“I hate working in cities, man.” A man dressed in military battle fatigues leaned his rifle against a brick wall and sat down, leaning his back against the wall. “Especially Metropolis. It just creeps me out.”
Another similarly dressed man stood above him, laughing and shaking his head slowly. “Hey, don’t fall asleep Hicks, or the Raptors will get you.”
“Shut up, Hudson.”
Hudson paced around a bit more as Hicks began opening their rations for their ‘dinner on the run’. They had both been working without food or sleep for almost a full day now, as they kept moving to avoid what Hicks referred to as the ‘Raptors’. Small, carnivorous dinosaur-like creatures, who hunted in the shadows, preying on those who were not quick enough to get away.
A loud beep interrupted Hicks, causing him to drop the rations and nervously juggle his radio before dropping it as well. “Hicks here.”
“Geez, you’re as nervous as a cat on a dog’s back.”
“Funny, Hudson.” Hicks held the radio closer to his ear, covering his other ear to keep out any extra background noise. The message over the radio was fuzzy, and he was trying his best to listen in.
Hudson’s smile began changing to a frown as he watched Hicks turn pale suddenly. Something in Hicks’ eyes prompted him to go ‘on alert’, as he gripped his assault rifle tightly in his hands. “What is it Hicks? What’s up?”
Hicks leapt to his feet, his weapon now firmly in his hands. “Raptors are coming toward us. They just wiped out the fourth group.”
“Damn.” Hudson looked down at the ground, to the wrappers from the rations that Hicks hurriedly crammed back into his backpack before he stood up. “It’s the food, Hicks. They can smell the damned food!”
“Oh, hell.” Hicks tore the backpack from his shoulders quickly, tossing it into a nearby alley. As soon as the backpack hit the ground, something – some creature, as tall as a human being – snatched the pack in it’s jaws and vanished. “What the hell was that, Hudson?”
“Oh, man.” Hudson began backing away from the scene slowly. “We never signed up for this, Hicks. This is–”
Hicks didn’t even bother waiting for Hudson to finish. He snatched Hudson’s shoulder quickly and shoved him, hard. “Shut up and run!”
Sharon Holmes hated having to return to that bunker in Europe again after nearly being caught in its explosion and collapse. But she was on a search for evidence. Something deep down told her that the Ancient Book of Rai wasn’t the only thing Lex Luthor was looking for – when she confronted him, he behaved almost as if he had found the book by accident. No, he was definitely there for something else.
She quickly pulled a small shovel out of her backpack, tossed the pack aside, and started using the shovel to move debris from the explosion. She was working without a permit again, so she occasionally checked around to make sure no one was watching. Technically anything used by the Third Reich would be property of the German government – but Sharon knew that anything found in that bunker would be too dangerous in their hands.
Almost as soon as she began digging, Sharon found a small container, a small box which resembled a music box. It was made of pure gold. She thought it was odd that Luthor would steal a book and discard the box – unless the box contained something much more valuable. She opened the box slowly – and inside, noticed a symbol of some sort carved into the bottom half of the box. It seemed like it used to hold something…but what?
“It’s a soul catcher.”
Sharon dropped the box and turned abruptly, with both pistols drawn, but began to relax as she saw a young woman about her height in a black and white costume smiling at her. Sharon shook her head. “Can’t walk ten feet these days without running into one of you super-types. Which one are you? Mystic Girl?”
The woman laughed. “No, I’m just Lara Night. I made up a few nicknames, but no one wants to use them anyway. So I’m just Lara.”
“Lara?” Sharon smiled and folded her arms. “For some reason, that name is very familiar to me.”
“Probably because you heard Kara or Linda talking about me.”
Sharon nodded. “Yes, that must be it. What did you mean by ‘soul catcher’?”
“It works with the Ancient Book of Rai.” Lara reached down to pick up the golden box. “You wear it around your neck, it prevents your soul from being taken when you use the spells in the book.”
“How do you know all of this?” Sharon folded her arms and gave Lara a disbelieving look.
