DC Comics Presents: Killing Roy Harper

By Christopher W. Blaine

An original story previously published on the internet from April, 2002, through March, 2003.

Dedicated to the following: Stephanie Hargraves Mother, author, inspiration and best friend…I still miss you Dannell Lites Mentor and friend, fellow Silver Age fan…you left us too soon

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This story incorporates characters and situations that are ©1938 – 2003 by DC Comics Inc., an AOL/TimeWarner Company. They are used in this story without permission. This particular publication of this story by the author is meant for use by fans for entertainment purposes only and may not be sold for any reason. It is provided in this format for ease of distribution between fans. DC Comics Inc. does not endorse this story nor has the author received compensation for this work. Because of the nature of United States copyright law, this is considered a derivative work and therefore all rights to formal publication remain with DC Comics Inc. without having to compensate the author. DC Comics Presents: Killing Roy Harper was originally posted to the internet by the author from April, 2002, through February, 2003. It is featured on the DC Comics Fan Fiction Lair, the author’s personal website which is not endorsed or sponsored by DC Comics Inc. The website can be reached at: http://darthyoshi.topcities.com The author strongly recommends that you buy official DC Comics magazines every month.

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Forward…
I never intended to write a book. In fact, what I was trying to do was make up a five to six chapter story that involved major characters from DC Comics being teamed up with minor ones. I wanted to get it done quickly and painlessly and move on to something else. That’s how I generally write; I come up with an idea and in the middle of fleshing out the story, I come up with another. DC Comics Presents: Killing Roy Harper was never meant to be as big as it ended up nor was it meant to encompass what it did. As I wrote the story about what could have happened to the Earth-2 Speedy, he seemed to almost take control of my fingers as I typed. There were times I could almost feel his anguish, his frustration as he realized his life meant nothing. I don’t think I was trying to make some sort of moral decree, but I suppose in the end we are all the same. No matter what we do, no matter how good or bad we are, we all end up dead and you have to wonder if our presence here meant anything. Luckily, I believe we all have a purpose and I suppose the Time-Guardian, the main villain of my story had a purpose as well. Through his efforts, several heroes got to live again. A whole new world exists where some of the best heroes and villains of the Golden and Silver Age of comics can be found. For some people, this was the first time they actually encountered the very first Nightwing and Huntress. Others got to see a real Batwoman or witness the villainy of the Composite-Superman. All of these were great creations. Think about it…you wouldn’t have the Modern Age Nightwing if it wasn’t for good old Van Zee! So, this story is sort of a brief history lesson, demonstrating just how multi-dimensional and multifaceted the DC Universe was before the Crisis and what a great impact that even t had and still has. Because of the Crisis, there no daughter of the Batman; Bruce Wayne never became the Flying Fox; Shyla disappeared into obscurity. These are tragedies for sure but they were necessary at the time. I remember how confusing it could become, reading a story and wondering if it was part of the continuity or did it happen on a parallel world! The Crisis ended that until some other writer, whom I shall not mention, wrote The Kingdom. You see, between that story and the Crisis, DC had vowed that all stories written would be part of the continuity because they got rid of the multiverse. The first rule of comic fiction: never make absolutes! Never say Superman can’t die! Never say Superman can’t come back to life! Never say Hal Jordan will be Green Lantern forever! Never say never! To explain the alternate universe of The Kingdom and without calling it an ElseWorld™, DC came up with the idea of Hypertime. If the multiverse was subtraction, then Hypertime is division. They are both related and they are both hard as hell to understand. Most of my stories involve Hypertime and I still don’t understand it completely. For lack of a better word, it is the multiverse, only it has a few more rules thrown into it. Yet, when I started writing this story, I did not intend the villain to be Speedy. I was going to make someone up who Roy Harper beat up or something like that, something truly lame. Then I started to look a little deeper and asked myself “who would hate him the most”? Well, how about the “first” Roy

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Harper, the Earth-2 Speedy? Imagine a teenager being told that his life was not important enough that when God had a choice he gave life to a drug-addict womanizer? Then I decided to really brew the hate; let’s have Speedy live until the end of time and after billions upon billions of years, he is still pissed. That’s hate. That’s motivation to slaughter entire realities. That is enough to make even the most loyal sidekick take a swing at the Almighty. So, I did that and just for fun, I made him a racist as well. It made sense, he fought in World War 2 and if you don’t think there wasn’t anti-Japanese and anti-Asian sentiment, well, you’re being foolish. So now I have a villain who is ancient, he’s developed fantastic powers to manipulate time through magic, he has an arsenal of futuristic weapons and he’s watching this “loser” get all the girls and have half-Asian babies. By the time Chapter 1 opens up, he’s a boiling bag of fury. I will hate you for all eternity That sets the tone for the whole story. This isn’t so much a story about good over evil, it’s about overcoming hate. It’s about how hate affects us all. For the Time-Guardian, it has led him down a road from which there is no return. For Arsenal, he hates that he has to live apart from the woman he truly loves. For Kid Flash, he learns to put his hate behind him so he can start over. Along the way, I tried to add many, many characters that have not seen much use in several years, decades for some. Aquagirl, Detective Chimp, Cinnamon, the Composite-Superman, Dominus, and Andrew Bennet only name a few. I wanted to give everyone something they could relate to. I’m only sorry I couldn’t do more but by Chapter 19, I was really running out of steam. I had to finish the story. It was fun. It was so much fun I’ve already got plans to use the characters in some new stories. They grow on you and the world of Earth-T is a vehicle for bringing back even the most obscure characters. You never know who I might use again. Could I possibly write a story involving the Silver Age Blue Beetle, the Haunted Tank and Space Cabby? You just never know.

Christopher W. Blaine March 26, 2003

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PROLOGUE: TELL KARA I LOVE HER

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Barry Allen remembered the pain from the time the lightning had struck the rack of chemicals and doused him in burning hot fluid. That fluid had imparted the gift of super-speed onto him and in time, he took on the name and costume of the Scarlet Thunderbolt in honor of his favorite comic book hero. That pain was nothing compared to what he was feeling now as his very life force was being drawn out of his pores; his bioelectric field recharging the massive batteries before him. Through tear-filled eyes, he peered at the face of his killer. Green eyes, cold and emotionless one second, completely composed of pain the next. As a hero, he felt compassion for his murderer; as a human, he felt fear as the end of life was quickly approaching. Outside the fortress, through windows the size of skyscrapers, Barry could see the blue wave of energy that had originally drawn him here. A small imperfection in the time stream that he could feel deep in his bones and that he knew he had no choice but to investigate. “You really don’t know how sorry I am,” a cold, almost metallic voice said. “Another time and place, you and I would be working on this together, but I’m afraid my sanity is not quite what it used to be.” Barry Allen thought it was a strange statement to make, but had no more time to ponder it as his world turned black. Walter West paid for the juice and tuna sandwich and walked slowly down the sidewalk towards the small pond. He was thankful for the time to just relax and, literally, smell the roses. As he walked, he pondered his life and the direction it was taking. As a child, he had been the #1 fan of the Flash. His Aunt Iris arranged for him to meet the superhero. That night, in the laboratory of Iris’s husband, Barry Allen, lightning had broken through the window and electrified the rack of chemicals he stood in front of. Either it was the lightning or the chemicals, or perhaps both, managed to open a conduit between Walter and the Speed Force. It was a hokey sounding name, but it aptly described the dimension where kinetic energy was the primary component of creation. By tapping into this dimension, Walter found he could move at superspeed. Of course, at the time, he didn’t understand the science behind it…all he knew was that he got to be Kid Flash, the partner of the Flash! Later, Walter found out that the Flash and Barry Allen were the same and the bond that formed between the two heroes was like that of father and son. For years, Walter relished his lot in life, fighting super-villains and saving the world. And then, Barry had disappeared. It wasn’t like with a battle with a major super-villain, but it was just as devastating. One day, the older hero had told Walter that he had discovered something strange in the time stream and that he had to investigate it. Walter had begged to go, but Barry had said no. “Someone has to stay behind,” he had said before disappearing in a…flash. Whatever had happened to him was never discovered and all of Walter’s attempts to find his uncle failed and eventually, out of respect, he assumed the mantle of the Flash. A kid thrown into a world of adults, he tried his best to fill the large shoes he had been left. Linda Park helped him through the more difficult parts. Linda had been everything young Walter had wanted in a girlfriend: beautiful, smart, outgoing and more than willing to tolerate a boyfriend who had to get everything done in five seconds flat. They had planned to marry at some point, but that was never to be. Kobra, an international terrorist, killed Linda to get at Walter. He succeeded more than he had dreamed. The loss of Linda was the final straw in a life full of loss and too much change. Walter’s mind snapped and in a rage, he murdered Kobra. Then he trained under Savitar, the self-proclaimed Guru of Speed, and learned the true secret of his powers. And then he killed Savitar. And then he killed any other person that tried to get in his way. Finally, when it appeared he would be unstoppable, when there was no one to prevent Walter from ruling the world, Linda returned from the dead. Only, it wasn’t his Linda, but a Linda Park from another reality. On the heels of the woman came her boyfriend, Wally West, the Flash. He and Wally battled, the insane versus the determined and it appeared that Walter had won.

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The battle with Wally had done something to Walter’s brain chemistry and he was sane again. With sanity came the knowledge and guilt for all that he done, especially for killing Wally and leaving his universe bereft of a Flash. Changing his costume, he traveled to Wally’s reality and tried to take his place. Wally’s friends did not fall for the ruse, and physically, Walter was a decade older after he had healed himself from an injury that left the lightning bolt scar on his cheek. Much to Walter’s surprise, Wally was alive and he returned to his reality. Then, Superman discovered that Walter’s presence in Wally’s reality was causing the two dimensions to merge. Walter had to leave; only he didn’t know how to get back home. When dealing with alternate realities, called Hypertime, you discovered early on that it was a maze of possibilities and what if’s. In two years of traveling, Walter was no closer to home than he was before. He finished his sandwich and waited for his companion. For the past several weeks, he had lived here, working for none other than Wallace West, a scientist of great renown. Wallace had determined that the rate of merging of two distinct realities was proportional to the distance between them. Walter had lived her for weeks, which pretty much said that he was going in the wrong direction. “Find a world where the merging begins almost immediately, and you’ll be close to home,” the scientist had said. Though he was not gifted with super-speed, he still had the nickname “Flash” that he had picked up in college. Today was the day Walter had decided to leave this world, and it was going to be very hard for him to say good-bye. He was a killer, a criminal, and he knew that when he returned to his home reality, he would no doubt be tried and convicted as a killer. His mentor, his Barry Allen, had instilled in him a sense of honor that dictated that he must atone for what he had done. In essence, he was always running towards his destiny. “Lost in thought again, my young friend?” Wallace said. The gray at his temples was the only thing that gave away the fact he was older then Walter. Age was never a constant in the myriad paths of Hypertime. “I was just thinking about what it will be like when I get home,” Walter said, finishing his soda. Wallace pulled out a pipe and lit it. He was smoking his cherry tobacco today. “It is a shame that you cannot have the heroes and persons you’ve helped out in your adventures speak as characters witnesses at your unavoidable trial. I know I would have given a stunning performance.” He winked at Walter, the kind a father gives a son when he’s trying to say he’s proud, without actually saying it. “I’ve got a good idea about which way I need to go, and thanks to you, I should be able to pick up on the paths of other speedsters as they travel through Hypertime. The device you made that I put in my ring will record my travels and…” “If you can find a world with common computer equipment, you should be able to get a graphical representation of Hypertime itself. Yes, and you do not know how envious I am of you.” “No,” Walter began. “I’m the one who is envious. You have a life…a real life and you are able to enjoy it. My life is nothing but misery.” Walter then stuck out his hand. “I appreciate everything.” Wallace took the hand and smiled. “God speed to you.” Breaking from the handshake, Walter seemed to d isappear, only a strong wind marking his departure. Achieving faster-than-light speed immediately, Walter’s civilian clothes melted into the uniform of the “Dark” Flash. Composed entirely of solid Speed Force, his uniform served no other purpose than to identify him as the Flash. As a speedster, his body was immune to the effects of travel at high velocities. Vibrating his molecules to a certain frequency, Walter passed through the dimensional barrier and found himself running through the space between realities. At times, he felt like a mouse in a wall, scurrying here and there, looking for cheese. The cheese, of course, being his home dimension. He looked down at his ring and saw that it was shimmering, indicating that the sensitive miniaturized components were working fine, power by the kinetic energy of his running. Right now, the sensors were searching out the quantum signatures of alternate realities and the Speed Force resonance of other speedsters. Eventually, there would be enough data collected that he would be able to see, literally, all of creation. That was still a long time off. “Can I get you some coffee, sir?” Lois Lane asked. Walter continued typing commands into the computer and did not turn around. He knew that she was curious as to who he really was, but had not said anything. Upon arriving on this world two days

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before, he had been fortunate enough to meet up with Superman, or at least a version of him. Explaining his plight and desire to retrieve the information stored on his ring, the Kryptonian had allowed Walter unprecedented access to his Fortress of Solitude. “That would be great, Miss Lane,” he replied. He could almost hear her fuming at his obvious disinterest in speaking with her. Superman had warned him about her; she was digging around for stories to compile for a book about her husband’s adventures and the chance encounter with a super-hero not from this world was very tempting. “Cream, sugar, young blonde in a maid’s outfit?” she asked sarcastically. “Black would be fine, ma’am,” he said, reaching over to get a common USB connector to plug into his ring. “Though I am partial to strong-willed brunettes.” Lois said nothing, but there was a definite hard edge to the tapping of her shoes on the flawless flooring. Walter smiled to himself; he liked Lois. She reminded him a lot of the women he had loved in his life. There were a couple on some of the alternate worlds, quick whirlwind romances, but none like his first true love, Linda Park. After making sure his ring was hooked up, he activated the program Wallace had taught him those many months before and waited. Superman had said that his computer was the greatest thinking machine on the entire planet. Walter had to suppress a shudder when he was the little “Curtains 3.1” sticker on the computer console. Luckily, Wallace had written the program for graphical display in BASIC, which seemed to be a constant in the various universes. Most of the computing took place within the microprocessor in his ring anyway. Lois suddenly appeared behind him, holding a steaming cup of coffee. “Thank you,” he said, taking the cup. She was dressed in casual clothes, but she seemed to radiate elegance regardless. Her dark skin was new, something different but very appealing, and her smile was genuine as she started to probe him again. “So, are you related to Bart Allen?” she asked, flashing her best smile. “No,” he said. His few talks with Superman had revealed that the grandson of Barry Allen was the Flash of this world. That Flash had disappeared a year before, claiming that he had to investigate something in the time stream. It was eerily like what his own uncle had said and Walter had to wonder if all Flashes faced a similar fate. Was Hypertime the “elephant’s burial ground” for speedsters? “I’m afraid I’m not very interesting, Ms. Lane.” She sat back and crossed her legs, revealing a little more thigh than what was necessary. “Are you even from this world? Is this about some dire, inter-dimensional crisis?” Walter removed his eyes from her legs, and they were nice legs and an obvious ploy, and took another drink of his coffee. “Don’t you think that if there was such a crisis your husband would be heading up the investigation into it?” “Let’s not talk about Clark and instead talk about you. I’ve written about Clark, I want to write about his friends,” she said, acting coy. “Do you act like this with Batman?” She snorted and broke into a fit of laughter. “Oh, God, no! That womanizer would try to take me back to his cave immediately! He grabbed my butt once at a Justice League Christmas party!” She uncrossed her legs and smoothed out her skirt. “You can’t blame a girl for trying.” “The great big diamond on your finger kind of dampens your sex appeal,” Walter said flatly, putting the cup down on the console. The program indicated it was 90% complete in compiling the data. “Honey, I never lose my sex appeal,” she said as she got up to look at the monitor. “This isn’t Clark’s Pac-Man game is it? He just loves that game and won’t let anyone play it.” “ I assure you, Ms. Lane, that playing an old video game is the farthest thing from my mind right now.” “’Old’?” Walter didn’t answer, but instead concentrated on the image that suddenly pooped up on the screen. The image was that of a circle, the perimeter indicating the suspected end of creation. Wallace had explained that creation had an edge, which radiated out from the moment of the Big Bang and continued to spread out. It had a finite distance, but even Walter could not move as fast as the “thoughts of God” as Wallace had put it. The circle then changed into a sphere, a black sphere with splotches of color here and there. The splotches represented various dimensions that Walter had visited. Most of the sphere was black, indicating how much work lay ahead of him. There was no way to pinpoint his home dimension…yet. There were also various lines running through the various splotches and the blackness, showing the estimated paths of other speedsters through Hypertime. If the speedster’s path

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had a quantum signature that was the same as a dimension, the path had a color that matched the corresponding splotch. Walter’s own path was in crimson. “Very pretty,” Lois said, obviously unimpressed. She turned around and walked away without another word. Walter paid no heed to her and instead marveled at the space between some of the dimensions and how his path sometimes took him past the same dimensions hundreds of times. There was no direct line to travel in Hypertime and his head started to hurt as he looked for some sort of pattern. He detected a presence next to him and assumed Lois had returned. She could be very quiet when she wanted to. “Came back for another look?” “If you think I look like my wife, then you have been running far too long,” Superman said, laying a hand on Walter’s shoulder. “Fascinating.” Walter nodded. “I’m trying to make sense of it all.” “Where is this dimension?” Superman asked. Walter pointed to a blotch of color. There was a crimson line leading into it, coming from a green area some distance away. There was also another colored line leaving from it. “That looks like the residual path of your Flash. He must have been pouring on the speed.” “Why do you say that?” “I was told that most speed force residual paths dissipate after a few weeks; you claim your Flash disappeared about a year ago, indicating he was tapping into the Speed Force at an accelerated rate. He wanted to get somewhere fast.” Superman put his finger on the screen and began to trace the path. It disappeared into the darkness. Walter saw the frustration on the Man of Steel’s face and immediately typed in a command. The path extended almost immediately as the program estimated the trajectory. It also estimated the other paths except for Walter’s. The result was shocking. “Most of them appear to end in the same place,” Superman said. He had estimated correctly and Walter looked down at a series of numbers appearing on the screen. There was a high margin of error, based on the available information, but it certainly was unnerving that so many speedsters appeared to be heading in the same direction. Was this his “elephant burial ground”? “It’s strange, that’s for certain.” “Is there anyway you can get me there?” Superman asked. Walter turned slowly. “You don’t understand, Bart was not just a good friend, he was an important part of our hero community. You don’t know what it’s like here. Some of our heroes aren’t very heroic, but Bart was a cut above the rest.” “I understand completely, Superman, it’s just that even if I could get you there, I don’t know if you could get back. You’re tough, I’ll give you that, but even you couldn’t handle all of that Speed Force energy.” One of the things Savitar had taught Walter was to impart speed onto objects and people. Objects could explode, but people seemed to handle small bits very well. Without a full conduit to the Speed Force, however, excess speed could kill. “Then, will you go?” Walter smiled. It was nice of Superman to ask him, but the truth was that there was no way Walter could not go. He couldn’t remain here regardless and he knew that this was a rock in the road he had to climb over. Besides, maybe he would find out what had happened to his own uncle. “Yes.” The printout wasn’t the best in the universe, having come from a simple pen plotter that Superman had; apparently laser printers hadn’t been invented in this world, but he was still thankful. It was not so much a roadmap as it was a compass, telling him what dimensional barriers to sense for as he ran. He thanked Superman and received a kiss on the cheek from Lois. In an instant, he was gone. It had seemed like hours that he had been running and his legs were actually starting to hurt. That bothered him because Savitar had trained him to absorb speed force energy to overcome fatigue poisons in his blood. He started to notice that he was sweating as well, which was rather uncommon when traveling in Hypertime. Certainly, the closer he got to this strange dimension, the weirder he felt. Then the thought occurred to him that maybe he was heading to a section of the Speed Force itself. If he entered the Speed Force, he would be absorbed into it. He was not aware of any speedster who ever entered it and returned, except for Wally West and that was a fluke as far as Walter was concerned. Wally West was just the luckiest man alive is all.

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Walter dismissed the idea, but it didn’t completely leave his mind. He could sense he was about in the right place when a sudden wave of pain struck him. He screamed and cursed and by reflex alone, pulled the Speed Force to him. He surged forward and it felt like he was running though thorn bushes. Crashing through the barrier, he landed hard onto a cold metal surface. His body shaking, as invisible needles seemed to poke his skin, he glimpsed the world he had entered. By design or by luck, he always ended up on the planet Earth, even though, statistically, he could have ended up anywhere, even in space. Here, he was on the floor of some sort of platform that floated under crimson skies. Black lightning crackled overhead and white thunder pounded his eardrums. It was warm, but he still saw his breath, which came quickly as his accelerated senses became overwhelmed by the pain. It finally occurred to him why he was hurting; he could feel Speed Force energy being pulled out of him, like he was a faucet in a sink. He cursed again and tried to sit up, but his arms gave way beneath him. He tried to mentally increase the thickness of his costume, laying a layer of pure speed around him, but it didn’t work. In between lightning flashes, he saw a lone figure slowly approaching him. When the figure came into view, Walter could not say anything as he vomited from the pain. When his stomach contents had finished spilling out, his tear-filled eyes observed a green-skinned man with blond hair in a purple jumpsuit standing over him. When the man spoke, his voice was calm, but his eyes betrayed a madness that Walter knew all too well. “Welcome to the end, Flash.” Then Walter’s world went black and thankfully, the pain went away. “You are quite amazing man, Mr. West,” the green-skinned man said, observing Walter from the better side of the holding cell. They were no longer outside, but were inside what appeared to be a fortress or a laboratory…or both. There were windows that showed a large white energy field just behind some inky black space. “Yes, we’re in orbit above what was once the planet Earth. I’m afraid the only thing there is my little energy beacon with which I trap you speedsters. I liken it to putting sugar out to catch flies.” Walter was too disoriented to come up with a smart comment, and instead decided to allow his captor to keep speaking. “I know that you are trying to figure out a way to get out of our prison, and I commend your efforts. I was once a hero like you and I know much about the motto of ‘never give up’. “You are also probably wondering how it is I know your name and that is very simple; I’ve killed several of your duplicates over the years, drawing their Speed Force energy out of their bodies to power my machines, to allow my research to continue.” Walter shook his head, trying to get the ringing out of his ears. At least the pain had stopped. He looked behind the man and saw a door with massive locks on it. That would bear investigating. The man continued, adjusting controls on the outside of the cell. “By the way, you may call me Brainiac 5 if you wish to threaten or plead with me, but I’m sure you’re too heroic for all of that. Like I said, I was once like you. “For years, I served the cause of good and the cause of the weak and the cause of the defenseless until I did nothing but use my intellect to solve problems created by those who could not. I worked day and night, night and day, toiling away to save the universe time and time again.” He stood up and waved a hand at the windows. “Out there, you will see the problem I cold not conquer, the problem created by others.” Walter examined the energy barrier more closely, but could not tell anything significant about it. “Whoopee,” he said, discovering his throat was raw from the combination of regurgitation and screaming. “Ah, the famous West humor. You remind me of a Durlan I once knew, but that was so long ago. That, my uneducated captive, is the Crisis wave, the last little bits of energy from the Anti-Monitor’s plan to reshape the universe. That is where Hal Jordan discovered the truth of the universe and then attempted to reshape it. It batters my force field technology, trying to break through, to consume this remnant from the universe that once was.” “Huh?” Walter said. He had read up on the Crisis wave when he had posed as Wally West. Wally’s uncle Barry had sacrificed his life to stop it, but all of this talk about Hal Jordan, a Green Lantern and universes that were was nothing but rubbish to him. It was more than apparent that this guy was nuts and he was also apparently responsible for the deaths of several Flashes. “Including my uncle Barry,” Walter said out loud. “You bastard! You killed my uncle!” Brainiac 5 regarded him with a look of puzzlement. “Did I? I’m sorry, but you certainly can’t expect me to remember one particular specimen.” “Specimen! They were human beings! Living creatures!”

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Brainiac 5 shook his head. “No, they were experimental fodder for something much more. You see, with their energies, I was able to create the force field that holds back the Crisis wave. My first attempt used other forms of energy, but they did not hold up for very long. I searched for a proper fuel for my force field and found it when Barry Allen sacrificed his life to destroy the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon.” Walter knew which Barry Allen Brainiac 5 was speaking of; it was Wally West’s uncle. He had been reduced to atoms destroying the Anti-Monitor’s weapon. “That doesn’t excuse what you’ve done! You lay out a trap for speedsters, using a beacon that touches us through the Speed Force and you then you claim you were a hero! You’re full of yourself!” “Perhaps…but it doesn’t matter. I remember Irma used to tell me that sometimes I considered myself above humanity. I always dismissed it, but who knows?” Thoughts could almost be seen flashing in Brainiac 5’s green eyes. “Have you ever lost someone you loved, Mr. West?” Walter could not believe the question. “Excuse me?” “Did you know that most geniuses go insane?” Walter had heard enough. It was bad when someone lost their mind; when they realized it and didn’t care, it was downright evil. Walter reached out to the Speed Force in order to vibrate through the prison, but found himself cut off. “What the hell?” “Impressive. Yo ur power readings are the highest I have ever seen. You may be the source I’ve been waiting for…maybe with you I can severe her link…” “You want power? I’ll show you power!” Walter yelled. He was angry beyond comprehension and he felt an old feeling creeping up his back, the same feeling he had when he realized his Linda had been killed. He had felt out of control, just as now. This man was insane and killing people who deserved to live. Walter summoned the Speed Force again and came up against the artificial barrier that Brainiac 5 had in place. Walter slammed his red-hot will into the barrier again and again. Brainiac 5 looked in astonishment at the readings scrolling on the small data pad he was carrying and then he looked back at Walter. Suddenly, the green face had a new look on it. The look was fear. Walter felt the barrier break away and his body was flooded with the Speed Force. He vibrated his molecules and passed through the cell’s clear wall. Brainiac 5 pressed a button on his belt and was immediately covered in a yellow glow. Walter guessed it was a force field, but he didn’t care. As he brought his fist up, he accelerated it past light speed, thereby increasing it’s mass. When it struck the force field, it shattered. Brainiac 5 flew across the lab and struck a workbench. Before the first shards of glass from the broken test tubes had separated from their initial structure, Walter was there, pummeling Brainiac 5. “How does it feel!” he yelled. Blood started to pour from the nose of Brainiac 5 and just when he was about to slip out of conciseness, his force field reactivated automatically. The electric shock to Walter now threw him back across the room. Walter slammed into the wall next to the heavily locked door as Brainiac 5 slowly stood up. Walter shook his head, the pain from the impact starting to bring him back to his senses. He cursed himself for losing control and he began to wonder if there was something wrong with him. Normal people do not go insane every time they got angry. He looked over at the door and immediately went for it. A laser beam burned a hole next to his head and Walter assumed that his attacker had regained his senses as well. Vibrating his hand, Walter passed it through all ten locks in less than a second. He quickly ran to the other side of the room, grabbing the small pistol from Brainiac 5 as he passed him. The locks, their molecular integrity destroyed, exploded, showering the room with metal fragments. Walter’s enhanced senses allowed him to watch every fragment as it flew towards them, making avoiding them easy for him. He saw one just getting ready to strike Brainiac 5 and he nudged him in the direction of the projectile. He smiled grimly as the shard penetrated and passed through the green shoulder of the scientist. As Brainiac 5 stumbled from his injury, Walter sped passed the falling door and into the chamber beyond. Immediately, all aggressive feelings poured from him and he beheld a light that seemed so pure, it hurt him. He felt shame and remorse for everything bad he had ever done, from little pranks as a child to just now pushing Brainiac 5 into the flying shrapnel.

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Though the light was intense, it did not hurt like sunlight, but more of a pain deep inside of him. In the light he saw what appeared to be a form floating inside the light. In his head, he heard a voice, a feminine voice that seemed to be trying to calm him and ask for help at the same time. “I don’t understand,” he said out loud. “Get away from her!” Walter turned to see a bleeding Brainiac 5 standing in the doorway. “Don’t you touch her!” Walter waited for him to shuffle up next to him. His eyes were clear, the effects of the room having made him lucid. “I wasn’t going to touch…it.” “Her,” Brainiac 5 corrected. His voice had a different tone to it. “Her name is Kara. Some people knew her as Supergirl. She was killed by the Anti-Monitor.” As far as Walter knew, Kara was the name generally given to the various incarnations of Power Girl. That heroine did look similar to what Walter knew made up a Supergirl, but he didn’t get the connection. He had read all of the Justice League files on the Crisis and there had been no mention of Supergirl’s death. It was almost as if Brainiac 5 was talking about a universe and time that never existed. The only problem was that Brainiac 5 was real and so was the figure in the light. “If she was killed, then what is she doing here and what have you done to her?” The look of madness returned, like water washing up on the beach. Even the effects of the room could not beat back the insanity that permeated Brainiac 5. “I’ve captured her soul…I’ve kept her here with me…working on a way to bring her back…” The horror that Walter felt was beyond words, for it touched him on a spiritual level. This was something that defiled his basic understanding of life and death. Whether he believed that this was a Supergirl or not made no difference. This was someone crying out for help. “Why?” “Because it was not fair…it was not right that she was taken away from me. Universe remade…what a crock! A universe created that forgot the sacrifice of its most noble member.” Tears were forming in his eyes and Walter could tell he was battling with himself. Walter remembered what it was like when he and Wally West had merged, their bodies vibrating in combat, their thoughts existing as if they were one being. He recalled the almost indescribable anguish he felt when he realized how foolish he had acted, how dishonorable his actions were. For a few fleeting moments, almost a lifetime to one who lived between milliseconds, he found himself at odds with his own psyche. Walter had no idea when the last time Brainiac 5 had stood here, if ever. It was obvious it was having an effect on him, just as much as it was on Walter. The difference was, and Walter had to admit he was slightly relieved to discover, was that he had conquered his insanity. Obviously, Brainiac 5 could not. Walter could sense the goodness of the soul that was trapped and could feel the misguided evil that was Brainiac 5. “I don’t care what your reasons are for anything…I only know that I’m setting her free.” Brainiac 5 produced another laser pistol. “No. I will not lose her again.” Before Walter could react, the light intensified, so bright it actually began to produce heat. A voice, like honeyed wind, radiated in the chamber. Let me go, my love, let me go. “No! Kara! No, don’t give up on us! I’m so close…” Our time is done…we must go… Brainiac 5 fell to his knees, the laser pistol clattering on the hard floor. “Don’t do this…” Let me go… Walter had heard enough and he rushed the light, pulling the Speed Force tight around him. As he entered the light, he felt peace, but with a profound sadness. He continued to pull the Speed Force to him, trying to accelerate even faster, hoping that his energy trail would burst the field holding the soul of the Supergirl. No, don’t give…take… Walter heard the voice, but did not understand immediately until he realized he was being told not to keep adding speed, but to absorb it. He slowed to a halt, finding himself literally floating in the light. He took in a deep breath and then began absorbing speed from the photons of the energy barrier. He increased his draw slowly, taking their energy in, allowing the field to weaken gradually. As he did so, he could have sworn he saw a face forming in front of him. It smiled at him and he felt…good. Then it and the light were gone. “No! No! No!” Brainiac 5 sobbed. His tone was almost childlike and Walter realized that no matter how great the intellect was before, it was comp letely gone now. Walter looked at him and felt pity. He wondered if that was what he would have become had he not ever encountered Wally West.

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Walter slowly stepped by the sobbing Brainiac 5 and left him there. Walter opened the conduit back into Hypertime and stepped through. He had answers, but he didn’t know if they were to his questions. Did his uncle die here, at the hands of an alien driven insane by the loss of his one true love. Did that love even exist, or was this all some type of dream? Walter didn’t care. He was tired, both physically and mentally. He still had Creation to map. Running, he headed off towards infinity. Brainiac 5 stumbled through the remains of his lab, truly alone for the first time since the Crisis. It was then, when he was told that Kara, Supergirl, had been killed, that he began to formulate his plan. What was Heaven if not just some other place? And that meant he could get her back. Didn’t he rescue Mon-El from the Phantom Zone? Hadn’t his genius created the Legion flight rings? Of course, none of it mattered now. The batteries were drained and his Speed Force shield against the Crisis wave was failing. Very soon, the wave would consume this small place in time and then the wave would disappear, it’s cycle complete. He had stopped the inevitable for a while, preventing the Crisis from completing itself. Hal Jordan had discovered this and as the power mad Parallax tried to reshape the universe, but he had failed. Brainiac 5 had not wanted to do that. All he wanted was to love Kara. That was impossible now, as he had shamed himself to the point that she had begged another man to set her free, and he had been powerless to stop it. For his crimes, he knew he would burn in a place far from where his beloved had gone. Staring up at the white wave eating up the last bits that were his reality, he whispered through blood-tainted lips and behind tears of defeat. “Tell Kara I love her.”

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PART I: THE DEATH OF ROY HARPER

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Chapter 1 Zatanna and Nightwing

I will hate you for all of eternity. Such dark thoughts were common in the brain of Abra Kadabra. Sometimes, he would wonder about his obsession with the Flash, and then his thoughts would drift to Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, a 25th century villain who died, albeit accidentally, at the hand of Barry Allen, the second Flash. This desire to conquer the Scarlet Speedster had led to his death at an early age. True, Abra had faired much better over the years; he was only horribly disfigured and scarred, but he would sometimes ponder if his fixation on this particular super-hero would spell even more dire consequences for himself. Abra turned to his companion, a man cloaked in black. “You have something to say? I can sense it, you know.” The man smiled from the shadows of his hood. “No, please go on with your story, it’s so interesting.” Abra looked across the table they sat at. It was a warm spring day and they were in Paris, France. The year was 2717. A positively mundane time in history; a perfect place for the two of them to meet. “Stop patronizing me,” Abra said, his face twisting in anger. Subtle magiks kept the façade of rugged handsomeness in place, or else the entire lunch crowd would be gawking at him. “You asked for this meeting, so speak. I don’t know why I agreed to even see you.” “Because you value my opinion, my dear friend. That and you really don’t have anything else to do, do you? You talk about having this plan and that plan for taking care of the Flash, but we both know that isn’t true.” He let the statement hang between them for a moment before he continued. “Have you ever considered that, maybe, you’re taking too direct an approach in handling your Flash affairs?” Abra waved the comment away and sipped at his wine. “Please, I’m the master of intricate plans; I just have a run of bad luck…constantly.” “Bad luck? Funny you should mention that, because I was thinking about the very same subject.” “Really? I wonder why someone of your ability, of your talent,” Abra’s tone was turning sarcastic, “of your wisdom, would bother considering something so primitive as the concept of luck?” The hooded man took a sip of his own drink. “You realize there is no such thing as luck, don’t you?” “Bah! Don’t bother me with your sermons today, just tell me why we are here,” Abra snapped. “Suppose I told you that I had the most ingenious plan for getting rid of Wally West?” Abra motioned for the waiter and held up his glass. As the waiter filled it, he spoke. “And why would you share it with me? You’ve never demonstrated any particular hatred towards the super-hero community.” “True, but maybe I’ve been biding my time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.” As the waiter departed, Abra leaned in closer. “I think you’ve been waiting for a very long time. For years, all you’ve done is give me bad advice.” The hooded man leaned in as well. “Not just you, my friend.” There was a pause and then both men started laughing and then their wine glasses clanged together in a toast. “I thought,” Abra said, “that you would come around eventually. Why now?” “Let’s just say I thought the time was right.” A few minutes later, both men departed the café, each going in separate directions. Abra pondered the plan laid out before him and almost smacked himself in the forehead for never thinking of it. The subtleness of it, but the inherent cruelty, made it a work of art. The young hero known as Nightwing was enjoying himself as he swung between buildings on a nylon cord. He was in New York, spending the week with his friend Victor Stone as they upgraded the computers in the headquarters of the Titans. It was costing him his only week of vacation from the Bludhaven police department, where, as Richard Grayson, he spent his daylight hours as a patrolman. It wasn’t that he needed the money, because he had millions, literally, hidden away in secret accounts that were never discovered during the standard

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background checks that all police candidates went through. Instead, he was a little upset that he had to give up the time because he had other plans. Actually, he had hopes of having other plans. As he landed on the rooftop of a three-story building, he started counting all of the different women in his life he had been considering asking out for a vacation in the tropics. At the top of his list was Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl and current cyber-sleuth Oracle. The next likely candidate had been Donna Troy, the Titan known as Troia. The two had been friends for over a decade and recently they had been spending a lot of time alone together. They had tried having a relationship once, but it hadn’t worked out. Now they were older and wiser. The obvious choice was Jessie Quick, another Titan. Jessie was smart, brave, intelligent and beautiful. Plus, she was rich, which meant that they could communicate on a similar level. Richard did not think of himself as a snob, but sometimes it was easier to talk to someone about the problems with your investments when they could actually sympathize. “Ah hell, Grayson,” he said to himself as he scouted the nearby rooftops, trying to decide which way to go. “You know exactly what it is…that tight little costume she wears.” He was about to start heading south, when he heard the sound of a scuffle. Nightwing looked over and saw a young man being assaulted on the roof of a community theater. Immediately, the hero threw a line over and swung to the fire escape on the side of the building. As he started to climb, he could hear applause from the inside of the theater. Nightwing decided he needed to end this quickly before some unsuspecting theater worker headed to the roof for a smoke. Climbing over the edge, he saw that the man was down on the ground, next to a large skylight. Without a word, he launched himself at the nearest thug. The man turned, seeing only a dark blur before Nightwing landed a punch to his jaw and then a kick to the side. As he went down, effectively out for the fight, Nightwing turned his attention to the other man. “Don’t move, hero,” the man said, drawing a chrome-plated revolver. His voice had the familiar New York accent. “I don’t like guns,” Nightwing said, his hand moving to the pocket that held his special shuriken. “Put it away and I promise it won’t be too painful.” The man pulled the trigger and Nightwing threw his sharpened weapons. Two shots missed the hero. Struck in the hand and wrist, the gunman dropped his pistol just as Nightwing was getting ready to rush him. A loud crash behind him made turn instead, and he saw the man he was trying to protect falling in. Nightwing cursed to himself; he had thought the man was out cold. Dismissing the gunman, Nightwing leapt through the broken skylight to pursue the victim. As he dropped into the theater, he saw that they were above the stage and that a shower of glass was just ahead of them. As he fired a safety line with his launcher, he caught sight of a single person on the stage, wearing what appeared to be a top hat. He reached for the falling body of the victim but just missed; he was too late! “Dnuorg eht ot taolf nam!” a raven-haired woman chanted from the stage. Immediately, Nightwing saw the victim slow in his fall. “Snaeb yllej ot nrut ssalg!” The shards of glass immediately shimmered and changed form, becoming a rainstorm of jellybeans. Even as his safety line caught and he swung up into the upper reaches of the theater, Nightwing realized that the woman on the stage was actually former Justice League member, Zatanna. Zatanna, he knew, was the daughter of Zatara, a famous magician from the 1940’s and 50’s, who had apparently had children late in life. Both he and his daughter had the ability to use magic, by reciting commands backwards. Zatanna had spent several years as a member of the Justice League, the youngest member of the original team. No longer an active member, she had turned to the stage to follow more closely in her father’s footsteps. Nightwing landed and watched as the victim landed softly. He said a silent prayer of thanks and peered down at Zatanna. Clad in her magician’s outfit, he couldn’t help but notice her long legs in the fishnet stockings she sported. “I should attend the theater more often,” he said silently. She looked up, saw him and winked. He gave her a quick salute and then indicated that he would head down and find her later so that they could compare notes. At least, that was the justification he was feeding himself at the moment. “Are you sure that nobody saw you?” Zatanna asked as she closed her dressing room door. “Afraid of giving away your secret identity?” Nightwing asked. He was seated in her make-up.

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“No, I just don’t want people to start thinking I’m having a Justice League meeting or something,” she said, hanging her hat up and reaching for a bottled water inside a small refrigerator. Nightwing stood up. “Technically, Batman is in the League, I’m in the Titans.” She laughed. It was an attractive, feminine laugh with a slight snort. “I’m sorry, you’re right. It’s been so long since I had anything to do with the League…I really don’t keep up with it.” He tilted his head and she caught his smile. She returned it, taking a quick glance at his figure. As wicked thoughts entered her mind, she caught the hint of something coming from him. It wasn’t physical, but mystical, like a loose thread fluttering in the breeze. A black thread. The fluttering had stopped, but she could still sense something. “It was fun and exciting back then, but there were problems. Green Arrow always rubbing my shoulders, the Elongated Man always looking for a pat on the back. Lord, how I wanted someone my own age on the team. When Aquaman reformed a more permanent team, I kind of hung on, but it just didn’t work out. I don’t miss it, but I am thankful for it.” Nightwing nodded. “I never really wanted to be part of the League myself; I like hanging out with people my own age too. I don’t think I would take too well to Green Arrow rubbing my shoulders.” She laughed again, choking on the swig of water she had taken. He reached over and patted her on the back. Normally, she would have used it as an excuse to make some statement to gauge his receptivity to her charms, but instead, she felt a cold shock to her body. The fluttering had become something more. He saw the look on her face and immediately backed away. “I’m sorry, I thought you were choking…” She wiped a tear from her eye. “No, that’s not it…can I ask you a question?” He nodded his ascent. “Go ahead.” “Have you ever been exposed to mystical energies?” It was his turn to laugh. “You really haven’t been following the super-hero scene, have you? When we were the Teen Titans, every other case was dealing with creatures like Trigon.” Zatanna nodded. “I don’t know what to alarm you, but I’m sensing…something coming off of you.” Nightwing lifted his arms and sniffed, with great drama. “I don’t smell,” he said proudly. She shook her head, without smiling. “It’s not physical, it’s something else. I can’t describe it exactly, but it comes in waves.” Nightwing looked concerned. “I don’t like the sound of this.” “Would you like to get out of here? This isn’t the place for this kind of conversation.” The man that approached Zatanna on the street corner was young, handsome and had sureness to his step. He was dressed in jeans and a T -shirt, a sort of modern-day James Dean. He smiled as he approached. “Still don’t know who I am?” She grinned and had to brush her hair out of her face as a breeze picked up. “You’re cuter out of uniform than I thought…kind of what I always thought Batman would look like.” He rolled his eyes. “Like I’ve never heard that before.” She was about to make a reply when she felt the tendrils reach out again. She could sense them moving towards everything, the buildings, the cars and even the trash on the street. Nightwing saw the look on her face. “What is it?” “I can’t tell you, except that I think something is going to happen…” she paused and then cried out. “Ereht revo ekirts gnitghil!” A bolt of lighting, ready to strike her, moved off in another direction and struck the middle of the street. There was a loud thunderclap and a small explosion as the concrete gave way to nature’s fury. Nightwing lunged for Zatanna and pushed her to the ground. Her head turned to the scene of the lightning blast and she thought that, just for a second, she saw a humanoid form moving in the smoke. She blinked her eyes and the form was gone. “Are you okay?” Nightwing asked. She turned her head to find him only inches away. His weight was comfortable on top of her. “I’m fine, but I think we should get up or else you’d better ask me to marry you,” she said with a smirk. As they stood up, she smoothed out her blouse. “We need to get out of here. Let’s go to my apartment, I have a book there I need to consult.”

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Zatanna’s apartment was filled with candles, books, videos and a Barbie doll collection. “You really collect those?’ “No, I just keep them around so people will leave my books alone,” she said as she dug through stack after stack. Nightwing noticed a few titles by Stephen King. He waited patiently and wandered over to the videos. “No Blair Witch Project?” he asked with a smile. She stood up. “Please, don’t insult me.” In her hand was a large book with yellowed pages. “This is a book written in the 1920’s about the subject of luck.” “Luck? Someone actually wrote a book about it?’ Nightwing asked, looking for someplace to sit. Zatanna cleared some books out of a chair and sat down, oblivious to her guest’s problem. “Yes. There are some that believe that luck is actually a force that can be manipulated magically. Some even say that you can effect luck in such a way as to create it.” “Create it? You mean that when someone says they’re having a streak of bad luck, it’s true?” “That’s one way of looking at it, but usually when luck is affected magically it’s for a specific purpose, such as to cause a certain event to happen. The more complex the spells weaved, the longer the bad luck will last. The tendrils I felt coming from you reminded me of the descriptions I had read in this book once before.” She started turning the pages, and had to push a lock of hair behind her head. “Would you say that you are terribly unlucky?” “I don’t believe this,” Nightwing said, moving towards a window. “I don’t know what you mean by bad luck. Do bad things happen in my life? Sure, but is it anything out of the norm? Not that I can tell.” She looked up from the book, at him. “Look, I don’t want to sound forward or anything, but I’ve worked with Batman, remember? You don’t get that intense without a lot of tragedy. You’ve been exposed to that, plus something more. I can tell. When you don’t think people are looking, you show your pain in your eyes.” He turned away and looked out the window. He didn’t want to think about what had gone wrong in his life, and the idea that it had to do with invisible magic tendrils was ludicrous. Was he inadvertently responsible for his parent’s death? “I have some pain in my life; we all do. There’s nothing special about mine.” There was a hand on his shoulder. “People don’t normally put on a costume and fight crime unless its something major.” He turned to her and was about to speak when he saw something. A shadow moved. She saw the look on his face and she instantly felt the presence. There was a mystical presence that didn’t belong in her apartment. She turned and prepared to launch a spell when she was hit with a bolt of blue lightning. She fell back into strong arms that held her up. “What is it?” Nightwing asked. “I…don’t…know,” she struggled to get the words out. Another flash and he pulled her to the side, rolling over her body and coming up in an offensive stance. He saw what was going on. Whenever the shadow passed by the Barbie dolls, he could see it. The dolls, obviously, were some sort of mystical home alarm system. Nightwing lunged for the shadow, half expecting to pass through and hit the opposite wall. He connected and felt a warm body and he grabbed it tight. He and the figure fell to the floor and began wrestling around. A magical assault sent him flying across the room. He crashed into a stack of books. Shrugging off the blow he stood back up, to be joined by a very angry Zatanna. “Nobody invades my home,” she said. Nightwing looked over and actually saw smoke rising from her chest where the lightning had struck. She saw him staring. “You can look at it later,” she said. The she added, “to make sure I’m okay.” He nodded as she cast a spell. “Nezorf niamer wodahs!” Instantly the shadow-thing stopped moving and audible cursing could be heard. “Who the hell puts a spell of alarm on dolls?” a voice called. “Kadabra!” Zatanna said, venom in her voice. “I should have known!” The shadow melted away to reveal the form of the 64th century magician, complete with all of the scars and disfigurements. It was obvious he was using his talents to free himself from Zatanna’s spell. “This won’t hold me for long, you realize that.” “Long enough to get the answers I need,” she said, approaching him slowly. “What is this all about, why are you following him?” “You wouldn’t understand such things, woman!” Abra hissed. “Try her,” Nightwing said, coming up behind her. He put a blanket around her to cover her chest.

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Zatanna thought back to the lighting bolt earlier and the figure she had seen in the smoke. “You’ve been following him, why? I saw you earlier!” Abra had a surprised look on his face. “What are you talking about? I just got here. I felt your presence in the spell. How was I supposed to know he would have a chance encounter with a mystic of your caliber and perceptiveness? You had to be concentrating pretty strongly on him to sense my spell.” She started to blush as she realized that the passing romantic fantasy had caused her to focus more intently on the hero. “Why did you have a spell on him? Aren’t you interested in the Flash?” His left arm began moving, indicating he was breaking her charm. “Don’t you see? He was the weapon I planned to use against West! I traveled back to his birth and weaved my magiks there. An incredible trail of bad luck has followed him through his entire life. He lost parents, friends…so much pain. It was only a matter of time before his bad luck took out his best friend.” “That’s a bunch of crap!” Nightwing cried, grabbing Abra by the collar and shaking him. “Are you trying to say I’m responsible for every bad thing that’s ever happened to everyone I’ve ever known?” Abra laughed. “Your primitive brain could never comprehend what I’m trying to say, fool!” His arms came free and he shoved the hero back with magically enhanced strength. He began to disappear. “Think long and hard about it, hero! Nightwing jumped the disappearing figure and he passed right through it. “So, that’s it?” Nightwing asked, looking up from where he was laying on the couch in Zatanna’s apartment. She nodded. “It was a fairly simple spell; it was the magic that hid it from detection that was so powerful. It’s true, if I hadn’t been concentrating so hard on you,” she began to blush again, “I never would have detected it.” “Was what he said true?” Nightwing asked, sitting up. It had been on his mind since Abra’s admission. “Am I indirectly responsible for every bad thing I’ve witnessed?” He thought about his parents and then his mind went off on other tangents. Jason Todd’s death. Barbara Gordon’s wounding by the Joker. Donna Troy’s son dying. Joseph Wilson’s insanity. She smiled. “I don’t think so. Regardless of what Abra might think, there are powers stronger than magic that control life and death. What has happened in your life, I believe, was meant to happen and is part of something bigger than Abra Kadabra’s plan to kill Wally West.” “You sure?” She nodded. “I suppose you’ll be going now?” “Actually,” he said with a wry grin,” I was wondering if you like to travel to exotic locations…” The hooded man listened to Abra’s explanation of what had gone wrong with the “perfect” plan. He nodded at all of the right places, and shook his head in sympathy when it was required. It was important to maintain the deception, after all. An hour later, Abra had gone, promising to meet him in the 30th century in a week for dinner. He didn’t know if he would actually make it. It was difficult, trying to coordinate so many things over so many time periods. It had been a good plan; only it hadn’t been the Flash he had been after. No, it was someone else, another Titan, the one that wasn’t supposed to be there, the pretender. The hooded man had to take a deep breath to keep his anger from welling up and exploding. It was ironic now that he thought about it, that his little plan had actually caused the accident that had brought him here and given him his powers. To think, a simple spell to divert a lightning bolt and here he was, snatched from death. Death? That wasn’t quite right; more like totally wiped from existence! Oh, now Nightwing would wonder for the rest of his life if he were responsible for all of those bad things! If only he knew that it didn’t matter, since all of the events that had already occurred were just predestined. The hooded man knew that for a fact. He had hoped that the spell would actually nail Harper though. How sweet it would have been. It had been his hope to take care of this in secret, to further his plans in the background. That was why he had cultivated the relationship with Abra after they had met in the 43rd century. It had appeared, at the time, they would be able to accomplish their goals together. The hooded man knew how the heroes operated after all. He pulled back his hood and ran a hand through his red hair and sighed. A total failure, a worthless venture indeed! No matter, he still had his goals and he had all of the time in the world, now

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being immortal. He would have his revenge on Harper and then he would claim his rightful place in history.

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Chapter 2 Batgirl and Green Lantern
It seemed that hell had been visited upon Earth. Roy Harper notched another arrow, a fire-extinguishing one, and aimed it for a flaming doorway. He could just make out the frightened faces of the children trapped inside the burning building As he let the arrow fly, he knew that it was a futile gesture at best, something to make him feel like he was making a difference. A human-like shape fell to the ground in front of him with a thud, and he saw it was his teammate, Wonder Girl. He and Donna Troy had been friends for what had seemed like forever, since they had helped form Young Justice. As time went on they had become even closer. Had he not married Katana of the Outsiders, he imagined that Donna Troy would have become his wife. Now, Donna was dead. His wife was also dead, killed with the rest of the Justice Society when the armored man had attacked the JSA Embassy in Metropolis. There had been no time to contact the European branch of the team, but Roy could not have known that the armored man had already dispatched them as well. As he stood and faced his death, the armored man touched down with a slight clang, his navy-blue cloak wrapped around him, hiding his body from view. “Begin log,” the stranger said into the air, the voice activating hidden recording devices in his armor. “Variant reality 123.76B, final mission report. Variant reality splits along several places from the main timeline. The most notable is the failure of the colonists to defeat the British forces in the American Revolution. Costumed adventurers are as commonplace as anywhere else; the notable exception being that there is no Superman as this reality still has an intact planet Krypton. The closest they have is a Daxamite woman whose name was Lara Gand. This reality’s Harper is…” “I’m right here, you bastard! What do you want? Why did all of these people have to die?” Roy demanded. The armored man reached out and grabbed Roy by the neck and picked him up. The hero, crying and spitting, began cursing. “You have no idea what you are, do you?” the man asked. His reply was only an oath to see him dead. “You son of a bitch, I’ll kill you! Who are you? Who the hell are you? I deserve to know who the killer of my family is!” Eyes hidden behind the helmet rolled as if the request were borderline stupidity. “I’m not going to tell you, Mr. Harper, because it doesn’t matter. Do you think that as I’m squeezing your neck, that your life is about to end? Don’t you realize you never had a life, that this is a reflection of some other life? You are nothing but a passing thought in the mind of a God who simply doesn’t care.” With that statement, servomotors the size of atoms whirled and increased the strength of the armored man’s grasp, and within seconds, Roy was dead. His body was dumped unceremoniously. The sound of clapping was so out of place in this hellish environment that the armored man had to turn around. There stood the black and red form of Extant, a would-be time-conqueror and associate. “Where have you been?” the man asked, walking over. Extant surveyed the damage. “Don’t you think this obsession with Harper is a little too much? I mean, he never amounted to anything…” “And what about your obsession with the Justice Society? As I recall, you have yet to defeat them and so far, you never will,” the man answered back. “Let’s say that Harper owes me more than you can possibly know.” Extant changed the subject. “I’ve retained the services of a man to carry out your request, though I don’t see why you don’t do it yourself.” “I have my reasons,” the man replied. “Are you sure that this person can handle it? Do they understand what they are doing?” The questions had to be answered precisely; nothing could be left to chance. “Does he realize who you are?” Extant shook his head, indicating that he was weaving a clever deception, or so he thought. “It must be done on a particular night in a particular year, and it must be done right!” the man exclaimed, turning to wave a finger at Extant. “This night is not only important, it is perfect! The city’s protector and his partner are out of the country, pursuing some foe or another…it will be years before he will establish the ‘family’…”

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“I’m telling you the truth, GL, I swear!” the thug said, sweat mixing with the blood from his broken lip. A giant green boxing glove had just interrupted he and his partner’s career move from petty thieves to bank robbers. “You’ve got bigger fish to fry than us!” Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, considered the thief’s information. If it turned out to be useful, it would indeed allow him to nail the “bigger fish”, but he wasn’t about to let these guys go either. He was far from the urban jungle that was a melting pot of crime and deviant behavior. No, this was the nicer area of the city, really part of the county, where he kept his original home which he had purchased in 1938. He was fast approaching his eighties but luckily he had been exposed to “chronal” energy during World War 2, as had most of the members of the All-Star Squadron, and he aged much slower. As it stood he looked like he was in his mid to early forties, but the aging process was starting to speed up. He had begun to notice aches and pains in places that had never hurt before. The ring on his finger granted him the ability to transform his will into reality with an added green hue. There were other Green Lanterns, he had recently found out, including a much younger man who was part of the Justice League of America. He claimed to represent a body of 3600 Green Lanterns, dispersed throughout the galaxy, but Alan had never even heard of them. Both he and his younger counterpart had power rings that relied on a 24-hour charge supplied by a power battery. Both had rings that focused the bearer’s willpower. But, whereas Alan’s was magical in nature, the new Lantern’s ring was technical. Being an engineer, Alan found it infuriating at times that he didn’t end up with the piece of fantastic science, instead of something powered by a force he didn’t even begin to understand. Here he was, letting his thoughts drift off again. His father had told him as he got older, he’d spend more time thinking. “I’m going to trust you on this, son, but that doesn’t mean I’m through with you. Now, gather your tools and start marching. We’re going to find the nearest police officer.” The thug seemed completely shocked. “Walk? You gotta be kidding me? It’s miles until we hit the city limits…why can’t you just fly us there?” Alan actually felt bad for a second; the quality of criminal had certainly gone downhill since he went into semi-retirement. The bat signal burned into the night sky of Gotham City, a visible warning to the criminal element that the police were calling in their secret weapon. Other cities laughed and scoffed at the thing and the official statement was that it was a tourist attraction. The city government would never acknowledge that the Batman even existed, let alone that they used him in the war on crime. “Must have cost a fortune to have this built and lugged all of the way up here. Can’t find a manufacturer’s tag or data plate anywhere on it. How do you know it’s safe?” Green Lantern asked. “If the Batman gives to us, its safe. I’ve never met anyone who values life more than he does.” The Commissioner looked off into the night. “Damn him, where is he? I’m sorry, Green Lantern, but I can’t stand here and wait. If the information you brought to us is correct, I’ve got a madman out there with enough explosives to bring down city hall!” The commissioner threw down his cigarette and went over to the switch to turn off the signal. “He must be busy. Any chance you might know where he’s at?” Green Lantern shook his head slowly. “Sorry, but I barely know the man myself. I’m in retirement now…operating mostly with the Society when it needs me. I just happened along on this one, sir.” A downcast look overtook the lawman’s face. “I was afraid of that. What I wouldn’t give for a Superman right now,” he said, shutting down the lamp. “You coming in?” “Can I wait here in case he does show up? If he isn’t here in a few more minutes, I’ll contact the Justice League or…” Gordon held up a hand to cut him off. “Thank you, Green Lantern; anything you can do will be appreciated.” As the commissioner stepped back into the warmth of the building’s interior, Green Lantern pondered what he was doing. The Batman was notorious for protecting his city from other super-heroes, but Green Lantern did not feel that applied to him. He was the first super-hero of Gotham City and didn’t require anybody’s permission. While that sounded good in an argument, he had to admit that the actions of the Caped Crusader had earned him the right to call it his city. After a few moments, the ring-slinger decided it would be best to head out when he noticed a figure moving in the darkness. There was the swish of a cape and the familiar pointed ears of the cowl.

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When the figure entered into some light, though, Green Lantern was shocked to see it wasn’t a Batman. “If that’s a costume change, Batman, I must say it works for me,” the older hero chided. Batgirl blushed. “My gosh, you’re the Green Lantern!” He liked the sound of that, the Green Lantern; as in the one, true Green Lantern. “I assume that you are Batwoman?” “Batgirl, actually, sir,” she said, a careful eye taking him in. There was nobody who lived in Gotham City that did not know about its most famous citizen. The man standing before her in the red and green costume had been a legend decades before she had been a twinkle in her father’s eye. He was Gotham City in a sense, a city from the not-so-distant past when the lines between right and wrong weren’t so blurred. “I came when I saw the Bat-signal.” Green Lantern nodded. “Are you his partner? Is he coming?” She was quiet for a moment and there was a concerned expression on her face. It showed her true age and Green Lantern realized that despite what the costume and the body inside it looked like, this was just a girl, barely into her “womanly” years. He had not heard of this Batgirl, but that was no surprise. The goings on of the super-hero community had lost their appeal for him years ago. “No, I just sort of tag along,” she said sheepishly. It was then that Green Lantern remembered the boy in the orange vest. That was the Batman’s partner. Then who was she? His daughter? His lover? If the Batman was willing to even let this girl tag along, then he was sure she could take care of herself. “Well, Batgirl, listen, since Batman hasn’t shown up, we have to assume that he’s busy with something important. Do you know how to get a hold of Robin?” He knew immediately it had been the wrong thing to say and he quickly tried to fix the situation. “I only meant that maybe he knew where the Batman was at.” That seemed to help, but she had no idea of where he was either. Funny, he would imagine the two of them would be close. If she was half as pretty as the costume made her out to be, she was probably beating the boys off with a bat. He nearly smacked himself at the pun. “Sorry, sir, but I’m all you have and I’m sort of part time,” she said with a slight smile, trying to seem positive. “That’s okay, so am I,” he said, holding out his hand. She took it and he noticed that while her grip was firm, it was most definitely feminine. “Let me explain the situation. Tonight, I stopped a couple of guys trying to break in to a branch of the Bank of Gotham City. One of them told me about a guy with an eye patch that bought a whole mess of explosives from their dealer just tonight. Not just a few sticks of dynamite, but cases and cases of the stuff, enough to bring down a good sized building.” Batgirl rubbed her chin in thought. “An eye patch? That does narrow it down a bit if it’s a professional insurance job.” Green Lantern shook his head. “Why blow up a building, it’s easier to just burn it down.” “Yes, but relations between the United States and several Middle eastern nations have been tense lately; well, tense for awhile…this could be blamed on terrorists.” “In Gotham City?” Green Lantern laughed. Her silence was his reply. Just what kind of madmen were the Batman and his team facing at night? “For that matter, it could be a run-of-the-mill nutcase,” she said. “The guy I caught didn’t think so; said the guy seemed to cool and professional. He paid with diamonds of all things. Said he had white hair and a goatee as well.” Batgirl shook her head. “If I had the time, I could probably find out who it is. The Batman keeps files on all of the worst terrorists in the world, as well as professional assassins. I’ve been meaning to pay more attention…” Green Lantern smiled. “It’s okay; hell, you’re a step ahead of me.” She visibly brightened at the compliment and then moved over to the edge of the building. He watched her walk and noticed something odd. “You’re a dancer, aren’t you?” Batgirl whirled around. “How did you know?” She had taken ballet for years before becoming a crime fighter. “I’ve never told anyone.” “I used to date a dancer. Sweet girl. She died though a few years back,” he said. “Oh, I’m sorry, what happened? An accident?” He stepped up next to her and took in the view. “No. Old age.”

