as she frowned at Mercy. “Don’t come back, right?”

Mercy ignored Lois’ comment as she dropped the yellow folder from Lex Luthor’s office in Charlie’s lap. She smiled at Charlie as he stared at her, a little confused.

“Why, Mercy?”

“Let’s just say that I’ve seen what Lex is capable of. I need a little insurance. I trust you, Charlie.” Mercy placed a hand on Charlie’s shoulder gently as her smile began to weaken. She then glanced over at Lois, noting the look of shock on her face. “Oh, and Lois…Apology accepted.”

Lois looked at the yellow folder in Charlie’s lap at least twice as she began driving toward the Daily Planet building. “What do you suppose this means, Charlie?”

Charlie shook his head a little. “I truly don’t know. I’m a little worried for Mercy. I hope she’ll be okay.”
“Clark, telephone!”

Clark slid his chair back slowly, as a smile creeped onto his face. He knew that the only person who would call him there would be Lois. “Um…Excuse me, please.”

As Clark walked into the next room, and Martha returned to the dining room, Linda couldn’t help but smile. Clark was still the polite farm boy, no matter how long he lived in the big city.

“Are you enjoying the potatoes, Kara dear?” Martha Kent smiled as she watched Kara wolfing down what Martha called ‘tomato potatoes’, a home-grown mixture of softened potatoes swimming in a thick tomato paste. They ended up having the appearance of rich red colored potatoes, but they tasted great.

Kara nodded as she paused to swallow. “Yes. They are good.”

Linda smiled a little as she watched Kara resume eating. She made a mental note to herself to teach Kara a little slang, so she didn’t seem so stiff.

“I…do not have these at home.”

Linda, Martha, and Jonathan all paused and stared at Kara at the same time. They all wondered if part of her memory was starting to return. And where exactly was ‘home’ for her?

“That was John Henry. He needed to talk with me urgently.” Clark announced his return to the dining room with that one phrase. He seemed a little pale as he spoke – he looked directly at Linda, as if it had something to do with her. “He asked me to speak with you as well, Linda.”

“Me?” Linda looked around the table to see everyone staring at her. “Why me?”

Clark leaned closer to Linda and whispered into her ear. “It involves a gateway opening from another plane. Someplace called…Otherverse Earth.”
“And that was my first clue that something was terribly wrong. After he told me that, we went back to Metropolis quickly, and I went to my hotel and changed into my costume. That’s when I noticed the billboard.”

Linda leaned forward on a rather uncomfortable couch, located in a living room hidden away deep inside the Colorado mountains. She was on an Earth which was nothing like her own – it was one were heroes like herself were safest hidden away from the world. It was a dangerous place known as Otherverse Earth. A place which made her very nervous.

As she wrapped her fingers tightly around a comforting warm mug of hot chocolate and took a sip, she looked around the room at people who had, until recently, been total strangers to her. A Kara Zor-El, who had somehow on this Earth survived what Superman often described as ‘The Crisis’. Another woman named Rogue who had somehow ended up with all of her DNA replaced with Kryptonian DNA. Teen-age twin daughters of Kara’s, named Carrie and Karen. And Lara Night, a young woman powerful enough to destroy planets, but secretive enough to make Batman jealous.

“My second clue that something was wrong–” Linda smiled and put her mug back on the table in front of the uncomfortable couch. “–was provided by an adventurer named Sharon Holmes who was waiting for me in the lobby of the hotel. She found a Lex Luthor – one not from my Earth – stealing something called the Ancient Book of Rai from a hidden underground bunker in Germany.”

“Ancient Book of Rai?” Lara raised an eyebrow and turned away from one of the tall, narrow glass windows she stared out of. “Are you sure?”

Linda nodded. “I remember that part very clearly.”

“That’s bad. Very bad.” Lara paced around the room a little, arms folded tightly. “The Ancient Book of Rai is used to bridge the worlds of the living and the dead. To raise the dead, make the living immortal…or cause the living to die with just words and a few drops of blood.”

Kara and the twins looked at each other upon hearing the last part of Lara’s words. Words and a few drops of blood. That meant Luthor was close to being able to eliminate them. Too close.

“Oh, don’t worry. He would need blood from a living Kryptonian.” Lara seemed to anticipate the question on Kara’s mind as she continued. “That’s very unlikely to happen. But he is using the book to raise dead metahumans, and possibly to make himself immortal.”

“Sharon said something about…genocide?” Linda stared sympathetically at Lara as she spoke. “Luthor mentioned something to her about eliminating enemies back home.”

“Genocide?” Lara sat down on the arm of the couch. Her eyes told everyone present that she didn’t know as much about the Ancient Book of Rai as she would have liked to. “I…I’m not sure I understand. Who would Luthor want to–”

“I think that means the rebels, and metas.” Kara spoke unsteadily. She seemed calm, but she still didn’t have total control of her emotions. “He probably plans to eliminate anyone who opposes him.”

“Metas?” Linda looked confused as she stared at Kara.

“Metahumans, Linda.” Kara smiled a little, remembering back to a time when she had to be taught the same. “People with abilities beyond those of ordinary humans. Luthor sees them as his biggest threat, because he can’t control them easily.”

Linda laughed a little. “He’s not all that different from Lex Luthor on my world.”

Kara stood up from her seat in a slightly more comfortable looking spot on the love seat next to Rogue. “But this time, rather then weapons or chemicals…Luthor plans on using meta zombies against us. The ultimate power, under his control.”

“Kal-El and Diana Prince are already under his control.” Lara looked around the room quickly, noting the looks of shock and fear on their faces. All of them except Linda, who looked confused again.

“Wonder Woman is dead?” Linda looked at Rogue – she didn’t seem to understand what she was asking. Kara seemed more occupied by what was going on outside. Linda shrugged it off, guessing that Diana hadn’t taken the name ‘Wonder Woman’ on Otherverse Earth.

“Now she’s un-dead.” Lara smiled at her own little joke, even though no one else seemed to. “Lex Luthor is the biggest problem, however. He will become immortal, join the order of the Underworld. He will basically become a demon.”

“Ugh.” Linda put her face in her hands and shook her head. “More demons. That’s all I need.”

“I think we’ll have to give priority to stopping the walking dead metas.” Kara was staring out the window as she spoke, two fingers of her left hand pressed against the glass.

“Why?” Linda stood up to head toward the window. She wanted to see what Kara was looking at.

“Because they’re coming this way.”

