As always, Ben Hudson rose quietly, before the computer had a chance to activate the wake up alarm. In a way, it surprised him that he was able to wake so early: the previous night had been hell on his nerves. He had watched on the news as Chasity, Clark and Batgirl had quelled yet another of Luthors incursions. Although he had faith in his daughter, it was still a parent’s natural instinct to worry.
It was cold this December morning, so he turned on his private heating element as he stepped up to his window. Opening the power blinds, Ben sighed and smiled. There were at least four inches of snow on the ground, blanketing everything in its pristine whiteness.
“Thank God its Friday,” Ben sighed.
Grabbing his robe off of his chair, Ben made his way into his private bathroom. Glancing in the mirror, he rubbed the stubble of his beard and began to shave. He was about halfway done when he turned to the shower.
“Computer, standard shower, 35 degrees Celsius. Have today’s uniform waiting, polish the boots, and start…” Ben paused for a moment, unsure of what he wanted for breakfast. “…Make it eggs Benedict and a Belgian Waffle.”
“Yes, Ben,” the programmed computer voice chimed back at him.
He listened as the shower turned on and slowly steam began to rise from the stall. As he finished shaving, Ben rinsed his face and tested the shower waters. Just right. As he turned back to get undressed, he almost jumped at the sight of someone else in his bathroom.
Catching himself before he cried out, Ben knelt to one knee to this being face to face. The man was blue-skinned and wore a red robe with an ominous lantern-shaped symbol upon his chest. “What are you doing here?”
“Benjamin Hudson, once more the Guardians of Oa require your assistance,” the blue-skinned man said in hushed tones.
Ben held up his hand to his ear, signaling the guardian that they could be overheard motioning for the Guardian to remain quiet. “Master, we can be overheard here.”
“Put your fears to rest, Benjamin Hudson. I have shielded my presence here from even them.” The Guardian held out a fist. When it was opened, a green ring with the symbol he wore rested upon his palm.
Ben shook his finger at the little man. “Master, no. I can’t do that again. I retired almost twenty years ago so I could do my duty to my family: raise my kids.”
“We understand your reasons with utter clarity, Benjamin Hudson. But the time has come to find a new wielder for this ring…a new Green Lantern to guard this sector.”
“But why come to me? I turned my ring over to Stranex of Ceti Alpha: my successor.”
The Guardian paused and looked to the floor. “Stranex died two Terran days ago.”
Ben closed his eyes and sat down. He had met and served with Stranex in numerous campaigns throughout the systems that Earth had colonized over the past century. Since the speed of light could not be reached, scientists had instead developed a way to fold space for near-instantaneous travel between the stars, although with current power sources the distance that covered couldn’t go past twenty light years or so. Of course once in a system, the ship had to rely upon its own fusion drives for propulsion.
“Some of this galaxy is involved in an interstellar war. Nothing that should concern your government, but the colony at Beta Niobe was mistaken for a military base and attacked. The Green Lantern there called for assistance and all four of the Lanterns that went to help were killed: including Stranex.”
Ben soaked in the knowledge for a moment. “So why did you come back to me? Surely there are more worthy people to take the mantle than I.”
“That may be so, Benjamin Hudson. And we have every right to appoint a wielder of the ring. But we feel that if there is a previous, living owner, that he may choose to retake the ring, or pass it on to another.”
The police sergeant glared at his former master for some time. “And how many times has that happened since the order was founded?”
“You are the second.”
“Better than the first,” Ben mumbled under his breath.
“Indeed.” The ring began to hover above the Guardians’ hand then shot across the room and landed in Ben’s. He seemed to stare at the object as he listened to the Guardian’s final words.
“Remember, Benjamin Hudson, a new wielder must be chosen. You have only 4.73 terran days left to appoint a new successor.” At that, the Guardian faded from view leaving only the ring and battery behind.
Ben wondered for a moment if he had just dreamed the entire event, but when his hand closed around the cold metal of the ring, he knew that had not. Rising back to his feet, Ben undressed and stepped into the shower. All the while as he bathed, the ring sat cold in his grasp.
Unable to get it off of his mind, he quickly dried himself and dressed. Grabbing his comm-link, Ben opened a channel to the station. “Hey Marie. Is Harry Levinson in the office yet? Okay thanks.”
Ben began walking to the kitchen, smelling his breakfast already waiting on him. He had just sat down when his Lieutenant finally got to his desk and answered.
“Yeah, Ben. What’s up?”
“Harry, I need to call in for a couple days.”
Ben heard the concern in his friend’s voice. “Is it personal, family…you sick?
“Let’s go ahead and call it personal.”
“Alright, buddy.” Ben heard some typing in the background before his boss came back to the com-link. “It’s done. You still have sixty four personal hours left, okay?”
“Sure, boss. Take it easy.” Ben switched off the comm-link as he heard the shuffling of feet coming down the hallway. Expecting to see Heath enter, he was quite surprised when it turned out to be Clark.
Ben’s eyebrow rose as he made his way to the replicator. “Orange juice, one liter and an Egg McMuffin.”
The computer’s voice shrilled. “I’m sorry. There is no ‘Egg McMuffin’ on file.”
“By Rao, computer! Haven’t you ever heard of McDonalds?” Clark said almost aggravated. “English muffin with ham, egg, and cheese. Like a sandwich.”
“Confirmed.” A moment later the juice and a perfect looking muffin was revealed. Clark took it and sat down across from Ben and began eating.
“Hey Clark, I have a couple of questions for you.” Ben said nonchalantly.
Superboy looked up to the older man. “Yes, sir?”
“Well, the first is why are you here?”
“Oh, after Chas and I were done with the press last night, we got back here and you were already asleep, and Chas insisted that I just stay here for the night.”
“Ah. And where did you sleep?”