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It was like a dream come true for Barbara Gordon, the young woman in the Batgirl costume. She was riding her Batcycle through the dark streets of Gotham City, with the original Green Lantern hovering only ten feet above her, keeping pace. When she had decided to emulate Gotham City’s greatest crime fighter, she knew she would become part of a very proud heritage that included her mentor, the Batman, but also the man above her as well. No other hero was so revered in the super-hero world as Green Lantern, except for Superman. She didn’t know where Batman was at, or Robin, and she had to admit she had felt slighted when Green Lantern had wanted to speak to them instead of her. It made sense, though; Batgirl certainly wasn’t a household name, even in Gotham City. At best, she was donning the costume once a month now, as her private life began to take precedence. School was the most important, as she wanted her doctorate badly and quickly. The Batman had understood, and secretly, Barbara believed, was happy that she wasn’t out in the field as much. He knew her secret identity, daughter of Commissioner James Gordon, and he seemed to take her being Batgirl very personally. When she had first become Batgirl, he had wanted her to quit. She had said no. Then he had demanded to train her, which had been okay. The teaming with the Teen Wonder, Robin, had been even better! A flying bug missed her windshield and became her evening meal, bringing her out of her thoughts as they entered another district. Batgirl pulled the cycle over to a curb, while Green Lantern descended in an emerald glow. She spit out the carapace of her snack and smiled at Green Lantern. “I always spit first…it’s for good luck.” He nodded. “Why are we stopping here?” She pointed across the street to a hospital. There was not a lot of traffic for there being one here. “Private hospital, “ she said, as if reading his mind. “Big and full of rich and important people. Some crime bosses even get treated here once in awhile. I know for a fact that a distant member of the Bertinelli crime family is here having plastic surgery done.” “Mob hit?” Green Lantern asked, intrigued by the other hero’s knowledge. “Awful lot of explosive for just one person.” “If you’re willing to kill one person, why not a hundred?” Batgirl asked. “Work with the Batman long enough, and you’ll come to understand that humans are capable of the most depraved and indecent acts imaginable. Some of the scum we have to deal with make the Nazi’s look like Cub Scouts.” “You obviously never fought Baron Blitzkrieg, “ Green Lantern returned as he stepped closer to the hospital. “I know about the Bertinelli’s; they were very powerful during the forties. Black Canary and I had quite a few run-ins with them. Used to make them so mad, having a woman come in and beat up on them.” Irritated, Batgirl commented in sarcastic tones. “Oh yes, I suppose she should have been home barefoot and pregnant.” Green Lantern refused to be baited. “Nothing wrong with a woman being barefoot or pregnant, young lady; it was just a different time is all. You had to be there.” Batgirl let the matter drop, and Green Lantern took notice of it. This girl had been raised to respect her elders. “What’s the plan, Batgirl?” “There are only two places to plant the explosives…” “The roof or the basement,” Green Lantern said, finishing the sentence. “It will be easier for me to check the roof.” She nodded. “I’ll have to sneak into the basement, so it might be a few minutes…” “I take it you members of the ‘bat-family’ aren’t welcome here?” She began checking her utility belt as she explained that because of the reputed mobsters that were often treated here, the Batman was most definitely considered an unwelcome guest. Since she had chosen to associate herself with the Caped Crusader, that made her just as prone to be refused entrance. “However, a hero of your caliber might get us in the front door,” she said with a grin. “It’s not every day that a living legend comes walking through the door.” He began to blush slightly. He was not used to pretty young women saying such wonderful things about him. At least he hadn’t been used to it for about forty years. “Probably not a good idea. I don’t like to use my ‘status’ as a way of getting things done. Being a hero means being humble sometimes. It’s very easy to get caught up in your own hype sometimes, Batgirl. I’ve seen it before, good heroes so full of themselves that when they fall, they don’t get back up. I’ve done many things in my long career, “ he started to look up into the stars, as if they were part of a congregation. “I’ve made a lot of friends and I’ve

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seen a lot of them die. But, I’ve also seen common people do heroic things as well, from police officers to doctors, to the mailman who does his duty every day regardless of the weather. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, or maybe I haven’t lost the ideals of my youth, but I still feel that the title of super-hero is something that weighs heavily upon me. “You’re still young Batgirl, and you have your whole life ahead of you. I know you consider yourself a part-time hero, but if everyone did just a little good now and again, think of how great a world this would be. But, if you let the idea that you are somehow better than those you want to help get lodged in your brain, it starts to fester like an open sore. It will infect your personality. Like I said, I’ve seen it before…God! Listen to me! We need to get going,” he said as he began to float up into the sky. “I’ll check the rooftop and meet you back here in twenty minutes.” She watched him fly off, his glow eerie in the cold darkness. She was beginning to understand what it must be like to be someone others looked up to, and she wondered briefly if anyone would ever look up to Batgirl? Slade Wilson worked quickly to finish the electrical circuit that would set off the explosives he had planted around the roof of the hospital. As Deathstroke the Terminator he was the world’s deadliest mercenary and assassin, and something as simple as blowing up a building seemed somehow beneath him. As an officer in the United States army, Wilson had volunteered for drug experiments meant to allow him to resist truth serums, but something had gone wrong. Instead, the chemicals had caused him to develop enhanced strength, speed, endurance and intelligence. A soldier by profession, he had eventually left the army after a tour in Viet Nam to become a mercenary. With his newfound abilities, he became the highest paid private soldier in the world. The drugs that had given him his powers also slowed his aging process, which guaranteed a long career. This particular job bothered him deep down in his conscience. He had checked and found out there were no children in the hospital; there were some things he would simply not do. Apparently, this health care facility only catered to adults, which was fine by him. The fact that hundreds could die didn’t bother him either, since most were probably criminals anyway. Besides, he was going to call in a bomb threat fifteen minutes before he actually set the explosives off. Maybe a few bomb squad cops would get killed. That didn’t bother him either. The character that hired him had paid him in gems and diamonds. Paying him up front, before the job was done. Normally, he required only 50% of his fee before going off on a mission, but this character had just handed over the bag full of precious stones without a second thought. “What kind of madman are you?” came a voice from above and behind him. Deathstroke rolled to his left and turned. As he came up, he pulled his pistol out and fired three rounds in quick succession. The bullets bounced and pinged away from the glowing green barrier Green Lantern had raised. “Cripes!” Deathstroke said from behind his half black/half orange mask. Deathstroke pulled a small rod from his belt and it immediately elongated into a metallic battle staff. Deathstroke lunged forward, the stave striking hard against the green force shield Green Lantern projected around himself. With a thought, Green Lantern began to levitate off of the roof, hoping to put some distance between himself and his attacker. He hadn’t gotten a few feet before Deathstroke jumped high and the Emerald Gladiator took a kick to the midsection. The suddenness of the attack had left him little time to prepare and while he suffered no true physical damage, his concentration had been broken. Perhaps only five years ago, such a thing would never happen. Deathstroke watched as Green Lantern fell back to roof and somersaulted over his prone form. He had to take the old man out and now, so he could finish the job. If someone saw them fighting up here, it would only be a matter of time before the Gotham S.W.A.T. team showed up and caused him grief. “Old man, you should have stayed home tonight; you’re out of your league!” Green Lantern rolled to his left, just missing a smashing thrust that crumpled roofing material. Deathstroke brought up the stave and pressed a small switch. Immediately, there was a high-pitched whine as the small internal fusion generator came to life. Green Lantern got to his feet and brought his ring arm up. An emerald beam shot from his ring and enveloped Deathstroke’s head, cutting of his air supply. He saw the mercenary bring the battle staff up, the end glowing red as it prepared to fire a plasma burst at the hero. Just as Deathstroke went to press the firing stud, a small black metallic object struck his hand throwing his aim off.

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The plasma burst shot by Green Lantern’s head, causing him to duck by reflex. The loss of thought allowed Deathstroke to escape and he turned to face his newest foe. Batgirl stood there, next to the fire escape ladder, another batarang at the ready. “Put the weapon down!” she cried. “Phah! An old man and a little bitch! Is this all Go tham has to send at me?” Deathstroke said, throwing the staff down. He began to march towards Batgirl. “Let’s see what you got little girl!” Green Lantern was about to interfere when he caught Batgirl’s gaze. This was her fight. As much as the elder hero wanted to think otherwise, this new Gotham City was not his town. Gone were the simpler times, replaced by the madness he was witnessing now. Such things required a different approach and perhaps it was a good idea that there was a new younger, albeit less colorful, Green Lantern to assume the mantle of responsibility. Batgirl assumed a defensive stance, and Deathstroke laughed. “You don’t realize just how bad this is going to hurt. I won’t kill you, because I want you to tell the Batman he’s next!” He easily blocked a kick to his face and returned the favor with a series of slaps across the face that sent the young Batgirl flying across the rooftop. Green Lantern started to move to her defense. “No!” she cried out, blood trickling down her chin from her split lip. “Batman is never going to trust me if I can’t hold my own!” “I hate to tell you sister, but you ain’t holding crap!” Deathstroke laughed. “You want another crack at me, old-timer?” Green Lantern had to mentally count to ten to keep from exploding in rage, but he figured that was what this man wanted anyway. “I leave my light work to her,” he said, nodding to the rising Batgirl. She smiled at him and seemed to stand a little straighter. Deathstroke waved Green Lantern off, as if he were insane, and turned once again to face his prey. Batgirl was only inches away from him, and it threw him off guard for only a second. Dropping down, performing a perfect split, as only a dancer could, she found herself at eye level with Deathstroke’s groin. Summoning all of her strength, she punched out, only to find a metal cup hidden behind the orange leather. The mercenary laughed as she pulled her fist back and then she spun her legs around. Deathstroke nimbly avoided the leg sweep and came down to a three-inch heel being thrust upwards into his pelvis. The boot heel, combined with her strength and his downward momentum, defeated the protection the cup provided. In shock and in pain, Deathstroke, the Terminator went down. Batgirl stood up and looked down on the fallen form. “Don’t call me a bitch.” Green Lantern couldn’t help but smile. Early the next morning, after the police had arrived to remove the planted explosives, a unique meeting took place. A newly arrived Batman stood next to Batgirl, who seemed especially “chipper” while speaking to a young man in a black and green uniform of a member. The elder Lantern, standing next to his younger counterpart, was busy bringing Batman up to date. “We turned our back for only a second and the guy disappeared. I searched the whole area with my ring, but I couldn’t find him.” The Batman nodded and then laid a hand on Batgirl’s shoulder. “You need to go home.” She looked disappointed and then turned to the young Green Lantern, as if hoping for some support. When he shrugged his shoulders she simply accepted defeat. She gave the older Lantern a hug and thanked him for his help and then disappeared down the fire escape. “Cute girl; how old is she?” Hal Jordan, the younger Green Lantern asked. “Too young,” came the reply from both of the heroes. Jordan held up his hands in defense. “Sorry. Look, I didn’t come here to pick up babes anyway…I heard on the news that Green Lantern was spotted in Gotham City and I thought the old fella could use some help.” “Go away,” the older Lantern said. Jordan laughed, and then nodded to Batman. “Sorry to have intruded, I’ll call next time!” Then, surrounded by a green energy field, the Corpsman rocketed into the sky. There was a moment of silence before Batman started to speak. “About you being here…” Scott cut him off. “First off, let’s get something straight: you’re dark knight routine is good, it works really well, but I lived through times you can’t even imagine, young man. Second, this was my city long before you came along and I don’t remember you asking my permission if you could operate here.” Scott paused and he thought he detected the hint of a smile coming from the Batman. “Third, you can have

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it. I’m going back to New York. If that young woman is any hint of the quality of people you are surrounding yourself with, then I know this great city is in good hands. She’s a barn burner, that’s for sure.” “Full of piss and vinegar?” Batman asked, an almost sarcastic tone to his voice. “I’m not some damn prospector from the gold rush, you know,” was the reply. Then his tone got serious. “There is one thing, though; she’s desperate to prove herself to you. I don’t know what kind of training program you’re running, but take it from me; you can’t push them without some sort of reward. A simple nod of the head or a kind word will go a long way. If your going to let her operate as Batgirl, then you better start letting her know when you aren’t going to be in town. She was lucky this time; whoever that guy was…” “Deathstroke. Mercenary. Metahuman.” Green Lantern nodded. “Whatever. If I hadn’t worn him down just a little, he wouldn’t have been caught by her move. She could have been hurt worse or killed.” Batman nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Green Lantern handed a business card over to the Batman. “That’s how you can get a hold of me. I realize you may not think you need advice or help, but it’s better to swallow your pride and be prepared than stubborn and dead.” The Batman took the card, and without looking at it, put it into a pouch on his utility belt. Without another word, the two separated and went off to their own lives. “Are you sure about this?” Roy Harper asked the woman seated next to him in the taxicab. Dinah Lance leaned forward to pay the driver, and Roy couldn’t help but take a passing glance at her legs. “Yes, Roy, I’m sure. For the millionth time, I’m sure.” The pair exited the cab and found themselves standing before a non-descript hospital somewhere in Gotham City. Roy didn’t know exactly where they were at, and for that matter, he didn’t care. All he knew was that he felt very empty on the inside. Dinah reached over and put her arm around him as they walked towards the front door. “This has one of the best addiction counseling programs in the country, believe it or not. Paid for by crime bosses who don’t like to have their dirty laundry aired to the public.” Roy only nodded. “Why didn’t Ollie come?” It was Dinah’s turn to sigh. Oliver Queen was, officially, Roy’s guardian and also the super-hero Green Arrow. Dinah was also a super-hero, the Black Canary, and Roy had once been the teen archer Speedy. For the last few years, the three of them had been, more or less, a team of sorts. Then Oliver Queen had lost his fortune and had begun a crusade to support the “little man” leaving Roy alone to face his adolescent problems. Dinah only knew part of the truth, Roy knew, only the parts that were obvious. He had been caught a few months before, shooting up heroin, and had to confess to Oliver that he was an addict. Oliver had thrown a fit and used what little money he had to put Roy into rehab. Then, he had stripped away the Speedy title form the young man, leaving him basically an outcast from the super-hero community. Everyone had looked at him as if he were the poor-little-rich-boy, comparing him to rock singers who committed suicide over the pressure of their fame. It hadn’t been fame that had done in Roy Harper; it had been love. The love he had felt for Oliver Queen, the dream father figure who led a secret life of womanizing and expected his young “son” to cover for him. The love he had for this woman, who was only a few years older than him. That was probably the hardest part of all, lying to her when, at the same time, he wanted to be with her. There were other circumstances as well, but right now, with her holding him so close, he couldn’t help but dwell on the feelings he had for her. Deep in his heart, he knew, for a fact, that he loved her more than her lover. And that was the hardest pill to swallow. “I still don’t see…” Roy began. “Being clean is not enough, Roy, you also have to understand your problem and what you have to do to keep from getting that way again.” “Who’s paying for this?” he asked, looking up at her. He was still growing and she was at least an inch taller than him. “I am.” The conversation ended there. Not only was he in love with her, he now realized what sort of sacrifice she was making. This program could not be cheap, and neither he nor Oliver had the kind of money it required to be here. He didn’t know how she had gotten the money, and he didn’t care. If she wanted him to do this, then he would.

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“You’re an idiot,” the armored man said to a baffled Extant. “How could you mess up a plan so simple?” Extant tried to explain that he hadn’t known about Green Lantern. The armored man was unimpressed. “He was fighting Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern whose ring’s weakness is wood! Wood, do you understand? Everybody knows that Alan Scott’s ring is weak against wood!” Extant mumbled something and then turned away. “You act like you know the man.” The armored man began laughing. “You fool! You have no idea what I know…whom I know, why I’m here.” The armored man took a deep breath and removed his helmet. He stepped out of the shadows, his red hair dripping with sweat. Extant saw the youthful features, not believing what was before him. “Do you understand now? Do you not see? I’ve lived until the end of time and returned back to here with the knowledge that my existence was taken from me unfairly! To think that they actually call that narcotic-addicted…scum a hero! If they only knew, if they only knew what kind of pretender he really was! He took my life!” The man was nearly seething in his rage and it took him a few moments to relax to the point his veins weren’t bulging. “I will have my revenge on Roy Harper, whether it takes a thousand years or the rest of eternity, he will die for what he did to me.”

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Chapter 3 Dial “H” for Hero and Black Canary

The black armored man sat in the lawn chair of the estate of Lord Roy Harper, Constable-General of Her Majesty’s Colonies in the America’s. He gazed not at the rotting bodies of the Constable-General and his family, but through the mists of time and space. He stroked the light red hairs on his chin, cursing that he had never been able to grow a real beard that he could rub when in thought. He could see any point in time, but he couldn’t grow a moustache. Such was his fate, stuck in the body of a sixteen-year-old boy, but having lived until the end of time. He wished he could share his thoughts with a friend, but he didn’t have any anymore. His exploits into the past had cost him what few allies he had. Many of them told him that it was impossible to change time in the prime universe, that every action he took was countered with a new Hypertime reality being created. He didn’t care, so long as he cleansed reality. How many times in his short life, before he had “died”, had he put his life on the line not only for innocent people, but also for the universe itself? In fact, had he not “died” saving the universe? Was he ever given credit? Was he mourned? No, he was forgotten and then replaced by a pretender. Dinah Drake Lance was a very beautiful woman who didn’t look a day over 35. That was no small feat considering she was over 70 years of age. She smiled and again looked at herself in the mirror, clad in the costume of the Black Canary. Not only did it still fit, but she had actually had to adjust it because she had lost some weight. Why she had lost the weight, she didn’t know and she had this nagging feeling in the back of her head she should go see a doctor, but like many things in her life, she kept putting it off. Realizing that they had extended youth, both she and her husband Larry had put off having children for a long time…decades in fact. At the time, she didn’t think much of it. Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle had waited to have children, even longer than Dinah and Larry had. It wasn’t like it had been a sin or anything. No, she thought, that had not been the sin; but there sure had been plenty of others. Her daughter, Dinah, was now growing up without a father, poor Larry having been killed a few years back and every day the senior Dinah wrestled with the compulsion to come clean with her daughter about what their marriage had been like. Because they had waited so long to have children they seemed to have drifted apart. Larry had found solace in his work as a private detective, while Dinah had found it in the arms of a fellow super-hero. Ted Knight was a noble hero, if not a little strange. Her daughter had grown up having the members of the world famous Justice Society of America baby-sit her and they were members of the family. In fact, he was called “Uncle Ted” in this household. How do you explain that “Uncle Ted” was doing more than coming by for tea all of those years? The affair had only ended because of Ted’s desire to be alone. His research into the stars was his true passion and sometimes Dinah wondered what she ever saw in that man. She coughed and felt a slight pain in her lungs. She was getting older and she knew it. Soon she would look forty and it would take more than a fancy costume to hold up her…assets! It would be time to go back to working out with Ted Grant and the other JSA members. The costume still fit and that was what was important, because it was time for Black Canary to go back on “active” duty. The idea had been suggested not by any member of the illustrious Society, but by an outsider, the famous Johnny Quick. Johnny Quick was a dedicated and selfless hero, who had remained active even after most of the heroes of the “Golden Age”, had retired. After the war, it just didn’t seem like the super-heroes were needed, but Johnny always argued that logic. “Heroes are always needed,” he would tell them. When terrorists began bombing passenger planes and taking hostages in foreign lands, Johnny had been the one to point out that the oath the Squadron members had made to fight the Axis powers applied in these situations as well. Most of the JSA members were not really interested in coming out of retirement. Many felt that the world had become too cynical and not one member felt that they were the right person to

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inspire the general public. “That would take a super man,” Alan Scott, the Green Lantern had said a few weeks before, “ and I don’t think any of us feel that way. We don’t fit in anymore; our time has passed.” Johnny would just shake his head, grinning. “If people need our help, do we really care if we fit in?” Nobody had denied the logic of his argument and soon, costumes were being pulled out of trunks and the power was turned back on in the JSA mansion in New York. The Black Canary had never really been a member of prominence in the JSA, but she was still willing to do her part. There was also a nagging fear in the back of her mind that her hero-worshipping daughter would try to take up the mantle of the Canary. She couldn’t do that while her mother was still wearing the costume. Who would want two Black Canary’s? Two Flashes? Two Green Lanterns? The idea was ridiculous. No, Dinah was convinced that she needed to make sure her daughter avoided the super-hero life no matter what. Go to college. Get married. Have babies. Don’t get killed. Robby Reed stood outside the Justice Society mansion in New York City, contemplating whether or not he should actually go in. He didn’t really know where else to go with his particular “situation”. Several weeks before, he had found himself being thrown off of a cliff, headed into Death’s cold embrace. A criminal organization called Thunderbolt had infiltrated his hometown and Robby just had to get involved, half-emulating the heroes of his father’s generation. Now he stood before the headquarters of those very same heroes, clutching the mysterious alien dial that had saved his life. He had a mental link with the dial, though he couldn’t explain why, and when he dialed the letters “H-E-R-O”, he transformed into a super-hero. The problem was that he had no control over what he turned into, as he became a different superhero every single time he used the alien device. There appeared to be no set limit on the amount of time he stayed in the hero’s form and he was able to retain his memories, but it was still unnerving because each time he felt like he was actually in someone else’s body. None of the heroes he transformed into had ever been seen previously. That wouldn’t have bothered him normally; he could always say that the alien device was reading his mind and pulling superheroes from his imagination. Lord knew he had read enough comic books as a kid! What had bothered him was that the last hero he had transformed into came with a picture identification hidden in a pouch. The name meant nothing but the birth date had shocked him. It had read for some time two years from now. That had convinced him that maybe he needed to talk to someone with real experience in the field, but there really hadn’t been anyone around for years of any worth. Then Robby had read in his local paper an interview with the Flash who spoke that the Justice Society was going to begin holding semi-regular meetings again to discuss the status of the metahuman community. He didn’t know how to approach the members of the JSA for they were living legends. That thought was enough to cause the young man to want t o turn around and walk away. Then he remembered that birth date. It meant that it was possible he was actually pulling innocent people from the future. How was that affecting the world of tomorrow? Was he yanking a hero from out of the time stream at a time the world needed them the most? Robby Reed sighed and stepped from the sidewalk onto the small walkway leading to the front of the mansion. “Going somewhere, sonny-boy?” came a female voice. Robby sheepishly turned around, images of black-clad security agents danced in his head. The woman was clad in black, but if that was a security uniform, then he definitely was going to be considering a career in property surveillance. “Black Canary!” he said in a cracked voice. He immediately began to blush. Black Canary regarded the young man. Blonde hair and glasses, not bad looking, but in need of some time in the sun. He appeared awkward and embarrassed. Probably just lost. “That’s me, the original Blonde Bombshell. Did you know you’re heading towards the JSA headquarters?” He pushed his falling glasses up onto the bridge of his nose. “Yes, ma’am…I’m wanting to speak with the Society.” She folded her arms over her chest. “Little young to be a reporter, aren’t you?” He grinned at the jibe. “I actually came to ask a favor…”

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“Bully taking your lunch money?” she said with a smile. The kid seemed to be able to take a little ribbing, which definitely improved his status with her. He was going to be disappointed, though, seeing as the regular membership of the team had left an hour before, with a promise to meet again in two months after reviewing the status of affairs in their home cities. “I don’t eat lunch, but I do have to deal with a few bullies here and there. If you guys would like to take care of it, that would be great!” Black Canary was about to explain that the JSA normally did not take requests when the sound of wood shattering ended their conversation. The sound had definitely originated from inside the JSA mansion. “Stay here!” Black Canary said, running off in the direction of the sounds of destruction. Robby found himself once again at a crossroads. While he knew that the Black Canary was a competent super-hero, with more years of experience than he had of life, letting her go off into battle alone when he knew he could do something made his stomach turn. His concerns about dragging heroes from the future was valid, but he suddenly realized that he had to be concerned with the here and now. If he did not guard the present, then how could there be a future? He turned and ran towards some high bushes, just as Black Canary reached the porch. Hidden away from public view he pulled out the alien dialer and spelled out the word “hero”. In a flash, he felt his physical form change and the knowledge of his abilities became like just another old, comfortable thought. His street clothes had disappeared, to be replaced by a costume composed of a black, leathery material. A name popped into his mind immediately…Foxbat. Almost at the same time, a world of knowledge: chemistry, forensics, history and temporal physics. As it had so many times before, the origin of his new identity was voiced in his head. “My father and mother were both heroes born into a world of violence, trained to defend the weak from the oppressive by a Dark Knight. The world I was raised in required more than a passing knowledge of the new wave of technology that man had begun to embrace. When my parents were taken from me by those who would pervert that technology, I swore an oath that I would never allow such a thing to happen again. With my vast fortune and the training I had received while growing up, I took up the cowl of my grandfather, the courage of my father and the compassion of my mother…” “I have to wonder why anyone with the abilities and power that my benefactor has would even bother with an example of poor breeding such as yourself,” the yellow and red garbed man said, a sinister sneer on his face. He looked perpetually angry, his demeanor that of someone who actually enjoyed experiencing the darker emotions of life. “You realize, of course, that you are about to die.” Black Canary regarded them man who had somehow broke through the back wall of the mansion. He didn’t look particularly strong, his form more like that of a runner. A weekend marathon runner; not like Jay Garrick, the Flash, who also took the time to develop his upper body as well. “Do you know how many times I’ve heard that over the years?” “Do you know how little I care?” the man said. “Though it will mean absolutely nothing to you, cow,” he said with a leer, “my name is Professor Zoom, I am the Reverse-Flash.” “There’s an original name,” she said, a little put-off by the ‘cow’ comment. “I figured something more like the Bleeding Banana.” “Charming. How I wish I could savor this mo ment, but it will be over far too quick for me. Had it not been for these accused walls…just what the hell are they made of? No matter,” he said, taking a step towards her. In a fraction of a second, he moved faster than light, so that his image remained in front of the Black Canary even as he was moving towards her. His hand began to vibrate, preparing for the lethal strike that would literally separate the molecules of her brain. One thousandth of a second before he could strike her, he simply stopped. Zoom felt his connection to the Speed Force, the energy dimension from which he drew his power from, cut off. In fact, he felt the speed he had generated flowing away from him and he ended up “appearing” almost instantly in front of Black Canary. Decades of fighting had honed her reflexes, but the past few years of inactivity had slowed her down. She got a forearm up to block the strike to her head, but was only able to deflect it slightly. Zoom stumbled back, as did Black Canary. The yellow-clad speedster ended up falling into a glass bookcase. Strong arms caught Black Canary, and helped her back to her feet. She turned to see a black clad man, a cowl with little points, like a rat, standing there. He seemed to radiate both light and darkness at the same time, determination and humility. “Are you okay?” he asked, his voice a deep rich tenor.

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“I am now. We’re not having a membership drive, but I would be more than happy to give you a personal interview,” she said, tossing back a lock of blonde hair. “I don’t believe this…how the hell did you get here?” Zoom asked as he stood up, brushing the particles of glass from his uniform. “Where did you get a Speed Force inhibitor?” he asked, pointing to a small device on the other man’s belt. “Got it from a friend of yours,” Foxbat said. “Never thought I would have to use it, but call me paranoid.” “That won’t last very long; even now, I’m sensing its frequency and I’ll simply redirect my connection.” “What is he talking about?” Black Canary asked. “Do you guys know each other?” “Only from the historical records,” the two men said at the same time. Inside the mind of Foxbat, Robby Reed frantically went over the information that was pouring in from that of the hero he now possessed. Professor Zoom was originally from the 25th century, but had traveled to the late 20th to battle Barry Allen, the man who would eventually become the second Flash in Robby’s future. Zoom would die there, but not after he had spent years as super-villain, including at least one foray into Foxbat’s time period. “Why are you here? You haven’t even been born yet,” Zoom asked, obviously fishing for time. Black Canary pushed past Foxbat. “If you two want to have a conversation, do it outside…after sunshine here tells me who wanted me dead and why.” “Ha! Like crap I’m going to tell you, old lady…” A roundhouse kick sent the criminal flying back again, this time into an empty aquarium. “You need to learn some respect for women!” Foxbat was about to intervene when he noticed a red flashing light on his gauntlet. He knew that it was indicating that his microwave internet connection was severed, meaning that he could not update the frequency motivator. Robby desperately wanted to know what an internet was. Black Canary reached down and grabbed two handfuls of yellow costume. Hauling the ReverseFlash up, she got nose to nose with him. “Now listen very closely, Doctor Speed…” “It’s Professor Zoom,” he said slowly from behind loose and bloodied teeth. “You really don’t understand what is going on here…” Black Canary head-butted Zoom and let him drop to the floor. She then turned back to Foxbat, who looked like he was examining his wristwatch. “Hey, tall, dark and handsome…would you mind helping out here?” Foxbat was about to reply when a feminine, yet mechanical voice spoke to him through his cowl speakers. “Warning…spatial distortion detected on person…Speed Force inhibitor shutting down…” Immediately, Foxbat’s keen mind worked alongside Robby’s and he realized that his alien dialer was somehow causing the shutdown of the device that was keeping the Reverse-Flash from using his powers. “Canary, you have to get out of here right now! He’s going to get his powers back very soon and neither one of us is going to be able to stop him.” Canary looked down at the villain, as he struggled to get back up to his feet. He seemed weak, as if actual physical combat was new to him. “This guy is a push-over! My God, Per Degaton would have given me a harder time.” “That would-be Adolf Hitler? Barely a footnote in the history books, just like you,” Zoom said, his voice suddenly full of confidence. Foxbat saw that there was a solid red light glowing on his gauntlet and immediately reached out and pulled the Black Canary to his side. “Come with me if you want to live.” A blinding force struck Foxbat in the chest and he flew through the air and the far wall. Black Canary stared in horror as the Reverse-Flash, seemingly basking in his own glory. “I guess you’re pretty mad now, aren’t you?” she said with a wink. “Tachyon leakage detected…Speed Force energy spike…” The voice seemed to be distant in the mind of Robby Reed and he realized as the intelligence of Foxbat began to disappear that the Speed Force was disrupting whatever energy it was that allowed Robby to inhabit the bodies of super-heroes. As he returned to the form of Robby Reed, he became aware of a throbbing pain in the back of his head and he reached to feel that his blonde hair was moist with blood. He was sure it wasn’t too serious, but didn’t have the time to worry about it. Though he hated using the dialer again so soon, and especially with the Reverse-Flash throwing Speed Force energy everywhere, he knew that he only had moments to act before the Black Canary was dead.

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“You have irritated me to a point I did not think possible by anyone that did not have the name Allen,” Zoom said, picking up a piece of wood. “There are many ways to use the power of speed to kill, ways you can’t even imagine…but I think that this one time I will go ‘hands-on’.” Black Canary saw the makeshift stake and put two and two together. This Reverse-Flash was obviously not from the local group of villains. He seemed to actually desire to shed blood for no other reason than for the sheer pleasure; a far cry from the thugs and mobsters she had normally faced in her career. The Foxbat guy though cute, didn’t seem too reliable. Brave, but not smart, and now he was probably dead, laying in pieces in another room. He seemed to have meant well, but she now realized that while he was built like one of the professionals, his moves were totally amateur. Under her blonde wig, Dinah Drake’s mind began to go over the various moves she would need to make before the Reverse-Flash could strike her with his weapon. The problem was that he seemed to have powers like her speedster teammate, which meant that her greatest weapon was going to have to be her wits and not her fists. In a fight, she knew that there was no way that the Black Canary was going to take down the Flash, unless she could get him to make a mistake. Again, there was a problem with that logic because when a speedster made a mistake, they normally corrected it within the space of a heartbeat. She threw out a heart punch and her hand seemed to pass through him and she realized immediately that he was vibrating at super-speed, allowing her hand to physically pass between his molecules. In frustration, she cursed and hopped back, just missing a thrust to her abdomen. Catching herself, she brought her foot down hard on top of his as he advanced with the thrust. The spike of her threeinch heel penetrated the material of his boot and dug deep into his flesh. “Forgot to keep vibrating, eh?” she said, again moving back to put some distance between them. Zoom screamed in both pain and rage. “You bitch!” Black Canary threw him a common one-fingered gesture and exited the room at a run. Her only hope was to activate the magical signal device that Dr. Fate had recently put in the meeting room. The foot strike had been lucky, a target of opportunity, and possibly may have saved her life. She was not going to kid herself into thinking that it was going to stop Zoom; but it might slow him down long enough for one of the big guns to come to her rescue. As she entered the meeting room, she slammed hard into the chest of the Reverse-Flash. Before she could even gasp, she felt the stake pierce her chest and white-hot lightning flashes of pain raced through her body. She jerked back and saw her own blood spurt forward, and Zoom laughed aloud. “I hope it hurts, little birdie. It is still too quick, and that’s saying a lot coming from me.” Black Canary sank unceremoniously to her knees and clutched at the piece of wood stuck in her chest. Without another word, the Reverse-Flash was gone. Dr. Miracle, the Physician of Wonder, stood amo ng the wreckage of the room that Robby Reed had occupied in the body of Foxbat, taking in the carnage. His refined sense of taste regarded the cherry wood bookshelves with interest, but was more impressed with the collection of rare paintings hanging on the walls. Activating the sensors in his Clean Suit, the Robby Reed influenced mind of the doctor began to scan the immediate area for signs of life. He knew that someone called the Reverse-Flash was attacking a woman named Black Canary, but the details were fuzzy. He moved towards the hole in the wall and peered through to the next room, finding it in similar disarray. “Why aren’t there any alarms going off?” he asked aloud, then a voice in his mind told him that the mansion was undergoing some renovations and that the security system may have been disabled. “Bloody stupid,” he said, stepping through the hole. Immediately, his sensors alerted him to a fading life force a few rooms away. The doctor headed in that direction and soon found himself confronted by a terrible sight. Kneeling down, he felt for a pulse and found a very weak one. The Black Canary opened her eyes. “Who?” “Rest easy, darling…the doctor is in,” he said coolly. Dr. Mid-Nite pulled the stethoscope away from the bare chest of Dinah Lance. She pulled her shirt down, not before taking another glance at where she expected at least some sort of scar. “Well, can I go home yet?” she asked.

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The blind super-hero closed his little black bag and then stepped back. They were inside a private room at the estate of Ted Knight. It had been three days since an unknown person had activated the Justice Society mansion alarm system; a system that had been deactivated. It had to have been someone with extensive electrical knowledge to do so. When Green Lantern and Hawkman had arrived at the mansion, they had found it wrecked and a bandaged Black Canary awaiting them. Fearing the worst, they had spirited her away to Ted Knight’s mansion where they knew Dr. Mid-Nite was staying temporarily. While she had lost a lot of blood, she otherwise appeared to be in good condition. Hawkman had found a bloodied wooden stake next to her, but when the bandage had been removed, there was nothing but tender pink skin. “I don’t know why you’re in such a hurry to leave; Dinah is having a very good time.” “My daughter is easily impressed by all of you old men doting on her; I think she’s looking for a surrogate father.” There was a pause. “Why can’t I remember what happened?” Dr. Mid-Nite shrugged and smiled. “I don’t know; I’m afraid that’s outside my specialty. However, there is something we need to talk about. You know I ordered X-rays of your chest…” “It’s cancer, isn’t it?” she said, her lip trembling slightly. “I think so, but we won’t know until we run some more tests, which I can’t do here. I want you to come and see me next week and…” She sat up. “No…you want me to give it up, don’t you?” “Think about Dinah; think about your daughter,” Dr. Mid-Nite said, heading towards the door. “She’s a young woman now and soon she’ll be heading out into the world. When she becomes Black Canary…” “No! Absolutely not!” Dr. Mid-Nite opened the door and looked over at his patient. “Dinah, you have to be realistic. We are not going to be around forever…do you think the bad guys are going to quit when we do? Why do you think we’re starting to meet again?” A tear started down Dinah Drake’s cheek as her friend and teammate closed the door, leaving her alone with an unknown future. “She survived your attempts to kill her and, in fact, because of you, she realized that she was dying and then made an extra effort to be close to her daughter. That was not only well received, but reciprocated when Roy Harper needed help,” Extant said, holding back the urge to laugh in the armored man’s face. “I don’t want to hear it…the inclusion of Hypertime transferal system could not have been predicted. You know that neither your powers or mine can see items like that,” the armored man said, suppressing the urge to choke the other time lord. “Oh, yes, those awful dialers. I always wondered what would happened if you dialed ‘H-O-H-O’,” Extant quipped. “Do you think they would turn into Santa Claus or a snack cake?” The armored man refused to answer, but instead fumed silently over his latest failure. He had conquered entire realities, destroyed alternate versions of the Justice League and the Justice Society, yet his attempts to destroy one man…and he used that term loosely…were thwarted constantly. Zoom had managed to complete his part of the mission. By all accounts, the mother of Dinah Lance should have died that day. Instead, a chance encounter with the possessor of the original Hero Dial had allowed the intervention of persons that the armored man could not have predicted. It would do no good to go back and try again, since the temporal barriers, like a welded joint, had become stronger with his meddling. His only solace was that he knew that Robby Reed would eventually be split into two beings and his dialer would end up in the hands of incompetent teenagers. Robby Reed would never really know happiness. And Dinah Drake would die a slow death from cancer. “Did you come her to gloat, or do you have something useful to contribute?” the armored man asked. “Hmmmm, let me think about that. Maybe if you told me more about yourself…I must confess, when I try to look at your past, I’m not able to. I mean, looking at you, I’d say you’re Roy Harper, but then again, Harper never had the guts to do what you have done.” The armored man looked at Extant. “So, you want to know the story of my life, eh? I’ve never revealed the full story to anyone, but then nobody could ever appreciate my situation. You were a hero once, weren’t you?”

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“In my idealistic days,” Extant confessed. “I’ve matured since then.” “Indeed…so have I.” The armored man stepped a little closer to Extant. “If you have the time…” “Oh, I always have the time,” Extant smiled. “Time is all I have.”

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Chapter 4 Speedy and Extant
“I’m not really a bad person,” the man in black armor began, a sincere tone to his voice. To Extant, it seemed to him like someone making a confession. “Do tell,” was Extant’s response. The man sat down and looked out at the landscape through the large glass window of his cottage. They were in the Rocky Mountains, circa 1985, in an alternate r ality where humans simply never e appeared. “This is the world God forgot; the perfect place for someone like me…the man God turned his back on.” Extant hated to admit it, but the way that the man, who bore a striking resemblance to Roy Harper, the hero known as Arsenal, spoke about his woe, he couldn’t wait to hear the whole tale. What was it that drove this man to want to destroy every trace of Roy Harper that ever existed anywhere? “Funny, you never struck me as the religious type.” The man laughed. “I was raised Catholic, went to church every day, despite being raised by Indians.” “As I said, I never would have guessed,” Extant said. “Am I to assume that you are Roy Harper, the real one?” The man said nothing, but looked out at the snow. “Do you believe in God, Extant?” “No. If there were a God then people like you and I could not exist. We can manipulate time, warp reality…those should be abilities left to God. Despite all of our talk about noble purposes or wanting to put things right…deep down inside we both know that we are only serving our own selfish interests.” “Then, I guess that makes us God, doesn’t it? And if that is true, then nothing that we do could be considered wrong.” Extant considered the philosophy for a moment. “Right and wrong are meaningless; all that matters is power.” The man had removed his armor and was clad in a red and yellow costume. Extant immediately recognized it. “Cute outfit? Trying to torture yourself?” The other man’s hatred for Roy Harper was beyond measure, and to find him standing there in a Speedy costume was unbelievable. Quickly, Extant briefly ran over the details of Roy Harper’s life as he knew them. Harper’s mother had died when he was an infant and his father tried his best to raise the boy on his own. His father was killed in a forest fire and a tribe of Native Americans took in young Roy. There, he excelled in archery and eventually developed hero-worship for the Emerald Archer himself, Green Arrow. A chance meeting between Harper and Oliver Queen, who was secretly the Green Arrow, resulted in Queen taking the boy in as his ward and continuing his training in archery. As Speedy, he was not only Green Arrow’s partner, but he had also helped form the Teen Titans. When Queen lost his fortune and decided to spend his time bringing down the “fat cats” of society, Roy was simply tossed to the side. In response, Roy had turned to drugs as an escape. Though Queen found out and did what he could to help Roy, it was really the support of Dinah Lance, the second Black Canary and girlfriend of Queen, which got Roy through the rehabilitation. After kicking the drugs, Roy finished school and formed a rock band. When that didn’t pan out, he went to work for the United States government as a special operative. While undercover f the government, he encountered the terrorist Cheshire and fell in love. or Together, they had a child, Lian, whom Roy raised after he left government service to become a super-hero again. When that occurred, he changed his name from Speedy to Arsenal. Was it possible that this was a Hypertime duplicate of Roy Harper? Hypertime was the catch phrase to describe the little creeks that flowed away from the river of time. Major events that could have more than one outcome would sometimes, though not always, create an alternate reality… “Do you remember the Crisis, Extant?” Speedy asked. “Of course I do; it was a defining moment in time. The Anti-Monitor attempted to destroy reality…”

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Speedy began laughing. “No, no, no…let me rephrase the question: do you remember the make-up of the universe prior to the Crisis? Not the history, but the make-up…the physical design of it?’ Extant thought for a moment. He had traveled to the beginning of time, millions of centuries prior to Crisis, and so the history of history was like an open book to him. He knew what Speedy was getting at, though. Temporal beings such as them, as well as those who traveled time regularly, such as the Flash, could, with enough practice, actually start to get to know the boundaries of creation. It was much like the way someone would feel around a darkened room to find their way and will eventually memorize the position of every piece of furniture. “It’s the same now as it always has been. When the heroes of Earth defeated the Anti-Monitor, time returned to normal. The anti-matter he had used flowed back to its own universe and everyone was happy.” “No effects from Zero Hour?” Speedy said offhanded. That was a sore subject with Extant. During the Zero Hour, which took place some five years after the Crisis, Extant had partnered with the insane Green Lantern Hal Jordan and attempted to remake the universe. Though Jordan and Extant were eventually defeated, there had been a few effects to the time stream, none of which had benefited the villains. “Nothing of worth,” Extant said, an edge to his voice. “Shows what you know…” “My life began just before the Great Depression, on a world that was erroneously named Earth-2,” Speedy began. They were standing on the edge of a lake in a reality where the dominant life form, humans, had been wiped out by a virus brought by scientists from Mars. Speedy threw a rock into the water. “My mother died giving birth to me, and my father…” Extant noted that, for the first time, he saw actual emotion, other than hate, cross the face of his companion. He was familiar with the term Earth-2. It was the designation given to the prime universe by the members of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika, a Hypertime group of villains similar to the Justice League. “My father,” Speedy continued, “was killed when the plane we were flying in crashed in a place called Lost Mesa. Only my father’s servant, an Indian named Quoag, and I survived. We were isolated far from civilization and the only way to survive was by learning archery skills from Quoag.” “Gosh, how fascinating…can we go now?” Extant asked from his sitting position on a rock. Speedy gave him a menacing look. “One day, Oliver Queen arrived, looking to collect Indian relics for his personal collection. We met up and encountered some criminals. Ollie and I held them at bay using only bows and arrows. Afterwards, Ollie made me his ward and he decided to become the Green Arrow. He gave me this costume and the name of Speedy. Only this was during the prewar years…” “You mean World War 2? Impossible,” Extant said, “I know for a fact that Speedy wasn’t around for at least another fifty years. Remember, I used to be a Titan, too.” “Ah, yes, well that was a different universe, my unknowing friend. You see, I did in fact fight with the All-Star Squadron during World War 2 and I was a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, or Law’s Legionnaires as some people called them…” Extant stood up and brushed off his haunches. “You’re a loon, you know that? You’re so obsessed with Roy Harper you even think that…” Speedy’s face turned dark and Extant actually saw blue lightning crackle around his eyes, a manifestation of his powers. Extant couldn’t even do that. “Understand something, Extant, that I am not obsessed with Roy Harper; I do not believe I am Roy Harper; I do not wish I was Roy Harper.” He walked up to Extant, and even though he was at least six inches taller than Speedy, Extant was still intimidated. “I…am…Roy…Harper!” “How?” was Extant could muster. He could feel the power coming off of Speedy and he realized that there was more to him than simple time-altering ability. There was a scent of something beyond reason about him. Extant’s powers were based upon set physical laws, yet Speedy’s appeared to be transcending such things. “The Crisis was not as you remember it. I have found that there are many, many beings able to travel through time…beings who would spend eternity studying it, yet no single person or being I have encountered understands everything about it. “Except me.”

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Speedy backed away a few steps. “All of this,” he said sweeping his hand to take in the horizon, “was nothing before the Crisis. It didn’t exist; at least, not like this. Before the Crisis, the universe was of a different order. There were no alternate realities; there were only different existences. God’s experiment with life had reached its climax with the multiverse!” “The multiverse? That’s just a theory! It isn’t true,” Extant said, suddenly feeling very stupid. The multiverse was an idea that the universe was made up of different dimensions, all existing in the same spot, but separated by thin dimensional barriers. Instead, the universe was actually made up of one reality, with small splinter universes ranching off like the limbs of a tree. In the multiverse theory, the dimensional barriers were so strong that a person could literally travel from one dimension to another, and there would be no adverse effects. However, Extant was fully aware that if someone from an alternate time stream were to spend any substantial length of time in the prime universe, it would cause the dimensional boundaries to break down. The person would act as a magnet, and the two realities would attempt to merge. Physics indicated that two universe could not exist in the same space, which made the multiverse theory a little absurd. “Oh, but it is, as I came to find out. You see, I was destined to live out a normal life, but the Crisis came and changed that. The Anti-Monitor’s Crisis Wave tore through the dimensional barriers of the multiverse, eating up whole dimensions. It came to my home, Earth-2, in 1942, when Green Arrow and I were working with the All-Star Squadron.” “I heard stories that the universe was different…” “Oh, yes, it was quite different. You see, my friend, you actually began life on a planet called Earth-1. That is where you started and when the Crisis was over, when the super-heroes triumphed, everything changed. To this day, they don’t even remember what it was they did. Very few persons do.” Extant sat down, suddenly overwhelmed by the information he was receiving. He began to wonder if he could even trust his memories anymore. “When the universe was first created, billions of years ago, there was only one timeline, one dimension. God, like any good builder, started with only one.” Speedy held up a single gauntleted finger. “One of the first races to appear were the Guardians of the Universe, but that isn’t what they were called then…” “Yes, I know…they were called…” Speedy cut him off. “Who cares? The important thing is that one of their number, Krona, wished to be like God and so he built a machine that would allow him to peer into the past, all of the way to the beginning of time. Then, just as he saw a giant hand with the stars held in it, his machine exploded. The ripples of temp oral energy created the multiverse. Imagine an infinite number of Earths, existing in the same space, but vibrating at different speeds!” Speedy clapped his hands together. “Oh, how proud God must have been when He saw all of His little toys spread out before Him. “And so, life did prosper in many shapes and forms on the many worlds and God created this and that, and when He found something He liked, He duplicated it. In the end, you end up with an infinite number of Supermen and Batmen and so many others.” “So? We have that now.” “Oh, no you don’t. You see, in the multiverse, you could actually have exact duplicates. In Hypertime, you cannot. The multiverse was created from one action; Hypertime is created by many actions. The infinite universes were always there; in Hypertime, they are constantly being created. Not as orderly, but I suppose when God saw how easily the Anti-Monitor ripped apart His sandbox, He decided to make changes.” “You have a real problem with God, you know that?” Extant said. “Says the man who doesn’t believe! Oh, yes, I have a real problem with Him. I was raised a Catholic, as I said before, and I loved God. I became a super-hero and risked my life not for the fun of it but because it was the good thing to do.” “How noble.” “But, when the universe is remade, when the operating system of reality is given the reboot and God has to pick only the best toys…He – left – me – out!” Speedy began trembling and there was a long silence before he spoke again. “When the new universe was made, was I chosen? The young man who followed the Golden Rule? The one who never got a chance to go on a date? No…my life was ended in the Crisis wave and the Earth-1 Roy Harper, the drug addict who sleeps with foreigners outside of marriage gets to live! I was the first Roy Harper! I was the one who should have lived!”

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Extant’s eyes widened. “I get it…the universe was remade so that there could only be one…starting out…of everything. One Superman, one Batman, or at least, like in the case of people like the two Atoms, two entirely separate individuals. You didn’t get picked…” “And I was the very first Roy Harper to exist in the entire multiverse,” Speedy said slowly. “How did you survive? If what you say is true, then you should have been completely wiped from the continuity. You should have never existed…” “Yes, completely abandoned by God,” Speedy said quietly. “Do you recall the time I sent Abra Kadabra to the 21st century to put the bad luck spell on Dick Grayson so that Roy Harper would die?” He saw Extant nod. “A bolt of lightning was about to strike young Grayson when it was moved out of the way through the use of magic by the sorceress Zatanna. That magic lightning bolt broke through time and space. As my world was ending, back in 1942…on Earth-2, I saw a portal open up. I thought old Doc Fate had whipped it up and I jumped in it. Ollie…Green Arrow…was already dead. “When I came through the other side, I found that I was intangible, a phantom. I was so scared…” He looked off into the night sky. They were in the prime universe again, this time in the 28th century. “I traveled the world for years as a phantom, learning all I could…imagine my surprise when I discovered another Roy Harper living his life. I thought I had died and gone to hell. In a way, I suppose I did. Many believe that hell is simply being forsaken by God, and that is what I was. When Roy Harper finally died, I became whole again.” “The two of you cannot exist in the same dimension at the same time!” Extant cried, snapping his fingers. “So, you’ve been trying to kill him…” “So I can live my life! The life that was stolen from me! I should have been the Teen Titan! I could have helped Ollie out on his mission to find America…I would not have turned to drugs and rock ‘n’ roll! I could use my powers to make things better!” “Your powers are the result of your expose to magic!” “Plus I believe that some of the loose temporal energy of the Crisis was absorbed by my body. I am literally immortal. I lived until the end of time, amassing as much knowledge about time and space and anything else I could learn about, just so I could come back and set things right. In all of that time, I aged only four years, physically. I am over 9 billion years old, and I have the body of a 17 year old. “You may think I am insane, but I assure you I have already gone through insanity several times and right now is one of my better periods.” Speedy brought up his bow, notched an arrow, and let it fly towards a target. Extant noted that while it hit the bull’s-eye, it seemed to be a little off-center. He filed that knowledge away for later use. “So now you know why I must kill Roy Harper. I intend to take his place, despite the plans of the Almighty or whoever. It is my right as the first.” “Going up against God is not a good idea; seems to me I read somewhere that He doesn’t cater to rebellion. Wouldn’t it be easier to just live a good life…?” Speedy launched another arrow. It struck next to the first one. “Settle for second best? Like all of those poor Hypertime alternates? Do you know why I must kill them as well? Because they are spawned from his timeline, and that makes them impure.” “But the entire thing is nothing but a lesson in futility, Harper,” Extant said, finally using Speedy’s real name. “You’ve tried to kill your so-called counterpart three times already, and each time you fail. Despite your abilities and planning, Father Time beats you at your own game.” A third arrow raced towards the target. “I have been thinking about that, and I believe it is due to not taking the battle directly to Harper. Being subtle is getting me nowhere, and that is where you come in, my friend.” “Me? I don’t think so. Our working relationship is fine the way it is…I don’t interfere with you and you don’t interfere with me. I have plans in the works right now and they don’t involve taking on the Titans.” Speedy lowered the bow. “So, you’re afraid of them?” The question had the hint of amusement in it. “I was one, as I told you before. None of the super-heroes are pushovers; at least not the ones in the prime universe. It’s one thing to go after, what did you call them? Impure duplicates; it’s entirely another thing to go after the real deal.” Extant smiled to himself. The truth of the matter was that he did not have a plan in the works at the moment, but he hardly wanted to let the competition know that fact. When the two of them had first met, they had been easy rivals. Over time, however, they discovered that they could help each other achieve their mutual goals and possibly share the wealth and

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power. Extant wasn’t sure how far he could trust the mysterious stranger at the time, but after getting mixed up with Hal Jordan, he had decided anyone else would be better. “Actually, it makes no difference to me, since I am refraining from looking into the future. Ollie always told me to go with my gut instinct.” He paused and then carefully let loose a fourth arrow. “It’s funny that after billions of years, I can still remember the words of a man who technically never existed. “All I really need from you is permission to pursue a Roy Harper in variant sector 198743-S.” Extant thought for a moment. The Linear Men, the so-called protectors of time, had devised the numbering system of alternate realities. Extant very rarely ever referred to realities in such a way. He would normally pick out some detail about the reality that would catch his eye and that would name it. If Speedy was asking for his permission, it must involve a reality that he had previously staked a claim on for some reason. He didn’t really care as it was; and if he agreed, then he would get to see what Speedy’s ultimate plan would be. “Sure, so long as I can watch.” A fifth and final arrow was let free. “Of course.” Speedy was not in his armor, but remained in a modified version of his original red and yellow costume. “The armor was to protect my identity, but it is no longer necessary,” he explained when Extant asked. They had arrived in the variant reality on a bright and sunny spring morning. Judging by the buildings, Extant reasoned they were in New York, or this world’s version. He still had no idea what his connection to this reality was and he began to press this issue with Speedy. “Just wait, and you’ll see,” was his reply. Seconds later, a blur of movement caught Extant’s eye and he became aware of where he was. He had completely forgotten about this place, with it’s single solitary super-hero. So boring was the world that he had considered conquering to save it from itself. He never really considered Kid Flash much of a threat; but it was obvious that Speedy did. Kid Flash, however, was normally found to be a variant of Wally West, the current Flash of the prime universe. Speedy’s war had been declared on Roy Harper, an entirely different super-hero. Unless… “Let me guess…Kid Flash is actually Roy Harper in this reality?” he asked. Speedy nodded. “Imagine what it would have been like of Barry Allen had found Roy Harper being raised by Indians? “ Extant said nothing. For all of the evil things he had done, going so far as trying to reshape the universe, he still felt a grudging respect for Barry Allen. Allen had been the second person in the prime universe to take the name of the Flash, and he had willingly sacrificed his life to destroy the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon during the Crisis. Had it not been for Barry Allen, there would be nothing in existence except anti-matter. Extant laughed silently. Apparently even super-villains had heroes. “How do you intend to kill him? Shoot an arrow at him?” “I’d hit him,” Speedy said. “I’m the best.” That forced Extant to raise his eyebrows. “So, what do you intend to do?” Speedy watched as Kid Flash stopped at the edge of a pond. Extant reasoned that Speedy had watched this particular moment in time for centuries, getting the timing down perfectly. He knew exactly where everyone and everything was going to be at any given nanosecond. He reached into the bag he was carrying; a non-descript black one and pulled out what looked like a common hand weapon. Extant wanted to make a snide remark. He found Speedy’s need to use weapons almost childish. Extant could, if he wanted to, use his powers to age Kid Flash right here and now; age him until he was nothing more than dust, or go the opposite direction and turn him into a costumed sperm cell. He knew Speedy could do similar things. Yet, Speedy always relied on weapons, always fell back to that basic training he must have received in his reality…if his story was to be believed. Extant still found it fantastic, amazing even. He wondered if Jordan had known all of this…had he gleaned the information about what the universe had been when he had absorbed the energy of the main power battery on Oa. Did taking enough power to make you a god allow you to understand things like one? Extant didn’t know, and again reminded himself that there could be no God if he could do the things he done. “Laser gun?”

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Speedy looked at him like he was a moron. “78th century Rannian energy state transformer. All the rage in the Great Humanity War. You see, because a Flash can mo ve so fast, you have to know exactly…and I mean exactly…when to fire. This will convert his Speed Force energy into a destructive force, wiping out the planet.” “I still don’t see what this has to do with me…” Speedy slapped his forehead. “Silly me; you conquer this planet five years from now. I’m changing that, of course, so I wanted to let you know so there would be no misunderstandings.” Speedy smiled and Extant saw the faintest hint of blue sparks around his eyes. Speedy took Extant’s silence as an indication that he understood, drew the pistol on Kid Flash, and pulled the trigger. As the beam left the muzzle, Speedy realized he had made a mistake. He could sense that the reality had changed since the last time he had been here. An event in the prime universe had diverged the time stream again. Just as the beam was about to make contact with Kid Flash, another blur intercepted it. Lady Flash, the newest super-hero and lover of Kid Flash immediately felt the Speed Force leave her body. Without it’s protective aura, her atoms were scattered to the four winds as her planet exploded immediately. “And that did what?” Extant asked as they walked along the time stream. “That was the last of the Roy Harper Hypertime variants,” Speedy said. “I didn’t expect the inclusion of Lady Flash…it has been awhile since I studied this world, but the end result was the same.” “There are no more variants…at all?” Extant asked, amazed. Speedy smiled and said nothing more. It was then that Extant began to wonder just how far this man would go to get what he wanted. Kid Flash kept running, vibrating his molecules at the same time, trying to find a frequency that would allow him to materialize out of the time stream. He had less than one millionth of a second to escape into time when he realized that his world was doomed. As a speedster, his perceptions were accelerated beyond comprehension. In the time it took him to run like a coward, he had witnessed the death of the woman he loved at the hands of some person in a red costume holding a gun. Kid Flash wiped a tear away from his eye, and he noticed that he had been doing that constantly. His grief was almost overwhelming in that he had no idea who the mysterious person was, though he thought he had recognized his companion. If he wasn’t mistaken, that had been Extant, a time-villain. Roy Harper, the young man behind the Kid Flash mask, knew a whole lot about Extant. He had encountered Walter West, a Flash traveling the lines of Hypertime. In the short time Walter had been in Roy’s world, he had taught him everything he needed to know about Hypertime, time traveling and people to look out for. The thought of his dead Kory made Roy even angrier and he raced on trying to find someplace he could go. His body was hot, almost as if he had absorbed Kory’s Speed Force energy when he had run. He would run for now, he told himself, but one day he would stop running and he would see to it that justice was served. Ace Silvermane, Time Cop, looked at the assembled beings before him. Some of them belonged in prison; others were professional rivals. All had intent looks on their faces. “You’ve all heard Extant’s report?” he asked, flashing a glowing smile. The Lord of Time was fiddling with his goatee. “This man is insane; he must be stopped!” The Time Trapper nodded ascension from behind a purple hood. “It is one thing to control and conquer, but this Speedy…” Per Degaton, clad in his Gestapo-like uniform cut in. “He calls himself Time-Guardian now!” Rip Hunter threw an empty can of soda at the red-haired villain. “You shut up! Why is he even here? He stole the ability to travel through time!” “As I was saying,” the Time Trapper started again, turning a hooded visage towards Hunter, “is that this Time-Guardian is nothing more than a cheap Anti-Monitor.” “On that we all can agree,” Waverider said. “Then I can count on your help?” Extant asked. “If we don’t work together, then we are all doomed.”

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Shaking his head, the Lord of Time spoke. “I don’t see how we can. All of our abilities are technology bas ed, but his abilities are magical in nature. None of us understand magic.” “We have access to people that do, though,” Per Degaton said, rubbing his forehead. A red welt was forming. “I’ve worked with Wotan…” The original Chronos, who was walking behind Per Degaton, smacked him in the back of the head. “Shut your yap! The only thing you ever accomplished was screwing up!” He then took his seat and opened the beer he had gotten from the refrigerator. They were currently inside the original cave headquarters of the Justice League of America, only a few weeks after the team had moved in. Currently, they were away on a mission. “The Lord of Time does have a point, though. None of us know anything about magic. Then there’s him,” he said, nodding his head to the figure in the corner. The Spectre ignored the criminal. He had been silent since the meeting had begun. The only reason he was here was because of the statements that the Time-Guardian had made about God. Deep inside the Spectre, the host soul of Hal Jordan, the former Green Lantern who had once tried to rewrite history himself, was worried. When he had been Parallax, and been determined to change what was, he had learned about the truth of the Crisis. He had shared some of that information with Extant, but not all of it. Now that the truth was out there, he wondered how some of these villains would use it to their advantage. The immediate problem was the Time-Guardian, however. While many thought he could simply ask God why the Earth-1 Roy Harper was chosen to be the seed for the new reality and the Earth-2 was to die, he knew that God would not answer. The plan was never revealed to anyone. “What about it, Jordan?” Extant sneered. “I thought you worked for God…” The Spectre looked at him, death in his eyes. “Be wary of your words, unbeliever; you do not wish for me to judge you summarily.” “Bah! Go ahead, if you dare. You are a fraud, a magician; you may inspire fear in these guys, but I worked with you once, Jordan. You’re a wimp.” The Spectre side of Jordan’s new identity bellowed to be set free, to render judgment upon Extant. Surely he was deserving of it, but Hal Jordan knew that Extant still served a higher purpose and for the moment his existence was vital to the overall scheme of things. “You are the one who came crawling to us for help.” “You haven’t spent the time with this freak that I have! Once he gets rid of Harper, like he has all of the rest…” “That’s not entirely true,” the Time Trapper said. “I’ve created a small pocket universe and put many of the Hypertime duplicates there for safekeeping.” “Aw, hell…not another pocket universe!” Rip Hunter said, smacking his forehead on the table. “Ace, isn’t there some sort of law against doing that more than once?” Ace Silvermane shrugged. Though his job was to enforce time laws, he was not of the prime universe and therefore had no jurisdiction here. He was only here to offer an opinion. “This beer sucks,” Chronos said, crushing his can. “I bet this is your beer, isn’t it Jordan?” Hal Jordan had been an original member of the Justice League. The Spectre did not answer, again. “Jerk!” The criminal got up again to get another beer. “How do we stop him? Can we stop him?” Waverider asked the assembled body. There were shrugs and grunts, but no definite answers. “Then why are we here?” “Suppose we have him assassinated?” the Lord of Time asked. Rip Hunter was the first to shoot the idea down. “No…if we sanction something like that, what’s to stop someone like the Linear Men from hunting down all of you criminals?” “Like you’d care, Hunter,” Chronos called from the kitchen. “You Linear Men are just itching for a chance to take us out.” “But what happens when this guy kills this Harper fellow? Will he then decide that some other person needs to die to keep the universe pure?” Per Degaton asked. Nobody attempted to chastise Per Degaton this time. Chronos opening his beer broke the silence. Finally, the Spectre moved out of the corner and headed to the doorway leading out of the meeting room. The gesture was symbolic, since he could have simply disappeared had he wanted to. “Where are you going, Jordan?” Extant called after him. The Spectre did not reply.

