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 Kara seemed to be happy for the attention, even though she had been rather withdrawn since.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.”
“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.
“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 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.
“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.
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.
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.