Clark grinned and took a gulp of his juice. “In the guest bedroom…alone.”
Ben laughed and took another bite himself. “Clark, I don’t want you to get defensive when I ask things like that.”
“Why is that, Mr. Hudson?” Clark responded, curious.
“You and my daughter fight together, study together, have classes together, and train together so when are you two going to have fun together?”
His undivided attention now firmly in Ben’s grasp, Clark had no choice but to bite the hook that had just been offered. “I’m not sure if that’s…”
Seeing the predicament that he had put the young Kryptonian in, Ben relived some of the pressure. “Look, if you think I haven’t noticed the way you look at her, the way she looks at you, you must think I’m blind. If you don’t think that I’ve seen how carefully you act around her, around me, around Heath, then maybe you need to wear those glasses a bit more often.”
Looking away from the older man, Clark collected his thoughts. “You’re right, Mr. Hudson. I love her. I think I have since the moment I met her.”
“And Chasity? Does she feel the same?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I think so, sometimes I think it’s nothing more than a closeness that can only be felt between fifth cousins.”
“Fifth cousins. From alternate dimensions. Sounds like a real close family tie there, Clark. Plus I thought Kryptonians didn’t have a problem like that?”
Clark’s confusion compounded. “Mr. Hudson? How do you know about that?”
“So when are you going to tell her?”
“When she is ready,” Clark quickly retorted.
Unknown and unseen by either of them, Chasity stood concealed behind the door leading to the kitchen, listening to the entire conversation. Hovering an inch off of the ground, she bit her lower lip and made her way back to her bedroom and began to get ready for school. She had hoped that her presence had gone unnoticed by Clark.
Several hours later, Ben sat in his living room nursing a beer and watching recorded newsreels and interviews of Chasity and Clark. In his open left hand sat the ring of power as he contemplated the enormity of the task that had been given to him.
He had though long and hard about putting it on himself and keeping it, but he knew that wasn’t the answer. The Guardians trusted him to make that choice even though he had been a Green Lantern for only three years.
He thought back to how he first came upon the dying Lantern with his Marine platoon on Proxima Centauri years ago. He had ordered his medic to do what she could, but was unable to help him due to his alien metabolism. Taking the ring from the body, as it was the only possession he seemed to have, Ben put it on, only to be accepted as the next Green Lantern for Sector 0 (Sol and the surrounding systems).
Now he sat in his living room, twenty-two years later, pondering his actions, wondering why the Guardians had accepted him in the first place. He knew the answer of course. It had been Paradox who had seen what the future held for a simple Marine Captain and had altered events to ensure certain things would happen.
But Ben was pretty sure that Paradox had nothing to do with the death of Stranex or the Guardians choosing him to name a replacement. But nonetheless, it had to be done.
Davis Memorial Hospital, New Independence
In the long-term care ward of the hospital, a young man lay in bed, completely oblivious to the world. The monitoring units placed on him had not changed readings in the months since he had been admitted. Once an hour, a nurse would enter, record the readings on her report then depart, leaving him to his coma once more.
The first sign that anything was amiss was the faint smell of ozone that wafted in from nowhere. The vapors began to coalesce until a woman stepped out of the mists like coming through a doorway. Making her way to the side of the bed, the woman placed her hands over his temples and closed her eyes.
She had found what she was looking for. Hatred, obsession, determination, adaptability, desire were everything that this boy had. He was the perfect weapon against their enemies. No, Lex Luthor had weapons. Weapons capable of stopping even those damned Kryptonians. But somehow, even with their inexperience, managed to remain victorious time and time again.
That is why she was sent on this mission. To find one like this who could be manipulated both in mind and body to serve their purposes. Although Lex didn’t want direct ties to this person, he would be responsible for his recreation and the resulting havoc that would ensue. Hopefully, the mutaphetamine, a powerful stimulant designed to rapidly advance mutation in humans, would give this boy a desired edge against his enemies.
Stepping to the closed door, the woman placed a subtle, mental image in the nurses outside to keep them from this room while she completed her task. Once accomplished, she sat at the edge of Bobby Wallace’s bed and began planting the programming and fail-safes into his mind.
Half of an hour later, she was done to the best of her ability. His mind had been confusing. A jumbled mess of images and thoughts, most of which she was unable to decipher. But the psychic implants seemed to be intact. Withdrawing a hypo spray, she adjusted the level of the drug she would introduce and began to press it to the side of his neck.
Halting, the psionicist pulled away, rethinking her actions for the situation. Even awake, he would have a time getting out of the hospital. Turning the dosage up to near-fatal levels, she pressed it against his neck and felt the familiar hiss of the contents being administered.
Waiting for a moment, she watched as his body began to twitch, and then shudder at the effects of the drug she had administered. With the turn of her head, she released the block on the nurse’s minds and stepped back to the mists from whence she came. When Bobby’s monitors began wailing in alarm, she departed, knowing she would have to check on his progress after he fully awoke.
The nurses rushed to try and save what was left of his life. After restarting his heart for the fourth time, only to see it collapse again, the doctor on duty finally gave up and declared him to be deceased at 2:39am. They covered him with a sheet and sent him down to the morgue.
An hour later, the body rose to a sitting position. Pulling the sheet off of himself, Bobby Wallace looked at his surroundings and the tag hanging off of his toe. Jumping off of the table, he began looking around for something to wear. Finding a set of surgical scrubs in a nearby wardrobe, he quickly dressed and walked out of the hospital.
Bobby made his way back home, avoiding everyone he could at this time of the night. He slipped into his front door and stopped when he saw his father passed out on the couch, a bottle of vodka loosely clutched in his hand. Shaking his head in disgust, Bobby bounded up the stairs and into his own room where he sat at his desk.