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Chapter 5 Arsenal and Green Arrow
The Time-Guardian yawned and stretched, his actions that of a bored child, not that of a man ready to begin the destruction of the universe. He eyed the swirling masses of colors that were above and below him, others to the side, but the beauty of the moment was lost on him. He had seen it millions, if not billions of times in his long, long life. Here was what was called the “empty space”; the place where the flotsam and jetsam of dead universe, deceased realities and could-have-been’s floated in the void that was not a void. All around him, pieces that were from things and events that no were longer were drawn into the colorful vortexes to be broken down into their basic quantum components and ejected somewhere else to create even more realities as events somewhere caused a divergence in the time-stream. The TimeGuardian found solace here, among God’s trash, because this is where he should have ended up at one time. It was only through a chance accident that he was spared. Like a high-paid lawyer, he had managed to find the loophole in God’s law. It wasn’t only him, though; everything he had known had died when the Crisis wave had destroyed his world, his dimension and his reality. It had tried to take his life and now he was in a position where he could never be killed. The irony was not lost on him as he turned his attention to a particular area of space. There, surrounded by a shimmering energy field, were the last remnants of the original Phantom Zone. Created by the Jor-El of the Earth-1 universe, it was a place where time had no meaning, as it’s occupants were nothing more than ghosts. Though he had never actually experienced life in the Phantom Zone, he had spent several decades as a bodiless soul. The little piece of the Earth-1 universe was here, where the Time-Guardian had found it some billion years before while searching for something he could not even remember now. It was a unique find, as he did not know what it was at first and it took him thousands of years to fully investigate it. Realizing the potential, he had spent even more years seeking out displaced beings that he might find useful. While it was true that the Crisis had destroyed nearly everything, there were some things that escaped or fell through the cracks, depending on your point of view. Through unseen forces that caused ebbs and tides in the fabric of time and space, they had ended up here, the galactic recycling bin. Had the Time-Guardian not been able to survive the Crisis, he would have ended up here as well. This was an alltoo true fact since it was the Earth-1 Roy Harper that was chosen to continue life in the new universe. That this Roy Harper or his peers were ignorant of the universe that came before theirs was of no concern, all that was important was purifying the time-stream by ensuring that he, Roy Harper, the original Speedy, was the only Roy Harper in existence. He stood up, or at least simulated the act, as there really was no up or down in this place, only here and there, and walked over to his Phantom Zone. It was safe here, protected by the magical powers that he had been granted. Reaching out, he placed a hand on the energy globe and concentrated, sending out a mental call to one of the inhabitants of the Zone. Though the inhabitants were not prisoners, there was no way for them to escape and even if they did, where would they go? They had no way to navigate out of this area, much less down the trails of Hypertime. They would simply become screaming bits of nothingness as temporal forces pounded them up. His arm glowed blue and energy started to pour forth from the globe. The Time-Guardian concentrated on creating a platform for his visitor to arrive on; it wouldn’t do much good for them to go floating away while he was talking to them. The energy began to collect on the platform, a construct of hard temporal molecules and atoms. It took a man-sized shape. Details, such as a costume and cape began to materialize; an outfit that was half Batman and half Superman, split right down the middle. Even the Batman’s cowl covered half of the face; a face where the skin was emerald colored. Green eyes suddenly took in the view as the Composite-Superman became real again. The Time-Guardian could not quite remember the Composite-Superman’s real name, it was Joseph Meach or Peach or something like that, but he knew that he had once been a janitor on Earth-1 at the Superman Museum. Joseph, however, learned to hate the Man of Steel, who represented everything that Joseph could not be. A stray bolt of lightning struck several statues of the original Legion of Super-Heroes

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and imbued the powers of the futuristic super-hero team upon the lowly janitor. Using the powers of Chameleon Boy, Joseph created the identity of the Composite-Superman. After battling both Superman and Batman, Joseph had sacrificed his life to become a hero in the end. The Time-Guardian found that part of the story boring as being a hero was not quite all it was cracked up to be. He had been a hero once, partner to Green Arrow and a member of the Seven Soldier’s of Victory. The Crisis had changed that though and had spared, somehow, Joseph’s life for a short while. Had it not been for the Time-Guardian finding him, he would surely be dimensional fertilizer by now. “Hello, Joseph,” the Time-Guardian said, a wry smile on his face. “I trust you’ve been well.” There was a sneer on his face. Obviously, this was a Composite-Superman pulled from the timestream prior to his getting the idea of becoming a hero. “If being locked up with those fruit cups is considered okay, I suppose I am. I tell ya, I don’t much like it in there.” “Yes, well, it isn’t like you can exactly go home. I mean, you remember what I told you about this new universe, don’t you?” The Composite-Superman scratched his head. Obviously, the effects of the Crisis had done him some damage. It was alleged that he possessed the intelligence of Brainiac 5, perhaps one of the most intelligent beings that had ever existed. That intellect was nowhere to be see now. The Time-Guardian had also noted that the powers of the original Supergirl were not present either, another side effect of having your reality destroyed around you. “Uh, well, I kind of remember, but anything has gotta be better than sitting around in there, listening to those guys whine and whine and whine. I’m sure glad you let me out.” Reaching over, the Time-Guardian patted the Composite-Superman on the shoulder. “Well, I have a special mission for you and if you do it, then maybe I can arrange for you to have a reality all to yourself.” The Composite-Superman began to scratch his green chin as he considered the possibilities. While it was apparent that the high level intelligence of Brainiac 5 would not be used here, Joseph was far from an idiot. He was simply a little rough around the edges and like most common criminals; he was always looking for a way to better himself. “Would there be any heroes on this world…anybody I have to fight?” Shrugging, the Time-Guardian spread his hands. “Whatever you want; I have an assortment of realities to choose from.” “Okay, who do I have to kill?” he joked. The Time-Guardian raised an eyebrow and his innocent face took on an evil glare. “I want you to kill me.” “You’re staying off the horse, right?” Roy Harper looked up from behind his 13th beer and eyed the man who had once been his father. “Ollie, you don’t have to worry about that…I learned my lesson.” Oliver Queen reached over and slapped Roy on the back. “Glad to hear it…son,” he said. It felt good to say it, to finally acknowledge that he indeed had developed a parental love for the younger man. When their paths had originally crossed, a bond began to form between the two and millionaire Queen took on Roy as his ward. A few weeks later, Green Arrow debuted a new partner, Speedy, the Adolescent Archer. Unfortunately, Queen lost his fortune and began to change. He saw life differently and that life seemed to have little room for children. Roy was left on his own more and more and without supervision, he ended up turning to drugs for solace. When Hal Jordan discovered Roy abusing heroin and then informed Queen, their relationship was nearly severed permanently. They separated for years, Queen moving to Seattle with his girlfriend, Roy joining a rock band. So deep was the rift between them that they almost never reconciled. Time and distance helped to mend their tortured souls. Then Oliver died. “So, Ollie,” Roy said, pushing his red sunglasses up. Both men were in their costumes, drinking in Warrior’s, a bar owned by former Green Lantern Guy Gardner. “Tell me who you saw up there in Heaven.” Ollie waved the question away. “I don’t want to talk about it, kid. I will say this, though, I had it pretty sweet up until Hal decided to use his powers to screw it up.” Hal Jordan, Oliver’s best friend, had been one of the world’s greatest heroes until he went insane, his mind destroyed by the stress of being the best. Taking the name of Parallax, he attempted to rewrite history so that all of the things that he deemed wrong would never take place. One of those things had been Oliver’s death at the hands of eco-terrorists. “I think that it’s sweet that he wanted to help his friend,” Roy

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said with a grimace. A barmaid came up and asked them if they wanted another round. Guy Gardner, so happy to see Queen still alive, gave them an unlimited tab for the night. The former Green Lantern had run out to track down more of the “old gang” as he had put it, leaving the short-skirted blonde in charge. Both men eyed each other and then her, a silent challenge to see whom she would be most impressed with. After a few seconds, Roy started to laugh, followed by Oliver. They told her they had had enough and asked for some pretzels. “That’s a damn cute kid you got, you know that? Damn shame about the mother, though,” Oliver said, playing with a napkin. Roy had, when in government service, worked undercover to capture the terrorist Chesire. Roy had fallen in love with her instead and they had a daughter, Lian, whom Roy now raised on his own. Oliver took the napkin and hit Roy on the arm. “Dammit! I thought I taught you better! How do you fall in love with a killer?” “Excuse me? How many illegitimate children are running around with that familiar blond hair?” Roy asked, knocking Oliver’s green Robin Hood cap off of his head. “I mean, we know about Connor, but that waitress might be yours too!” Oliver Queen was guilty of many things, and that included womanizing. It had cost him a potential life partner in Dinah Lance and had produced young Connor Hawke. The young man had assumed the Green Arrow mantle when Oliver was dead, even earning a place on the famous Justice League of America. “Yeah, yeah…whatever stud.” Oliver grabbed his last bit of beer and drank it down. “So, you okay for money and everything. I’m a rich man again.” Roy sat back, picking up a toothpick and belching. “I didn’t blow my inheritance from my father like some people I know.” Oliver flipped him off; his original fortune had actually been embezzled. “I invested heavily into the Wayne corporations.” “Sure, give Batman more money…that’s all he needs, damn leather-suited fascist. That money should be used for better things like a free clinic or free birth control…” “Shut up, Ollie,” Roy moaned. “Not every subject needs to become a liberal cause.” Oliver grabbed Roy’s glass and swirled the beer before drinking it. “I should expect that kind of talk from a damn government lackey.” He wiped his mouth on his glove. Roy adjusted himself in seat, thoroughly enjoying the banter. It had been several years since the two of them had actually sat down to talk and he hoped that there would be many more opportunities like this. Secretly, he was excited that his daughter had an actual grandfather to play with and get spoiled by and to be dumped onto when a hot date comes up. “Listen, old man…” Oliver was about to reply when the world became a mixture of sound, dust and flying bits of wall material. A hot blast of air blew both heroes out of their seats and they could hear several of the other patrons of the bar groaning and screaming. Heavy footsteps resounded in the bar and the Composite-Superman stepped out of the billowing dist cloud to face the huddled patrons. “I’m looking for the hero known as Arsenal. It’s time to die!” In response, a green boxing glove arrow struck the villain square in the jaw. The CompositeSuperman tried to use Ultra-Boy’s invulnerability to shrug off the blow, but was not quick enough. His head snapped back and Green Arrow leapt up from behind his seat, another arrow notched. “What the hell are you? Good God, it looks like a comic book threw up!” A blast of solar radiation courtesy of the powers of Sun Boy barely missed Green Arrow, but it was close enough that he smelled hair burning. The Emerald Archer cursed and fired his arrow. The glue arrow struck the Composite-Superman, but had no effect as he allowed it to pass through him as if he were Phantom Girl. Arsenal hurried through the smoke to the other side of the bar, hoping that he would be able to get everyone out before his assassin came after him. He reached the other side and climbed over a table to find several people in different states of shock. He saw the little blonde that Guy had left in charge; she was lying on the floor under a large piece of wood and not moving. As he moved over to her, a large hand grabbed him around the neck. The Composite-Superman smiled; he was winning even without the benefit of Brainiac 5’s intelligence or Supergirl’s powers. He knew very little about the Legion of Super-Heroes or even the process by which a portion of their powers had been transferred into the statues that gave him his abilities. He gripped tightly, but not enough to kill or crush, though he could if he wished to apply his UltraStrength. This was his first mission on what seemed like centuries and he wanted to enjoy it. In the Phantom Zone, his powers were useless as he was nothing more than a cloud of gas with eyes. He pulled the struggling Arsenal towards him, not even considering the Green Arrow character that was moving to a better vantage point. A sharp pain made him stop and release Arsenal and he saw that

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there was blood running from a wound caused by a single razor-tipped arrow. He turned to Green Arrow, who fired a glue arrow into his face. The Ultra-Invulnerability protected him this time. “That hurt, you bastard!” he cried. “Blow it out your green butt! I didn’t do it,” Green Arrow taunted. He pointed to the other side of the room. The Composite-Superman whirled to see another man in a green and brown costume, holding a bow, standing in the doorway. “Father,” Connor Hawke called. “I thought you wanted to buy me a drink.” “Hey, kid! Glad you could make it!” Oliver shot back. “Roy, you okay, buddy?” Arsenal slowly got back up, pulling out his small crossbow. He rubbed his neck as he spoke. “I’m okay. Hey, Connor! Next round is on you!” “I don’t drink beer,” Connor offered, notching another arrow. “How about some milk?” “Milk? Maybe milk with some beer,” Oliver said, pulling out a net arrow. “How about some Sex on the Beach?” Roy said, choosing a special explosive bolt. He carried very few trick items. Both he and Connor felt they undermined the beauty of archery. “I don’t think that’s a very proper thing to ask at this time,” Connor said. The Composite-Superman looked at all three, all the while nursing his wound. “Shut up! You’re all insane, do you know that? I have the power of the complete Legion of Super-Heroes! I am the strongest being on Earth!” All three heroes fired at the same time, each aiming for a different effect. Connor’s arrow bounced off the currently invulnerable villain, but it drew his attention long enough for his father to launch his net arrow. The projectile exploded some three or four feet above the Composite-Superman, a net developed by Dr. Ray Palmer, the Atom, expanding upon contact with the air. As the net fell over their adversary, Arsenal let loose the explosive bolt, aiming directly for the half Batman/half Superman emblem on the Composite-Superman’s chest. The net and the explosive hit at the same time, the older Green Arrow activating the one-time electrical charge as well. There as a flash and a bang, the Composite-Superman disappearing under the triple assault. Smoke began to rise from the chest of their foe and all three heroes were amazed to see that he continued to stand there, grasping the net. The Composite-Superman called upon the powers of Lightning Lad, transferring a new dose of electricity into the net. Whirling with Ultra-Speed, he tossed the electrified net at Connor, whom had wounded him twice already and was therefore the more dangerous. The younger Green Arrow saw the net coming and moved with unnerving fluidity, easily avoiding it. The Composite-Superman roared in rage and unleashed a gravity wave via Star Boy at the cross members above Connor’s head. Arsenal heard the wood starting to creak and break as the effects of gravity were increased upon them. “Connor! Look out!” he cried, turning his back to his foe. As the cross members fell, bringing plaster, wood and debris down upon Connor, his father gave a war cry and lunged at the Composite-Superman, his bow in a double-handed grip, held like a baseball bat. Again, the transformed Joseph Meach was not quick enough to invoke his Ultra-Invulnerability and with a resounding slap, he fell to his knees, his hand clutching his burning cheek. “Roy! Check my boy!” Green Arrow cried, kicking the Composite-Superman in the side. Arsenal felt a slight pang of jealousy; Connor was Oliver’s son by birth, but he had raised Roy. He said nothing, realizing that now was not the time to have a father-son-ward heart-to-heart and moved over to the pile of rubble where Connor had been standing. “What the hell is the matter with you, mister?” Green Arrow cried, giving the CompositeSuperman a hard left hook. The assault was keeping him off-balance and he was having trouble remembering which powers he needed to use. One of the drawbacks of his considerable abilities was that he really needed the intellect of Brainiac 5 to be able to integrate them together correctly. Otherwise, he had to search his memory about whose powers he had and how to use them. Green Arrow picked up his bow and hit the Composite-Superman again between the shoulder blades. Now on his hands and knees, Joseph Meach raged behind the green skin of his other identity. He had fought Superman and Batman and now an old man with a bow and arrow set was thwarting him. Growling, he slowly started to stand up, ignoring the multiple attacks. “God damn you, go down you big green son of a buck!” Without even looking back, the snarling Composite-Superman hit Green Arrow and knocked well across the room, past the booth he and Arsenal had been sharing. Not even glancing back to see what damage his attack had done, the Composite-Superman stomped across the destroyed bar. Arsenal stopped his digging when he moved a large piece of plaster to find Connor laying there, coughing slightly. He meant to ask how his friend was when he felt the bar shake with heavy footsteps. He

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turned, to see the Composite-Superman growing in size until he was about twelve feet tall. “Jee-zus! Who the hell are you?” The now-larger Composite-Superman, using only a percentage of the power of Colossal Boy, crossed the distance so quickly, that Arsenal did not have the time to avoid the huge hand flying out at him. The Composite-Superman grabbed him around the torso and began to slowly squeeze the life out of the hero. Oliver Queen slowly got up, thinking that being dead hadn’t hurt so much when he saw Roy in the grasp of a huge Composite-Superman. Reaching back, he pulled out one of only a few razor-tipped arrows he kept in his quiver and notched it. Several of Oliver’s mid-life crises had been caused by actions that terminated the lives of those who would harm him or someone else. The guilt had been great and had led too much of his “bad” behavior. Justified in his actions, it had been little solace as he replayed every event over and over in his mind. On the other hand, there may be no other way to save Roy. It was obvious that they were dealing with someone not exactly stable, who could be shot with an arrow one second and would then shrug off explosives the next. Oliver aimed at the Composite-Superman’s head and pulled the bowstring back. Arsenal screamed, first loudly and then it fell in volume as the air was forced out of his lungs. Oliver let loose, but at the last moment altered his aim so that the arrow sailed towards the shoulder instead of the brain. There as a loud snap and Arsenal’s eyes bulged. “No!” Green Arrow cried, stumbling over debris as he ran to the falling form of his former ward. The Composite-Superman growled again and turned to face the approaching hero. Two quick shots from Connor’s bow caught the killer in the thighs. His mission completed, the Composite-Superman leapt into the air and crashed through what was left of the ceiling. Green Arrow reached the fallen form of Arsenal and immediately checked for a pulse. There was a trickle of blood slowly running out of the younger hero’s mouth. His son, who was holding a JLA signal device, soon joined Green Arrow. “I’ve called Superman and asked him to get here, dad.” “Oh, God, Roy…no…no!” There were tears running down Oliver’s face and he tore off his mask and flung it to the side. “Get up Roy! Get up!” Connor looked into his father’s eyes and realized that the man was finally feeling the pain for his past sins. All of the missed opportunities to have a real relationship with the person he wanted to be a father to, or at least had volunteered to be, were now a reality that Oliver Queen was going to have to face alone. Connor put a hand on his father’s shoulder and then held him as he sobbed over the death of Roy Harper. Roy Harper opened his eyes to find himself in a place that was completely devoid of light and shadow, of heat and cold. He also found himself naked. It was like he was in a dream, one of those where you can fly but you move very, very slowly. He tried to call out but when his voice did not carry. A dim green glow in the distance caught his eye and he started to move towards it. There was no way to measure his progress, except by the size and intensity of the glow. While he “swam” he thought about the last thing he could remember, and it was not a pleasant memory. He remembered seeing Ollie firing at the strangely garbed creature that had been wrecking Warriors, and then there was a snapping sound in his ears. And then there was nothing. The glow turned out to be the one thing that Roy really did not want to face. “Oh, crap…hi, Hal.” The Spectre only nodded. “Let me guess, you’re here to pass judgment on me for my past sins.” “No.” He walked closer and his form shifted from the pale form of God’s angel of judgment to that of the former super-hero, Green Lantern. “I have found that most people find this form much more pleasing when they speak to me.” Roy shrugged and looked him over. He looked younger than he actually was when he died, but he was undeniably Hal Jordan, the proverbial man without fear. Once he was the greatest of all the Green Lantern Corps. “At least you have clothes,” Roy remarked. “You can have clothes if you want; what you see is your self-projection, the way you always perceive yourself. You picture yourself naked because you always feel vulnerable and you hide that first behind drugs, later it became sex. In that respect both you and Ollie are truly father and son.” Roy thought

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about it and then thought about his favorite basketball shorts and tank top. Instantly, he was clothed in them along with his good shoes. The clothes even smelled bad. “So, I’m dead, aren’t I?” “If only it were that simple, Roy. No, you’re not dead, you’ve been wiped out of continuity through the designs of a villain of the most grand scale.” “Who’d I piss off? What do you mean I’ve been wiped out of the continuity? That’s impossible…” Hal then explained everything that he had learned about the Time-Guardian, all the while, Roy’s jaw hung wide open. When he had finished, Roy said nothing for a very long time. The concept was incredible, like something out of 70’s science fiction comic book, but with implications that were biblical in nature. “If I died then I must have existed, right?” “You were killed before your time, that left an anomaly that the Time-Guardian has exploited.” “What do you mean exploited?” The former Green Lantern looked down towards the unseen ground. His voice was barely above a whisper. “He’s taken over your life. You never existed.” “What about Lian? What about my daughter?” Hal’s silence was answer enough. His daughter didn’t exist anymore either. “Good morning, son,” Oliver Queen said as he walked into the dining room. He straightened his tie before taking his place at the long dining table. “Hey, dad,” Roy Harper said, looking up from his oatmeal. “You look good today.” Oliver smiled. “Thanks. I’ve got a meeting with Bruce Wayne about some weapons development contracts for the government. You have to look your best when dealing with Bruce. I thought about growing a beard…” Roy looked up and there was a brief flash of blue from his eyes. “That would be a bad idea, dad, don’t you think?” Oliver slowly nodded, a blank expression on his face. “Yes, that would be a bad idea.” Roy nodded and then went back to eating his cereal. “Donna is coming over later after school to study and then we might go to a movie. Is that okay?” Oliver nodded and picked up the paper. Roy saw that the headline read TERRORIST CHESIRE KILLED IN QURAC. “Speaking of her, how is it going in that Teen Titans group? Not exactly the Justice Society, but it seems to be a darn good group of kids.” “It’s okay, dad. Though Kid Flash and Robin keep trying to act like they’re in charge.” Oliver laughed. “Then maybe Speedy needs to teach them a lesson. After all, you’re one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, you’ve got experience on them. You just sit them down and tell them who’s in charge.” “Thanks, dad, maybe I will.” He wiped his mouth on his napkin and excused himself, stating that he needed to get ready for school. As he left the dining room, a sinister smile spread across his face. This was his world, the world that should have been and the world that was now. He had won; he had beaten the Anti-Monitor, God and even time itself. He fingered his class ring. Today he would give it to Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, and then they would be going steady officially. He looked into the future and saw that they would marry in a few years. Donna, being an Amazon, was immortal as he was and so they would be together forever. “Life is good,” he said with a smile.

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PART II: THE RISE OF THE HEROES

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Chapter 6 The Flash and the Joker
“Good evening and welcome to Viewpoint on WGBS. I’m Clark Kent, your host for tonight’s show.” Clark smiled and swirled in his chair. “We are especially pleased tonight to be interviewing perhaps the most important man in the world…” “At least for today,” Speedy said, grinning from ear to ear. He was dressed in full costume sans his yellow cap, which he held in his lap. “You’re too modest,” Clark responded. “As of today, you’re the official leader of the Justice Society of America, the premiere law enforcement organization in the world. How does that make you feel?” Speedy shrugged. “I don’t think I’m worthy of the honor. After we sabotaged the Legion of Doom’s plans to extort money from the citizens of England, I was just happy to be able to come home safely.” “The Legion of Doom was beaten because of your timely actions against the CompositeSuperman. It was those efforts that ultimately led to Hawkman stepping down and naming you as the new Society chairman.” Clark turned to a television monitor that was displaying Hawkman standing at a podium. There was a date stamp in the bottom corner indicating that it had been filmed that day. After the speech had played out for the viewers, the camera once again focused on the reporter. “Much has been made of your relative age, Speedy, and many have said that it is perhaps a time for a change to the ranks of the JSA. Some of the members have been active for nearly sixty years.” The young hero nodded. “I’ve heard some of those cries and I’ve consulted with the senior members, especially Green Arrow, whom you all know I will especially rely on in the coming weeks. I was going to wait for a more official setting, but I suppose there is no better time than the present.” Speedy lifted his hat and displayed a piece of paper he had hidden underneath it. Clark winked at him and the camera moved to focus on the hero. Speedy picked up the paper and began to read from it. “As of midnight tonight, several senior members of the Justice Society of America shall be going into retirement. Those members include Wonder Woman, Wildcat, Green Lantern, Sandman, Starman, Hourman and Black Canary. In order to maintain the Society at full operational capability, I have held a meeting with Superman, the chairman of the Justice League of America, where I suggested combining the two groups. As you know, the Justice League was established as a way to train newer heroes in the proper use of their abilities and how to uphold the common good. “As such, we are going to welcome in the general membership of the Justice League as well as Wonder Girl from the Teen Titans.” He blushed slightly when he mentioned her. It was no secret that she and he were an item. “That’s quite a line-up,” Clark said, obviously pleased. Behind his glasses, he was actually Superman and now the vice-chairman of the Justice Society of America. It had been his dream for years to become a full member of the illustrious team. “I understand that there was one Justice League member who was not too happy about the changes.” There was an almost indiscernible twitch to Speedy’s left eye. “Yes…it seems that the Justice League Flash has decided to pursue crimefighting on his own.” Speedy then turned to a new camera and smiled warmly. All signs of his previous irritation having disappeared. “Rest assured, however, that Jay Garrick, the true Flash, will remain active on the Society for as long as we need him.” Barry Allen turned off the television and stood up, looking around his empty apartment. He often times imagined what life would have been like if he had not been such a coward when it came to asking Iris to marry him. It didn’t matter now; she was married to Thawne, who had been his rival for her affections almost from the beginning. His personal life had gone downhill since the accident that gave him his super-speed powers, his professional life had simply plunged into the abyss. As the Flash, he had been a member in good standing with the Justice League, even getting a best friend in Hal Jordan; as Barry Allen, chemist, he was near bankruptcy. The lightning bolt that had given him his powers had also destroyed the police lab where he worked in Central City. That had resulted in the city firing him, believing that he had been responsible for the damage.

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The subsequent lawsuits by the city and several police officers on duty that night had depleted his savings and inheritance from his uncle. He tried to get work on the Keystone City police force, but found he was being black-balled by none other than Jay Garrick, the original Flash and the head police scientist for that department. Barry had also started to notice that the more he criticized the relationship between Hal and Green Arrow, a member of the Justice Society, the worse things got for him. He always assumed it was just paranoia until earlier today when Superman had announced the disbandment of the Justice League. The very first thing he had said after the announcement was that the Flash, as in Barry Allen, had not been invited to join. It had made no sense, since he was faster and younger than Jay Garrick, but he also suspected that Garrick wasn’t the one behind it. Anytime he thought about Speedy, Green Arrow’s young partner, he got chills. Sometimes, he felt as if he were the only person in the world that saw the eyes that the boy had. Not so much the color, but the pure evil they seemed to radiate. Even in the presence of Green Arrow, who was supposedly his greatest hero, there was a coldness about the young man. Sighing, he went over to the simple cot that now served as his bed and picked up his costume. Once, he had been able to shrink it and put it in a special ring. He had to pawn that ring to pay the rent months ago. Again, he felt the temptation to use his powers to get himself out of the hole he had dug himself into. He shook his head, physically throwing the images out of his mind and into the air. The Legion of Doom already sported one evil speedster, the Reverse-Flash, and Barry knew that right now, he was the only person who had a chance of keeping that monster at bay. Jay Garrick wasn’t fast enough and Wally was… Barry fought back the tears threatening to explode from his eyes. Wally had been Iris’s nephew and the hero Kid Flash. As a member of the Teen Titans, he had done Barry proud and the two had grown as close as father and son. Very soon after Wally had begun dating Donna Troy, or Wonder Girl, as she was known in the super-hero culture, he had been killed in a battle with Trigon along with the first Robin. Only Speedy had returned to tell the sad tale and very soon afterwards had begun his well-publicized relationship with Wonder Girl. Barry always felt that something had not been right about the whole affair and as he slowly put on his costume, he remembered when he had brought his fears to the attention of the Batman. At the time, the Batman had agreed with him that something did not seem right. Very soon afterwards, however, the Batman began training a new Robin and had acted like he didn’t know what the Flash had been talking about. All of it seemed so contrived that he had almost laughed. Now standing in full costume, he felt safe. For whatever reason, nothing bad happened to him as the Flash and he found himself taking to sleeping in the costume. He had only taken it off to wash it. The events of the day had convinced him that something strange was going on and that the person behind it was Speedy, the new leader of the Justice Society of America. He wanted to go to Hal, but his friend always seemed so distant when it came to the subject of the sidekick of Green Arrow. It was not like Speedy had control over him; it was more like Hal was bound by some unseen force not to speak what he knew. No, he thought to himself, his best bet was with the Batman. Despite the changes in the man, Barry believed that deep inside, Batman knew what was going on. The Batman understood, but like Hal, he was trapped by some invisible hand. “You know too much, do you realize that, scumbag?” Robin asked as he drew his hand back. The Joker smiled, blood running down his chin from his damaged gums. “This is unwarranted assault…” Robin brought the crowbar back down, slamming it into the Joker’s shoulder. There was a popping sound and the Joker cried out. The cry was for the pain only, as the Clown Prince of Crime knew that there was no one to come to his aid. When someone needed help in Gotham City, they called for the Batman. Unless, of course, he was the one attacking you. “How is it that you know so much about Roy Harper?” the Batman asked coldly. Robin dug the tip of the crowbar into the Joker’s damaged shoulder. “I can call him off at any time.” “I’m sure you can, but it’s a pretty idle threat because you won’t,” the Joker said through gritted teeth. He eyed the youth who was enjoying hurting him so much. “Trying so hard to be like Dick, eh,

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Jason?” The comment unnerved Robin for a moment and the Joker used the reprieve to kick out, his spindly legs stabbing at the teen’s knees. Caught completely off-guard, Robin fell as the Joker scrambled up. His arm hanging useless at his side, the Joker tried to summon his famous humor. “Well, Bruce, I guess it’s you and me. How about you let me go and my lawyers won’t come after you for damages. Got to protect the Wayne Fortune…” The Batman scowled. “I have no idea how you learned my identity, but it won’t do you any good. Speedy has said you must die, that you know too much.” He began to approach as a cursing Robin stood up. “Tell me how you found out about Speedy.” As the Dynamic Due stepped into the shadows that the Joker tried to shrink into, he noticed that there was a blue glow to their eyes. “You guys are possessed, don’t you realize that? Batman…buddy…come on! Think! I’m the killer, not you.” He crossed his eyes and stuck a finger in his nose. “Crazy old Joker! Yes, sir, that’s me!” The Joker realized his argument was falling on deaf ears and he said a silent prayer to whatever being had dropped him in the middle of this insanity. For a moment, he considered the possibility that he was completely lost in his own madness, but he knew that just simply wasn’t so. A red blur raced by him and he figured it was his own blood, spraying against the alley wall. He expected there to be pain, but was thankful that there wasn’t. He was certain he was going to meet his maker, who appeared to have a somewhat nerdy voice. “What the hell is going on here?” the Flash said, coming to a halt. He had raced all over Go tham City trying to find the Batman. When he saw them approaching the Joker, he assumed that they were apprehending the criminal. As he had approached, he noted the extensive injuries the Joker had suffered and he would have sworn he could feel the malice coming off of the other heroes. “I want an answer now, Batman!” “Little Flash, run away,” Robin cackled. “You aren’t welcome here!” The boy turned towards him and reached down for the crowbar. The Flash thought he detected some sort of field around both Batman and Robin. It wasn’t unusual for him to see such things with his vision. He saw many things differently since he gained the ability to move at super-speed. “Welcome or not, I asked a question,” the Flash said, eyeing the approaching Robin. Before the Teen Wonder could take two steps, the Flash began moving his arms in circles. Small tornados launched out and struck Robin, throwing him up against a wall. A batarang sailed out at blinding speed, but it was a snail’s pace to the Flash. Vibrating his molecules, he allowed the weapon to pass through him. Batman moved with a speed the Flash was surprised to see and managed to get a good solid right hook on the Scarlet Speedster as he became solid again. The power of the strike put the Flash on his butt. Batman pulled out a cord from his utility belt and wrapped it around the Flash’s neck. The Flash reached up immediately, out of reflex, and pulled at the cord. He couldn’t believe what was going on; the Batman of all people was trying to kill him. The pain of the cord matched with the Batman’s strength kept him disoriented enough that he could not vibrate out of the death grip. “Your time is over, Allen,” the Batman whispered. The Flash felt his grip starting to slip when there was a sudden wet sound. Batman’s grip loosened and he fell over the Flash. The speedster rolled away, coughing and looked up to see the Joker holding a bloody crowbar. The criminal dropped it like there was death clinging to it. “I’m sorry, but there was no other way to stop him. Lucky for me he’s possessed or else he would have kicked my rear.” The Flash stood up and saw a nasty gash on the back of the Batman’s cowl. He knelt down and examined the wound and checked for a pulse. Satisfied that the Caped Crusader would live, he looked at the Joker. “Why were they trying to kill you?” “Lordy…wasn’t it Impulse that said ‘for a guy who supposed to be fast, you’re not too quick’.” The Joker looked over at the unconscious Robin. “Let me guess, you have no idea who Impulse is, do you?” The Flash shook his head. “You’re talking nonsense…” “No,” the Joker said, blowing out loud. “I woke up a few weeks ago and realized that I wasn’t the man I had been. I realized that the world was only minutes old…” “You’re under arrest…” the Flash began, stepping towards the Joker.

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“Barry,” the Joker started, waving to the two heroes lying on the ground. “Do you not see what is going on? The Batman was trying to kill me and you; Speedy is is in charge of the Justice Society and I’m the sanest man in the world.” Roy Harper stepped up to the podium and cleared his throat. Behind him, the huge emblem of the Legion of Doom was illuminated to add effect. “We have a problem, gentlemen and when we have a problem, I get very angry.” There were murmurs from the villains and Roy allowed them the opportunity to discuss who was at fault. After a suitable amount of time, he tapped the microphone with his index finger. “If I could please have silence.” When it was quiet again, he spoke. “There are two men on this planet that could mean the end of everything that I…we have built.” “I thought you said that this world would be perfect! You promised that we would be able to operate without fear of intervention,” the Master Jailer called out. “You need to shut up,” Roy responded. “Who here has ever heard of the Flash?” All raised their hands. “I’m talking about Barry Allen.” None of the hands went down immediately. “If you would just let me kill him, there would be no problem,” the Reverse-Flash said, standing up. He pounded a fist on the meeting table. “Why did you even drag him into this new universe anyway?” “He’s an anomaly…a balance of the temporal scales,” Vandal Savage said from a corner. He sat picking his nails. Roy tried to hide his disgust for the bearded bear of a man. Roy absolutely detested facial hair on a grown man; it was so primal. If any single person could represent the bestial nature of man, it was Vandal Savage. “What do you mean?” the Composite-Superman asked, scratching his head. He appeared to be getting dumber day by day. “You can’t remake the universe and not expect there to be some loose ends. Allen died during the Crisis, yet our boy Roy up there eliminated the entire event, per se.” Vandal seemed quite please with himself at having grasped the full magnitude of the situation. “Let’s say I used the Crisis to my advantage,” Roy retorted. Vandal Savage was an immortal man and therefore a temporal anomaly himself. He had figured out that there were certain aspects of universe creation that could not be controlled. As the Time-Guardian, Roy had managed to arrange the untimely death of the version of Roy Harper that had existed in what was considered the “real” universe. By killing Harper, he had disrupted the natural flow of time enough that he could move in and reshape the universe to suit his own needs. “Allen is here to balance our glorious leader,” Savage said with a small laugh. “He can’t be killed without a consequence. The problem is, Mr. Time-Guardian, is that you can’t be sure what the consequence will be.” Roy rolled his eyes. “Vandal, please…let’s just concentrate on the problem at hand.” He pushed a button on the podium and a viewscreen lowered from the ceiling. When it stopped, the lights dimmed and a picture of the Joker appeared on it. “This is the…” “Joker!” Cat-Man called out, elbowing Sinestro. “Minor league nobody if you ask me.” Tired of the interruptions, Roy’s eyes flashed blue and Cat-Man disappeared. It had the desired effect as calming silence enveloped the room. “In what I like to call the false reality, this was perhaps the most insane man in existence. He managed to slip through the cracks and is now allying himself with Allen.” “So? Kill them both and be done with it,” a tall redheaded woman said. Of all of the people in the room, he had the most in common with Shyla. A former native of the “Earth-1” universe, she had been a scientist on the planet Krypton. Interested in space travel, she had tried out for the Kryptonian space program, but had been rejected because of her lack of physical strength. Seeking to increase her strength, she developed a process by which she could imbue herself with the bio-electric energy of living creatures. The effect was temporary and when she knocked a statue onto an innocent man, her then normal strength could not save him. Charged with manslaughter, she was sentenced to 1.41 Earth years within the Phantom Zone. As a literal ghost, she stood by and watched her world explode less than a year later and Kal-El, son of her jailer Jor-El, rocketed away to eventually become Superman. Shyla eventually escaped, but ran afoul of Superman’s cousin, Supergirl, and had been returned to the Phantom Zone. There, she watched as the Crisis Wave destroyed her universe. Like Roy, her god had

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forgot her. As an Earth-1 Kryptonian, she was arguably one of the most powerful beings in his Legion. Because of their like interests, and an admitted sexual attraction to each other, he had made her his second in command. To the rest of the world, she was the actual chair of the Legion. “Maybe I should,” Roy said, drumming his fingers. “Can anyone tell me what could happen?” “He’s a Flash,” Abra Kadabra began, “quite possibly the greatest one ever. His nobility is renown throughout time and space. Ever since a human discovered the power of the Speed Force and called themselves Mercury, speedsters have been pivotal in the temporal alignment.” “Yes, yes, yes, Abra,” the Reverse-Flash interrupted, “we all know that the Speed Force is the thread that holds the cloth of time together. Can we save the lecture for some other time?” “Will you jerks please shut up? Mr. Harper wants our opinion, we should be happy to give it,” Deathstroke yelled above the din. Being former military, he was the usual calming influence during these arguments. Roy allowed them to happen because it kept them from agreeing on turning on him. From his days as a hero working with Green Arrow, he knew better than to turn his back too long on any villain. “Thank you, Slade,” Roy said. “Perhaps you would have something to offer.” “From listening to you guys, I’m assuming that the ‘cosmic-balance’ requires that at any given time, someone must possess the ability to tap into the Speed Force.” The Reverse-Flash smiled. “Exactly. No offense to the great mind of the Time-Guardian, but when you reshaped the universe and plucked all of us out of time, I kind of gather that I was picked to be the Speed Force anchor.” Roy inclined his head. “You were also a successful operative for me, Eobard, and that guaranteed a reward. However, you are correct when I sought to have you to perform that function. I was not sure exactly how either Jay Garrick or Wally West would react under my control.” The Legion members understood that this Earth was based upon the ideals of the Time-Guardian and that certain things occurred as he felt they should. He had long ago revealed that when he had selected the speedsters for this new world, he had left out those he felt were the largest threats. Barry Allen’s appearance had been unsettling at best. “But I get what you’re saying. Whatever the final plan is, we must be prepared for what happens afterwards.” “I don’t understand…why can’t the Reverse-Flash be the Flash?” the Composite-Superman asked, scratching his head again. “Because I’m from the 25th century, you green-skinned primate!” The Reverse-Flash had hated the Composite-Superman since day one. “In the ‘false-reality’,” he began, inkling his head to Roy, “when Allen died, West took his place. West would eventually unlock all of the secrets of the Speed Force. There is no West anymore…” Roy smiled. He had killed both Wally West and Dick Grayson when they tried getting too close to his beloved Donna. Donna Troy represented virginal womanhood to him; Shyla represented his baser desires that had to be fulfilled. He would have explained it to Donna if he thought that as a woman she could even begin to understand the complexities of being male. “So, the damage would be minimal. I agree, Eobard. Sinestro, you will have the task of killing Barry Allen and the Joker.” “What’s so special about the Joker all of a sudden?” Deathstroke asked. “For some strange reason, he realizes that none of this is real…or as real as he thinks it is supposed to be,” Roy said. He looked down at the Legion from his raised position. “The Justice Society has absorbed the Justice League, giving it a larger membership base. I need a two year plan for having you fine people trim out the membership, sort of weed out the weak.” There was laughter and Roy caught that look in Shyla’s eye. Her Kyryptonian heritage, experience and intelligence made him his equal…emotionally. He had not taken a lover in many centuries, but the idea of a beautiful mistress on the side was so like Julius Caesar. For only a moment, he imagined himself standing before the world with the crown of leaves, wearing a toga and dictating the laws of the universe. “I find it very hard to believe anything that you’re saying,” the Flash said to the Joker. They were sitting in one of the Joker’s secret hideaways deep in the bowels of Gotham City. “That’s nice…a super-hero that trusts nobody. Look, we can’t stay here very long. Harper knows everything; he’ll send the Justice Society or the Legion of Doom after us any time now.” He moved over to a closet and opened it. There were several purple suits on green hangers. He started looking through them. “What was I thinking?” “What are you talking about?” the Flash asked.

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“These clothes; you would think even an insane man would choose a wardrobe with something more than grape.” The Joker shrugged and pulled out one of the suits. “Oh, this is nice. It has an acidthrowing flower.” He taped his jaw for a moment as he looked at the device. “How do I keep from getting acid on my own shirt?” “Are you trying to say that you just woke up a few weeks ago perfectly sane?” The Joker began to change out of his bloody clothes. The Flash averted his eyes when he saw the bruised and torn chalk-white flesh of the Joker’s back. “Oh, it’s more than that. I started to see things for what they really were. For instance, did you know that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person? My God, all he does is put on glasses and the entire world is fooled?” The Flash nodded, dumbfounded. He, of course, had already known Superman’s secret identity, but he now thought about the eyeglasses as a disguise. It did seem a little contrived. “Or,” the Joker began again as he took a washcloth to his wounds, “how about Batman and Robin. It has to be Bruce Wayne and whatever teen boy he’s hanging around with this year. He’s the only one with the money, the motivation, the build…come on! You heroes really must think the world is stupid.” “That doesn’t explain why you think Speedy…er, Roy Harper, is evil personified,” the Flash said. He wanted to know if the Joker had the proof he had been seeking. “Did you see the headline two weeks ago? ‘Speedy defeats the Composite-Superman’. Speedy for God’s sake! Superman yes, Batman yes, Aquaman maybe, but Speedy? The only way he could have done it is if he and the Legion were working together. I started investigating it, hoping to find an answer when I suddenly realized something was amiss.” “What?” the Flash asked, standing up. “Well, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I seemed to remember something called a Crisis a few years back where many heroes and villains died. Now, that’s when it all started clicking and I realized that I wasn’t as insane as I thought I was. Something happened a couple of weeks back…someone changed time and I seem to be the only person who remembers what it was supposed to be like. “Then, I remembered the Psycho-Pirate…” “Who?” the Flash asked, searching his memory. The name meant nothing to him. “The Psycho-Pirate; a villain who survived the Crisis…oh, never mind. I hate being the only person in the world who knows what the hell is going on.” The Joker finished dressing and appraised himself in the mirror. “I managed to get the Batman to capture me and send me to Arkham Asylum. I remembered that was where the Psycho-Pirate was held in the real world. See, he remembered worlds that existed before ours…that was why they locked him up; he sounded fruity. Anyway, as soon as I start asking about him, strange things start happening.” “Like?” Joker turned and looked around for his bright red lipstick. “Like someone named Batgirl came to my cell and threatened to kick my white behind if I didn’t stop poking my nose into things.” He found it and began to apply it. In moments, he looked like his old self. The Flash noted that he seemed to have almost superhuman recovery abilities. “You were threatened by Batgirl and now you believe there is a world conspiracy?” Joker shook his head. “See, that’s where knowing what’s really going on helps. I shot Batgirl several years ago; I remember that. She can’t walk. Robin…that kid with the crowbar that attacked me today? I killed him. And you, Mr. Barry Allen…you’ve been dead for years.” “So you said,” the Flash commented. He wanted to believe the Joker, if only to justify the gnawing feeling in his gut, but it seemed too fantastic. He knew who Batgirl was, one of the many crime fighters in Gotham City and she had been around for years. The Joker was a known killer, and yet it was Batman who had tried to kill the both of them earlier. “How do you know I’m supposed to be dead?” “Please…they made such a big deal over it. By the way, now that I’m sane, thanks,” the Joker said, giving him a wink. As much as the Flash hated to admit it, he was having a difficult time loathing the man. “You died saving the universe from the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis. That was after your murder trial.” “Uh, huh,” the Flash said. “I suppose I killed the Reverse-Flash.” “You remember?” there was a hopeful look in the Joker’s green eyes. When he saw that the Flash was just being sarcastic, his mood soured slightly. “I don’t care if you believe me, but I know one thing: we have to put things right. I’m sane and can’t live with the knowledge that this world is a lie. If we succeed, you die and I become a lunatic.” “I don’t trust you,” the Flash offered. “You’re going to jail.”

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“Do you think that there is a jail in the world that can keep the Batman away from me? Eventually, Harper is going to get used to using him and look out! He’ll be as deadly as we know he can be. You take me to jail, you’ve signed my death warrant.” The Joker grabbed his hat and coat. “We have to find the answer to Harper’s powers.” “He shoots arrows…” The Joker had no chance to reply as the front door to the hideout suddenly flew across the room. A giant yellow boxing glove entered through the doorway immediately afterwards. The Joker was thrown back, but the Flash reacted much more quickly. Vibrating, he ran through the outside wall to get behind the intruder. Outside, the Flash was surprised to see Sinestro floating in the air, a shimmering field of yellow enveloping him. The crimson-skinned alien wielded a power ring similar to that of the Flash’s friend Hal Jordan. In fact, Sinestro and Jordan were mortal foes. The only tie that the Flash had to him was the fact that the Justice League had fought the Legion of Doom. Under normal circumstances, there would be an exchange of threats and bad jokes, but the Flash could almost feel the intensity of Sinestro’s will. He was here on a mission, and the Scarlet Speedster guessed it probably had nothing to do with anything pleasant. Without a word, the Flash began to run in a small circle directly underneath Sinestro, trapping him in a red tornado. Sinestro was not fazed and used his ring to dissipate the tornado as fast as the Flash generated it. “Your time in this existence is over, Allen. I have been promised that once you are gone, I will be put in charge of the Green Lantern Corps,” Sinestro called out. He could not see the Flash, so fast was the speedster moving. “Surrender and I’ll make your death relatively painless.” “That’s such a load of malarkey!” the Joker called as he stumbled out of the ruined doorway. He saw that a crowd of gawkers had gathered, but no local police forces. No doubt that Harper was behind that. “You plan to make it excruciating painful.” Sinestro grinned. “Yes, I suppose that I do.” He floated down to the ground to stand before the Joker. “My orders are to kill you as well.” “Smell my flower?” the Joker said, activating the small pump for the acid. The acid stream hit Sinestro’s energy shield and splattered back. Small droplets fell onto the Joker’s coat and in his face. The Joker screamed and Sinestro laughed. “Fool! My ring is powered by pure anti-matter; did you really think that you’re pathetic acid could penetrate my ring’s protection?” The Joker fell to his knees, his hands covering his burning face. Sinestro extended his ring hand, preparing for the coup de grace when the Flash suddenly appeared next to him. Vibrating again, the Flash attempted to attune himself to the specific frequency of Sinestro’s force field. In practice, he had been able to do it several times with other super-villains. Those fields, however, were based upon the physical laws of this universe, not the anti-matter universe. Reaching through the field, some of the Flash’s molecules came in contact with the strands of anti-matter that permeated anything created from Sinestro’s power ring. The Flash screamed once the anti-matter attached itself to him. The contact on a molecular level caused a small explosion as the positive and negative forces fought for dominance. Sinestro’s field failed and he was sent soaring over the crowd of people that had gathered. The Joker looked up, his face covered with puffy burns and welts, and saw the Flash holding a hand up. Streams of blue-white energy dripped like water and he was screaming. The Joker realized that the energy was similar in texture and composition as the Crisis wave. “Flash…you have to get out of here! You died by absorbing anti-matter; somehow, you’re doing it again!” Through tears of pain, the Flash looked over at the Joker. “Why?” “Sinestro’s ring is powered by the same thing the Crisis Wave was made of, only on a much smaller scale. You’re physical body is now acting like a magnet! You’re drawing the Crisis Wave back!” Then it seemed as if someone had turned the lights on in a dark house. “That’s it! That’s what he did! He did something to the Crisis Wave in order to change history! You have the knowledge, now you have to go!” “Go where…ahhh!” the Flash bellowed as his hand disappeared. “The Speed Force!” the Joker exclaimed. “God…I do know everything! You have to run…run as fast as you can…go!” The Flash wanted to object and argue, but the pain was too great. He felt there was true wisdom to the Joker’s words and nodding thanks, he wiped his eyes and ran.

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Sinestro pushed his way through the crowd, only to be stopped by the Batman and Robin. “Put the Bat-cuffs on him, son,” the Batman ordered. Sinestro started to protest and then tried to fly away. As he jumped, he realized his ring was broken and landed back on his feet. Robin smirked and slapped the restraints on him. Batman moved down toward where the Joker had crawled back into his hideout and found him sitting in a chair, applying a cold washcloth to his damaged face. “Time’s up,” the Batman said coldly. The Joker looked up. “Well, for some of us it is.” “What the hell is going on here?” Deadman cried as he made his way through the throngs of disembodied spirits standing in line. He got to the head, where a teenage girl in a misty cloak stood with the Joker next to her. “Oh, crap, Secret, what is the hold up? Ever since that dumb -butt Harper screwed everything up, we’ve got spirits out the wahzoo running around up here!’ “Gosh, Mr. Brand,” the girl ghost said, blushing. Deadman or Boston Brand to his friends nearly smacked himself. Secret had been a super-hero before the “Harper Incident” as they were calling it in Heaven these days. Really the spirit of a young girl killed by her super-villain brother, she had been given the task of escorting people to their final destinations by the Powers Above. “I don’t know what to do with him.” Deadman regarded the Joker. “Put some barbeque sauce on him and drop him down the hole!” Secret, blushing still, handed him a note. The Joker looked around, nodding his head. Deadman took the paper and read it. “Aw…this is crap! How does someone like him get put on ‘administrative hold’?” Deadman wadded the paper up and threw it down. “Freakin’ Jordan is supposed to be doing this stuff!” “He got sent back to Earth,” Secret offered. Though the Harper Incident had not initially affected him when his earthly identity was re-established, he had to obey. Jim Corrigan had been brought back by the Powers Above to take the role of the Spectre and he was not happy. “I know that! All right, Joker, come with me. You’ll be scrubbing the streets of gold with a toothbrush until this gets straightened out, you sick bastard!” The Joker whistled a happy tune as he was led along. He thought about the Flash and hoped that he made it where he needed to go. The Speed Force was like being deep inside a smile and Barry Allen found himself truly at peace. He had run with all of his might, the anti-matter slowly eating away at him. He had moved beyond time; he had seen the universe outside the world that Roy Harper had created and he realized just how right the Joker had been. The universe did need to be set right, but there was nothing Barry could do about it. He wasn’t strong enough to leave the Speed Force; for all purposes he was dead. The people he met here were friendly enough and slowly they began to fill in the blanks in his mind. He started to remember. “I need someone to carry on this fight…I need someone I can pass this information on to,” he said to the other speedsters. Max Mercury shook his head. “There is nobody except Jay, who is under Roy’s control and Zoom,” he said, referring to the original Flash and the Reverse-Flash. “You need someone from this relative time-period, like Wally.” “Harper killed me, Max,” Wally West said. “How about Walter West, the Dark Flash?” “We can’t find him,” Johnny Quick called as he approached. “He travels in and out of Hypertime so much that we can’t keep a line on him.” A new voice spoke up. “How about me?” All of the beings turned to see a young man in a Kid Flash costume. “Who are you?” they all asked in unison. The youth pushed back his mask to reveal a familiar face. “I’m Roy Harper.”

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Chapter 7 Kid Flash and Deadman
“Is the Speed Force part of Heaven?” Kid Flash asked. His attention was more on the angels flying overhead than on the person he was walking with. Ever since the destruction of his reality by the TimeGuardian, he had been running full speed in and out of time and space, trying to find where he belonged. Deadman shrugged his shoulders. “Do I look like a freakin’ architect? No, I’m a super-hero slash ghost! Look, if you want to discuss the building plans, I’ll see if I can set you up an appointment with the Big Guy.” Kid Flash said nothing. He had instinctively been drawn into the Speed Force, that energy dimension from which all speedsters drew their powers. There was nowhere else he could have gone because the laws of Hypertime dictated that you could only exist in your own universe, your own reality. Any attempt to settle in another dimension resulted in a collapse of dimensional barriers and could lead to universal disaster. “We have a meeting with Rip Hunter and some of the other time lords,” Deadman snickered. Ever since he had died and been exposed to the reality of creation, he found many so-called temporal villains and heroes laughable. Their powers and abilities only worked so long as Deadman’s boss allowed it. “Do you remember everything that Allen told you?” Kid Flash nodded. When he had gotten to the Speed Force, prepared to accept his fate, he found a meeting of speedsters that he did and, in some cases, did not recognize. There was a Barry Allen, the man who had adopted him after his father had died, but there was also a Wally West, who claimed he was the real Kid Flash. It had been Max Mercury, the self-proclaimed Zen master of speed that had solved the mystery and had explained how time, space, Hypertime and the Speed Force were interconnected. “After the Crisis, there was a need to reform the universe differently. The old way of vibrational boundaries had not worked, for the Anti-Monitor had proven how ineffective they were,” Max had explained after Kid Flash had said he wanted to know the truth. “It was necessary that after the Cris is that all persons believed it happened a certain way, that the truth of the various Earths had to buried and put away forever. Who made this ultimate decision? Some say God or Allah, others say it was cosmic chance or the Easter Bunny. Regardless, this was why nobody remembered the true Crisis. It is easier to answer questions that are never asked.” Max had smiled at Kid Flash. “I know it’s confusing, but the order that was necessary for life to continue required that there be one singular time line. However, if time wasn’t allowed to stretch sometimes to relieve the pressure, it would collapse upon itself; that is why there is Hypertime.” Kid Flash had seemed more confused than before and Max opened his arms. “If time is the mind of God, a plan in motion, than Hypertime is his dreams. The Speed Force is the energy that holds it all together and that makes all of us speedsters guardians of a sort of not only time, but of creation as well. Why, I can’t tell you, but I would say that Barry’s original sacrifice greatly impressed someone…powerful.” Deadman punched the young man on the shoulder. “Hey, are you listening to me or not, doofus?” “What?” Kid Flash said, turning suddenly to the ghostly super-hero. “I’m sorry, I was thinking of what Max Mercury told me.” “We’re here, so pull your head out of your butt,” Deadman said, pulling open a golden door. As Kid Flash entered, Deadman looked over at the Joker, who was scrubbing a sidewalk until it shined. When the Time-Guardian had revamped reality, the Joker had been given his sanity back and had been key in bringing needed information on the Time-Guardian to Barry Allen. As such, even though he was technically dead, he had been put on an administrative hold instead of being sent to a fiery end. “Keep working, Joker, you son of a …” An angel landed in front of him, golden sword and shield reflecting the perpetual sunlight into Deadman’s eyes. He looked up at Zauriel and shook his head. “Sorry, lost my head there for a moment.” The big angel said nothing and Deadman turned and entered the doorway. “I’ve created a pocket universe…ahhhh!” the Time-Trapper cried out in pain as the Lord of Time punched him in the back of the head. “No more pocket universes!” Chronos cried, adding moral support to the Lord of Time’s explosive rage. “I heard about one the other day that was filled with nothing but alternate versions of Dumb Bunny!”

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The Lord of Time continued to pummel the cloaked villain and none of the other assembled persons made a move to stop it, until Deadman cleared his throat. As the official representative of Heaven, he was the person in charge and held the most clout out of all of them. “Hey, calm it down,” Rip Hunter called out. Grudgingly, but not before giving a final kick to the ankle, the Lord of Time backed away and sat back in his chair. Deadman indicated a chair next to him and Kid Flash sat down. The table itself appeared to be made from pearl and the chairs were framed in silver with white silk cushions. Were it not for the gravity of the situation, every person present could spend a lifetime marveling at the beauty. Two angelic guards stood next to the door, ensuring discipline for the meeting. Each and every single one of the group had managed to survive the Harper Incident by using their own abilities and powers. Rip Hunter was the first to speak. “You all remember when Extant approached us originally about the Time-Guardian?” He nodded to the black clad villain. Extant was very uncomfortable being here as he didn’t believe in God. “Thanks to his warning, we were each able to plan ahead for the inevitable. There was no way we could prevent the Time-Guardian from killing Roy Harper, the real one, but now perhaps we can reverse his actions.” “As I was trying to say, through the use of pocket universes,” the Time-Trapper started, head ducking from the expected blow that never came, “I have managed to secure several alternates of Roy Harper, thereby preventing a complete unraveling of Hypertime when we set things right.” “Hold it,” Kid Flash started. He reached up and pulled back his mask to reveal the face of Roy Harper. There were several gasps and Per Degaton let out a particularly feminine scream. “What is the difference between the real Roy Harper and us ‘alternates’?” “Ace,” Deadman said, indicating the well-dressed time enforcement officer, “would you care to explain to the youngster here?” Ace Silvermane winked and flashed a smile that was brighter than the room they were in. “Alternates are simply projections of what the actual person could have been. Whatever dictates the creation of someone in the prime reality is beyond all of us…” “Not me,” Deadman offered, grinning at Extant. The villain gave him a one-fingered gesture in reply. “But in Hypertime, people are based upon what could have been. You are as real as real can be, but your existence is dependant upon the actions of the primary.” Ace seemed rather pleased with himself as usual. “Rip,” Chronos started, sipping at a diet generic soda. He had protested the lack of beer, claiming it couldn’t be called Heaven if there wasn’t any beer. “Why don’t you explain the situation to Deadman and the kid so that we’re all on the same page.” Rip Hunter stood up and pulled at his green tunic to straighten it. “The Earth-2 Speedy, we now know, escaped the Crisis through magical means. Believing that he was cheated out of a life that he deserved, he set about going through all of Hypertime to kill all of his duplicates before delivering the final blow by eliminating the real Harper. Doing this, that is killing the primary Harper before his time, upset the flow of time and allowed the Time-Guardian to manipulate the effects of the Crisis from a singular point. By preventing the Crisis Wave from completing its course, he stopped the reboot of the universe.” He picked up a glass of water and took a drink. “He now controls the prime universe; it has been reshaped to suit his needs. In effect he has become a god.” The angels stiffened at this comment and Deadman leaned back. “I wouldn’t go that far. Anyway, how is he holding back the Crisis Wave?” “The Speed Force,” Kid Flash said, snapping his fingers. “I think I get it…” “I think if we have a pocket universe…argh!” The can of diet soda bounced off of the Time-Trapper’s head. “Shaddup you!” Chronos sneered. “He used the Speed Force to keep the wave back, probably by taking a Flash and putting them in a vibrational enhancer,” the Lord of Time commented, rubbing his beard. “That would do it if it was Speed Force that could keep the wave back. That assumes of course that the Speed Force is a byproduct of the original Crisis Wave…” “Yes!” the Time-Trapper exclaimed, hitting the table. “All we need to do is find this enhancer!” There was a tapping at the window and the Joker stood there. “Duh! When I saw how the antimatter was affecting Barry Allen, I knew if he ran to the Speed Force he would be safe!” Deadman eyed the two angel guards and they left the room to drag the Joker back to his duties. “Who put that window there?”

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Extant yawned. “This is ignorant. Where is your God, Brand? Why does he let these things happen? If the Speed Force is the thread that ties creation together, I’d say that Harper has untied God’s shoes!” The room got suddenly quiet. Deadman thought for a moment. “Extant, you’re only here because you did the right thing by telling us about the Time-Guardian. However, I’d like to remind you you’re in Heaven now and it has a protector named the Spectre.” Satisfied when Extant crossed his arms and scowled, Deadman turned his attention to the TimeTrapper. “You’re the expert on universal misalignments. If we find this enhancer or whatever he’s using to hold the Crisis Wave back, will time revert to normal?” The Time-Trapper contemplated the question and then slowly nodded. “Not only that, but if past history can be used to show a pattern, doing so will prevent Harper from doing it again. Time is funny like that; you can mess it up several ways, but you can only use those ways once.” “No doubt we will all forget the true reason behind the Crisis, the past Earths, everything,” Per Degaton added. A blonde-haired man sitting at the far-end of the table smiled from above steepled hands. “Some of you monkeys will, but we of a higher existence…” “Bite me, Neron,” Chronos chided. “Just because you live in h-e-double hockey sticks doesn’t give you any special say here.” “Perhaps, but allow me to give you a bit of advice: don’t take a knife to a gun fight.” Neron stood up and was gone with a wave of his cape. The air smelled faintly of brimstone and everyone waved the air in front of their faces. “He means that subtlety won’t work against Harper; he’s got that Legion of Doom down there for a reason. He has some control over the heroes, but the Legion are his hammer. Neron is correct in that we’ll need some serious firepower to go up against them.” Deadman thought about it for a moment. “We can’t count on anyone down there.” “Except the Joker,” Per Degaton said, smirking. “A lot of good that will do,” Deadman said. “He’s so sane now that he can’t stand violence.” “I’ve created a pocket universe I think you should look at,” the Time-Trapper yelled as he stood up and ran to the other side of the room. Chronos just giggled. “You got something we can use?” Kid Flash asked the purple-robed villain. “Oh, yes,” came the reply. “It looks like Earth, except it’s so sunny,” Kid Flash said as they walked down a path. Deadman had taken possession of some passerby. As a true spirit, he could not exist on any earthly plane in physical form. “I’d forgotten how much I love the sun.” Deadman looked up. “It’s not a real sun.” The Time-Trapper coughed. “It is so; I grabbed it from a dying reality.” “You’re as bad as Harper, you know that?” Deadman reached into his pocket and found some candy. He offered Kid Flash a piece. “So, you just started grabbing heroes and putting them here, Trappy?” There was annoyance in the Time-Trapper’s tone. “Yes. I recognized them as being heroes that simply did not belong, who had been destroyed in the Crisis, but were now back. They needed a place to live.” “Sounds like a god-complex,” Kid Flash said as he chomped on the candy. “Any idea who the Flash is that the Time-Guardian has trapped?” “Could be any number of duplicates. I’d say that Jay Garrick was too frail to withstand the process,” the Time-Trapper began, speaking like a lecturing professor. “Barry Allen was an anomaly and he killed Wally West for daring to love Donna Troy.” “Hey, I just had a thought,” Deadman said, smacking his lips as he enjoyed his candy. “Did you happen to bring any villains here as well?” “Gotta go,” the Time-Trapper said before disappearing. “Damn it! That guy collects everything, I swear. He gets so worked up he can’t tell the difference between the heroes and the villains! We’ve got to be careful.” “Different body, same programming and nothing got better!” Nightwing said as he matched his strength against the skeletal form of Brainiac. He pushed, his Kryptonian might battling the mechanical power of the artificial being.

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“Resistance is futile; I shall achieve my goals regardless of you and the other heroes assembled here,” the android replied in a monotone voice. There was a slight whirling sound as more micromotors came on line. Van-Zee grunted as he realized he was losing ground. As Nightwing, he and his partner Flamebird had been the only costumed protectors of the bottle-sized city of Kandor. The city, shrunk and collected by Brainiac years before the destruction of Krypton, had resided in the Fortress of Solitude after Superman had liberated it from the robot. There, it had been exposed to red solar rays, which prevented Van-Zee from using the powers he normally would have had on Earth. In other words, he thought as the android finally pushed him back, he was out of practice. He tumbled back, tripped over some wreckage and fell back on his head. He was not used to working without his partner and he briefly wondered where Ak-Var was. Brainiac, satisfied that the immediate threat was removed, turned to eliminate the human identified as the Huntress. She had been the one who had originally sought to halt his programming. He calculated the exact amount force that would be required to crush her head as he walked past and made a slight deviation to his stride so that he would not waste vital energy by having to stop to orient himself. A familiar pinging sound activated several subroutines. The exact tone and wavelength of the noise indicated that he was being shot at from a distance of 20.7 feet with a model Colt .45 caliber pistol. A link to his historical reference database determined that such a weapon was not found in the arsenal of modern police forces. That deviation from the norm in turn executed the commands that controlled his inquisitive executables. A tall woman clad in white western-style clothing, pushed back her hat with the tip of a smoking pistol to reveal a mane of scarlet hair. “Y’all take another step towards that lil’ heifer and I’m gonna put ya’lls beady red eyes out with some hot lead.” She aimed a pistol in the other hand in Brainiac’s direction. “I sweah, y’all ‘bout the ugliest hoodoo thingy I’ve evah seen.” Brainiac scanned his memory banks but came up empty. His digital receptors took in every inch of the woman, recording her visage and vitals for future consideration. “Your threat is meaningless; you cannot harm this unit with your weapons.” “Hey, Brainy! Don’t you know it’s impolite to threaten such a hot chick!” Brainiac recognized the voice of Jimmy Olsen, the best friend of his primary enemy Superman. His priority programming determined that Olsen’s elimination was necessary to complete at least 1,756 of the plans he had devised to eliminate the Man of Steel. A purple clad arm, stretched to a humanly impossible length of fifteen feet wrapped itself around the robot. Elastic Lad, one of many personas’ Jimmy Olsen had assumed over the years, smiled and whipped out another elongated arm to envelope Brainiac. The robot allowed Elastic Lad to do so and was about send a lethal electric shock through his own body to end the hero’s life when something soft and moist struck his left eye. Before he could react, several more gunshots rang out. “Override…” he began to speak. He had no need to actually voice his actions, but he had determined that there was a certain amount of psychological advantage to doing so. Humans were always so fearful of him when his voice reached a certain octave. Another wet missile struck his other eye and his internal radar picked up the form of a chimpanzee wearing a hat hopping up and down. Had he emotions, Brainiac would have pitied the simian. “Your pet’s efforts are futile; spoiled bananas will do no damage to this unit!” “Heah! That’s a good one, mistah tin man,” the woman with guns called out. “Those ain’t exactly brown bananas he throwin’ ya’ll!” Nightwing lunged up and struck Brainiac with a blow that would have leveled a small mountain. Elastic Lad let go at just the right moment, expecting the robot to go flying towards the moon. The android did fly, but small plasma jets kept him from moving very far. “Upgraded, eh?” Nightwing asked, taking to the air himself. An electrostatic field burned the soiling covering his eyes and Brainiac changed from a calculated attack to brute force. His fist struck Nightwing hard in the face and a thunderclap rolled through the city. Detective Chimp decided that the big metal man was too far away for his “unique” attack. He spied the fallen form of the human female in the short purple outfit and scooted over to try and pull her out of the line of fire. The chimpanzee grabbed the woman’s hand and pulled her over the cracked concrete. She was not light, but he possessed more than enough strength to move her form. As he did so, he considered that now was not a good time to take a nap.

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“Do you see that light?” Kid Flash asked, pointing over the trees at the edge of the park. A crimson burst lit the sky. “That probably isn’t normal.” Deadman groused. “It’s probably some unknown result of making a million pocket universes! What was he thinking?’ Kid Flash pushed Deadman. “Stop that! This is bigger than both of us and you know it.” “Some people try to use humor to alleviate the stress, kid,” the dead hero replied. He turned his host body in the direction of the light and a second explosion confirmed their suspicions. “Well, I can’t run there.” “You can fly, right?” Kid Flash asked. Deadman replied there was no way he could fly as fast as the young man could run. “What if you possess me?” Deadman raised his eyebrows. “Are you nuts? It’s one thing to take over a body and have a conversation; it’s another to use super-powers! I don’t have the experience…” “When you take over someone, are they completely out of it? Quick man, answer me!” The irritation was obvious in Kid Flash’s voice. “Oh, never mind! Just do it and let’s go. The heroes we need may be over there!” Deadman decided not to argue, as there was no time and instead leapt out of the host body and into Kid Flash’s. Immediately, his perceptions changed and he saw everything in…speed. He had possessed speedsters in the past, but never had he experienced such a link to the Speed Force as in this individual. He wondered if the experience was different for every speedster, for it was almost religious in nature. Boston Brand had died and that event was nothing like this. When he died, he had been cut off from life. Here, inhabiting Kid Flash’s body, he felt truly alive. He now understood the allure of speed. He started to run and in the blink of an eye, found himself standing in the middle of the Sahara Desert, or whatever the equivalent was on this planet. It didn’t feel right calling it simply “Earth”. Taking a deep breath, he tried to jog and found that his body responded quicker than he was used to. After five minutes and several trips around the globe, he had learned to at least run in the correct direction. The Batwoman barely managed to avoid a concentrated barrage of laser blasts and found herself hiding in an alleyway with Detective Chimp and the inert body of the Huntress. She looked down and shook her head. They had spoken briefly before Brainiac had appeared in downtown Coast City. In that short time, she had learned that the woman was from Batwoman’s future and was the Batman’s daughter. She understood that it meant that she and the Batman would never have become an item and that left a profound sadness in Batwoman’s heart. As Kathy Kane, she had become the red and gold clad heroine in order to have fun, but it turned into something more after she had actually met the Caped Crusader. Huntress had indicated her mother was the Catwoman and for the life of her, Kathy could not figure out why Batman would have married a criminal. Criminal’s daughter or not, the Huntress had been the first to go after Brainiac when he started ravaging automobiles and storefronts in an effort to build something that Batwoman could not describe. Roughly spherical, it appeared to be a craft of some type, but she couldn’t be sure. Like flies to honey, heroes had appeared out of nowhere, all drawn to the robot. She knew that none of them had been here very long, for this was not the planet of her birth. There was more here than met the eye, but for now, any investigation would have to wait until they figured out some way of stopping Brainiac. “You have any useful suggestions besides throwing crap at him?” she asked the monkey. Detective Chimp jumped up and down, screeching. He understood Batwoman perfectly, but there was no way for him to communicate to her. He turned his attention to a young girl in a bathing suit, hiding in the shadows. She was breathing heavily and looked pale. As he understood it, she needed water, but there was no way for him to move her to any with the large shiny monster trying to kill them. “I agree,” she mumbled. He had figured out that she could somehow understand him, as if she could see the pictures in his mind. “We must…wait.” Angry and feeling trapped Detective Chimp started pacing. The female with the guns, for he knew exactly what those were from his many adventures, came running into the alley and he could smell burnt meat. She was holding her arm as if she was wounded. “Kee-rap! That contraption is as stubborn as a damn mule!” She saw the condition of the Huntress and the girl in the swimsuit. “You ladies okay?” Batwoman gave her a sarcastic look. “Do they look okay?” The woman nodded. “Name’s Cinnamon.” She winced in pain and looked at her arm which sported a nasty laser burn. “Tarnation that hurts! Somethin’ tells me I’m a long way from home.”

