Shadow Crossing, Part 2
Earth-2, before the end of the Multiverse
Your name is Helena Wayne. You are the billionaire daughter of the deceased Bruce and Selina Wayne. You were the child of loving parents, until each met their separate, violent ends.
For several years after your father’s death, you deserted Wayne manor, preferring to live your life as attorney Helena Wayne, partner in “Cranston and Wayne, Attorneys at Law”.
But you could never deny your heritage. For you are the daughter of the Bat and the Cat. You are a predator and you hunt—criminals. And you are the Huntress, with full membership in the Justice Society of America.
Alfred Pennyworth stands beside you. An ancient man, he is both servant and grandfather to you. You see happiness in his eyes, because you have chosen to return to the manor. As Helena Wayne, you rule the manor. And it was your choice to return.
You watch two Kryptonians testing the limits of their powers in the Batcave—your friend and the youngster who has become your ward. You think back on what brought them here.
Dr. Fate had detected a disturbance that even he did not understand in the Cosmos. Unable to rouse the Spectre, he had begun to probe alternate dimensions.
Into one dimension, Dr. Fate sent Superman and the Green Lantern. Your Uncle Clark and your friend Alan Scott were quite surprised to watch a young man in an Earth-1 Superboy costume jump up from the seashore and float past them. In fact, the only one who was more surprised was the young man himself.
Also Clark Kent, the young man had never manifested super powers before. Your Uncle Clark spent time talking to the young man, until they both realized that something was terribly wrong. The sky had suddenly taken on a reddish hue. A wave of something disintegrated everything it touched. In mere minutes, it had flashed through the solar system, attacking Earth. Against such a monstrous thing, there was no defense, no survival.
No one could survive the sweep of anti-matter. No one, except one of two men who had survived it before.
Many years before, a creature named Aquarius had out-powered the Justice Society and the Justice League, resulting in the death of the first Black Canary’s husband, Larry Lance. Two Green Lanterns had come up with an ingenious plan to destroy the creature—they lured Aquarius into an antimatter universe. But to do so, they had to will their power rings to create anti-matter shields for protection.
They were lethally successful. Aquarius had no such shielding. The light show had been reported as quite spectacular.
In the years since the battle with Aquarius, Hal Jordan had left the Green Lantern Corps, but Alan Scott still carried his own Starheart-powered ring. He used that mystic power ring to generate anti-matter shields long enough to bring the three of them back to your universe.
And then the battle began—what to do with the boy. Uncle Clark and Aunt Lois were apartment dwellers who had never raised children, especially not one so badly devastated by the loss of everything he knew. But, your friend, Kara Zor-L, Power Girl, had formed an immediate attachment to him. The first 22 years of her life had been a symbiot ship generated fantasy, after which she had arrived on Earth, only to realize that her entire life had been a lie.
But the Justice Society discounted her application for guardianship. In their eyes, Kara was too erratic, too aggressive an influence. And the boy’s power levels more closely approximated those of the Earth-1 Superman. Adding to their caution, Dr. Fate felt compelled to dedicate his powers and talents elsewhere: to monitor the Cosmos in search of what had ended the boy’s universe. And the Green Lantern had two problems of his own—Jade and Obsidian of Infinity Inc., who claimed to be his children. So, Superman proposed to send the young Superboy to Earth-1.
The Justice Society put the matter to a vote. By the time it came to you, it was a mere formality, or so the elders of the Justice Society believed. As a trained attorney, as well as the daughter of the Batman, you would see the logic of the situation. And you did.
Logic’s first rule—never, ever underestimate the living legacy of the Batman. Wordlessly, you handed a guardianship order to your Uncle Clark. It awarded custody of one minor, Clark Kent, to Helena Wayne. You handed a second order to him, restraining the Justice Society from exiling the boy from Earth-2. And then you spoke with barely-controlled fury that reminded the Justice Society of just why the Bat was both so feared and respected.
“Have you forgotten?” You charged Superman. “How can you forget the Kents, who raised you with no powers of their own? And you?” You turned on Dick Grayson. “My own older ‘brother’, whom my father took in under almost exactly the same circumstances. How dare you!”
You were no fool. Lois Lane Kent had helped you to carefully rehearse your lines. Uncle Clark would realize that soon enough. But until he did, surprise was on your side.
You stood and walked over to him. “The House of the Bat watches over the House of ‘L.’” Or, was it ‘El’ in this case? “I rule the House of the Bat and you do NOT have my permission to remove him from this world!”
Dick Grayson appeared horrified. Most of the Justice Society simply looked confused. Wildcat finally nodded agreement and stood behind you. After a moment, the Green Lantern nodded confident agreement and stood beside you. You watched renewed hope light in Kara’s eyes and the boy’s. And then, Superman began to chuckle.
You knew you had won.
Gracious in defeat, Superman had helped to build training tools for the boy and Kara. And Infinity Inc. soon found the boy as well. And the one girl on the planet who could keep up with him, entered his life. Young Clark and Jennie-Lynn Hayden soon discovered the universe to be their playground.
You hoped that they would not become serious too quickly, and they did not. Both were vulnerable and they knew it.
You had no doubt of Jade’s paternal parentage. Bright and fearless, the young orphan resembled her father in so many ways. But the young girl caused your blood to run cold. Because you sensed that she represented the end of everything you would ever know. And the feeling would not go away.
Alterverse, above the Sentinel’s Lair, 24 hours after the conclusion of Chapter 15
Faith Powers Scott leaned against the railing. She felt the November wind blow across her raven-colored hair. As she heard footsteps approach from below, she breathed in the sharp, clean air. Faint though the footsteps were, she already knew the identities of the owners. The sharpened senses she inherited from her mother missed little, but she rarely brought attention to that fact.
Somewhat of an introvert, she treasured her time alone. She had taken the rare opportunity to shed her working clothes in favor of more casual dress, jeans and one of her favorite ‘JSA, The First, The Best’ sweatshirts.
Faith smiled at a memory that warmed her. Discovering Faith’s attachment to her father’s sweatshirt, Molly Mayne had, with her usual ruthless efficiency, commandeered a warehouse full of them.
The approaching footsteps recaptured her attention. Ambivalent about their owners, Faith knew she could not escape her responsibilities to those around her. So she allowed them to find her.
“Gee.” She heard Iris Grayson behind her. “We figured you’d be off somewhere with Superboy, making out.”
Faith turned to face Iris Grayson and Linda Danvers. Iris wore her Kid Flash costume, while Linda wore more casual gear. Given her green skin, however, no one would have doubt of Jade’s identity. By contrast, Faith looked out of place. Which was fine with her. She forced herself to be pleasant.
“Sam is off with Alan and Jay.” She advised. “Male bonding at its best: I do believe Alan intends to teach Sam the finer aspects of appreciating feminine behavior from a male point of view. The male animal has such odd frames of reference!”
“That doesn’t intimidate you?” Iris asked earnestly.
Faith’s eyebrows rose. “Intimidate? No. I am fortunate to have a small group of close friends, and those I trust.”
Iris stuttered. “B-but that’s your boyfriend!”
Faith chuckled. “Perhaps things are not as serious as some might believe. Or perhaps I believe Sam would benefit from Alan and Jay’s guidance. Or perhaps Sam is already many of the things I know he will become. I will leave that to you to determine.” She smiled mysteriously.
Linda changed the subject. “I’m surprised you’ve already forgiven us.”
Faith shrugged. “There was very little to forgive. It was my unfair treatment of Sam that created the situation and I did learn quite a lot.”
“Really? Linda asked.
“Yes.” Faith smiled. “I learned that my biases had skewed my perceptions. I also learned quite a bit about the both of you.”
They eagerly waited for her to continue.
“About you Linda?” She smiled. “I learned that it is never too late to correct a mistake. That some will redeem their mistakes, given half a chance. That is a sign of growing maturity.”
“And about me?” Iris asked with curiosity.
“I learned two important things, I am pleased to say.” Faith grinned.
“Really?” Iris took the bait.
“Yes!” Faith answered enthusiastically. “Thanks to you I now know that I was a better guide to Dawn than I ever dreamed! And I learned that the socially inept do have true value to society!” She smiled sweetly.
“Thank you,” Iris began, “I—HEY!”
Linda roared with laughter.