He looked down at his hands and felt energized, somehow very refreshed. He had a dull throb in his head and placed his fingertips to his temples to help soothe the pain. What shocked him was that he felt no pulse, no pressure in his veins.
“What the…!” he whispered, unsure of his predicament.
Picking up a medical scanner, Bobby tried to prick his finger for the required drop of blood, only to find that the needle did not penetrate his skin. He tried several more times with the same amount of success. Getting frustrated, Bobby sat back in his chair and thought for a moment.
“Computer, give me a time synchronized bio-scan of my system.”
“Scanning: No heartbeat, no respiration, no brainwave activity. System being overcome with unknown substance.”
Bobby peered at the x-ray of his body and his brow furrowed. It appeared he had only about 5% of his internal organs left, the rest appearing to have dissolved by a blackish, oozing gel. On closer inspection, he saw that his body seemed to contain this substance, but internally was rapidly falling to this invasion.
Completely confused by this transformation and revelation, Bobby Wallace stared at the screen until it had dissolved everything but his skin. Feeling no different than before, he held up his hands in wonder and promptly blasted his ceiling with a blackish energy.
“Whoa!” He cried as he looked at the hole into his attic. “What the hell is this?”
Admiring his handiwork, the wheels in Bobby’s mind began to turn; ideas, images, feeling flooded in from an unknown source. As if he was watching himself from a distance, he calmly walked downstairs and up to his still unconscious father. Willfully, he thrust his energies forward, assailing his father.
The older man stirred slightly as his molecules were torn from him forcefully, breaking down to their constituent atoms in the space of a heartbeat, leaving nothing behind.
“Oh, this is awesome!” Bobby said with no care that he had murdered his father in cold blood. His thoughts passed to his last conscious thought before his coma. “Chasity…Supergirl.”
A wide grin spread across his features as he entered his father’s bedroom and opened his personal safe. Withdrawing his bankcard and account numbers, Bobby had just pocketed them when he caught sight of the pistol. It was the same one that he had carried to school the day his coma began.
Bobby took it from the holster and charged the weapon. Rubbing his fingers together where he tried to prick himself, he turned the pistol and put it to his head. As the plasma bolt shot out, he was unsure of why he did it, other than for the sake of quelling his curiosity. The bolt splashed across his skin but did nothing more than tickle.
“How did this happen to me?” Bobby said aloud.
The answer came swiftly, but considering he was inexperienced with telepathy, had no idea of its authenticity. “I have given you a gift, my child.”
“What?” he cried out, looking around for the source of the voice. “Who is that?”
“I am God.”
Bobby’s eyebrows raised in surprise as he considered the validity of the claim. “How do I know you are for real?”
“Believe what you will. You have been spurned, cast aside like garbage. Now you have the ability to either take your revenge, take your woman, or both. Your path, no matter the consequences will be the right one.”
“So what are these powers? How do they work?”
“You will learn.”
Parker High School, Auditorium…8 hours later.
Chasity sat back in her chair as she listened to the professor give his lecture about theoretical physics in space. To her left was Clark, who had tried to avoid her gaze after what she overheard this morning. Even though she was certain he was unaware of that fact, he was quite aware that she was paying a bit more attention to him than normal.
To her right was Alysa, who sat in silence. Her face was a mask of emotionless pride as one hand held Heath’s while the other took notes on the lecture. The two of them had become quite close since they all had inadvertently been exposed to each other surrounding the events between Chasity’s sexual assault and Heath’s kidnapping back in the fall.
Together the three heroes had become interplanetary news, thwarting the destruction Lex Luthor had constantly been raining down upon them. They had even regained contact with the nation of Atlantis, where Namor himself still ruled, but as an old man. Talks were underway between the council and the ruler of the other 70% of Earth to bring everyone into harmony with each other.
They had also flushed out a conspiracy by terrorists to destroy the colony at Praxis, and Michael Wayne had dispatched the dreadnaught ‘Interdictor’ and its entire support fleet to the area to keep the peace with the alien antagonists.
But when all was said and done, the four friends were simply teenagers who like all others, wanted and needed time to relax, and to play. They had a bond that was shared on more than one level and that grew deeper as time progressed.
Chasity had noticed that Alysa wore her suit under her civilian attire today, as it was her turn to do the daily patrols after school. She would always finish quickly so she could watch Heath play football on Friday evenings, sometimes in civilian garb, while other times perched on top of the floodlights that illuminated the field during night games.
Seeing her hand intertwined with her brothers’ gave her an idea. Even though they had played at being a couple since the beginning of school, her relationship with Clark had remained very impersonal. Without making it too obvious, Chasity turned her head to the world’s only other Kryptonian and gave him a good once-over.
He was handsome, but that much she had always known. He was developing into what many would consider a perfect specimen, worthy of any girl’s attentions. Soft-spoken, confident, and a gleam in his eye to make a girl melt. As she took his hand in hers, their eyes met.
At first Clark didn’t know what to think, or anything to say. But when he saw the look in her eyes and her soft smile, he warmed up a bit. She laid her head on his shoulder and listened to his heartbeat…and the comments of her classmates behind her.
Bridgett for one had whispered some choice words in the ear of her boyfriend, Jonathon, and Richard gave Chasity a wink as she glanced behind her. Some of the others noticed, while others were too involved with the lecture to care. When Clark leaned over to her, their classmates turned a deaf ear to their words.
“Chas?” he asked, wanting an explanation.
The look in her eyes told him all he needed to know. She had been listening this morning and hadn’t intended to say a word. Emotions conflicted within him for a brief period as he contemplated the consequences of his actions. His mind made up, Clark asked. “Chas, do you wanna go out tonight?”
“I thought you would never ask, Clark. I would love to go out with you tonight.”