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Batwoman looked down at the pale girl. “Tula, we have to get you out of here now!” “If we don’t stop Brainiac…people will die,” Tula offered with a weak smile. “If I could just hop in a swimming pool.” A yellow and red blurred moved past their vision and seconds later, the wind howled and bowled them all over. Kid Flash, controlled by the panic-stricken spirit of Boston Brand, ran towards a large robot with a huge head. Deadman tried to stop, but saw that he was not going to be able to avoid running into the robot. A voice seemed to scream in his mind, telling him to vibrate through the robot. Deadman had no idea how to do that and just started shaking as best he could. His body passed through the robot and emerged on the other side. There, he had the clear path he needed to stop. Brainiac’s internal sensors detected a change in the molecular bonding of every component, as if something had passed a knife through the electrostatic charges between the atoms of his being. Even as his form exploded, he was surprised that he had no answer to his situation. Kid Flash looked over at the young woman called Aquagirl and caught her smile as she lounged next to the swimming pool. They had all assembled in the home of a movie star that Deadman had decided to possess. For the past hour, as they tended wounds and other needs, Kid Flash explained the events of the Harper Incident, the destruction of time and the Crisis. All of the heroes, except for Deadman and Kid Flash, had something in common: they no longer existed. The only thing that allowed them to be here at all was the Crisis Wave being held back and now Kid Flash was asking them to risk their lives so that the end result would be that they died. “Of course we’ll help,” Nightwing said. He had already recovered as he had absorbed enough yellow rays in order to put him at full power. “But I disagree with your theory that we’ll all die.” “It don’t mattah to me, s’long as we make things right. I don’t understand a thing ya’ll is talkin’ ‘bout, but seems to me that it’s the right thing t’do,” Cinnamon said. Unlike the other women, she had refused to put on a swimsuit and sit around “like a desperate woman” as she had put it. Detective Chimp had taken to sitting next to Aquagirl who possessed limited ability to communicate with him. Huntress and Batwoman had marveled over the bikinis in the house and Deadman was strutting around in a pair of swimming trunks much too small for his large frame. The only person who seemed completely at ease was Jimmy Olsen who was intent on trying to flex his muscles every chance he got. Aquagirl especially was not fond of being referred to as “babe”, “chick” or “honey”. “Saving the universe is just another day in the life of James Olsen, professional superhero. If you want, Van-Zee, I’ll put on my old Flamebird costume and we’ll revive the old team.” Nightwing avoided responding to Jimmy and instead concentrated on dealing with the problem at hand. A cousin to the “Earth-1” Superman, he had emerged as the de facto leader of the group. “It seems we have a three-fold problem. First, we have to find out how the Time-Guardian is holding back this Crisis Wave. You have a theory, but no proof and we need to find that. Second, there is the Legion of Doom, which is going to protect what’s holding the Crisis Wave back and the Time-Guardian himself. “Finally,” he said, rubbing his chin. “Even if we do all of this, there is nothing to stop the TimeGuardian from doing something again. Anyway, he killed the real Roy Harper, right?” “Well, yes and no,” Deadman called from the grill. He was putting some steaks on. “He’s dead, but he’s stuck in Limbo.” “Mr. Deadman, Bobo,” Aquagirl said, referring to Detective Chimp,” is curious. He understands what death is and he understands that life has to come from somewhere. He senses from you that you’re both dead and alive and wants to know if whoever gave you your ability to not…” her face frowned as she concentrated on the monkey’s thoughts. They were more pictures than words and so mammal-like that she was having trouble interpreting them. Kid Flash interceded for her. ”It’s the same old question; why doesn’t God intercede?” Deadman started dancing as he sprinkled pepper on the steaks. “Take a look around, little monkey. Seems to me that the Lord works in mysterious ways.”

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Chapter 8 Nightwing and the Huntress
“So, you’re from Krypton…like Superman and Power Girl,” the Huntress asked, speaking from behind the closed bathroom door. Nightwing, who was removing his costume in the privacy now afforded by the empty hotel room answered back. “I’m not sure who Power Girl is, but I gather in your reality she was your version of Supergirl. In response, the answer is yes, I have the same powers they do under a yellow sun.” There was the sound of a crossbow falling to the floor. “Damn sinks are too small in here!” She paused for a moment and Nightwing’s enhanced hearing could detect her picking up the fallen weapon. He could have used his X-ray vision to see through the door, but that wouldn’t have been very friendly. Still, he had to admit he was more than slightly attracted to her. “My father, the Batman, told me that Superman and Power Girl were the only survivors of Krypton.” “Maybe in your reality, but I strongly suspect not. On Earth-1, the name attributed to where I existed, the city of Kandor was shrunk and stolen by Brainiac prior to the planet Krypton exploding. Years later, Superman rescued us and put the city in his Fortress of Solitude.” He reached for the slacks that had been laid out for him the Huntress. The fashion was beyond him, but she understood what was in style and so he trusted her judgment. He had just finished zipping them up when the door opened. “Oh…my, what big muscles you have,” she said, staring at his chest. “Do all you guys from Krypton get so big?” She was dressed in a shirt of some light material and khaki shorts, complete with hiking boots. He found himself staring as well as he made a poor attempt to reach for his shirt without looking. It was difficult not to think about his wife, but he knew that she was not coming back. The Crisis had taken her away and now he was the sole survivor of his world. She blushed as she realized they were staring at each other, she turned away. “So, you live in a bottle?” she asked as she went back into the bathroom to get something to tie back her dark hair. “Yes; there I am a scientist by trade, but I am also one of the only two super-heroes. My partner is…was named Flamebird.” He finished buttoning the shirt and sat down on the bed to put on his socks and shoes. “I can’t imagine what it must be like for a bunch of supermen battling it out in a shrunken city,” she said as she exited the bathroom. “Kandor is kept under a red sun projector so that none of us have any super-powers. We wish to live as if we were still on Krypton.” He realized he was speaking of the city in the present tense. In his mind, he scolded himself for the error. Kandor was gone. “I grew up surrounded by super-heroes,” she said as she examined her sunglasses. “My father retired from the whole thing early on to go into real law enforcement. My mother was the Catwoman.” She saw that he had no idea who that was. “A reformed thief. I became the Huntress to carry on my father’s legacy.” “Forgive my ignorance, but wasn’t Robin supposed to do that? I only mention it because the Earth-1 Nightwing of the Teen Titans was of particular interest to me.” “I remember dying in the Cris is,” she began, her eyes looking out towards nothing, glazed over in the beginnings of tears that would never quite flow. “We held each other at the moment of our death, Dick and I. He had kept the Robin identity all of those years because he could never bring himself to try and replace my father.” She caught herself and blinked away the tears. Completely dressed, Nightwing stood up and looked at himself in the mirror. He was surprised how closely he looked like Clark Kent, the secret identity of his cousin Superman. Or, at least, the Superman of Earth-1. The Superman of this world was that man and was not. There were several similarities, but one major difference: Nightwing was far more powerful. This Superman was powereddown compared to him and that was what gave him a distinct advantage. “By the way, I think calling me Nightwing is sort of ridiculous. My name is Van.” She smiled warmly. “I’m Helena, Helena Wayne. So, Van, now that we’re dressed, what do we do?” He thought about it for a moment. “I think we should eat first; for some reason I feel like I haven’t eaten in decades.” “Are you asking me out on a date, Van?” she asked with a sinful glare. There was more than humor to it; she was serious and he could tell as he listened to her heartbeat change. It was no wonder; they

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had been revived from the depths of nothingness and given life through a freak accident. The scientist part of him wondered if the human instinct to procreate was overwhelming them. It was possible since they knew in their heart of hearts they could die at any time, the need to continue the race was starting to effect their best intentions. “Excuse me, did I say something wrong?” Van shook his head. “Sorry, just considering some possibilities. Are you hungry?” “Speedy is from your Earth, isn’t he?” Van asked as he cut into his second steak. Helena simply nodded her head and smiled as he gorged himself on meat. She picked at her non-dairy salad as she answered. “He was. I met him only briefly as he wasn’t part of the Justice Society that I joined. He was active mostly in the 1940’s until he and the rest of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were lost in time. When he and Green Arrow were returned to the present, they were not very active.” She took a sip of her diet iced tea. She liked the menus of this new Earth at least, if not the make-up. She had consulted a tourist map of Gotham City in the cab ride over. It was similar to her Gotham City, but also very foreign. Neighborhoods she had prowled as the Huntress were not there or switched around or worse, so changed that they might as well have been the plains of Mars. Wayne Manor was in the same place, but she dared not even consider going there. She had heard that this Batman and Robin were nothing more than killers under the control of the Time-Guardian. “I understand he was quite a marksman.” Van reached for his wine. “Maybe, maybe not. I heard that Extant observed his skill and found it lacking compared to the real Roy Harper.” He took a drink, savoring the flavor. It wasn’t Kryptonian fair, but it was palatable. “Regardless, we have to figure out how we’re going to find the Psycho-Pirate.” She looked around the room and saw that nobody was looking their way. The Joker had ended up getting killed along with Barry Allen when the Clown Prince began to ask about the Psycho-Pirate. “What is so special about him?” she asked as she returned to meal. Van swallowed another chunk of raw meat. “The Psycho-Pirate, according to Kid Flash, allied himself with the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis and was allowed to exist outside the destruction. Because of that, he is the only person living in the prime reality that knew what the universe had been like before…completely. That made him the Time-Guardian’s blueprint for the universe.” “I get it,” she said with sudden realization. “He’s the only one who can tell him exactly what the universe was like, so he would know exactly what to change.” “That’s the theory. The prime reality was made up of a few of the remaining pre-Crisis universes, but the Time-Guardian, for all of his power, really only understood the Earth-2 universe. The Psycho-Pirate knows it all.” Van finished his steak and looked over at a passing dessert cart. He decided to pass and turned his attention back to Helena. “By the way, you look stunning.” She looked down, embarrassed. “You’re insane, you know that?” “It’s the yellow sun,” he answered The sun was still rising as the Helena and Van walked hand in hand in front of the headquarters of the Justice Society of America. They looked like nothing more than a couple of lovers enjoying the new morning, but they were busy observing every detail of the building as they pretended to be engrossed only with each other. It took all of their discipline to keep from getting too involved in the act, for it was natural for emotions to run rampant when giving and receiving kisses from someone you were attracted to. Neither was a professional actor, though Helena had spent several more years than Van hiding her secret identity from the world. “I see a couple of members on the inside,” Van said as he scanned the building with his Xray vision. “It looks like the Flash, Batman, Robin and Speedy with the Atom on monitor duty.” Helena put her head on his shoulder and whispered. There was no need to speak up since Van could hear her literally from the moon if he wanted. “No sign of any of the heavy hitters?” He smiled and gave her a peck on the cheek as they moved past the front of the building. The old brick mansion had been the meeting place of the Justice Society of America for decades and Helena felt a slight pang as she looked upon it. It reminded her so much of her own JSA. “I suppose that Speedy would be a heavy hitter, but if you’re referring to Green Lantern or Superman, then the answer is no.” He turned his head to the west and checked the goings-on in Metropolis. “Clark Kent is just getting up…well, it seems he’s been busy.” He explained that there was a toss of red hair in the bed of Superman and that it should have been fellow news reporter Lana Lang.

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“Where’s Lois Lane?” Helena asked as they turned a corner and headed off away from the headquarters. “I don’t know; to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she did a little snooping and found out the truth. Speedy might have killed her as well.” He checked around them again to ensure they were not being followed and then guided them towards a diner that was just opening. After they had ordered breakfast, they began to talk in hushed tones. “I hope the flight from Gotham to New York wasn’t too bumpy,” he said. In order to keep a low profile, he had flown them barely above ground level, skimming the surface of the Earth. “It gave me time to think,” she replied. “It’s obvious that Speedy…the Time-Guardian…had used his powers to make everyone forget the Psycho-Pirate, except those he needs to keep an eye on him.” Van waited until the waitress had deposited their plates on the table and withdrawn before speaking. The smell of ham and eggs made his mouth water. “The Psycho-Pirate’s ability to control emotions makes him especially difficult to keep a hold of. His powers are blocked by the golden Medusa Mask that he wears.” Helena stirred a single sugar into her coffee. “Do you think the Time-Guardian is affected by his powers?” Van’s eggs were a little undercooked and he focused a small amount of heat vision on them. “Yes, actually. The Anti-Monitor saw the incredible potential of the Psycho-Pirate and used him as an effective weapon. Like all of us, one of the Time-Guardian’s weaknesses is his emotions.” “Okay, so what next?” He thought about it for a moment as he finished eating. “Did you notice the heroes I said were in the headquarters? Those are the ones that he has the most control over, with the exception of Wonder Girl.” “Maybe the Legion of Doom is watching the Pirate,” Helena offered. She nibbled on her toast and look out the window. If this Batman and Robin was anything like her father and “uncle Dick”, then she was taking no chances. She did not like being this paranoid. “Perhaps, but I’m sure that those heroes, and I use the term loosely, are also involved somehow, most likely the Batman since he would have the greatest emotional control.” He saw that merely mentioning the name was enough to cause pangs of grief in Helena. “Then I suppose we should go change into costume,” she said solemnly. The Batmobile roared down Interstate 64, the Caped Crusader at the wheel, his young partner napping in the passenger seat. His eyes were fixated on the road, glazed over as if he were drugged. It wasn’t narcotics that were putting him in his stupor, his movements becoming more and more stiff as the days went on; it was instead the blue lightning burning through the synapses of his brain, eating away at that which made him who he was. Deep in the darkest part of his mind, he knew he was being controlled and that his physical body was being used like a puppet on a string. He wanted to stop the madness, but there was no way to do it. He was under the spell of the Time-Guardian. Robin woke up and yawned. “Are we almo st there, Batman?” The teen was suffering from none of the effects that were torturing the Batman. It was almost as if he was enjoying going against the grain. “We’ll be there soon,” Batman answered. High above them Nightwing flew with the Huntress. She was wrapped in his cape to protect her from wind friction. He was picking up the entire conversation and relaying it to her. Farther up in the stratosphere, a strikingly beautiful woman in a form-fitting costume followed behind the couple. Shyla recognized the Kryptonian as a relation of Superman; the family resemblance was too obvious. The woman on the other hand she did not recognize. It was by chance that she had been flying this way to commit an arranged crime that she spotted them. When the Time-Guardian had resurrected her from obscurity in the cosmic toilet the Crisis had placed her in, she was more than thankful. She decided to dedicate her life to Roy Harper, eventually becoming his lover. They had a bond in that they both knew what it was like to watch the world go by. He had been a disembodied spirit for decades, she had been sentenced to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. Still, there was something missing from her life and when she had sat down to think about it, she realized that it was a proper Kryptonian mate. Despite her power and despite the Time-Guardian’s omniscience, they were not even close to being compatible. She had considered pursuing the Man of Steel, Superman himself, but had eventually given up on it. The hold that the Time-Guardian had on him was precarious at best and required a constant stream of

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good things to flow into the life of Kal-El. Any intteruption of that steady outpouring of happiness would alert Superman to what was really going on. After all, it really was all smoke and mirrors, a reality that was held in place by magic and abstract science. Shyla was quite sure that given the opportunity, Superman would be able to thwart the mechanisms that the Time-Guardian had in place. Of course, neither she or her lover could allow that to happen. Were Superman to wake up and shake off the Time-Guardian’s influence, an influence that was based upon willpower and concentration, then it would require the death of Superman. The building located halfway between Knoxville and the Kentucky border was non-descript and obviously older than any of the inhabitants. The Batmobile was safely hidden underneath a tarp with several deadly booby-traps set by a grinning Robin. The Batman had paused as he wanted to do something, but then the thought went away and he slowly walked into the building. The Red Tornado, a reserve member of the Justice Society, opened the door to allow the Dynamic Duo entry. Inside, the Psycho-Pirate was clad in a straight-jacket and Medusa Mask in the corner. “Time is on my side,” the villain sang, doing a very bad impression of a popular 60’s singer. “He is continuing to sing that song over and over,” the android said, his purple cape swirling as he shut the door. “I believe his programming is flawed.” Robin pushed past both the Tornado and Batman and walked over to the Pirate. The villain ignored the teenager and went on singing his song. “Hey!” Robin said as he kicked the man. “Pay attention to me!” “Wassat?” the Psycho-Pirate asked, stirred from his one-person rock concert. “I’m sorry, but I can’t see you.” Robin punched him the shoulder, causing the Pirate to rock slightly. If the strike affected him, it did not show as he started singing his song again. Bored already, Robin stormed over to a small table with a pizza box and soda pop on it. “Any girlie magazines?” he asked. “Son, you know that Speedy doesn’t allow that sort of thing,” Batman scolded. It felt unnatural to speak in this manner, and the Batman trembled slightly, his own mind fighting the effort to subvert his will. Robin shrugged and sat in a chair, grabbing a comic book at the same time. “Speedy said that we are to turn the Pirate over to the Legion of Doom later tonight,” the Red Tornado said to the Batman. “It appears that the Master Jailer has finished the appropriate confinement necessary for holding the PsychoPirate.” Batman nodded. “Let’s hope the exchange occurs soon before there is a slip-up and Superman or Green Lantern finds out.” It was a valid fear, but the Batman secretly hoped that they did. He was only now starting to understand how he was being manipulated, how he was living a life that was and at the same time was not his. After the death of his original partner, something had changed in Batman. It was as if a wet blanket had been lifted from him, so great was his grief. Barry Allen had shared that pain with him and then, suddenly, everything changed. He felt completely out of it as his body obeyed commands he could not be sure he had given. Through it all, he could hear the voice of Speedy speaking soothing words to him. A devilish situation that he had no certain way out of. He was a spectator to his own life and his fury was growing by the minute. Salvation seemed to come immediately as something man-shaped crashed through the ceiling. Plaster, debris and smoke clouded whatever it was from the Batman’s vision, but the Red Tornado was already on it, whirling towards the unseen attacker. Batman turned to call to Robin to secure the Psycho-Pirate when something hit him in the thigh. He stumbled and saw a piece of wood sticking in the meat of his leg. Because of his sluggish movements, he had been too easy of a target. The Red Tornado’s twisters stirred up more flotsam as a hand reached out and grasped the android around the neck. “My X-ray vision reveals that you are an artificial creation,” Nightwing said as he squeezed. Kryptonian muscle flexed and the Red Tornado’s head flew away. “Very basic technology.” “Hey!” Robin screamed, followed by several select curse words. He threw a batarang at Nightwing, who caught it in mid-air. “Run away, boy, this is no place for you,” Nightwing told him as he crushed the weapon. Robin spit and launched himself at Nightwing, who was taken aback slightly at the pure primal rage the teenager was exhibiting. Batman reached for his own batarang, but some other hand grabbed his.

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He turned to find himself looking eye to eye with a woman in short purple outfit and mask. “Selina?” he asked just before the Huntress flipped him. Shyla observed everything from a bove and waited. Nightwing was a legendary super-hero of Krypton; if this were the real one, or even someone who had trained under him, then she was going to be outclassed. Her only hope was to surprise him if she wanted to defeat him. The only thing was that she did not know what she exactly wanted to do with him. The Psycho-Pirate watched through the Medusa Mask as the battles raged. He could almost taste the emotions in the air and hungered to experience them. There was rage coming from Robin. There was confusion from Batman. There was sadness from the Huntress, or at least that was who he thought she was. The big, tall Superman clone was another thing all together. His emotions were all mixed up, a goulash of feelings. The Psycho-Pirate wanted him. He pulled at the straight jacket, pulling so hard that he dislocated his shoulder. The pain brought on a sensation of fear that was like a piece of chocolate cake after a big dinner and it gave him the strength to finally work his way free. He had watched this done on a movie once, but he never realized it would hurt so much. The big fellow smacked Robin across the room, but the Teen Wonder miraculously got up. Finally free, the Pirate threw the straight jacket down and stood up. “Hey! I’m talking to you!” he cried at Robin as he pulled away his mask. Robin turned to the Psycho-Pirate and met his unmasked gaze. Immediately, he felt the urge to begin crying. Caught in the emotional vise of the Psycho-Pirate, Robin fell to his knees sobbing, unable to control the overwhelming sadness that had washed over him. The Psycho-Pirate replaced his mask over his face and turned to see who else he could get the best of. The Batman backed up, just able to block a roundhouse kick. He wanted to do a foot sweep, but his wound kept him from being able to do so, and so he reached for the smoke pellets in his utility belt. Again, the woman was able to guess his move and reached out to stop him. His mind was burning and he was sweating badly. The pain in his leg did not compare to that which racked his soul. “Who are you?” he rasped. His lungs were burning and it dawned on him that the crossbow bolt had been drugged. The Huntress had to choke back the tears as the Batman countered her strike with a backhanded slap. The sting was more from her breaking heart than from the brutal attack. When they had decided to raid the building, Nightwing had volunteered to go after the Batman, but the Huntress had said no. She knew that the only way to defeat him without killing him was through surprise and a manner he would not expect. “A friend,” she said as she now stepped back. Even drugged, he was an extremely dangerous man. The Batman pushed off of the wall and made a half-hearted attempt to wrap his arm around the Huntress’s neck. He was unconscious before he even made contact. She stepped back and allowed him to fall on his face. She ran her hands over the fallen hero’s utility belt and found a pair of bat-cuffs in the exact same place her father had kept his. She cuffed him and then looked to Nightwing, who was facing off with the Psycho-Pirate. The Kryptonian had his eyes closed and his face turned away, relying on his super-hearing to tell him where the villain was at. “Nightwing, be careful!” she called. Shyla was about to make a decision when she noted an approaching van. Her X-ray vision and super-hearing verified the approach of the Master Jailer. Shyla decided it would be better to not be seen and turned to fly away. She hesitated a moment and used her super-ventriloquism to send a warning. “The Master Jailer is outside.” The Huntress looked around for the source of the mysterious voice, but saw no one besides Nightwing, the Psycho-Pirate and the crying Robin. “Nightwing, heavy-duty trouble coming from the outside!”

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Nightwing took in a deep breath and blew the Pirate back into the wall, stunning him and turned to fly out to meet the Master Jailer before he could enter. The Jailer was stepping out of his van, scratching his head as he saw the column of smoke rising from the building. “What the hell…?” Nightwing came crashing out of the building at lightning speed, barreling towards the Master Jailer. The criminal was fast to respond, as he was used to fighting Superman and Supergirl. He managed to throw out a small piece of clear plastic with a Superman “S” on it. The plastic made contact with Nightwing and expanded to cover his entire body. The sudden attack startled Nightwing and he stopped his advance and stopped to hover. The Master Jailer laughed out loud and opened the side door to the van. Inside was a large rifle specially designed for use against Superman. Nightwing tore through the plastic wrap and tossed it down to the ground. He saw the Master Jailer bring up the rifle and aim at him. The villain fired and a Kryptonite bullet went through the shoulder of the floating hero. Nightwing cried out loud and fell to the ground. The Jailer reached into his van again and pulled out a glowing green net. “How many of you damn Kryp’s are out there?” the Jailer asked as he heaved the net over the form of Nightwing. The Kryptonite radiation was weakening him second by second and he was losing blood from his wound. The Huntress stepped out into the doorway, the Batman’s batarang in her hand. Holding it, she remembered the first time she had held one. Her father had smiled at her and taught her the proper way to hold it, so that it always ended up where she wanted it. The batarang flew from her hand and struck the Master Jailer in the chest, knocking him back. As the batarang returned to her hand, she was already lining up her next shot. The Master Jailer sat up and looked down at the gash in his costume. He looked back up in time to have the batarang hit him in the forehead. Kid Flash watched as the Nightwing, flying with the Psycho-Pirate in one arm and the Huntress in the other, approached over the horizon. He was standing in the middle of Death Valley, chewing on a granola bar. While there was some urgency in their efforts, they did not appear to be in any hurry. As they drew closer, he could see that Nightwing’s arm was bandaged up and there was a distressed look on his face. By the time they landed just feet in front of him, he could tell right away that the hero was in great pain. “It’s an allergic reaction to the Kryptonite. I would say it’s from a Krypton not of the Earth-1 universe,” he explained as he set the Psycho-Pirate down. Kid Flash asked him if he would live and the Huntress said that they were sure he would, but he was out of action for the next few weeks. “The wound is pretty nasty as well,” she commented as she and Kid Flash helped Nightwing sit on the ground. Once Nightwing was secure, Kid Flash turned his attention to the Psycho-Pirate, who was unusually subdued. “Iyiyiyiyi don’t know you, but you look like you could love me,” the villain sang. Kid Flash noted that the Medusa Mask was secured with duct tape. “He’s not quite sane, is he?” Kid Flash asked. Nightwing, though obviously winded, answered, his scientific mind unable to resist responding. “Actually, I think the problem is that his mind has been overloaded with too much information. He knows the history of time…imagine the faultless mind of Rao encased in the flawed matter of a human brain.” “Many worlds and many lives, got to send my alimony to five alternate wives!” The PsychoPirate’s voice wouldn’t be bad if he didn’t try to hit notes far to high for him. “What happened exactly?” Huntress explained the events that had occurred from the scooping of the Justice Society headquarters, to the tailing of Batman and there eventual confrontation with the Master Jailer. Kid Flash nodded. “Good, with the Pirate in our custody, the Time-Guardian will have to wing it whenever he comes across an anomaly. We suspect that he had to keep the Pirate because his barrier for keeping out the Crisis wave has small cracks in it. This causes changes he never counted on.” Nightwing nodded. “I surmise that he’s being stretched to the limit of his abilities by now; without the Psycho-Pirate to give him an idea of the way things should be, we’ll start to see physical representations of the Time-Guardian’s madness.” The Huntress shook her head. “I don’t understand.” Nightwing took a deep breath. “For example, we’ve pretty much figured out that while the TimeGuardian has created this universe by altering the Crisis Wave, he does not have absolute control. He can

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dictate actions, but not for every living being. He controlled Batman and Robin, but he has to constantly alter events to keep Superman, Green Lantern, and other powerhouses happy.” “It explains why he has a Legion of Doom,” Huntress added, pulling back Nightwing’s bandage. “He needs muscle to keep things in line if it ever hits the fan.” Kid Flash watched her for a moment and then went over to help the Psycho-Pirate up. “Anyway, he’s going to have more to worry about if the Detective Chimp is able to find out where the machine making the barrier is at.” He paused. “Didn’t you mention that a disembodied voice told you about the Master Jailer?” “It was female, that’s all I know,” the Huntress said. “Look, can we discuss this later? Van needs some rest before we can come back.” “Jay, come in,” Speedy said, indicating a chair in front of his desk. Standing behind the chairman of the Justice Society was Jason Todd, now fully recovered from his attack of the blues. “You’ll notice that Batman is not joining us.” The elder Flash nodded and sat down in the offered seat. “I heard about the death of the Red Tornado.” “Did you also hear that the Master Jailer encountered a Kryptonian and a female version of Batman as well?” Speedy seemed absolutely livid with anger, but he controlled it well. Jay Garrick had been the first person, even before Donna Troy, that he had put under his control. In the past few weeks, his control had grown to the point that he only had to use minimal effort. The Batman and Robin, his latest efforts, had been an entirely different story. He knew from the beginning that the Batman would be difficult to control should the need arise, and the Caped Crusader had proven him correct. In the end, he had to kill him, leaving poor Robin without a mentor. “Obviously, we have an enemy…a powerful enemy we hadn’t counted on.” “I assume I’m here for a new assignment?” the Flash asked. “Yes…you and Robin will be leaving the Society temporarily to upgrade security at Area Alpha. Once the Master Jailer is assured everything is okay, we’ll proceed with a search and destroy mission to root out our enemies.” “Hell, yes!” Robin said. Speedy turned to him and gave him a look that indicated such speech would not be tolerated. The decision to use Jason Todd as a replacement for Dick Grayson as opposed to Timothy Drake had also been a risky decision. Todd had been more of a hothead, which had lead to his death, and that indicated a weak will. That weakness was what allowed Speedy to control him so easily, even more so than the Flash. “Oh,” Speedy added as he moved back to his chair behind the desk. When he sat down, he began to fiddle with his bow. “Later today, Oliver is going to hold a press conference where he will reveal that his ward, me, will be soon married to the charming Miss Donna Troy.” He smiled, proud of himself. “I believe you should congratulate me.”

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Chapter 9 Detective Chimp, Cinnamon and Aquagirl
“Marriage changes a man, Walter,” the Time-Guardian began, once again relating his thoughts to the captive in the energy cage. Walter West, the Dark Flash, simply scowled; anything more would hasten the effects of the energy absorber he was trapped in. “You see life as something beautiful, something to be cherished and I suppose I have to ask myself if what I am doing is the right thing.” Walter maintained his silence and instead concentrated on the situation he found himself in. He was used to these little visits by the Time-Guardian, or Roy as he preferred Walter to refer to him as. It was easy to just block out his words and nod every once in awhile. Just to get a rise, sometimes he would shake his head, making the self-titled master of the universe believe that Walter was actually listening. Being a speedster, Walter West could tap into the Speed Force, a dimension that provided speedsters with the kinetic energy, energy that could be harnessed a million different ways. Walter was using his abilities to hop between dimensions on a search for his home reality, where he would stand trial for murder. That was fine, because Walter West was no longer insane and he wanted to face justice. The madman that held him captive, however, had no desire to face justice, fate or destiny. Here was a man so in the grip of madness that he dared to defy Creation. Brainiac 5, or at least the version of that hero that had existed prior to the Crisis had originally designed the apparatus that he was powering with his Speed Force link. Walter had encountered that disturbed man several months ago. Brainiac 5 had been using alternate versions of the Flash as living batteries to power a force field to hold back the Crisis Wave from one little portion of reality. Within this limbo, he had trapped the soul of Kara Zor-El, the Supergirl from Earth-1.* (* for more information, the author strongly recommends referring to the author’s note at the beginning of this story) Walter had beaten Brainiac 5 and managed to free Kara’s soul, but it seemed as if the TimeGuardian had stumbled upon the idea. This was a more sophisticated set-up, but Walter assumed that the Time-Guardian had access to better materials. Now, instead of needing hundreds of speedsters, all that was needed was one healthy one that could be milked slowly. “Do you know what Donna asked me the other night after we made love?” Walter could not resist the bait. “Can Walter come over so I know what a real man is?” There was a slight arcing of blue lightning from Roy’s fingertips and he looked as if he were going to say something threatening, but he simply took a deep breath. “I see that you still have that defiant streak, something I suppose torture will not remove.” Roy walked over to a table where the Master Jailer sat. He had been the one to come up with the energy cage. “You are quite certain he cannot get out?” The Jailer shook his head. “Not in a million years; the intensity of the barrier increase with more force that is put against it. In other words, the harder he pushes, the harder it pushes back.” “It better hold him,” Roy said as he turned his attention back to his prisoner. “There is no hope, you know that don’t you?” Walter shrugged. “Says you, buddy, but you keep forgetting something.” “What is that?” “Every time one of you two-bit time conquerors comes along to try and rewrite history, you get knocked on your butt. You don’t get it, do you? Time is not like silly putty, you can’t shape it into a ball and bounce it wherever you want.” He leaned a little more towards his captor. “There is always a check valve in the system, making sure that time flows in the right direction. Somebody is coming to help me, wait and see.” “The Roy Harper Institute of Energy?” Tula asked, looking across the roadway. The building she was describing was a large modern complex of steel and glass, with a statue of Speedy, the chairman of the Justice Society of America, out in the front lawn. “No wonder he revealed his identity to the world; it was the only way to get everything named after him.” “Arrogant cuss, that is for sure,” Cinnamon said as she checked her pistol again for what seemed to be the millionth time. “Do we have ta sit next ta the monkey?” Tula looked into the back of the van that they were in and saw Bobo, the Detective Chimp, sitting back with that Sherlock Holmes hat on. She used her limited telepathic rapport with him to see what was

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one his mind. All she got back was the image of a banana. “He’s hungry and so am I, plus I need to get into some water before I dry out.” The scarlet haired gunslinger holstered her sidearm and crossed her arms over her chest. “He’s always hungry and you run around everywhere in y’alls underwear. How can ya dry out?” Tula smiled and started the van up. It was funny that out of the team, she was the only one who knew how to drive and she lived in the ocean! Pulling into traffic, she turned on the radio, a device that Cinnamon thought was the greatest thing since hollow point bullets. Bobo, on the other hand, didn’t seem very impressed with Tula selection of music. As they headed towards the highway on-ramp, Tula began to go over the details of their mission in her mind. Two weeks before, Nightwing and the Huntress managed to rescue the Psycho-Pirate from the clutches of the Legion of Doom. The Pirate had been kidnapped by the Time-Guardian to serve as the blueprint for the new reality that had been created when the Crisis Wave had been pushed back. The Pirate, relieved to be free and only wanting to go back to his quiet asylum, had been a fountain of information. The Time-Guardian had been stretched to his limit by controlling all of the world’s super-heroes. His control was incomplete, however, and every time he would have to re-exert some control, a little of reality would become awry. In order to fix things, the Time-Guardian relied on the P sychoPirate’s memories. The Pirate had been a partner of the Anti-Monitor and therefore was the only living being to know, literally, everything that was different between the pre- and post-Crisis universes. He had told them about the Institute and how the Legion of Doom members that had guarded the Pirate had talked about a special prisoner being kept there. Nightwing had deduced it had to be a Flash, someone who could control the Speed Force. Only the Speed Force seemed to be able to alter time and therefore, he theorized, it was the “antidote” to the anti-matter wave that had been unleashed. If they freed the Flash, then the barrier would come down and time would revert to normal. Of course, Tula and everyone on her team, the now proclaimed Time Wardens, would die in the process. Everyone except Deadman and Kid Flash. The ugly truth was that most of the members were nothing more than by-products of Creation gone the wrong way. The Crisis Wave had set the universe right, at the expense of trillions of alternate realities. By doing what they were doing, the Time Wardens were committing suicide, but what other choice did they really have? Tula did not want to die, but her entire life had revolved around her boyfriend, Garth, also known as Aqualad. In the new universe, he was married to someone else and had a child. If she truly loved him, then she would die to grant him that happiness. It was the same with everyone else. Nightwing had a wife who no longer existed. If he remained alive, he would be alone, the last Kryptonian. He said he couldn’t live that way, that he did not have the moral compass to keep him from going insane from loneliness. Some of the others were having their reservations, however. Jimmy Olsen discovered that in the new universe, he never became a super-hero or anything else. He was just a reporter and the dullness of the life rubbed him the wrong way. The Batwoman was another. In her reality, she was never more than a pale imitation of Batman. Now, she had a chance at greatness. She could be a super-hero now and live the life she had always dreamed of. That was a hard thing for her to give up. After fifteen minutes on the highway, they turned off and headed to the hotel where they had a room rented. Tula drove the van into the back so they could unload Bobo without drawing suspicion. As soon as the door was shut, Tula went straight for the shower. Cinnamon was left alone with Bobo. Both eyed each other with suspicion. For Cinnamon, treating a monkey as an equal went against everything she had been taught in Sunday school. For Bobo, he found her red hair to be a warning of a hidden fierceness. Slowly, he watched as she sat down on one of the beds. As she kicked off her boots, the chimp held his nose. “Y’all is one to talk, the way ya’ll sit in ya’lls own poop!” Bobo screeched and went over to the refrigerator. He always loved these things, especially the way they kept food so fresh. While he didn’t mind it when ants got all over a piece of fruit he would leave outside, it was nice to get really fresh food whenever he wanted it. As he closed the door, Tula stepped out of the shower, rubbing a towel in her short brown hair. Tula picked up on the image of a gorilla without hair and Bobo’s puzzlement. The chimp went and grabbed his large magnifying glass and came back to examine her drying skin. Cinnamon cursed as she watched the monkey go over every square inch of Tula’s nude body that he could reach. “Lord have mercy, child!”

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Tula shook her head. She had grown up with the animals of the sea. “Curiosity is natural. Because I can talk with him and understand him, he naturally thought I was an ape, too. Because I have very little body hair, he doesn’t understand.” “Ya’ll let every lil’ monkey that’s curious see ya naked?” Cinnamon asked, grabbing a pillow and putting it to her chest. Tula ignored her and tried to form an image in Bobo’s mind about where she came from and how body hair interfered with swimming. He seemed more confused and she got the impression that she had told him she was a fish. She patted him on the head and took his magnifying glass away. Her superior Atlantean strength allowed her to easily overpower the full-grown chimpanzee. “I suggest we get some sleep. We will be going in under the cover of darkness.” “Ain’t that when it always happens?” The cowgirl pushed the pillow away and stood up to remove her jacket. After that she sat back on the bed, her had resting on her pistol. “Doesn’t matter. They’ll see us coming from a mile away if we go in during the day,” Tula remarked as she climbed under the covers of her own bed. Bobo simply sat down at the foot of the bed, contemplating what his next move should be. He knew that Firehair and Fishmonkey were worried about getting into the big building, but he didn’t understand why they were scared. Trying to outrun a hungry lioness, now that was scary. There were worse things than getting caught, being eaten was at the top of that list. He wanted to help, but Firehair treated him like an unwanted mate and Fishmonkey acted like he was stupid. Sure, he was interested in her but only because he skin held no marks of battle or any other sort of imperfections that seemed so prevalent on humans. He sat there for many hours, listening to the two females snore before he made his decision to strike out on his own. Firehair was an atypical female. There was too much rage in her and he did not trust her. He heard her mention something about the death fo her father, and Bobo knew that humans placed much more value on family connections than chimps did. Humans were like that, he sighed as he picked up his magnifying glass and grabbed some bottled orange juice. Humans took everything to an extreme, no matter what it was. Hunting, gathering, mating; it didn’t matter. Every human wanted to lead the group, every human wanted to be looked upon as special and every human seemed to have a sad story. The jungle is not harsh and the jungle is not easy; the jungle is merely that, the jungle and thinking anything else was simply a waste of time. He wanted to pat Fishmonkey’s…Tula’s hand, but he dared not. Though she did not treat him with the due his intelligence granted, there was no malice in her. She, too, was sad, but for an entirely different reason. She had lost her mate, and Bobo understood that a good mate was hard to find. After you go through all of the rituals and beat out all of the other suitors, to lose your mate was a sobering experience. Bobo had never been able to get a mate; whenever he was exposed to other chimps once he reached his season, they reacted to him as if he were a human. His scent was all wrong; his mannerisms were too different and nothing he did would change that. Bobo had no death wish; it was a term he had heard so many times before. Bobo just wanted to make all of the confusion stop. Life was supposed to operate on a clock and that clock wasn’t working right. He felt no sense of duty, though he did feel kinship to some of the humans he found himself with. His actions would protect them and bring bad men to justice. He understood bad. He understood justice. These were things that you could not eat, touch or smell, but you knew what they were. The sun was just starting to come down as he hopped into the driver’s seat of the van. He had watched Tula enough that he was sure he could drive the vehicle. It was not beyond his ability because he wasn’t like the other chimps. Someone once said he was a human trapped in a chimpanzee’s body. Bobo often wondered how true that was. The van would not work again, Bobo decided as he watched it explode. Several vehicles were stopping up on the bridge he had run off of and he felt embarrassed. It was a feeling he had not known how to define until he saw it in humans. He knew he should have been able to drive the van better, but he had gotten confused when he had reached for the radio to turn it down and hit the windshield wiper controls instead. At least he had fallen into a tree line that led all of the way behind the big glass building that he wanted to get in. Bobo reasoned that he could get in; stalking at night was a trait he had perfected quite well.

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In thirty minutes, the sun was down and the nocturnal animals were questioning him about his mission. A stray dog had laughed at him, calling him a human-lover and the birds assailed him with insults far worse than that. They could not understand why he would want to help the humans. “They destroy everything and have no respect for our territory,” a feral cat had screeched just before Bobo dispatched him with a swipe of his hand. It was all the same anti-human rhetoric he had heard for years. They hated the humans but allowed them to domesticate them. They took offered food and even performed in shows for them. Bobo’s attitude became grim as he approached the rear of the building. If he worked it just right, he could get across the open field without being seen, but his instincts told him of unnatural things hidden in the well-manicured lawn. It was the security devices, he was sure; humans were ultra-protective of their territory. He reasoned, though, that if he were caught on camera, the disbelieving humans would be in disarray for several minutes. How often does a monkey run across your back yard? He took off at a run and sure enough, several lights kicked on, momentarily blinding him. He howled and brought his arm up to shield him as he ran to the cover of darkness in the building’s shadow. Several voices could be heard shouting and Bobo was surprised that the security teams had reacted so quickly. “Over here! The monkey is over here!” someone yelled. Bobo ran over to a window on the first floor and pushed on it to see if it were open and was glad to see it was. He scooted inside just as the sound of running feet reached his ears. The monkey did not wait to see if he was being followed as instinct kicked in. He ran and looked for a way to go up. It was always easy to come back down. He found a stairwell and bolted up it, knocking over a security man who had not been watching where he was going. The man yelled and tumbled end over end down the stairs, his gun cart wheeling onto the floor below. Bobo jumped into a tree that had been planted in the lobby of the building and began moving up to the safety of the branches. At the top, he grabbed onto the hand railing of a balcony and swung himself onto the floor proper. Bullets tore the air from beside his ears and he ducked. His eye caught two more security men lining their sights up on him, but the monkey was not about to stay still for them. Staying still meant staying alive many times in the jungle; it meant certain death in the man’s world. Bobo ran down a side passageway, losing control of his bowels as he did so. His fear was way up as he realized that he had done something very foolish by coming here on his own. What had he been trying to accomplish? This was a man problem, not a chimp problem. “Son of a…” someone yelled behind him before slipping in the small present he had left on the floor. More swear words followed and then several shots that buzzed his ears. Bobo gave a cry for aid, again his natural instinct kicking in. Just as he was ready to turn the corner, someone grabbed him by the back of the neck and tossed him to the ground. Bobo saw that he was a tall man in a costume like the Flash, a hero well-known to the monkey. Only this wasn’t the Flash he knew, this was the opposite in every detail. Bobo could see the brown smudges on the man’s costume. “You little, filthy monkey,” the Reverse-Flash said as he reared his fist back. Bobo’s world went dark after the blow struck. Cinnamon smiled as another guard went down under her steady fire. “Shucks! These hombres ain’t nothin’ but a thing, sugah! I got plenty of bullets; ya’ll go find your monkey,” she called to Tula. Aquagirl dispatched another guard using a blow to the chest. Her enhanced strength forced the guard to his knees as his lungs deflated. “No killing!” “Sugah, if I was interested in killin’ the yokels, they’d be dead,” was the reply. Tula nodded and started to move to the center stairs. When they awoke to find Bobo and their van gone, Tula had been furious. The burning wreckage on the side of the road as they had passed in a stolen car had not done anything to make her feel better. As they had drawn near the Institute, they had noted the commotion and had figured that Detective Chimp had made it okay. “I can’t look for him right now; I have to find the Flash!” “Here’s a Flash for you, baby-boobs,” the Reverse-Flash said as he slowly walked down the stairs. His uniform, normally a bright yellow, was stained with what appeared to be dirt and blood. “Come here and let papa see what’s under the wetsuit.”

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“In your dreams, pervert,” Tula said as she straightened up. The guards were now holding back, some of them moving farther away in anticipation of the coming battle between the heroes and the villains. “Now, hold on, if anyone is a pervert around here, it’s me,” the Master Jailer said as he stepped out of a side room. Tula noted that the door seemed to be made out of a metallic substance she wasn’t familiar with. The Reverse-Flash stepped onto the lobby floor and cracked his knuckles. “Two bitches to try and do a man’s job. Hell, even sent a monkey too.” “Where’s Detective Chimp?” Tula demanded. The villain laughed. “Aw, do you miss your boyfriend, sweetheart? I’ll tell you what, you and Red there give me a little sugar and maybe I’ll tell you.” Tula searched her memory for information regarding the Reverse-Flash. Wally West, the Kid Flash from her reality, had told her that he was a homicidal maniac, who derived pure please out of the suffering of others, especially anyone connected to barry Allen, the second Flash. He was faster than thought, faster than Tula’s metahuman reflexes. “Yes, I miss him. Where is he?” Pointing up, the Reverse-Flash smiled. Tula and Cinnamon both looked up to the ceiling. There, strung from a rafter, was the bleeding and lifeless body of Bobo. His blood was running down and disappearing as it fell onto one of the balconies that hung over the lobby. Tula’s eyes watered as she tried to establish a telepathic link with him. In her mind came pictures not pf pain, but of a life of happiness and of an acceptance that the cycle of life was being served by his death. There were no specific images of any people or places, but just a general warmth and a hope of jungles yet to come. When he died, she felt it. Tula didn’t know if her telepathy had radiated outward, but suddenly she could pick up the rage coming from Cinnamon. Normally, her powers only allowed her to talk with animals, human brain patterns were too complex for her to link in with. Extreme emotional disturbance could change that. “Mistah, you just made the biggest mistake of y’alls life.” “Red, you can’t even think you’re fast enough,” the Reverse-Flash smirked. “Let’s see,” Cinnamon said as she pulled off her jacket and adjusted her gun belt. “No!” Tula cried out, but Cinnamon held up a finger to quiet her. Turning her attention back to the Reverse-Flash, Cinnamon challenged him. “That lil’ monkey was a pain in the butt, but he was a good lil’ monkey. Y’all had no right ta do that to him.” She stood with her legs slightly apart and a hand on her gun. “Guess we’ll just have ta settle this the old-fashioned way.” There was no call to draw; everything happened in the span of a second. The gun went off, but Cinnamon didn’t know it. Her brain was already scrambled eggs by the time she pulled the trigger. The Reverse-Flash stood next to the falling body, his right hand vibrating. It had passed through her skull and simply turned the insides of the cranium into so much soup. He then turned to Aquagirl. “Time to die, bitch.” “Oh, crap,” the Master Jailer said silently. The Reverse-Flash was about to speak when the pain hit him and he looked down. Blood was pouring out of a wound over his heart. His eyes went wide as his mind tried to reason how, but the answer would never be known. The only person who could have provided it was now dead on the floor. Tula turned her back to the Reverse-Flash, feeling nothing as she heard the body hit the ground and marched right over to the shocked Master Jailer. Her muscles barely flexed as she hauled him up with one arm. Her dark Atlantean eyes looked like pools of death to the criminal. “Hey! Hold on! You’re one of the good guys!” “You will take me to the Flash. You will help free him or I swear, I’ll drag you into the open ocean and put you in a jail I’m the master of.” “Are you sure about this, Tula?” Walter asked from inside his cage. Tula, with a firm grip on the Master Jailer, nodded. “I understand what will happen once you are freed.” “This is suicide! You can’t make me do this!” the Jailer protested. Tula shrugged and bounced his forehead off of a panel. The criminal sank to the floor. She heard the guards trying to get through the door leading into the chamber. “I have to hurry.” “I’m sorry. If I thought for a second that my staying here would help, I would. It only serves the Time-Guardian, though,” Walter offered.

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“I can’t live like this. I can’t go on without Garth and my friends.” She started to cry now. “I have to make things right. I just wish I could have lived, too.” “You’ll always live in my heart,” Walter promised. Tula smiled and then reached down to pull the lever that would remove the energy cage from around the Dark Flash. She did it without hesitation, afraid that she wouldn’t be able to and she closed her eyes. There was a whooshing sound and then a roar and her stomach began to turn and she vomited. She still refused to open her eyes, even though the wind was getting fierce and she felt as if she were burning up on the inside. She prayed that death would come quickly so she could forget all of it. Better to have never lived than to have lost your love she said in her mind. When the sounds stopped she opened her eyes, wanting to see what awaited her on the other side. The muscular legs of the Dark Flash greeted her. “This isn’t right,” he said. “What the hell was that?” the Time-Guardian screamed as he bolted up in his bed. Donna reached over and grabbed his arm. “What is it dear? Are you okay?” He looked around and then called upon his time vision to replay the last few moments so he could see what had awakened him with such force. His powers didn’t work. He tried to shift his body into limbo, but he remained in the bed next to his shivering wife. He looked down at her and tried to perceive the future life of their son that was growing in her womb, but all he saw was the slight roundness of her belly. The Time-Guardian began to shake, his fists clenched and turning white. So many times he had reacted this way and his anger would unleash itself upon a thousand realities, returning them to the dust from which they sprang. This time it was different, though. Now he was shaking with fear.

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Chapter 10 Jimmy Olsen and the Time-Trapper
“Do you have confirmation yet?” the Dark Flash asked, his head bent over a series of printouts. Nightwing only grunted a response and the speedster nodded his head to Kid Flash. “Go see what he’s doing. He gets too absorbed in his work and we never can get a straight answer.” Roy Harper, the young man behind the yellow cowl of Kid Flash, nodded and moved to stand next to the Kryptonian super-hero in the space of a heartbeat. “Mr. Zee?” “It’s doctor, if you please, and would you explain to Mr. West that I’m involved in very intricate calculations.” Nightwing gave Kid Flash a reassuring smile and then turned his attention back to the charts, graphs and abacus he was using. Kid Flash wanted to say something else, but he was starting to feel like a tennis ball being bounced back and forth between the two men. It had been nearly a week since Aquagirl had rescued the Dark Flash from the clutches of the Time-Guardian and his Legion of Doom. It had been nearly a week since they had lost both Cinnamon and Detective Chimp as well. Their loss was keenly felt by the young hero, as he was the only survivor of a reality that his doppelganger, the Time-Guardian, had destroyed. By freeing the Dark Flash, Aquagirl should have set in motion the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which would have not only ended her life, but the lives of many of the members of their team. “We haven’t decided on a team name yet and already we have members dying,” he said silently to himself. Nightwing’s enhanced super-hearing picked up every word, but he said nothing. Across from him sat Helena Wayne, the once and former Huntress of Earth-2, who seemed to have heard the statement as well. She shook her head and returned to her work. Not present was Tula, Aquagirl when she was working; she was still resting in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the mansion that Deadman had confiscated for them. Batwoman was busy in the kitchen, burning their next meal if one could tell anything from the amount of smoke being generated, and Elastic Lad had simply walked out a day before. Kid Flash decided that it was best for him to just leave the “big-brains” alone as they wrestled with the problem as to why it seemed that they had failed in their mission. He was more concerned about the Time-Guardian, who as Speedy, was the leader of the Justice Society of America in this psuedo-reality that they were currently living in. New reports had indicated mass defections from the Society, almost as if Speedy were losing his control over the heroes and villains of the world. Everyone in the mansion knew that the Time-Guardian had been using his almost limitless powers to personally command many of the greater heroes to do his bidding. The most shocking example had been how he had used Batman and Robin to murder both Barry Allen and the Joker. It was complicated when one looked at the very small parts of the whole, but when Kid Flash took a deep breath and moved outside the box, everything became so very simple. The Time-Guardian had been, originally, the Earth-2 Speedy. When the Crisis on Infinite Earths occurred, he escaped being erased from continuity through an accident involving magic. Driven insane by the knowledge that he had been allowed to die while the Earth-1 Speedy had been transferred into the new post-Crisis reality, that hero began to amass knowledge on a scale unheard of. The unique characteristics of his condition made him immortal and he had claimed to live until the end of time itself. Having developed even more abilities as he aged, he changed his name to the Time-Guardian and began destroying the multiple realities of Hypertime that contained any reference to Roy Harper. Because Hypertime is based upon events that occur in the Prime Reality, the Time-Guardian felt that any alternates of the current Roy Harper were impure. It was this crusade that resulted in the death of Kid Flash’s world. The Time-Guardian’s greatest triumph, however, was sending the Earth-1 Composite-Superman to destroy Roy Harper, thereby altering the time line. So great was the temporal disturbance that the TimeGuardian was able to emp loy technology originally created by the Earth-1 Brainiac 5 to hold back the Crisis wave and therefore rewrite history. In this new world, the Time-Guardian lived out his sick fantasies of being the greatest hero in the world and where he was married to Donna Troy, the heroine called Wonder Girl. The Time-Trapper, however, was made aware early on of the Time-Guardian’s plans and took steps to try and reverse the effects. The Trapper reached into the very mists of time and plucked several heroes from the continuity that should not exist and set them on a suicide mission of stopping the madman. Because each and everyone was a hero, they could not refuse. Kid Flash stopped in front of the door to Tula’s room and hesitated. He wanted to try and console her, for the loss of her two newest friends weighed heavily on her heart, but he knew something about grief

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and about being alone. He had ran for several months through Hypertime until he was found by Deadman and brought here. It didn’t help matters any that Tula was closest to him in age and the only woman on the entire planet that could even begin to relate to his problems. “Come in, Roy,” she called. Surprised, he opened the door to find her sitting in the middle of the floor, legs curled up to her chest. He wondered if her telepathic abilities were still growing. She had explained that all Atlanteans had the ability to communicate with sea life, but her time with Detective Chimp had forced her to stretch those powers even further. “I saw your shadow under the door. You and Deadman are the only ones who visit me.” “So you guessed it was me?” he said, sitting down next to her and pulling back his cowl. She regarded his face for a moment, realizing that he was the very image of the Roy Harper she had known in her reality, a brash and troubled young man who still seemed to be able to melt the ladies’ hearts with a wink and a smile. His was also the face of their greatest foe, the man responsible for the deaths of two of their friends, if not a thousand of their alternates. “I hoped it was you,” she said. He took no other meaning from it than as a sign of trust and he reached out a hand for hers. She took it and sighed. “We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?” He shrugged. “It could be worse. At least we know that we’ve given the Time-Guardian a swift kick in the rear. The news is filled with reports of super-hero clashes all over the country. Many of the more powerful ones like Superman seem to be lost and uncertain, while the ones that are loyal to Harper are trying their best to contain the situation. My guess is that they figure it’s a temporary problem, otherwise the Legion of Doom would be doing something more.” She smiled and squeezed his hand. “I expected to be dead by now, or at least forgotten.” “I wouldn’t forget you,” he relied, the honesty of his reply almost painful to hear. She regarded him once more, making a mental decision that meant she was accepting her situation and that the past was that, the past. She had to look to the future and hope that there was some way she could continue to go on. She reached over and kissed him lightly on the lips. She tasted like a cool sea breeze and he detected the slight scent of salt. A craving to be on the beach, drinking margaritas flowed into his mind. “I know. That’s what I’m hoping for. I once read a story, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but the author, a wonderful and talented one named Dannell Lites, wrote that the Navajo say that a person cannot truly die if someone remembers them.” “Hopefully, that means we’ll live forever,” he said. “Deadman said that there are some realities out there where all of us are nothing more than characters in comic books, that even now someone in Hypertime is writing all of this down for some sort amateur fiction to be posted on the internet.” “The internet? What’s that?” she asked. “A post-Crisis computer network,” he said non-chalantly. “I suppose that writer is deciding our final fate.” “Kind of takes the gods out of the picture,” she remarked. “I mean, whatever gods you worship…I mean even if you only have one god…” “That’s the beauty of Hypertime; God has a hand in it…he’s guiding the hand of that writer! I know that Hypertime has been restored, I can feel it, but it is almost like this place is something out of time…” She laughed and looked to the ceiling. “You hear that, mister fiction writer? Give us a happy ending!” Then she added quickly. “Maybe with a little sex!” She looked to Kid Flash, expecting him to blush but instead saw a quizzical look on his face, as if he were adding up the sum total of his life and awaiting the answer to magically appear before him. “Son of a…” He was gone in an instant, a veritable flash of lighting, as he raced down to the basement where the other heroes were working. “I’ve got it!” he cried. Nightwing, Huntress and the Dark Flash all looked at him. “Two words: pocket universe.” Jimmy Olsen sat back and brushed some crumbs from his green-checkered suit coat and looked over at a young girl who was doing her best to avoid eye contact with him. He leered at her, imagining all sorts of things he would like to do with her during a heavy make-out session. The Time-Trapper, invisible to everyone accept Olsen, shook his head. He had already looked into the future and saw that Olsen would go over and ask the girl out, trying to impress her with his tales of being Elastic Lad and Turtle Boy. When that didn’t work, he would show off his Superman signal watch.

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All the good it would do him, considering Superman was a quivering mass of Kryptonian jelly up at the North Pole. The Man of Steel’s mind had simply been burned away; at least the Man of Steel in this little universe. A masterful stroke, one that would not have been possible had it not been for the vision of the young, freckle-faced man in front of him. Jimmy started to get up, but the Trapper put a hand on his wrist. “It will go nowhere,” he said from inside his purple hood. “Watch the threads, man,” Jimmy said, an angry look on his face. The Time-Trapper wondered why he bothered to keep his word to this insignificant footnote of the universe, but decided it was because it amused him. Watching Olsen betray his comrades had brought the Time-Trapper so much pleasure, pleasure that had been lacking in recent days. It was Olsen that had revealed his team’s plans to the Trapper, in exchange for the pocket universe that now existed. Without it, Olsen would have died when the Crisis Wave came rushing through. As it was, the universe had been set right and was running quite smoothly outside the sphere of temporal energy that the Time-Trapper had put around this reality. It was nothing really, especially since the Time-Guardian had done all of the initial work; the entire Trapper had to do was put up the proper barriers when the TimeGuardian was at his weakest. That had been the exact moment Aquagirl had released the Dark Flash. Though he was cutoff from his powers, it was only temporary. Eventually, the Time-Trapper would have to allow the Time-Guardian to retain his abilities or risk throwing the temporal passageways into turmoil. Certainly, the Time-Guardian would be angry that the Trapper had usurped his world, but there was very little he could do about it. Anyway, once the Guardian found out that Roy Harper was still dead in the Prime Reality, the Trapper was sure he would be left with his own little part of the universe to rule. The Trapper had simply put the puzzle called the Prime Reality back together again, leaving out one little piece: Roy Harper. He didn’t care which one got it, either the Time-Guardian or the real Roy Harper who was currently cooling his heels in limbo. “So, what do we do now?” The Trapper asked in a bored tone. Jimmy tried to peer into the hood, to get some measure of the being that resided in it, but found only emptiness staring back at him. He wanted to tell his personal “uncool ghoul” to buzz off, but he understood that the Time-Trapper saw him as sort of a friend. Maybe the Trapper had been human once and was trying to remember what it was all about. “You up for some adventure, James B. Olsen style?” Jimmy asked. A voice in the back of the Time-Trapper’s conciseness told him to kill Olsen now and be done with it, but some part of him also felt sympathy for him. A ridiculous character on the stage of the multiverse, the Earth-1 Jimmy Olsen had labored most of his young life to try and fit in around his largerthan-life friends. He was overshadowed by their reputations and deeds and he had tried effortlessly to become as heroic as them. Riduculous identities followed by even more ludicrous adventures had followed. How, as Elastic Lad, he had ever earned honorary membership in the Legion of Super-Heroes, was beyond the Time-Trapper’s ability to comprehend. “Pray tell, what is it that you would like to do?” Jimmy popped a toothpick in his mouth and wiggled his eyebrows at a pretty young cheerleader from the local high school. “What if I dug up the evidence needed to expose the Legion of Doom as Speedy’s personal cadre of lap dogs?” The Time-Trapper said nothing. Jimmy waved a hand in front of his non-face. The cheerleader must have assumed he was waving at her and gave him a rude look. “Don’t you see how cool that would be, man? I would scoop both Lois and Lana!” The Time-Trapper closed his eyes and counted to ten. He wanted to remind Jimmy that right now, that was pretty unimportant. The Trapper could give Jimmy virtually anything he wanted, making him the Man of Steel himself if he wanted. But no, he thought to himself, the guy wants to write a story and one-up his colleagues. “I just can’t imagine why you were completely made over after the Crisis,” was the dry response. Jimmy reached down to wipe a smudge off of his white shoes and then stood up. “You and me both; but it doesn’t matter now, does it? Old Jimmy is back in town,” he said as he pulled up his pants and sucked in his gut. The Time-Guardian waited for a few moments and then Alexi Luthor turned to him from the large instrument that had occupied his attention for the past two hours. “You were right, Mr. Harper; there is a temporal boundary layer just below the hyperstring structure of the universe.”

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“A pocket universe,” the Time-Guardian said, rubbing his hairless chin. “Only one being in the universe would have had the gall to pull off such a stunt.” “The Time-Trapper?” Vandal Savage asked as he tore into a large piece of beef jerky. “I thought your powers prevented any action by the other time masters.” “They do or did,” was the response. The Time-Guardian walked around the lab, clad in his bathrobe as he had been for the past few days as the former Earth-2 Luthor investigated the sudden disappearance of his powers. Everyone agreed that without them, they were in danger of being overrun by any number of characters. As soon as the Crisis Wave had gone through and readjusted the universe, the Time-Trapper had set up the pocket universe they were now in. Because of the subtleties of temporal physics, every being that was in the pocket universe now existed as an alternate of their prime reality counterparts. All except the few individuals that were either temporally-powered or plucked from the timestream when they shouldn’t have been. In the room now were three such examples. Luthor was someone who should have died during the Crisis, Vandal Savage was now an alternate duplicate and the Time-Guardian was a god as far as he was concerned. “May I offer a proposition?” Vandal asked, his lips smacking on the salted beef. The Time-Guardian shrugged. “I’m open to any suggestions right now.” “If I understand this Time-Trapper fellow, he appears to enjoy keeping realities as sort of trophies,” Vandal said as he wiped his massive hands on a paper towel. “He’s taken control of this reality from you but that doesn’t mean the reality is to blame.” “Yes, yes, you’re interested in saving your own skins. Go on!” Vandal put on his used car salesman smile. “Dear Alexi believes he’s found a way to restore your powers. If we do that for you, then you leave. Take Donna with you, but leave our reality to us.” I was in too big of a hurry! The Time-Guardian sighed. His powers would eventually return and he was in no danger of being killed. Even in his present state, he was still immortal, composed entirely of temporal particles. The longer he waited for his powers to return, the longer it would mean he would have to remain in a universe he didn’t control. In his mind, he had already made the appropriate calculations, realizing that the Time-Trapper had reset the universe around him. It was a brilliant move and despite all of the setbacks it presented to him, he could not help but admire the audacity of the Time-Trapper. Perhaps he had spent too much time dealing with Extant? “Okay…do it and I’ll leave your universe in the hands of the Time-Trapper, for better or worse.” Jimmy Olsen pulled the cap down over his eyes and put the collar of his leather jacket up a little higher. Still invisible except to the young reporter, the Time-Trapper moved along beside him, listening as the methods of “proper” investigative reporting were detailed to him. “You see, you have to sources, and Jimmy Olsen has the best in Metropolis,” he bragged. “I thought Clark Kent had the best sources; he does get all of the interviews with Superman,” the Trapper chided. He considered telling Jimmy that Clark and Superman were the same person, but he doubted it would do any good. The Trapper was pretty much finished in forming his opinion of Olsen. “Yeah, well Clark doesn’t like to get his blue suit dirty,” Jimmy responded as they turned a corner. Three toughs stood there, one was actually swinging a chain. The trapper felt it was a rather contrived situation, but no different than so many of the events that seemed to personify Jimmy’s pre-Crisis life. “Hey, fancy-pants,” one of the thugs said in a typical urban accent. “You lost or somethin’?” “Easy fellas, I’m just out for a walk. I’m looking for Big Tom,” Jimmy said from below his cap. “I’ve got some green for some information.” “If you give us the cash, maybe we won’t bust ya up,” another of the goons said, his face accented by a large, previously broken nose. Jimmy smiled. “I’m not somebody you want to mess with, guys. Just tell me where Big Tom is and nobody gets hurt.” The third young man, a tall lanky fellow, moved forward and attempted to grab Jimmy by the shoulders. The reporter kicked out and dropped the felon to his knees and then put him put him out of action with a quick right cross. “You guys are lucky I don’t use any of my special formulas because then you would be in real trouble.” The thug with the chain roared and swung. Jimmy ducked underneath and then came back up to deliver a left hook to the man’s jaw. “I’ve been trained by the best, buddy. I’ve sparred with Batman and

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Robin.” He spun quickly around the man’s rear and delivered a karate chop to the back of the neck. “Learned that from Superman himself.” The tough fell to the ground, his face hitting the asphalt and sending teeth skittering away. The last one pulled out a small pistol. Jimmy suddenly stopped cold and put his hands up. “Whoa, tiger, you got me!” “You’re a loser, Olsen; your word is no good around here anymore, and neither is your money,” the man said, waving the gun around, daring Jimmy to move. Jimmy did, jumping at once and lunging for the man’s legs. The criminal brought the gun down and Jimmy was out cold. The Time-Trapper then watched as the gangster shook his two friends awake and then the three dragged Jimmy’s body into a small garage at the end of the docks. Once inside, they hurriedly tied Jimmy up to a stanchion and began pouring gasoline throughout. They exchanged a few words with each other and then the one who had knocked Jimmy out slapped the reporter awake. “Big Tom get sent up the river because of your story on the drug traffic down here, sport,” the man sneered. “You’re making a big mistake, pal,” Jimmy responded. The three criminals laughed and started to leave, making comments about seeing Olsen in a fiery place one day. Just before the one with the gun exited, he tossed a lit match down into the gasoline. Flames and black smoke leapt into the air and Jimmy’s lungs burned as he inhaled the heated air, The Time-Trapper stepped through the flames and watched as Jimmy moved his hands slightly. With an extended finger, he pressed a button on his watch. Beyond the range of his hearing, Jimmy’s watch sent out a hypersonic signal. The signal was meant to summon Superman to Jimmy’s aid. Nearly screaming in frustration and rage, the Time-Trapper waved his arms and the flames stopped. Jimmy smiled. “Alright! Just what the man ordered!” The Time-Trapper came up next to Jimmy and came down on his haunches. The faceless hood hovered for a second and then he exploded in fury. “You are a complete moron! I just told you before that Superman and all of your other super-hero pals are busy doing other things…like dying!” He stood back up and watched as Jimmy started to tremble. “I have to thank you, though, for finally shedding light on a mystery that has perplexed me for thousands of years. I never could figure out why certain individuals were erased after the Crisis, but now I know.” He stepped back and placed his arms in the folds of his sleeves. “You see, Olsen, there are two types of people: leaders and followers. You were a follower, always trying to be one of the guys but never quite getting there. Your life was like filler for a pulp magazine. ‘The Incredible Adventures of Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Best Friend’ is what it would have said! You just couldn’t accept your place as second-banana, could you? You had to keep trying to be a super-hero.” Walking around Jimmy, he took a good look at him and saw the flaws in his character much more brightly now, each one taking one a hue of crimson or emerald. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but the Trapper could have sworn that suddenly he was looking at Jimmy on only four colors. “Some people are Alphas, Jimmy, and some people are not. You are not. There is no place in any universe for someone who can’t accept their station. You were replaced and with good reason.” “Hey! We’re friends! You can’t leave me here!” Jimmy cried out. “Oh, but I can. In fact, I must because I now see that the natural order must be maintained and loathe that I am to admit it, my path has become clear. The Crisis ridded the multiverse of the garbage, of the ridiculous and the unwanted.” The Trapper waved a hand and once again the flames began their dance of death. “Farewell James Olsen, best friend of Superman, cub reporter who never grew up. Your time has long since past, the interest in you has waned, and your usefulness has long expired.” As his flesh began to burn, Jimmy Olsen cried out a final roar of defiance to the inevitable cloak of finality that draped over him. “A pocket universe could only be created by one individual,” Nightwing said. The Dark Flash nodded his agreement and turned back to his computer screen. “I’m going to recall our membership,” he said. A balding, pudgy man in Bermuda shorts and no shirt came strolling in. Gravy and tomato sauce stained his chest. “Olsen is dead,” Deadman commented from inside his host body. “His spirit just blew by me, smelling like an overcooked hot dog.” “If he isn’t supposed to exist, where does his spirit go?” Tula asked as she walked in. Her hair was still wet from the shower she had taken and she was toweling it dry.