“Oh, hell.” Linda stood next to Kara, looking out through the tall glass windows. She began to worry – coming toward her quickly were the two most powerful superheroes she had ever known – and a quick inventory of everyone in in the room with her confirmed that she was by far the most vulnerable person present. She began to wonder why she was even there in the first place. She then realized that for the first time as Supergirl…she would have to depend on others to protect her.
“Another Lex Luthor, you say?” Lex Luthor leaned back in his chair, his elbows leaned on the chair’s arms, and his hands clasped together. He stared unwaveringly at a young British woman named Sharon Holmes sitting in front of his desk, in spite of the fact that she carried two pistols on a belt around her waist – he didn’t see her as a threat. She was bringing news which chilled him to his very core…yet he still remained perfectly calm.

Sharon nodded. “He’s from another…dimension or something–”

“Reality.” Luthor smiled a little, pleased with himself for correcting Sharon.

“Yes.” Sharon shifted in her seat a little, feeling uncomfortable as she noticed Mercy Graves towering over her from behind. “He stole a book called the Ancient Book of Rai.”

“I know all of this already.” Luthor leaned forward and placed his palms on his desk. “What I want to know is what this…other Lex Luthor can do with this book.”

Sharon took a deep breath as she looked behind her at Mercy – who stood perfectly still, except for her eyes. “It deals with the dead, Mr. Luthor. He can make himself immortal, and raise the dead under his command.”


“But there’s a terrible price to it, Mr. Luthor.” Sharon stood up suddenly and leaned over the desk, her raised voice indicating the urgency of her warning. “He’ll become a demon, his intentions will turn completely evil. Any good left in him will vanish…and he will have lost his free will to the whims of evil.”

“Rest assured, Miss Holmes. The last thing I would give up is control.” Luthor stood up and walked over to his office window, rubbing his chin as he pondered his next action. “But this…other Lex Luthor must not be permitted to freely roam any Earth he wants to. Mercy?”

“Yes, Lex?” The sound of Mercy’s voice made Sharon jump a little. It was soft enough, but it was also the first sound she made since Sharon arrived.

“Prepare the gateway. I have a mission for Miss Holmes.”

“A…Mission?” Sharon looked at Mercy, and then back at Luthor. They both seemed serious.

“You are an adventurer, are you not?” Luthor took a few steps toward Sharon, and leaned over her as she sat back down in the chair next to her.

“Yes.” Sharon nodded slowly, and stood up. “Yes, I am. What have you got in mind?”

“I’m going to send you to this…Otherverse. You will retrieve the Ancient Book of Rai, and bring it to me.”

“Bring it to you?” Sharon began to worry a little bit – this Lex Luthor could be corrupted just as easily as the other one. “But you just said–”

“Not that it should be any of your concern–” Luthor folded his arms and leaned closer to Sharon. “–I plan to destroy it. That kind of power should not be allowed to exist.”

“Because it can’t be totally under your control?”

Luthor frowned. “Feel free to jump to your own conclusions, Sharon. As long as you retrieve that book. And don’t even think about destroying the book before you return. My gateway is your only ride home.”

Sharon sighed as she watched Luthor and Mercy leave the room quickly, closing and locking the door behind them. She collapsed quietly into the chair again, as thoughts went swimming through her head. Thoughts of fear…that she would be stopping one Lex Luthor only to have a worse one on her hands.

“Oh, Sharon…What have you got yourself into this time?”
“Clark, what have we gotten ourselves into?”

Clark Kent bowed his head a little, as his eyes looked through the wall into the kitchen, where a teenager named Kara sat, eating a slice of lemon merengue pie. He deliberately avoided looking directly at his mom, as the guilt over what had happen began to set in. “I…honestly didn’t know, Ma. If I did, I never would have brought her here–”

“Nonsense.” Martha Kent put a hand on his shoulder, causing him to raise his head and finally look at her. “Any friend of yours, Clark…you know the rest.”

Clark sighed and gave Martha a worried look. “But she’s…you know…like me. You and Pa won’t be able to keep up with her now that you’re–”

“Old? You’re calling me old?” Martha smiled slowly as she watched Clark turn a little red from embarrassment.

“I just–”

“Clark, your Pa and I raised you. We raised Mae. One more isn’t going to kill us.” Martha placed a hand on her heart and smiled. “Raising kids comes from here, Clark. From the heart. You don’t have to be smart, or quick, or even young. Love is all you need.”

“You’re quoting the Beatles?” Clark raised an eyebrow and smiled.

Martha shrugged as she led Clark back toward the kitchen. “John Lennon had it right. Why tamper with something that works?”
“Stonehenge. How did I ever guess?”

Sharon Holmes stood, hands on her hips, as she kept her gaze fixed on a cloaked figure. He sat in the center of the circle of stones, a book on the ground in front of him. He didn’t even acknowledge her presence as he slowly whispered the words he saw on the pages before him. His lack of reaction made Sharon very nervous as she approached. She drew both of her pistols, careful to keep them aimed at the man’s back as she tiptoed toward him.

As soon as she was almost within his reach, he suddenly stopped whispering, prompting her to freeze. She stood, pistols steadily aimed as the man turned around so she could see his partially-cloaked face. It was Lex Luthor – but his face was pale, his eyes carrying a reddish orange glow, like they had fires burning behind them.

“My God…What have you done?” Her hands began shaking a little, she struggled to keep her guns trained on him as he lowered the hood of his cloak. His gaze felt heavy, like it was adding weight to the guns at the end of her arms.

She began backing away from him slowly as he approached, the Ancient Book of Rai in his hands. She could feel something from him, an energy – one of pure evil, and death. The scent of it filled the area. In a moment of panic as Luthor came closer, Sharon began firing both pistols at him.

It felt like only seconds before the clips in both of her weapons were empty. But Luthor still stood. As he stepped in front of her, she could feel darkness descending over her, suffocating her quickly. Her eyesight began to dim as she felt her legs buckle from beneath her. The last thing she would remember was Luthor lifting her off of the ground and carrying her away, before she lost consciousness.
Sharon awoke with a start lying on a cold stone floor inside a stone-walled cell. Her heart was beating quickly, and her clothing and the floor were both soaked. Though she was still groggy, she realized that someone had just thrown ice cold water on her.

“Wake up!”

She turned around slowly to see a tall dark-haired woman approach her slowly. The woman was dressed in some sort of military uniform, armed with a pistol, a long knife, and…a bucket. Her instinct told her that the tall woman was not someone friendly.

“I said–”

As she approached, the woman suddenly found herself cut off as Sharon’s boot tangled with one of her legs, causing her head to crash to the floor quickly. Sharon stood, and without hesitation snatched the woman’s gun and knife, pointing the barrel at her almost immediately. The woman tried to sit up in spite.