Their lips met for a tantalizing moment before breaking away again and their attention once again given back to the professor. Chasity had just gotten a knowing look from Alysa and Heath before they sat back more interested in each other than the lecture.
None of them really paid attention to the person that had entered the hall until the whispers of the student body made it impossible for them not to. All four of their eyes went wide and they sat up straight as he walked down the aisle.
“Mr. Wallace!” The professor said, pausing his speech. “Welcome back. We didn’t know you had been released from the hospital yet.”
“Thank you, Professor. Do you mind if I say a few words to the class?”
“Not at all, Bobby.” The professor stepped aside and offered the podium to the new arrival. When he turned, his eyes went straight to Chasity’s causing her much discomfort.
Alysa grabbed her arm and whispered in her ear. “No! Not here. Do not expose yourself needlessly.”
“I thought you said he couldn’t wake up?” Supergirl hissed between clenched teeth.
Batgirl flinched at her words but had no real answer. “I don’t know. There isn’t supposed to be a way to recover from that serum. Let’s just see what he says before we react.”
Bobby’s words echoed in the grand hall. “Chasity…” He let the words hang, allowing the eyes of the student body to find her. “…I’m sorry. There is simply no way I can be with you anymore. Perhaps if you hadn’t been so aggressive in our last encounter you wouldn’t have put me in the hospital. But I’ll always cherish that special moment we shared together.”
“That son-of-a-bitch,” she whispered just loud enough for Clark to hear. The student body was getting their own ideas of the meaning of his words. Some were downright laughing while others were making lewd comments under their breath.
As the professor began to take the podium again, Bobby simply held out a hand and stopped him. “I also would like to share a bit of information that everyone here might be interested in.”
“Oh, no.” Clark sighed and closed his eyes.
Bobby continued, seeing their reactions even from across the room. “It has come to my attention that Superboy, Supergirl, and Batgirl all go to school right here at Parker High. In fact, they are sitting here in this very room.”
The stunned silence of the assembly was music to Bobby’s ears. When one student stood his attention was immediately given.
“Well, who are they, Bobby?”
“I’ll let you guys and girls figure it out.” And with a sly look to the four friends, left the podium and took a seat in the crowd.
As the professor took the podium back, he cleared his throat to quiet the hall. “Well, I would say that is quite a revelation. Would any of you like to volunteer the remainder of their identities and ruin just about any other chance of a private life? Hmmm?”
Again, the hall was silent.
“Good…” The professor shuffled his notes to recollect himself when a voice called from the crowd.
“Professor, I have something to say to them, if they are here.”
Perturbed that his speech was again interrupted, the teacher simply waved him on, as if there was a way to stop him.
The student turned to the greater portion of the audience. “I’m not sure whether to trust you three or not. We all here have seen your accomplishments on the news, but wherever you go, destruction seems to follow.”
A murmur shot through the crowd in agreement.
“What I do know is this: The people here love you.”
A roar of approval rose in crescendo before dying again.
“You are doing a great job and I for one appreciate the effort and time that you spend to ensure we are safe. We all deserve an education, and being revealed only jeopardizes that.” His eyes tuned towards the area where the four friends sat. “Richard.”
The schools resident computer hacker called back. “Yeah?”
“I know the way your mind works. You know who they are, don’t you?”
Richard sat motionless for a moment, unable to fathom why he was being asked this. “Yes. I know who they are.”
At that very moment, Chasity’s, Clark’s and Alysa’s mouths dropped open. How in hell had he figured out who they were? Much less, how long had he known? And whom else had he told?
“You three are role-models that we should all look up to,” the student went on. Chas wondered what his major field of study was because he could have been a great speechwriter. “I would of course like to meet you in person, but that can wait until you are ready. I would love to get the merchandise rights to a clothing line.”
As laughter claimed the hall, the student sat down and relinquished center stage. In midst of the activity, Clark covertly whispered in Kryptonese.
“We can’t argue with a businessman. He may prove to be useful for us financially and socially. Do you know who he is?”
“Yeah, that’s Tyson Hunter. But what do you mean?”
“Trust me. We’ll talk with him when timing is a bit better. But we still need to keep an eye on Bobby Wallace. He could spill the beans any day at any moment.”
The Arboretum Mall, New Independence
Clark again wondered how he had gotten in this position. Here he was with the girl he considered the most beautiful on Earth holding his hand as they strolled the shops licking ice cream cones. They had enjoyed a romantic candlelit dinner in the balcony, and gone and seen a movie. They had been trying extra hard to act just like any human would on a Friday night instead of flying to Saturn or something extravagant.
They had skipped the indoor roller coaster, as it had no comparison to a flight through space dodging each other. They had done a bit of shopping and were now simply enjoying being with each other.
“You overheard the conversation your father and I had this morning. Didn’t you?”
He was trying to draw her out; that much she was sure of. Now it was her job to play along, to keep him on his toes a bit. “What makes you think that I overheard anything?”
Clark let the question slide as they entered a clothing boutique and began to browse. He couldn’t tell if she was playing with him or maybe this entire day had seemed surreal. Finally unable to control his frustrations any longer, he spun her around and captured her lips with his own.
Taken off guard by this assault, Chas at first tried to push away, then surrendered to his embrace, and finally pulled him closer as the kiss grew longer and more intimate.
“If this were any other man in the world, I would have confused him beyond belief,” she thought as he drew her closer to him. As the kiss ended, they remained close, taking in everything that was the other, savoring the moment a bit longer.
“Yes, Clark?” she whispered back.
“I love you. I always have.”
Clark laughed out loud. “Ditto? Is that all you could say?”
Now it was Chasity’s time to laugh. “I guess that kiss was more powerful than I thought,” she shot back.