Faith chuckled. “One should always seek to forgive, even if one does not forget. Please do close your mouth, Iris. Tiny birds are still seeking small, but warm places to weather the winter. I wish to spare both you and the bird a mutually unpleasant experience.”
Iris slowly closed her mouth.
“Now I must go.” Faith informed them. “We must leave shortly and I have a rare opportunity to visit with one of my heroes. Someone I have only just learned to appreciate.” Emerald fire roared and Faith became the Huntress once more. “Ta Ta!” The Huntress ascended to the heavens atop a column of green flame.
They watched her speed from sight. Iris finally broke the silence with a reverent tone. “Lady Green. That’s what I want to be when I grow up.”
Linda snorted. “You’re full of surprises, today! Lady Green? Where did that come from?”
Iris’ eyes took on a distant look. “Honey, I know that everyone thinks I’m a jerk and that sometimes you do too.”
“B-but…” Linda stumbled.
Iris smiled. “And that’s ok, because I usually am. And I’m good at it. But I earn my keep, too. I always have.”
“Yep.” Linda agreed. “You do. And you’re a hero, too! But why did you call her ‘Lady Green’? She took a shot at you, but you sure don’t seem upset.”
“I deserved that for the stunt I pulled.” Iris chuckled. “But hey, haven’t you ever watched how she does what she does? I do. It takes me back to a lot of stories I’ve read. Stuff like Camelot with all its Lords and Ladies. Good stuff to read when you don’t want to go outside in the middle of the winter. I gotta admit I always wondered why anyone could look up to the people in those books. And that code of chivalry. I used to laugh at it!”
“Yeah?” Linda asked. “So?”
“My Dad tried to explain it once.” Iris smiled. “What makes a Lady? A sense of class, a sense of grace, the ability to keep one’s wit in the most precarious of situations, and the ability to recognize your own imperfections. And as I watched her fly away, I realized that’s who she is—the Lady of the Green Flame—the Lady Green.”
Iris pondered. “I know we’re already women, but I wonder if we could find it in our hearts to forgive as easily as she did.”
Linda swallowed. “I have people I still can’t forgive. There are people I know didn’t mean to hurt me, but they still did. But I just can’t find it in me to forgive them. I guess I’m not the Lady Green.”
“I never said she was perfect.” Iris smiled gently. “Still, I wonder who her heroes are? Who on this world would inspire the Lady Green?” Iris glanced at Linda. “Hey? Linda, are you OK?”
“No.” Linda answered with fear in her eyes. “Next time please keep your heroes to yourself. I can’t live up to this one!” She fled skyward, leaving a trail of green flame behind her.
“Linda?” Iris called. “Linda?”
The Inheritors’ Earth—Huntress Wood
Lois walked outside the Oracle cave. She heard disturbing, strained sounds from the undergrowth.
“Heeerruuupp” Lois heard. “Hoooomph.”
“Barbara?” She called. “Are you all right?”
“HOOMMPH.” Lois heard Barbara Gordon lose part of her breakfast. “Heeemmph.”
Well, at least she’s not in costume. Lois grimaced. Not that she’ll be able to wear it much longer, anyway. Lois rushed back inside for a wash cloth and towel. She opened one of the cabinets Kid Flash had kept stocked. Thank you Dawn! She rushed back outside as Barbara lost the last of her breakfast.
Lois did her best not to look at the bushes. She waited until Barbara’s breathing steadied, and then cleaned Barbara up and walked her back inside.
“Barbara, I know you don’t want to hear this, but you don’t have the flu.”
“Of course I do!” Barbara rejoined. “What else could it be?” She snapped. “Don’t say it!”
Lois suppressed a chuckle. “Barbara, there’s nothing to be ashamed of! It’s perfectly natural.”
Barbara growled. “For you, maybe! But I’m Batgirl!”
“Babs,” Lois cautioned, “you need to tell Dick.”
“I will.” Barbara agreed. “Just as soon as I can recover enough to leave.”
“Oh?” Lois smelled victory as well as Barbara’s expelled breakfast. “And how soon will that be?”
“According to you?” Barbara stood up again. “Around nine months!” She bolted back out of the cave and towards the bushes.
Resigned, Lois retrieved another washcloth and towel. She heard Barbara shriek. “If he ever does this to me again, he’s going to be ‘It’ Grayson!”
Alterverse—San Francisco Bay—the cliffs overlooking Ocean Beach
Alanna Scott looked out across the bay at the Pacific Ocean. A sunny day, she heard the seagulls arguing in the distance. I remember when Dad and I used to come out here together. Now, he doesn’t seem to have any time for me. Everything is Linda: Linda this and Linda that.
I do love my sister, but why can’t anyone see me any more? It’s almost as if I don’t exist. As if I’m not good enough. And no one even remembers my real Mom any more, not to mention my real Dad. Dad, I miss you so much. I wish you could call me your little angel, just one more time. Please?
God, I feel guilty for feeling like this! I do important things, but I just feel lost in the shadows. I feel like I don’t have a place here anymore. I just feel so disconnected from this place. It’s like I’m not supposed to be here and the feeling just keeps getting worse. Geez, that sounds awful.
“Lannie?” She heard a slightly accented voice behind her. “Are you all right?”
Surprised, Alanna turned towards a concerned Faith and spoke. “If you’re looking for Linda, she’s not here. She’s either at the Lair or saving some other universe.” Then she considered Faith’s words. “Lannie? No one but Anna has called me that since my Mom died.”
“I know.” Faith agreed. “Sam wanted to meet this world’s Lois Lane—Lois Lane Luthor. I must admit I was surprised to find that she and Anna Lane were your Mother’s cousins through her mother’s side.” She chuckled. “Alan teased that you are related to most of the people on the planet. Now I can see why.”
Alanna waited for her to continue.
“Lannie, once Anna realized what I was, she decided to trust me with your story. I had no idea that you were as close to her as you were.”
Alanna smiled. “Anna is the salt of the Earth. She was my Mother’s best and sometimes only friend. I get by to visit when I can. She must have made quite an impression on you to induce you to use that nickname.”
Faith frowned. “Actually she said it was the one that you preferred. She said that Alan does not prefer it, but he does not have to. Have you told anyone else of it?”
“No.” Alanna admitted. “I doubt they would care. I’m supposed to be my Grandfather’s shadow, so most would prefer me to use his name. Easier to remember.”
Faith slowly nodded. “I suppose I should be grateful not to be called Alfaithia.” She made a slashing gesture across her throat.
Alanna smiled. “But that’s not what you’ve come to say. What can I do for you?”
Faith’s face displayed her apprehension. “Anna says that you are the heart and soul of your family. You are the one who holds it together, most of all.”
“That is kind of her.” Alanna smiled again.
“I need…” Faith confessed. “I want to understand the effects of what I’ve done and I think you’re the best to tell me.”
“Moi?” Alanna chuckled ruefully. “I’m the child of shadow and you are one of the children of the light. I’d think that I’m the last person you would come to.”
Faith snorted. “I don’t believe that for a minute. Just because light can’t be seen, doesn’t mean it’s not there. And, while none of us are angels, I just don’t see you as evil incarnate.”
Alanna smiled gently. “You know, I had never thought of it that way. Thank you for that. But what effects?”
Faith grimaced. “Lannie, when I battled Gaea I touched power far beyond my comprehension. I somehow made things happen, and when I was done, I had the young woman we call Linda in my hands. I have no idea what kind of a job I did, or whether I should have done what I did. I just know you got stuck cleaning up my mess.” She looked up to the taller woman. “And I’ve never even said ‘thank you.’”
Alanna smiled sweetly. “That is very kind of you. Especially since I yanked Linda from your arms and ran away with her.”
Faith nodded. “And you put Linda together again, one more time. With no thought for yourself. I admire you for that. But is Linda, Linda?” She scowled. “I did not know Linda and what I did know I was not particularly fond of. But still, I wanted to give her a real chance.”
“No.” Alanna spoke gently. “That isn’t the Linda we knew at the end. Not really. But is she an older version of the Linda I knew and respected before she bonded with Gaea? I think so. Is that the Linda who won the Order of Oa?” She smiled fiercely. “You betcha. Right down to her native abilities. I’ve seen everything but the demoness.”
Faith smiled warily. “You may yet, if it was one of her native abilities.”
Alanna nodded. “She’s back on her feet. I see her only occasionally now. She’s surrounded by her friends in the Corps, our folks, the Amazons, and who knows who else.”