“No, no. Please don’t get up on my account.” Sharon circled around the woman for a second, checking briefly to make sure the door was still open – it was. “Where am I?”

“You’re in a Lexcorp owned facility hidden off the coast of Northern California. It’s called Pelican Island.” The woman sat up slowly and rubbed her head, noting that Sharon leveled the pistol toward her as she moved. “There’s no escape. No one has ever escaped from here. And even if you do, you won’t survive the radiation.”

“I don’t plan on escaping to the outside.” Sharon smiled as she heard the last word of the woman’s sentence – ‘radiation’. It meant that she and Lex Luthor must have been transported to the place rather then just walking or flying in. “Lex Luthor has a Gateway here. Where is it?”

The woman simply frowned, but didn’t answer. She didn’t need to – her change of expression answered for her – there was a Gateway. Only Sharon would have to search for it.

“Thanks for the update. Good night.” Sharon kicked the woman in the chin, hard, knocking her out cold, and raced out of the cell. She punched the button to close the cell door on her way out – no sense in having the woman go after her again when she woke up.

As Sharon headed out of the cell area and up a stairway, she saw just what she expected – Lex Luthor, blocking her access to the floor above. She drew the pistol from her belt, but then decided to toss it aside – it didn’t work so well for her the last time.

“Hand over the book, Luthor…and then get out of my way!” Sharon drew the knife from behind her belt, gripping it tightly as she slowly stepped toward Luthor. “I’m taking it home, and not even you can stop me!”

“Such arrogance.” Luthor gripped the book tightly and stepped toward Sharon, a threatening red glow forming in his hollow eyes. “Arrogance never succeeds, Sharon. It will only earn you your own demise.”

She gritted her teeth as she watched his dead, cold, hollow eyes light up like they were some sort of gate to hell. She then knew that had to take that book, for the safety of the universe – or die trying. “We’ll see who meets their demise.”

Sharon lunged forward, slicing Luthor’s throat open with her first swipe of the knife, and plunging it into his chest with the second pass. Just as she was about to make a third pass, she saw Luthor raise his hands – and she felt herself being thrown against the stone wall behind her, hard.

Even though she had the wind knocked out of her, she quickly shook off the dizziness and charged Luthor again, tackling him and slamming him against the opposite wall. Finally, he dropped the book.

She snatched the book quickly, and began running just as Luthor began producing bladed weapons out of nowhere, pelting her with them from time to time as she raced down the halls of the complex. Once in a while he would get ahead of her, and slam her against a wall – but she kept her death grip on the book, refusing to give it up to him no matter the odds against her.

Out of pure luck, she happened to find the room containing the Gateway. As soon as she did, she slammed the door behind her, quickly using what little she had left of her waning strength to push a large bookshelf in front of it. She knew that would only hold Luthor for a short time – so she worked quickly from memory to activate the Gateway. She paid close attention to the one the Lex Luthor on her Earth used, assuming that the Lex Luthor on this Earth would have one very similar – an assumption that paid off.

As a last step, before she jumped onto the Gateway’s platform, she tore a small box off of the side of the Gateway device – she remembered it to be a self-destruct device – and removed the plastic explosive material from it, squashing it into a bowl shape and placing it on the ground. She removed a small pack of matches from her belt, and lit one quickly. She then stepped on the Gateway platform, and tossed the match at the bowl with one hand, as she hit the red flashing activation button quickly with the book in her other hand.

Then she prayed. She didn’t even see the room fade from view – her eyes were closed as she felt fire licking at her exposed flesh. She suddenly felt chilled, and opened her eyes. She was back at Lexcorp, on her own Earth. In front of her was Lex Luthor’s bodyguard, Mercy Graves.

“Welcome back.” Mercy smiled as she held out her hand. “I’ll take that book.”

“Like hell you will.” Sharon charged Mercy, knocking her to the ground quickly. She didn’t stop running until she made it through the lobby of Lexcorp – and she continued running all the way down the street to the Daily Planet building. She knew she would be safe there…and she hoped she could find the man she met on the plane to England – Charlie Lewis.
Charlie nearly fell out of his chair when he turned around to see who tapped him on the shoulder as he sat next to Lois Lane’s desk at the Daily Planet – he recognized her immediately as Sharon Holmes.

Sharon’s hair was a tangled mess, her usual long ponytail undone, leaving her hair across her shoulders. Both of her pistols were missing, and on her belt she wore a bowie knife covered in dried blood. Various cuts, bruises, and burns covered nearly all of her exposed skin. And in her hands…some kind of an ancient book, partially burned.

“You’re hard enough to find, Charlie.” Sharon stood over him, holding the book out toward him. She was inviting him to take it.

“What’s this?” Charlie took it from her gently, trying to read the inscription on the cover.

“The Ancient Book of Rai.” Sharon leaned on one hand, place on the edge of Lois’ desk. “I ask you to do two things for me. Keep that book in a safe place, and find me someplace to stay for a while that’s rather…discreet.”

“Discreet?” Charlie stood up, noticing that Sharon seemed more injured then she let on. “Is someone after you?”

“Everyone is after me, Charlie.” Sharon smiled weakly. “Including two different Lex Luthors. One of them almost killed me.”

Charlie glanced at Lois, who waved both of her hands in front of herself and mouthed ‘Don’t ask’. He couldn’t help but smile at the fact that Lois and Linda were a lot alike in that behavior. “Are you trying to tell me you killed one of these Lex Luthors?”

Sharon shook her head. “No, he can’t be killed, he’s immortal now. I did do him quite a bit of damage. But that’s all a story for another time, Charlie. Right now I really could use a shower and a few hours’ sleep.”

“I understand.” Charlie nodded and picked up Lois’ telephone and began dialing. “I’ll get you a place at the hotel where Linda and I have rooms.”

Lois paused her work for a moment, and began staring at Sharon. “What happened to you, anyway? Did you cross a battlefield to get that book?”

“Practically, yes.” Sharon smiled and sat down in one of the chairs next to Lois’ desk. “I visited another Earth, a scary place. I was injured escaping from some kind of a Lexcorp prison there…I lost my pistols. There was a gateway to get me home in the same building, but I had to fight my way to it.”

Charlie gently took Sharon’s arm as he watched her stumble a little bit while she rose to her feet. “Come on, Sharon. That’s enough fighting for one day…Let’s get you some rest.”

“You’re just a saint, aren’t you?” Sharon smiled as she followed Charlie down to the street, where he quickly hailed a cab for her. “No wonder Linda likes you.”