“I’m from another Earth. Much like this one, but with no known living super-heroes.” Lara handed Sharon the golden box and smiled. “All of these items are part of legend on my Earth.”
Sharon shrugged. “Can’t be any worse then the alternate Earth I’ve been to. You’ve been there too, haven’t you?”
“Very perceptive.” Lara nodded. “Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m here?”
“To be honest, if you’re not here to help I don’t really care.” Sharon smiled a little, to take the edge off of her brutally honest answer. “But I’ll humor you. Tell me.”
“As a matter of fact, I am here to help.” Lara folded her arms and began walking a circle around Sharon, slowly. “I need to know if Lex Luthor made any copies of the Ancient Book of Rai.”
“Copies?” Sharon laughed and shook her head. “I don’t know. I guess I forgot to check for a copy machine while running for my life.”
“This isn’t funny, Sharon. I feel that he has at least one copy.”
“You…feel that he does?” Sharon laughed again. “What are you, some kind of telepath?”
Lara smiled and nodded. “Something like that.”
“We’ll just have to fetch it then, won’t we?” Sharon shrugged and picked up her backpack, cramming the small shovel into it quickly. “Can you get us there?”
Lara smiled. “In a flash.”
“Great.” Sharon rolled her eyes and stood next to Lara. “One more thing. As long as we’re working together, you follow me. Understand? I won’t be killed over super-heroics. So get rid of the costume.”
“No problem.” Lara nodded, and in a flash of light, she and Sharon were gone – on their way to Otherverse.
“…a bright flash of light from the next block, Colonel. It has to be Meta activity. Over.” A long pause of silence from his radio made Hicks a little more nervous then he already was. It meant that his supervisor had no idea what to do, and had to ask someone above him.
“Find a haven and seal yourselves off, Hicks. Reinforcements from group four are en route. Over.”
“Group four?” Hicks let go of the talk button and sighed loudly. “Group four’s gone, sir. The Raptors got to them during dinner. Over.”
“Affirmative. Group six is being dispatched. E.T.A. one hour. Over.”
“An hour?” Hicks groaned. “Affirmative, Colonel. Over and out.”
“We’re dead, aren’t we?”
Hicks nodded slowly and turned to face Hudson. “Maybe. But I’m not goin’ down easy. I’ll give the damned Raptors heartburn, if I have to.”
Hudson nudged Hicks. “Get some sleep, Hicks. I’ll take first watch.”
“Affirmative, boss.” Hicks slumped down against a wall, tilting his helmet forward to cover his eyes.
Down the street, two figures watched. Two women, one with two pistols drawn, another walking behind her slowly, heading toward the two soldiers. Having little exposure to any kind of military operations on Otherverse Earth, they didn’t know whether to identify the soldiers as friend or foe. All they knew was that they saw a lot of dead bodies as they walked along the streets. They had to assume that the soldiers were hostile for now.
“I can knock them out cold from here.”
“Absolutely not!” Sharon spoke to Lara just above a whisper. “If you zap anything here, you’ll be identified as a Meta. They’ll all be looking for you.”
“How would they know?”
Sharon silently pointed to a camera sitting atop a nearby building. She did enough research to know that Lex Luthor had the whole city under surveillance. Though why he did nothing about the troops destroying the city was a mystery.
“Don’t you ever have to use your mind, Lara?” Sharon turned around to face Lara for a moment as she spoke. “To plan, rather then just zap your way through everything?”
Lara shrugged. “I could, I guess. I just haven’t had the opportunity.”
“There’s no time like the present.”
“What do you make of it, Commander Gorman?”
An older man in a high-ranked military uniform, sitting in a darkened cafe, leaned forward toward a small monitor on a wooden table in front of him at the request of his female assistant. After the invasion of Metropolis, the cafe had been taken over and converted to a headquarters of sorts. Electronics filled the place, wires running everywhere. It had been chosen because it was easy to protect and it was one of the few remaining places with electrical power after city had been secured.