They left the boutique and continued down the row of shops and store, waving at a few schoolmates along the way. There seemed to be quite a few students out tonight despite the weather and the mall was bustling with activity. It was only when they turned a corner to follow the shops around when they saw Richard standing against a pillar, talking to other students in his programming class. When he caught sight of the two Kryptonians, he said his farewells and ran up to them.
“Clark, Chasity. Just the people I wanted to talk to.” He seemed cheerful, upbeat, without a care in the world. The three shook hands.
“Richard, I hate to say this, but its not a good idea for us to be seen together,” Clark said as he looked nervously around.
“Why is that Clark?”
“I think you know why.” Clark’s voice had lowered to a low level to keep bypassers for overhearing them.
Richard smiled and bowed slightly. “I figured you wanted an explanation. But I guess not…” He was leading them deeper into the web. He knew he needed to maintain their secret, but with Tyson’s revelation this afternoon, Richard had many people wondering if he really did have access to that information.
Chasity took a step forward, her hand out to stop him. “Wait, Richard.” When he turned back, it seemed that his actions were almost rehearsed. “We have known each other for a long time. Don’t walk away from me now.”
“Okay, Chas. Balcony 14. Ten minutes, in costume.”
“What?!” she hissed.
Richard handed them a key and began walking away. “Trust me.”
As he went out of sight, the couple resumed their casual stroll through the mall, maintaining the appearance of normalcy to all those around. Once outside, the two disappeared in a flash of movement, appearing moments later on the balcony overlooking the floor of the mall. At this point, nobody had seen them.
“Clark, are you sure this is a good idea?” Supergirl asked as she paced the floor.
“We have no choice but to trust him. Our identities are already in jeopardy and it’s Bobby’s fault. If we don’t quell this immediately, then we have a situation on our hands that even our powers may not be able to handle.”
Just then the door opened and Richard rushed in, closing the door behind him, locking it in the process. “Sorry, I’m late. I’m getting bombarded by people asking who you two really are.” He motioned to the chairs. “Please, sit down.”
“Richard, how did you find out?”
As the hacker began, both Kryptonians monitored his heartbeat and respiration for any signs that he was lying. “It was actually a mistake I made.”
“Yeah. I was correlating some data for the school and found that whenever you two were out doing your thing, that Clark and Chasity were not present in class. Now once or twice is coincidence, but every single time cemented that theory in place.”
Superboy crossed his arms. He was clearly annoyed, but it seemed to be more so at himself than at their host. “So what are your intentions?”
“I guess that depends on yours. Chas, I’ve known you since you were seven years old. How this happened to you is a story for another day, and how Clark here came around goes along with that.”
“My intentions are to prevent the loss of life whenever possible, bring justice to criminals, to uphold the law and protect the innocent.”
Nodding at his statement, Richard answered in kind. “Then it is my place to see that you do it with the least amount of resistance.”
“Because I believe in you both.”
Neither Kryptonian could answer.
“But there are two problems. The first is the amount of people who don’t trust you, don’t believe in you. I have a plan in order to change that outlook about you. The second problem is a bit harder to solve. And that is Bobby Wallace.”
Richard leaned over the table. “He’s gonna tell who you are. And there is nothing short of killing him that’s going to stop him from doing it.”
Chasity finally caught on to why they were up here in the first place. Richard had known for quite some time. That explained his rehearsed words, his actions. The casual nature in which they were approached, the balcony, the timing. He had planned everything. Perhaps he had also seen a way out of the situation they were in.
“So what do you suggest?”
Richard’s heartbeat suddenly skyrocketed and his respiration got erratic. He wasn’t about to lie to them, but he was nervous. “Do you mind if I bring someone else in here. He doesn’t know who you are, yet.”
Both Kryptonians peered through the wall at the boy waiting on the other side. It was Tyson Hunter, and he was carrying nothing more than his portable terminal. After an exchange in Kryptonese, they agreed. Tyson entered alone a moment later and sat beside them.
“Its good to finally meet you both in person.”
“And we appreciate your speech in class today, Tyson.” Supergirl noticed that he had a hard time taking his eyes off of her legs and her bare midriff. Every once in a while he also glanced at her chest, but did his best to remain focused.
Clark also noticed this but said nothing. “So, we can only assume you two have a plan?”
“We know this is going to sound crazy at first, but hear us out.”
“What is it?”
“Beat Bobby to the punch. Tell the world who you are.”
[Bad idea. Endangers the Hudsons and other innocents.]
The Kryptonians were dumbfounded. Tyson thought that their stares would burn them to a crisp at any moment, but was pleasantly surprised when they looked to one another with interested expressions.
“Go on.” Superboy motioned to the two Terrans to explain their plan.
Half an hour later, when the entire idea was laid out, all four seemed to be in good spirits. Their plan had been approved by Clark and Chasity and they could not fault the two boys for their logic and the support that had been offered. But this decision could not be theirs alone. It was more than just their lives that hung in the balance and Ben, Heath and Alysa had to be consulted. As they stood, whistles and cheers erupted from the ground below. Tyson was about to peer over the edge to see the source of the sounds when Richard pulled him away from the ledge.
“Don’t.” Motioning to the aliens, he simply waved them on. “They know you’re up here. All this time you have been unapproachable, untouchable, and aloof. Go show them that you are very much like them in many ways. And they will love you for it. Trust me.”
Clark and Chasity took a deep breath and leaned over the edge. Beneath them a crowd of at least a hundred students, fans and onlookers had assembled along with security to keep the assembly from destroying anything. They were whistling, calling up to them, cheering them.
Together they flew over the balcony and landed in the midst of the crowd, shaking hands and signing autographs. Some simply wanted to touch one or both of them while others patiently waited their opportunity. Someone had brought a pair of steel bars with them and they shaped them into various forms before giving the twisted pieces away to smaller children.