Charlie didn’t answer as he helped Sharon into the cab, and told the driver where to take her. But his mind was busy in thought – did Sharon see something he didn’t? As the cab drove away, he quickly dismissed any passing thoughts he had about what Sharon said. After all, she had lost some blood, and was very tired. “I’m no saint…just someone who cares.”
A stiff, icy wind blew through the mountains outside the Fortress, tossing Linda’s hair and cape mercilessly, and causing her to squint to keep her eyeballs from freezing. She stood atop the mountain shivering – Lara, Kara, and Rogue stood in front of her, doing little to slow down the wind. The twins stood behind Linda – they were asked to stay there by Kara, just in case.

They were prepared for a battle as they all stood, watching, while a living-dead Kal-El and Diana Prince approached quickly. Kara insisted on standing ahead of everyone else, with Rogue beside her, at the ‘battlefront’. Lara stood directly behind them, intent on protecting Linda and the twins.

The dead Kal-El seemed to slow as he approached, eventually landing a good distance away, with Diana close behind him. He was walking toward Kara slowly, seemingly not in any hurry. Unlike the Kal-El Linda knew, this one’s eyes were dark, cold…they had no soul behind them.

“Leave this place…and do no harm!” Kara held a single palm in front of her, pointing in the two zombies’ direction, as if she were a crossing guard ordering pedestrians to stop trying to cross a busy street. Naturally, the two zombies paid her no mind as they approached.

As she watched the zombies walk toward her, she cringed a little bit, expecting to see an epic battle before her, one of flying fists, searing heat vision, blood, and broken bones. What she saw instead was purely surreal, even by her own standards.

Linda watched, stunned, as Lara stepped forward silently toward the zombies. They made no move to attack her, even as she gently placed one hand on each of their shoulders. The two zombies collapsed to the ground without a fight, all signs of life within them extinguished.

“What did you do?” After several minutes of silence, the first words were from Kara. After speaking, she turned abruptly to face Lara, standing only inches away from her.

“I sent them away.” Lara blinked, cancelling the slight glow her irises carried since she touched the two zombies. “They will rest now…but we must destroy their bodies to prevent Lex Luthor from raising them again. I can destroy Diana’s body, but you and Rogue must destroy Kal-El’s.”

Kara’s eyes suddenly filled with sadness, and then tears, as she looked at Rogue for a moment. She looked to Lara again, her head shaking slowly. “No, I…I can’t.”

“You must, for the safety of this world, Kara–” Lara suddenly paused when she noticed everyone staring at her, wide-eyed. She looked at her own hands – she was surrounded by some kind of an energy halo, and she guessed that her irises were glowing once again. Only this time, it was not under her control – some kind of force from another plane was causing it…a deity, perhaps?

“Oh, my Rao.” Kara turned to Rogue and Linda, standing behind her. They were hypnotized by the power, the beauty of the halo around Lara – it was beyond the bounds of imagination. “Do you see if too?”

Linda nodded and stepped forward toward the glow, which was now completely surrounding Lara. It grew larger until it finally separated from her form, moving in front of her. Linda’s hand reached out slowly to touch it. It felt warm, comforting…like a mother’s arms wrapped around a small child. She watched as the mist surrounded the stilled bodies of Kal-El and Diana Prince, enveloping them until they could no longer be seen.

“You’re right, Kara.” Lara stood perfectly still, speaking in a soft voice just above a whisper as the energy enveloping her spread to Kara, gently wrapping a few of it’s tentacles around her. Kara closed her eyes, letting the energy comfort her – relaxing her enough so she dropped to her knees slowly. “It is Rao…And Kal-El.”

Just as those words left Lara’s mouth, Kara could see a form taking shape in front of her. It was a man…it was Kal-El. She bowed her head a little, as tears began forming in her eyes.

“You display shame at my presence, Kara?” The ghostly form of Kal-El reached his hand under her chin, propping it up so he could see her eyes. “Always keep your head high. You are worthy, Kara. You were born to a proud heritage. You were once Supergirl.”

Kara nodded slowly and rose to her feet, looking down to notice that she was now wearing a costume she remembered well – the red skirt, blue top, and giant S-logo of Supergirl. She said nothing, but a single sniff from her indicated her desire to maintain control of her feelings, even as her eyes betrayed her by continuing to send tears.

“I wish I could have known you better, Kara. I wish I had more time…But now I must return home to Rao, to be with the others of Krypton.”

“No–” Kara shook her head as tears began streaming down her face quickly. “Don’t go, please. You’ve guided me for so long…I could feel that you were there.”

The ghostly Kal seemed to smile for a moment, as he gently place a misty hand on Kara’s shoulder. “I must go, Kara. My time in this realm has come to an end. My work is done. You and your daughters have carried on my legacy well. Now you have a new legacy…and in the end…your daughters will be the salvation of this Earth.”

“Kal–” Kara reached out for him as he began drifting away from her slowly. “I…I want to go with you.”

“No. You still have much to do here. I will always be with you, Kara, in your heart. I will always be there.”

The mist suddenly dissipated with a gust of icy wind, leaving Kara feeling chilled, and alone. Without a word, Rogue quickly held her tightly as she collapsed, sobbing uncontrollably. It was as if Kara were living through Kal’s death. In a way…she was.

“Leave us, please.” Rogue whispered those three words, prompting Lara to quickly lead Linda and the twins back inside the Fortress.

As darkness began to fall that night, Linda left for her home, even though she hadn’t seen Rogue or Kara since that moment. Lara left shortly afterward, once the twins convinced her that they would be perfectly safe by themselves.

Linda would learn later from the twins that Kara and Rogue didn’t come back for several hours – and once they did, they retired for the night without a word. No one knew what happened during those hours – it was something that would forever be a secret shared by Kara and Rogue. Karen insisted that they most likely spent the hours just talking, sharing – a few hours to strengthen the bond they had with each other. But somehow, Linda believed it was much more then that.

Once Linda arrived at her hotel room, she was tired from the whole experience she had – and yet she lay awake for hours, as her mind spun out of control. Everything she’d seen, everything she heard…she couldn’t help but believe that the universe would never be the same again.


#2 – Raiders Of The Lost

Sharon Holmes dusted herself off after falling through the rotten wooden boards of the floor above. Totally by accident, she found herself in a darkened concrete bunker which she had been searching the world for months to find.

It was a relic of World War II, a place rumored to have been a hiding place of none other then Adolph Hitler during the allied bombings of Germany. It was the hiding place of a man who refused to face those he terrorized, those he ordered the murder of. A place where he could hide from his own mortality, to prevent death from collecting it’s much owed dues.