“Hmm.” He rubbed his chin for a few seconds as he stared at the screen. The assistant was playing a tape for him, one of two young women slinking through the dark streets of Metropolis. One of the women was fairly typical for the city’s current condition – she carried two pistols and a knife. But the other…she was completely unarmed. “Survey information, Lisa?”
His assistant punched up a small laptop computer next to the screen. Lex Luthor’s old cameras were also equipped with sensors – and every digital video broadcast they intercepted was laced with extra digital information. Biological sensors, heat sensors, and the like. She shook her head as she read the information. “According to the sensors, they’re both just human. Neither are Metas.”
“But those eyes–” Gorman tapped the screen, moving the zoom control with his other hand to get a closer look. He leaned forward to look at one woman’s eyes – her irises seemed glass-like, almost transparent. “–They seem so…alien. There has to be something more to her. Something…special.”
Lisa stood up. “Should I have someone pick her up?”
Gorman picked up a book of printed sheets from the table, leafing through it quickly. He then tossed aside the sheets angrily. “Oh, hell. Hicks and Hudson are closest.”
“So–” He stood up and sighed. “Those two are a little green for a job like this. I don’t know if they can handle bringing the strange woman in, especially since the one with the guns seems to be with her.”
“If they’re in Metropolis…in the middle of a war zone…there’s a reason.” Gorman paced around in a circle, rubbing his chin, and then leaned over the screen again. “They’re either very smart, or very dumb. Only time will tell which.”
“Should I dispatch a team?”
He nodded. “But tell them to hold back. Keep the two under surveillance, and wait for further orders. If both of those women behave themselves, they won’t be a threat.”
“Yes, sir.” Lisa paused as she snatched the radio’s microphone. “What if the one with the strange eyes…is a Meta?”
“I don’t think she is.” He shook his head slowly as he spoke. “I think she’s something much more dangerous. I think as long as we leave her alone, she won’t be destructive.”
“More dangerous? What makes you say that?”
“The most deadly of enemies are those who are most silent…until you give them reason to strike.” Gorman took a few steps toward the door to the back room, intent on getting a few hours rest for the first time in over twenty hours. Before he left, he turned to face his assistant again. “Then they leave you no question of their power.”
“Time to wake up.”
Hudson instinctively reached for his rifle before even opening his eyes, as he heard a soft female voice with a British accent – only to find his rifle missing. He looked up at the source of the voice to see a woman with brown hair standing over him, holding one pistol to his head.
“The name’s Sharon. Wake up your friend, too. This is important.” The woman removed another pistol from her belt and pointed it toward Hicks with her other hand.
“Hicks! Hicks, we have a little…problem.” Hudson gently nudged Hicks with one hand. Hicks opened his eyes slowly, reaching quickly for his rifle just as Hudson did. But his was missing as well – and so was his radio.
“What do you want from us, lady?” Hudson stared steadily at her in spite of the pistol trained on his temple. “And I hope you know that I can disarm you in an instant.”
“I wouldn’t bet on that.” Sharon smiled and put both pistols back on her belt as she read the name tags on the two soldiers’ uniforms. “You two are severely undertrained.”
“And you’re treading on thin ice, lady.” Hudson stood up slowly, directly in front of Sharon. She folded her arms in response, but didn’t budge. “You’re lucky we don’t chain you up and drag you to HQ. You can join the rest of the POW’s.”
“Feel free to try.” Sharon tapped one of her pistols with a single finger. “You’ll likely end up dead. I’d much rather you cooperated – all I want is information.”
“What kind of information?” Hicks shrugged – Hudson stared at him as if he’s spoken out of turn.
“I need to find Lex Luthor’s office. He has something I need to recover.”
“Yeah, well good luck.” Hicks laughed. “LexCorp is nothing but a ghost town now. I was there myself. Whole place is cleaned out…except for the troops.”
“To a moron, perhaps, it would seem that way.” Sharon looked directly at Hudson as she spoke. “I’d like to check myself, if you don’t mind.”
“Who’re you calling a…?”
Hicks watched as Sharon quickly removed one pistol from her belt, hitting Hudson on the side of the head. Hudson was out cold. She turned to Hicks, and smiled. “Would you like to be more cooperative?”