It wasn’t long before a news crew was on site and doing interviews of the locals, turning the event into a night that would be long remembered. Pictures were taken with all who wanted them and the crowd only got bigger. Tyson had even planned for this eventuality and had printed shirts ready to be sold to the crowd.
Apparently he knew the demands of the market. He had a supply of each type of item, ranging from girls shirts with Supergirl’s colors and symbol on them, men’s T-shirts with Clark’s colors and symbol on them, to ball caps with Alysa’s Bat emblem emblazoned on it. The stocks sold out in minutes.
635 West Elm St… New Independence
Ben sat on his couch watching the live broadcast from The Arboretum where Supergirl and Superboy were making quite stir. To his left, Heath and Alysa sat in awed silence, half wondering if Ben was mad or simply being a parent. It didn’t take long for them to get their answer.
“They are out of their minds.” Ben never blinked as he saw his daughter pose for another round of photographs. Clark was still busy signing autographs and giving children short rides through the air.
“Well, Pop. Look at it this way: At least they have a better public image,” Heath offered.
Dismissing the broadcast with a swipe of his hand, Ben rested his head in his hands and looked over at Alysa. “So why aren’t you over there with them?”
“Before I rush blindly into a situation I know little about, I want some background information on what they…” Alysa never finished the sentence. Instead she rose and began looking carefully at the screen of the holo-caster.
Ben saw it too. Behind the crowd in the background, a wall of ice had rapidly formed, sealing the end of the mall from the outside world. A moment later several metas crawled out from the surrounding woodwork and began converging on the crowd. That very moment Supergirl had noticed and took to the air shouting for the crowd to run.
Alysa gritted her teeth. “Damn! I gotta get there.” She raced out the back door, shedding her clothing along the way and replacing the cowl over her face. Before she reached the edge of the porch, she was in the air, veering towards the mall.
Heath was about to follow when Ben pushed him back down onto the couch. “This is not your fight, son. They can handle it.”
Although the news crew had also cleared out of the area, the cameraman had enough sense to keep the situation in focus as the metahumans began to battle in the middle of the mall.
This had not been their night. Here they were doing what they could to help their public image when they were attacked. It was bad enough that Luthor had sent five metas after them, but these guys were reckless!
The meta that had created the ice wall was very accurate with his powers and was constantly freezing Clark in ice, forcing him to waste time and energy escaping. And every time he did, another would land a series of crushing blows hard enough to hurt even a Kryptonian.
Supergirl, on the other hand, had a bit harder time. She had rapidly dispatched one of the metas by simply phasing into him and resolidifying partially. The pain that caused was almost unbearable and he lay convulsing on the ground. The other two however were a bit more prepared. One kept swinging a pair of magically enhanced blades, forcing Chasity to remain intangible for fear of being severely hurt. The other had a pair of pistols he was shooting with. One was loaded with Blue K, which would hurt her if tangible, and the other with gauss energy bolts designed to hurt her when intangible.
The strain on her system to switch back and forth between states was taking its toll on the blonde heroine. She was partially relieved when she heard Alysa over the private com unit saying she was on her way.
It was then that she and her primary assailant were enveloped in a black ray from behind. Chasity screamed in pain and fell to her knees, but was aware that the other meta had already lost consciousness.
“You leave her alone! She is mine!”
Supergirl would have felt better if it had been any voice other than that of Bobby Wallace. Her vision cleared just in time to see his fist as it slammed her against the far wall.
“Bobby! What happened to you?” She cried as she rose to her feet.
“I have been sent by God, Supergirl. I have been sent to reclaim what is rightfully mine, whether you want to or not!” Bobby lashed out with another bolt of Darkforce and then another as she dodged the first. She was quick, but he was still fast enough to hit her again, sending her back into delicatessen, crumpling the storefront.
Satisfied with his success, Bobby moved in for a finishing blow. As he approached the girl that he not only wanted in bed but in her grave, his conflicting emotions gave pause to his motions. When he shook off the confusion he was struck square in the face with a pair of black boots.
Skidding to a halt across the mall, he was not in the least bit surprised when Batgirl materialized out of thin air to confront him. “You will not touch her again, Fool.” Sensing the danger to her left, Alysa dodged the first blade then the second before lashing out at the large man that had been attacking Supergirl in the first place.
Seeing that she was too involved to be a problem to him, Bobby strode forward towards his goal. “I should have paid more attention,” he thought as Chasity plowed through him, knocking him away again. He blasted back as he landed.
Supergirl attempted to detonate the bolt before it reached her by striking it with her heat vision, but the energy seemed to absorb the crimson beams of power and struck her anyway, Again she was hurled into the delicatessen, destroying a refrigerator in the process. She could hear the manager crying in the background and she could only hope that the council would help the poor man out after this was said and done.
Back at their home Ben and Heath watch intently as the battle unfolded. Every blow became more painful to Ben as he watched his daughter take a beating from the only person to have defeated her in anything. He had already had to restrain Heath twice more from rushing over an into harms way.
But the fact that he would selflessly do such a thing had not escaped the sight of the ex-Marine either. They continued to watch in silence as the battleground to a stalemate, with no side within sight of victory.
Ben clenched his fist hard around the emerald ring, almost wanting to deny what his heart was telling him to do. There was the matter of inexperience, but then again his daughter had that same problem at the beginning of the school year and she had survived the trials that had been placed in her path.
“Heath…” he said finally. “There is something I have to tell you…”
Meanwhile, back at the mall, nobody was having a good time. Luthor’s meta squad was still fighting as if their lives were at stake, which of course they were. The bladesman and Batgirl had been sparring since her arrival and they continued to strike at each other, although the combat training of the girl gave her a tremendous advantage over Luthor’s created meta.