“A coward’s bunker.”

“I’ll have to disagree with you there.”

The sound of the unknown deep voice set her heart racing. She ducked into a corner, pulling her two pistols out in the blink of an eye, aiming them at the source of the sound. “Who’s there?”

“I could ask you the same.” A tall, bald man wearing an expensive suit stepped out of a dark corner, as he lit a cigar and held it up in front of his face.

“Sharon. Sharon Holmes.” She stood up and started to approach the man slowly, pistols still drawn. “And I got here first.”

“You obviously have no idea who I am.”

Sharon nodded. “You’re Lex Luthor. But…you’re different somehow. And that amazon woman isn’t guarding you.”

Luthor laughed. “I’m from another Earth, Ms. Holmes. One where, I presume, you don’t exist.”

“And what, may I ask, are you doing here?”

“I’m here to…collect a few things.” Luthor tossed his cigar on the floor, causing it to roll toward Sharon. “A few designs of what you call the Third Reich. It will allow me to eliminate a few enemies back home.”

Sharon gasped a little as her eyes began to fix on Luthor. “You…You’re talking about…genocide!”

“Very perceptive.” Luthor nodded and turned to leave, just as Sharon looked down at the still-glowing cigar. Strangely, it was glowing brighter since it had been tossed to the ground. She suddenly realized why – it was an explosive!

Sharon looked around the room quickly, to see if the book she was looking for was there. It wasn’t – Luthor must have taken it before she arrived. She raced out of the room quickly, headed the same direction Luthor went – but she was forced to dive to the ground as she heard the explosive go off behind her.

Once the dust from the explosion settled, Sharon looked around quickly. Lex Luthor was nowhere to be found. But she knew, somehow, that he would present a big problem. She knew that she would have to find him. And she would have to find Linda Danvers.
Words were spoken, ancient words. They were spoken in a powerful, but soft voice by none other the Lex Luthor, as he explored the depths of knowledge in his newly acquired book. He sat in the center of one of the great mysteries of nearly every Earth across every probability – Stonehenge. It’s great suspended stones gave the place an aura of power. It was a place Lex Luthor felt at home. They were only words, but they carried so much upon them. The words carried over distances ordinary humans and metahumans alike would consider great – yet for a power so ancient…meant nothing.

Somewhere deep within the Colorado mountains of Otherverse Earth, in a newly constructed Fortress, a sobbing Kara Zor-El was being held tightly in Rogue’s arms as Rogue tried in futility to calm her. Kara had woken up suddenly during the night, shaking and uttering the name ‘Kal’ repeatedly. She then progressed to crying. Rogue tried her best to comfort her…but she seemed inconsolable, like she had just lost a part of herself. Even Kara didn’t knew what triggered her feelings. But she couldn’t shake them either. All she seemed to know was that she felt Kal…and he was in terrible danger.

Another Earth, at the Fantastic Four headquarters, in New York City. Dr. Strange had simply been talking to Reed Richards in his lab about a strange feeling he had when he was stricken. The look of fright and shock on Reed’s face echoed the one on Dr. Strange’s, as pain radiated through his chest. He gripped his shirt tightly and simply collapsed on the floor. His reactions faster then his thoughts, Reed simply took Dr. Strange to the infirmary and hooked him up to monitors. Reed hadn’t slept, or even given himself a break since that moment, as he stayed by the side of his longtime friend – yet Dr. Strange still hadn’t awakened. Sue Richards worried about her husband, as she watched him deteriorate alongside his friend…but she understood.

Late one night in a large hotel room in Metropolis, Linda Danvers felt a dark cloud hang over her, one that she could not explain or understand. She turned to sculpting to try and figure out what was plaguing her subconscious. The resulting form created by her hands both haunted and intrigued her. It was Superman, but his face looked different somehow – it looked twisted, angry…filled with hatred. She had to toss a sheet over it soon after she created it. Seeing it prevented her from sleeping.

Lara Night was about as far from the disturbance as one could get, living in northern Los Angeles – but she could feel it as if it were taking place inside in her own mind. She could feel something tearing through the cosmos like a tidal wave – it something ancient, powerful…something evil. It was a disturbance that brought such sadness to the universe, that even Gods would shed tears over it. She immediately sensed it’s source, which chilled her more then anything else. It came from Otherverse Earth. But then she felt something else. A distant voice crying out, a profound sadness. It wasn’t part of any of the other feelings Lara detected – it felt closer to her. It was Reed Richards.
“What’s the matter, Reed?”

Reed turned around in his chair at the sound of a soft, friendly voice he recognized – Lara’s. His hair was a mess, his eyesight fuzzy from lack of food, water, and sleep. He didn’t speak to answer Lara’s question – the tears forming in his eyes, and Dr. Strange’s unconscious form on an exam table answered the question for him.

“Oh–” Lara suddenly felt herself without words as she stood next to the exam table, and placed her hands gently on Dr. Strange’s chest. She closed her eyes, and remained motionless for several minutes before finally reopening them and turning to look at Reed.

“Is he…gone?” There was a sadness in Reed’s voice that struck Lara like an arrow through her heart.

“He’s–” Lara sighed and looked down at Dr. Strange’s body again. She had to phrase her answer carefully to give Reed hope. “His body is in perfect condition. But his metaphysical self–”

“Can’t find it’s way back?” Reed seemed to brighten up all of a sudden, as if all he needed was to have an active part in his friend’s recovery. “What can we do?”

“No, no–” Lara shook her head and looked at Reed sadly. “He doesn’t want to come back. He’s…searching for something.”

“Can…can he hear us?”

“I don’t know.” Lara shrugged. “If he could, he would know that I’m here…and that I have some of the answers he’s searching for.”

“I know you are here, Lara.” Dr. Strange suddenly opened his eyes and sat up straight. “As for the answers you have–”

“Stephen!” Reed raced over to the side of the exam table. “What happened to you? I was worried–”

Dr. Strange nodded and sat up on the edge of the exam table. “I had become separated from my physical self by a force not under my control.”

“How did you know I was here?” Lara held out a hand to help Dr. Strange to his feet, and then into a chair. He was still a little weak from being immobile for so long.

“I…felt you searching for me.” Dr. Strange took a deep breath as he sat down in the chair and blinked twice. He was a little dizzy, even after such light exertion. “I felt your presence, reaching out for my soul…to pull it back. I knew what you were doing, but I wasn’t ready to come back just yet.”

“You were on the brink of finding answers.” Lara shook her head. “But you were losing your will to live, Stephen.”