Hicks nodded slowly. “Uh…Two streets down to the left. It’s the tallest building in town, you can’t miss it.”
“Thank you.” Sharon began walking away slowly. As she did, Hicks rose to his feet quickly.
“Wait!” Hicks ran after Sharon, noticing that she placed her hand on her pistol again just as he approached. “Where is my rifle? My radio–”
Hicks froze as he watched a blonde woman a little taller then Sharon step out of a nearby dark alley, wearing both Hicks’ and Hudson’s rifles, and holding the radio. She handed all three of them to Hicks, as he stared at her strangely.
“What’s with your eyes?” He turned to Sharon as he kept pointing at the other woman. “Is she blind or something?”
“No.” The blonde woman smiled as she spoke. Her voice was calm and patient. “I’m not deaf, either.”
Sharon laughed as she walked away with the blonde woman following her. They disappeared down the dark streets, as Hicks stared. He wasn’t sure whether to be angry or frightened by the experience. Either way, he had a story to tell.
“Mom, can we talk for a moment?”
Kara turned quickly to see her daughter Karen standing alone in the doorway of the master bedroom as Kara was hanging up some of her clothing. Karen and Carrie lived in the Fortress now, as suggested by both Professor Xavier and Reed Richards, to help improve their level of maturity as well as their social skills. She just hoped that it wouldn’t do more harm then good, given that her home was on an Earth which closely resembled hell.
“Sure, Karen.” Kara sat down on one of the lounge chairs in the room, while Karen sat on the arm of the chair directly across from her. Kara thought it was a little strange that Karen approached her alone, without Carrie. Most of the time the twins were together.
“I didn’t want to involve Carrie in this. I’m a little afraid you might feel insulted–”
Kara smiled softly. “Nothing you say can change my opinion of either of you. You can tell me anything, Karen. Anything at all.”
Karen closed her eyes and sighed, trying to gather her courage before she spoke. “You don’t…like Lara much, do you?”
“Like her?” Kara laughed. “She hasn’t shown me anything to like, Karen.”
“I was just a little worried that you might be jealous of her.” Karen took another deep breath as she watched Kara’s smile disappear. “I just want you to know…Carrie and I don’t like her better then you. She’s just cool to hang around with. She’s like…a friend, you know? But you’re our mom. There’s no replacement for you.”
“Oh, Karen.” Kara laughed a little. “I didn’t think any such thing. I just worry about what kind of influence she has on you two. She keeps too many secrets.”
“Everyone has secrets, mom. Why should she be any different?”
“Because I fear that–” Kara sighed and looked at the opposite wall for a second, purposely avoiding Karen’s gaze. “She seems to know things, Karen. I worry that she keeps silent because she knows things…about us. Things she’s afraid to tell us.”
“How about asking her, mom?” Karen smiled as she spoke, taking the edge off of her slight rude question. “Maybe she’s just shy. I’ll bet she’s more nervous about talking to you then you are about her.”
“Nervous? What reason would she have to be nervous?”
“Oh, I dunno.” Karen laughed. “Maybe it’s because you’re like…a popular super-hero, and she’s really insecure.”
Kara blinked hard as memories began rushing back to her of Kal-El. All of the times she fought to try and live up to his reputation, to be more like him. And yet, she never seemed to feel like she was even close. Her sharp memory rushed back to the last time she saw Lara – how Lara avoided her gaze, spoke unsteadily to her, and most of the time obeyed her without question. Lara had even killed to protect Kara’s children, just because she feared disappointing her. She remembered hitting Lara once to calm her down…and how Lara, rather then fight back, simply collapsed to the floor and sobbed, as if her whole world had been shattered.
Karen stared at Kara as their eyes met again, noticing the sorrow in Kara’s eyes. It was a look of realization, as if Kara began to feel regret now that she had assembled the pieces of a puzzle who’s solution was right in front of her all along. “Mom?”