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Deadman smiled. “Everything that i created has a place, even when it isn’t needed anymore. s Don’t worry about it, okay? You need to focus on the mission at hand.” “Indeed,” the Time-Trapper said as he stepped out from a dimensional door. Nobody moved to stop him. “It looks like my appearance was not quite unexpected.” “You created another pocket universe,” Kid Flash said. “You were warned about doing that!” The Trapper’s voice became like a cold blast of winter fury. “Do not presume to tell me what I can or cannot do, speedster. While I have maintained some minor interest in the affairs of mortals, do not forget I am still above all of you. I am the Time-Trapper! I have seen entropy and I have seen creation.” “Bite me, Trappy,” Deadman said, unimpressed. “You’re here because you either need something or want something. Probably both.” The Time-Trapper shrugged. The omnipotent presence act normally worked, but he was too tired to argue. He just wanted to lie down for a couple of centuries. “When was the last time I took a nap?” he asked aloud. Nobody answered him and he moved over to where Batwoman had laid out a tray of hamburgers. The Trapper took one and it disappeared into the blackness of his hood. “Damn! These are good!” Batwoman smiled and everyone else shook his or her head. Her cooking was the worst in any universe as far as they were concerned. “You are right; I do need something. I need to put the real Roy Harper back where he belongs. I now see that allowing him to be replaced was wrong, it disrupted the natural flow from which I draw strength and power.” “So, you’ll help us?” the Dark Flash asked, skeptical. The Trapper grabbed another hamburger. “Sure. For now. After all of this is done, I go back to my ways and all of you, for the most part…” Tula finished his sentence. “Disappear. Like we never existed.”

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PART III: THE LIMBO WARS

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Chapter 11 Batwoman and the Flying Fox

“Are you sure about this, Spectre?” Batwoman asked as she peered at the doorway that he had created from thin air. It was a black rectangle against the grey-white mists that surrounded them. Deadman, now in his spirit body and clad in the red daredevil costume that he had worn in his own life, put a hand on her shoulder. “Look, Kathy,” Deadman started, “its no big deal going in there. It’s Limbo, the real thing, the place where…how do I put it, Jordan?” The Spectre looked over and his normally deathly pale gained some color. “Imagine a place where God puts ideas that just didn’t pan out, but He didn’t want to get rid of yet.” Batwoman shook her head. “I don’t like that idea. That means when God thought of me and my world, it wasn’t worthy…it wasn’t good enough…” “No, because you did exist, but your world, your life, reached their natural conclusion. Don’t make the mistake that the Time-Guardian has and think that some higher power has it in for you.” Deadman removed his hand and stood back. “There is no guarantee that you will live for any amount of time. Look at me; I was cut down in the prime of life…you don’t see me rallying against the Almighty!” Batwoman tried to say something but she was cut off by the Spectre. “What of my mortal life? I saw Coast City, my home, destroyed, turned to rubble. What of all of those people?” Turning back towards the doorway, Batwoman attempted to draw some courage from the fact that what she was doing was right and moral. Roy Harper had been murdered before his time and that had allowed a duplicate of him, the Time-Guardian, to take his place. All sorts of chaos had ensued, including the sudden reappearance of the Batwoman and several other heroes that had been wiped from the continuity by the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The decision had been made that Roy Harper had to be pulled from Limbo and returned to the Prime Universe. Returning him would cut the Time-Guardian off from being able to physically act there. It was the only chance to take him on and defeat him on the world created by the Time-Trapper. That world had come about when Aquagirl had released the Dark Flash from a special prison that the Time-Guardian ordered constructed. The prison was actually a giant battery, powered by the Dark Flash’s connection to the Speed Force and was being used to keep the Crisis wave back. The Crisis wave existed in some form or fashion in every moment of time and had to complete its journey through the centuries in order for the new universe to be born. Any tampering with that had unforeseen consequences. The Time-Guardian had not cared; all he wanted was to create his perfect world where he was the ultimate super-hero. Only through the efforts of Batwoman and her friends was that plan halted. Now, however, the Time-Guardian was slowly regaining his powers. While he probably would not try the same thing again, there was nothing to stop him from going into the Prime Universe and conquering it once and for all. That was why Batwoman was now here. The only way to prevent this was to put Roy Harper back where he belonged. Deadman could not go, as he was needed back on the Time-Trapper’s world to prepare for the final battle. The Spectre simply refused, which was kind of strange since such things were more up his alley than that of a wanna-be Batgirl. All of the other members of her team of friends were busy working with the Time-Trapper coming up with a plan for assaulting the Legion of Doom, the TimeGuardian’s personal force of super-villains. That left only her, the least experienced member of the team with the most important task: finding the real Roy Harper. After his death at the hands of the Composite-Superman, Roy had been regaled to Limbo, awaiting some final judgment that most likely would never come. Go to any reality, as any person, read any religious tome and you would most likely find several different definitions of Limbo. The truth was that Batwoman feared that once she entered it, she would never return. “When I was forced to leave him,” the Spectre began as he recollected a time past, “he was more concerned about his daughter than about himself. On the outside he is callous and arrogant, a womanizer and even seemingly irresponsible. His soul, however, burns with compassion and pain born of someone who remembers their mistakes every minute of every day. He considers his existence to be only to protect his young daughter.”

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There was an awkward silence that Batwoman finally broke. “Where is his daughter?” “We don’t know, at least not yet. She is a special focal point in the time stream. Lian Harper will one day become something more than…” Deadman raised his eyebrows to the Spectre and the spirit nodded that he understood that he was giving far too much background. The Spectre subverted most of its human host, instead becoming the cold angel he was commonly known to be. “The current whereabouts of Lian Harper are not your concern, woman.” “Woman?” she asked, suddenly ready to throw down. All fear and apprehension dissolved at the condescending tone of the angel. “I have a name, mister!” Deadman stepped between them. “Kathy,” he said, wanting to get her going as soon as possible, “it’s time.” Batwoman threw one more glance back at the Spectre, then put her chin up before turning and stomping through the doorway into the beyond. “Hello? Any Roy Harpers out there?” Batwoman yelled into the white mass that swirled around her. No echo returned and she thought of how, when she was a little girl, she had imagined that this was exactly what Heaven would be like. That, in turn, launched her brain into an entire series of questions. If she was to have supposedly never existed, then could she ever die? If she didn’t die, could she ever be granted eternal life? She looked back at the doorway, a construct of ectoplasm and angelic thought. The Spectre had assured her that no matter how far she traveled in Limbo, she would always be able to see it. She didn’t understand how that was possible, but then Kathy Kane had never been known for her brains. At best, she was a fair super-hero, able to keep from getting killed; at worst, she was a middleaged thrill seeker desperate to hold on to a past that never existed. Becoming a super-hero had never been something she had planned, it was only something that looked like fun. Whenever she looked at the Huntress from her team, Helena Wayne, she was reminded that the Batman had chosen another over her. How many times had she dropped hints, made veiled comments and sometimes came right out said it? What had the Catwoman had that she hadn’t? They looked almost like sisters, were the same age and both were willing to do just about anything to please the Caped Crusader. But she still had lost out and she couldn’t figure out why. Batwoman understood the nature of the pre-Crisis universe, understood that she had come from a world called Earth-2, the same world that birthed the Time-Guardian. On that world, Batman had married the Catwoman and they in turn had a child. On Earth-1, the Batman never married, never fell in love. She had met the Earth-1 Batman briefly, when he and the Earth-2 Robin were investigating the sudden appearance of the Earth-2 Hugo Strange. That Batman had seemed so different from her own. Was it possible that as time went on, the Batman became a darker and darker figure? What was the Batman of the Prime Universe like? How far had time gone to create a single, unique being? It didn’t really matter anymore, did it? As the hours passed and she walked on, never tiring, she would occasionally pass some body or spirit (she wasn’t sure what you were in Limbo), who would look to her and then move on. Some wore costumes and some didn’t. There was no rhyme or reason to anything. The ground was solid below her feet, but she never saw it; there was light but no sun. This was Hell she thought. She remembered her Catholic school days. Hell was a place out of God’s sight. Surely this Limbo qualified. No need for fiery pits and demons tormenting damned souls. An Eternity spent in this wasteland of nothingness would be more than fitting punishment for the truly evil. “I know you, don’t I?” someone asked. Batwoman turned around to see a tall figure in a purple suit and some sort of orange mask standing there. The figure appeared to be male in both form and voice, and held its hands up to show it meant no harm. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Batwoman slowly approached. “You said you know me?” The figure nodded. “Not now, as I am, but in the future, when I’m older. It’s hard to explain, but spend enough time here and you start to see what your life would have been.” He reached up and pulled away the mask.

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She suppressed the gasp that wanted to rip from her throat. He was younger than she last remembered, but was still just as handsome as ever. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen at this stage and she mentally chastised herself for having even the inkling of a lustful thought. “Bruce?” He smiled. “You do know me!” He reached out and grabbed her. She offered no resistance as he pulled her close and gave her a hug. “I’ve been by myself for so long. You don’t know what its like to be so alone. It’s been as bad, if not worse, than the feelings I first had after my parents were shot.” She let him finish his hug, pleasantly surprised by the strength in his young arms. This was not the Earth-2 Bruce Wayne she had fallen in love with. While her Batman had been an exceptional crime fighter, he had not been physically as intimidating as his Earth-1 counterpart. “You’re the Earth-1 Bruce Wayne, aren’t you?” He pulled back. “A portion of him, you might say.” He went on to explain that while the Earth-1 Batman had been the clay from which the post-Crisis Batman had been created, certain aspects of his life had been altered. On Earth-1, Bruce Wayne had briefly lived in Smallville, Kansas, the home of the Earth-1 Superboy. There, he had assumed the identity of the Flying Fox for a short time to help Superboy solve some crimes. It was the first costumed identity that Bruce had taken in his long war on crime. In the new universe, these events never occurred. There was something mysterious about him as well. Certainly, the isolation of Limbo must have seemed unbearable, but this Bruce represented the man before the Cowl. Though he had seen death and the darkest side of man, he still wasn’t jaded. This was someone who could still smile, someone who could still show emotion and not be embarrassed. In that way, he reminded Batwoman of the Batman she had known. “I want to get out of here,” he said. “I know what’s going on and I want to help.” She put her hands on her hips. “Sorry, little man, but I’m here to pull out one person who doesn’t belong. Chances are that after I rescue him, this is where I’ll end up anyway.” Bruce shook his head. “It doesn’t work that way. I don’t know what causes people to be deposited in here, in this place, but it appears, for the most part, to be random. I’ve tried to come up with a hypothesis, but…” his voice trailed off and she realized the dilemma he was in. Here was a young man who knew what he could grow up to be, one of the keenest analytical minds in any universe, but he would never get there. It had to be frustrating to know you were at the peak of what you would ever be. “Could this be a place where realities not destroyed by the Crisis ended up? Technically, your future self was transferred into the Prime Universe, so you weren’t destroyed, just unneeded.” Batwoman watched as the younger man thought it over. “It’s possible; that would explain a lot of things,” he rubbed his hairless chin. “You said you knew what was going on,” Batwoman said, trying to change the subject. Maybe Nightwing and the Dark Flash liked to discuss alternate realities and divergent timelines, but she was much more interested in just finding Roy Harper and then lounging by the pool for a few hours. Bruce nodded slowly. “There is a war going on here, between Limbo and reality. I’ve caught bits and pieces floating along in the clouds; live here long enough and you learn how to see with your ears and listen with your eyes.” He gave her a wink, but the entire concept was lost on her. She simply had to trust that he knew what he was talking about. “When the Time-Guardian did all of the stuff he did, it weakened the barriers of Limbo. We’ve been able to peer into not only the Prime Reality, but the other Hypertime universes as well. I saw when Aquagirl released the Dark Flash; the sudden shock to time put a hole between here and there.” Batwoman shrugged. “So?” “Well, some of the more powerful beings here, guys I try to avoid when possible, want out of here. They see a second chance at life. If what you say is true, if we are all the leftovers from a tune-up of time’s engine…” He paused and took a deep breath. He said something to her about not having spoken so much for eternity. “Look, maybe we’re all supposed to be dead. Maybe we aren’t supposed to get back no matter what and that’s why we’re here. No alternate timelines, no Hypertime strings, we’re put in a jar with a locking lid.” “That’s why the Spectre wouldn’t come; he’s guarding the entrances into Heaven!” Batwoman guessed. She looked around, thinking that possibly she could see the supposed hole that had been formed, but the only thing in her view was the doorway. It looked no farther than ever. “Is anyone trying to plug the hole?” “I thought I saw the Zatanna of the Prime Universe and some of the other Sentinels of Magic trying to do something, but it was kind of blurry,” Bruce offered. He began to fiddle with his mask. “Images of the outside come and go; one minute you’re walking through the clouds and the next you’re in

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the middle of the street on some plane of existence. Limbo passes through all realities and none. Normally you can watch life go by.” “Well, as much as I’d like to help fix the leak, I need to find the real Roy Harper,” Batwoman said with finality. She still didn’t know which way to go. “You haven’t seen him, have you?” Bruce put the mask back on. “Like I said, I’ve avoided everyone, trying to find a way out of here or a way to end this.” There was no tremor to his voice, in fact, he sounded like the sanest person Batwoman had spoken to in years. She could understand what he was saying, that the non-existence he was living was simply too much to bear. “I’d like to help you if I can, though.” She laughed. “What makes you think I want your help?” “Because,” Bruce started, his voice taking on a more mature tone, “I have been here forever, literally. I know my way around, I know where to look and like it or not, I am the Batman.” He chuckled. “Or at least I was going to be. Either way, I’ve got years of training and the experience in this environment.” Batwoman considered her options and realized that while she could spend the rest of eternity searching Limbo, it didn’t sound appealing. The idea of working with the Flying Fox, though not quite the same as working with the Caped Crusader, tickled her sense of nostalgia. Who knows, she thought, maybe she could figure out a way to get him out of here. “If I say yes, what would be our first move?” “There are certain areas of Limbo we need to avoid, areas that border near a sort of intermediate holding pen called the Phantom Zone. That’s where General Zod is mustering his forces. The actual hole between the realities is in Limbo proper, guarded by several of Zod’s minions. If your friend has been here long enough, he probably sensed the battles and may have gone to see what was up.” He looked off into the distance. “Most of the denizens of this place are docile, but the Phantom Zone is mostly full of criminals, placed there from a myriad of realities and worlds. It could be really dangerous, so I should stay in front to listen.” “Well, lead the way,” she said and he started running off. She followed him into the swirling mists. They seemed to be climbing, in fact she could almost feel gravity pulling at her as they moved along. Her breathing was getting raspy, but the Flying Fox seemed to be enjoying their little jaunt. It was hard for her to believe that the teenager before her in the ridiculous costume was the Batman. Certainly he had the stamina and the bravery, but his good humor just seemed so out of place. She was considering whether or not he might be a little mad when he motioned for her to stop. He cocked his head and Batwoman got the distinct impression that he was listening to something. After a few moments, he slowly turned around and approached her. “We’ve got company coming.” She shrugged. “And?” “You don’t understand; they know you’re here and they think you’re a threat to their plans, an inside man you might say.” He took a good look at her. “Well, inside woman at least.” He turned suddenly and his legs shifted slightly. “You do know how to fight, right?” She gave him a sour look. “And I’m toilet-trained.” He didn’t get a chance to respond before a dark shape leapt from the clouds and took the Flying Fox down. Batwoman barely avoided a swinging blow from her own assailant. The Fox was down, but far from out. Years if weight-lifting and gymnastics had hardened his muscles, making them steel-like cords of powers. He lifted the body off of him and looked into an unfamiliar face. It was one of the multitude of souls that had been trapped in this void. His heart was heavy with pain as he felt nobody, even the vilest of criminals, should be subjected to the punishment of Limbo. As he pushed the man away from him and scrambled to his feet, he wondered if his course of action was the right one. He had done nothing wrong, had, in fact, turned out reasonably well for someone who watched their parents murdered right before their eyes. Perhaps he should be joining with Zod in trying to establish himself in the Prime Universe? “No!” he told himself, pushing back the demons of uncertainty. He knew that no matter the personal sacrifice that allowing men like Zod and many of the other criminals, malcontents and evildoers that lived in Limbo to escape was a crime against Creation. The snarling man rushed the Fox, but the young hero easily dodged, keeping his wits about him and whirling around to plant a well-deserved kick to the man’s posterior.

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Batwoman did not particularly enjoy wrestling with the foul-smelling giant that was her current dancing partner. She was reminded of Solomon Grundy, an old Green Lantern villain, a man composed of magic and rotting wood with pasty white skin. This person was not quite as large as she suspected Grundy to be, but how would she know? This could be the Earth-2 version or some other duplicate. She leapt high and gave him a kick to the chin, but the man-monster simply growled and rubbed the sore spot. She tried to punch him in the ribs, but was rewarded with a sharp crack as her wrist broke. She was so far out of her league it was unbelievable. She had been a socialite trying to be a super-hero; she had no place trying to perform a mission such as this. It was only now that Kathy Kane realized her folly in ever putting on the Batwoman costume and thinking she could be something more than she was. The Flying Fox heard Batwoman’s cry of pain and knew she was hurt bad. At this point in Bruce Wayne’s life, that point represented by the Flying Fox, he was not yet trained in the more deadly martial arts. He had no way of ending this quickly and he was relying more on acrobatics and superior speed to avoid his adversary. He had no utility belt per se, only a few miscellaneous items such as a rope and grappling hook. Batwoman was down and there was a sickening sound of flesh being pulped and a red fountain of blood coming from the Batwoman’s body. The Fox ran over t where the Grundy-like creature was o pummeling Batwoman’s face and tearing at her costume. The hero was reminded of the stories of piranha devouring other fish and he almost turned his head away. All of the blood reminded him of a fateful night so many years ago when his parents had bled to death in front of him. Her cry for help spurred him to action and he raced forward, pulling the grappling hook out, meaning to strike the creature in the head. A hand grabbed his orange cape and pulled him back and he landed with a thud on his back. The breath poured out of his lungs and his ears started ringing. It was merciful, however, for it prevented him from hearing the final crunching of Batwoman’s skull as it was caved in. Reflex, primal and raw, made the Flying Fox strike out as his attacker loomed over him. A wellplaced foot in the groin brought the villain down and the hero struggled to stand up. It was hard, his stomach barely able to move as he desperately tried to force oxygen back into his lungs. Clarity suddenly filled his mind as he realized that for the first time in what seemed to be an eternity, he needed air to breathe. He saw the blood and realized that someone just died. Someone had just died in Limbo. You could be hurt in Limbo, bound and gagged, even knocked out depending on the circumstances, but death was supposed to be impossible. He considered himself an expert on this dimension of nothingness, this wasteland of lost thoughts and ideas. He had traveled all around it, he supposed, encountering the borderlands of the Phantom Zone, Olympus and several other so-called mythological places. All were real enough, areas attached to a dimension of nothing, a place where it seemed a higher power put its old toys away before going downstairs for supper. The outlying areas were the buffer between the real world and Limbo, each one with specific doorways and specific rules of passage between. Nobody died in this place, nobody grew old, and nobody went hungry. There was no time here, no seasons, and no changes. Yet Batwoman had just been killed. That meant the hole formed by the TimeGuardian’s mechanisms was allowing the real world to pour in, like water from a dike. That was it! He finally saw the plan! Zod wasn’t trying to escape from Limbo, he was letting the real world in! That’s why the Spectre, the one who had sent the Batwoman in here to begin with couldn’t come in, he was keeping the door closed to help stave off the flood! The creature got up and snarled, bellowing it’s frustration and rage from blood-soaked lips. The Flying Fox spread his legs out and assumed a limp, defensive stance, waiting for the initial charge. He wasn’t the master of battle that the Batman was, but he had some training and he hoped he had enough to stop this monster. The creature stomped towards the Fox, hands raised to deliver a blow that would surely render him dead and the Fox waited until the last moment to step away. The creature over shot the mark, and the hero grabbed his arm as it came around, spun and used the momentum of the beast to flip him. The creature crashed but started to get up almost immediately. Twice more the Flying Fox downed the beast, and two more times did it get back up, relentless in its desire to crush the teenager. The young man looked to the bloody corpse of the Batwoman, feeling somewhat responsible for bringing her this way, and then looked to the maddened thing that was trying to

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end his life. He had to run away, regardless of how empty it made him feel to leave Batwoman’s body for the Limbo vultures (if there were any). He looked into the distance where the doorway was that she had pointed out to him, a dark beacon in a white nightmare calling to him. Maybe he couldn’t escape from this place, but he could at least get a warning out. Let the Spectre know that Batwoman had failed so he could send someone in with superpowers. How could they have been so foolish? Ducking one final blow, he set off at a run, tearing off the mask and cape, throwing them aside as he cut himself off from the existence he had previously known. The monster represented the entirety of his existence and he wanted to be away from it as soon as possible. It could not keep up and within a short period of time, he had out run it and his perceptions of Limbo told him that it had given up the chase. He could hear it sniffing around the body of the slain Batwoman and tears started to well in his eyes. He had failed her and he wondered how he ever thought he could measure up to the person he should have been. It must have been the reason he was relegated to Limbo because he was the weakness in Batman’s character. A silly boy with silly dreams of grandeur. When he reached the doorway he stopped and looked at it for a second, not sure of how to proceed. It was all so mind-boggling. The Crisis. The Time-Guardian. The Time-Trapper’s world. Limbo. The Phantom Zone. All of it related, yet all of it different. The Crisis was the result of the Anti-Monitor’s bid for ultimate power and when he lost a new universe had been born. The old universes had been destroyed, used for the new universe, or simply thrown into the cosmic trash bin. Wasn’t he anything more than garbage waiting to be thrown away? Did his actions really matter in the scheme of things? He wasn’t a hero… “Being a hero is more than putting on a costume and jumping from rooftop to rooftop,” someone said from behind him. Startled just as Batwoman had been when he had first approached, the Flying Fox whirled around to see someone in a Robin costume. “You’re Jason Todd, aren’t you?” he asked. “The Earth-1 version.” The boy nodded. “Like you for Bruce Wayne, I represent the aspects of Jason Todd that were not used in the new universe. We’re brothers in that we are the rough drafts, not the finished copies.” He stepped forward and extended his hand. The Fox took it and smiled. When he had started observing the Prime Universe, the Fox had always taken a special interest in the way Batman always seemed to draw young boys to him. Bruce Wayne never had the chance to have a brother and by taking in the lost souls like Dick Grayson and Jason Todd, he had tried to fill that void in his life. “I saw that your Prime Universe counterpart died,” the Fox added softly. “Maybe the universe should have stuck with the original,” Robin added with a smile. There was a twinkle to his eye. “Look, I’ve been here just as long as you have, though you’ve really made an effort to understand what this place is and how it works. You have information that is vital to everything. Not only do you have to help find Roy Harper, but you know in your bones that General Zod has to be stopped. He is too powerful, he and all of his cronies, for the this new universe. It won’t amount to a hill of beans if they stop the Time-Guardian and Zod is there to reign over all existence.” “How do you know all of this?” Robin sighed. “I’ve been following you ever since you hooked up with Batwoman. We all sensed her presence, something new that didn’t quite belong. She wasn’t supposed to be here. I’m only sorry I didn’t keep closer or else I could have helped.” He looked down at the ground. “You, or at least your older self, taught me that being a hero is not just winning the battles, but surviving the war. You can’t save everyone, Bruce, you won’t be able to. We couldn’t save ourselves for goodness sake.” “I was going to go out and tell…” he started, pointing to the doorway. “It won’t do any good. Look, you’ve peered through the veil and seen the world the Time-Trapper created. The Time-Guardian is slowly regaining his powers, but he is not the immediate threat. Besides, all of those non-existent heroes are there.” Robin smiled at the thought. They were all heroes wiped from the continuity or else killed during the Crisis. He and the Flying Fox represented something more noble. They were simply unused parts of heroes still in existence. “We have to rescue Roy Harper, but first we have to close the hole.” The Fox nodded and his mind set to work on the problem. “If we can’t go out and get help, then we need to find some people in here. Is everyone here like us?” Robin pursed his lips. “I’m not sure.”

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Deadman slowly walked into the dining room of the mansion his “team” occupied and sat the obese form he inhabited down heavily into a chair. The Huntress was speaking softly to Nightwing, the unofficial leader of the group, until she saw the look on their host’s face. She asked what was wrong. “Batwoman is dead,” he said with finality. Even though he was a spirit himself, it was still hard when someone whom he had gotten close to passed on. “She’s in a better place, but…” “I understand, Boston,” Nightwing remarked. The Kryptonian super-hero had finally come to grips with the loss of his family. He was, as far as he knew, the only Kryptonian from the Earth-1 universe to have survived the Crisis. That is if you could call the borrowed time they were on as surviving. “I don’t think you do,” Deadman said, sighing. He then began to explain about the hole that had formed between Limbo and the Prime Universe. “It’s turning into a war; the Justice League and Justice Society are now involved, but that doesn’t help us in getting Harper.” “What? I’m right here,” Kid Flash said as he entered the room, eating an apple. “What do you need?” Deadman shook his head. “A miracle, kid, a freakin’ real-life, Almighty majestic miracle.”

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Chapter 12 Robin and the Dark Flash
“I’m sure you can appreciate the severity of our dilemma,” the gray-skinned angel said. The Dark Flash was still amazed by the sheer beauty of the creature. His Speed-Force enhanced vision allowed him to see even the subtlest of movements and yet this angel made none. This was a being completely at rest. “I’m getting more confused by all of this every day,” he confessed. He pulled back his cowl, revealing a face set in a grimace and a long, jagged lightning bolt shaped scar. “I’m just trying to get back home to answer for my crimes.” Zauriel nodded, understanding the heavy heart the speedster carried with him. Walter West was an alternate duplicate of Wally West, the third Flash. Walter differed in that he had once gone insane over the death of his girlfriend and had become a mass murderer. When a chance encounter with the real Wally West restored his sanity, the Dark Flash as he had been dubbed became overwrought with guilt. Since that time, as he searched the passageways of the mansion called Hypertime looking for a way back home, he had been doing his best to do good wherever he went. He had arrived in his current situation by accident and again, Zauriel felt nothing but pity for this poor tortured soul before him. While racing between dimensions, the Dark Flash had found himself trapped by the pre-Crisis Earth-1 Brainiac 5, who was using a device to draw pure Speed Force out of speedsters to power a force-field that kept the Crisis wave back. The Crisis wave, a malevolent storm of anti-matter set loose by the Anti-Monitor, had destroyed the multiverse and caused time to realign itself. Brainiac 5 was using his mad contraption to keep back impending doom while he held the soul of Kara Zor-El, his lost love Supergirl, locked away. The Dark Flash had defeated Brainiac 5 and set Kara’s soul free, but the events had not gone unnoticed. The Time-Guardian, really the pre-Crisis Earth-2 Speedy, had devised a plan in which he would create his own perfect universe, a universe based upon his warped perceptions of love and reality. Copying Brainiac 5’s design, the pre-Crisis Earth-1 Master Jailer had managed to recapture the Dark Flash and use him in a new, perfected device. The plan would have worked had it not been for the Time Wardens, a group of heroes from worlds and realities that no longer existed, led by the Kryptonian hero Nightwing. Three members, Aquagirl, Cinnamon, and Detective Chimp, tracked down the device and through the sacrifice of the other two, Aquagirl was able to free the Dark Flash. The theory was that once the Dark Flash was set free, the Crisis wave would continue its normal course through time and all of the changes made by the Time-Guardian would be erased. That had not happened as the Time-Trapper, a temporal villain from the future, stepped in and captured the TimeGuardian’s reality, placing in a pocket universe where it could continue to exist. By doing this, the universe not only returned to normal, but the Time-Trapper was able to temporarily block the former Speedy from accessing his powers. This would allow the Wardens the time needed to find him and end his threat once and for all. Another problem, however, arose that the group now had to face. Knowing that only one version of Roy Harper, the other identity of Speedy, could exist in the “real world” at one time, the Wardens sent team member Batwoman to Limbo to secure the release of the true version of the hero. Once there, she was informed by the Flying Fox, a younger version of Bruce (Batman) Wayne that existed in the pre-Crisis Earth-1 universe, that the events on the Time-Guardian’s world had put a hole between Limbo and the Prime Universe. Villains, creatures and horrors beyond imagination, led by the treacherous Earth-1 version of General Zod, were working hard to get free of their permanent prison and were only being just stopped by the efforts of the Sentinels of Magic and other heroic teams. Though Batwoman was killed by an alternate version of Solomon Grundy, the Flying Fox, together with the pre-Crisis Earth-1 Jason (Robin) Todd was able to get a message to Deadman, a member of the Time Titans, about the hole. In response, Nightwing had sent the Dark Flash, the most experienced member in dealing with dimensional barriers and traveling. “I still don’t understand the purpose of Limbo. No offense meant, but I’m afraid your theological arguments are lost on me. I’m of the mind that God doesn’t make mistakes so Limbo isn’t needed. The Lord doesn’t have spare thoughts as you put it.” Zauriel nodded, listening with compassion. Because the Spectre was busy guarding the doorway between Heaven and Limbo, the Presence had selected Zauriel, Heaven’s “ambassador” to Earth to serve as

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liaison between all concerned parties. When the Dark Flash finished, Zauriel sighed and silently prayed for strength. “Everything that is, that was and that will be is the work of a power higher than you and I. On many different worlds, universes and planes of existence, the amazing thing that is life grows and expands. Nothing can be destroyed, but it can be removed from our presence, from our senses, because these things are nothing compared to majesty that is life. “When the Crisis occurred, many thought that lives ended, but they did not. Those lives were changed, those lives were placed in the places they were meant to go to. Some of those places involved the material world, some did not. It may appear to you and I that certain things happen, but it may not be so.” He took another deep breath, trying his best not to preach, but to explain logically. “The Time-Guardian travels to different parts of the universe and time to gather his forces, rescuing them from what he feels is certain doom, but he isn’t. They were meant to be there and for what purpose, for what ultimate plan, even I cannot fathom the answer. Limbo is the insulation between the walls of reality, a buffer zone to prevent, hopefully, one set of existence from pouring into another.” “So, there are beings placed here for a reason, but we just don’t know what it is? Do you know how damn contrived that sounds? “He pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re saying that even though all of those universe were destroyed in the Crisis, the people are still alive?” “No…what I’m saying is that if you believe in a Higher Power, Walter, then you have to assume that this Power has ensured that everything has its place.” The answers were not making him feel any better and he had to admit that Nightwing’s more scientific reasoning had given him that warm and fuzzy feeling. Though a devotedly religious man in his worship of Rao, the Kryptonian god, Nightwing was also a man of science and he knew that when “Rao established time and creation, He did so within rules that He established. These rules define everything from time to magic and how they may or may not work. Examples may include the fact that matter and energy may neither be created nor destroyed. From these governing principles, and others such as physics, chemistry and temporal studies we begin to see the structure of the universe. The Time-Guardian’s true power is that he sees this as well and can manipulate the structure to suit his needs.” “So…does that mean Nightwing and all of them will die once this problem is corrected?” the Dark Flash asked. “What it means, son of man,” Zauriel said, putting a hand on the hero’s shoulder, “is that perhaps their true place has been found.” “And there will be others?” Zauriel shrugged. “We must be confident that our being here means we are to act and to set things right, you and I. I am to guide you, you are to act. Batwoman as well served a purpose and though her death was unfortunate, we have to assume it was necessary.” That only served to darken the Flash’s mood. “So I was meant to go insane? I was meant to kill all of those innocent people so that I could end up here?” “You are where you are supposed to be. The destination is already laid out before you, how you journey is entirely up to you.” Though not entirely convinced that going into Limbo was productive, the Dark Flash nevertheless prepared himself for the journey. Despite the problems associated with the hole between realities, it did not change the fact that the real Roy Harper had to be rescued. The Dark Flash was under instructions to succeed where Batwoman failed. “On the other side, awaiting you, shall be the Flying Fox and Robin; they have graciously volunteered to be your guide through Limbo. The laws of the universe as you know them do not apply to Limbo or its many sub-dimensions. This is the space between the walls of reality and every now and then you may encounter a mouse.” Zauriel waved a hand and a dark doorway appeared in front of them. “You will encounter many beings and creatures that could have existed, did exist or may exist some other time. Limbo is also a catchall prison used to house the most dangerous of beings when death is not a sure way of removing their threat.” The Dark Flash nodded and without another word stepped through the doorway. For the briefest of moments, he felt a pull from the Speed Force, as if it were trying to prevent his entry, but once he went through, the tugging stopped. He felt normal and different all at the same time. As a speedster, he had learned about his body down to the molecular level and now he seemed not to be able to sense things

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exactly. Perhaps, he mused, he was now in a different state of being, like going from a liquid to a gas? Did your matter transmute once you entered Limbo? A young man in the familiar short-pants and yellow cape of Robin approached him and held out his hand. On Walter’s world, there had not been a Jason Todd, so this Robin was someone entirely new to him. He accepted the youth’s hand. “I’m Walter West, the Dark Flash.” “I thought it was just the Flash?” the boy answered with a grin. “Bet you get a bum rap like I did!” “Let’s just say that the name fits,” he responded, looking around. Everything seemed to be a whirling mass of white nothingness. He expected an echo when he spoke, but it seemed as if the sound didn’t feel like traveling very far away. “I take it you’re my guide? Where’s the other one, the Flying Rat?” “Flying Fox!” Robin laughed. “He went to try and retrieve Batwoman’s body so it could be taken back to your world…” The speedster shook his head. “Not my world, kid; just a world. That’s nice, but it doesn’t help us much.” “Bruce told me where he and Batwoman got jumped and I’m pretty sure I know where they were going. There is a sub-dimension called the Phantom Zone over there; that’s where General Zod hangs out and it’s where he’s gathering his forces. It’s possible that Harper saw the movement and followed along to investigate.” “If Zod was offering a way out, he might be inclined to take it,” the Dark Flash finished. He thought for a moment and went over the briefing he had received from Zauriel. The angel had mentioned that when Harper had first been put in Limbo, the Spectre had visited him, but had to leave almost immediately. The exact reason was not given but the angel had hinted that the Spectre technically was not allowed in Limbo unless on God’s business. “Do you know if there is an area where everyone arrives at when they first get here, a sort of receiving station?” Robin shook his head. “It all depends on where you are coming from and where you are going. Primes, people from the Prime Universe, come in at all kinds of points. Normally they don’t stay here very long because they don’t belong or someone rescues them…stuff like that. Most of us avoid the primes because you never know who is coming after them.” “So, he would be all alone?” The Teen Wonder shrugged and adjusted his green gloves. “I’d reason that he would immediately try to find a way out; primes never fit in well here. They get too used to cable television and microwave popcorn.” He thought for a moment and then snapped his fingers. “I know who we can ask!” Robin started to run off, not bothering to tell the Dark Flash to follow. The hero was surprised by the way the younger one just headed into danger. He figured that anyone who was trained under the Batman would not be so inclined. Still, running meant getting wherever they needed to quicker and running was, after all, what he was best at. The clouds seemed to take on a green hue as the moved along. The Dark Flash glanced back and still saw the doorway there, never leaving from his vision, which was good since he was starting to suspect he needed glasses. Old age was creeping up on him he thought and then laughed. The truth was he was no older than his prime counterpart. Walter, however, had used his powers to heal some deadly wounds almost instantly, which had caused him to age prematurely. He was, literally, a young man in an older man’s body. “Why the color change?” he asked. Robin turned and smiled. “We get a lot of Green Lanterns here…you can’t imagine how many of them end up finding their final reward is this place. Anyway, they started gathering together, hoping to form some sort of fellowship. They call themselves the Order and they basically are the police of Limbo.” He pointed in front of them and the Dark Flash expected to see something but all he saw were green clouds. “You do get used to it eventually, believe me. Its like how blind people get along in the world.” The Dark Flash nodded his approval at the reasoning. “Just point the way and I’ll follow.” They started to move when suddenly a glowing green form came at them from a high arc. Robin shouted a warning and the Scarlet Speedster moved seconds before the form crashed in front of them. There was a muffled explosion of green light and then it started to fade. Both heroes moved over to the form and recognized it as a pretty young woman in some type of Green Lantern uniform. Robin took off his glove and laid two fingers on her neck. He looked to the Dark Flash and shook his head. “You can die here?” Robin nodded and stood up to replace his glove. “You can die anywhere. This may seem like Hell, but trust me when I say we’re all alive here.”

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A scream prevented any further comment and both heroes took off at a run. The Dark Flash picked up speed, calling the Speed Force to him. He knew by the characteristics of this place (again he thought of Nightwing’s speech about rules) that whoever had let loose the cry was nearby. He started doing a perimeter search of the area, since it was impossible to judge direction and soon came upon another dead woman. This one had blue skin and violet hair. The hero noted that she seemed almost relaxed in her present state. Robin caught up to him and looked down. He looked sad. “I’ve seen dead people before, but it always seems more sad when it’s a pretty girl.” “Yeah,” the Dark Flash said as he looked around for possible clues as to whom her assailant was. There was nothing. When he looked down again, she had disappeared. “Where did she go?” “We fade away when we die here. I don’t know exactly where we go,” he said. “Batwoman wasn’t from here so her body should have remained.” “Pleasant,” the other hero muttered. “What the hell can pound Green Lanterns to a pulp? Has the war spread here possibly?” “We’re too far from the hole and I can’t see prime heroes coming in and killing off members of the Order. This is something more internal I’d say,” Robin said. In the distance they saw another brief flash of emerald light and they moved quickly to intercept. They arrived just in time to see a large male Green Lantern fade from existence. “Definitely one of the heavy hitters has gotten loose,” Robin said quietly. “It could be Zod himself. He’s a pre-Crisis Kryptonian with years of military training behind him.” The Dark Flash thought about the strength that Nightwing had exhibited and understood the potential for harm. Her looked at the scrawny young boy next to him and shook his head. “You can’t go.” “Bite me!” Robin said, a sour look on his face. “I hate to tell you this buddy, but you’re in my territory now. I decide who stays and goes.” “I don’t have time for some smart-alec little snot to try and teach me the super-hero game, okay? I’m older and bigger than you and I don’t care if you were trained by the biggest, baddest, most awful Batman ever…” A flaming Green Lantern shot between them, causing both started heroes to stumble back. The Lantern struck the ground several times, little green flames shooting off and skirting the ground as he did. Both heroes looked at each other, nodded and took off in that direction. A gurgling sound greeted them when they passed through the mists. A Green Lantern was being choked by a skinny kid in bell-bottom pants and a white shirt with a large “M” on it. “Best put him down son!” the Dark Flash said as he came to a stop. He almost laughed at the green cape tied loosely around the boy’s neck. Robin stopped behind him and uttered a curse word. The Dark Flash turned to him and went down as something large landed on his back. Four feet clawed and scratched at his shoulders and he rolled to get away. The familiar scent of unwashed dog invaded his nostrils. Robin found himself engaged with a woman clad in white polyester pants and a striped shirt that hugged her teenaged frame. Her dark hair was perfect, but it contrasted sharply to the wildness that permeated her eyes. “Robin! Oh, my darling! Come, make love to Wendy!” The Teen Wonder ducked away and tried to get a batarang out with a line on it. He hoped to get around the woman before she tore him apart. He was too slow, however, and she grabbed his wrist and squeezed. There was a popping sound and Robin cried out in pain. The dog was of a breed the Dark Flash could not place as it looked like some sort of cartoon bulldog. It also had a cape and it growled out words that were barely understandable. Most of it had to do with things that dogs normally did to chew toys and the Dark Flash had no intention of allowing that to happen to him. His shoulder’s ached and he could feel the blood flowing freely down his back from the wounds the dog had inflicted upon him. The dog made a running jump for him, but the Dark Flash was too quick. He ran as well, going by the airborne mutt and absorbing as much of his kinetic energy as he could. The dog simply dropped in midair and hit the ground hard. It yelped and the hero turned to make a second pass in which he planned to simply pick the dog up and use the momentum to toss it a couple of miles when the skinny boy attacked. The body of the dead Green Lantern slammed hard into the Dark Flash. The breath left his lungs and his ears began to ring even as he fell forward. “Wonder Marv does it again! Hey, Wendy, look at me!” he called in a high-pitched voice.

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“I always loved you Robin, but you never noticed me. I tried to be pretty for you, I tried so hard because I wanted you so bad,” Wendy said to the prone form of Robin. The young man was grasping his broken wrist and trying to choke back the tears. As soon as he had seen Wonder Marv, he knew they were in trouble. Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog were originally from an Earth that, in the pre-Crisis universe, had been the home of the Super Friends. They had been mascots of a sort, young people looking to help out the heroes of the Justice League of America. When the Crisis happened, they ended up in Limbo where they had not adjusted well. All three, normal in their own realities, became ultra-powerful in Limbo and their personalities also became skewed. Marvin wanted to be a Superman; Wonder Dog hoped to be a real attack hound; and Wendy could not deal with the knowledge that she would never get to become Mrs. Robin the Teen Wonder. Most denizens of Limbo avoided the trio. Marvin hoped to finally have Wendy as his woman; Wendy always hoped to find a real man. They roamed all of Limbo, causing havoc and chaos wherever they went. The fact that they were now killing off members of the Order made some sense to Robin. No doubt that in order to keep the Green Lanterns out of the fight, Zod promised the three of them their freedom. “Come, we w find a secluded place and you will make me your woman,” Wendy said. She ill reached down and grabbed the shattered wrist on Robin and pulled. He called out again and punched her hard in the stomach. The blow came as a surprise and she let go. Her face was now a mass of rage and confusion. “What did I do wrong?” she asked. “You’re not my type,” Robin said through gritted teeth. “Besides, I’m not old enough to date yet!” He shot up and spun, landing a kick to her jaw. It didn’t knock her down, but there was some blood. She put her finger up to it and let it flow. She then licked her finger seductively, getting the blood all over her lips. “Do you like bad girls?” she asked in a husky voice. Marvin reached down and grabbed the front of the Dark Flash’s costume and yanked him up. “Great, I’m getting my ass handed to me by Jerk-boy the Pizza Face,” the hero muttered, trying to get the world to stop spinning. “Hey, man, that’s not funny. I’m going to have to show you who’s number one!” Marvin threatened right before he head-butted the Dark Flash. The hero started to curse like a sailor. “Now I’m mad you little S.O.B.!” Vibrating his hand, the Dark Flash took it and placed it on Marvin’s knee. The youth laughed and commented that it tickled as he brought his fist back. One punch would send the Dark Flash flying into the next life. There was a small crackling and then Marvin went down, clutching the bleeding stump that had been his leg. “Blew your knee out, huh?” the Dark Flash asked as he rubbed his forehead. The trick had been to make the molecules of Marvin’s knee unstable so that they exploded. A growl gave the Dark Flash all of the time he needed to pass his vibrating hand through the leaping Wonder Dog. The animal exploded before it hit the ground and Marvin screamed vengeance. “You killed my dog, man!” The Dark Flash kicked him in the jaw, knocking the boy out. Pulling off Marvin’s cape, he used it to tie off the wound so the boy wouldn’t bleed to death. He then looked around, trying to find where his new partner had gone. Deep scratch marks had been gouged into Robin’s chest and he knew he was starting to lose a lot of blood. The idea of dying, for the first time, suddenly found its way into his head and he started to wonder if it had been worth it to help out the Dark Flash. He then remembered how the Batman had taken him in and trained him and taught him the true meaning of courage. A part of him was resisting hitting Wendy because he believed that hitting girls was wrong and still another part of him found her attractive in a retro sort of way. He was failing and he wondered if his version of Robin was flawed from the very start. Should Jason Todd have ever become Robin? It hadn’t worked on Earth-1 and it didn’t work in the Prime Universe. But, he had always wanted to be a hero. Then he looked at Wendy, who already begun to strip out of her clothes and he realized that wanting to be a hero did not make you one. He was one young man tossed into an impossible situation and the cape and mask did not make him a hero.

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He understood that by helping out the Dark Flash, he was being a hero. Just like all of the others. He could not give in to his fear, he could not submit to her temptations and he could not run away. He had to fight. He had to stop her. Hitting her wasn’t doing any good. He wasn’t the expert on women, but he was positive that the fighting was only making her more excited. It had to be the short pants he was wearing that turned the girls on. “Wendy…this has to stop,” he said, breathing hard. The nude girl stopped and looked at him. “You keep trying to deny who you are and what happened to you. You won’t let go and look what its done to you.” “Don’t you want me?” she asked, spreading her arms out wide and allowing him to see her whole body. He averted his eyes. “It isn’t that. Sure I want you; you’re eighteen and I’m fourteen. What fourteen year-old boy doesn’t want to sleep with an eighteen-year-old girl? But I’m not the Robin you knew. The Robin you knew isn’t here. I don’t know where he went, but he isn’t me.” “I just wanted…” “I know. You’re whole life, your dreams and hopes, were taken away and now you’re trapped in this world where nothing ever seems real and there’s no way out. You’re stuck with a guy and his dog that remind you every minute of every day what you lost. I never really fell in love I suppose; I don’t know what it’s like to lose something like that.” She started to cry and fell to her knees. Robin’s heart melted and he went over to her and put his cape over her naked form. “It’s okay Wendy, but you’ve got to stop all of this killing.” “I know,” she sobbed. “I told Marvin…” He hushed her with a hug. “I know, you told Marvin not to kill them but he was trying to impress you…” “No,” she said in a voice totally devoid of sadness. She looked up into his eyes and there seemed to be flames dancing in them. “I told him to make them scream. I told him to make them beg. I promised him a world of sexual desire beyond reasoning so long as he made them die in horrible, horrible pain!” She rammed her head into his chin and the Teen Wonder fell back. She was on top of him in a second, pinning him with her arms and legs. She brought her face close to his. “He never had time for me, you know. Always too busy to take time out for Wendy. Batman called me a silly little girl, but that was only on the outside. Should I tell you the things he and Aquaman made me when nobody was around? What about Apache Chief? Hmmm? Black Vulcan? They all had special duties for Wendy to perform!” She licked the side of Robin’s face. “Then they replaced us, tossed us away to exchange us for Zan and Jayna, two alien teenagers with super-powers. They had no time for me and they had already talked to the rest of the super-heroes. Nobody wanted me, I was the throw-away whore for the Super Friends!” A red blur blew by and then a thunder crack that shook Robin to his core. Wendy was gone, but he could hear her scream as she flew off. The Dark Flash stood there shaking his hand. “Damn she’s one tough broad! I think I broke my hand!” Robin rolled over. “That is one lady with issues. I thought Batman had problems…” “You okay, kid?” Robin nodded. “Got a broken wrist I need to set. I’ve never had a broken bone here so I don’t know how it will heal.” “I can fix that,” another voice said. A shimmering green light floated down from above and Hal Jordan himself landed. He walked over to Robin and held his power ring up over the boy. There was a brief flash of green light and then the Teen Wonder felt suddenly better. “Aren’t you dead?” the Dark Flash asked. Hal smiled. “I’m the Hal Jordan that would have been had Coast City not occurred, or at least I believe I am.” He shrugged easily. “Anyway, I’m the leader of the Order and I want to thank you for your help. Most of us have been fighting General Zod’s forces, but we’re losing ground. He’s almost got enough villains gathered to try and push through the hole back into the Prime Universe.” “We’re looking for the Prime Roy Harper,” Robin said. “We came to ask the Order of they have seen him.” Hal ran a hand through his gray temples. “Yep, he was asking if we knew where his daughter was and we tried to explain that we don’t keep track of people here. Because of the way Hypertime works, you never know who is going to get dropped in this place.”

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“Did you tell him anywhere he could go?” the Dark Flash asked. “Considering the circumstances of his appearance here, I told him to seek out Abel at the House of Mystery. Abel is a good-natured fellow, keeps a record of some of the strangest things…like me for example.” He looked the Dark Flash over. “You’re not the Wally I would know are you?” The Dark Flash shook his head. “How can you exist if you never were? God, this place is driving me up a wall!” He threw his hands in the air and the pulled back his cowl. “Alright, so where is this House of Mystery?” “In the Occupied Zone right now. Zod’s forces have taken it over and moved Abel out. They think Abel may know where all of the more powerful beings in Limbo are hiding at and they want to force the information from him.” “Can you help, Mr. Jordan?” Robin asked, hopeful. “I’ve actually got two people working on it right now; if you two want to wait here, I’ll let you know what I find out. Of course, if you want to help…” The Dark Flash shook his head. “We’re trying to stop the Time-Guardian, the one who caused all of this to begin with. We can’t afford not to wait.” Jordan smiled and started to lift off into the air. “I’ll get word back to you as soon as possible. I’m going to pick up Marvin and Wendy and put them on ice for a while. When this is over, I’ll dump them in the Phantom Zone!” “And that’s where we stand now,” Deadman said. Nightwing said something in Kryptonian. “Zod!” he finally said. “That murdering scum! I should be there, we need to pull Walter out of there.” Deadman lit up a cigar, his obese form jiggling as he did so. “No can do; you’re the most powerful member of the team and the leader. We need you here. Alexi Luthor will soon figure out how to give old Speedy back his powers and then all hell is going to break loose.” “Do you really think that two Green Lanterns can get past Zod’s forces?” the Huntress asked as she took Nightwing’s hand. Deadman inhaled and smiled. “He ain’t sending two Lanterns, baby! He’s sending the two very last people in Limbo Zod would ever consider a threat.”

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Chapter 13 Dominus and I…Vampire
“I don’t think the boss would like it if I let you in,” the thug said. Neither of the two men in front of him recognized the man, but that was not surprising. Limbo and its associated dimensions was a hodgepodge of has -beens, could-be’s and infinite possibilities. For all either man knew, the person in front of them was an alternate version of themselves. The man in the suit of red armor pointed a finger. “I am Dominus! I alone penetrated the Fortress of Solitude and weaved an intricate plan that caused the Man of Steel to destroy the Earth!” It was a true statement to a certain point. Indeed, Dominus has put together such a scheme, but the Earth-1 Superman had been accidentally thrown an hour into the future where he witnessed the Earth’s demise. Going back in time, he managed to defuse the situation and capture Dominus, who turned out to be his old sparring partner, Lex Luthor. The thug scratched his head. “Uh, the general is busy now.” The other man, dressed in attire that was fashionable in the 17th century, gave a slight bow, his long dark ponytail bouncing. “Please forgive my friend, it is just we are anxious to join in the fighting. We too wish to escape this place.” “Uh…” Dominus roared and punched the man, knocking him flat on his back. “That was satisfying!” Andrew Bennett regarded Dominus for a moment, considering going back to Hal Jordan and telling him that there was no way he could work with such a vile man. He sighed and started to follow Dominus through the barrier between Limbo and the Phantom Zone. Being a vampire, Andrew was used to having his physical state altered, but to actually become a phantom was something new. He chuckled to himself, enjoying the fact that even after 400 years, some sensations and experiences could still be new. “You know, in a way, I admire this Time-Guardian fellow,” Dominus said as they floated along. Andrew noted that he seemed to have almost an obsession with speaking aloud. “My plan was to destroy me Earth and then travel to a parallel dimension where I would rule.” “I’m sure you would have been a most benevolent ruler,” Andrew commented, sighting the doorway into the House of Mystery dimension. They were to get in there and rescue Abel, who was supposed to tell them (hopefully) of the location of Limbo’s most powerful denizen. Andrew wondered exactly how “power” was measured in a place where the natural laws of both the natural and supernatural worlds did not apply. Dominus suspected that the vampire was coddling him and moved to change the subject. “You know all of this Crisis talk is malarkey. Sure, the Crisis started time over again and maybe, maybe dimension barriers are a little more fragile, but it’s still all the same multiverse.” Andrew shrugged. Time and dimensions meant nothing to a man who only wished to see the sun rise again over the horizon. He understood the basics of the Crisis; nearly everyone in Limbo did now since Zod started his war. He had sent his agents throughout the non-dimension, preaching the knowledge he had gleaned. How he had come by this information was still a mystery; perhaps he simply put the clues together. “Does it matter, in the end?” Dominus laughed. “Of course it does. If I don’t understand the physics of this new universe, how can I rule it? I’m only agreeing to this because I don’t want Zod sitting on the throne meant for Dominus.” They reached the doorway and Dominus pressed a button on his gauntlet. A shimmering yellow field surrounded the two of them, returning them to a solid state. “We must hurry,” he said, glancing at the chronometer on his wrist. “The field drains my armor so I’ve built in a failsafe that shuts it off in 30 seconds.” “Then why do we waste time?” Andrew said as he leapt through the doorway. Immediately a feeling of dread and hopelessness fell over him and he found himself in front of an old house, built in a style he found oddly familiar. Dominus appeared next to him. “This used to be somewhere on my home Earth.” “It was my home as well, criminal,” Andrew said, beginning to stalk towards the home. “Then you must want to hear my other theories,” he called. Andrew stopped and turned around. His eyes glowed slightly crimson as he spoke. “I am of the mind that life is a gamble and that most people take it for granted. The Crisis happened; Limbo happened; some people died. I don’t relish the thought of entire universes being destroyed, but it happened. There was

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much death at that time and much sadness. Believe me, however, when I state that there are some things worse than death.” Dominus threw his head back and laughed. “You sound as bad as that angel Zauriel, trying to throw a religious tone to a purely scientific event!” “You dare to mock an angel of God? Are you mad? It is through that angel’s efforts that you and I are being given the chance at redemption!” Andrew could not believe the arrogance of the man in the red armor. He knew, of course, who Lex Luthor was. Andrew had lived well into the twentieth century on Earth-1 and Luthor’s criminal genius was almost as mythical as vampires. He never suspected that Luthor was possessed of such anger. Then, he rationalized, that was all he was seeing of late. Zauriel had briefed them after Hal Jordan had contacted them. The two had learned of the Time-Guardian and throughout the explanation, Dominus had chuckled. He now realized what kindred spirits the Time-Guardian and Dominus were. Both had been left to die during the Crisis, but so had everyone else. Andrew was too well versed in the ways of the supernatural to put in credence in the Time-Guardian’s argument of Earth-1 heroes being used as “templates” for the new universe. He couldn’t believe it because that could mean that there was the potential for a new Andrew Bennet. A new vampire. It was something that he prayed almost constantly would not be true. “I am a god; I am Dominus, destroyer of worlds!” came the proclamation. Andrew began to suspect something of the man behind the red helmet. Lex Luthor had assumed many identities in his long w against Superman, his childhood friend. Perhaps, in an effort to finally ar defeat the Man of Steel, he began to fully immerse himself in his chosen roles. “Whatever you say, Mr. Destroyer,” he added dryly. Andrew had not needed convincing in order to join the cause of the Order in this war. Though he was a vampire, Andrew loathed his existence, hated the fact that he needed to survive on blood in order to survive. Limbo had been a blessing, for here he had no cravings and he spent his days in careful contemplation of the universe and its mysteries. He was not like his brethren; he was not a mindless killer and human life was still precious to him. He had never met Zod, but he knew his type. Andrew’s battles with the vampire organization Blood Red Moon had introduced him to the worst creation had to offer. They approached the walk to the front porch of the house and somewhere in the distance a wolf howled. Several bats flew by as well and Andrew could have sworn he heard a female voice yell out “jinkies”. Dominus broke the mood. “My sensors indicate that there is nobody here.” “Perhaps your sensors are worthless in this area of the Limbonic Plane?” “Ha! Jordan recruited me specifically because I’m the only person in all of Limbo who has the brains to figure out how to cross every little neighborhood. Even our matter changes when we cross borders and only my advanced science can keep us whole.” Dominus then started to turn in a circle and Andrew’s enhanced hearing picked up a high-pitched whine. Dominus stopped turning and pointed out to a swamp. “There’s somebody out there. Preliminary analysis indicates one of them is our quarry.” Andrew nodded, knowing it was time for him to fulfill his part of the mission. Dominus was to get them here, while Andrew was to rescue Abel. Andrew started to run in the direction Dominus was pointing in and suddenly his form began to change. Within five strides, Andrew had become a wolf and was running at a much faster pace into the swamp gases that surrounded the swamp. “Your powers are at nearly 80%,” Alexi Luthor stated in triumph. “You should be back up to normal levels by the end of the week.” The Time-Guardian nodded his approval and hopped off the table. He grabbed his red shirt and pulled it on. His wife, Donna, stood off in the corner, smiling. He noted that her stomach was getting larger and it only served to deepen his suspicions. Enough of his senses had returned to allow him to perceive the Time-Trapper’s shield around this universe. Even at his current level, he could penetrate it, but he was holding off, trying to answer another question. He had been pleased to find out that Donna was with child, but he had the feeling that the fetus was drawing power off of him. Of course, he regenerated that power, but it made him wonder what had he and his precious Donna created?

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Whatever the child was, it would certainly be better than the creature his counterpart had created with the villainous Jade. The thought of sleeping with the enemy almost made him vomit right there. He briefly reflected on Donna, his wife and dream girl. She was the product of magic and time thrown awry just as he was. Her beginnings had been thoroughly ravaged by so many beings and cosmic entities that he wasn’t exactly sure where it was that she came from. All that he was sure of was that on any world, the first moment that any Roy Harper first gazed upon her, they fell in love almost immediately. Her current origins suggested that she was the magically created “clone” of Wonder Woman, a twin who was then used as a pawn in a scheme against Queen Hypolyta of the Amazons. The little girl who would become Donna Troy was split into an infinite number of Hypertime duplicates, each one destined to live and die in misery. That curse had been eventually broken…allegedly. The Time-Guardian considered the possibility that giving birth to a child so powerful might actually kill his Donna. That had happened in an alternate timeline before, where Donna had bore the villain Lord Chaos into the world. He pitied her because he could not love her. Love was gone now; he had lived far too long to even consider love anything more than a moral justification for lust. That was all Donna was to him, a piece of meat (albeit a pretty one!) to satisfy the urges he still retained from his youth. That reminded him of something. “Alexi, have you seen Shyla anywhere?” The red-haired scientist shrugged. “What do I care about your Kryptonian…” he saw Donna’s eyes raise and decided to rephrase his criticism. “No, I have not seen her. She was supposed to help me out with some of this equipment,” he said as he swept his hand through the laboratory. “She is a scientist, or so she claims.” Finished putting on his costume, the Time-Guardian surveyed the array of computers, tubes and gadgets. He never was very mechanically inclined and was often forced to beg for answers from Luthor. It was the only was to keep the man placated. “What is all of this for?” He smacked his hands together and rubbed his palms. “This is just the beginning! Obviously you want to get back to the Prime Universe to stake your claim as the real Roy Harper…” Eyes flashed with blue lightning. “I am the real Roy Harper…” Luthor bowed his head. “Of course, of course! What I’m saying, though, is that I’ve been looking into this whole Hypertime/Crisis/Multiverse issue. My theory is that nothing has changed, only the method of travel. If you don’t do it correctly, then you get the merging of dimensions and so forth.” “There once was a man named Krona who tried the same thing,” the Time-Guardian warned. Krona had been a member of the same species as the Guardians of the Universe, creators of the Manhunters and Green Lantern Corps. He had been a scientist that had craved to unlock the secrets of the galaxy and built a device that would let him see the actual beginnings of the universe. When his screen showed a giant hand cradling stars and galaxies, it exploded and everything that would cause the Crisis began from there. “Bah! Krona was a blue-skinned fool!” Luthor said with a dismissive wave. “I take it you wish to become a temporal conqueror as well?” Luthor smiled. “Actually, I just want one universe all to myself. A universe free of Kryptonians!” The Time-Guardian retrieved his bow and quiver. “Let’s just focus on the matters at hand. Are there any more Justice Society members left?” “Only Jay Garrick, your Flash-lackey, survived the slaughter. Without your guidance, all of the heroes lost faith. The world belongs to the Legion of Doom!” The Time-Guardian did not actually believe that, but he let Luthor live in his dream world. When it became apparent that his powers were temporarily “displaced”, he had realized the potential for the heroes of this world that had been created to rally against him. He pulled out his trump card, setting the Legion of Doom on the world’s heroes before they could find a leader. Luckily, Superman’s brain was about half-fried anyway. There still left the problem of the odd super-heroes that had been plaguing him of late, heroes that didn’t have a place in his universe. Then there was the Shyla problem and he wondered if his former lover was still angry over being passed over for Donna. “Summon the remains of the Legion. Have them meet at the old Justice Society headquarters so that we can finalize our plans.” “Roy, dear,” Donna said, “the people will want an explanation about what has been happening. All that they know is that the heroes and villains have been waging a bloody war for the past few weeks.” If his powers were returned, he could…what? He already discovered, much to his chagrin that even his powers had limits. He had tried to dominate the entire Justice Society and the short-lived Justice

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League and was only barely able to hang on to control. The Batman had nearly severed his link between them and he had no super-powers at all! Too many problems, not enough answers and he was beginning to see that complete domination of the world was not all it was cracked up to be. Maybe it was better to just live his life the way he wanted and leave the other concerns to someone else. Yes, he decided, that was it. He would take his place as the rightful Roy Harper and just live his life. No sense controlling everything! “I’ll hold a press conference, tell them that the heroes were really the villains…something like that. The people love a good scandal.” Donna did not look pleased and she nearly said something. He had relinquished control over her as well, but she had not rebelled against him. That could have been for many reasons, including fear of what would happen once his powers returned. In the end, she said nothing and fell in behind him as they walked away, rubbing her stomach. “You want to hear my theory of the universe?” Dominus asked an owl sitting in a tree. “Crap happens.” The owl did nothing except preen itself and Dominus turned up the audio collectors in his helmet. He could make out the footfalls of the wolf/vampire as it made its way through the slop that served as ground in the swamp. He tried to relax, but couldn’t, desperately wanting to be in on the action. He could afford to be patient, though. The whole ordeal with Roy Harper had opened a world of possibilities to the man in the red armor. He got the basic grasp of Hypertime and its differences from the multiverse, but in the end, it was the same cake with different icing. He could even understand the concept of Limbo; a place where Hypertime duplicates went when they didn’t actually have to die. It was where the line between fact and fiction blurred. Being connected to the Phantom Zone, now that was a notion he had never considered, but in his mind’s eye, he started to see a general layout of the universe. He saw opportunity everywhere, places where a resourceful man could carve out an Empire! Certainly, with his newfound knowledge, he could escape Limbo at any time. His armor was more than adequate for the task, but he had not known where to go. No, he decided, this mission was important if only because it would eliminate the competition! If the real Roy Harper was placed back in the Prime Universe, than the Time-Guardian was screwed, based on Luthor’s First Law: any plan that fails once will fail again. The Time-Guardian would never be able to pull off the same stunt again and that meant the Prime Universe would be safe and the Time-Guardian would be moot. He would be a temperamental temporal villain. Someone or something tried to scream, but was cut off abruptly. Dominus adjusted his lenses, trying to see through the dense fog, but it did no good. The marsh and its gases were magical in nature and his science was useless against it. There was another rumble in the brush and Dominus sat down to listen. “I am Zod,” the man said just before his neck was snapped. The other man looked down at him and shook his head. “No, you are dead.” Andrew resumed human form in a wisp of smoke, his eyes surveying the scene of carnage about him. Normally, he was loath to kill so indiscriminately, but there was no time for moral outrage today. The large man clutching the book to his chest gave Andrew a wry look. “Good day to you my friend; I do hope you have been sent to rescue me!” Andrew bowed slightly. “I have been sent as an agent of the Order to prevent you and your vital information from falling into the hands of General Zod.” Abel tapped his chin. “Zod…Zod…doesn’t sound familiar…” Andrew was confused now. “Did he not send the people here that attacked you?” Abel laughed, holding his large belly with one hand, the book in another. “My dear boy, I’m a certified coward! I will surrender to whomever deems it necessary. They could have been bill collectors for all I know!” “Are you not the same Abel that cares for the House of Mystery?” “Actually, I’m just watching it for my brother, Cain.” Andrew rolled his blood-filled eyes. “Heaven help me! Cain and Abel?” “Ironic, is n’t it?”