The look of shock on Reed’s face caused Dr. Strange to hang his head a little and nod. “It’s so easy to become lost in a quest. Sometimes I just…forget.”

Dr. Strange glanced back at Reed for a moment. Reed was once again fighting tears in his eyes, his hands shaking a little bit from the realization of how close he was to losing his friend…forever. “I’m sorry, Reed. Had I realized–”

“No matter, everything turned out well.” Lara stood up and looked at Reed. “Get some sleep, Reed. You need it. Stephen and I have some work to do.”

Reed nodded and slowly headed toward his quarters. As soon as he entered the hallway, he could see Sue standing in the doorway down the hall. “Reed? Is he okay?”

Reed only nodded silently as he approached Sue, who immediately hugged him tightly. “She heard you, didn’t she?”

He nodded again. “She did. How did you know?”

Sue smiled a little. “There are some things we’ll never completely understand, Reed. Lara is one of them.”

“Thank you, Sue.” Reed smiled and gave Sue a small peck on the cheek as the entered their quarters, holding hands. “Thank you for saving Stephen.”
“Mr. Danvers! Mr. Danvers!”

Sharon was out of breath when she reached Fred Danvers’ office at the Leesburg Police Department. Her hair was disheveled, and she looked like she had just returned from a war. In a way, she did – after her encounter in Germany, she headed straight for the last known location of Linda Danvers. Something strange had happened, and she knew Linda would be interested – only she discovered that she had no idea where Linda was.

“What’s the matter, Sharon?” Fred approached her from behind as she stopped to talk to Shauna. He had just gone for a cup of coffee, and recognized her distinctively British voice calling out his name.

“Something terrible has happened, Mr. Danvers! Lex Luthor has the the Ancient Book of Rai, and he’s planning to use it for genocide. I watched him take it while I was in Germany.”

“Germany? Are you nuts?” Shauna stood up to face Sharon. “He’s in Metropolis, he’s been on television three times today.”

“No, you don’t understand.” Sharon shook her head and sighed. “It’s not this Lex Luthor, it’s one from another Earth. He told me so.”

“Another Earth, huh?” Fred rubbed his chin and looked at Shauna. “Sounds like something my daughter might be interested in.”

Sharon nodded. “That’s why I came here. I need to find Charlie and Linda. But I don’t know where to look.”

“Have a seat, Sharon.” Fred picked up his telephone and began dialing. “Your prayers will be answered soon.”
“I do not believe in prayer.”

Lara laughed. “No, Dr. Strange, the other kind of ‘prey’. The kind that means death if we’re not careful. You’re still distracted aren’t you? You aren’t really paying attention.”

“I’m sorry, Lara.” Dr. Strange finally stood up on his own – the dizziness had finally subsided. “Something is haunting me.”

“What’s the matter?” Lara stepped closer to him. “This has to do with Rao, doesn’t it?”

Dr. Strange turned a little pale as he stared at Lara. “How–”

“I sensed something wrong with Kal-El. His soul is being corrupted by an ancient force.” Lara sat down on the edge of the exam table where Dr. Strange was lying earlier. “But souls are interlinked with their creator. So–”

“So Rao is being corrupted as well.” Dr. Strange nodded. “That explains what I sensed as well. What kind of force could corrupt a deity?”

“Trust me, Dr. Strange…you don’t want to know. I think it’s more important that we find out who’s responsible.”

Dr. Strange walked over to a window to look outside. “Corrupt Gods destroy things, Lara. It’s obvious someone wants something destroyed.”

“Otherverse Earth?”

He shook his head. “No…whoever is doing this is located on Otherverse Earth. Whoever it is wants control, not destruction. Order, rather then chaos.”

Lara gasped momentarily as a thought popped into her mind. “Lex Luthor. It has to be Lex Luthor.”

Dr. Strange nodded slowly. “Yes. Yes, that would make perfect sense. And if that’s true, we will have to stop him.”

“I’ll just have to kill him again, I guess.” Lara sighed and turned toward the door.

“Do not.” Dr. Strange grabbed Lara’s shoulder tightly and turned her around. “It’s very likely that the last brush with death you gave him is what clued him into this power, Lara. What you did exposed him to things no mortal man should know.”

“Are you suggesting he’s now immortal because of what I did?”

“Not at all.” Dr. Strange walked out of Reed’s lab, motioning Lara to follow. “But you’ve given him the tools to make himself immortal. You’ve taken away his fear of death.”
Karen and Carrie, known to most people as ‘The Twins’, sat across from each other in the living room of the large Fortress, hidden away in the Colorado mountains. They both sat with their arms folded tightly, chilled from the fear and worry they felt. Kara was crying again – she had been off and on for almost the entire day. They thought about calling Reed, but he had his hands full with Dr. Strange’s sudden health problems.

“Carrie…What if she’s dying? What if Dr. Strange is dying too?” Karen bit her lip and stood up to pace a little bit. “What if we’re all dying, because of this…place?”

“No…I refuse to believe that.” Carrie shook her head quickly. “There has to be someone who can help. Someone who knows about these things.”

Karen’s eyes suddenly brightened as a realization passed through her mind. “This has something to do with spiritual stuff, Carrie. Think about it! Kara can feel her cousin…Dr. Strange has fallen ill–”

“Spiritual.” Carrie leapt to her feet and snatched Karen’s arm to pull her along. They were both headed toward a room that both Kara and Rogue had asked them to stay out of – it contained a Projector like the one in Reed’s lab. It was installed in the Fortress in case the place had to be evacuated in an emergency – a big emergency, such as if the planet was on the verge of destruction. Carrie had her own interpretation of an emergency.

“Where are we going? Are we visiting Reed?”

“No.” Carrie raced around the room quickly, setting the controls for the machine as she had watched Reed do several times before. “Spiritual is the key, Karen. We have to find someone with a spiritual link.”

“Who?” Karen stared at Carrie, demanding an answer even as Carrie pulled her onto the machine’s platform alongside herself.

“Linda Danvers.”
“Can you work with him?”

Reed was still examining the body of Kal-El, lying on a purple metallic table in the center of a very alien-looking lab. The room was filled with such tables, a few containing other dead bodies covered by white sheets. Lara had transported Reed, Dr. Strange, and herself to the center of the lab, with a certain project in mind.

“No decomposition. Rigor mortis has barely set in.” Reed turned off the scope he had around his head and removed it quickly. “With a little time, we can probably restore his spirit as well.”

“I don’t like this.” Dr. Strange shook his head and looked around the room. “Where is this place?”

“Project Cadmus. It was rebuilt by Lex Luthor.”

Reed and Dr. Strange both turned to stare at Lara. Reed decided to speak first. “Did you say…Cadmus?”