“Oh, Rao…I’ve been so unfair to her.” Kara looked away from Karen’s gaze all of a sudden. “You’re right, Karen. I didn’t give her a chance. I was trying to protect you and Carrie from her…and I hurt someone who didn’t deserve–”
“Mom, stop!” Karen stood up and walked over to Kara, hugging her from one side quickly. “You were just behaving like our mom, that’s all – protecting us from a stranger. You did nothing wrong. You just need to give her another chance.”
“I’ll do that, for you and Carrie.” Kara nodded slowly. “If you can trust her, I guess I can too. But she has to promise not to keep so many secrets.”
Karen laughed a little as she stood up to leave the room. “If it means so much to you, mom, I’ll talk to her.”
Kara couldn’t help but smile as she watched Karen leave the room. Her daughter, the peacemaker.
“LaForge to base.”
“Go ahead, LaForge.”
Sharon and Lara were completely oblivious to a radio conversation going on inside LexCorp tower as the walked through the front doors quietly. Lara glanced around the room, feeling a little nervous. She knew they were being watched.
“The two suspects are entering LexCorp now. Please Advise. Over.”
As Lara began to turn toward the stairs, Sharon heard a faint sound emanating through the stairway’s steel door. Unlike Lara, she had been trained to react to any sound, no matter how benign, by taking an alternate route. Sharon turned to Lara and waved her toward the elevators.
“Standby, LaForge. Keep the stairs locked down. Close in when they use the elevators. Over.”
“Affirmative. Over and out. Group six, be alert.”
Sharon placed her left hand on her pistol as the doors to the elevator slid closed almost silently. Lara punched the button which would send them directly to the top floor of the building, to the deserted office of Lex Luthor. Sharon began tapping her pistol nervously as the elevator began to approach it’s stop. Instinct told her that something was wrong. Very wrong.
She nudged Lara lightly, with one hand as she used her other hand to grab the small camera in the elevator, tearing it out of the ceiling quickly. She knew it wouldn’t disable the camera or it’s audio capabilities – but tearing it off of the ceiling would at least make it less useful. Sharon then pointed at the ceiling, indicating to Lara that she meant for them to climb on the roof of the elevator car.
“Surveillance has been taken out, group six.”
Lara climbed through the ceiling grating first, and then helped pull Sharon up quickly. Sharon closed the grating behind her to make sure no one knew they had climbed out, and then began climbing up a ladder at the rear of the elevator shaft quickly. Lara followed as Sharon continued climbing until the elevator car finally stopped.
As soon as the elevator car’s doors opened, they could hear a radio, and heavy boots walking through the elevator car. They could hear the distinctive clicking of powerful rifles tapping against the walls as the soldiers inside the elevator walked around, followed by a distinctive plastic creaking noise which meant the elevator car’s ceiling grating was being removed.
Lara quickly followed as Sharon slid several feet down the ladder suddenly, to remain out of visual range as one of the soldiers popped his head up to the roof of the elevator car. Sharon smiled as she watched the man in the reflection of a knife blade she held up carefully with one hand. He saw nothing in the near pitch-dark elevator shaft.
As soon as the sound of heavy boots moved back out of the elevator, Sharon headed back to the elevator car slowly, noiselessly. Lara followed silently as Sharon approached the car and used her knife again to check the inside. Just as she guessed, the soldiers had propped open the doors of the elevator, and one of them was inside…waiting.
Sharon silently mouthed ‘wait here’ to Lara, and dropped down into the elevator car quickly. All Lara heard was a soft grunt from the man, and then the sound of his body collapsing to to the floor. She then dropped down into the elevator car directly behind Sharon.
They both raced across the hall quickly, just barely above the perceptions of a few soldiers in the hallway, who dismissed their sudden appearance and disappearance as a hallucination. Sharon rushed into Luthor’s office ahead of Lara, to see four soldiers reading a map on Lex Luthor’s desk.
Sharon drew her pistols quickly, aiming them at the man who stood leaning over the map. She subtly signaled Lara to close the door – Lara did, locking it quickly.