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Andrew motioned with his thumb behind him indicating they had to go back through the swamp. “In case you haven’t noticed, there is a war going on and we need to get back to Dominus before more of Zod’s forces arrive.” Abel nodded and moved slowly, his nose buried in his book. When Andrew tried to look inside it, the rotund caretaker slammed it shut. “Dear boy, I am assuming by your appearance that you are one of the undead, specifically a vampire.” Andrew confirmed his suspicions and Abel winked at him. “I have encountered your type a time or two; I am thankful you are of the more pleasant disposition. However, let me warn you, my friend, that peering into this tome in my hand, regardless of your current status as a spawn of hell, could lead to disastrous consequences.” The vampire assumed that Abel was telling him not to look in the book, which he agreed to do so long as the two of them kept moving. As a wolf, it had taken hardly any time at all for Andrew to cover the distance, but now the relatively slow pace they had to walk irritated him. Abel was simply too heavy to keep a rapid pace, and often times they had to stop so he could free himself from the muck of the swamp. As they walked, Abel rambled on. “…for years now ever since that incident with the big antimatter wave…” “I believe it was called the Crisis,” Andrew responded, reaching down to grab a poisonous snake and tossing it before it could bite his companion. “Yes…yes…I read that somewhere in here,” he said as he pushed pages aside, oblivious to the path they were walking. Andrew would occasionally guide the other man back onto the trail, sensing they were going in the correct direction by maintaining his vampiric senses on Dominus. It was akin to finding the kitchen by sniffing out dinner. “Then you must know about the changes in time that have been going on,” Andrew told him. “Time isn’t changing, good vampire, but something is. Time has remained the same for no matter what the Time-Guardian attempts, or does, or schemes he cannot change what is.” Abel turned a page. “All of his posturing and protesting and cursing will avail him not because once time is started in a certain direction, in that direction it must continue. You can only change it at the beginning.” It made no sense to Andrew, but he noted that Abel was starting to pick up the pace a little, so he kept talking. “Let us concern ourselves with the problem at hand, shall we. General Zod…” “Is quite dead,” Abel told him matter-of-factly. “He was nothing more than a pawn of the true mastermind, the whipped pup has become a junkyard dog you might say!” Andrew stopped them. “I don’t understand. If Zod is dead, then the war is over. Besides, you said you hadn’t heard of Zod.” Abel pointed into his open book. “I hadn’t until you mentioned him. So, I looked him up and there he was, among the dead. You see it’s clean-up time at the Hypertime Hotel. All of these loose dimensions…their time has come, which is why the Time-Guardian’s, heh, heh, timing is so unique!” The vampire’s knowledge of space and time had not been enhanced very much since his turning, so he instead concentrated on what he knew best. “Dominus is getting fidgety, I can smell his sweat from here. We should hurry.” “I can’t seem to find him in my book; that is odd. Tell me, where did you leave him?” Abel asked with some slight concern. “We felt it best not to remain on the grounds of the House of Mystery proper and instead moved to the vacant field across the way,” Andrew offered. “Oh, my,” Abel said, his face suddenly ashen. “Your friend is in great danger!” Abel surprised Andrew with the sudden burst of speed he put on, hopping over toads and frogs, sidestepping snakes and insects the vampire had never seen before. He supposed it was a coward’s reflex, giving him the extra strength required to pump his short little legs to give him speed. Andrew considered changing to bat form and flying ahead, but he could not leave the little man on his own. It was obvious that the book that he carried, his “storybook” as he put it, contained information of the highest value. It had to be protected at all costs. It also explained why Jordan had sent an undead creature after the book; he couldn’t be killed except by the most extreme means. It was always possible to die in Limbo, but it had become easier over the past few days. It was then that Andrew noted, as he trailed slightly behind Abel, that he could not sense Dominus anymore.

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All that was left of the man who had once wanted to destroy his own world to kill one enemy was his armor, a pile of scientific garbage that meant nothing to either the caretaker of haunted houses or to the 400 year old vampire. “What has happened? I sense no blood, no heat from battle, just nothingness.” An owl landed on Abel’s shoulder and hooted. “This ground we stand upon, it is the site of my home, the House of Secrets. I keep it hidden when I’m not in it; like I said, I was watching my brother’s home. If your friend had the technological ability to see it or tried to, perhaps he caught the attention of something…” “Such as? Tell me man, we might still rescue him!” Andrew said, grasping Abel by the shirt collar. The little man soiled himself. “I don’t know. I only care for the house; I don’t control it or pretend to understand it. It is a nexus of magic and Hypertime! Anything could have happened!” Andrew pointed to the book. “Then read and tell me!” he said, flashing his sharpened canines. Abel nodded and Andrew dropped him. After a few minutes, Abel sighed. “I can’t tell you.” “Why?” “I can’t even tell you why. I’m sorry, but that is the nature of my job…” “Bah! Foolish little man!” Andrew turned and stomped into the darkness of the swamp. There he spent two hours letting loose the fury that had built up in him. Three hours later both Abel and Andrew were sitting in the Tea Room of the House of Mystery. The House constantly creaked and moaned, and the sounds of chains rattling sometimes interrupted their conversation, but they were making due. Because the Dominus armor was designed to work with a living being’s thought patterns, there was no way Andrew could put it on and hope to transverse through the Phantom Zone, or at least the PreCrisis Phantom Zone. “You see, most of these little leftover dimensions are being absorbed into the new ones, survival of the fittest,” Abel explained. “It is too confusing to me,” Andrew remarked. “Ah, my friend, you will have time enough to concentrate on the issue, for it is here were are to remain throughout eternity it would seem.” Abel was not at all displeased with the notion of having a companion in order to tell his tales to. “Is that why Zod was so intent on waging this war so quickly? With the hole there, if he had kept quiet he could have bided his time,” Andrew asked. Abel offered him a cookie, one made with fresh blood. “Indeed, as far as I can tell from my readings, the universe is slowly eating up all of the flotsam and jetsam that the Crisis did not get at first. That includes places like the Phantom Zone. There is a new one, of course, probably expanding as the old one shrinks. Your General Zod understood this and was trying to get out.” “But he knew that Earth’s heroes would stop him…” “And he wanted me to find for him the most powerful person in these loosely knitted dimensions called Limbo,” Abel said as he glanced down at his book. “Yes, yes, it is all here. Too bad we can’t tell Jordan. The normal doorway between here and Limbo proper is being guarded by the Grundy.” “The Grundy?” Abel visibly shivered. “A creature so foul that even I won’t talk about him…much. He is the killer of the Batwoman, the one who came to pull Roy Harper out of Limbo. He is a mindless, powerful beast.” “Perhaps I could…” Abel took a sip of his tea and set the cup down to pour more. “Impossible. The Grundy is made of wood. One good strike to your heart and poof! You become a dead undead!” Andrew thought about it for a moment. He did not want to spend the rest of eternity here, not when he had just found a new purpose. There was a whole universe of good, untainted life out there that needed protecting, even if it didn’t realize it. “You said this was a nexus of Hypertime…explain, please.” The other man smiled, his fancy for weaving tales having been tickled. “The Crisis, despite all of the explanations you and I have heard, was nothing more than making the universe correct, making it the way it was supposed to be before Krona started his experiments.” When he saw that Andrew had no idea who Krona was, Abel told him of the Guardians of the Universe and the renegade scientist’s quest for personal power. “I know that everyone from egomaniacal time lords to soft and cuddly angels have presented their theories of the universe, and I suppose each one is correct because the universe is the home of infinite possibilities. The Crisis was only one such possibility.

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“My home and my brother’s home serve as one of those few points in the time stream where one can look out and see it all…if you know how to look. All dimensions, even the ones that are not accessible for whatever reason, touch here at some point.” “My God, who knows this?” Andrew asked, considering the possibilities. If this was true, then that meant his former universe was still out there. It meant that Earth-1 never died. “You and me I suppose. Possibly my brother, but he’s an odd sort,” Abel said. “Nobody ever asked me.” He picked up a cracker and pushed a spider off of it. “It isn’t like I kept it as a secret; it’s more of a mystery,” he chuckled as he referenced the two homes he and his brother watched over. “I guess so much of what has happened is my fault.” Andrew regarded him. “Why is that?” “I was bored…so I sort of opened the doors to the Time-Guardian’s world, seeing what would come through.” He bit into the cracker, crumbs falling into his beard. “I didn’t think it would be a bunch of super-heroes. Maybe a giant monster or two…” “And because those heroes stopped his initial plans, the feedback caused the hole in Limbo…” Abel finished the cracker. “Oops.” The new leader of the Phantom Zone Rebellion (as it was named by the late General Zod) flexed his muscles and rolled his head, popping the bones in his neck. His enhanced eyes surveyed the troops that were now kneeling before him, and he smiled. For too long, he had suffered under the abusive hand of the Kryptonians that were trapped in the Phantom Zone with him. It was always the Kryptonians…an inferior species at best, lacking the ability to even predict the destruction of their own planet. “I am Lar Gand, known as Mon-El to some, but I will be death to all from now on to anyone who opposes me!” he called out in a voice that needed no loudspeaker to enhance. “Before the Crisis,” he said with disgust, “I was the most powerful being in the universe, mightier than Superman himself! I now stand here to claim my title as rightful ruler of this new universe!” There was silence as none dared to look up at their new liege lord. “All of you know what is happening; the final stages of the Crisis are taking place. Those dimensions not needed in this new universe are simply being absorbed or rendered inert. In a short period of time, even this existence which has been forced upon us will cease!” He sniffed the air, the first real air he had taken in for who knew how long. Originally he had crash-landed on Earth-1, robbed of his memory. Superboy w thought that because of their similar ho powers, they were brothers had found him. Fool! It made sense to him though now that he thought about it. No doubt the Kryptonians bred with their siblings; it explained their inferior nature. Lar was from the planet Daxam, a world that also orbited a red sun like Krypton, but his people were much more superior. Lar knew, from conversations he had with other denizens of the Phantom Zone, that in the 30th century, he was freed from the Phantom Zone by the Legion of S uper-Heroes and cured of his lead poisoning. Of all of the weaknesses to have! That was all moot now. “Zod intended to lord over you, but I will rule with you! We have a small window of opportunity presented to us, a once in a lifetime chance to escape a dark fate! There are those who would stop us,” he said, waving his arm to the captives behind him. Nobody looked of course, but he still enjoyed the theatrics. “These are the so-called Justice League of America, the representatives of the galaxy we would be denied! We have defeated them! If this is the best this world has to offer, then who can stand against us?” Off in the distance, at the very back of the crowd of soldiers, a red-haired man gritted his teeth and put a hand into the gray ground, grasping a handful of what could be dirt or could be ash. “Jerk,” he whispered under his breath.

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Chapter 14 Abel and Hawkman
From the personal journal of Andrew Bennett, Vampire… For the past two days I have been working with the odd little caretaker of both the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets, trying to figure out a way to get out of this Hypertime Nexus. Abel has revealed to me that the most powerful being in this conflict between Limbo and the Prime Universe is none other than Mon-El, a former teen hero, transformed into a hateful, spiteful man after enduring year (centuries?) of abuse at the hands of General Zod and other Kryptonian criminals. The war appears to be turning for the worst. From the upper floors of the House of Mystery we can see into the Phantom Zone. The view is extraordinary, as I can clearly see where the Phantom Zone of the Prime Universe is absorbing the last bits of that Zone left over from before the Crisis. I have so many questions; can I look into another universe that has an Andrew Bennett that is free of the vampire’s curse that runs through my veins? Does that man love and laugh and enjoy days in the sunshine? I digress and I have no time for it. I was sent here with the villain Dominus, a personality of the Earth-1Lex Luthor, to rescue Abel and his magical book from Zod’s forces. Little did I know that Zod would have little use for the book since he was dead at the hands of Mon-El before we secured Abel’s release. Unfortunately, because we did not understand the exact properties of the area we found ourselves in, Dominus appears to have fallen into some sort of dire straits. Only his armor, which is useless to a vampire, has been left behind. As I stated, from here I can see the armies of Mon-El massing, various species and persons who had been relegated to Limbo at one time or another. Some went to the Phantom Zone, but there are other areas as well. Abel has told me that the effects of the Crisis are winding down and that the last vestiges of the old universe are slowly being eaten away by the new. If Mon-El, this version at least, wishes to be free, he must act now. On his dais he has the members of the Justice League of America: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter and Plastic Man. All of them are his prisoner and Superman looks the worst of them all. Abel tells me that in his book it mentions specifically this Mon-El, a creature of rage who hates all things Kryptonian. He has also told me how important it is for Mon-El to be defeated. If he manages to get into the Prime Universe, if he can get past the defenses that are left, then he will be unstoppable. His rage, plus the fact that Pre-Crisis Daxamites (what a title!) are more powerful than the current ones, will make him a force to be reckoned with! Add to that the inevitable return of the Time-Guardian (why can’t anyone simply use their Christian given names anymore?) will turn the universe into a battleground. I cannot get word to Hal Jordan, leader of the Order (which makes me wonder if the Order knew about the shrinking of Limbo?) because the way is blocked by the Grundy, a powerful being that I have no hopes of defeating. If Abel’s book offers any clues, the caretaker is doing well to keep them away from me. In fact, when he left this morning for his daily walk, he took the book with him even though I gave my word not to look inside it. I am stuck here forever. Thank God I no longer have the thirst… Slowly, Abel approached the brooding figure, though it had not been the first time. Ever since he had first noticed the man who perched himself up high in the trees, he had been curious as to his exact story. As much as he wanted to ask him how he had gotten there and what he waiting for, the wicked looking morning star in his hand kept the cowardly caretaker away. Now, however, it was a different story. It wasn’t as if Abel was worried about his House or his brother’s House being taken over, but he felt slightly guilty about being instrumental in causing the events that had led to the current war. His life was boring, though, and he missed his brother sorely. Perhaps Cain was someplace peaceful, one of those realms even the House of Mystery could not penetrate. Perhaps not. And that was the reason he was going to swallow his fear and speak with the man in the tree. If his reputation was true, it was possible he could defeat the Grundy and get word to Jordan. Maybe then the forces of the Order could be rallied to save the Justice League who would in turn save the day.

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“You see,” he said silently to himself, “I don’t know if my brother is down there on that new Earth.” The man in the tree stretched and yawned and the massive wings on his back fluttered. If he saw Abel approaching, he made no sign of noticing. Abel knew from his book that Hawkman had extremely keen eyesight however, as well as the ability to speak with birds. Well, at least some Hawkmen could. “Excuse me, Mr. Hawkman?” Abel started as he stood at the bottom of the tree. Hawkman looked down. “You’re the fat guy in the houses down the road, aren’t you? What’s the matter, tubby, can fit in just one?” Nothing in his book had ever said Hawkman was so rude! “I…that is…” “Quit looking in that damn book for everything!” the Winged Wonder said as he leapt out of the tree and dropped to the ground. His wings flapping ever so slightly to ensure he didn’t land too hard. “The owls talk about you, always looking in that book. Going from the House that’s always there to the other one that disappears all of the time. That’s a weird area over there.” “I need your help,” Abel blurted out. Hawkman shrugged his massive shoulders. “So? Go find a super-hero. I’m busy.” He started to rise again, but Abel started to plead. “Good sir, really, I need your help!” Hawkman again dropped to the ground and put his weapon is his belt. He then folded his arms over his barrel chest. “How do you even know I’m Hawkman? I don’t even know if I’m Hawkman. Ever since that Crisis, the name Hawkman has become a joke! Do you know how many alternate versions of me were created after the Crisis? I’m the bug in the perfect system!” “I’m sorry…I don’t quite follow…” Abel said from behind chattering teeth. In the shadows of the trees, the man in front of him resembled more demon than man. Perhaps it was something deep within the human DNA, some small part of the mammal code that made it fear things like large birds; or maybe it was the fact that the man towering over him was nothing more than a flesh and blood fighting machine! It didn’t really matter, for the effect was the same: Abel was in fear of his life. “That’s my problem, I don’t follow either. It’s like buying a new car and it has a broken door lock; Hawkman is the door lock and the universe is the car. I’ve been shifted between realities so much it isn’t even funny.” The man sounded sad and Abel relaxed a little. He did recall a passage in his book that talked about the problem associated with Hawkman, that his presence was never fully secured in the Prime Universe until very recently. He was a walking Hypertime flux, much the same way Donna Troy had been at one time. Ms. Troy’s problem was caused by magic; Hawkman’s was caused by chance. He was constantly being replaced in the Prime Universe by duplicates and doubles and each shift caused time to alter just a little bit. “I spent like a total of five seconds in the Prime Universe and then ended up in that tree,” he said as he pointed up. “What the hell is that about?” “I hear they have fixed that problem,” Abel offered. Hawkman laughed. “Fat lot of good it did me! I figured this was hell or something…” “It’s a Hypertime Nexus; you must have gotten trapped her by accident,” Abel said, finally understanding. “Or you don’t have a home yet.” “A Hawkman out of time,” the hero lamented. After a few moments of silence, he asked Abel what it was that he wanted that was so important. The caretaker went into great detail, explaining the entire debacle starting from the magic lighting bolt that open a hole in time for the Earth-2 Speedy to walk through and ending with Mon-El’s declaration of war against the Prime Universe. Hawkman, by no means an unintelligent person, took it all in, surprised by how much the little fat man knew. Abel’s ability to weave any tale in a fantastic, larger than life way, actually caused Hawkman to forget his own problems for a moment. “Let me get this straight: The Earth-2 Speedy is still alive and he thinks God gave him the shaft. So, in revenge, he decides to tear through Hypertime and the Prime Universe, destroying anyone who remotely resembles him before he makes a play to alter the Crisis wave and take over the universe. The problem is that you, in your boredom, opened up the gates to this new world and allowed a bunch of heroes that should be dead…heroes basically waiting in the nothingness of time for the end…to come back to life to battle this guy.” “I also caused a bunch of super-villains to go through, though the Time-Guardian thought he had done it,” Abel said quietly.

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Hawkman shook his head and put his hands on his hips. “So, this Speedy fella thinks he’s the king of the world until these heroes, which included a feces throwing chimpanzee, hand him his ass. Then another time villain steps in and tries to take control, but he can’t because Speedy’s powers are magical in nature and will return to him no matter what.” “Yes, it seems that the Time-Guardian did not realize that time cannot be changed; even with a Crisis wave, except at the beginning of time.” Abel chuckled, as if temporal physics were simple common knowledge. “All he succeeded in doing was creating a Hypertime stream, but one where innocent people did suffer and die.” “Oh, I’m sure you were heartbroken,” Hawkman added with sarcasm. “So, while Speedy is charging up, someone discovers that all of this tossing Crisis waves around has put a whole in Limbo, where the remaining elements of the Pre-Crisis universe are being soaked up. Seems the citizens that have some wits aren’t too happy to just stand by and die.” Hawkman started to rise. “Can’t help ya, fatty!” Abel started to cough and it took him several minutes to regain his composure. He watched as Hawkman once again took his up his spot on the branch, looking out over the swamp. “Why not? People’s lives are at stake!” “As if you care! Look, I guess I’m sympathetic. I wouldn’t stand around waiting to die either. Hell, maybe I’ll go join them!” he called down. Abel shook his head. “No!” “Buzz off, chunky, I’ve got things to do!” Hawkman said before falling into his silent stare. Abel tried to get his attention for several more minutes, but it was no use. He had to come up with a better argument. He tried coming up with one on the long walk back to the House. “I’d like to officially welcome both the Flying Fox and Robin to our little group, though Robin has elected to become our first reserve member so he can pursue other interests outside of being a super-hero,” Nightwing said from his spot at the end of the long table. They were in the mansion headquarters of the Time Wardens, the name of their team of heroes united in the cause of defending Hypertime and the Prime Universe from villains like the Time-Guardian. A young man in a purple suit and orange mask bowed to the other members as they clapped and Robin began to blush. The Wardens were severely under strength with the deaths of Detective Chimp, Cinnamon, Elastic Lad and Batwoman. The two former members of Limbo were welcome additions. “I think its great that we can offer some measure of peace to some more lost souls,” Aquagirl said. She squeezed Kid Flash’s hand under the table. “Indeed,” Nightwing replied. “Who knows who else will suddenly appear or why?” Deadman, still in the body of the previous owner waved a cigar. “Ain’t telling what I know. Just be happy I’m getting you more recruits.” “I see a definite Bat-motif here,” the Huntress quipped. “Can we stop the joking and get down to business?” the Dark Flash asked. He had been in a foul mood since his return from Limbo where he learned just how crazy the universe really was. There, he and Robin had fought two hyper-powered teenagers who had been going around, slaying anyone they came across. The boy, Wonder Marv, was currently imprisoned in the “Tombs” of the mansion. The Tombs was a special prison that Nightwing had constructed using advanced Kryptonian science. It currently housed not only Wonder Marv, but also the Psycho-Pirate. “Word is that the Legion of Doom has gotten rid of all of the other heroes,” Deadman said, suddenly getting serious. “I’m sorry,” Robin started as he doodled on the cast on his wrist, “but tell me again why you guys didn’t help put the heroes.” “It wouldn’t have done any good. Most of them had been under the Time-Guardian’s control for so long that their brains fried. Superman, especially, had been hit the hardest. We would not have been able to prevent it and besides, stopping the Time-Guardian takes priority.” The Dark Flash looked over at the Teen Wonder. “This ain’t the Teen Titans, buddy; we play for keeps.” “So, Speedy should be making some sort of announcement soon to say that the Legion of Doom are the good guys, hoping to flush us out,” Nightwing said, rubbing his chin. “That would make the most sense. He can’t find us because he doesn’t know who we all are…yet,” Aquagirl added. “Eventually, they’ll start to figure it out.” “Don’t forget the war in Limbo,” the Flying Fox reminded them. He had been with Batwoman when the Grundy had killed her. The experience had shown him just how serious that conflict was.

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“I’ve been told that the Order has it under control,” Deadman lied. He needed this team to concentrate on one problem: the Time-Guardian. If he ever realized that he had the ability to create Hypertime strings, he could literally begin stretching time to its limit. That was why he had been brought in to begin with; the forces of ultimate good knew that too many Hypertime realities and dimensional walls could fall. The result would make the Crisis look like a summer rain shower. It had been hoped that the Guardian would simply make himself a reality to live in and leave it at that, but that was not to be. Instead, the Time-Guardian had gone off on a crusade, believing that his life had been taken away and given to the Earth-1 Speedy. It simply wasn’t true; the new universe was as different and unique as anything that had come before it. No “templates” were used and no people were carried over. Time merely started up once again. The sudden appearance of the heroes on this world, dubbed Earth-T (for Time-Trapper, Time Wardens or Time-Guardian depending on your taste) had been a godsend…literally. It gave the forces of good the opportunity to set things right again and the lost heroes had done an excellent job despite the casualties. Time, however, was not on their side. Deadman had secretly hoped for some more powerful members to show up, but they were not forthcoming. He wished he knew exactly where it was they were coming from so he could go there with a big sign asking for help. They were going to need it very soon. Abel came back that afternoon, carrying a tray of bran muffins. “I thought you might be hungry,” he said up into the tree. Hawkman looked down at him. “And constipated?” “I thought super-heroes believed in good colon health,” Abel said bemused. He would have to read over that chapter again as it now did not sound right as he spoke it out loud. “I’ll take a beer if you have one.” Abel was becoming miffed and nearly let loose with his own smart comment, but the bulging bicep of the hero in the tree stilled his tongue. He was in a real bind and if he did not think of something soon, his brother could be well on the way to a very painful experience! “You know, Mon-El has the Justice League hostage; weren’t you a member of the League?” “Didn’t I tell you that I faded in then out of existence? I didn’t get a chance to belong to the human race!” Hawkman broke off a branch and threw it at Abel. “Go away, Blimpy!” Abel dodged the missile with reflexes born of true cowardice. “The Earth is in great danger!” “So? Bunch of monkeys anyway…” “Then Mon-El will go after Rann…” Hawkman chuckled at this. For years, the planet Rann and his home planet of Thanagar had been aggressive rivals, sometimes even trading blows. “Hell, I might help him!” Abel smacked his forehead. A light then suddenly went on deep in his mind and he coughed, conjuring up his best speaking voice. Years of storytelling had prepared him for this moment. He only wished that he were back in his own home, or perhaps even his brother’s home (which was kind of silly since his brother didn’t really own the House as much as he just stayed there to wash his socks!) and not out in the woods! “Think of it, my dear Hawkman, think of what will happen after Rann.” Hawkman stirred a little and looked down. Abel knew he had his attention. “He will look out on the star charts, looking for other worlds to conquer and there will be Thanagar, a shining jewel in a dark galaxy. There his Phantom Zone escapees will descend, bringing down the high towers of worship and raiding the homes of the common man!” Hawkman appeared to stop breathing. “Oh, and then the true horrors will occur!” “What? What horrors?” Hawkman asked, his interest more than obvious in the tone of his voice. “The women,” Abel whispered, preying upon Hawkman’s obvious need to be macho. “Imagine their horror as virginal Thanagarian women are rounded up for the baser conquests that come with war! Mon-El will sell your women into sexual bondage to all kinds of species to fund his war machine!” The Winged Wonder jumped from the tree branch and came down hard next to Abel. There was an aura of anger surrounding Hawkman and Abel realized that maybe he had spoken too well. Hawkman pulled the morning star from his belt and swung it slowly. “Show me where to go.”

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The Grundy sniffed the air using senses that had been dead for untold years. The Grundy enjoyed being able to smell again and it had started to notice many changes since the men had come to visit him. He had wanted to kill the men, to suck their brains out of their skulls, but they promised him that he would be able to kill a lot of people. So far, they had been wrong, as he had only been able to kill that funny woman in yellow and red. Her blood had tasted good, but he had not been able to get any of her succulent brain. He missed eating brains, especially young ones! His dim mind remembered a world he had once lived on and how the man with the flaming ring had fought him, trying to take his food away! That had made him very angry! Even now, when he thought about it, it made him made and he growled a low rumbling roar. A new scent hit his nostrils as he did so and he whirled around to see what could only be the biggest chicken he had ever seen. He smacked his lips as he looked at the wings, wishing he had something to fry them in. He liked fried chicken. Hawkman regarded the monster, who instead of charging him, drooled. He looked back to Abel, who was a safe distance away. “This is your big, bad threat?” The Grundy tried to talk to the chicken, making its best clucking sounds and it got some sort of rise out of the chicken. The bird cocked its head to the side, confused. The Grundy had caught a lot of chickens this way. Chickens were dumb. “Is he clucking at me?” Hawkman asked. “You sorry sack of…” The chicken raised a big metal ball on a chain and hit the Grundy and the monster felt several teeth break loose. That was okay because the magic that filled the Grundy’s body always healed its wounds real good after awhile. “Oh, so you like that, do ya? Here, have some more!” the Thanagarian warrior cried as he smacked the Grundy twice more. The second hit broke something in the skull and the monster’s eyes rolled into the back of its head. Without another sound, it fell backwards and landed with a thud. “Doorway is clear!” Hawkman announced in triumph. He poked his head through to the other side and was greeted with a sight beyond his wildest imaginations. Phantoms, ghosts and spirits whisked by even as he saw planets forming and exploding in the crimson skies above. There were sounds and smells and sensations that were hypnotic. “You are seeing the true nature of Hypertime…the universe itself considering all possibilities for all questions. No answers here my friend, only the musings of God.” “How do you know where this doorway leads?” he asked silently. “Oh, you don’t and neither do I! I was hoping that maybe someone was watching and waiting for something,” Abel said from well behind Hawkman. “However…I submit to you that it is possible for you to navigate these passages between dimensions.” Hawkman backed out of the doorway and turned to regard the fat, little man. “I’m all ears.” “There are some people who are, shall we say, specifically in tune with Hypertime. These are persons who seem displaced but serve a purpose nonetheless. Persons like you, miss Donna Troy and even Hawkgirl.” “Hawkwoman, Puffy,” the Winged Wonder said with a ruffle of his feathers. Suddenly, he started to understand why he felt so lost in the universe. What was a Hawkman without a Hawkwoman? You couldn’t make a nest without having a few eggs could you? “So, you think I can just navigate through here, no problem?” He looked back into the swirling mass and shook his head. “Well, more likely you could home in on the main Limbonic Plane. I doubt you could just pick your way through everything,” Abel said as he opened the book. He read a few pages and then moved to the back of the tome, where Hawkman assumed was an index. After another five minutes, Abel smiled. “Yes! Just follow your nose!” “I am not Toucan Sam and this is not a cereal commercial!” “No! Limbo is straight ahead from any doorway. Most people can’t walk a straight line without reference, but you can! You might just be able to feel your way there!” Abel clapped his hands. He was nearer his goal of saving his brother!

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Hawkman shrugged. “I suppose it beats sitting in a tree. See ya, Tubby!” Without looking back, he jumped through the doorway and into the chaos beyond. “Yeah, so gets this,” the one-eyed “pirate” version of Morgan Edge said as he sharpened his cutlass on a rock that had suddenly appeared. “That lubber Mon-El, he’s nothin’ but the Barrel Boy for Zod, Kru-El and the others until that white wave comes through!” The red-haired man just nodded and waited for the sea dog to continue. “Then, all hell’s broke loose, matey; I tell ya, I nearly floundered on the poop deck if ya catch my meaning!” he broke into a raucous laugh, but the red-haired man said nothing. He didn’t get the joke. He hoped. “Anyways, when Zod sees that he’s a doomed scallywag, he abuses the boy even more. Made him the Sea Bitch for the entire Phantom Zone. Har! Har! The boy finally snaps and starts killing all of the dogs as soon as that there hole opens up!” “So, is he from this universe?” The pirate choked and spit some tobacco on the ground. “Argh! Are ya daft, boy? We’s all chum waiting for the White Wave to come gets us! I hears that in another…say seven years as the good Christian count ‘em, this whole place be nothing but a page in a book of history!” Another wad of brown spit hit the ground. “Damn lucky this hole showed up when it did! The first thing I’m gonna do is put Little Morgan inta Port Lois Lane! Har! Har!” The red-haired man laughed, guessing the meaning of the joke and stood up, surveying the encampment of renegades, duplicates and losers. Each one was fighting for their survival here and while he sympathized, he reasoned that the Great Spirit had left them here to die for a reason. Roy Harper’s sharp eyes looked up at the dais, where the elite soldiers of Mon-El were now having fun with the Flash. He burned in rage at the sight of one of his best friends being abused, but there was nothing he could do right now. Mon-El had his magical forces battling it out with the JSA and Young Justice, while these forces waited for the conduit that would deposit them on the Earth. An Earth, it appeared, that had forgotten him. It didn’t matter because he hadn’t forgotten it or the reason why he was here. A younger version of himself with a hate-on for the universe. He had taken Lian away from him and as much as he wanted to keep looking for her, it wouldn’t do any good if there were no home for them to go back to. Besides, Jade was still down there and as much as it pained him, he couldn’t deny the fact that he was in love with the terrorist. He had to get the Justice League free, but he didn’t know how. Mon-El was allergic to lead and had to remain partially within the confines of the Phantom Zone while a cure was sought. Roy wondered if it were possible to connect to the “real” Phantom Zone, the one of his universe. He was sure that there was someone there who could help him, but since he couldn’t reach it, it didn’t matter. What he needed was just one bullet. He knew he could throw it hard enough to get through MonEl’s eye or something like that. He didn’t relish the idea of killing, but he was a former government agent. To save the world, yes, he would kill. To save his daughter he would kill. That meant either he or Mon-El was going to be dead by the end of the day.

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Chapter 15 Dawnstar and Super-Squirrel
“These readings have me concerned,” the Rodent of Steel commented from behind Batmouse. The Darkmite Detective nodded slowly and adjusted some of the controls for the Elephantom Zone viewer. Wonder Wabbit came in, bringing Super-Squirrel a cup of coffee. The hint of hazelnut in the air caused him to turn and regard her. “You look lovely today, Diana,” he said, his buckteeth just catching the light. She raised an eyebrow and handed him his coffee. “Don’t believe everything you here about rabbits and multiplying,” she joked. Batmouse rolled his eyes, wishing he had stayed at home instead of coming here to the Just’a Lotta Animals headquarters on the moon. “If you two could quit acting like its mating season and concentrate on the problem at hand,” he said in a dark voice. “Something is eating away at the dimensional barrier that separates the Elephantom Zone from the Phantom Zone!” “Isn’t that related to those funny looking mammals?” Wonder Wabbit asked. She shivered. “I’ve heard stories about them…” “Been talking to Captain Carrot via the transdimensional phone again?” Super-Squirrel asked, slightly peeved. The Zoo Crew, headed by Captain Carrot, was located in an adjacent dimension. There, the JLA was nothing more than comic book characters. Carrot and his band were decent enough do-gooders, but the fact that he was a rabbit and therefore a more suitable mate for her… “Maybe; not that it is any of your business!” she snapped back. “I am princess, I’ll talk to whomever I wish.” Batmouse reached into his bowl of cheese and grabbed a few chunks. The mild Swiss calmed his stomach. “Again…can we deal with the problem at hand?” “I say we launch a strike mission immediately!” Green Lambkin announced as he phased through the headquarters wall. “This is only going to cause disorder and my duty is to bring order to the galaxy! We cannot rest…” “Shut up,” Batmouse groused. “You’re late for monitor duty again, flyboy.” The Sheep without Fear blushed and Batmouse noted the lipstick on his wool, just above where his tunic started. While he possessed the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Green Lambkin was also a helpless romantic, spending most of his free time wooing his employer, Carol Ferret. “I’m sorry, Batmouse…” “Don’t apologize to me; you were supposed to relieve the Crash an hour ago. He’s going through your room right now, looking for something to destroy. You know how he can’t abide by tardiness.” Batmouse chuckled and reached for some more cheese. He loved it when his teammates argued; it gave him a chance to gauge their weaknesses. “I guess I better go relieve him,” the Emerald Lambinator said, running out of the monitor room. “You shouldn’t do such things to him,” Wonder Wabbit said behind a laugh. “He shouldn’t be late, then,” Batmouse responded. He then turned around in the chair and SuperSquirrel held up a paw. “I’ll go take a look,” he volunteered. “We’ll strap a transporter pad to my shoulder so that I can get out of there once I handle the problem.” He flexed his upper bicep. “I think right there, don’t you, Princess?” Batmouse reached for even more cheese, watching in fascination the workings of the Kryptonian’s ego. Perhaps it was an alien thing, or maybe all squirrels were nuts. Wonder Wabbit, not impressed, went over to a drawer and pulled out a device that she then affixed to the Squirrel of Steel’s arm. “The Blue Beetle designed this,” she explained, “so expect something disgusting to happen when you activate it.” “We never should have left the Lotta in the hands of second-rate losers,” Batmouse said as he turned to adjust the monitor to the transporter’s frequency. “Says the mouse who invited the Hentress, Gotham City’s poster child for what not to be when a super-hero,” Super-Squirrel shot back. “Oh, and I suppose nepotism is alright. I seem to remember our illustrious chairman trying to get Super-Squirrel-Girl and Super-Squirrel-Boy into the group on several occasions,” Wonder Wabbit said with a smile.

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Super-Squirrel slowly picked up his coffee cup and drank it down. “Who wants to shoot me into the Zone?” Batmouse stood up. “Please, let me,” he said, a large grin on his face. Super-Squirrel focused his telescopic vision on the area of disturbance and began flying towards it. Hopefully it was something minor like an interdimensional leech or maybe it was a giant acorn-being, something he could sink his teeth into. Speaking of which, winter was fast approaching and he once again was thinking how nice it would be to settle down. Lois Lynx had been on him to propose, but he couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to live in a rabbit hole instead of a tree. In minutes, he was at the rift and he scanned the area. None of the foes his father had imprisoned here many years ago assaulted him, but that wasn’t unexpected. Criminals were a cowardly lot, just as Batmouse often told him. “Hmmm,” he said as he switched to microscopic vision and examined every molecule and photon that made up the rift. “Now that’s odd; this area of space seems to be stressed beyond its normal tensile strength. This bears even further examination!” He took a mighty paw and struck at the rift. It opened suddenly, a great maw appearing in front of him. In a microsecond, it clamped down and swallowed him whole. “Interesting,” Batmouse said, rubbing his furry chin. “Can we pull him back?” Wonder Wabbit asked. He glanced down and saw that the status light was still green. “Yes. If the light turns yellow, it means he’s in danger. The transporter reads his vitals.” “What if it turns red?” Batmouse did not bother to reply. The woman with the wings and the skin kis sed by the sun reveled in the joy of flying free again. It had been a blessing, granted to her by the gods of her parents, she was sure. For an unknown period of time she had existed in a world of nothingness, gray clouds that hid the stars from her view. Then magically, that had ended. A hole had developed in one of the outer dimensions and her senses had guided her to it. Some beings had tried to catch her and she could almost feel their lust as they looked upon her, but she had gotten away. Now she was in the void of space in a new, wonderful galaxy. She could feel the strings of matter and energy that held the universe together and her wings flapped in joy. She was getting far away from the hole, but she sensed something was wrong. Her keen eyesight picked up brief flashes of light in space over a planet she knew could only be Earth. The alignment of the constellations told her it was the early 21st century, the time of Superman! Her wings spread out and she sailed back towards the spinning blue-brown ball. Super-Squirrel recognized the Earth in the distance and headed towards it when his telescopic vision picked up a battle between humans of all creatures! He had been pulled into the horror of horrors, the universe of the damned! It didn’t matter, though, because he could tell the good guys from the bad and all that mattered is that a hero was needed. Dawnstar picked out the flying rodent from several kilometers out and streaked in to investigate. Despite the battle raging, seeing a squirrel wearing a Superman costume was too much for her own curiosity. She closed in and the Squirrel looked back over his shoulder and waved. “Hello, human!” he called out. Her universal translator, a small device in her ear that had been developed by Brainiac 5, a fellow member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, hummed and then spoke the words to her. At the same time, it sent a telepathic flurry of information to her brain, laying out the entire language of the squirrel for her. It turned out to be 20th century English! The device had been created specifically for her in her job as a scout for Legion missions. It was a good thing it still worked because the languages of the 20th and 21st centuries contained far too many words with more than one meaning. “Hello,” she called back. “I mean no harm; my name is Dawnstar of the Legion of Super-Heroes.” “The name is Super-Squirrel,” he offered as they continued to head towards the battle. “I’m afraid we have little time for conversation, though; evil is afoot!”

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Dawnstar nodded, comparing the squirrel to the Superboy and Superman she had known. He had the charisma for sure and there were so many questions she wanted to ask, but she could tell by the furrow of his brow and the straightness of his tail that he was intent on the battle ahead. Sentinel used his internal green flame power to create a giant hand to catch the flying form of Steel. The elder member of the JSA had to concentrate a little harder than usual, as the attacks form the hoard of drooling, screeching super-powered fighters continued like an assembly line of death. The good thing about the battle was that the fighters seemed to be molecularly unstable, exploding into nothingness if hit really hard. The amount of instability was directly related to how long they had been outside the glowing hole that the JLA had disappeared into earlier that day. The younger heroes of the League had led the assault against the legion of fighters and it called up memories of the many battles the Earth had had with Darkseid of Apokolips. Steel waved a thank you and ignited his jets, bringing his large hammer up to hit someone who looked like a cross between a Green Lantern Corps member and a clown Sentinel remembered from the early 1970’s. Sentinel turned in space to get a good view of the battle. Captain Marvel and the rest of the Marvel family were in pursuit of a couple that had managed to get into the Earth’s atmosphere, while Black Adam, a smile on his face, floated back-to-back with Power Girl as the walloped attacker after attacker. A familiar red and blue costume streaked by, nailing a large creature that was ready to strike a blow to the back of Sentinel’s head. He gave a cheer. “Alright! Superman is back!” He looked around for the rest of the League and only saw whom he thought was Hawkgirl coming at him. “She can’t fly in space…” When he got a better look at her, he noted that she was definitely not the Hawkgirl of the Justice Society. This woman was older, but not much, of Native American descent and of a beauty that was intoxicating. He noted her wings as well; they were not artificial. “Superman, who’s your lovely friend?” he asked. Super-Squirrel came around to his field of vision. “That’s ‘Super-Squirrel’, sir,” he said, his arms folded over his furry chest. “Oh my God…you’re an animal…” Super-Squirrel raised an eyebrow. “Aren’t we all?” An armored man screamed and without looking, Super-Squirrel brought up a fist. There was a slight sound that his ears picked up and then the man exploded into nothingness. “Tell me where I can be of most use.” Sentinel just looked at the two of them, trying to figure out if they were for real. A winged woman and a talking squirrel. Still, it seemed as if the rodent had at least some of Superman’s strength if not his bravery. He pointed to the hole where even more assailants were coming out. “That is where they are coming from. The League went in there a couple of hours ago to try and stop it, but they never came back. They may not be in any position to help.” Super-Squirrel wiggled his nose as he thought. “I don’t know the area, I wouldn’t know where to go…I have really bad experience with wormholes…” “I can help,” Dawnstar offered. “I came out of there myself, though I had no idea about this attack.” “We would sure appreciate your help young lady,” Sentinel said, starting to fly off. “Just make it quick! We’re being overwhelmed!” Super-Squirrel could not help but smile at the graceful way Dawnstar weaved in and out of the swarming troops. She was a born tracker, he thought, probably related to the eagle or the falcon. A hunter, not a gatherer like a squirrel. He had always had some admiration for the predatory types. Every once in awhile, he would take out a particular foe, usually the larger ones. He had no idea of the capabilities of the humans, but they seemed so weak with their furless bodies. They passed through the void and it was like going through an electric field. His fur stood on end, but he wasn’t harmed. In seconds, they were flying though the gray void that was Limbo. He tried to use his various vision powers to pierce the veil of non-color, but they seemed to be useless. It felt sort of like the Elephantom Zone, but at the same it didn’t. Dawnstar slowed down enough for Super-Squirrel to keep her in sight. She had lived in areas like this long enough to know that the uninitiated would have severe problems finding their way around. She

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had heard about people who had lived in Limbo for so long that they actually could get around without the aid of heightened senses, but she couldn’t imagine it. Though she did not know exactly what or who they were looking for, she knew enough to follow the trail of rampaging berserkers that were flying by. Some were familiar, but so many others were not. It was almost as if every nightmare ever dreamed was throwing a little piece of itself at the Earth. The sudden appearance of light and substance shocked Super-Squirrel, but that was replaced by sorrow. Before him lay a plain devoid of trees and any other plant life. It was a gray expanse of sorrow, no color, nothing to give it definition. Below him were what appeared to be several hundred troops, though the encampments indicated that there had been many more here at one time. The Mammal of Might cam up short as Dawnstar stopped. The human-eagle female was shaking and pointing towards a raised area. His vision caught the sight of several bound and beaten humans (he assumed they were beaten from the way they looked; he couldn’t imagine a creature so ugly naturally!), surrounded by some bigger humans. “What is it?” he asked her. “The one in the center…he is a former teammate of mine. His name is Mon-El…” “I wonder if he’s related to my old friend Mon-Eel?” Super-Squirrel wondered aloud. “It looks like he’s the one in charge.” “I can not believe he would be involved in such a thing. He was always such an inspiration…” Super-Squirrel did not know how to comfort her, since he wasn’t sure what inspired such inferior creatures. To him, they were all things that fell off of the evolutionary tree and therefore, by definition, mistakes. “Regardless, we have a duty to defend the weak and if this friend of your is behind the attacks, then we must stop him!” Dawnstar turned to tell him what she thought of that, but he was already gone. Roy Harper looked up to see what he thought was a short brown Superman next to a Hawkgirl who he found strangely appealing. She was Native American and he had been raised by them; maybe later on… “Cool it, loverboy,” he said as he wandered through the excited men and women around him. He was looking for anyone with something made of lead, something small that he could throw at Mon-El. His natural abilities, honed by years of training under Oliver Queen, would allow him to throw a projectile faster, harder and more accurate than a major league baseball player. Still, he would have preferred a bow with a lead-tipped arrow. A light bulb went off in his head and he moved over to the crowd of Native American villains. Approaching the meanest looking one of the bunch, he pointed to his quiver of arrows. “Hey! You got any arrows with lead tips?” The men stopped talking and looked at him. The one he had addressed took a deep breath, his barrel chest straining under the pressure. “Why do you want to know…pale little pony? Do you think you can run with this tribe?” He then pointed to the tattoo on Roy’s arm. “That don’t make you one of us!” Roy shook his head and punched the man square in the nose. Mon-El held Wonder Woman’s face in his hand. “So lovely…I think I’ll keep you fro breeding stock.” Behind him, Aquaman cursed and threatened to place his foot in a very uncomfortable orifice. “Get your filthy hands off of her! Untie me and I’ll whip your snotty little butt!” Mon-El laughed and shoved the Amazon back down. Most of the other League members were unconscious, the result of intensive interrogation by his chosen bodyguards. All of them were Kryptonians of limited intelligence and all of them hated Superman. By far the Man of Steel had suffered the most abuse, while the Batman had received the least. The Batman was an enigma to the criminals; they didn’t know whether he was a misguided friend or the worst kind of foe. Mon-El moved over to Aquaman and picked the Sea King up. “Is that your woman, fish-man?” “’Fish-man’? What a disgusting thought!” Super-Squirrel said from above them. Mon-El looked up to see what he thought was a joke. He burst into a fit of laughter that made him drop Aquaman and hold his belly.

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The Kryptonian guards started to laugh as well until Super-Squirrel inhaled and then sent them flying off with a blast of super-breath. “You seem to be the person in charge of this villainy,” he said in a booming voice. “I offer you the chance to surrender.” Mon-El answered with a blast of heat vision, but Super-Squirrel was already gone, zipping behind the man from Daxam and delivering a two-paw punch. Mon-El went flying off of the dais and into the crowd of troops. A cheer went up and the villains gathered around to watch the slugfest. Roy brushed himself off and took the offered quiver of arrows. “ Lead tips,” the warrior said, looking down at his bleeding leader. “If you gonna do what I think you gonna do, you a fool!” Roy grabbed the warrior’s bow. “Yeah, well I’ve been called worse!” He started at a run towards the fight between the giant squirrel and Mon-El. As he ran, he passed by a group of Metallo’s that were exchanging Kryptonite parts. He head-butted one and grabbed a handful of fingernails. The little green pieces would aid him in taking out the Kryptonians. The crowds were too much and he knew that there was no way he was going to get through and get a shot off at Mon-El. The fists slamming against the combatants were making the area boom with thunderous claps. Roy anxiously looked around for some answer and saw it in the beautiful woman with the wings. He whistled for her and then called to her in Navajo. She spun around and looked down to the man who was calling her, suspicious. He yelled to her that she was a friend, but she responded in Apache. Roy rubbed his forehead. Taking a deep breath, he tried to tell her the same thing, but she burst out laughing. She flew down to him and hovered. “I didn’t know that wolves did that in summer time; I’ll have to remember that.” “Look, sweet cheeks, I’m one of the good guys and I need you to get me up high,” he said, pointing into the air. She looked at his weapons. “I’m not taking you up so you can kill someone!” A thunderclap interrupted him and Super-Squirrel went flying through the air, Mon-El hot on his tail. One of the Kryptonian guards came racing by as well and Roy fired an arrow at him. Of course, it bounced off the invulnerable body of the guard, but it was enough to get his attention. “I’ll kill ya!” the guard screamed and Roy, hiding the bow behind his back, pointed at Dawnstar. Her jaw dropped and he shrugged. “Should have helped me babe.” The Kryptonian came after Dawnstar, who raced towards the hole back into the main universe. The other Kryptonians, not being of much intelligence, followed their comrade into the gray expanse of clouds. “You have an evil heart, Mon-El,” Super-Squirrel said as they grappled in mid-air. They were palm to palm, pushing as hard as they could. “I am merely taking my place at the top of the food chain,” Mon-El sneered. “I’ll make a hat out of you!” “Funny, I was about to say the same thing! Your touch disgusts me!” Mon-El pushed harder. “I will not be denied!” Super-Squirrel started to feel himself giving in to the superior strength of the Daxamite human. “You will be stopped!” “Uh, Batmouse,” Green Lambkin said. Batmouse turned away from another set of monitors, eased past Power Squirrel (who was interviewing for a possible spot on the team) and moved over to the status board for Super-Squirrel. Power Squirrel followed, bouncing along much to Wonder Wabbit’s chagrin. It was obvious that Power Squirrel considered herself a much better mate for Super-Squirrel. “What is it?” Batmouse asked. Power Squirrel got right behind him, pressing her ample bosom against his back. “Is it Super-Squirrel?” she asked, clapping her hands excitedly. “That light is starting to turn yellow. Should I pull him back?” Green Lambkin asked. Batmouse considered the possibilities. It would mean one less alien on his world, one less wouldbe dictator to be created. Batmouse did not trust anyone who wasn’t normal, especially metamammals. Power Squirrel pressed a little harder. If he didn’t bring Super-Squirrel back, that would leave him the Alpha Male of the JLA. That meant he would have to put up with groupies like Power Squirrel. He reached down and pushed the button to retrieve his teammate.

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Mon-El’s arms ached with the effort, but he could see he was winning the battle. Slowly he was pushing Super-Squirrel back and once he had him pinned, he would use his heat vision to cut the rodent into sausage! Super-Squirrel heard the high pitch whine of the transporter and smiled. Just before he disappeared, he kicked Mon-El in the groin. “Take it from a squirrel, human-boy: watch your nuts!” And then he was gone. In his place was a gaseous cloud of the most noxious vapors Mon-El had ever had the misfortune to inhale. Little did he know it was all part of the Blue Beetle’s transporter device’s function. His eyes began to tear not just from the cloud, but also from the pain of having his testicles mo ved into his abdomen. Roy saw Mon-El gagging and lined up his shot. Dawnstar easily evaded the Kryptonians, despite their faster speed. They lacked her experience and mobility and by the time they entered the real world, she was far ahead of them and racing for the assembled members of Earth’s defenses. The arrow entered Mon-El’s chest and pierced his heart; there was never any doubt about his accuracy. The Daxamite looked down and tried to find his assailant, but his eyes were simply too filled with tears for him to do so. He plummeted to the ground, never knowing who had betrayed him. Sentinel saw the winged girl approaching, several men in hot pursuit. He called to Captain Marvel, Power Girl and Black Adam to be ready. Dawnstar swept in at an incredibly sharp arc, narrowly avoiding the heroes as they lined up. The Kryptonians, unable to perform such a maneuver, slammed into the awaiting defenders and simply exploded into dust. Dawnstar threw a wave of appreciation and sailed back to the rift. Even from the distance she was at, she could tell something was going on. There were no more troops pouring out and there was a green glow surrounding it. A bubble popped out and as she sailed by, she saw a battered Green Lantern she did not recognize carrying six other heroes, including Superman. She nodded to the Lantern, who gave her a puzzled look but continued on towards Earth. Hal Jordan stood at the center of dais, watching as the remaining members of the Order started rounding up the various villains still alive and began returning them to their appropriate dimensions. Next to him, Hawkman was in quiet conversation with Andrew Bennett. It had been roughly three Earth days since the defeat of Mon-El at the hands of the mysterious Super-Squirrel and Roy Harper and the hole between the universes was now repaired. The Phantom Zone was now empty as it seemed that every person who had been trapped in it was now dead. “What will happen now, Chief?” Roy asked as he climbed up. Dawnstar was behind him. They had spent the past few days together trying to figure out what was happening and aiding the Order members as best as they could. Hal scratched his head. “Order has been restored to Limbo and that means you can go to Earth-T to meet up with the Time Wardens.” “And the rest of us?” Hawkman asked. He kept tossing a glace over at Dawnstar, who seemed to blush from the attention. “Hawkman and Dawnstar will go with you; they don’t belong here. I’ve offered Mr. Bennett here a position within the Order as a ‘special agent’. It will give him the purpose he has long sought,” Hal said, putting a hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “This entire affair has led me to believe that sometimes even a Green Lantern isn’t enough!” Roy nodded. He was very interested in getting to this parallel Earth because it would put him one step closer to finding his daughter. Obviously, she wasn’t here and the only explanation he could get was that until he fixed what the Time-Guardian screwed up, his daughter would continue to be missing. “Interesting story,” Batmouse said as he fixed a cheese and cheese sandwich. Super-Squirrel was making a peanut butter and acorn one.

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“They are really horrid looking creatures…no hair, no claws,” Super-Squirrel responded. “Like a shaved squirrel.” “Yes!” Super-Squirrel said and then realized he was being insulted. “That isn’t funny!” Batmouse giggled at his teammate’s anger. It was an odd, raspy sound. “By the way, Captain Carrot is visiting later.” “I don’t care.” “Wonder Wabbit said she’s taking him to Paradise Island to show him her rabbit hole…” The remains of the peanut butter and acorn sandwich slapped hard against the cowl of the Batmouse, it’s sound echoing through the halls of the JLA headquarters.

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PART IV:

THE RETURN OF THE HERO

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Chapter 16 Shyla and Green Lantern
“This is Lana Lang reporting live for WGBS news,” the scarlet-haired reporter began. The members of the Wardens (now shortened from the name of Time Wardens) gathered around the television. It had been nearly two weeks since the real Roy Harper had been rescued from Limbo and brought to Earth-T and in that time, the hunt for their headquarters, conducted by the Legion of Doom, had only intensified. The world they were on was a duplicate of the true Earth, an alternate reality trapped in a pocket universe created by the Time-Trapper when the villainous Time-Guardian, in reality the pre-Crisis Earth-2 Roy Harper, had tried to rewrite history. When the Wardens had destroyed the Guardian’s machines that held back the Crisis wave, it had caused havoc throughout the universe and Hypertime. One of the results was that a hole had formed between the shrinking Pre-Crisis Phantom Zone and Limbo, the non-dimension that linked the various timelines and realities. General Zod, a Kryptonian criminal trapped in the Phantom Zone, tried to raise an army to invade the prime universe. He was usurped by Mon-El, a hero transformed into a conqueror by years of psychological abuse, who was ultimately defeated through the efforts of Dawnstar, Super-Squirrel and the real Roy Harper. The Time-Guardian, originally separated from his powers by the creation of the pocket universe, was now back to his normal levels and had searched his planet far and wide looking for the Wardens, whom he saw as his only bump in the road to assuming the role of the prime universe’s Roy Harper. So far, they had been unsuccessful. “The former leader of the Justice Society and now leader of the Legion of Doom will soon be giving a brief press release on the current status of the hunt for the super-criminals that aided many former super-heroes in their attempt to take over the world.” Nightwing, the team leader for the Wardens, coughed at the suggestion. The truth was that the Time-Guardian had lost control of the various duplicate heroes that had been created on this world and had been forced to enlist his Legion of Doom to destroy them. In his studies of the phenomenon of Hypertime, the scientist inside of Nightwing had discovered some universal truths that he had not shared yet. He was beginning to develop several theories about the nature of time and space, theories that told him, if he was correct, that if they did not succeed in stopping the Time-Guardian, the result would be the utter devastation of creation itself! He reached over and took the offered hand of the Huntress, Helena Wayne of the pre-Crisis Earth2. Her father had been the Batman of that long since forgotten world and had fought alongside the TimeGuardian when as Speedy, partner to Green Arrow, he had been a hero. “Your science has gone a long way in protecting everyone here,” the Dark Flash said to Nightwing. The hero accepted the compliment with a simple nod. It was true that the energy field he had surrounding the mansion they were based in protected them from even the most intrusive of scans, but it was only a matter of time before Alexi Luthor, the Legion of Doom’s top scientist, came up with something that the heroes could not counter. On the television, clad in the familiar red and yellow costume of Speedy, the Time-Guardian stepped up to the podium. “I have a brief statement,” he said into the microphone. He was on the verge of exploding into a fit of rage as he saw how far his plans had fallen. All he had wanted was to live the life he felt that God and the universe had taken away from him. The Crisis wave had destroyed his world and left him a phantom, floating about the new universe with no way to become mortal again. He had watched in horror as another Roy Harper, the Earth-1 version he had wrongly assumed, lived out the life that should have been his. For decades he watched as the imposter, as he felt, refused to grow up, used drugs and slept with foreign women. Only after that Roy Harper had died had the TimeGuardian been able to resume a physical form. He had been changed, though; he was now powerful, developing abilities that let him see through time and into possible outcomes. He was also immortal, stuck in the body of a sixteen year-old boy. For untold billions of years he had lived until the very end of time. By then, he had developed the ability to travel through time at will and he began a plan to fix what he saw was wrong with the universe. He started small, killing only the alternate versions of himself scattered throughout Hypertime. Eventually, as his rage grew with each abomination of himself he encountered, his attacks became more

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savage as he employed weapons of destruction from one universe against another. Whole realities fell before him until he finally sent the Composite-Superman to kill the prime universe version of himself. With that version’s death, a hole developed in the timeline and the Time-Guardian exploited it using a device created by the pre-Crisis Brainiac 5. That device had been destroyed several weeks before by a version of Aquagirl, while versions of Nightwing and the Huntress kidnapped the Psycho-Pirate, the only person who could tell him when something was wrong with the new universe he had created. It was then that the Time-Guardian realized that he had enemies on his own world. “For several weeks now the world has been witness as the forces of order under my command, the Legion of Doom, have sought out the super-powered terrorists that were instrumental in the deaths of so many beloved heroes. In this endeavor, we have been unsuccessful, despite the very best efforts of Alexi Luthor.” The redheaded scientist, standing a respectful distance behind the speaker, nodded his head towards the camera. “It was these terrorists that made villains out of the original membership of the Legion, just as they eventually did with the Justice League. We have been very fortunate…” “Why does he bother speaking to the people directly?” Roy Harper asked. Kid Flash, a Hypertime duplicate of him, shrugged and took a sip of his milkshake. Roy could not believe that there had actually been a universe out there where he had been granted the power of super-speed. It boggled the mind. “He doesn’t, but this is probably the only way he thinks he can get a message to us,” Nightwing replied, not even bothering to turn away from the television. “We’ve been a thorn in his side; he can probably leave anytime he wants, but he wants revenge.” “Do you think he knows about me?” Roy asked. “I doubt he had any clue about the Limbo Wars,” the Dark Flash said, referring to the events involving Mon-El. “He’s been out of the limelight for sometime, but so have a few other key members of the Legion.” “Such as?” Hawkman asked. “We had no idea that Alexi Luthor was on his side and Vandal Savage is missing as well,” the Huntress began, recalling the data she had put together from various news reports. “There is also a rumor that the Legion has a Kryptonian named Shyla, but we’ve never seen her.” “If she the same Shyla I knew as a younger man, I can’t believe she would be involved in something like this,” Nightwing added. “There’s been a purging of the Legion as well from what I understand. Some of the members thought to try and topple Speedy but failed,” Aquagirl said. “The most recent public gathering of the Legion included a lot of new faces.” “Which adds further credence to my theory that this world exists within a nexus point,” Nightwing began to explain. This time, he turned to face his team. “This universe is a filter or sorts, scooping out various entities from Hypertime…” “And so more people are showing up,” Deadman finished. “Only it’s slowing down in frequency.” Roy looked back to the obese body Deadman’s spirit inhabited. “I wonder…could any heroes be coming in as well?” “I’ve thought of that myself, Roy,” Nightwing said. “The Legion knows where the arrival point is at, but I’m willing to be someone else knows too.” “The Psycho-Pirate?” the Flying Fox asked. “You said he was the one who helped the TimeGuardian create this world from his memories of Earth-1.” “That’s right,” the team leader explained as he adjusted the sound on the television. “Let’s watch because this is getting interesting.” The Time-Guardian stared straight into the camera. “If the so-called heroes that oppose me do not surrender themselves within 24 hours, I will order the Legion of Doom to level the city of San Francisco.” The hurriedly assembled members of the Wardens looked nervous, Nightwing thought as he examined each one of them. Huntress, the daughter of the Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman: she was not only a great tactical commander, but was now his lover. Flying Fox, sixteen-year-old Bruce Wayne of Earth-1: a version of the Batman that no longer had a place in the universe. Robin, Jason Todd of Earth-1: a hero who knows he is destined to die if he remains in costume.

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Dark Flash, Walter West, a traveler through Hypertime: the vice-chairman of the team and perhaps the one closest to that thin line between good and evil. Kid Flash, the Roy Harper of the last universe destroyed by the Time-Guardian: he seeks not just revenge, but the hope of a new life with Aquagirl. Aquagirl, Tula of Earth-1: she was quickly becoming the glue that was holding the team together with her never give up attitude. Hawkman, Katar Hol of Thanagar, just one of several Hypertime versions of the Winged Wonder that came into being when the original was the center of a time flux. Dawnstar, a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes of the 30th century Earth-1: a young woman now lost in time and space, looking for a way to do some good. Deadman, Boston Brand of the Prime Universe: a spirit on a secret mission for Heaven. Himself, Nightwing, the Kryptonian super-hero of Earth-1, a relation to Superman: a scientist in way over his head despite his powers. Then he thought of the members they had lost: Cinnamon, Detective Chimp and Batwoman and he realized that now was not the time for melancholy. There was a dangerous man out there not only wanting to kill them for ruining his dreams, but was willing to destroy millions of lives to do it. The threat by the Time-Guardian was real enough; time and again he had proven his willingness to kill. Nightwing noted that Roy Harper, who had felt so out of place the past few weeks on this parallel world, was now in a fit of rage. To him, threatening to kill so many innocent lives brought up uncomfortable feelings. They had spoken briefly, but Nightwing had noted that Roy had naturally gravitated towards Kid Flash and Aquagirl. From them he had learned that Roy was desperate to find his daughter, but that he understood that until the threat of the Time-Guardian was eliminated, then they would never be truly safe. He had also spoken about his fears that the Time-Guardian represented a side to Roy that perhaps he kept buried. Of course, Kid Flash laughed at it, but then Roy explained his love for the criminal terrorist Chesire and how she used a nuclear device to kill millions in the Prime Universe. “Could it be her dark side that attracted me initially?” he asked. Nightwing did not know the answer to that question, but he felt as if he were on the verge of so many others. When word came to him that Shyla might be part of the Legion of Doom, it began to explain several things. Most important, it told him that they might have a potential ally in the enemy camp. When Nightwing and the Huntress had gone to rescue the Psycho-Pirate from the Justice League, someone used super-ventriloquism to warn them of an impending attack. At the time, Nightwing could not investigate it, but now he was considering the possibilities. There were others things as well that were going through his mind, but they would have to wait until a later date. “We have a three fold problem here. I believe, however, that it can be solved completely by pursuing only one aspect,” Nightwing began. “Smashing those little greedy bastards and flinging their bowels to the four winds!” Hawkman chanted. Dawnstar, seated next to him, rolled her eyes to the ceiling. Hawkman and her had been casually flirting since they arrived on-planet. “That’s not what I was thinking, but I will keep it in mind,” Nightwing said as he cast a glance to the Dark Flash. The Scarlet Speedster shrugged and Nightwing assumed it meant he was probably thinking the same thing. It was, he supposed, necessary to maintain proper balance in the group to have such hawkish (no pun intended) individuals as part of the team. Nightwing had considered using a Phantom Zone projector to simply imprison all of the Legion members, but recent events had dashed those hopes. “He’s talking about Shyla,” Huntress said, putting the matter to rest. “If she is the one who helped us with the Psycho-Pirate, then she may be willing to betray the Time-Guardian.” “A second Kryptonian would be really cool,” Aquagirl chimed in. “Not just ‘cool’, young lady,” Nightwing responded, “but make us unbeatable in the eyes of many of the Legion members. Criminals are a cowardly lot…” “Yes! If they see we are more powerful, then they might surrender,” the Flying Fox said in an excited voice. “Get serious!” Robin exclaimed, shaking his head. “God, I can’t believe you were ever that stupid! Is that why you chose the bat motif, because you think criminals are cowards?” “They won’t willingly put themselves into harm’s way for the Time-Guardian!” Kid Flash argued.