Faith nodded slowly. “I must have missed on the common sense. If I’d had the fortune to find someone who cared as much for me as you do for her, I wouldn’t let her get that far away.”
Alanna chuckled. “But you did. His name is Sam and he is crazy about you.”
Faith sighed. “Lannie, I’m robbing the cradle and I can’t help myself. And I wonder what kind of damage I’m doing to him. He hasn’t had a chance to grow up yet. But I just can’t find it in myself to walk away.”
She drew a sharp breath. “Lannie, I’m not even sure I can claim to be human. I don’t know who I am any more. I nicked myself while carving a cross-bow bolt last night and all I got was a small jet of green flame.”
Alanna smiled knowingly. “I know what Dad would say. He’d say that Sam isn’t human, either. And as to who you are? You’re a Green Lantern first of all. One of thousands and thousands of beings to carry that distinction—almost none of whom claim to be human. And if you hadn’t been born with the power, you would have earned the right to wield it. Donna said that you are listed in the Book of Oa. And that’s what makes it official.”
“Would you be willing to adopt?” Faith quipped with a grin. “Dawn and I would love to volunteer!”
Alanna snorted. “As to Sam’s age? How old are you, really? You claim to be twenty, but that’s only a number to you. How old were you when your aging slowed? Sixteen? Eighteen? You have a wisdom beyond your years, but you don’t look older than Sam.”
Faith stared. Alanna chuckled. “I had the opportunity to talk to your Helena Wayne. She told me her story, and what they discovered about the Thorn. And Faith, Linda isn’t the only member of the family with a touch of the old gift. I can see the tie that binds you to Sam. And I am impressed!”
Alanna laughed. “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”
“Egad!” Faith sighed. “Now I’m related to Lamont Cranston!”
Alanna howled with laughter.
Once a ramshackle farm, its current occupants had spent the last two years bringing it back to life. Fred and Edna Danvers and their son Wally had put their blood, sweat, and tears into making the place a success.
Their sole regret in life had been the mistreatment of their adopted daughter. Although that mistreatment had been due to the interference of the mad god Ares, that fact did little to comfort them.
Still, they did what they could to make up for that act of inhumanity. They opened their home to other children in need of a place to stay. And they had restored much of their reputation, though they understood that the child they had raised almost from birth still feared them.
But understanding is very different from accepting.
A quarter mile from the farm
“Ya doesn’t have to do this.” Kilowog stood with Linda. “You got a right to be afraid. Nuthin good ever happened to you there.”
“I have to.” Linda spoke with fear in her eyes. “But I’m so afraid. I have such horrible memories.” She swallowed. “The Resistance has said they’ve changed back to the people I once remembered. But what if they haven’t?”
“Ya doesn’t have to go.” Kilowog emphasized.
Linda swallowed again. What would Lady Green do? Damn you, Iris! “Please walk with me Kilowog.” She reached her hand into that of the gigantic creature. He nodded and began to walk beside her.
They walked up the dirt road and stopped not far from the entrance to the farm. Linda could see the side of the sign carrying the name of the farm.
“Pretty stupid, huh?” Linda asked. “I’m one of the most powerful beings in this universe and I’m afraid to walk down that road.”
“I’ll go wit’ you.” Kilowog assured her. “I won’t leave you to walk alone.”
Linda smiled warmly. “Thank you.” She breathed deeply. As they walked on, Linda stopped again when she could read the entry sign to the farm.
Kilowog watched the beginnings of a smile cross her face. She shifted from Jade’s costume to more casual clothing. And she suppressed the green flame—the brown eyes and hair reappeared with porcelain skin.
Kilowog understood. He patted her on the head and departed skyward.
Linda took one more look at the name on sign and walked the rest of the way to the farm house: ‘Linda’s Place’.
Inheritor’s Earth—Huntress’ Wood
Lois walked out of the cave. Searching for Barbara, she finally found the operational lead of Oracle sitting in the Mountain Lions’ graveyard. But Lois realized that Barbara was not alone; she had two more silent watchers. Diana watched from the trees while Charlie watched from only three yards away from the despondent Batgirl.
Lois intentionally stepped on noisy undergrowth as she approached. As she had hoped, Barbara looked up.
“Want to talk?” Lois asked with concern.
“No.” Barbara answered truthfully. “Not really. But Lois, I feel like a fool. This is happening to me and I’m running off to hide in the woods. Geez! Not what you would expect from Batgirl! I should be out doing everything I can as long as I can. This is really going to screw up my work!”
Suppressing a chuckle, Lois sat down beside her. “Tell me about it! I haven’t written a single newspaper article in 16 years! But, on the other hand, Sam is what has gotten me through the last 16 years.”
Barbara stared at her. “Yeah, sure. Parental responsibility. I’m not sure I’m ready for it. Ray raised the girls. I terrified Faith the first time we met.”
Lois laughed with amazement. “You? You terrified Faith? How?”
Barbara smiled wryly. “First time I ever met her was just after she had dared to second guess one of my operations. She put her foot down and Ray backed her up. The operation had to be cancelled. And I just had to express myself to the little twit who had dared to interfere!”
Lois raised an eyebrow.
Barbara continued. “Imagine my fury when I met the tiny 12 year old girl who dared to open her mouth. She was somewhere around four feet eight. And I raged. She just looked at the ground. And I raged some more. And when I finally asked her why she had interfered, she barely squeeked out that it was an ambush and she just couldn’t let it happen. She explained why every one of the people we sent in would have died. And then Ray found us.” Barbara grimaced. “And he cleaned my clock. I had no idea how shy that little girl was. And I had no idea how easily she could have killed me at any time.”
Lois frowned. “I never realized. Ray never mentioned it and Faith wouldn’t.”
Barbara chuckled. “After Ray and I had it out, I went looking for her. Imagine my surprise when I found the little girl huddled against a family of mountain lions. Cat and her kits—Faith’s family. And I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about her. But the cats knew she feared me. And that did not please them at all!”
She laughed. “I was lucky to get out of there with my life. Faith had to create vine barriers to hold the cats back—they were not happy and, vines or no, they almost caught up to me! I barely made it to the underground caverns I had used to get into the Wood. Cat never really did trust me after that.”
Babs smiled. “It wasn’t until later I realized how much effort Faith had put into keeping me alive. There were vines across the cavern entrance and she was on top of them. You see, once the cougars had gotten past her original barriers, she had outraced them to get to the cave and block it off.”
“Hell of an introduction to the Wood.” Lois quipped.
Barbara nodded. “And that’s what makes this all so funny. Because her Wood is the only place I feel safe. Her cat is watching over me right now. And so is the spirit she and the Scooby gang invited into her Wood.”
Leesburg, Virginia—the Danvers farm kitchen
Edna Danvers held the headless chicken up in front of two of the older orphan girls. “Now comes the fun part—getting the feathers off. Everything else is easy.”
One of the girls cracked. “For us, or for the chicken?”
“No comment.” Edna chuckled. We laugh too rarely around here. It is so good to hear them feel safe enough to laugh.
Edna heard the screen door open at the front of the house. She heard one of the older boys walk to the door. “I’m Timmy Drake. Can I help you?”
His manners are certainly improving. She grabbed another handful of the bird’s feathers.
“Miss?” Timmy asked. “Are you all right?”
“I think so.” Edna heard the voice that haunted her nightmares. “Just give me a moment. This place is so different from the last time I was here. Believe me, it’s a much happier place.”
The two girls watched Edna as her eyes lost focus. Linda?
They heard the screen door close. Light, but firm footsteps crossed the floor. And the voice took on new confidence. “Of course the last time I was here I frightened every animal on the farm. I’m surprised the livestock isn’t running from me.”
Timmy Drake laughed. “I like an active imagination.” Then he looked at a pencil drawing on the wall. “Wait a minute. You’re her. You’re…”
“Linda!” Edna Danvers charged to the front of the house.
Meanwhile, her young charges debated how to retrieve the chicken carcass from the ceiling.
Alanna and Faith sat at the edge of a cliff overlooking the bay. Their feet dangled over the edge.
“Oh, geez.” Alanna laughed. “I have so enjoyed this conversation. I’ve never been able to talk like this to a member of my own family before. Helps to take a little of the sting out of being one of the children of darkness.”