“Excuse me for a moment.” Sharon walked toward the four slowly, keeping her pistols trained on them as they watched her crossing the room with their eyes only. As she passed them, she could see that they were reading a map of the building. They must have been trying to track her…but they failed.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” One of the soldiers finally moved, training his rifle on Sharon. She responded in kind, aiming her second pistol on him. She also noticed that through the space the soldier had just vacated, she could see a stack of books. They looked like several copies of the Ancient Book of Rai, sitting among packaging for shipping. They planned on sending the books to someone.
“Ah, just what I was looking for.” Sharon turned to Lara, who understood her though not one word was exchanged. Lara picked up the books and headed toward the hallway. “That’s all I wanted. You can all go back to your work now.”
Sharon left the room running, with Lara close behind. She knew very well what would happen, and the shouts of soldiers from down the hall as she headed back toward the elevators confirmed that. They both dove into the still-open elevator and slipped through the open ceiling grating just as a massive amount of bullets began flying through the hallway toward them.
“We’ll slide down a bit.” Sharon pointed at the elevator cable from a neighboring elevator car. “Then we vanish. You understand, right?”
Lara nodded as she leapt for the elevator cable, sliding down quickly with Sharon just above her. They could hear the shouts of the soldiers above as they took a thirty-second trip to the ground floor. Lara immediately pried the elevator doors open.
Sharon started heading into the lobby first – but then suddenly froze in the doorway. “Oh…hell.”
Lara looked past Sharon to discover why she seemed so surprised – in the lobby of the LexCorp building stood four small dinosaur-like creatures, which were tearing apart the desks next to the entrance. The glass front door was smashed open.
“Velociraptors.” Sharon turned to Lara, a mixture of fear and anticipation in her eyes. “The deadliest carnivores in existence.”
“It’s either bullets or teeth…and there’s only one way out of here.” Lara smiled. Sharon nodded and smiled in return. They both knew they would have to make a run for the doors, and hope for the best.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Lara and Sharon raced across the lobby as quickly as they could. The glass doors seemed miles away as the Raptors noticed the two of them running, and gave chase. It was only seconds before the first soldiers arrived in the lobby, adding yet another threat – another hail of bullets, shredding two of the Raptors as they tore through the lobby. It was just blind luck that the bullets seemed to miss Sharon and Lara. Or was it?
As soon as the two of them ran one more block and hid around a corner, Sharon turned to face Lara. “Those bullets should have hit us, shouldn’t they?”
Lara shook her head slowly as she reached under her shirt with two fingers, pushing them through a small hole in the fabric. “I did nothing to stop the bullets, but I am naturally bullet-proof. You’re just luckier then I am.”
Sharon laughed and shook her head. “When will you learn, Lara? I make my own luck.”
“I’d like to take you to visit someone, Sharon.” Lara smiled as she led Sharon into an abandoned building, to hide from the prying eyes on the street. “I think Kara will like you.”
“Dammit!” Commander Gorman kicked a garbage can angrily as soon as he got the news – that the two women had the drop on Hudson and Hicks, and now the entire sixth group. “Who the heck are these two, anyway?”
Lisa shook her head. “I have no idea, sir.”
“Don’t tell me that!” Gorman snatched two camera monitors from one of the tables and threw them on the floor. “All of this technology. All of our high-tech intelligence. Useless! We don’t even know if they’re still in the city!”
“They haven’t gone past any checkpoints, sir.”
Gorman laughed out loud and shook his head. “They didn’t when they came in, either, Lisa. That means one of two things – either these two are smarter then any of us, or we’re dumber then we think! Which is it, Lisa? Are they smart, or are we dumb?”
“I…I don’t know, sir.”
“Damn.” Gorman threw up his hands and sighed. “Buddy’s gonna bust me for this. I just know it.”
“All he has to know, sir, is that we’ve placed those two on the ‘wanted’ list.”
“What if he finds out what happened, Lisa?” Gorman kicked the garbage can again out of frustration. “He will find out. He always does.”
Lisa folded her arms and sighed as Gorman waited for her answer. “Well, sir…Then we’re busted.”