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“They don’t have a choice!” Robin retorted and then he stood up. Smacking a hand on the table, he quieted all of the other arguments. “This is not a simple bank robbery; these villains know that if they lose, there is the potential this world could go bye-bye. We all know it. We have no idea what will happen to this place if the Time-Guardian is vanquished!” “The Time-Trapper said…” Dawnstar cut the Huntress off this time. “You are quite foolish if you believe the Time-Trapper will uphold his end of the bargain!” Nightwing held his hands up for silence. “People! This has never been about saving our lives; this has been about saving the universe. If my theories are correct, then everything that the Time-Guardian has been doing has weakened the bonds of Hypertime. He must not only be stopped, but he must be stopped now. If he tries to take Roy’s spot in the Prime Universe, I think it will cause an implosion!” “He already tried that and failed,” Roy pointed out. “Ah, but he won’t be able to do the same thing again! You see, time has restarted, only there is no Roy Harper yet in the Prime Universe…” “So, the correct piece has to be put back into the puzzle,” the Dark Flash asked. “My head hurts! I need a beer,” Hawkman said, getting up. “Sit down, Katar, please,” Nightwing pleaded. Hawkman shrugged and plopped back into his seat. “The Time-Guardian must be stopped, we all realize this, and Roy must be put back into his universe and soon. If we send him back now, the Time-Guardian will just come after him and plus,” he looked over to the sullen Roy, “we need to find out what happened to his daughter.” “Roy is a significant player in the Prime Universe,” Aquagirl pointed out. “What has happened there because of his absence?” “Obviously the world is still there, but the exact ramifications are unknown.” “So, what about San Francisco?” the Huntress asked. “The Dark Flash, Aquagirl and I will surrender ourselves to the Legion of Doom,” Nightwing said. “That may throw them off your trail for awhile as you try to contact Shyla. If she can be turned, then we’ll have a chance against the Legion.” “Maybe,” Kid Flash said, rubbing his chin. “We don’t know the whole of the Legion make-up, though.” “I’ve got that,” the Huntress said proudly and then she elbowed the Flying Fox. “I should say that ‘dad’ here got it. He seems to be a natural using the internet.” The young Bruce Wayne stood up and pulled out a computer printout. “Some of this is speculation based upon reports of sightings and the amassed knowledge of everyone in this room. We know about the Time-Guardian and Alexi Luthor, but there is also the Master Jailer and Vandal Savage, though it is believed that Savage has quietly left the group.” “He never was much of a joiner,” Roy commented. Shyla floated above the mansion and listened in with her super-hearing, a thousand thoughts going through her confused mind. The detector she had created in secret had led her to Nightwing, a fellow Kryptonian; secretly she had hoped to find a mate but the sounds she had picked up from the bedroom of the Huntress the night before told her that was only fantasy. Though saddened, she was still heartened to hear that the heroes did not consider her a total wash. She was not actually a criminal, simply a misguided scientist who let her passions carry her too far. On Krypton, she had hoped to become a scientist of renown even greater than that of Jor-El, but her actions led to the accidental death of an innocent man. She was placed in the Phantom Zone for a year as punishment, but before her sentence was up, her world exploded. A freak lightning storm had allowed her to pass from the Phantom Zone into the world of Earth-1 where she began a foolish career as a criminal. Thankfully, Supergirl had defeated her and sent her back into the Phantom Zone. The Time-Guardian had rescued her from there several years after the Crisis and had taken her as his lover. Though he was only sixteen in body, his mind was ancient and the secrets it held aroused her intellect as well as her body. She had become his love-slave and his weapon of choice whenever some member of the Legion of Doom got out of line. That all changed when Donna entered the picture. Yes, it was hard not admit that Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, was not only attractive, but also easy to fall in love with. Shyla watched as several of the heroes of this created world fawned over her in an effort just to get a smile from her. Yes, Shyla could take being replaced, but she could not take being alone. She

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missed her world and had sought out Nightwing as a last desperate chance to hold onto a life that was long gone. It had failed. A part of her told her to report her findings to the Time-Guardian; surely he would reward her with Nightwing as her own after Alexi used his devices to train the hero’s mind. She didn’t want that, though; it would only be fake happiness. There was only one course for her and it was not to link up with these heroes. If she did, then she would forever have to look upon the man who could have been her soul mate. The only true answer for her problems was death. She floated in space, casually wondering if the expanse of this universe was as infinite as the Prime Universe. Did pocket universes have boundaries? If so, who decided them? Could they be expanded? The scientist in her never rested even if the romantic was slowly dying. The rift was nearly repaired which was a considerable feat if one thought about it. The rift actually existed in all timelines in the same place, but it could only be repaired from Limbo. For the most part, it was closed; no unauthorized entry or exit would take place. What was going on now was the careful mending of the structures surrounding it. Shyla saw several Green Lanterns hard at work on the other side. She used her super-ventriloquism to speak to them and they, in turn, had to do nothing but use their wills and their rings to speak back. “I am Shyla, former prisoner of the Phantom Zone that is shrinking. I wish entry.” One of the Lanterns shook his head. “If I open this up, then I’ll be here for weeks fixing it! Besides, I don’t have the authority, only the head of the Order can allow such a thing!” She pointed at him. “Then go get him before I start trying to force my way in!” Hal Jordan waved his guards away. He felt no fear of this woman. “I am Hal Jordan, Green Lantern and head of the Order, the guardians of Limbo. Who are you?” She gave him the same introduction and demands. He did not immediately refuse her. “Why would you want to come back? Your Phantom Zone is shrinking. In seven standard years, it will have been consumed by the new. You will die.” “I have nothing to live for,” she relied flatly. “We all have something to live for,” he reasoned. “I am the Hal Jordan that would have been had the real one not gone insane. I would have grown in power and prestige until I led the Green Lantern Corps myself. Instead, I became like a god and tried to remake the universe and my true self is now an avenging angel of God.” “And?” “And many times,” he said, his eyes suddenly glassy, “I have to wonder what it would have been like if I could have just stayed sane. Would I have married my true love, Carol? What things might I have accomplished and it is in those desires and wishes that I too found depression. But I don’t end my life; instead I have found a purpose.” She started to laugh at the absurdity. “And pray tell, good Green Lantern, what the hell am I supposed to do? I am lonely…” “Must you have a mate to be complete?” “You were just pining for your lost love,” she snapped back. “I have been alone forever!” “Whose fault is that, Shyla of Krypton? Your story is not unknown here because we have interviewed several of your fellow prisoners, seeing if they are worthy of pardon.” He floated a little closer to the rift. “You have brought all of your troubles onto yourself through your arrogance.” “Arrogance? Arrogant is someone who floats around deeming who is worthy of life and who isn’t! You are as bad as the Guardians you once served,” she screamed. “Perhaps I am arrogant, but at least I am not being a spoiled child.” She blinked. “What?” “You have a second chance, Shyla, something that I don’t, but I am making the best of a bad situation. You wish to just crawl in here and die,” the rift opened through the sheer force of his will. “Go ahead, I don’t care.” She started to move, but then he held up a finger. “You wish to have a man to make your life complete, yet it is you who leaves it incomplete because you have never done anything except try to please yourself. That guilt is eating at you Shyla! There is much that world down there could use from a Supergirl.”

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“Supergirl?” she asked, puzzled. “I can’t join the heroes! I will be reminded…” “Of the bad things you’ve done? I know that feeling, Shyla, and dying does not make the pain go away. Only acts of good and compassion can take care of that.” He then pointed down at the world of Earth-T. “A new world, a new universe…a new life…” She looked down at the spinning globe and shook her head. She wanted to deny the truth. “I can’t be Supergirl!” “Then who will be?” he asked matter-of-factly. “I have something for you, Kryptonian,” the Master Jailer said as he threw a green kryptonite rock at the imprisoned Nightwing. It struck the hero upside the head and he went down again. Several of the villains laughed, especially the wild-eyed Wendy, now clad in a Wonder Woman costume. Of course, she said it stood for “Wonder Wendy”. “Hit him again! Make the blood ooze out…oh, I love it when it oozes!” she purred. The Master Jailer turned to Alexi who merely gave a weak smile. This newest addition to their group made them feel very uncomfortable. Everything she said had some sexual innuendo to it. “Why don’t we just let him lay there until the boss gets here?” the Jailer asked. “He’s bringing the rest of the team to see the execution.” Alexi looked over to the giant glass cylinder that held the Dark Flash in suspended animation. He had hoped to study the speedster, but the Time -Guardian had been insistent on execution. The boon was that the agreement was that the Guardian would leave this world forever and it would be left for Alexi Luthor, if he had his way, to rule! “You know, I really like you,” Wonder Wendy cooed to the trapped Aquagirl. She was suspended upside down from the ceiling. Aquagirl shivered at the thought of the other woman touching her, but it did no good. Wendy ran a hand over her prisoner’s leg. “What will you do for some water?” The hero gave a response that was unflattering. Wendy laughed. “If I could, I wouldn’t need men!” The Time-Guardian entered the room then, followed by the rest of the membership of the Legion of Doom. Next to him was a pregnant Wonder Girl. “Let’s get this over with,” he announced. Several of the villains laughed and cheered. “Donna?” he asked, waiting for his wife to turn to him. When she did, the monster known only as the Grundy stepped behind her and twisted her head to the side. There was a cracking sound and then she dropped. Shimmering blue energy moved from her swollen belly towards the Time-Guardian’s outstretched hand. “No little bastard is going to steal my powers!” he proclaimed. He looked up to the sky and laughed, not noticing a small tendril, born out of a defensive reflex action on the part of the dying child, moved away from the hand and dove deep into the ground. The tendril did not stop, but instead bore through the Earth and rocketed into space towards a singular point that could only be reached by hopping from hypersting to hyperstring. The red-haired man had been meditating for several hours when the tendril drove into his skull. He put a hand up and was visibly shaken by the attack. His blue eyes opened suddenly and he realized that he was needed. Again.

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Chapter 17 Roy Harper and Cheshire
“Some people would say ‘Roy, you have it made’,” the Time-Guardian said before his captive audience. Behind him, seated at the half-circle table of the Legion of Doom, his fellow villains remained silent. This was the culmination of weeks of battling, searching and finally, triumph. The last heroes of this world had been found; the final throw of the dice was about to happen. “But I would have to disagree. First, the universe dumped me like a useless appendage during the Crisis and then I had to watch as some other Roy Harper lived out my life.” He stepped forward and put his hands behind his back. No longer clad in the costume of Speedy, partner of Green Arrow, he was dressed in the similarly colored costume of the Time-Guardian. “This Roy was a cannabis lover, a filthy addict that slept with foreign women and produced half-breed children. When a good woman like Donna Troy came along, and I can tell you we didn’t have anything like her back in the 1940’s, he simply used her as another plaything.” “You bastard! You killed Donna!” Aquagirl screamed. Her eyes were puffy from all of the tears she had shed. Her torture at the hands of Wonder Wendy was something straight from some sexually deviant hell. “No, my dear, I killed a version of Donna. The real Donna, as we all know, is happily living her life out in the real world. What I had here was a whore that was trying to breed a child to siphon my powers away.” He moved forward a little more and cast a glance at the Kryptonite chains holding Nightwing in place. “You see, I had this world all to myself, my own little piece of the cosmos. But then you, young lady, you especially, ruined my plans when you let the Dark Flash loose and allowed the Crisis to continue through time unabated.” The Dark Flash would have snickered, but at the moment he was in suspended animation in a large tube created by Alexi Luthor, the second-in-command of the Legion. The other members of the team still remained silent and Nightwing began to examine each one, calling up in his super-memory details about each one. He needed to know their weaknesses for the rescue that was sure to come. Besides Alexi, there was also the Master Jailer, a man from Earth-1 who had a tendency to create almost perfect prisons. Beside him sat Wonder Wendy, a powerful woman from a parallel universe where she claimed she was molested by a group of heroes called the Super Friends. Her partner, Marvin, was languishing in the special prison Nightwing had constructed under the Warden’s secret headquarters. Next came the Grundy, an almost mindless killing machine that was somehow connected by some askew timeline to Solomon Grundy, a foe of the original Green Lantern. The Grundy was a fearsome thing to behold and he was already responsible for the deaths of Batwoman and Donna Troy. The Composite-Superman, perhaps the most powerful member of the Legion next to the TimeGuardian, sat eating a sandwich, oblivious or simply not caring to the circumstances around him. Had his vision powers been working properly, Nightwing assumed that he could see the other, newer members that were seated a little farther back. He knew that the battles against the heroes on this world, the formerly mind-controlled members of the Justice Society and Justice League, had been particularly bloody and that it had thinned out the membership of the Legion. Gone was Vandal Savage, the immortal man succumbing to death’s embrace during the final, heroic stand of this world’s Superman. The Reverse-Flash was gone as well, killed by a bullet to the head after he had murdered Cinnamon, a member of the Wardens. Before that, he had murdered Detective Chimp, another Warden teammate. Where the Time-Guardian was getting these new members was beyond Nightwing’s ability to understand. His knowledge of temporal physics was growing, but it was not complete. He knew that this world, this Earth-T as he had come to call it, was actually a parallel universe the Time-Guardian had accidentally created. The original intent had been to alter the history of the true universe, the modern one created after the Crisis. He had failed because he had not understood that time will go to great lengths to keep itself correct. In effect, the Time-Guardian had demonstrated the principle of Hypertime. The Time-Trapper, another chronal villain, decided to put this whole timeline into a pocket universe, sealing it off from the rest of time. In exchange for doing this, the Wardens, under Nightwing’s leadership, agreed to stop the Time-Guardian before he tried to pull of some other time-altering stunt.

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The Time-Guardian, however, had other ideas. He had started this entire affair by killing the true Roy Harper before his time, creating a tear in the space-time continuum. The real Roy Harper was then sent to Limbo until events on Earth-T caused a hole to form between Limbo and the real universe. The prisoners of the pre-Crisis Phantom Zone, whose limbonic plane was slowly being absorbed by the modern version, took it upon themselves to raise an army to try and escape. Only the efforts of several dedicated heroes trapped in Limbo stopped the power mad and severely insane Mon-El from succeeding. Now, the Time-Guardian, unaware that Roy Harper was alive and well on Earth-T, was preparing to leave this place forever and assume the life he felt he should have had in the real world. He would be powerless, of course, but that wasn’t the problem. The real Roy had a small daughter named Lian; if the Time-Guardian subverted his life, his daughter would be lost forever. Nobody was about to let that happen. “But, I applaud you and your efforts, heroes,” the Time-Guardian continued. “I know what that spark of do-good can accomplish. I had that spark once, back when I thought I was fighting for something worthwhile.” “A real hero doesn’t expect a reward for what they do!” Aquagirl screamed. Nightwing feared that the events of the past few days might have been too much for her. “I didn’t expect a reward; I expected merely to live out my life. I expected to go to Heaven, I expected eternal bliss. What I got was an eternity watching humanity go about its business and realizing I wasn’t even a footnote in the history books.” His eyes started to crackle with small blue sparks, an indication he was back up to full strength. “I wish I could see how poorly you will die, but the TimeTrapper’s mechanisms prevent my future sight abilities from working on this world. I guess I’ll just have to watch.” He turned, ready to address his fellow Legion members for what would probably be the last time when the Black Flash, really Jay Garrick, the alternate of the golden age Flash that came with this world and the only hero to remain loyal to the Time-Guardian, quickly approached and whispered something into his master’s ear. “Are you sure?” the Time-Guardian asked, disbelief on his face. The Black Flash nodded and without another word, the two of them hurriedly left the room. “That’s right,” the red-haired man said into the microphone, “Lana…it is Lana, right? Yes, I just felt it was time to come out, you might say and declare the truth to the world.” Lana Lang turned and smiled into the camera. “This is amazing, considering the events of the past few w eeks. You basically crowned your self dictator and began threatening to destroy cities of your demands weren’t met.” Roy Harper smiled and shook his head. “I know, I know; call it anxiety. It happens whenever…whenever,” he moved up to the camera and got close so that it got a good shot of his face, “whenever a man comes out to tell the world he’s really gay.” “That son of a bitch!” the Time-Guardian screamed. He pounded his fists on the control board for the huge monitor. “How dare he! How dare he!” “What the hell is he doing still alive?” Alexi asked. “That’s the real one isn’t it?” The Time-Guardian sneered. “He got a haircut, but yes, that’s him.” Actual bolts of blue-green lightning shot from his eyes and blew out several of the control panel’s functions. Acrid smoke lifted into the air and the picture went black. The audio remained on. “I also have a preference for young Asian men,” the other Roy Harper continued to say to the reporter. “I have been known to wear women’s panties into battle because it doesn’t chafe as bad.” “Find him,” the Time-Guardian said, turning to Alexi. “Send the entire Legion! Bring him to me! I’ll choke the life out of him myself!” “Thanks, babe,” Arsenal said as the camera’s were shut down. “You’re not really Speedy, are you?” she said, throwing back her own crimson mane. “And you’re not gay, either.” “You’re pretty bright,” he said with a grin as he ran a hand through his newly cut hair. “Hey, I was a super-hero once. As a teenager, I was Insect Queen. Maybe I could put on my costume and help out,” she offered. “When everything was going screwy, I felt so useless. I mean, what good is someone like me against the Composite-Superman?”

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“Being a good guy doesn’t mean always being the most powerful on the block, lady. Tell you what; you go hide for a few days until this all blows over. They’ll be after you as well.” She raised an eyebrow. “Got someplace you’d like to stick me, handsome?” “Sorry, but I’ll either be home or dead very soon, but it was great to meet you,” Arsenal said as he moved to a window. “Really, you need to get out of town for awhile.” Arsenal pulled out his bow and notched a line arrow. It was good to have some equipment again. Most of it had come from the remains of this world’s Queen Estate where Green Arrow had fought a losing battle against his power-mad adoptive son. The arrow unfolded in mid-flight into a grappling hook and took hold. With a cavalier wave and grin on his face, he swung away into the night. “I didn’t think you were the real one,” the woman said as she watched him swing off. They looked alike, somewhat, but this Speedy not only dressed differently, but his body shape was all wrong. The man who was swinging into the night was hard, full of sinewy muscle, demonstrating a desire to maintain physical perfection. His movements were different as well, like those of a finely tuned instrument ready to play. This was definitely not the same man who had tried to have her killed, who had in fact gone before the very press he would later threaten the world with and proclaim her death. The almond-shaped green eyes of Jade watched in fascination as the body-double to her nemesis left the WGBS building. What had been the purpose of the broadcast if not to anger the real Speedy? Surely the figure swinging away had to know that making such statements would only bring the full-force of the Legion of Doom down upon his head. Perhaps that was what this person wanted? Perhaps, like she, he had a vendetta against Speedy. She never knew why exactly the former chairman of the Justice Society had singled her out for death. She had been nothing but a political activist who was suddenly labeled a terrorist. In all of her life, despite the martial abilities she possessed, she had never taken another life. She did not even eat meat! As Cheshire, the cyber-activist, she had rallied against deforestation, war in Qurac, and campaigned heavily for the United Nations to aid in removing the tens of thousands of landmines left in former battlefields all over the world. She had used strong language; she had made threats to expose certain private secrets of powerful men if they did not concede to her demands, but a terrorist? It was laughable. Even members of the intelligence community regarded her as nothing more than someone who took the First Amendment a little too literal. Yet, the Legion of Doom had tracked her down and was she ever surprised when the partner of Green Arrow turned out to be their leader. It was more than your typical conspiracy buff could take and her biggest regret as the Composite-Superman had thrown her from the cliff into the sea was that she had no evidence to support the story. The sea had not killed her, but it had taught her a valuable lesson. In this world, the lines between good and evil were being drawn daily and the only person you could trust was your enemy’s enemy. It didn’t hurt that the man swinging away was good looking either. “You didn’t really think you could get away with this, did you?” Arsenal regarded the furry man-like creature in front of him. “That’s a real nice costume. Who are you? Feral Cat Man? The Slobbering Otter?” “I am the Weasel! I am your doom!” the villain cried out, brandishing his claws. “You are an imposter who will be delivered before my new master!” Arsenal threw down his glasses and dropped his bow. “Imposter? Hey, buddy, kiss my buttocks, okay? I am the real deal, not some could-have-been or should-have-been like your ‘master’ or yourself. I’m not some alternate created in some mad fantasy!” They were standing on top of police headquarters in Metropolis. It had taken the Weasel a little over six hours to find the imposter, but the chase had been well worth it. If he were able to capture this man on his own and deliver him back to the Time-Guardian, then he was assured a spot at the table! Only the most powerful or most successful members of the Legion got to sit at the table. It was there that the direction and future of the team was decided. “You don’t really think that some guy wearing a fur suit is going to take me down, do you?” “Ha! I can sense your fear!” the Weasel lied. The truth was that besides above average agility, he had no super-powers. From what he had been told about this Roy Harper/Arsenal/Speedy person, he had none either.

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“No, I just ate some chili last night, Kitty-Man, or should I just call you the Pussy?” The Weasel screeched and jumped in Roy’s direction. He saw the attack coming from a mile away and his martial arts training both on the reservation and from his buddy Dick Grayson came into play. A clawed hand raked his chest, but he managed to get a good solid right hook into the Weasel’s face. They fell onto the hot rooftop, but their costumes protected them from getting too seriously burned. Still, both combatants preferred to stand up to fight it out and they split apart, rolled and came up in defiant stances. “A lucky shot is all that was!” Roy smirked. “If you say so, Kitty-Litter. Don’t you have to hack up a furball or something?” The Weasel responded with a mad attack, claws and feet flying madly. It was all Roy could do to block them. He figured he had pushed too hard, but the fact that of all of the super-villains running around this planet looking for him, some wimp -ass loser that Firestorm had fought was the only one that could catch him infuriated him. It was as if the super-villains weren’t offended enough. He had guessed correctly, taking into account everything that the Wardens knew about the TimeGuardian, that the 1940’s version of him probably held some prejudices deep down inside. After all, the Time-Guardian’s generation had fought the Japanese during World War 2 so it made sense he would take offense that there would be a half-Asian child running around with the Harper bloodline running through it. The Weasel got in two good hits and Roy went down, cursing himself for being so distracted. Anytime he thought about Lian, he almost seemed to lose it. If he lost her, not only would it tear him apart, but the would have the awful responsibility of telling Jade, Lian’s mother. All of the faith and trust she had put into Roy would have been for naught. Roy got up and punched out into the Weasel’s groin, but it was well padded. “Looks like kitty got fixed,” he managed to get out before a kick to the chin sent him sprawling onto his back. The door to the rook opened up and two police officers stepped out, automatic pistols drawn. They ordered the two men to freeze, but the Weasel simply leapt out of their line of sight. Before Roy could roll over and call out a warning, the Weasel had dropped behind them and finished them off. Now the circumstances had changed and Roy reached back to his quiver for an arrow. He could have used a bow right then, but it wasn’t an actual requirement. With a flick of the wrist, he sent the arrow flying with superhuman accuracy. The missile lodged deep into the Weasel’s thigh and the villain cursed like a sailor. Fresh blood poured from the wound, but the Weasel did not pull it out. Instead, he left it in and let it’s constant stinging pain fuel his rage. Roy reached back for another arrow and looked around for the bow he had thrown down. He needed some stopping power for this guy. A female’s war cry snapped his head back and he saw the most beautiful woman in the world jump down between him and the approaching Weasel. Though her back was to him, he recognized her “assets” immediately. “Ches?” She didn’t bother to turn around, but instead met the Weasel in combat. Within five seconds, it was obvious that the wounded villain was out of his league. Cheshire moved with grace and fluidity. She easily dodged any blows and strikes coming her way and replied with stinging chops and smacks of her own. When the Weasel overextended himself during a thrown punch, she deftly grabbed his arm and snapped it just below the elbow, whole at the same time using his momentum to push him face-first into the roof. “Don’t kill him!” Roy called out, not sure whether this was his Jade or another duplicate. When the woman looked up at him and their eyes met, he could tell it was not the woman he had fallen in love with. His eyes spoke of the pain of loving a woman responsible for the murder of billions; her eyes spoke of the pain of a lonely existence and betrayal. “I don’t kill anyone,” she replied coldly. She indicated the police officers. “Which one of you did that?” “If you’re saving my ass, sweet cheeks, then you already know the answer.” He started to get up. The Weasel had passed out from the pain and was lying limp under Cheshire’s hold. “My next question is are you one of the good guys or the bad guys?” She released her hold and stood up. Physically, she was a perfect duplicate to his own love and he somehow got the sense that she knew he was attracted to her. She lightened her tone. “I’m neither; I’m simply someone who wants to stop a great evil and go back to trying to help Mother Earth.” “Who’s that?” he asked. She looked at him like he was stupid. “The planet? Do you know how much mankind is poisoning this world? The toxins we dump into our oceans each day? Nobody seems to care right now because all of

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our super-heroes, or alleged super-heroes, want to take over the world! Everybody has forgotten about the common folk, the poor…” “Oh my God! It’s like talking to Ollie!” he said, smacking his forehead. “I’ll just assume you want to help, okay?” She nodded and frisked the Weasel. With a small shout of triumph, she produced a small electronic device. “Looks like some sort of key.” “Yep. I bet that gets us inside the Legion of Doom’s headquarters,” Roy responded. “Why do you keep looking at me like that?” she asked. He looked away. “Listen, more cops are probably coming. Let’s leave Puss-in-Boots here for them and scram. I have some friends who would like to look at that.” “Freeze!” Both turned to see several police officers pouring up and over the fire escape. Some were wearing body armor and carrying assault rifles. “Damn it! We don’t have time for this!” Roy exclaimed. A figure dropped from the sky and landed, a cape billowing in the breeze. “Supergirl?” Roy asked. Though the costume was similar, the face wasn’t. She turned to wink at Roy and ran a hand through her strawberry hair. “That’s Super-Woman in case you hadn’t noticed,” she said. Once a member of the Legion of Doom, Shyla, a Kryptonian scientist once convicted of manslaughter on her home world, had tried to kill herself rather than be alone or a villain. It took the words of a Hal Jordan that could have been to convince her that there was more to life and that she had been given a second chance to do some good. Now, she was ready for that task. “Gentlemen!” she called out to the police. “My name is SuperWoman and I’m the new game here in Metropolis. I saw everything that occurred up here. The wounded man in the weasel costume is your murderer.” “We can’t just take your word for it!” one cop called out. “Gentlemen, you have no choice,” she said. Then she turned and started to fly, going by and grabbing Roy and Cheshire as she did. “Don’t worry, I won’t let you go.” “Hell, I’m just enjoying the view,” Roy said as he gazed down her top. A bit of heat vision to the groin changed his attitude. “Whoa! I’m on fire!” The women laughed at him. “No! Look! Flames!” Super-Woman waited a few more seconds before asking Cheshire to put it out. She obliged with a few quick punches. As they flew off, Roy puked onto the streets below. “Who is this Super-Woman?” Alexi shrugged. “I don’t know, except she sort of looked like Shyla.” “I thought she left a note saying she was going to kill herself,” the Composite-Superman asked. “Obviously, she didn’t!” the Time-Guardian snapped. “Take the prisoners back down to the Tombs! We’ll deal with them later.” “What about the Weasel?” “Send the Grundy to kill him. Failure is not an option in this group,” was the cold response. The Black Flash bowed his head and moved away to carry out the instructions. “There’s something else, too,” Alexi said. The Time-Guardian turned to him. “Well?” The red-haired scientist cleared his throat. “Something is happening at the rift.” The rift was a place where different persons from different universes seemed to just appear. Vandal Savage had originally discovered it during the time the Time-Guardian had been recuperating. Sometimes a common person came out; other times it was some hero or villain from a universe that no longer existed. Alexi had measured the frequency of the rift and had determined it would only remain open another seven years. “What? What is happening?” “I think its being probed. I’ve got Wendy there with some monitoring equipment and in between her romp sessions with whomever comes through, she occasionally gives me a reading.” He produced some papers, which the Time-Guardian scanned. Though he had amassed great knowledge in his life, he still preferred to hear rather than read, it made consuming large amounts of data easier. “Something is coming. It looks like the rift was probed for its location and now something is on its way. I’ve got a fuzzy image that I picked up based upon forward tachyon radiation. Whenever something begins travel through the rift, it sends a radioactive pulse of temporal photons ahead of it.” He then pulled out the picture. The Time-Guardian looked at it. It was fuzzy, but there was no mistaking who it was.

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Alexi rubbed his chin. “It looks like Superman.” “Superman is dead.” “Look at the ‘S’ on his chest, dammit! That’s no ordinary Superman! That’s my Superman. Your Superman!” The Time-Guardian nodded. “The first one. The original.”

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Chapter 18 Super-Woman and Wonder Woman
“You knew about this, didn’t you?” the Time-Guardian screamed as he smacked the Kryptonian super-hero Nightwing across the face for a second time. Blood was drawn with the blow, a result of Nightwing’s weakened condition. The Kryptonite chains binding him to his cell’s wall were also making him as normal a human as anyone else on the seemingly doomed world of Earth-T. Nightwing spit some blood onto the floor. “Knew about what?” “You knew Shyla would betray me! You knew it!” The Time-Guardian’s face was twisted with rage and some fear. Shyla, once his lover and confident, knew many of the secrets of the Legion of Doom, as well as many of the Time-Guardian’s. If she truly had defected to the side of good, which seemed so after the appearance of “Super-Woman” in Metropolis, then things were just getting worse for the former Earth-2 Speedy. He had considered just leaving this world; it was within his power to do so. Right now, the main timeline was missing a Roy Harper. It was first come, first serve and the Time-Guardian knew that the one that was supposed to be there was actually here, somehow resurrected from the dead. Of course, everyone on this planet, in this whole universe, was resurrected from the dead. All had been assigned fates that had been averted when the Time-Guardian created this reality, the crowning achievement of his criminal career. Certainly if he did take this one chance to live out a life as Roy Harper he would be giving up not just his powers, but his immortality as well; but he would get to live. He would erase all of the “mistakes” the other one had made. He would marry a good American woman and raise good American children. He would not sleep around, except with the occasional mistress, which was, of course, every man’s right to have. “If my fellow scientist has finally seen the light, or I should say the darkness since we are talking about you, then I applaud her!” Nightwing said in defiance. The Time-Guardian roared in rage and momentarily lost control of his powers. A wave of time rushed through the area; nothing serious, but for just a few moments, it seemed as if everything slowed down to a crawl. Somewhere in the Legion headquarters, Jay Garrick, the Black Flash, screamed. “By Zeus!” Wonder Woman called out as she pulled on the yoke for her invisible plane. It was actually a construct of advanced Amazon technology shaped into the form of an invisible plane, but that didn’t matter as it started to spin out of control. Hippolyta was not the first woman ever to put on the costume of the Amazing Amazon, and she wouldn’t be the last she was sure, but she did not want to be the first killed in an airplane crash! Her magically enhanced muscles pulled hard and finally the plane responded. “Damn thing acts too much like a plane!” she cursed. She was not sure what had just happened, only that it felt like she was slowing down even though the airplane’s speed remained constant. The sky had flickered as well, but she didn’t think anything of it. Had she been granted unique vision powers by the gods of Olympus, she would have been able to see that her quantum signature had just changed. She did not put together the fact that she was using the magic of her home island of Thymerscia to travel through and at the same time everything slowed down. Hippolyta was not a stupid woman. She would reason it, but the facts together and draw a logical conclusion. By then, however, she would be someplace else. “This is not 1943,” she said as she looked down to see modern automobiles traveling down an expressway. “I just wanted to go back in time for a few days to see the old gang,” she lamented. When her daughter, Princess Diana, had apparently died, Queen Hippolyta had decided to take her place in the “Man’s World” as Wonder Woman. As they looked relatively the same age and were very similar in appearance, nobody seemed the wiser outside the super-hero community. On an adventure into the past, Hippolyta had decided to remain there and subsequently became known as the Golden Age Wonder Woman when she joined the original Justice Society of America. Though her daughter was now very much alive, the queen did occasionally treat herself to putting on the “old golden eagle” as she called it. Today it was simply to take some time off and visit comrades from a bygone era. The magic of Thymerscia allowed such things.

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Looking down now, she began to wonder exactly what she had done and where she was. Luckily, her plane was invisible, but she was not. Putting the plane on autopilot and ordering it to land itself to await her commands, she jumped free and sailed in the fresh air. The first thing she did was try to find a familiar landmark or city and as luck would have it, she was over Gotham City. Landing quickly behind a clothing store, she managed to sneak her way in and grab some clothes from the stockroom. Something in the back of her mind told her not to be parading around in her costume at this moment. Anyway, as she remembered it, Gotham was never the most friendly of towns to super-heroes! Leaving several gold coins, more than a hundred times the value of what she had taken, Wonder Woman stepped out into the alleyway again to begin her investigation. She already guessed something went wrong. There could be no mistake; if she wished to travel back through time, then she would have with the help of the gods. Only more powerful magic could prevent that. Her time with both the Justice League and Justice Society, as well as the many long conversations she had with the gods had taught Wonder Woman that one reality was not all there was. Though she did not understand all of the concepts of time fully, she reasoned it was possible that she had thrown herself sideways through time. Curiosity was now getting the better of her. Curiosity, it seemed, was also getting the better of the local scum. Three poorly dressed youths approached her as she headed to the entrance of the alleyway. She noted the lustful grins and the chuckling and then she gazed at her manner of dress. Like all Amazons, Hippolyta was proud of her beauty and she knew that physically, there was no match for her in all of the Man’s World. Her choice of short skirt and blouse that showed off her midriff had been done because she knew men would answer questions in proportion to the amount of flesh a woman showed. The three-inch heels were probably a bit much, though. She stopped some twelve feet in front of them. “I know what you are thinking, boys; I urge you to reconsider. Turn around, go back home.” They all three laughed and one of them, the leader, grabbed his crotch. “Lunch time, baby! Woo hoo!” Less than a minute later, all three were holding their crotches, praying to an ever-silent god to end the pain and please let them still be able to make children. Hippolyta straightened her skirt and checked her bag with her costume in it. Seeing everything was fine she stepped out into the street. Everything seemed normal as people went about their business and she quickly walked over to a newspaper machine. Flexing her muscles, she tore the door open and reached in to get a copy of the Gotham Gazette. She didn’t look at it immediately and decided to walk into a café down the street. She had a few dollars in spending money, usually for tipping, and purchased a cup of strong black coffee. She reviewed the front page with great interest. The headline revealed that an organization called the Legion of Doom had recently threatened to destroy several cities, but then halted when three “super terrorists” surrendered to them. There was also a story about how Speedy, leader of the Legion, had recently “come out of the closet” but then retracted the statement a day later. Whatever this world was, Hippolyta decided it was just a little too weird for her. She needed to figure out a way to get back and that meant seeking out the Amazons of this world if there were any. A search on the Internet left her feeling disturbed. Some weeks before, the super-heroes of the world had apparently gone insane, starting with the Flash of the Justice League. Over a period of days, the Legion of Doom had come to humanity’s “defense”, hunting down the renegade heroes before they could harm the innocent public. Then, once the heroes were gone, Speedy declared a form of martial law in the world, only to have it broken by several would-be heroes who destroyed a special research facility. After this, all hell had broken loose and Paradise Island, home of the Amazons, was destroyed by the Composite-Superman in response to threats made against the Legion by Queen Hippolyta. The Hippolyta of this world, a blondehaired woman whose picture she found on a website. This was a world gone mad. Hippolyta was not very familiar with Speedy/Arsenal, the partner of Green Arrow, a contemporary of her daughter’s. He was friends with Donna, her “daughter” through magic, but that did not mean they actually had ever met. He seemed to be a good man, caring for his daughter; but this version was nothing more than a red-haired Hitler. She was now in a quandary; did she try to save this world, or did she simply go home and let fate decide? Her answer came quicker than she thought it would.

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Hippolyta noticed that the library seemed quieter than it should and when she looked around, she saw that the place seemed deserted. “It is a crime to access websites concerning terrorists,” Alexi Luthor said from the doorway. Hippolyta did not recognize the man but from his tone, she understood his intent. The wicked looking firearm his brandished spoke of his demeanor as well. “Can it be? That face…those legs…yes! Yes!” Hippolyta did not enjoy the looks she was getting from the man or his companion, a man in a blue costume with a white star. She reached down for her handbag but Luthor stopped her. “Ah…I would not do that, Wonder Woman,” he said. He then turned his head slightly, keeping his eye on his prisoner. “StarTsar…we have before us the one and only Wonder Woman, the original. My God, first Superman and now you. It almost brings a tear to the eye.” She shook her head. “I do not know who you are, sir, but I can tell you that holding a gun on me is a mistake.” Luthor burst out in laughter. “’Sir’? How proper!” The ceiling then caved in, plaster and building materials falling and raising a cloud of white dust. Luthor dodged to the side and fired, the silent Star-Tsar falling back into the library lobby. Hippolyta grabbed her bag and headed into the book stacks. Super-Woman put her hands on her hips as the ceiling continued to fall around her like snow. “Luthor!” she called out. The scientist crawled through the debris, not realizing who it was that was calling to him, but feeling that he should know. He had been in Gotham on business, looking into a recent microchip breakthrough at WayneTech (a company currently being controlled by AlexiCorp). “Luthor’s not here!” he called out in an attempt to buy some time. A strong hand picked him up by the collar and held him up in the air. He expected to see the smiling face of Wonder Woman but was unpleasantly surprised. “You’re going to hit me now, aren’t you?” Super-Woman nodded and gave him a light tap across the jaw. It was enough to knock him cold and the Mistress of Might dropped him like a rag to the floor. Wonder Woman stepped out from the stacks, adjusting her top. “Thanks, but there’s another one.” Super-Woman was then thrown back as the Star-Tsar struck her with a red solar energy blast. The attack, composed of energy that was of the same frequency and intensity as the sun that had once been the center of Krypton’s universe, robbed her of her strength and made her, temporarily, as weak as a puppy. She screamed in pain and fell back against a cart of books. Wonder Woman was up and running across the library floor, but was thrown off balance as the lightning-quick Star-Tsar launched a similar blast her way. The effect would have been equally as devastating as Wonder Woman did not have the invulnerability of Super-Woman and would have been cooked. The villain said nothing, silent as he put his hands forward and released the pent up energies in his body. Books, shelves and desks exploded in an eerie succession as he concentrated on getting closer to the leaping Wonder Woman. Super-Woman groaned and tried to sit up, but dizziness overcame her. She had spent most of her life as a scientist, not a hero and she still had to get into shape. Wonder Woman gritted her teeth and jumped high into the air, coming parallel with the second floor balcony. Dodging another blast, she came down hard, planting the heel of her boot into the criminal’s chest. Still, the Star-Tsar made no sound, almost robotic in the way he fell and then recovered. Wonder Woman considered the possibility that she was dealing with an artificial being, a creation of the sleeping Luthor, but the rise and fall of the Star-Tsar’s chest seemed too real. “You are supposed to be dead,” he said coldly. “I’ve heard that too many times,” she replied, her hand slowly going down to brush her golden lasso. “This is quite the little police state you’ve developed here.” “Your opinions are pointless; you will die along with the traitor,” he said, his body starting to glow. They moved like water, she going for her lasso, he concentrating his powers into a single, pointblank blast meant to incinerate her. The lasso made it first and the Amazing Amazon jerked hard on the line, the Star-Tsar losing his concentration and stumbling down on one knee. Super-Woman got up and stumbled over to stand next to Wonder Woman. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

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“That’s what I hear,” she said with a wink, yanking again on the rope. The Star-Tsar fell down and the wind was released from his lungs. “Snapper Carr, as I live and breath,” Super-Woman said as she examined the Star-Tsar with her Xray vision. “Decided to turn traitor after all?” Wonder Woman gave a final tug for good measure, getting only a slight grunt out of her prisoner. “He said I was supposed to die with the traitor. How many traitors are there around here?” Super-Woman went over to an overturned desk and pulled off the metal leg. Using her superstrength, she used them as restraints for her super-powered prisoner while Wonder Woman commanded him to submit. “Magic lassos come in so handy.” “I’m sure,” Super-Woman replied. She noticed that the Amazon was looking her over. The costume she was wearing was a variant of the one Supergirl used to wear. When she was alive. “Supergirl?” “Woman.” The queen of the Amazons nodded. “I like the hair,” she offered. “Can I assume you’re the traitor?” Super-Woman nodded. “I was once a member of the Legion of Doom, though I never killed anyone. I left before the slaughter happened.” “Is there someplace we can go, somewhere that we can go over everything? You may not believe this, but I’m not from this world,” Wonder Woman said. Super-Woman laughed lightly. “You’d be surprised by what I’d believe.” Alexi Luthor looked down at the oatmeal and then out into the central area of the underground prison complex recently constructed by the Warden’s. He was incarcerated here with a costume-less StarTsar, a one-legged teenager named Marvin and a cackling Psycho-Pirate. Their current guard was someone dressed in a yellow Flash costume that enjoyed calling him “Old Red”. He had awakened here, with a bruised jaw and an even more bruised ego. Super-Woman, really Shyla, a former teammate on the Legion of Doom, had put him here with the help of the Amazon whore! He realized now that he had mistakenly believed that the woman that he had encountered was not the woman from his homeworld. They looked the same, extremely beautiful with plenty of attitude, but they weren’t the same. This Wonder Woman was a savvy fighter, a warrior, not just another split-tail in a costume, he thought to himself as he looked to see if there was any sugar. He wouldn’t be in this cell for long; no doubt the Time-Guardian was already beating the location of this place from Nightwing! Alexi wanted out of here and soon. He knew that his old nemesis Superman was coming through the rift in another twelve hours according to his calculations and he wanted to be there with a bucket of Kryptonite-laced water for him! “Hey! Old Red! I’m going to go get a Coke, so you sit there and think about all of the bas things you’ve done!” The youth started laughing and then left the area to climb up the stairs to the kitchen. “Alexi,” a cold voice said. Alexi whirled around and choked on his cereal. “You!” The man laughed. “Yes, it is I and I’m afraid your time is up.” The scientist started to protest, to try and come up with some way to prevent his impending death. The intruder held a weapon on him and he knew instinctively that it was not meant to stun or disable. Too many times in the past had he been the one on the other end of the gun. Kid Flash returned less than a minute later to find his charge lying on the floor of his cell, a smoking hole in his chest.

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Chapter 19 Robin and the Legion of Doom
Don’t be a smart-ass. “I’ll ask you one more time, you little brat,” the Master-Jailer said as he looked down on the young man who was currently caught in one of his many traps. This particular one involved a Plexiglas sphere that locked from the outside. The sphere also contained only ten minutes worth of air. “How did you get in?” The idea that a kid could penetrate the Legion of Doom headquarters, a skull-shaped dome hidden in the swamps of South Carolina, infuriated and embarrassed the criminal. He was responsible for security. Don’t be a smart-ass. “The quiet kind, huh?” the criminal asked. He moved over to a small panel and pressed a small red button to summon the rest of his team. “I thought you were dead,” he said as he took a closer look. “Where’s Batman?” Robin looked at him and bit his tongue. His broken wrist hurt and it itched underneath the cast further adding to the discomfort he felt speaking with someone whom he considered to be nothing more than a costumed moron. Easy, Jason; it was thinking like that that killed off your Prime Universe self! The Master-Jailer could not know it by looking at the youth in the orange/green/yellow costume of the Teen Wonder, but they were from the same world. The trapped boy was the Jason Todd, the second Robin, of the long since destroyed realm of Earth-1, recently released from Limbo. He had been accepted onto this world and offered the opportunity to join the Wardens, but had elected for reserve member status. During his time in Limbo, he had watched the life of the true Jason Todd and noted the arrogance and plain stupidity that had led to his early death. Jason was determined not to have that happen to him. He lived by a strange motto now, taking a cue from various Christian groups he now found himself drawn towards. He wanted to, in his life as Robin, to emulate the greatest Robin of all, Richard Grayson. Now, whenever he was unsure or he felt that anger starting to creep up his spine, he would mutter, “what would Dick do?” “The air is stuffy in here, let me out,” he said. “It speaks,” the Master-Jailer said with a snort. “The air is gonna get worse if you don’t tell me what I want to know, kid.” “So, the Legion kills children now?” Robin asked. He knew a lot about the Master-Jailer as such a man had been required reading when he had been on his own world. The Batman always had found the Master-Jailer’s traps interesting. “Man, have you guys gone downhill.” “We kill super-heroes,” was the reply as a door opened on the far end of the room. Robin cast a glance up to the broken ventilation shaft. He had managed to get past several traps on the outside, traps he had prior warning of from Super-Woman. The Maid of Might was once a member of the group, but had since reformed and joined the Wardens. She had assembled a strike team to penetrate the Legion headquarters so that the final battle with the Time-Guardian could begin. Along with her and Robin, who had been selected to scout the area (the Legion dome was lined with lead to prevent the use of X-Ray vision), the rest of the team was waiting for his signal. And it wasn’t just his fellow Wardens; there was also the real Roy Harper, the man the Time-Guardian wanted to kill and take the place of, one of the Wonder Women of the Prime Universe and this world’s foremost liberal crusader, Cheshire. “Obviously you didn’t do it right,” Robin responded before he could catch himself. Though he couldn’t see the Master-Jailer’s face because of his mask, he was sure the man’s visage was not a happy one. “Let him out,” a man in red armor said. Jason recognized him as being from his world as well, a terrorist who once threatened to destroy the world. “Dominus!” the teen cried out. Behind Dominus strode other members of the Legion of Doom, including Wendy, or Wonder Wendy, as she preferred to be called, the woman who had broken his wrist. “Loverboy!” she said with a clap of the hands. She moved past Dominus and came up to the ball. “Let him out!” she ordered. “Wendy…” She turned to the Black Flash. “Is there a problem, Mr. Garrick?”

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“We don’t have time for this,” he replied. He then turned to Dominus. “Sir?” Dominus nodded and the Master-Jailer pulled out a small key and slipped it into a hidden keyhole on the Plexiglas bubble. It came apart in two halves and deposited Robin onto the cold metal floor. “We need to talk,” Dominus said. “There’s some sort of sonic field up that prevents my super-hearing from penetrating the hull,” Super-Woman said as she ran a hand through her hair. In an effort to change not only her inner self, but also her outer, she had put blond highlights into her hair. A scientist by trade whose only romantic venture was with the Time-Guardian himself, she had no idea of the beauty she possessed and she was selfconscience about the change. Hawkman, however, had noticed and had been making lewd suggestions to her all day long. Wonder Woman had noted, though, that whenever Dawnstar was in earshot, his jokes got cleaner. Obviously, there was some connection between the two of them but Hawkman wasn’t about to put all of his eggs in one basket. She smiled at the pun. Some distance away, two strangers were discussing their lives and each wondering what could have been. “On my world, you’re an international terrorist. You set off a nuclear bomb in the country of Qurac,” Arsenal said as he threw rocks into a festering pond. Cheshire stretched out her long legs. “I can’t even begin to imagine it. Nuclear weapons are wrong,” she said, observing the way Arsenal moved. He looked like the Speedy of this world; he even looked like Kid Flash, except there was something more…mature about him. Here was someone who wanted everyone to believe he was an irresponsible rogue, but deep inside he was an honorable man. There was great pain in Roy Harper’s eyes as he spoke to her of his fallen love and his missing daughter. He had confided in her that he wasn’t even sure that he would be able to find her once all of this was over. “Yeah, but I still love her,” he admitted as he skipped a flat stone. “She is very lucky then. To still be loved even after doing the things she’s done, it says much about your character. I can’t imagine unconditional love,” she lamented. “But I suppose that is what your daughter offers you.” He noticed how her voice dropped as she spoke of Lian. “You don’t have children?” “I am unable. I protested in Tibet several years ago; the Chinese police took great pleasure in examining how much pain I could tolerate.” Her eyes watered slightly and she turned away. He stopped throwing stones and regarded her. She was everything he loved about his own Jade without all of the bad things. This was the woman he had seen in those rare private moments he had shared with his daughter’s mother. “I’m sorry,” he offered as he sat down next to her. In the time they had been together, ever since Super-Woman had saved them from the Metropolis Police Department, they had been inseparable. “But what you did was so brave.” She snorted and wiped away a tear. “I guess Tibet isn’t free on your world either?” “I guess some things transcend dimensional barriers,” he said with a sigh. He rubbed his chin stubble. “Yeah, my world has it share of troubles; it isn’t paradise but we try. We have super-villains and terrorists and criminals and some real ass…” “I get the idea,” she said as she turned. Their faces were only inches apart and he felt his heart breaking as he realized he could press the moment no further. He could not start something here on this world, because he didn’t belong here. This was not his daughter’s mother and though he sensed she would be a great one, he could not accept her as a replacement. Above all else, he had to save his daughter. If the Time-Guardian managed to take over his life, he would never get hooked on drugs and would never separate from Green Arrow. He would never be on his own and end up getting recruited by Checkmate and would never end up falling in love with Cheshire. She seemed to sense his unease and backed up a little. She was starting to understand why her counterpart had fallen in love with him. “We should go ask your friend Wonder Woman what is going on.” He giggled. “She’s not my friend! I dated her daughter, but that’s as far as it ever went. Hell, I never actually spoke to her until today. Good thing she’s here, though; with her invisible plane, getting back home should be pretty easy.” “You see, I managed to escape from Limbo as well,” Dominus said as Wendy held Robin in place. He hand was rubbing his lower back behind his cape. When he had first encountered her, she had explained that on her world she had been madly in love with Robin, the Teen Wonder. Of course, she also claimed to

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have been the sexual plaything for the so-called Super Friends. “I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say I made a deal with the Devil.” “I’m very happy for you,” Robin said, trying to move forward. Wendy held him fast and with his broken wrist, there was no hold he could apply from his given position. “Now, if you’d just let me go, I’d be more than happy to finish my mission and leave you alone.” The Grundy growled and Robin actually stepped back. Better to be Wendy’s boy toy than the Grundy’s lunch. The creature was beginning to look more and more like Solomon Grundy, probably a result of the regeneration that occurred whenever he was damaged. Too bad it didn’t help his mind! “You might be surprised how close you are to guessing what we have in store for you.” “Hey, where’s the Time-Guardian,” Robin asked, looking at the villains. He saw one with a green face and half a Batman mask. He had been warned about the Composite-Superman, easily the most powerful member of the Legion after the Time-Guardian. “Isn’t he the guy who holds the leashes here?” Smart-ass! He then muttered under his breath. “Who is Dick?” Dominus asked. “I know where we can find…” “Wendy!” the Black Flash corrected her again. “Enough of this,” Dominus said with a wave of his arm. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, boy, things are changing within the Legion of Doom.” “New health plan?” The Grundy surged forward making a noise that sounded like a cross between a bull moose belching and a bear exploding. A crimson-armored arm launched out and blocked the man-monster. Robin had no idea if the armor was powerful enough to stop him, but regardless, the Grundy stopped. The Teen Wonder remembered the graphic descriptions provided to him by the Flying Fox of the Batwoman’s murder by the brute. “You have the mouth of a typical teenager,” Dominus scolded. “It will be the death of you if you don’t watch it. I’m giving you the chance to walk out of here alive.” Robin recited his mantra in his head several times and then nodded. “I’m listening.” “A first, I’m sure,” Dominus replied with a smile. He lowered his arm and the Grundy scowled. “Your friend’s plan with the television interview has demonstrated that the Time-Guardian is unfit to lead the Legion. His second-in-command, Alexi Luthor, had hopes of taking control one day. Alas, those hopes are now dashed.” Robin said nothing. Super-Woman had apprehended Alexi Luthor and the Star-Tsar when they tried to kill Wonder Woman, who had been searching the internet in the Gotham Public Library for information that had been labeled by the Legion as subversive. Alexi had been mysteriously murdered in his cell underneath the Warden’s headquarters. After that, the Huntress and Deadman made the decision it was time to take the Legion down and figure out a way to stop the Time-Guardian. Already, three of their members were being held somewhere in this building: their team leader Nightwing, the Dark Flash and Aquagirl. Though he had been putting on a brave face, he knew that Kid Flash was terrified that Aquagirl was no longer alive. It was one of the hazards of being a super-hero, they all knew that, and Kid Flash had volunteered to be the scout for the advancing Wardens. The Huntress, acting team leader, had said no and instead requested Robin’s help since he had the experience. “We believe that one of two things is going to happen,” Dominus continued. “We feel that you heroes are either going to take him out of the picture or else he will defeat you and go off to the Prime Universe.” “I can see where that would upset you,” Robin said, hoping he didn’t sound too sarcastic. “Not really, but we feel there is a chance he will back out of the deal he made with Alexi about letting this world continue to exist.” Robin now understood. This wasn’t a meeting to turn him into meat paste, but an effort at a truce. Many of these beings, like him, had seen their lives end with the coming of the Crisis. This world was their second chance and they were willing to ally themselves with their enemies in order to live. The truth was that he wanted to live as well, and he was pretty sure he could vouch for the other members of his team. The there were the billions of citizens of this planet and the planets of all of the galaxies that existed in this reality. The words that he spoke now had so much riding on them and his mantra became a song in his mind. He straightened up and pulled away from Wendy, who seemed to coo at the sudden movement.

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Like it or not, he was the representative for the good side of humanity. He had to ensure that he did nothing that would undermine the moral integrity of the Wardens. “I suppose that’s possible,” he answered. “Obviously, you are the forward scout for an army of goodness, ready to come and smite down the evil dark demon and his minions,” Dominus said. “What would you say if the minions went to Florida to get in some sun and surf?” “If they just left, heading south?” “Not even a guard left to watch over your three teammates, who, by the way, are alive and reasonably well two levels down,” Dominus added. “Don’t be stupid, boy,” the Black Flash warned. Robin knew the reason; the Legion was planning on turning on the Time-Guardian, no doubt spurred on by Dominus. In order to increase their chances of success, they wanted the Wardens to go in first to soften him up. If they won, so much the better. Unfortunately, Robin understood that this was the only chance they had to get the Time-Guardian. With the Legion out of the way, they would be able to concentrate everything they had on him alone. “Okay,” he finally said and the entire Legion seemed to relax. “The Time-Guardian’s powers are affected by this world. His mind-control abilities and his time vision do not work, but at may only be temporary.” Dominus turned to the rest of the Legion and nodded. All of them, including the Master-Jailer and Wendy walked out (though she did give Robin’s butt a quick pinch), leaving the two of them alone. Now that they were alone, Robin fantasized about taking Dominus down, but he dismissed it quickly. He had a busted hand and was knee-deep in enemy territory. “The Time-Guardian, for all of his supposed knowledge, is a fool. He fails to see what is before his eyes; instead he is blinded by his own absurdity. He is an abjuration, phlegm caught in the throat of God.” Dominus turned back to Robin. “He must be destroyed.” “We don’t kill!” “But you will have to,” was the cold response. “Don’t believe me, I don’t care. You will see.” “We. Don’t. Kill.” Dominus shrugged. “If you don’t, you will die. Once the Time-Guardian learns of my existence and how I orchestrated the rebellion of his troops, then I will be forced to kill or be killed. Do not fool yourself into thinking that he will simply go away.” Arsenal finished relieving himself and zipped up his pants. He had to hurry back to the others because Robin had just gotten back. He turned around and ran right into the face of Extant. “Son of a ..!” “So nice to see you as well, Harper,” the villain said. Roy punched him hard in the jaw and Extant went down. Once, Extant had been a friend, a hero and fellow Titan. He was nothing more than a cheap version of the Time-Guardian. In fact, he had, according to the members of the Wardens, helped the Time-Guardian out in his plans originally. “That’s a free shot, Harper; the next one will cost you!” “Anytime you’re ready,” Arsenal responded, his fists cocked and ready. Extant remained on the ground. “I came with some advice. I know what’s going on.” “That’s surprising because from the looks of it, you don’t have a clue!” “Whatever, Speedy,” Extant sneered, rubbing his jaw. “Do you want to hear what I have to say or not?” “Before I knock your teeth down your throat? Sure, speak up.” “It’s just some information. You know how the Time-Guardian says he’s the true Roy Harper? I’ve seen him with a bow.” He started to stand up and brushed off his uniform. “You’re better.” “Sure, jerk; I’ll challenge him to an archery contest.” Arsenal turned away from him. “Once this is over, you can expect a good ass kicking!” The hero emerged from the rift sooner than had been expected, but he had put on an extra burst of speed towards the end. He was needed and he had never, ever failed to heed the call to duty. The “S” on his chest was a testament to his dedication to life, liberty and, some said, the “American” way (though he felt it more appropriate to say the “human way”).

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The original Superman knew where he was going, the location of the evil buried deep in his brain. Once he learned something, he didn’t forget. He was on a mission to prevent the complete destruction of everything. Alexander had received a message of sorts from this place, telling him that a great evil was rising. Despite the danger associated with using his abilities, Alexander, the son of the Luthor of Earth-3 and Lois Lane, had opened a conduit between worlds. “Won’t that cause the complete destruction of the universe?” Superman had asked, remembering what the youth had said at the end of the Crisis if he ever used his powers again. “I was being a little melodramatic for effect,” he said with a wry grin. Faster than a speeding bullet, Superman headed towards South Carolina.

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Chapter 20 Superman and the Wardens
The Time-Guardian was the first to note the silence. For a few moments, he reflected on it. How long did he exist in silence when all sentient life had died off and he had waited until time ended. How long ago was that? He didn’t remember anything about that time other than the silence. “The grave is silent,” he murmured. He tried again to look into the time stream in order to see his future, but again he was disappointed. The Time-Trapper had fixed it so that some of his powers did not work correctly in this dimension. He could change that, he supposed, but what was the purpose? Soon, he would be in the Prime Universe, living the life he deserved. The life that had been taken from him. He chuckled as he realized that even after everything he had done, after all that he had seen, he still had so much to learn. Recently, after lengthy discussions with Alexi, he came to realize that his belief that the Earth-1 Roy Harper had been chosen to live was wrong. Everyone got to die after the Crisis; everyone except the Psycho-Pirate. That left so many possibilities open to him. How would everything have turned out if his theory had been correct? He moved over to the status monitors and saw that the lower levels had been breached. He saw nobody on the screens, but he was sure that his Legion had abandoned him to confront the heroes alone. That was fine with him. At the end of time, he was destined to be alone; how he got there was of no consequence. The radar system detected someone flying in from the north and he assumed his former lover, Shyla, was coming to exact some sort of revenge for his throwing her to the side for the now-deceased Donna Troy. He still regretted killing her, but there was no choice. Their child would have taken away part of his abilities, perhaps even trapping him on this crazy world. He thought about hurrying downstairs and killing the prisoners, but then he figured that the cells were the first place the invaders would go. He didn’t want to confront them there, better here in the meeting hall. He looked around one final time, realizing that this time tomorrow, it would all be over. He would be living his life somewhere else, giving up living as an immortal with no future to live as a mortal with no past. If he was successful, then he would grow old and die and he wondered if he was ready. He wondered if he still had a soul. A bruised and battered Nightwing was the first hero to enter the chamber, still recovering from the effects of being chained with Kryptonite. The leader of the heroes, it made sense that he would be the very first to throw himself into death’s embrace. “Welcome, Van Zee of Krypton,” the Time-Guardian said, beckoning the hero in. Nightwing said nothing but instead tried to fly. He fell to the floor with a thud, spent. Two winged humans them flew in, one, the male, armed with a wicked mace. The Time-Guardian recognized Hawkman, but had no idea who the other woman was. She was obviously Native American and he was briefly reminded of his youth on Earth-2. His father had been killed in a plane crash and a local tribe took in young Roy Harper. Hawkman swung and landed a killing blow, but it had no effect because the Time-Guardian generated a temporal field around his body. The mace’s head aged a billion billion years in less than one second and simply became free atoms. He struck out, swinging his fist through various time shifts, increasing its speed to the point that when it hit, ribs turned to powder and organs were squashed. Hawkman cried out in pain and flew into a wall. The woman came at him next, trying to distract him from the attack coming in the form of Wonder Woman. This Amazing Amazon reminded him of the one he knew in his childhood, but he knew that she, like the life he had loved so dearly, were nothing more than memories now and when he passed from this life, they wouldn’t even be that. Wonder Woman’s expert use of her magic lasso probably made her a formidable combatant against your everyday villain. The Time-Guardian was anything but that. If he had been wearing his black armor or carrying any of a variety of weapons he had stolen from a thousand lifetimes, he would have most likely engaged her in physical combat. “You have corrupted everything that is good in the universe; slain children in the name of Order! You are chaos incarnate!” she cried out, letting a golden hoop fly towards the Time-Guardian.

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He caught it with reflexes honed by years of archery training and held it firm. “My powers are magical in nature my dear Amazon; your lasso has no effect on me. You might as well be throwing common rope.” She grunted and tugged guessing that he was about to try the same thing. Her muscles bulged and he fell ungracefully. Immediately, he was back up, smiling. “A valiant effort, but all for naught. Give this up; it isn’t worth dying over!” “You! You were once a hero!” Dawnstar called out as she landed full force onto his back. Again, he fell down more from surprise than actual damage. “It is a calling, a noble vocation where one puts the lives of others before their own!” “All he has ever been concerned about is his own life, the selfish bastard!” Super-Woman said from the doorway. She was helping Nightwing to his feet. “Ah, the proverbial scorned woman returns!” the Time-Guardian laughed. “I was your lover, Roy,” she said, the thought now making her sick to her stomach, “but I was never scorned! That would indicate that your refusal to take me as your bride meant that I missed out on something, that I had a reason to be scornful!” She sat Nightwing down without taking her eyes off of the Time-Guardian. “You never had anything to offer me!” “I gave you life!” he cried out, ducking a punch from Wonder Woman. “By Rao! I will not stand for this blasphemy any longer!” Super-Woman cried out, launching herself at super-speed towards her adversary. His time field came to life and she passed by him as he moved through the milliseconds to the side. As she tried to stop, he path took her straight towards Dawnstar. Even with her enhanced senses, the former member of the Legion of Super-Heroes could not avoid the red and blue missile coming at her. Super-Woman managed to decrease her speed enough to keep from killing Dawnstar, but the impact knocked her cold. Wonder Woman was no so easily fooled and she began assaulting the Time-Guardian with the skills of a warrior born. Though he had studied various forms of the martial arts in his lifetime, he was unprepared for the savage finesse of Wonder Woman’s attack. Within one short minute, she had managed to draw blood. The Time-Guardian was not completely defenseless or without the ability to deal out similar punishment. An ugly bruise had already formed between Wonder Woman’s ample breast and she knew another heart punch type attack would break her sternum. Her left thigh was also red from several kicks it had received. The Amazon gave a roundhouse kick that made the Time-Guardian stumble back into the waiting arms of Super-Woman. The Maid of Might applied a bear hug, but her lack of experience kept her from lifting her quarry off of the floor. The Time-Guardian planted his feet firmly on the ground. His head slammed back and caught her in the chin. Tears immediately formed in her eyes and her hold relented after another blow. Kid Flash slowly made his way in, supporting both a battered and bruised Aquagirl and a halfasleep Dark Flash. He saw what was happening and called out. “Hey, how about you and me dance?” “A variant? Kid Flash nodded. “And I’m not alone,” he said with a smile. From behind him, Cheshire and Arsenal stepped out. The Time-Guardian’s eyes flared with blue lightning and he backhanded Wonder Woman to the side. She crumpled to ground without a sound. Super-Woman made a move but suddenly stopped. Her eyes went up to a great skylight, made of a material devised by the late Alexi Luthor, and beheld as an angel seemed to descend. The glass broke and it rained like small pieces of reality down upon them. A figure floated down, a large man with a billowing cape. He landed between the Time-Guardian and the others. “Superman?” the Time-Guardian asked, his voice suddenly quiet. “You’re early.” He folded his arms over his chest. “No, I’m late.” He looked beyond the Time-Guardian to SuperWoman. “Are you alright, young lady?” Super-Woman stared at the man with the familiar face crowned by gray hair, just a hint of black at the top. This was Superman, but it wasn’t. This was a man whose presence radiated pure power and charisma. His wizened eyes drifted slowly back to the Time-Guardian as she answered. “Yes, sir.” He nodded. “Good. Would you please see to Diana?” Wonder Woman croaked out a response. “I’m her mother.”