Faith frowned. “I don’t think you are. It may sound odd, but when I saw you in my father’s apartment, you had a deep violet glow about you. It seemed similar to Hallie Jordan’s Star Sapphire powers. I don’t see it here, but my eyesight may be a little sharper in my home universe.”
“Odd.” Alanna shrugged. “Not that I doubt it.”
Faith smiled and began to enthuse. “Give me a chance to see it again! You must come and visit! Meet Charlie! And better yet, meet some of the many young men I must now leave in my past. A quick afternoon trip for you! And you don’t even have to pass through the Great Portal to get to my world!”
Alanna looked thoughtful. “I think I will. You know, it’s strange—when I visited your world, I felt really good. I don’t know how to explain it, but your world affects me in some way.”
“Hmmm.” Faith pondered. “Maybe you’re more powerful in my universe for some reason. Or maybe you just sense how welcome you are there! Come spend some time with Connor or with Dawn’s cousin, Wally. He’s a little older, but still very cute.”
Alanna guffawed. “Little Miss Matchmaker.”
Faith leaned back and looked up at clouds in the sky. “Maybe. Maybe I just like to see good people happy. Maybe I’m recruiting. Either way,” she handed Alanna a small device, “this will let you contact the Wood when you do come. Even if it’s just a couple of hours, please do come.”
“I will. And I mean that.” Alanna took the communications device, feeling a chill as she did. I feel as if I’ve opened a door. She looked again at the Huntress, this time with her psychic senses. Alanna frowned. I don’t believe what I’m seeing. How can my tie to you be so strong? I barely know you. You’re the half-sister my mother might have had. And I sense that I have some of the same tie to Sam.
“Alanna?” She heard Faith. “Are you all right?” She felt Faith touch her. And she felt powerful images flashing into her mind—an Earth she barely knew. A barely familiar face looking at her with love in its eyes. The sound of a child robbing her of sleep—but sleep she barely missed as she picked it up to hold it again. A sense that her life had and would make a difference. A face that appeared to be Kira Jor-El or Kara El, but was neither. Friends that would stand beside her all of her days, and more.
But not in Alterverse.
“Alanna?” Faith asked again. Alanna felt the flood of emotions from ever more images—battles fought, plans made, enemies defeated, and the face of her concerned kinswoman. But a face altered from the one she knew today, a face that went with the name known across the universe…
She sighed. “I’m fine, Lady V. Just give me a minute.”
Faith watched her with concern. Lady V?
Alanna saw flashes again. Places that could never be. Battles that could never be won. An Earth with a burgeoning population. Another child and another. She looked down at the arms holding the children. They were hers, but not blue.
A sense of a destiny claimed. A universe free of the Kayzik, but with an even more deadly challenges. Oa. Donna Troy. Barbara Gordon. Lois Lane Kent. Dick Grayson. Hippolyta. Mechanical transports. Is that a car?
Alanna felt the images fade. After a moment she sighed and smiled at Faith. “The old gift strikes again. I’m all right, Lady V.”
“That’s twice you’ve called me that.” Faith observed.
Alanna smiled. “The first of so many times.”
Faith watched her with concern, but let the subject drop.
The Inheritors’ Earth—Huntress Wood
Lois brushed away snow from a rock and sat with Barbara in the mountain lions’ graveyard. Batgirl’s eyes had lost their focus.
“I saw Dick so rarely in the years between Bruce’s death and your arrival in the Wood. Once we got Oracle up and really running, you were always fairly far away. And I didn’t want to take the risk of having someone track me. So, the few times you did see me seemed like coincidences, although they really weren’t.”
Lois nodded. “Must have been difficult to keep your distance.”
Barbara closed her eyes. “It was. You don’t know how relieved I was when Faith showed an interest in your case. I did everything I could to peak her interest. I knew that she could devote time and effort to it that I would not dare to as Oracle’s lead. And because she wasn’t Dick Grayson’s girlfriend, no one thought twice about some of her more interesting suggestions. In fact, she mobilized far more resources than I would ever have dreamed possible. And Ray didn’t blink an eye. Anything his little girl wanted, she got.” Barbara glanced at Lois. “Don’t let them fool you. They’re much closer than even they know.”
“And Dawn?” Lois asked.
Barbara chuckled. “Poor extraverted child stuck in the Wood. I could relate to Dawn. I almost took her out of here a dozen times. But to what purpose? After her mother’s death, Dawn craved security. And in Ray and Faith, she has it in spades. I know she has more boyfriends than I could count. But what holds Dawn together is her sense of family.”
“And yours. I’ve noticed that about you. When the world overwhelms you, you always come back here.”
Barbara stared out into the distance. “The Gotham I once knew is history. The criminals run the city because only they can. My Dad is long gone, so is Bruce. And while I love Dick, there is so much we don’t know about each other.”
She gazed at Lois. “I’m not like Donna with Themyscira. And I don’t dream of returning to Metropolis. Nor am I comfortable to just hang my cowl wherever I am. So, this has become the only home I have left. At least for now.”
She sat up and laughed harshly. “I suppose that when I was a little girl, I dreamed that I’d be a great Lady with my own domain. Instead, I wind up on Faith’s mystic mountain with Charlie, the four-footed bouncer.” She laughed more easily. “This is his domain. The only other cougars you’ll see around here are his ladies, whose hunting territories overlap his. And Charlie is quite the gentleman.” She guffawed. “I suppose he would be Lord Charles, the heir apparent to the young Lady.”
Lois raised an eyebrow. “A little catty, don’t you think?”
Barbara chuckled. “Let me ask you a question. When Faith suddenly manifested all that power, were you afraid?”
Lois pondered. “Come to think of it, no. I was amazed and astonished, but never afraid.”
“Sam and Dick said the same thing.” Barbara confirmed. “Dick couldn’t figure out why he was only angry and not afraid. Of course, Ray only worried about Dawn. But consider it. The daughter of the Thorn manifests enough power to core the planet and no one worries. She goes waltzing off with your little boy and you don’t object. Mom!”
Lois answered with hesitation. “I don’t know. When I first saw her, I had no idea who she was. But I couldn’t ignore the strength of her character. And I watched how good she was with him. She listened to Sam Lane, not the son of Superman. And I saw a change in him that I had never expected to see. He’s becoming more like his father every day—and for all the right reasons.”
Barbara smiled. “Ray raised quite a Lady. And from what I hear, Dawn puts her Alteverse counterpart to shame. I wonder if even Ray appreciates just what he has accomplished with the girls.”
Lois laughed. “I didn’t realize you were such a fan.”
Barbara smiled pleasantly. “I didn’t either. But now I understand something I never understood before. For all the harassment I’ve handed them, Ray, Faith, and Dawn are my family and they’ll stand by me no matter what. I’m not alone and I never will be again. I have come home to where I belong. And my child will belong here, too.”
Lois countered. “Barbara, you have a lot of friends. And what about Dick? He loves you.”
Barbara smiled. “I know. But I needed to understand who I was before I understood who I was with Dick and this new life growing inside me. And now I do.”
Lois waited. Barbara grinned and stood up. “Want to watch me waddle back to the Oracle Cave? I need to let Mr. Grayson know just what he’s accomplished.” She took a long breath of fresh air. “You were right, you know. This Wood is a magic place. This is where tragedy turns to triumph. And this is the place where love grows.” Barbara giggled and patted her stomach. “And I’ve got proof!”
Gotham City—after dark
Costumed as Raven, Helena Wayne stood atop the Gargoyle at the peak of the Wayne building. She scanned the horizon.
The Amazon companion Hippolyta had assigned to her, Stella, had insisted on joining her. Helena had laughed at the idea, but then suggested putting together a costume for the Amazon. Selina had snickered at the result. Helena, with her hair tied back, dressed in a costume very much like Nightwing’s. And Stella had worn a costume that somewhat resembled Dick Grayson’s Robin costume. Raven and Sparrow Hawk. Selina warned them that Dick was soon to gloat insufferably.
Helena glanced at her new companion and wondered. She adjusts to everything I do. It’s as if she’s done this before. She knows things about the Batcave and me that no one else knows. Sometimes I feel like I know her better than I know my own brother. This is too weird.
Stella’s eyes displayed intense concentration and an inner struggle. “Helena, I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just say it. When I’m in the Batcave, or on patrol with you, I feel like I’ve come home. I don’t know why. I’ve lived for thousands of years on Paradise Island, but it’s only the last few days that I’ve felt alive.”