“You’re honest, I’ll give you that.” Gorman shook his head. “But that’s not what I wanted to hear.”
“Karen! She’s here!”
Carrie’s words were Lara’s only warning before she found two blonde teen-age twins ambushing her with hugs, an instant after she appeared in the entranceway to the Fortress. Sharon stood close behind Lara, smiling with amusement at what was happening in front of her.
Lara returned the hugs and glanced into the living room toward Kara, who stood silently in the doorway. “How did you know I was coming?”
Carrie shrugged. “I don’t know, I just did. Who’s this?”
“Sharon Holmes.” Sharon reached out a hand to give Carrie a handshake. She felt her hand nearly being crushed by the blonde teen until Carrie quickly adjusted her grip when she realized that Sharon was just an ordinary human. Sharon didn’t seem intimidated, however – she just smiled in response.
Karen didn’t seem at all interested in meeting Sharon. The look in her eyes told Lara that she had something on her mind, something that she thought was very important. Lara’s suspicions were confirmed when Karen pulled her aside suddenly.
“Something wrong, Karen?”
Karen nodded. “Mom doesn’t…trust you, Lara. She thinks you keep too many secrets. She thinks you keep secrets about us, and it scares her a little.”
“I see.” Lara sighed and looked away from Karen for a moment. “I keep secrets to protect those I care about–”
“Don’t you see–” Karen shook her head slowly. “–We don’t need your protection. It’s doing more harm then good, Lara. Mom values honesty, and integrity. She thinks you’re being a selfish, that you’re hiding something.”
Lara nodded. “I understand. I just did what I did because–”
“Because you thought the truth would hurt too much?” Karen smiled. “I’ve been there too, Lara. The truth always hurts…but deception hurts more.”
“Does your mom know you’re so philosophical?” Lara laughed and looked into the other room to see that Kara hadn’t moved. “All right, I’ll talk to Kara. But if she tries to kill me, it’ll be up to you to save my life.”
Karen laughed as she led Lara into the living room. “Don’t worry. She’s more reasonable then you think…for a mom.”
Kara walked up to Sharon, shaking her hand lightly and momentarily ignoring Lara’s greeting. She sat down on the couch, indicating for Lara to sit on the chair across from her. Lara complied, sitting down quickly. Karen sat down at the other end of the couch.
“So–” Lara looked at Kara, who was staring at her with an emotionless gaze. She looked at Karen, who was giving her a hopeful look, and then at Sharon and Carrie, who were still talking in the entryway. “–What would you like to know about me?”
“How about what you are?” Kara leaned back and folded her arms as Karen gave her an angry gaze in response to her rather cold sounding question. “I’ve never really trusted mysterious types.”
Lara sighed deeply, clearly pausing for several seconds before opening her mouth to speak. “It’s not really clear to me, Kara. I feel that I had died once, much like you. Only I was restored by the power of a God rather then a practitioner of the Ancient Arts as you were. That’s why I have these…abilities. That’s why I’m…’in touch’ with the universe.”
Kara didn’t seem the least bit shocked at what Lara had said so far – but Lara’s story was compelling enough that nearly everyone who was in the Fortress had gathered in the living room to listen – Carrie and Sharon had walked in, as well as Rogue, and even Krypto.
“My memories of the event are still fuzzy, skewed.” Lara looked around the room as everyone stared at her, waiting for her to continue. “I have other’s memories intermingled with my own. Memories of someone named Lois Lane. A boy named Kon El…people who died in the attack at Cadmus. Thousands of people, Kara. Their blood is on Lex Luthor’s hands. I only wish I could remember more.”
Lara looked down as she held her hands in front of her. They were shaking a little. She closed her eyes and clenched her fists tightly to try and control her physical reaction to such stressful memories. Tears started forming in her closed eyes as she continued. “I tried to keep my memories to myself, Kara, because I see things…painful things…here in Otherverse. I suffer these visions, thoughts and feelings that no one should have to see. Things that will happen, or that have happened. Death, pain…everywhere. I feel them all. It’s…overwhelming.”