Chasity had learned she didn’t want to be hit by Bobby’s blasts and he cared nothing about bystanders, having already injured a number of people and caused extensive property damage. He on the other hand, despite his invulnerability, had taken a beating from the Kryptonian as she landed blow after blow. The one meta still lay on the ground where she had phased through him, but another seemed to be missing.
Several shots rang out and struck Bobby in the back. Unable to see where the shots came from because Supergirl wasn’t relenting her attack. He continued to exert his power against her, but despite the pain he could tell she was in, Chasity simply kept coming.
Supergirl, on the other hand, had seen the origin of the plasma bolts. The mall security guards had cleared the area of bystanders and had taken positions and were firing at Luthor’s metas. Proud of the fact that they were helping them, Chasity redoubled her efforts and plowed into Bobby.
Her fists swung again and again with no apparent effect on this twisted individual. Seeing it as a last option, she plunged her intangible fist into his chest and partially solidified. Both screamed out in pain at the attack and rapidly fell away from each other. Bobby was holding his chest while it seemed his Darkforce energies spewed out into the real world. Chasity on the other hand was clutching her right wrist in pain. It seemed that his body was composed of Darkforce and an attack like that was worse than getting hit by one of his created bolts.
“Damn you woman!” Bobby screeched as saw the gaping hole in his chest. It burned like acid and nothing he was doing helped matters any. Scanning the area, he saw his escape route and bolted. “You haven’t seen the last of me!”
Chasity had no intentions of giving chase. Not only was she hurt, Clark was still fighting two on one. She assessed his situation and dove through ‘frosty’. The maneuver caught him unaware and he turned only to meet with her fist. Tossing him towards the guards, she called out to them.
“Restrain him before he wakes!
They moved quickly and piled on top of him while several pair of energy binders were deployed. Soon the meta was hog-tied and laying face down on the mall floor.
Chasity’s ears perked at the sounds of battle out side of the mall, so with her x-ray vision, she peeled away layer after layer of steel, pre-fab walls and stone until she saw the commotion. Bobby was involved in another battle…with a man in green and black costume.
“Green Lantern?” she whispered.
“Watch out!” came a Terran’s voice behind her.
Chasity spun to avoid whatever the security guard spotted, but the warning had come too late. The railgun round pierced her abdomen sending her flying back against the wall. Crumpling to the ground, Chasity whimpered in pain as the Blue K round began to fester inside of her. Blood began to ooze from the wound as Chasity nursed the afflicted area. Even this small amount of radiation was causing her powers to slacken.
“Allura!” Clark yelled, now in a panic to get to her. But the meta he had been fighting had other ideas. He grabbed Superboy and spun him around to face him. The last thing that went through his mind before he entered the atmosphere was to never again get in the way of a pissed-off Kryptonian. Clark didn’t bother tracking his prey after his punch sent him through the ceiling. Instead he turned to the last meta, who was trying to reload his pistols.
Clark decided to grab the only available weapon to him, the downed meta that Chasity had phased into. Swinging him like a baseball bat, Clark managed to back the meta up until he was broadsided with his buddy. Another kick to the head sent him skidding between the security guards.
“Kal! Help me!” Chasity called out. The pain had her in tears. The bullet had gone deep and she could do little but lie there and suffer until she absorbed enough radiation for it to kill her. Several people had seen her and had rushed for first aid kits, but had yet to return.
Clark rushed over and picked her up, moving back to a pagoda in the center of the main aisle of the mall. A trail of blood marked their passage behind them. But the encroaching crowd, desperate to see the condition she was in, soon trampled even that into the floor.
Clark scanned the wound and cringed. There was nothing he could do to remove the bullet without severely injuring her more. “Supergirl,” he whispered. “This isn’t good. You need professional help. It missed anything vital, but I know just how painful it is right now.”
“Move! Get out of the way!”
Alysa’s voice did little to quench the pain. She rushed up and moved Chasity’s hands so she could see the wound. After just a moment’s deliberation, she reached into her belt and withdrew a probe, extending the tip. Clark caught her hand before she could use it.
No words needed to be said. The concern and grief that lay in Superboy’s eyes spoke volumes to Alysa. He released her hand and stepped to the side, holding Chasity still.
“Will you be able to heal once its out?
“I…I think so. Please hurry, I can’t take much more.” Chasity whimpered.
“Hold her still.” When Clark wrapped his arms around her upper torso, Batgirl plunged the probe into the female Kryptonian.
“Aaahhhh!!!” Chasity began to involuntarily seize her muscles, making her leg twitch and her washboard abs become harder than iron.
“Damn!” Alysa cried. “It moved. I can’t get it.”
Clark gritted his teeth in frustration as Supergirl slipped from consciousness. He was afraid to mover her should the situation worsen, but he had to do something.
“Hospital?” He asked. [why doesn’t he just suck it out?]
Alysa nodded. “Hospital. I’ll call the Justicars to clean up here. Go.”
Clark was settling his arms under her limp form when a strangely familiar voice echoed through the mall.
“Wait! Don’t move!”
The crowd parted as Green Lantern flew down from the hole in the ceiling, landing lightly beside the pagoda. As he did, the telltale aura of green energy winked out of existence.
“Who are you?” Clark asked skeptically.
“I thought it was obvious, myself. Put her down.”
[Again, Clark would have no problem id’ing anyone. Comes with Superhearing and X-ray vision.]
“No! I’ve got to get her some help before she dies!” Clark tried to peer under the cowl of this mans uniform only to find that his vision was somehow blocked.
“Do you want me to save her or not, Kal-El?” The newcomer asked through clenched teeth.
At the mention of his name, Clark figured out his companion’s identity. Not wasting time, he laid her back down on the bench and took a step back. He watched in wonder and pondered how long Heath had hidden this from them.