Helena shrugged. “I know. You just ‘fit’. I can’t explain it. But Alfred sure seems to like you. Mom won’t admit it, but she’s glad I’m not out here alone.”
She changed the subject. “What does Stella stand for?”
Stella chuckled. “It’s Greek for what Hippolyta calls me: Star. Stella is Star. Hippolyta says I peer into the sky so much because I’m looking for answers out there, somewhere.” Stella pointed into the sky. Then she tilted her head sideways. “Hear that?”
Helena struggled to listen. After a moment, she shrugged.
“Can’t you see it?” Stella looked towards the Gotham Park. “Idiot with a machine gun chasing after another idiot with a rifle. Damn. Innocents might get hurt!”
Stella stood up and jumped towards the park.
Wind-gliding. Helena observed. But she’s moving much too quickly. Helena jumped with a grappling hook loaded in her crossbow.
Alterverse, Sentinel’s Lair
Sam walked with Kira through the bowels of the Lair, towards the spacecraft hanger. Kira gestured towards two spacecraft in the bay. “The bigger ship of those two is the one that Jor-El and Lara used to send me to Daxam. The smaller one carried Lyla and Kal here.”
“Odd that you had the bigger ship.” Sam remarked. “I wonder why.”
“Simple.” Kira responded. “It was the first built and it was meant to be more general purpose. There is a lot of extra shielding, automatic weaponry, and cargo space that doesn’t appear in Mother’s ship. I think Jor-El intended to allow members of the Daxam Resistance to travel with me once I reached adulthood. But Mother’s ship had a different purpose.”
“How so?” Sam asked with curiosity.
Kira smiled with pride. “Commander Lyla Lerrol is the best damned fighter pilot ever born to Krypton: absolutely the best! Jor-El custom built the ship for her exclusive use. It was built to fight, not to transport. It’s a weapon intended for the ultimate warrior.”
Kira gestured to the ship. “Lyla took out 30 Kayzik ships on her way out of Krypton’s orbit. She destroyed another two hundred during the first half of her flight. And then she changed her strategy. She did not want to be found, so she laid a false trail and used black holes to cover her tracks.” Kira pursed her lips. “That was the other major modification Jor-El made to both ships. With a superhuman piloting, the ship had to be able to take the same stresses she could.”
Kira guided Sam back to her ship. She pointed out the crew and passenger areas of the ship, the advanced computer consoles, and the work areas. Then she walked Sam into Lyla’s ship.
“I can’t believe they are so different.” Sam remarked. “This one seems so barren by comparison.” He walked into the pilot’s compartment and looked at the steering yoke that still bore the impressions of Lyla’s fingers. He observed the specialized gear. “Jor-El gave her every advantage, didn’t he?”
“She needed it.” Kira stated. “She was the decoy for my rocket. I was safe because no one was looking for me. The entire damned Kayzik fleet was looking for her. And she still made it.” Kira walked him out of the fighter. “My ship operates easily by computer. Lyla’s doesn’t. And it only operates for her.”
They walked away from the ships and back down the hallway. They were startled to hear cursing down a side hallway. Confused, they flew over a series of boxes that formed an obstacle course in the hallway and entered the only open door.
“Great.” Bruce Wayne mumbled as he scribbled on a whiteboard. “The kids from Krypton. Little Mary Sunshine and Lady Green’s arm candy.”
“That’s little Kira Sunshine, Bats, darling.” Kira retorted. “Get it right!”
“Lady Green?” Sam queried. “That’s a new one.”
Bruce smirked. “That’s what Iris Grayson calls her. The fastest mouth alive strikes again.”
Sam looked up at the formulas that spread against the walls. “Hyperspace formulas and black hole pressure inversion formulas. I’m impressed!”
“Superboy can read!” Bruce remarked with mock exasperation. “Truthfully, I investigated Lyla’s logs of her trips here from Krypton. She made several impossible jumps and I was curious how she did it. She jumped much farther than she should have been able to.”
Kira pondered. “This isn’t like you to be so interested in theory.”
Bruce nodded. “That’s what I hate about Kryptonians. I haven’t met a stupid one yet.” He chuckled. “Kira, what I’m trying to do is make use of black holes to increase a ship’s hyperspace travel velocity. I’ll admit I’m having some problems with these equations.”
Sam scanned the formulas. “No wonder—that constant isn’t. It’s a constant plus an inverse square function that only applies within the gravity well of a black hole.”
“Explain.” Bruce challenged.
Sam nodded. “Not long ago, Faith wound up on the event horizon of a black hole. She rescued a ship that was falling inside. The Myrg Empress she saved handed her a copy of the pressure readings. Faith took the copy back to Ray.”
Sam shrugged. “Ray was like a kid in a candy store. Ray Palmer’s powers come from his use of a fragment of a white dwarf, so this was right up his alley. He worked the formulas out and tried to explain them to Faith, Dawn, and I. Within minutes, I think Dawn was somewhere in Japan and Faith was fast asleep on a table. So I got the lecture.”
Sam modified the formula. “Now, try it.”
Bruce stared at the modified formula. He entered several numbers into a compu-pad, and inserted the results into his whiteboard formulas. He mumbled to himself with a chuckle. “Lady Green’s observant arm candy.”
“I can live with that.” Sam grinned.
“When you’re ready,” Kira advised Bruce, “you can use my ship to try your formulas out. It’s certainly not doing much good lying in the hanger bay.”
“A very gracious offer.” Bruce recognized. “Thank you.”
“I just figured I would save you the trouble.” Kira laughed. “Your Kryptonese is pretty good, but last night you told the ship to eat blue mushrooms. It will accept English commands now.”
Sam laughed at Bruce’s startled expression.
(Editor’s note—to be continued in Alterverse Book 2: Freedom Force Prelude)
Resistance Headquarters, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky—Lois Lane Luthor’s Quarters.
Lois chatted with her sister, Anna Lane. “It’s so hard to believe! There is another me, somewhere out there! And she’s the mother of a Kryptonian.”
Anna chuckled. “Well, it’s like I’ve always said: with genes as good as yours, there should be more of you!”
Lois howled with laughter. “Of course, maybe we did get mixed up at birth. Maybe you’re really Lois! Lex married the wrong twin!”
They heard a male voice reply gently. “That might explain a lot of things, I think.” Alan Scott entered the room in casual clothing. He spoke with a touch of sadness. “But then again, maybe nothing at all.”
“Please excuse me, I was just leaving.” Lois rose and quickly left the room.
“What can I do for you, Sentinel?” Anna looked up at him.
“Not even ‘Uncle Alan’?” Alan sat down in front of her. “Or do you despise me that much?”
Anna sneered. “The first time around, you died before I was born. The second, you didn’t show up until Alanna was already an adult. And you haven’t done a damned thing for her, since. Then you put her in the shadow of her younger sister.”
Alan sighed. “Anna, that’s not fair and you know it.”
“No.” Anna agreed. “It isn’t. You took over a problem that Molly, Edmund Kyle, and I created. And you’ve done the best you could with it—probably better than we could have done. But Alanna has borne the brunt of it.”
She sighed. “Linda wants to be Jade. She may deny it at times, but that’s who she is. And it’s the road she chooses, every time. And with the attention she receives from so many, she will be fine.”
Anna stood and walked across the cavern room. “But Alanna has never had a choice, not really. She has borne up under tremendous pressure. But, unlike Linda, Alanna cannot choose to alter her blue skin, nor does she feel she can abandon her dedication to her sister.” Anna growled. “Which is bunk! Linda does not need her, not really. Linda needs you, the Kents, Lyla, and the Green Lantern Corps. At least for now. And Linda can find Alanna if she really needs her.”
Alan sighed. “Anna, why did you involve Faith? She has enough problems.”
Anna laughed. “Selina tried to pull a fast one by not mentioning the girl’s last name. The girl seemed so content to just wrap Superboy’s cape and arm around her and listen to Lois.” Anna sat down again. “And then Alexander passed between her and the light. Alan, the girl resembles you, but her resemblance to Alanna is absolutely frightening.”
Anna smiled sadly. “Imagine. This petite young woman is just barely younger than Alanna and Kira. But in her world? She is her world’s version of you—not Linda—you.”
Alan nodded. “I know. Lyla remarked on it, too.”