Lara opened her eyes again as she felt Kara grip her left hand tightly. She smiled politely at Kara’s encouragement. “I see someone close to you dying, Kara. I don’t know who, or when. I see this place…your home…being destroyed. I see the twins being split up, against their will. I see a man, a military man, having to change everything he believes in to fight a vicious and bloody war…one he’s losing. But he refuses to give up. I see a lone man in a place filled with life, and magic…he feels tortured, persecuted–”
“Wait, wait…stop.” Kara leaned forward toward Lara, looking deep into her tear-filled eyes. “What you’re telling me now makes little sense. Can’t you be more specific? At least about how this effects us?”
Lara shook her head sadly. “I wish I could. These…feelings are all things I know are close to you and the twins somehow. I see a lot of danger ahead for the twins. And for you, if you choose to help in this war–”
“War?” Kara looked at Karen, who seemed to be upset a little bit by everything Lara said. “You mentioned a war twice.”
“Yes.” Lara nodded. “It’s a war that’s already underway. Lex Luthor is working to escalate it.”
“So…why don’t you just like…put a stop to it?” Carrie’s sudden question prompted stares toward her – she just folded her arms, waiting for an answer.
“I can’t.” Lara shook her head quickly. “I’m no Goddess. I don’t have the right to interfere.”
“As far as they’re concerned…you are a Goddess.” Sharon leaned back against the doorway to the kitchen as she spoke. “The trick is to keep them from becoming dependent on you. If you behave like Moses leading them from bondage, they will become attached to you. You can intervene, but you have to be inconspicuous. You have to make it seem like an accident.”
Karen laughed out loud. “Then you truly would be a Goddess, Lara. A real Goddess uses nature and chance to do her bidding.”
“Aren’t I teased enough about that?” Lara laughed a little too, before realizing that Kara had a horrified look on her face. “What’s wrong, Kara?”
“Kal always taught me that it’s wrong to interfere too much. That people have to learn to be self-sufficient.” Kara stood up and paced around the room a little bit. “But I don’t like to stand by and watch people die, either. I was always more sensitive to that then Kal. It was your suggestion, Sharon…what would you do?”
“If I were a Goddess–” Sharon looked around the room to see all eyes on here, including Kara’s – but a little attention never bothered her. “–I would render the Metas, and all weapons of mass destruction powerless. I would level the playing ground, so mere humans…like me…have a fighting chance here.”
The room suddenly fell silent as each person began to silently consider what Sharon had suggested. It would surely change Otherverse Earth from a barely livable hell to something a little more civilized. Something that had hope for a future. No one’s thoughts were more on the future then Kara’s – she wanted…needed…her daughters to live in a world better then the one she discovered. She hoped that one day they would be peacemakers, and protectors here…not part of a war machine.
For Kara, Sharon’s suggestion to Lara seemed more like a salvation then simply idle talk. It sounded so appealing, in fact, that she found herself staring at Lara, fighting her own urge to encourage the idea. But something deep down caused her to hold her tongue. Lara was correct…it wouldn’t be right for her to interfere.
Everyone in the room heard Kara audibly sigh as she sat back down on the couch. She looked at Carrie and Karen sadly, as she realized that she almost sold out the integrity of an entire universe to protect the two things she cared about most – her daughters.
“Lara…Do what you feel is right…for the future.” Kara smiled at her weakly as she spoke. “Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should do.”
“I’ll do that, Kara–” Lara knew what Kara meant by ‘the future’. She looked right at the twins, who were now standing together at one end of the living room, and smiled. Kara knew that Otherverse Earth was a dangerous place for her daughters…and while she wouldn’t admit it plainly, she would do just about anything to keep them safe – even subtly asking someone like Lara for help. “–For the future.”
Kara smiled and nodded at Lara as she and Sharon headed toward the entryway. Kara knew that the two of them would unceremoniously disappear in a flash of light, headed toward their respective homes. She still wasn’t completely sure she could trust her own life to Lara…but it made her feel a little more secure to know that she could trust Lara with her daughters.