Lara nodded. “Lex Luthor plans on resurrecting dead heroes of the past and future. He wants to use them to destroy his enemies. Starting with Kal-El and Diana Prince.”

“How do you know this?” Dr. Strange folded his arms and stared steadily at Lara, waiting for an answer.

“Look around you, Stephen.” Lara walked around the room slowly, pulling back a few of the white sheets. Kal-El, Diana Prince, Jean Grey, Reed Ri–”

Lara pushed the last white sheet back to it’s original location as she ignored the look of shock on Reed’s face. “Remember what I told you about Kal-El and Rao?”

Dr. Strange nodded, and grabbed Reed’s arm as he reached for that last white sheet. “No, Reed. It is better if you don’t–”

Reed shoved Dr. Strange’s arm aside, and pulled back the sheet. Lying on the steel table were his own frozen eyes, looking back at him. His hands shaking, he reached for yet another white sheet. As he pulled it back slowly, his worst fear met reality. “God, no–”

“Sue Storm.” Lara held Reed’s hand tightly to calm him. “You and Sue were never lovers in this reality. She didn’t live long enough.”

Lara suddenly pulled Reed behind her as she watched the arm of Kal-El’s body move, rising slowly. She knew that Reed might object to her acting as his protector – but Reed was far from a match for Kryptonian strength. Lara hoped she at least stood a chance against it. “We’re too late, Stephen.”

Dr. Strange nodded, uttering a single word under his breath which rendered him intangible – just before Kal-El’s body rose to it’s feet, and reached for him. Both Lara and Dr. Strange could tell that the body didn’t contain Kal-El’s soul – it was empty, being powered by a force which could only be referred to as life in the loosest of terms.

“It’s starting.” Lara took a couple of steps back, still holding Reed behind her, as the body of Diana Prince began to move as well. “Reed, Stephen…I think it’s time we left this place–”

She suddenly felt lucky that she had been alert, keeping her telekinetic shield strong – she felt a had blow from Kal-El to the side of her head. He was far from full strength, as his body had not fully recovered from reanimation – but it was strong enough, and he still had the ability to move across the room in the blink of an eye.

“Lara, look out!”

She ducked quickly at the sound of Reed’s voice, just barely getting her head out of the way of another fist – this one owned by Diana Prince.

“Hold onto my waist, Reed.” As Lara’s fingers began crackling with energy, Reed obeyed quickly – he knew enough about the laws of electricity and grounding to know that he was safer touching her then standing even a few inches away.

Lara felt Dr. Strange’s hand on her shoulder just as her fingers filled the room with high-voltage bolts of electricity, tearing holes through the stainless steel walls as they went. The bolts of electricity which connected with Kal and Diana caused their muscles to seize, collapsing them to the ground. The remaining bodies in the room were reduced to charcoal in seconds. Lara intended to make sure the rest of them were useless as zombies. She hoped she had succeeded.

“Time to go!”

Lara, Reed, and Dr. Strange vanished from Otherverse Earth in a flash of light just as Kal and Diana began returning to their feet. Lara had instantly transported them back to Reed’s lab back at Fantastic Four headquarters.

“This is a most serious situation.” Dr. Strange rubbed his chin and looked out the window. “Once Luthor is done conquering his own world…what’s to stop him from conquering ours? Or yours?”

“I had a dream a short time ago, Stephen.” Lara sighed and stood next to Dr. Strange at the window. “I dreamt that I had to destroy Otherverse Earth, that I was given no choice. It was…infected, and I had to prevent spread of the infection. Now I fear that may be closer to reality then I imagined.”

“Lara, destruction of life only…appears necessary sometimes.” Dr. Strange turned to stare at Lara, the look in his eyes an intense mixture of emotions. “But life is more precious then anything. Anything, Lara. First, do no harm. Once you learn that, you can understand the universe.”

Lara nodded silently as she stood next to Dr. Strange, staring out over the nearby city. It was full of life. And no doubt, there were hundreds of cities like it on Otherverse Earth, with millions of people. People who just wanted to live their lives in peace. It made Lara feel angry, to think that Lex Luthor wanted nothing more then to destroy that peace.
“That aught to get Superman’s attention.”

Carrie had just turned a large billboard atop a building in Metropolis upside down, as Karen sat on the small steel maintenance walkway below it. They were in the right city, but they had no idea where to find Linda Danvers. They knew who would – but they had to get his attention first.

Luckily, victory came easier then they thought. Carrie turned abruptly as an unfamiliar blonde woman in a white cut-off tee-shirt, white gloves, a blue skirt, and red laced boots tapped her on the shoulder. Yet her face was so familiar. “Linda? Is that you?”

Linda nodded quietly, though she was a little surprised that the two knew who she was. Then again, since they were wearing costumes and they managed to flip over a billboard, it wasn’t all that surprising. “Who are you two?”

“We’re Kara’s daughters, remember? I’m Carrie, this is Karen. Cool costume, by the way.”

“Thank you.” Linda paced around Carrie and Karen, noting their new costumes. “So, what brings you here from Otherverse?”

“Not a car, I can tell you that.” Carrie smiled mischievously as she spoke – she had been waiting a long time to tell that joke. Karen just rolled her eyes. “We need your help. Something’s wrong with Kara…and it has something to do with Kal-El.”

“I’m not sure I understand. Is she sick?”

Carrie looked at Karen for an answer – but Karen just shrugged. “We’re not sure. She’s just been…crying a lot.”

“Crying?” Linda bit her lip. She didn’t know Kara well, but by reputation she knew Kara to be fairly level-headed, strong. Kara was the last person she would expect to curl up and sob over something. “I’ll do my best to help.”

“Cool!” Carrie nudged Karen, and pulled her to her feet. “Let’s go!”

Linda and the twins stared at each other for several minutes as they each expected the other to make the next move. It was several seconds before Linda realized that something was wrong. “You do have a way to get us there, right?”

Carrie looked at Karen, who shrugged again. “I guess we figured…you would be able to solve that problem.”

“Oh, God.” Linda pinched her nose with a gloved hand and shook her head. “I’m sorry to break this to you two…I can’t do that anymore. You’re stuck here.”

“What are we supposed to do now?” Karen spoke up first this time, her eyes on Carrie. Carrie just stood still, hanging her head, blaming herself for what had happened. She knew that she was the one who had caused them to be stranded.

Linda sighed. “Let’s get you two indoors. I have a nice hotel room across the street, we can wait there until we figure out what to do.”