Anna picked up her cup of tea. “What you really have no appreciation for is Alanna’s reputation as a young fighter. She had built quite a reputation within the Resistance, and then she just seemed to vanish off the face of the Earth. Her latest adventures seem like one disaster after another. She has lost her self-confidence and a good deal of herself.”
Alan sighed. “And that’s not the worst of it. She may have to be exiled from this universe for her own safety.”
“What?” Anna recoiled in horror. “Alan, what are you saying?”
She could hear sorrow in his voice as he spoke. “Alanna is a second generation clone, and that is having consequences no one expected. Serial cloning always fails because the DNA unravels in successive generations. Molly was the first generation, and only partially a clone. She was free of most of the effects. But with Alanna, the power levels grew and the decomposition accelerated.”
Alan sighed. “I’ve seen something like this before. We just went through this with some of Kira’s Daxamite friends. Their DNA unraveled very quickly because of a medical experiment. All of the odd behaviors we’ve seen in Alanna manifested in them in a much more exaggerated form and much more quickly.”
He gazed at her sympathetically. “Anna, I haven’t known the severity of Alanna’s condition very long. I’ve learned most of it over the last several weeks from Dr. Jenna and Kent Nelson.”
“You don’t seem completely devastated.” Anna agonized. “I sure feel like my life has just come apart. How can you care so little?”
Alan shook his head, the pain now evident in his eyes. “There was a bright spot. We visited Faith’s home world recently. When we returned, Alanna’s DNA had reversed its deterioration. It’s begun to deteriorate again, but she gained a bit of time by making the trip. And I’ll admit that she was much sharper there. So your discussion with Faith may have been a blessing in disguise.”
Anna stood up and faced the wall. “So, either Lannie leaves or she dies.”
“Yes.” Alan agreed. “But she does not have to stay away. She just has to limit her time here.”
“Does she know?” Anna asked.
“No.” Alan answered. “And Elise says that we shouldn’t tell her. It’s something Elise is sensing through the old gift. Alanna has to make the decision on her own and for different reasons. I think it’s the coward’s way out, but I’m going to trust Elise.”
Anna nodded. She turned to face him. “Thank you for being honest with me, Uncle Alan. I know it isn’t easy. I…”
Alan reached for Anna Lane and held her. “I’m so sorry. But it has to be this way. I just wish I knew why.”
“I…I…I…” Anna struggled to find her next words.
“We’ll see her again, Anna.” Alan comforted. “And in the meantime, we’ll find a way to make her safe here. We’re doing everything we can.”
“But sometimes, Uncle Alan, but sometimes…” Alan could feel Anna’s heart break, “everything isn’t enough.”
Above the Sentinel’s Lair—the next morning
Sam leaned against the railing. Feeling a blast of wind, he turned to face the Alterverse Supergirl. Kira embraced him with a smile. “I just wanted a chance to say ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Thank you’.”
“Thank you?” Sam chuckled. “You’re welcome, but for what?”
Kira grinned. “For being one heck of a good guy. For helping me to work through one of the roughest times of my life. For just being there. And for helping me to believe that even a Kryptonian can find true love. Although, I have to admit, I’m quite envious. Ah well, I’m sure Lorra has someone in mind for me, too!”
Sentinel’s Lair cafeteria
Faith savored the aroma of her coffee. She slowly drank down the precious nectar as Iris Grayson chatted with her across a small, somewhat secluded table.
“You should have seen the kids at the Danvers. Linda told them all her stories. They thought she had made them up. Then I showed up. The kids still thought we were serving them a bunch of hooey.”
Faith chuckled and teased Iris. “And how many times did you tell them that you single-handedly saved the universe?”
“Not more than half a dozen.” Iris teased back. “Then Kilowog showed up and told Linda she needed to come home. I think that was when the kids first started to believe. Then, when Linda said her goodbyes and turned green, they really started to believe. Of course, I didn’t stay much longer.”
“Uh, huh.” Faith laughed. “Sure…Who is he?”
Iris blushed. “Tim Drake.” She pleaded. “But you won’t tell Linda, will you?”
Faith smiled. “Of course not.”
“Whew.” Iris sighed with relief. “’cause I know you’re a Lady and a Lady keeps her word…”
“That’s a new one.” Faith chuckled. I wonder if she and Lannie are in cahoots? “Where did that come from?”
“Ummm.” Iris stammered. “Gotta go. I see you’ve got company.” She vanished and Alan Scott walked towards the empty seat with a cup of coffee of his own. Faith gestured towards it and Alan sat down.
“Anna sends greetings.” He chuckled and held out a hand in greeting. “What a tangled family tree. I wonder how far it really extends.”
She smiled. “Thank you for offering me a place in your tree.” She grasped his hand. “This is the first time in my life that I have ever felt like I really had family of my own. To an orphan, it means more than you know.”
“And there’s a place for Sam, too.” He confirmed. “When it’s time.”
“When it’s time.” She agreed with a mysterious smile.
Above the Lair—twenty minutes later
Linda chatted with Iris. “You know, I still can’t believe how different the Danvers were. I was more scared than I could ever admit, but I went and I’m glad I did.”
“Me, too!” Iris admitted.
Linda chuckled. “Because you’re boy crazy! I saw you with Tim Drake! What would Lady Green say?”
Iris shrugged. “How would I know? You’re the keeper of the Green, and a bit closer to being a Lady than I am.”
Then, they heard male laughter behind them. They turned to see Sam floating behind them, chuckling loudly.
“Maybe you will be the Lady Green, someday.” Sam addressed Linda. “I could see it. Someday.”
“But Faith…” Iris started. “Oops.”
“I’d like to offer a suggestion.” Sam smiled warmly. “It’s a little more appropriate for the Mistress of a mystic life-filled forest.”
Iris smiled back. “You’re not lecturing, so I’m listening.”
“Thank you.” Sam replied. “The Lady Veridian. Veridian is an earth-tone green—a little more appropriate for the Huntress of Huntress Wood. And I think Lady V works too, don’t you?”
“Better than Lady Golly Gee.” Iris chuckled. “Now, who is going to tell her?”
“Always the direct approach?” Sam teased. “Try that and she’ll never accept it.” He smiled mysteriously. “But some things just have a way of working out.”
Two hours later—deep space near the entry to the Great Portal
Sam glanced at Faith. “Thank you for bringing me. I’m almost sorry to go home.”
She smiled back. “We can always come back. And we will.”
Sam pointed to his boots. “Ruby Red slippers.” He chuckled. “There’s no place like home.” Sam clicked his heels. “There’s no place like home!” He repeated again as he clicked his heels. “There’s no place like home!” He clicked his heels one more time. “See! That just goes to show! My home is wherever you are!”
Faith blushed. “You are so good for my ego.” She floated over to him and hugged him. He put his arms around her. She closed her eyes and put her head against his shoulder. “I wish it could be so simple, sometimes.” He felt her feet beside his ankles. “There’s no place like home.” She whispered quietly. He let her feet move his heels together.
Immediately, they heard Barbara Gordon’s laughter. “Platonic friendship, my ass!”
In shock, they looked down to see Barbara and Lois standing in the Huntress Wood below them. “Oh, my!” Faith blushed green with horror. At the same instant, her signal device received the long-delayed urgent call from Oa. And Charlie appeared below her, pacing the ground and mewing for her.
Gawd. Faith sighed. And not even a signal I can ignore. She activated her signal device as she and Sam descended. “Huntress.” On the ground, she found herself staring into a mountain lion’s eyes. Paws on her shoulders, Charlie slurped her nose. Out of a corner of her eye, she noted Lois smiling proudly at her son.
Her comms activated again. “Huntress, this is Oa. Please hold, we are patching you through.” Five seconds later, she heard a familiar voice.
“Faith, this is Katma Tui. I have someone who needs to meet with you and Sam, rather urgently. Can you come to Oa?”
Faith sighed. “Katma, I’ve just returned to this probability. Can we have a few hours?”
Her comms went silent. They reactivated moments later.
“Kid, you’re going to miss a trip to D’Galthul’s. But that works for us. And Faith? Be sure to bring Sam. This has to do with his father’s disappearance. Someone else is looking for the same set of answers. Katma out.”
Faith felt Barbara hug her from behind. Barbara reached up to scratch Charlie’s ear. “Welcome home, Kid. Believe it or not, I missed both of you. Even if you do rob cradles.”