The Green Lantern turned over his shoulder. “That pistol is empty. Find the other fourteen rounds. They are embedded throughout the area. No need to expose her to any other harm, is there?”
“Right.” It didn’t take long with the help of the crowd to locate the other bullets, but it gave the Lantern enough time to concentrate on his task.
Imagining the position of the bullet, he carefully manipulated his newfound energy as it traced a path through his sister’s abdomen. There! He felt it. It had mushroomed a bit, but was still intact. Enveloping the deadly substance, he carefully drew it out of the wound through the route that it had entered.
He heard the crowd hold their breath then gasp in relief as the bullet emerged and found its way into Clarks hand. Everyone waited, as there seemed to be no response for Supergirl.
Slowly at first, then finishing all at once, the wound closed and the natural color of her skin returned. Green Lantern let out a long sigh of relief as she opened her eyes. She sat up and swung her legs off of the bench, then rose to her feet. The crowd waited anxiously.
“I’ll bet you didn’t expect a show tonight did you?” Chasity called above the crowd. They broke into applause and laughter and began shaking her hand and patting her on the back. It wasn’t long afterward that a pair of Justicars marched in and took the metas into custody.
In the ensuing confusion as NIPD officers began to take statements and help the few wounded, the four heroes and heroines slipped away. They watched silently as the press congratulated the security guards and those that helped in other ways to apprehend the metas.
Without a word, the four flew back the home of Ben Hudson, anxious to hear the details of the story.
The five of them sat around the dinner table just a half-hour later. It hadn’t taken Chasity long to convince her father that she would be fine, her regeneration having already healed the damage and brought her powers back to full.
Once again back in privacy, Heath had let the defensive field drop, revealing himself in normal clothing wearing one of the legendary rings of the Oans. It was obvious that he was ready to hear this story as well.
Clark, Alysa and Chasity had all changed into something more casual and like typical teenagers, sat down with a burger and fries.
Ben was in for it, that much he knew. He had kept the details of his past a closely guarded secret, even from his own kids. Their expectant eyes told him to be truthful, as they would know otherwise. He sat at the head of the table, but as he spoke, could not stay seated and began to pace the room.
“Yes, I was Green Lantern for Sector Zero for over three years.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
“There was no need. I gave it up the day you were born, Heath. The only reason the ring is in this house again is a policy the Oans have about assigning a successor.”
“So why give it to him, Mr. Hudson?”
“Alysa, I hate to say it, but your outlook on others is a bit skewed from my perspective. You were raised by the most powerful man in 17 star systems and were trained to be a weapon against crime since the day you could walk.”
“Yes. So what?”
“The rest of us here came from a bit more humbling backgrounds. Heath and Chasity had had a comfortable life so far, but nothing extravagant. Clark grew up in the suburbs if I’m not mistaken. But yet the two of them go out and try to help humanity on their own accord.”
“I do this because I want to Mr. Hudson. This is who I am.”
Ben nodded. “I know. And I’m sure everybody here appreciates that. But today, when I saw my son, who was not trained, not born with godlike abilities, want to go out and help those that do have them, I was compelled to act.”
The four teenagers began to understand what had been eating at him all day.
“I had a choice to make, and I don’t like the choice I made.”
“Why not, Pop?”
“Because it accepted you. Not only did it accept you, but also you took to it like a duck to water. Which tells me that I didn’t have a choice at all.”
Ben sat back down after getting another beer. He unsealed the bottle and threw the lid on the table. “Let me tell you about the events that took me from a Marine to the wielder of that ring…and the first time I met the being known as Paradox…”
Matt Brody listened from the ethereal plane with a pair of divine beings on either side of him, while four higher beings completed the circle. The two gods had insisted that these events be manipulated to ensure this outcome, so they were happy. Of course, Paradox had other motivations for his interference, but that was neither here nor there.
The female form that represented the elemental power of earth stood with her siblings, slightly annoyed at this. They had waited long enough.
“Matt, have you finished the last of your playing here? Will you finally join us so that we may finally transcend?”
Rao and Lorra stepped up to defend the former member of Alpha Flight. “No, he cannot. There are still things that must be done in order to set things right once again.”
“Listen here, deity,” Fire shot out, “you may have godhood, but do not forget your place.”
Paradox moved to the middle of the circle separating the cosmic entities. “And don’t you forget your place, Fire. I am your superior. And Lord Rao is correct. There are still three events I wait on before I will participate in our joining to one Supreme Being.”
“How long?” Water asked.
Matt waved his arm towards the four teenagers who sat in New Independence. “When they have fulfilled the criteria.”
“You stretch yourself thin, Matt.” Lorra said softly. “You could simply advance your timetable and do all three now.”
Paradox pondered those actions for a moment. “No. They are not ready for that burden yet. She is not ready for the knowledge of her…other heritage.”
End of Honor Bound Chapter 1
-- Story written and copyrighted (C) 2004 by Jake H
-- and may not be reprinted without permission.
-- The Continuum Worlds Concept is a joint creation of
-- Dylan Clearbrook and Eldric.
-- Otherverse and Multiverse, as depicted in the
-- Continuum Worlds, are original creations of Dylan Clearbrook.
-- Alterverse and The Inheritors, as depicted in the Continuum Worlds,
-- are original creations of Eldric.
-- The Realm, as depicted in the Continuum Worlds,
-- is an original creation of John P
-- Some characters in Continuum Worlds stories are original creations
-- of Dylan Clearbrook, Eldric, Michael Liebhart, Jake H., Jason G.,
-- Andrew Shields, Kyle M., Brian, or Jason Froikin and may not
-- be used without express permission of the respective author.
-- All DC characters are property of D.C. Comics.
-- All Marvel characters are property of Marvel Comics.