“Across the street?” Carrie looked at Karen. They both suddenly understood how Linda found them so quickly after they had turned the billboard upside down.

Carrie and Karen followed quickly as Linda jumped across to the rooftop of the building directly across the street and headed into the stairway. They walked two floors down, before Linda checked the hallway to make sure no one was there, motioning the twins to follow her to her room once the coast was clear.

“Here we are.” Linda closed the door behind her, tossing her gloves on a table next to the door as she entered the living room area of the three room suite. As she reached for a lamp next to the couch, a bright flash of light filled the room, causing her to jump. “What the–”

“Lara!” Carrie and Karen nearly mowed down Linda as they raced across the room to hug Lara Night, who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Linda had to laugh when she watched the twins hanging from Lara’s arms, hugging her tightly from both sides.

“Boy, are we glad to see you!” Carrie started first, talking quickly as Lara smiled at the energy the twins displayed at meeting her. “We came here to get Linda to help us, and–”

“And you can’t get back home.” Lara laughed a little. “That’s why I’m here. I know all about it.”

“We still need to bring Linda with us to help Kara.” Carrie looked over at Linda, who was putting her white gloves back on. She anticipated that she would be going, too. “See, Karen? We were never in danger…Lara looks after us.”

“Yeah, that’s me. Your personal bodyguard.” Lara smiled and offered one hand each to Carrie and Karen. As Linda held Carrie’s hand, she noticed a slight electrical charge fill the air in the room. It was only a second before she could see the room fading out of view.
“Hmm. Very interesting.” Lex Luthor sat in his office high atop LexCorp Towers, with only a desk lamp illuminating his office. In front of him was a single page news report about him being spotted in Germany, taking some kind of ancient book. Next to that, another report from LexCorp research, indicating elevated levels of certain kinds of particles which indicated that a gateway had been opened…either to or from someplace. And it happened twice. To Luthor that confirmed something he suspected for a long time – that there was a whole other Earth out there somewhere.

Luthor was patiently awaiting another report from his research department. Namely a report detailing the timeframe necessary for LexCorp to build a gateway of it’s own. He suspected that in any case with multiple realities, at least one of them would be a terrible war zone – and as a weapons dealer, potential for profit beyond his wildest dreams.

And then there was the issue of someone else using the name Lex Luthor. Someone who looked like him, by all accounts and descriptions. Luthor was a little intrigued by the idea – but instinctively, he knew that the other so-called Lex Luthor would have to go, if for no other reason then his intrusion on the Earth this Luthor called his own.

Luthor leaned back in his chair, tapping a couple of buttons on his phone. He knew that when he met this other Lex Luthor, he would no doubt be as intelligent – so Luthor decided to be prepared.


“I’m sending Mercy down in five minutes. I want you to introduce her to the most deadly weapons we currently have in prototype. And once you do, I will require five of each. How is that gateway coming along?”

“It’s coming along well, Mr. Luthor. It should be finished in a matter of hours.”

Luthor frowned and leaned forward. “That is unacceptable. What is taking you people so long?”

“I’m sorry, sir. We had a little snag with some government paperwork for the plutonium we need to use. The Nuclear Regulatory–”

“Forget about the paperwork.” Luthor stood up and leaned over his speakerphone. “If we wait for the government to approve this, we’ll all die of old age. Just finish it.”

“Yes, sir–”

Luthor cut off the man in mid-sentence and waved Mercy into the room as he spotted her standing in the doorway. “Mercy, I need you to go to research and make sure things are working. Feel free to use as much…incentive as you see fit.”

Mercy nodded quietly and turned to leave the room.

“Oh, and Mercy?”

“Yes, Lex?” Mercy turned around to face Luthor as she stood in a stream of light coming in through the partially opened door.

“Accept no substitutes.”
“Wow…What is this place?” Linda spun around a little bit as she glanced around at a compact living room area, complete with a large screen satellite television system. She spotted a few tall tinted windows, and headed toward them slowly.

“This is the Fortress.” Carrie grabbed Linda’s arm and pulled her toward one of the windows. She pointed down the steep mountainside below. “We’re in the Colorado mountains.”

Linda tapped one of the windows carefully. It felt like glass. “Can’t this shatter? Or be spotted from outside?”

“It’s camouflaged by a hologram outside.” Karen stepped between them and tapped on the glass. The mirrored outer layer of the window allows the image projection, and it’s protected against shattering by an electromagnetic field.”

Carrie rolled her eyes and nudged Linda. “She thinks she’s channeling Reed Richards sometimes.”

“Reed is the one who sent Lara to install them.” Rogue entered the room, followed by a Kara – who looked like she hadn’t slept or eaten much in days. “He did it for the twins. I guess he doesn’t care if Kara and I sit in a dark cave.”

“Mom, this is Lara.” Carrie squeezed in between Kara and Rogue, placing one hand on Kara’s shoulder. “She…helped us get back here.”

“Hello.” Kara only looked at Lara for a second before glancing at the floor. She seemed to be purposely avoiding Linda’s eyes as she crossed the room and sat down in one of the soft chairs.

“Could you guys…go to another room for a little while?” Linda looked around at everyone as she pulled another chair closer to Kara. “Kara and I need to talk.”

Rogue nodded as she herded the twins and Lara out of the living room quickly. As soon as they had left, Linda could tell that Kara had been holding back because of her daughters. But now that they were out of the room, tears began streaming down Kara’s face. She looked like she was mourning someone’s death.

“Kara…What’s wrong? Tell me.”

“I…felt Kal again last night. He was crying.” Kara paused for a second to wipe some tears from her face and take a deep breath to calm herself. “But not for himself. He was crying for me…for Carrie and Karen…for the entire planet. He was afraid, Linda. Afraid of what would happen to us.”

“Oh my God–” Linda stood up and began pacing a little bit. “My dad called me a short time ago. He said that a Lex Luthor impostor was spotted taking some kind of ancient book from Germany. The Ancient Book of Rai, it was called. It’s a book of the Ancient Arts, and has power over the dead.”

Linda’s last few words got Kara’s attention. She stood up now, too. “Lex Luthor is trying to bring Kal back to life for his own purposes, isn’t he? No wonder Kal was afraid. His worst fear is having to kill…Especially those he loves. We have to free him, Linda. We must.”

“I’m pretty much restricted to the physical world now, Kara–” Linda paused just long enough to watch sadness return to Kara’s eyes. It was almost as if her words, to Kara, sealed Kal’s doom. “–But I won’t let that stop me. I never do. I never will.”

“Thank you, Linda.” Kara turned around and hugged Linda tightly. “Just when things seem hopeless…You’ve given me hope.”