Satisfied, Charlie sat on the ground and Faith turned to face Barbara. “I only intend to rob the one. It’s an Oracle tradition.” She smiled knowingly. “And when we rob cradles, they stay robbed!” She heard Lois laugh behind her.
“You’ll do, Kid.” Lois chuckled with her arm around Sam. “You’ll do.”
By now, Faith and Sam have made it home. Alanna smiled to herself. Such a sweet couple. I can see why Kira is so envious. I think I am, too.
That violet glow she saw. I wonder what it meant? She felt herself shudder. Damn me! It’s a clue and a critical one. Alanna cursed herself. Now, what does it mean?
It means I’m an idiot. Faith’s powers include extended senses. Not super powered like the Kryptonians, but still extended. And she is a sorceress. Which means she can probably see some frequencies of magic that exist outside the visible spectrum.
And I’ll bet she saw mine. Right in the ultraviolet frequencies. Alanna groaned. Which means… She activated her communications. “Shade to Green Lantern Corps Command. Is Hal Jordan’s daughter on planet? I need to find her quickly.”
“Corps Command here.” Alanna heard a familiar voice. “Alanna, this is Jeryll. Hal is due back on planet in the next half hour.”
“I’m on my way. And it’s Lannie, if you don’t mind.”
Jeryll chuckled. “Sure, Lannie. We’ll see you in a few.”
Alanna faded to shadow and headed through the atmosphere. Once there, she accelerated into Hyperspace.
An hour later—Grounds of the Guardians’ Complex
“She’ll be here.” Hal Jordan advised Alanna. “But I must admit, you aren’t her favorite person.”
“I wouldn’t expect to be.” Alanna sighed. “I did the unthinkable to her and then I botched the job because I didn’t understand the nature of my own power.”
Hal shrugged. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“Astra doesn’t, either!” Hallie Jordan flickered in and out of existence.
Alanna sighed. “Hello Hallie.” A ball of violet power rose above her hands. “I botched the job and I just figured out how.” She concentrated. “Damned Star Sapphire.”
“What are you doing?” Hal asked.
Alanna focused on the ball of power. “My power operates on what is called a resonance frequency to Astra’s Star Sapphire.”
“And?” He asked.
She looked at Hal Jordan. But at the same time, she watched a now-materializing Hallie make a series of faces at her. Alanna suspected that Hallie had no idea that she was now visible. She did her best to keep from laughing.
“Resonance means that one frequency is an exact multiple of another—like exactly twice or three times as fast within a precise interval of time. Which means light frequencies interfere with each other.” She realized he was still puzzled. “You see, Hallie’s default state is astral. It’s a protection mechanism. If she loses consciousness or control, she disappears from whatever is attacking her.” She watched more of Hallie’s expressions. “But it was supposed to take no effort for her to choose to exist on the physical plane.”
Alanna bit her lip. “But because the magic that bound her DNA operated at a frequency that resonated with the Star Sapphire she is also bound to, it caused an immediate feedback loop every time she tried to be material. While the magic itself is long gone, it left an aftereffect—hypersensitivity to light in the Star Sapphire’s frequency range.”
Hallie floated behind her father and rolled her eyes at Alanna. Then she pulled down her pants and mooned Alanna.
Alanna chuckled. “I just corrected that hypersensitivity. There is no longer conflict with the Star Sapphire. Although, I can’t say it did anything for her fashion sense.” Alanna pointed behind Hal. Father and daughter stared at each other in shock. Finally, Hallie vanished long enough to pull her pants on. Not long after, she reappeared.
“I’m truly sorry, Hallie.” Alanna admitted seriously. “I had no idea what I had done. And I probably deserved everything you had to throw at me.” She chuckled. “Jiggle, jiggle!”
“Hmmph.” Hallie retorted. “Now what?”
“Now?” Alanna questioned. “Astra has a life and a Star Sapphire. Your default is still astral, but staying material will cost you no effort as long as you’re conscious. You are still the Astral Avenger. But hopefully an Astral Avenger with a life.”
Hallie looked over at a plant on a table. She nudged it with her Star Sapphire powers. The plant flew across the room until she stopped it. “Astra got a power boost, too!” She smiled broadly. “Astra’s had a good day!”
“The first of many, I hope.” Alanna agreed. And I’ve done the one thing I have to do before I leave. You’re far more powerful than I am, Astra. I’m no longer needed here. And I know I have no future in this universe. Time to find Elise and Dad. Alanna vanished.
(Editor’s note—Astra’s story also continues in Alterverse Book 2: Freedom Force Prelude)
The Inheritors’ Universe, somewhere between Oa and D’Galthul’s
Kara Gand and Katma Tui plowed through Hyperspace on their way to the outlaw establishment.
“Lither lied to me.” Kara fumed. “He won’t lie again!”
“Careful.” Katma warned. “You may be Hell on wheels, but even you aren’t absolutely invulnerable. Lither will be prepared this time.”
“But… my children…” Kara slowed. “The boys, Karik and Leftin, and my daughter, Scooter.”
They dropped out of Hyperspace. Katma pointed to an asteroid. They flew towards it.
“Talk to me.” Katma requested. “We have plenty of time. Scooter? You’ve mentioned her before, but you’ve generally done a good job of avoiding any questions.”
Kara sighed. “Karik is in his second year of studies at University. He is studying to become a doctor, like his mother.” She smiled wanly. “Leftin has stars in his eyes like his father. He wants to apply to the space academy next year.”
“Scooter?” Katma asked again. “Lar has been missing for quite some time. Have you been seeing someone else?”
Kara shook her head sadly. “No, I wish to Heaven and Hell I were, but no.” She bit her lip. “Before Lar and I married, we had DNA testing done. His was fine, but mine wasn’t. There were some peculiarities that didn’t make sense. The research records showed that I’ve had those peculiarities since birth, but that didn’t explain the sheer number of the anomalies. The Docs were confident that we could never have children naturally, so we had one created for when we were ready. To the Docs’ dismay, it carried all of my anomalies, but it appeared viable.”
Kara smiled. “As you might guess, less than a month after we married, I became pregnant with Karik. Leftin followed four years later—just before his father disappeared.” She sighed. “Then, eight years ago, Lar was about to be declared dead. The created child would be undone. I couldn’t let that happen, so with the support of my parents and his, I had the child. Her name is Aidin Anu Gand, but we’ve always called her Scooter.” Kara smiled at her memories. “Karik named her that. First she scoots here, then she scoots there…”
Katma put her hand on her friend’s shoulder. “And we’ll find them. There has to be a reason for this and we’ll discover it. Now, let’s go shove Lither’s head down his neck.”
Kalik Prime, above D’Galthul’s
Kara spoke into her ring. “This is the Green Lantern of sector 2753 requesting clearance to enter.”
The ring barked back. “This is Kalik Prime. You are welcome to enter. We have the information you need.”
Katma and Kara looked at each other with confusion. Finally, Kara whispered “trap”. Katma agreed.
Kara responded to the ring. “Thank you. I’ll be down shortly.” She ended the conversation.
Katma eyed her. “Got it. I’ll hang back. Good luck.”
“Thanks!” Kara sped towards the planet, with Katma following invisibly at a distance. Kara found the hanger doors still detached from the hanger. Guess they haven’t had time to re-hang them. Pity. She flew into the hanger towards the D’Galthul’s security chief and landed not far away. “You said you had information for me.”
“That I did.” Lither agreed. “But first, a gift from D’Galthul’s!”
Kara felt herself being deluged with a golden substance as the floor beneath her dropped. Soon, she was well below where the floor had been.
“Yellow lead paint!” Lither laughed. “Specially formulated to kill a Daxamite Green Lantern. Your ring can’t get through it and once you’re poisoned, getting it off you won’t help!” He chuckled evilly.
“Oh, no!” Kara heard Katma gasp above her. Kara could hear Katma dodge the paint hoses as Lither’s staff began to aim the pressure hoses at the Korugarian Green Lantern
But, instead of excruciating pain, Kara felt only fury.
“I,” Kara roared with anger, “have had,” she flew out of the trap, spinning to throw off the yellow paint, “enough!”
Yellow paint splattered across the hangar. Katma carefully ducked a high-velocity splatter.
A furious Kara Gand landed in front of Lither. She effortlessly hoisted him into the air. “I’m tired of all of your silly little games on this pathetic little world! Where the Hell are my children?”
He watched her eyes begin to burn red. He felt his clothing burn off. “I do not know.” He spit. Heat vision fried his spit in mid air. “How would I?”
“Frankly, I don’t care!” Kara growled. “But you had better find out. Now! You have five minutes before I end your miserable little life!!!.” She let him go. The security chief ran for the inner establishment. As Katma approached, Kara gestured to her to stop. Then, Kara appeared to stare into the blank wall. After a moment, she turned back to Katma. “Damn. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t even know where to start. He’s communicating with the same set of losers that led me to him. Katma, we’re leaving.”
Kara yelled to the D’Galthul’s staff. “We’ll be back! Keep the light on for us!” She and Katma Tui launched themselves through the atmosphere. Within seconds, they had entered Hyperspace.
“What a waste of time.” Kara growled. “What a waste.”
“Kara.” Katma could see that Kara paid her no attention as they sped towards Oa. “Kara!”
“What!?” Kara replied.
“Why aren’t you dead?” Katma asked. “Did he lie about the lead paint?”
Kara’s eyes widened with uneasy realization. “I don’t know. I really don’t know.” Kara scanned her uniform. “Katma, I don’t think he did lie. But what does it mean?”
“I don’t know.” Katma shrugged. “But even I know a clue when I see one.”
The Inheritors’ Universe, approaching Oa
“Katma,” the Huntress called, “we’re on our way.”
“We’re on our way back, too.” They heard Katma. “We’ll see you soon. Katma out.”
“Faith,” Sam sped along beside her, “in all the confusion, I forgot to ask. How did we get to the Wood?”
She frowned. “I did something I’m not supposed to be able to do. I phased between universes and I took you with me.”
“Phased?” Sam asked as they plowed through hyperspace. “Ah, another way of saying you jumped probabilities? I know that Ian of the Multiverse can do that, but I thought he was the only one.”
“No.” Faith answered.
“That’s right.” Sam confirmed. “Alanna has done it. And some universes can be reached through the Rock of Eternity, but not all.”
Faith nodded slowly. “I thought I understood how my powers work. Now, I’m concerned. I didn’t ask for the jump.”
“Didn’t you?” He asked. “You wanted to take me home, and you did.”
She couldn’t answer him.
Sam changed the subject. “Babs is preggers.” He informed her. “Stepson of the Bat?”
“Preggers?” Faith asked. “Are you sure?”
“Yup.” Sam answered. “And it’s a ‘he’.”
“Wow!” Faith grinned with anticipation. “Soon as we get back, we’ll have to tighten the Wood’s defenses.”
“I spoke to Diana.” Sam agreed. “She’s keeping extra alert. I closed off several of the entry tunnels, too—the ones that people can find easily. But Diana said not to tell anyone else. The fewer people that know, the safer Babs is.”
“I’m going to be an Auntie!” Faith hummed. “I’m going to be an Auntie!” She giggled.
That was easier than I thought it would be. Alanna shrugged. Dad seemed to know this was coming. So did Elise. And so did Anna. There must be something else they wouldn’t tell me. Must be Elise’s old gift. Well, I’ll be back in a few days anyway. Then I can explain this to everyone else.
Ready, set,, goodbye AV, hello IV. Alanna flashed between probabilities. As she floated in space above the Inheritors’ Earth, she watched a transport head towards Mongul’s lunar base. A Green Lantern appeared long enough to remove the cargo from the ship and vanish with it, leaving a confused transport crew behind.
The Kent Farm, Smallville Kansas
Wally West and Dawn Allen cleaned up after the animals in the barn. Gar Logan, the Changling, would soon relieve them. But for the moment, they enjoyed the time together—at Flash speed.
“I don’t know, Dawn!” Wally grinned. “I wish I was the attraction magnet you are for the opposite sex. I’m surprised you found time to join me today.”
“Wally!” Dawn answered indignantly. “Family comes first! I can always find more boyfriends!”
“Thanks!” He smiled. “I think. I dunno. I guess your expectations are more realistic than mine.”
“Well, yeah!” Dawn teased. “Do you think some beautiful woman is going to fall out of the sky and drop into your arms?”
He reddened. “Sometimes. Well, since it’s my fantasy, send me an angel…blonde, blue eyes, and a little on the tall side!”
Dawn laughed. Then she gave him a friendly peck on the cheek. “Just keep a place in your heart for me, cousin!”
“That I will.” Wally agreed. “That I will!”
Something isn’t right. Alanna tried to shake off a feeling of exhaustion washing over her. My powers aren’t acting right. I better get down now!
Alanna sped towards where she knew the Huntress’ Wood had to be—the site of the Green Lantern’s train wreck on Alterverse Earth. She felt herself weaken steadily. She tapped on her comms, flashing into real space often enough for them to activate.
Finally, she felt atmosphere around her and spoke into the comms. “This is Alanna Scott, of Alterverse. I’ve lost control and I’m falling fast. Mayday!” Alanna felt herself fade again as she fell. She phased in and out of reality. “Mayday, Wood, Mayday!”
The Flashes’ comms erupted with Lois’ voice. “Wally, Dawn, I have a Mayday above the Wood! I need you now!”
Wally ran towards Wyoming. Dawn answered the page before following. “We’re on the way, Lois!” She charged after Wally.
Twenty miles west of the Wood
Alanna fell through the atmosphere. Like an allergy…second visit…what is happening to me? She forced her descent to slow. Not enough, not enough…
As she struggled to maintain consciousness, she felt a rush of air from down below, buffeting her and slowing her fall. Dawn? She lost consciousness for a moment. Then she felt herself being lowered into a pair of strong arms. “Dawn?” She looked up to see a red costume with concerned eyes—the same eyes she had seen in her visions. “Wally?” She lost consciousness again.
Twenty minutes later—Huntress’ Wood Infirmary
Alanna felt herself awaken and looked down towards the foot of her bed. “Oof. What?” She looked up from her bed to see Wally and Dawn. “My skin isn’t a healthy shade of blue.” She looked at her shoulder. “And my hair has turned back to my grandfather’s shade of blonde. What happened?”
Dawn smirked. “Blonde hair, blue eyes, a little on the tall side. Wally, you’re good!”
“What?” Alanna queried as she attempted to sit up. Wally and Dawn supported her as she tried to rise.
“Ray tried to explain it.” Wally advised. “Something inside you is repairing itself, but that’s all I understood.”
“Don’t look at me, Alanna.” Dawn warned. “I didn’t understand that much!”
“Lannie.” Alanna felt her strength begin to slowly return. “It’s Lannie, please.”
“Got it.” Dawn answered. “Faith is off planet, Lannie. But she asked Lois to keep the light on for you.”
She looked at Alanna’s eyes one more time and checked the readings on the monitor. “Well, I’ve harassed you two lovebirds long enough. If I can’t be the Maid of Honor, I want to be the Best Man!” She vanished.
Wally chuckled. “What brought that on?”
Alanna’s eyes began to glaze again. “Wallace Jr., Alicia, and Barry.” She smiled dreamily as she lay back on her pillow. “And more grandchildren than you can count.” Alanna closed her eyes. “Such a nice man.” She fell back to sleep.
Dawn reappeared to find an astonished Wally West staring wide-eyed at the sleeping blonde-haired woman. “Wally?” She shook her cousin. “Wally?”
Wally snaked an arm around his young cousin, but remained silent.
End, Shadow Crossing
-- Story written and copyrighted (C) 2003 by Eldric
-- and may not be reprinted without permission.
-- Otherverse and Multiverse, as depicted in the Continuum Worlds,
-- are original creations of Dylan Clearbrook
-- Alterverse and The Inheritors and their associated universes, as depicted in the Continuum Worlds,
-- are the original creations of Eldric
-- The Realm and Shadowverse, as depicted in the Continuum Worlds,
-- are original creations of John P. and Jason G respectively.
-- Some characters in Continuum Worlds stories are original
-- creations of Dylan Clearbrook, Michael Liebhart,
-- Jake H., Jason Froikin, Eldric, Jason G, or Andrew Shields and may not
-- be used without express permission of the respective author
-- Supergirl, Lar Gand and other DC characters are property of D.C. Comics
-- Rogue, Jennifer Walters and other Marvel characters are property of Marvel Comics
-- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters, artwork, photos, and trademarks are
-- the property of Twentieth Century Fox, Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and/or the
-- WB Television Network
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-- the property of Davis-Panzer Productions