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He let a small smile cross his face. “Of course, my apologies.” He then returned his attention to the man in front of him. “This must stop now, Roy.” “Ha! Alexi is going to be sorely disappointed that I’m going to kill you myself,” the TimeGuardian laughed. “You may have been the big thing on our world, Clark, but you’re nothing compared to me.” Superman seemed unimpressed. “I’m not here to prove who is tougher than who; I’ve never been about that and you know it. That has never been the way of a hero.” “You sanctimonious bastard! You ran away with Alexander Luthor to live! You got to live and the rest of us got to die!” Blue sparks shot from his clenched fists. “Some hero!” “This will stop now.” The Time-Guardian screamed. Waves of time and anti-time warped around them, shimmering the air like waves of heat coming off a desert highway. Superman started to move, to try and force the former Speedy’s hands down, thinking that they were directing his power, but he suddenly felt himself being torn asunder. Hundreds of copies of Superman appeared all overlapping each other, each one slightly different. Some had the same costume; others had a marginally altered “S” on their chest. There were even some female versions. Kid Flash guessed what was happening. “He’s breaking him down into pure Hypertime, creating reality upon reality using him as the template! Eventually the strain of creating so many alternate timelines will cause an implosion!” That would then result in the death of the elder hero and though he didn’t know exactly who this Superman was, the fact that he wore the big “S” was all he needed to know. He started running, generating a bubble of pure Speed Force that let him plow straight through the time waves. He pierced them at super-speed and was past the Superman and in the Time-Guardian’s face in the blink of an eye. “You son of a bitch! You destroyed my world!” The two men fell back as Kid Flash put his hands around his enemy’s throat. “Die you bastard!” the hero cried as he applied more pressure. His own connection to the Speed Force held off the TimeGuardian’s assault. More pressure was applied and the Time-Guardian grunted. He could not be killed in such a manner but having an inferior copy touching him so was angering him beyond measure. “Get off of me you thing!” Kid Flash beat the Time-Guardian’s head on the floor. “Go spit!” Bringing his fist underneath, the Time-Guardian punched hard into the stomach of Kid Flash. The hero had no choice but to let go and was then forced off with another punch. The Time-Guardian was up and kicking the downed hero when someone called out to him. “Let’s end this,” Arsenal said as he directed Cheshire to help the stumbling Superman. Okay, Harper, Arsenal thought to himself, this guy has taken out Hawkman, Wonder Woman and Superman. Now would be a good time to kick his ass. “This has always been about you and me,” Arsenal said as he pulled a composite bow off of his back. “It’s not about power. It’s not about changing history. It’s about which one of us is the real deal. You say it's you. The universe says its me.” The Time-Guardian’s form shift and suddenly he was clad in the Speedy costume he had started his career in. It had been the costume of the partner of the Earth-2 Green Arrow, a hero that had served as a member of the Justice Society of America. He had been lost in time as one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. He had died as a young boy. “I was first. There is no disputing that fact. The powers that be chose you over me.” “That’s such a load of crap, you know that? You are the biggest whiner I’ve ever seen. You might be immortal, but you sure need to grow up. God, I wasn’t this bad when I was a teenager!” The Time-Guardian pointed at him. “No, because you were too busy being a dope-fiend!” “Yeah, I did drugs. Yeah, I had a kid out of wedlock with a woman whom I love more than life itself and she turned out to be a mass murderer.” He pulled out an arrow and notched it. His counterpart grabbed a longbow from out of the time stream. “Sure, maybe I do sleep around a little too much with fantastically beautiful women…” “Too much debauchery,” the Time-Guardian said as he selected an arrow from his quiver. “Says the guy who had a Kryptonian mistress. I suppose if she’s white, it’s all right. Forget your roots?” A sneer was the only reply. “You try so hard to be like me.”

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“Dude, I’m nothing like you.” The Time-Guardian let loose with his shaft. It was split in two halfway towards Arsenal by his own missile. “Case in point.” Arsenal’s arrow lodged into the Time-Guardian’s shoulder, but he disregarded it. “A lucky shot.” “I had my eyes closed.” The Time-Guardian pulled out another arrow and notched it. “Really?” He took his aim off of Arsenal and directed it towards Cheshire, whose back was to them as she helped Superman. The arrow shot away. Arsenal pulled two arrows from his quiver and loaded one. He let it go at the speeding arrow and then brought the other one around to the Time-Guardian. A bare centimeter before the Time-Guardian’s arrow struck the unsuspecting Cheshire, Arsenal’s struck the head and diverted it into Superman’s shoulder where it bounced off. The Time-Guardian looked down to see another arrow stuck in his abdomen. He called upon his powers and aged the arrows into dust. “You’re no match for me. I am the original.” “Yeah, and I’m the upgrade,” Arsenal said. “Welcome to Speedy XP, bitch.” The Time-Guardian threw down his bow and marched towards Arsenal. The hero fired off three quick shots, but the time field around him disintegrated the arrows before they could touch him. “This is over.” “Yes,” a calm voice called from behind them, “it is .” The man was young and clad in golden armor, curly red hair falling down onto his shoulders. He had an easy smile, a calm demeanor, like a priest ready to give a sermon. “Are you okay, Clark?” he asked. Superman straightened up. “For someone who just gave birth to a hundred new realities against his will, I feel fine.” He wiped some blood from his lip where it had trickled down from his nose. “Getting too old for this.” “You!” the Time-Guardian bellowed. “No!” Alexander Luthor’s voice was like a sweet melody. “You wanted to die, didn’t you? You wanted to be with those you loved.” “No!” “It explains it all. The failed plans using incapable operatives. Killing all of those people, waiting for God to judge you. Creating a world and then filling it with heroes that defeat you at every turn. Killing your own child to prevent your legacy from continuing.” Alexander spread his arms out. “You keep trying to deny it, Roy, but its true. You didn’t want to be immortal and you didn’t want to destroy the life of Roy Harper. You wanted to be set free.” “No, damn you! I want to live! I want to live!” “Then why haven’t you gone to the Prime Universe? You could go at any time, yet you wait around here for your enemies to pounce on you.” The Time-Guardian’s shoulder’s sagged and a sound came from his lips that nobody could identify. Alexander stepped forward. “You know I’ll stop you. I have the power of the time within me. You have disrupted time too much and I’ve come to take you with me.” “I had nobody…” “Take my hand, Roy,” Alexander said, offering it. “Take it and come with me. I know you want to do the right thing.” “I’m sorry,” the Time-Guardian whispered and then his head popped up. Blue lightning flared from his eyes and he let loose with a storm of time. Alexander stood there in the center of the maelstrom, shaking his head. The man in the golden armor closed his eyes and brought his hands together. Bright yellow light and orange plasma began to emanate from them. The time storm picked up in intensity, battering away at Alexander’s natural defenses. The heroes grabbed a hold of anything they could as they were threatened with being pulled into the center. Alexander’s light began to beat back the Time-Guardian’s and the former Speedy screamed in rage and anguish. Through the cascading images being produced, everyone could see the crimes of the Time-Guardian being played out. All of the souls he had condemned to early death cried out to him and he roared even loader against the onslaught. Colors and sounds whirled, moans and screams bit through the air, piercing wails of sadness as Alexander opened up a gateway. “I was first!” the Time-Guardian screamed.

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“That doesn’t mean you get to be last,” Alexander answered as the gateway opened completely. The Time-Guardian’s powers suddenly failed. The voices stopped and the winds died. In an instant, he was gone. Kid Flash and the Dark Flash immediately started to throw up. “It’s okay,” Alexander called out as the other heroes went to their rescue. “I put the Time-Guardian in the one place he can’t escape.” “The Speed Force?” Arsenal asked. Alexander smiled and took Superman’s offered hand. “I offered him the opportunity to surrender. He refused. Teenagers.” Arsenal scratched his head and then suddenly realized it was over. “My daughter!” “Is safe. Lian Harper is destined for greatness. Her spirit is strong.” He closed his eyes and again brought his hands together. There was a flash of light and then a small, dark-haired girl stepped into view. Arsenal dropped to his knees and accepted his daughter’s joyful hug. Tears flowed freely and all of the heroes had to dry their eyes. Here was the reward for their efforts. All of the sacrifice and pain had been worth it for this moment. Arsenal let her wipe her nose on his costume and he looked up. “How?” “She came to me when the Donna Troy of this world died. The child she carried was, in spirit, your daughter. It is hard to explain, time often is, but she instinctively knew what to do. She wanted to save her daddy.” Superman looked down as Lian looked up at him. “Look, daddy, it’s Grandpa Superman.” The Man of Steel stooped down and rubbed her head, messing up her hair. “I don’t have a lot of time, but you think your daddy would let me fly you out of this place. Do you like ice cream?” “Daddy/” she asked, the horror of the events that just took place being replaced by the prospect of dessert with Superman. He consented and watched as they leapt into the sky with an “up, up and away!” “I won’t remember anything?” Arsenal asked. The Wardens were seated around the table along with Wonder Woman, Superman and Alexander Luthor. “Yes and no,” Alexander said with an approving nod from Nightwing. “It will all seem like a dream. You have to remember that right now, the Prime Universe is missing its Roy Harper. As soon as you go back, you’ll fall back into your life. You and your daughter.” “I’ve got the jet warming up,” Wonder Woman said as she sipped her tea. “I don’t know what to say,” Arsenal began. “This has all been too much. I mean, what were the Time-Guardian’s real motives? Did the Crisis actually happen? Did it happen the way I remember it?” Superman leaned forward. “Son, the only thing you need to worry about is raising that very special little girl.” Nodding, Arsenal stood up and accepted hugs and handshakes from the Wardens. “You especially take care,” he said to Kid Flash. The alternate Roy Harper grinned wide and wrapped an arm around Aquagirl’s waist. “I’ll be okay and don’t worry; I’ll know if that bastard ever tried to get out.” The Dark Flash stepped up. “We will both know.” “You ever run by Titans Tower, stop in,” Arsenal offered. The Dark Flash laughed. Eventually, Nightwing and the Huntress stepped up. “Uh, Roy, we know that you have to go home, but we’d like to make you an honorary member of the Wardens.” He stepped back. “Really? What do I get?” Nightwing shrugged. “Nothing.” “Thanks.” From the personal journal of A.L.:

It felt good to be doing something useful again and I know Clark was thrilled to be able to get out and stretch. Of course, he beat me home and when I got here, he was laying in that hammock again with Lois. At the end of the Crisis, I used my powers for what I believed was going to be the last time when I rescued Clark and Lois and the Earth-Prime Superboy. How was I supposed to know I was the catalyst that would start Hypertime? Perhaps I should have waited a while longer; if I had, maybe I would have been able to stop Speedy from the beginning. It doesn’t matter now; time is restored and the restrictions on my powers have been put back into effect. I’m still amazed at the courage found in the soul of Lian Harper. One day, the universe will certainly shake at her presence.

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I managed to broker a deal between Nightwing and Dominus to allow for dual-ownership of the rift for the next seven years that also included a truce between the Wardens and the Legion of Doom. They share stewardship and perhaps a few more souls from the Crisis will get a second chance. I still cannot be happy, though, as I remember that trapped in the Speed Force is someone who had been given a second chance and threw it away. Pity poor Roy Harper, the young boy who never got to be a man.
“I wish I could stay and I know I have to go,” Roy said. “I’m so confused.” Cheshire smiled and laid her head on his bare chest. “I’m going to miss you, you know that? I’ve never met a man like you.” “I’ll always be in your dreams, babe,” he responded. “Hey! Wake up!” Roy Harper sat up straight, his head moving back and forth. “It’s about time,” Oliver Queen said, holding a mug of steaming coffee. “Can’t handle your liquor, can ya?” “I’ll take youth over experience any day,” he said as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Man, that was a weird dream. Ollie, have you ever heard of the Composite-Superman?” “Is that made with rum?” Roy fell back onto the pillow. He was inside Oliver’s apartment in Star City. One of many. “Where’s Lian?” “Daddy! Papaw Ollie is making chili for breakfast!” “Great. Tell you what, leave the coffee and give me a minute, okay?” Oliver agreed and set the mug down on the nightstand before scooping Lian up. They disappeared into the apartment proper, a conversation on the benefits of beans for the heart going on between them. Roy rolled over and reached down for his pants and rummaged through them for his cell phone. He sat up and dialed in a number that he knew by heart, a number that the U.S. government would kill to have. There was a pause and then it rang. It picked up before the second ring. “Yes.” “Ches? Jade?” “Roy? Is Lian alright?” “Yeah. I just wanted to call.” He paused. “I wanted to hear your voice.” “You have to stop doing this to us,” she responded with a sigh. “You have to move on. If not for yourself, then for Lian.” “Like you’d let anyone else be her mommy.” “Roy. This is killing you, I can tell from your voice.” “I just wanted to tell you…that…that…I’ll…” “I know. You’ll love me forever. I love you too.” The line went dead and Roy Harper put his arm over his eyes and silently cried. Two eyes looked out, a set of evil orbs staring into the abyss. Two eyes belonging to a very confused and quite insane being that had lived until the end of time and back stared out into the time stream. Waiting. The End

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EPILOGUE

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NEW HEIR TO WAYNE FORTUNE DISCOVERED!
Gotham City (AP) – Coming only days after the revelation that Jason Todd, the ward of murdered billionaire Bruce Wayne, was still alive, the law firm representing the Wayne Estate announced today that another two members of Wayne’s family were discovered after an investigation. Helena Wayne, a distant cousin to the playboy, and her young son, also named Bruce, was found after an exhaustive search of family records. Helena Wayne represents a distant branch of the Wayne line the moved from the east coast to the west during the Gold Rush. She was unaware of her association to the Wayne Estate until a friend of hers suggested that she contact the law firm in control of Wayne’s fortune. As luck would have it, the former social worker did indeed turn out to be related. Bruce Wayne was found murdered in the aftermath of the so-called “Super-Hero Wars” between the Justice Society and Legion of Doom. A young boy found near him was assumed to be Wayne’s ward, Jason Todd. The exact circumstances of Wayne’s death, save for the fact that he was murdered, have not been released and Gotham City PD is being very tight-lipped about the incident. “We don’t comment on no open cases,” Detective Harvey Bullock was quoted as saying when interviewed for this story. One week ago, Jason Todd emerged safe and sound, turning himself in at the 116th Precinct of the New York Police Department. Fingerprints positively identified him as Wayne’s heir. Bruce Wayne, considered by many to be a foppish playboy, was worth an estimated seven billion dollars and was the owner of such companies as Wayne Enterprises and WayneTech. Something of a mystery to most people, Wayne never married and never fathered his own children. He instead elected to adopt underprivileged young boys. His first ward, Richard Grayson, died under very mysterious circumstances two years ago. Jason Todd had only been with Wayne for a year. The identity of the boy found with Wayne has not yet been established. One insider at the GCPD stated, “it’s the damndest thing in the world. We were 100% positive that the body was that of Jason Todd. Obviously, we were mistaken.” Now that the search for heirs is complete, Wayne’s final wishes will be carried out. His will left his entire fortune to his “family” and “wards”. His butler, Alfred Pennyworth, also received compensation in the amount of 250 million dollars. Because the will was so ambiguous, lawyers decided to launch a worldwide search for possible heirs. DNA testing would be used to accurately determine identity. While the specifics of the testing done on both Helena and Bruce Wayne will not be disclosed, it is rumored that some discrepancies were noted. One scientist, speaking on a condition of anonymity, stated that the tests indicated a possible fatherly connection between the elder Wayne and Helena. This, of course, would be medically impossible, since Helena is 31 years old and Bruce Wayne was 36 when he died. Helena Wayne has already made moves to take custody of Jason Todd, whom remains an heir and has already had 750 million dollars set aside in trust. She is expected to also take control of the remaining Wayne assets over the next two years. When questioned about her sudden change in fortune, Ms. Wayne’s only comment was “it feels good to finally be home”.

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“Not exactly my kind of cuisine,” Shyla said. Van Zee regarded her for a moment as she tried her best to take a bite out of the super-sized hamburger and then shook his head. “I like what you did with your hair,” he said as he applied mustard to his own lunch. The Gotham Gazette was lying folded next to them. Shyla had asked him why he hadn’t moved into Wayne Manor. He had responded that while he and Helena were dating, he wasn’t ready to settle down again just yet. “I thought you liked brunettes,” she said with a comical sneer. The two Kryptonians were becoming fast friends. Certainly Shyla had been romantically interested in Van, but it had more to do with their ancestry than actual chemistry. Both of them being scientists had been more of an attraction than anything else. “I do; I was just saying that adding the blonde streaks makes you look…younger,” he added with a shrug. She applied some heat vision to his hamburger, overcooking it. “I’m only twenty-eight and I look damn good for it. Several of the photographers said so.” “You have a lot to learn about why men pay compliments.” “I’m not a child,” she said, sticking her tongue out. A couple walked by and pointed at Shyla. Van picked up their conversation with his super-hearing. In her glasses and slightly over-done make-up, Shyla looked nothing like the Super-Woman identity she assumed as a member of the Wardens. As Sheila Danvers she was now the new weatherperson for WGBS news, known more for her low-cut blouses and lusty voice than any true meteorological ability. It was the perfect cover; no sane person would ever suspect a woman half way towards becoming a centerfold or “B” movie star could be a super-hero. He decided to change the subject. “How are they handling the disappearance of Clark Kent?” he asked. In the Earth-1 universe, he and Kent had been related. Kent, as Superman, had been killed by the Legion of Doom on this world. She sighed and sipped at her iced tea. “Lois Lane seems to be taking it rather well, but I assume that they weren’t as close here as in other realities. It’s funny, though…” “What?” “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she was hitting on me…” “I’m sure you’re mistaken…” She shook her head. “No, think about it, Van. This world is made up of what could have been and what was. This is a hodge-podge mixture of what the Time-Guardian thought was right and whatever the Psycho-Pirate could squeeze in at a moments notice.” She grabbed a French fry. “Maybe Lois is a lesbian?” “Right, and Katar is going to become a member of the ACLU,” Van snorted. “He got hired for a movie finally.” “Really?” Shyla asked. “What is it?” “He’s the stunt double for some actor named Van Dumme; I didn’t get the title but I was never one for theater,” Van said. “Dawnstar wasn’t happy about it.”

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“That’s because she knows he’s going to sleep with every groupie he can; the man is a complete cad. Thanagarians!” She pushed the plate away. “I can’t eat this swill.” “Neither can I since you burned my food,” he replied. They both got up and Van paid the bill. Outside, she asked him where he had gotten cash. “Unlike you, my dear, I don’t feel the need to have a secret identity and fit in. I’ve taken over the Fortress of Solitude; Superman stored vast amounts of money there believe it or not.” She laughed. “I’d like to visit it some time.” “You know where its at; you are always welcome,” he said with a smile. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. “What was that for?” “Giving me a second chance, being my friend, for being a good team leader,” she said, wiping the lipstick off of his cheek. He looked at his watch. “We need to get to California. Roy and Tula are supposed to be going out for a romantic weekend and it’s our turn for monitor duty.” Both heroes raced into a nearby alleyway where they changed into their costumes in the blink of an eye. Then both jumped into the sky, rocketing towards the horizon and the future.

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APPENDIX
A
Abel – (Abel/Caretaker) a timid man who maintained the House of Secrets in the Earth-1 universe and still cares for it in a swampy section of Limbo. He also cares for the spot where the House of Mystery stood across the road. His only goal seems to be to find out what happened to his brother Cain after the Crisis. From the House of Secrets, Abel has the ability to look out into the vast expanse of Hypertime. He saw the war going on in Limbo and when Andrew Bennett came to him for help, he went to speak with a Hawkman who had been sitting in a tree just down from his House. Abel convinced Hawkman to help out in the war against Mon-El and has since retired back to his House, taking tea with Andrew Bennett when he can. Abra Kadabra – (Abra Kadabra/magician) 64th century criminal obsessed with destroying the Flash. His hatred started with the second Flash, Barry Allen, and then transferred to his successor, Wally West. Abra and the Time-Guardian have been friends for several years and the two often meet in different time periods for dinner. When he began his plan to kill Roy Harper, the Time-Guardian sent Abra into the past where he put a curse of bad luck on Dick Grayson, the hero known as Nightwing. The idea was to have Nightwing’s bad luck result in the death of Roy Harper. Unfortunately for Abra, his plan was discovered by a chance encounter between Nightwing and Zatanna. Later, Abra spent some time with the Legion of Doom, but eventually quit to return to pursuing the Flash full time. AlexiCorp – company owned and operated by Alexi Luthor when he was alive. The company was taken over by Dominus and was renamed the Lexor Group. Allen, Barry – the second Flash and considered the greatest hero of all time. Barry Allen was a simple police chemist who was doused with electrified chemicals. The chemicals opened a conduit to the Speed Force and Barry found he had the ability to move at super-speed. Fashioning a costume based upon his childhood hero, the original Flash, Barry became a super-hero. As the Flash, Barry was a founding member of the Justice League of America and mentor to Wally West, the man who would become the third Flash. For several years Barry fought crime until he accidentally killed the man who had murdered his wife Iris, the Reverse-Flash. After a lengthy court battle, Barry was exonerated and left to love in the 30th century where he discovered his wife was still alive. One month after arriving in the future, the Anti-Monitor kidnapped him. Tortured by the Psycho-Pirate, Barry eventually summoned the courage to rebel against his captor and used his powers to destroy the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter cannon. The act cost Barry his life and ensured that his name would go down in history. All-Star Squadron – group of super-heroes organized during World War 2 by President Roosevelt to defend the home front while the Justice Society disbanded for the war duration. Before the Crisis, the Squadron existed only on Earth-2. The membership included most American and British heroes including Green Arrow and Speedy. After the Crisis, several of the Earth-2 heroes were removed from the continuity and therefore were not part of the team. The Squadron disbanded some time after World War 2.

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Anti-Monitor – being who controlled the anti-matter universe of Qward and wanted to control all of creation. The Anti-Monitor developed the Cris is Wave in order to pursue this goal. He was killed at the end of the Crisis. Aquagirl (pre-Crisis) – (Tula/Adventurer) the former lover of the Earth-1 Aqualad, Tula died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, fighting bravely to protect the undersea kingdoms of her people. Though she had been dead for several years, Tula appeared on Earth-T shortly after it was created by the Time-Guardian. From the beginning of her involvement with the Wardens, Tula has been an influential member and the emotional glue that has held them together. She volunteers for any and every mission she can and did so to find out what the Time-Guardian was keeping in a secret facility. After a fierce battle in which her friends Detective Chimp and Cinnamon were killed, Tula discovered the device the Time-Guardian was using to hold back the Crisis wave. The Dark Flash, the man who was being used to power the device, told her that if she shut it down, she would die when time reoriented itself. Though she did not want to perish, Tula deactivated it for the good of the prime universe. Luckily, the Time-Trapper put the world of Earth-T into a pocket universe, allowing Tula and the rest of the world to live. Later, Tula joined the Dark Flash and Nightwing in surrendering to the Legion of Doom in order to keep them from destroying San Francisco. There Wonder Wendy subjected her to torture and sexual assault. Aquagirl is still an active member of the Wardens and she resides in their mansion headquarters. She is currently in a deeply romantic relationship with fellow member Kid Flash. Arsenal – (Roy Harper/Adventurer) Roy Harper’s father was killed when he was a young boy and the local Navajo tribe took him in. There he developed great skill with the bow and arrow and also took great interest in the super-hero Green Arrow. A chance meeting between the two of them convinced the hero to take Roy on as his partner. Oliver Queen, the man behind the mask of Green Arrow, also took Roy in as his ward. Queen eventually lost his fortune and as a result changed his entire lifestyle. That lifestyle left very little time for Roy. Though he was busy with the Teen Titans, Roy was still upset that his “father” had no time for him. As a result, Roy turned to drugs and became a heroin addict. He was eventually found out and sought help. When he got older, Roy bounced from career to career until he took a job with the government agency Checkmate. His unique skills of accuracy made him a valuable asset and he was immediately sent into deep cover to infiltrate a terrorist organization ran by Cheshire. During this mission, Cheshire and Roy fell in love. Finally, Roy had to admit the truth and went back to Checkmate. Some time later he learned that he had a daughter, Lian, with Cheshire. When the government decided to take control of the Titans, the elected Roy, now called Arsenal, to be the leader of the team. This new team of Titans did not last very long, just as the other incarnations that would follow. Arsenal’s involvement with the Time-Guardian started when the temporal villain tried various ways to influence Harper’s life so that he would die at an early age. When his attempts failed, the Time-Guardian sent the Composite-Superman to kill him. Once he was dead, Arsenal ended up in Limbo as his final fate was being decided. There he became aware of a plot by General Zod and later Mon-El to release many of the inhabitants from Limbo into the Prime Universe. Despite the danger to himself, Arsenal aided Super-Squirrel and Dawnstar in ending the Limbo Wars.

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Arsenal was then taken to Earth-T where he aided the Wardens in trying to draw the Time-Guardian out for a final fight. During this time, Arsenal encountered the Cheshire of that world and he found himself torn between wanting to go home and wanting to stay and get to know the duplicate of the woman he loved. In the end, to save his daughter, Harper decided to go home. Using advice from Extant, Arsenal challenged the Time-Guardian to an archery contest that he won easily, proving he was the better “Speedy”. After the Time-Guardian’s defeat, Arsenal was made an honorary member of the Wardens and then returned to his own world. He believes now that the adventure that occurred was nothing more than a dream.

B
Batgirl I – (Barbara Gordon/College Student) Orphaned when her parents were killed in an automobile accident, Barbara Gordon was taken in and adopted by her uncle James and his wife. James was the police commissioner for Gotham City and so Barbara was raised to have a healthy respect for law and order. Barbara also developed an unusual fascination with super-heroes, especially Gotham’s very own Batman. While still in high school, Barbara designed herself a costume modeled after the Batman’s and took to calling herself Batgirl. The Batman discovered her identity and ordered her to stop, unwilling to be responsible for any harm that might befall his best friend’s daughter. Barbara, however, refused and so the Batman compromised by training her himself. After an initial trial period, the Batman allowed Batgirl to begin to operate on her own. As time progressed, he began to trust her and rely on her more and more as Robin began to spend more time with the Teen Titans. During one of these times Batgirl responded to a Bat-Signal initiated by the Original Green Lantern who learned of a plot to blow up a hospital in Gotham City. Teaming together, the two heroes discovered the hospital and Deathstroke the Terminator. Green Lantern tired Deathstroke down and Batgirl managed to get the best of him, saving the hospital from destruction. Unknown to her, this hospital had been targeted by the Time-Guardian because it was where Roy Harper had received treatment for his drug problem. Batman-T – (Bruce Wayne/Millionaire) mind-controlled hero that constantly fought to free his will from the Time-Guardian. His partner, Robin, however did not fight but instead enjoyed the freedom to pursue evil. Batman was sent to kill his world’s Joker, but failed to do so. Later he was sent to help guard the Psycho-Pirate. He ended up in a fight with the Huntress of the Wardens, which he lost. It is assumed that the Legion of Doom killed the Batman at a later date.

Batmouse – animorphic hero from the world Earth-C Minus. Batmouse discovered the tear between his universe and the Prime Universe and sent Super-Squirrel out to investigate. He was also the one who pulled Super-Squirrel back home.

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Batwoman I – (Kathy Kane/Socialite) A bored woman with more money than common sense, Kathy Kane created a costume and the identity of Batwoman in the vain attempt to capture the heart of Batman. The Batwoman operated on and off for several years, mainly fighting minor villains and criminals. Though she certainly was a woman of beauty, she was never able to tempt the Batman away from his true love, Catwoman. Batwoman eventually retired her identity, donning her costume only briefly before the Crisis on Infinite Earths to help the Earth-1 Batman and Earth-2 Robin battle a dying Dr. Hugo Strange. Appearing at the same time on Earth-T as the other members of the Wardens, Batwoman simply never fit in. She was a part-time hero at best, a fish out of water at worst. She had trouble relating to the Huntress, the daughter of the man she had loved and had no real grasp of tactics. In an effort to give her something useful to do, Warden team leader Nightwing sent her to Limbo to find the real Roy Harper. The Flying Fox, a teenaged version of the Earth-1 Batman, aided her in her venture. Unfortunately, she lacked the skills necessary to properly defend herself when she was confronted by and subsequently killed by the Grundy. Batwoman is buried on the Earth-T Wayne estate.

Bennett, Andrew – a 400-year-old vampire from the Earth-1 universe specifically selected to try and help free the true Roy Harper from Limbo. Bennett agreed to remain in Limbo and work with the Order. As long as he remains in Limbo, Bennett does not have to feed on blood. Black Canary I – (Dinah Drake Lance/Private Investigator) one of the members of the famous Justice Society of America, the Black canary was the original Blonde Bombshell, operating for decades in Gotham City, working alongside Johnny Thunder and the original Green Lantern. She was married to private investigator Larry lance, but being something of a free spirit; she ended up having a long-term affair with the original Starman, Ted Knight. Working with the JSA on and off for years while she raised her daughter, Dinah, the Black Canary was picked for assassination by the Time-Guardian in the hope her death would have an adverse effect on her daughter’s life, who became a close friend to Roy Harper. The Time-Guardian sent the Reverse-Flash to kill her, and he would have succeeded if not for the timely intervention of Robby Reed, the so-called Dial “H” for Hero. Black Canary 2 – (Dinah Lance, Florist) daughter of the original Black Canary and detective Larry Lance. Founding member of the Justice League of America; former member of the Justice Society of America; current partner of Oracle in the Birds of Prey. Dinah Lance was the longtime girlfriend of Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow and a surrogate mother to his ward, Roy Harper. When Roy developed an addiction to heroin, Dinah Lance used her own money to pay for his rehabilitation at a private hospital in Gotham City. The Time-Guardian hired Deathstroke the Terminator to destroy the hospital in the hopes keeping Roy from recovering.

Black Flash–T – (Jay Garrick/ scientist, professional criminal) the original Flash of Earth-T, Jay Garrick was the only hero to remain faithful to the Time-Guardian. After the destruction of the Justice Society, Garrick changed his name to the Black Flash. He is currently a member of the Legion of Doom.

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Brainiac (Pre-Crisis) – android who originally sought to shrink and collect cities from several worlds including the city of Kandor from Krypton. Over the years, Brainiac confronted Superman on several occasions. Brainiac was allegedly destroyed during the Crisis, but he reappeared on Earth-T very soon after it was created. The Wardens led by Nightwing, a Kryptonian who had lived in Kandor, destroyed him. Brainiac 5 (Pre-Crisis) – (Querl Dox/adventurer and scientist) a member of the Earth-1 30th century group called the Legion of Super-Heroes. Brainiac 5 was perhaps the most intelligent being in the universe and as such was sometimes seen as aloof and snobbish. Despite this, he did manage to develop a very close relationship with the 2oth century heroine and reserve Legion member Supergirl. When Supergirl died fighting the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis, Brainiac 5 was unable to cope with it. For all of his intellect, he was not ready for the emotional strain her death caused him. Several years later, the Dark Flash discovered that Brainiac 5 was capturing speedsters throughout Hypertime and using them as living batteries to power a device that held back the Crisis wave from a small pocket of time. To his horror, the Dark Flash also learned that the scientist was holding the soul of Supergirl in stasis, refusing to let he go to her final reward. The Dark Flash defeated Brainiac 5 and destroyed the equipment holding back the Crisis wave. Brainiac 5 was killed when the wave struck him. Later, the Time-Guardian copied Brainiac 5’s design and used the Dark Flash to power the machine. Aquagirl of the Wardens eventually destroyed that device.

C
Cheshire – (Jade/terrorist) considered the most dangerous and wanted woman in the world, Cheshire is a terrorist with no equal. She has murdered thousands of people either with her bare hands or by using devices such as a nuclear weapon. Cheshire fell in love with a member of her group named Roy Harper, only to find out later that he was an undercover agent for Checkmate. After Harper returned to the United States, she discovered she was pregnant with their child. The child, Lian, was eventually turned over to Harper to raise. Cheshire is wanted throughout the world and the government has tried several times to get Harper to capture her but he refuses. To this day they are still in love with each other. Cheshire-T – (Jade/political activist) a completely different sort of person from her Prime Universe counterpart, the Cheshire of Earth-T was singled out for execution by the Time-Guardian because he felt her presence tainted his own life. She was not killed, however, and despite being labeled a terrorist for her liberal views, she continued her activities in secret. Very little is known about her life except that she was tortured in China for protesting the occupation of Tibet. The end result of that torture is that she is unable to have children. Cheshire pursued Arsenal when he attempted to draw the Time-Guardian out of hiding, hoping to gain revenge and expose her nemesis. Realizing the truth about Arsenal, the two quickly became friends. As time progressed, she began to develop feelings for him as he also began to feel something for her. Fortunately for both of them, Arsenal had to return to his own reality and so the problem was solved rather harshly. Because she aided in the defeat of the Time-Guardian she was offered a position on the Wardens, but she refused, stating that organizations dedicated to protecting time were useless to the common man. Chronos I – (David Clinton/Professional Criminal) a foe of the Atom, Chronos is not known to have any true time-traveling ability, but he is a so-called expert on the subject. He was a member of Extant’s time council, most likely taken there by one of the other members. Cinnamon – (Real name unknown/Bounty Hunter) born in the Old West of the United States on Earth-1, the flame-haired beauty known as Cinnamon spent most of her adult life trying to find the people responsible for her father’s death. Whether or not she achieved this goal prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths has yet to be revealed. Appearing on the world of Earth-T shortly after it was created, Cinnamon threw her lot in with the TimeWardens in their efforts to stop the Time-Guardian. A rather shy woman, Cinnamon made very few friends on the team, but did manage to strike up relationships with both Aquagirl and Detective Chimp.

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The three of them discovered a secret facility where the Dark Flash was being held. Detective Chimp went secretly ahead of the other two to try and find some defensive weakness and ran afoul of the Reverse-Flash. Aquagirl and Cinnamo n, following the Chimp, discovered that the Reverse-Flash had killed the monkey. In anger, Cinnamon drew on the Reverse-Flash and shot him in the head even as he used his powers to kill her. Composite-Superman I – (Joseph Meach/Janitor) an original loser, Joe Meach accepted a job as the janitor at the Earth-1 Superman Museum in order to make a living. One day while standing in front of several statues of members of the Legion of Super-Heroes (a present for Superman), a lightning bolt hit and released unknown energies from the statues. The energies provided Joe with the abilities of the entire Legion. The Composite-Superman fought and was defeated by the combined might of the SupermanBatman team and it was assumed that he died during the Crisis. The Time-Guardian managed to find the Composite-Superman just before his atoms were recycled for use in the new universe and returned him to his physical form. However, it has been noted that the resurrected Composite-Superman does not have near the abilities he used to have, most notably the intelligence of Brainiac 5. The Composite-Superman’s greatest claim to fame is that he was the person who killed the true Roy Harper on the orders of the TimeGuardian. Currently, the Composite-Superman is a member in good standing of the Legion of Doom. Crash – Animorphic hero from Earth-C Minus, he is a member of the Justa Lotta Animals.

Crisis on Infinite Earths – cataclysm that occurred several years in the past in which the Anti-Monitor, a being from the anti-matter universe of Qward, attempted to convert all of creation into anti-matter. All of the multiverse was eventually consumed in the Crisis Wave that the Anti-Monitor created, though the Monitor himself would die at the hands of the very heroes he sought to destroy. After the Crisis, there was only one universe, made up of the heroes of the Modern Age. In the new universe, the Crisis is remembered only as a great battle in which the second Flash, Barry Allen, sacrificed his life to save the universe.

D
Daily Planet – Newspaper on Earth-T that Jimmy Olsen worked for before his death. Dark Flash – (Walter West/Adventurer) a Hypertime duplicate of the third Flash, Wally West, Walter went insane when Kobra murdered his girlfriend, Linda Park. In his insanity, he not only mastered the powers of the Speed Force, but he also murdered several super-heroes and criminals. Wally West’s fiancé Linda Park ended up in Walter’s reality and he believed her to be his love resurrected. In the ensuing battle with Wally, Walter believed he had accidentally killed Wally. The encounter had restored Walter’s sanity and he traveled to the Prime Universe to assume Wally’s life in an effort to make up for his crimes. Walter’s presence, however, started to cause his reality to start to merge with the Prime and he was ordered by the JLA to leave immediately once his true identity was discovered. Because he has no emotional link to his reality, Walter is forced to travel the pathways of Hypertime, trying to find his way home where he’ll face justice for the murders he committed.

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During his adventures, the Dark Flash encountered the pre-Crisis Brainiac 5 who was using various speedsters to power a device used to hold back the Crisis Wave. This device would later be used by the Time-Guardian who would capture the Dark Flash in order to use as a living battery. The Dark Flash, once freed by the Wardens, joined the team and helped them bring down the TimeGuardian. His part was to surrender to the Legion of Doom as a diversion while another team confronted the Time-Guardian. The Dark Flash is now on reserve status as he is continuing his journey through Hypertime. Dawnstar – (Dawnstar/Adventurer) a descendant of Earth-1 Native Americans, Dawnstar was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes that allegedly died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Dawnstar reappeared during the Limbo Wars where she offered aid to SuperSquirrel. She was instrumental in defeating the Phantom Zone forces and was readily accepted into the Wardens where she has started seeing Hawkman on and off. Because she is a mutant with large wings, she can’t blend into the Earth-T community. She has, however, been spending a great deal of time with local Native American populations, exploring her roots.

Deadman – (Boston Brand/former circus acrobat) killed too early, Boston Brand was granted an active afterlife in which he tries to battle the forces of evil in the name of Order. Murdered while he was performing his act, Boston travels the ethereal realms in a red costume as he wore in real life. He possesses the ability to travel freely between dimensions and can inhabit live or newly deceased bodies. Deadman was assigned by the forces of Order to help in the battle against the Time-Guardian. Serving mostly as a liaison between Earth-T and Heaven, Deadman did his best to provide intelligence for the Wardens. Currently, he is a reserve member of the team, answering the call to duty when necessary. Deathstroke the Terminator – (Slade Wilson/Mercenary) considered one of the most dangerous men in the world. Former army officer who volunteered for experiments with truth-serum resistant drugs. The treatments enhanced his strength and reflexes. He was hired by the Time-Guardian, through Extant, to blow up a hospital in Gotham City where a young Roy Harper was to receive drug treatment. He failed after being stopped by the original Green Lantern and the original Batgirl. Detective Chimp – (Bobo/Monkey) a highly intelligent chimpanzee, Bobo appeared on Earth-T after it was created and aided the Wardens in battling Brainiac. As a show of gratitude, the Wardens accepted Bobo as a member. Bobo developed a friendship with Aquagirl with whom he could somewhat communicate with telepathically. When he, Aquagirl and Cinnamon were assigned to find out what the Time-Guardian was hiding in a facility, Bobo entered it on his own. Inside, he confronted several guards and led them on a chase, trying to buy some time before Aquagirl and Cinnamon could arrive. Unfortunately for Bobo, he encountered the one person he could not outrun, the Reverse-Flash. In a fit of rage, the Reverse-Flash killed Bobo and put his corpse on display for his teammates. Bobo is buried on the Earth-T Wayne estate. Dial “H” for Hero I – (Robby Reed/Student) after discovering a device that transformed him into a different super-hero every time he used it, young Robby Reed tried to use it to combat evil in his

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hometown. Early in his career, Robby Reed traveled to New York to ask the Justice Society of America for help in discovering the truth about his dial. He believed he actually inhabited the bodies of future heroes based on a driver’s license one of his identities possessed. In New York, outside the JSA headquarters, Robby encountered the original Black Canary. Before he could ask for help, the Reverse-Flash invaded the mansion. When Black Canary went to investigate, Robby used his dial to become the Foxbat, a 25th century adversary of the Reverse-Flash. In battle, the Black Canary was mortally wounded by the Reverse-Flash. Robby used the dial again to become a physician super-hero called Dr. Miracle. He was able to save Black Canary’s life and then disappeared. Dr. Miracle – super-hero physician whose identity that Robby Reed assumed in order to save the life of the original Black Canary after she was attacked by the Reverse-Flash. Dominus – (Lex Luthor/Criminal Scientist) The Earth-1 Lex Luthor committed several crimes during his life and one of them involved his adopting the personae of Dominus. As Dominus, Luthor set up a chain of events that would be started by his nemesis Superman that would result in the destruction of the Earth. His plan called for himself and his partner, Roger, to use a device that would take them safely to a parallel Earth. Superman discovered the plot when he was accidentally set an hour into the future and he witnessed the Earth’s destruction from an explosion that started at his Fortress of Solitude. Traveling back in time, he managed to halt the catastrophic event and captured Dominus. It was later determined that Luthor had suffered a psychotic episode since he normally was not inclined to destroy the world, only Superman. Dominus disappeared while on a mission for Heaven and reappeared on Earth-T where he indicated he had “made a deal with the Devil” to get there. Immediately he murdered his scientific rival, Alexi Luthor, and then moved to assume control of the Legion of Doom that he now leads. His first act was to order the Legion not to interfere when the Wardens when after the Time-Guardian.

E
Earth-1 – Name given to the pre-Crisis universe that was home to the Silver Age heroes. Such groups as the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans personified earth-1. Earth-1 was one of the last worlds to be destroyed during the Crisis. The Time-Guardian erroneously believed that the modern Roy Harper was actually the Earth-1 version transferred to the new universe. Earth-2 – Name given to the pre-Crisis universe that was the home to the Golden Age heroes. Earth-2 was personified by such groups as the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. Earth-2 was one of the last worlds destroyed during the Crisis. The Time-Guardian was originally from Earth-2. Earth-3 – Name given to the pre-Crisis universe that was the home of the Crime Syndicate of America and Alex Luthor, that world’s only super-hero. Alexander Luthor is the son of Alex Luthor and Lois Lane; he was rocketed away from the world as the Crisis Wave was destroying it. Earth-C – Name given to the dimension inhabited by Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew, intelligent animorphic beings. Earth-C inhabits a separate dimension and was unaffected by the Crisis. Earth-C Minus – Name given to the dimension inhabited by the Justa Lotta Animals, intelligent animorphic beings. Super-Squirrel, Batmouse, Wonder Wabbit, Green Lambkin and the Crash all come from this dimension. Earth-C Minus inhabits a separate dimension and was unaffected by the Crisis.

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Earth-T – Name given to the post-Crisis universe created when the Time-Guardian attempted to stop the Crisis. After Aquagirl destroyed the machinery holding back the Crisis wave, the Time-Trapper put the universe into a pocket dimension. The world is now home to both the Wardens and the Legion of Doom and exists on a time nexus. Due to its unique properties, Earth-T does not suffer from the effects of Hypertime and therefore beings from other time lines can exist indefinitely in this particular universe without adverse effects. Elastic Lad – (Jimmy Olsen/Reporter) a pre-Crisis identity assumed by “Superman’s Best Friend”, one of many. In this identity, Jimmy drank a mixture similar to Gingold, the potion that gives the Elongated Man his powers. As Elastic Lad, Jimmy had several adventures and even became an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Appearing on Earth-T during the Warden’s initial battle with Brainiac, Jimmy was less a member of the Warden’s as he was there trying hit on Aquagirl, Huntress and Batwoman. After a few days and disgusted with the way he was being ignored by the other members of the team, Jimmy decided to try his hand at being an investigative reporter again (NOTE: because he was already an established on Earth-T, it is safe to say that this Elastic Lad was NOT the Earth-1 version, but a new EarthT version created by the Time-Guardian). Elastic Lad tried to explain what he was doing, trying to use his skills as a reporter to expose the TimeGuardian, to the Time-Trapper. However, Jimmy ran afoul of some thugs who tied him up in a burning warehouse. Tired of listening to Olsen, the Time-Trapper let him die. Extant – (Hank Hall/former super-hero, currently temporal conqueror) once he was the super-hero Hawk who was teamed with the beautiful and pacifistic Dove. When Dove was killed, Hall went insane and eventually became the villain Extant. Extant was partnered with Parallax during the Zero Hour. He is also a longtime companion of the Time-Guardian, the two often sharing universes and realities with each other. When Extant finally learned of the Time-Guardian’s intent to rewrite history in much the same manner as Parallax had, Extant had a change of heart and convened a council of time travelers to deal with the situation. Extant’s greatest aid to the cause was the information he supplied to Arsenal about the TimeGuardian’s archery abilities. Extant was supposed to conquer the universe that the Warden’s Kid Flash originally came from, but he turned it over to the Time-Guardian who promptly destroyed it.

F
Flash 2-T – (Barry Allen/unemployed chemist) a Hypertime duplicate of the original hero, this Barry Allen led a life of misery orchestrated by the Reverse-Flash and the Time-Guardian. What neither of them realized was that Barry Allen represents something rather unique in the universe and all Barry Allens are temporally connected. When the Joker of Earth-T realized what the truth was, that their world was a sham, the forces of the Time-Guardian pursued him. The Joker turned to the Flash, who had been ostracized by his fellow heroes. Sinestro, a member of the Legion of Doom, caught up with them and the Flash sacrificed his life by trying to burst the anti-matter shield surrounding the villain. As he died, the Flash suddenly realized that the Joker had been telling the truth all along. NOTE: there are some that theorize that this Barry Allen was indeed the real one, plucked out of time a moment before his death during the Crisis. The theory is that if the Flash were too busy trying to live out his boring life, he would not be able to oppose the Time-Guardian since all temporal travelers realize Barry’s important role in the creation of the universe. Foxbat – a 25th century super-hero and foe of the Reverse-Flash, Robby Reed assumed his identity when the Reverse-Flash attempted to murder the original Black Canary.

G

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Great Humanity War – Conflict alluded to by the Time-Guardian. It is assumed that is where he got most of his advanced weaponry. Green Arrow I – (Oliver Queen/Activist) master of the bow, the Green Arrow is one of the most experienced heroes of the Modern Age. During the early part of his career he took in young Roy Harper as his ward and partner, giving him the identity of Speedy. Queen, though bad business management, ended up losing his fortune and became an activist for the poor and needy. This new lifestyle, combined with his unending need to womanize, left very little time for his ward and Roy ended up turning to drugs. Eventually, the two lost contact. After Queen was killed by ecoterrorists, Harper tried to make peace with his childhood. Upon Queen’s return from the dead, the two began to patch up their relationship. When the Time-Guardian finally decided that Roy Harper had to die, he sent the Composite-Superman to interrupt a drinking date between Harper and Queen. Though he tried valiantly, Queen was unable to prevent the death of his ward. Green Arrow II – (Connor Hawke/Monk) the illegitimate son of Oliver Queen, Connor assumed the identity of Green Arrow after his father’s death. Though Oliver Queen has since returned from the dead, Connor occasionally will put on his costume. He was present when the Composite-Superman killed Roy Harper, but was unable to do anything to stop it.

Green Arrow-T – (Oliver Queen/millionaire) modeled to be like the Earth-2 Green Arrow, this man was the adoptive father of the Time-Guardian in his new reality of Earth-T. The Time-Guardian maintained complete mental control over him, preventing him from exerting his own will. Though it has not been documented, it is assumed that the Time-Guardian murdered him during the purge of the super-heroes from the world. Green Lambkin – animorphic hero from the world Earth-C Minus. Member of the Justa Lotta Animals who was supposed to be on monitor duty when SuperSquirrel was drawn into the Prime Universe.

Green Lantern I – (Alan Scott/Retired) As a young engineer employed by the railroad, Alan Scott discovered a glowing green lamp that spoke to him. From the lamp, Alan made a ring and he discovered that he could make his will come to life after charging the ring against the lantern. The charge would last 24 hours and his energy constructs had no effect on anything made of wood. As Green Lantern, Scott protected Gotham City in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, eventually joining other heroes in the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. Scott was plagued throughout most of his career with self-doubt about his ring since he realized that he had enough power to literally take over the world. Time and time again he considered simply throwing the ring away, but he never had the courage to do so. Due to exposure to temporal energy during the war, Scott aged much slower than a normal human and was able to remain active for several decades. In his personal life he became a media mogul and had affairs with several beautiful women until he finally married a former nemesis, the Harlequin.

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Though he considered himself officially retired by the time the Justice League, he would never hesitate to go into action as the situations warranted. One such situation was a bank robbery that the hero halted and in the process learned of a plot to blow up one of the hospitals in Gotham City. Green Lantern tried to contact the Batman, but ended up getting Batgirl instead. Together they investigated and discovered that Deathstroke was the person trying to blow up the hospital. The heroes stopped Deathstroke and saved the hospital, never knowing that it was where Roy Harper received drug treatment. Grundy – often referred to simply as “the Grundy”, he is a Hypertime duplicate of Solomon Grundy, a foe of the original Green Lantern. The Grundy ended up in Limbo where he was immediately recruited by General Zod to eliminate any opposition to his plans to conquer the Prime Universe. The Grundy is a mindless monster, nearly impervious to pain, which regenerates from any damage very quickly. As such, it is not known whether or not he can even die. In Limbo, the Grundy savagely murdered the Batwoman when she and the Flying Fox were trying to rescue Roy Harper. Later, the Time-Guardian recruited the Grundy for the Legion of Doom and used him to murder Donna Troy. At present, the Grundy is the personal bodyguard of Dominus, leader of the Legion of Doom.

H
Harper, Lian – daughter of Roy Harper and the terrorist Cheshire. She is currently in the custody of her father. When the Time-Guardian succeeded in creating his own universe, Lian Harper was “erased” from the continuity. However, Alexander Luthor stated that Lian Harper was a “special spirit” that could not be extinguished so easily. Her spirit inhabited the child that was growing in Donna Troy and when she was killed by the Grundy, that spirit crossed several dimensions to seek out the aid of Alexander. Harper, Lord Roy – Hypertime duplicate of Roy Harper that inhabited a reality where the United States were still colonies of the British Empire. He was killed by the Time-Guardian. Harper, Roy – See Arsenal. Hawkman II – T – (Katar Hol/Adventurer) the second Hawkman of the world of Earth-T, he originally came from Limbo, where he had remained since his creation. One of many Hypertime duplicates created during the Zero Hour, this Hawkman claimed to have only existed in real space for only a few seconds. Bitter and angry, he decided to spend eternity sitting in a tree. When Abel, a resident of Limbo, contacted Hawkman to get his help in the Limbo Wars, the Winged Wonder at first refused. Eventually he came around and he found himself joining up with the Wardens. The original Hawkman of Earth-T, it is assumed, was killed along with the rest of that world’s heroes. The current Hawkman is an active member of the Wardens and while he appears to being trying to form a relationship with Dawnstar, he also enjoys a certain amount of womanizing. Heaven – dimension some persons claim is the final reward for good souls; others simply see it as a higher plane of existence. Extant held his council with several other time travelers in Heaven under the supervision of the Spectre. Later, Zauriel and Deadman would use the doorway between Heaven and Limbo to allow Batwoman access to Limbo to search for Roy Harper. House of Mystery – the home of Abel’s brother Cain, it has disappeared from Limbo. House of Secrets – the home of Abel from which he is able to look out into all of Hypertime. It now exists in Limbo.

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Hunter, Rip – time –traveling adventurer who was a member of Extant’s time council. Huntress (Pre-Crisis) – (Helena Wayne/Social Worker) the daughter of the Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman, the Huntress was the inheritor of the legacy her father started. As Helena Wayne, she fought injustice as a social worker in Gotham City, as the Huntress, she patrolled the dark alleyways of the city at night. Both her mother and father trained the Huntress, but she also received extra instruction under the tutelage of her uncle, Richard Grayson, also known as Robin. The Huntress was a member of the Justice Society of America and fought with them during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. During the Crisis, the Huntress was allegedly killed alongside Robin. After appearing on Earth-T after its creation by the Time-Guardian, the Huntress readily joined the Wardens. Though she knew the Batwoman, another member of the team who had once been in love with her father, the Huntress found herself spending her time with the Kryptonian super-hero Nightwing. As time progressed, she and Nightwing began to develop a romantic relationship. Today, as Helena Wayne, she has taken control of the fortune left by the deceased Batman of Earth-T and has legal guardianship over the Flying Fox and Robin of the Wardens. She continues her relationship with Nightwing as well and remains an active member of the team. Hypertime – Name used to describe the various alternate timelines that spring forth from the true timeline. Hypertime lines c cross back over into the true timeline at various points. Unlike the multiverse, all an Hypertime lines are interconnected. Because of this, beings from one line cannot inhabit another or lese the two lines will start to merge. Once the merging process is complete, it can cause a domino effect resulting, eventually, in the destruction of the entire universe. Hypertime is controlled and monitored by the Linear Men, but the Wardens are also now watching it.

J
Joker-T – (Jack Napier/Criminal) the only sane person in an insane world, the Joker of Earth-T had the unfortunate ability to see through the veil of mind-control that the Time-Guardian was using to keep his world under his rule. The only other person who shared this was Barry Allen, the second Flash. The Joker tried to tell the world, but the Time-Guardian sent his Batman and Robin to kill the Joker. The Joker got away thanks to the Flash, but the Earth-T Sinestro later murdered him. Jordan, Hal – from test pilot to Green Lantern, to god of destruction to an angel of judgment, the life of Hal Jordan is one of triumph and tragedy. As a Green Lantern, he was the greatest of the entire Corps until Mongul destroyed his home. Driven insane with grief, Hal murdered the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe and became Parallax. As Parallax, Jordan attempted to recreate the universe but was defeated by Earth’s heroes. In an attempt at redemption, Jordan sacrificed his life to destroy the SunEater as it threatened to consume Earth’s sun. Because of this, Jordan was chosen to succeed Jim Corrigan as the Spectre. Justa Lotta Animals – group of intelligent animorphic beings from the world of Earth-C Minus. The team appears to be composed of the greatest heroes of that world that includes Super-Squirrel, Batmouse, Wonder Wabbit, Aquaduck, Green Lambkin and the Crash. Batmouse discovered a small tear in the spacetime continuum and sent Super-Squirrel out to investigate it. Subsequently, Super-Squirrel went through the tear and ended up playing a major role in the Limbo Wars.

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Justice League of America – (also referred to as the Justice League and the JLA). Considered the successor to the Justice Society, the Justice League is considered the premier super-hero team, pre- or postCrisis. Currently, the team operates out of the Watchtower, a headquarters located on Earth’s moon. The JLA was the first responder to the threat brought about by the Phantom Zone forces when they tried to invade the Earth. The teams were subsequently defeated by Mon-El and were freed only after the efforts of Super-Squirrel, Dawnstar and Arsenal. Justice Society of America – (also referred to as the Justice Society and the JSA). The very first superhero team. Before the Crisis, it was composed of the most powerful and experienced heroes on Earth-2 including Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Speedy, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate and Wonder Woman. The Justice Society disbanded several times over the decades before the Crisis and took on several new members including the Batman’s daughter, the Huntress. After the Crisis, the Justice Society has survived into the 21st century, composed of several original members and new, younger heroes. When the TimeGuardian tried to kill the original Black Canary, he had the Reverse-Flash confront her in the Justice Society’s headquarters. Later, the Justice Society headed the defense of the Earth when the Phantom Zone forces tried to overtake it.

K
Kid-Flash-T – (Roy Harper/Adventurer) the only survivor of Reality 198743-S, he is a Hypertime duplicate of the original Roy Harper. Kid Flash was raised, on his world, by Barry Allen, the second Flash, and was involved in the same accident that gave the prime universe’s Wally West his speedster powers. When the Time-Guardian destroyed Ray’s home universe, he escaped into Hypertime and kept running until he was found by Deadman. Deadman and he then went to Earth-T where they helped form the Wardens. It was also there that Kid Flash met and started to fall for the Earth-1 Aquagirl. Kid Flash fought with the Wardens against the Legion of Doom and the Time-Guardian and is now a current member of the Wardens. Krypton – planet destroyed by an internal explosion. Krypton did orbit a red sun meaning that individuals from that world would exhibit incredible super-powers under a yellow sun. Both Nightwing and SuperWoman are originally from Krypton.

L
Lady Flash – the Kory Anders of Reality 198743-S, she was the lover of Kid (Roy Harper) Flash and was killed when the Time-Guardian destroyed that universe. Lang, Lana – reporter for WGBS, she is also the former teen super-hero Insect Queen. Legion of Doom – an organization of criminals allied together for the purpose of conquering Earth-T. The group was originally formed by the Time-Guardian in his remade universe to serve as enemies for a mindcontrolled Justice Society and Justice League. The criminal Joker discovered what was going on and managed to convince the Flash that the Time-Guardian, as Speedy, was evil. This began a strain on the Time-Guardian’s mental resources that resulted in the Legion of Doom having to murder 99% of the world’s super-heroes to prevent them from turning on the Time-Guardian. Afterwards, the Legion failed to prevent the rescue of the Dark Flash from one of their facilities. Finally, the Legion worked with the TimeGuardian in order to secure their place on Earth-T before their leader left for the Prime Universe. After the

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Time-Guardian’s defeat, the new leader, Dominus, agreed to a seven-year truce with the Wardens. Whether or not the Legion adheres to the truce remains to be seen. The membership is as follows: Name Abra Kadabra Alexi Luthor Black Flash Composite-Superman Dominus Donna Troy Grundy Master Jailer Sinestro Star-Tsar Time-Guardian Vandal Savage Weasel Wonder Wendy Status Inactive Deceased Active Active Chair Deceased Active Active Deceased Incarcerated Inactive Deceased Incarcerated Active

Legion of Super-Heroes (Pre-Crisis) – a large super-hero team founded in the later 30th century with the help of industrialist R.J. Brande. Brande enlisted three youthful heroes from different worlds within the United Planets: Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad. The team based their code of conduct on the 20th century hero Superboy and welcomed members from all over the galaxy. Supergirl, Brainiac 5, Mon-El and Dawnstar were all members of the Legion. Limbo – a non-dimension where some persons end up instead of dying. It appears to be something akin to insulation between other dimensions. Normally, Limbo appears to be a swirling mass of clouds with no horizon. After residing there for a time, inhabitants learn how to navigate it with a fair amount of ease. Limbo Wars – series of battles that occurred when the inhabitants of several parts of the Limbo tried to escape into the Prime Universe. Originally the pre-Crisis General Zod led the forces of Limbo. Zod was betrayed and killed by the pre-Crisis Mon-El. Mon-El nearly succeeded in winning the war. He managed to capture the JLA and his forces were near getting past the defenses established by the JSA when SuperSquirrel, Dawnstar and Arsenal stopped him. Lord of Time – (real name unknown/professional temporal criminal) villain that commits crimes by traveling through time. Was selected as a member of Extant’s time council to discuss the problem of the Time-Guardian. Luthor, Alexander – the son of the pre-Crisis Earth-3 Luthor and Lois Lane, he was instrumental in defeating the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He has the ability to open gateways into other dimensions and he can also affect the ability of others to use their super-powers to a certain extent. Using his powers, under normal circumstance, could cause a total collapse of time. However, when the spirit of Lian Harper contacted him, he opened a gateway to Earth-T and sent the original Superman to confront the Time-Guardian. Alexander followed soon afterward and gave the Time-Guardian a choice: he could either go with Alexander or face imprisonment in the Speed Force. The Time-Guardian refused to go with Alexander and the young hero was forced to incarcerate the Time-Guardian. Luthor, Alexi – criminal scientist from Earth-2, he was killed during the Crisis but was resurrected by the Time-Guardian to serve as the chief weapons designer for the Legion of Doom. Alexi served well in this capacity and was also successful in the business world with his company AlexiCorp. Alexi made the

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mistake of trying to engage Super-Woman and Wonder Woman on his own and ended up getting captured. While sitting in a cell in the Warden’s underground prison, he was killed by Dominus when he warped in and shot Alexi in the chest.

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Marvin – (Marvin/Criminal) once a teenaged sidekick on the world of the Super Friends, Marvin (or Wonder Marv as he sometimes calls himself) was placed in Limbo after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. There, he and his friend Wendy developed fantastic super powers for unknown reasons. Marvin and Wendy became distant to each other, but Marvin wanted to change that. He was hopelessly in love with her. Marvin and Wendy were contracted by General Zod to kill members of the Order during the Limbo Wars. This brought them into conflict with Warden members Robin and the Dark Flash. Marvin confronted the dark Flash, only to have the hero cut his leg off below the knee. Marvin is currently incarcerated inside the Warden’s private security section. Master Jailer (pre-Crisis) – (Carl Draper/Professional Criminal, former Architect) a resident of Smallville, Draper always felt inferior to the hometown hero, Superboy. He also had an unhealthy obsession with Lana Lang. When he got older, he was contracted to build a super-max prison to hold supercriminals. Superman tried to name the prison after Draper, but Lana Lang, a reporter with WGBS, coined a name related to Superman. Enraged, Draper came up with the identity of the Master Jailer and clashed with both Superman and Supergirl on several occasions. Supposedly killed in the Crisis, the Master Jailer was pulled from the swirling mass of time to be the security expert for the Legion of Doom. He designed their headquarters and the helped in building the device the Time-Guardian used to hold back the Crisis Wave. Currently, he is an active member of the Legion of Doom under Dominus. Mon-El – (Lar Gand/Adventurer) a pre-Crisis Earth-1 universe hero from the planet Daxam, he had powers similar to that of Superboy, except his weakness was lead. When he got lead poisoning, Superboy put him in the Phantom Zone to keep him from dying. In the future of Earth-1, the Legion of Super-Heroes cured and freed him. Because of the Crisis, Mon-El remained in the Phantom Zone and suffered under the abuse of the criminals trapped there, eventually going insane. When General Zod started a revolt during the Limbo Wars, Mon-El waited until the time was right and killed the Kryptonian. Mon-El orchestrated the capture of the prime universe JLA and was poised to invade the Prime Universe. With his powers, there was no doubt he would be able to conquer the Earth. Super-Squirrel confronted Mon-El and beat him enough that Roy Harper could take him down with a lead-tipped arrow. Multiverse – name given to the state of time and space prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Under this state, there were an infinite number of universes all existing in the same space, but vibrating at a different speed. Travel between worlds was accomplished either by altering the molecular state (as in the case of Superman or the Flash who would vibrate at a speed corresponding to the rate of the universe they wanted to go to) or through magical means.

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Nightwing – (Richard Grayson/Police Officer) orphaned as a child when his parents, circus trapeze artists, were killed by local mobsters, Dick Grayson was taken in by millionaire Bruce Wayne. Wayne, secretly the Batman, trained Dick to become Robin, the Boy Wonder. For several years, Dick maintained the Robin identity and worked as both the Batman’s partner and as the leader of the Teen Titans. Because of philosophical differences, the Batman eventually ordered Dick to give up the Robin identity. Dick

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complied, but then created his own identity of Nightwing, combining aspects of the Batman with Kryptonian mythology. Nightwing’s involvement with the Time-Guardian was minor, yet important. In his first attempt to get rid of Roy Harper, the Time-Guardian had Abra Kadabra cast a curse of bad luck on Dick. The magician Zatanna discovered the curse and worked with Nightwing to get rid of it. While trying to protect Nightwing from the effects of the curse, Zatanna magically caused a bolt of lightning to be diverted through time and space. This bolt of lighting pierced the Crisis Wave and provided the Time-Guardian his way to escape certain death. In the end, Nightwing and Zatanna discovered Abra Kadabra and removed the curse from Dick.

Nightwing (pre-Crisis) – (Van Zee/ Scientist) one of two super-heroes of the pre-Crisis Kryptonian bottlecity of Kandor. With his partner Ak-Var, known as Flamebird, they patrolled the city as a sort of futuristic Batman and Robin. It is assumed that Nightwing perished during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Through unknown means, he reappeared on Earth-T when it was created and immediately found himself in battle with the Earth-1 Brainiac. Other heroes joined him in defeating the robot and they banded together in order to battle the Time-Guardian. Due to his uncanny resemblance to Superman, the other heroes looked to him to be the leader, a position he assumed with some reservation. Realizing that his wife and family were dead, Nightwing became slightly withdrawn until the Huntress began to initiate a relationship. Together, they were successful in freeing the Psycho-Pirate from the Legion of Doom. Under Nightwing’s leadership, the Wardens began a campaign of war against the Legion of Doom until the Time-Guardian threatened to destroy San Francisco. Nightwing, Aquagirl and the Dark Flash voluntarily turned themselves over to the Legion of Doom to give the other Wardens then chance to take down the Time-Guardian, which they did, freeing Nightwing and the others in the process. Being from the Earth-1 Krypton, Nightwing is perhaps the most powerful hero in existence, with powers and abilities that surpass the current Superman. He is currently still the leader of the Wardens and is continuing his relationship with the Huntress. He has also taken control of the Earth-T Superman’s Fortress of Solitude where he is investigating the nature of time travel.

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Order, The – group of alternate Green Lanterns in Limbo who have dedicated their “existence” to maintaining order in the non-dimension. The current leader of the Order is a variant of Hal Jordan. The Order was the first line of offense against General Zod (and later Mon-El) when they began their assault on the Prime Universe. They were soundly trashed when Zod convinced Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog to pursue and kill them. Though the Order suffered great losses during the Limbo Wars, they still remain functional today. They have one member, Andrew Bennett, a vampire, who is a non-Green Lantern.

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Per Degaton – (real name unknown/lab assistant) man who stole a time-traveling device from his employer and tried several times to conquer the world. Most of the time he was defeated with very little effort by the Justice Society. He was invited to join Extant’s council of time but was treated as little more than a nuisance.

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Phantom Zone – dimension originally discovered by Jor-El of Krypton. Persons trapped in the Phantom Zone exist in a ghost-like state where they can peer into other universe but cannot affect them. How the Phantom Zone interacts with other universes is not known, but it has been determined that the pre-Crisis Phantom Zone is slowly being absorbed by the post-Crisis one. It is estimated that in another seven years, all remnants of the original Zone will be gone. Super-Woman of the Wardens spent a Kryptonian year in the Phantom Zone for the crime of manslaughter. Prime Universe – name associated with the timeline first created after the events of the Crisis and Zero Hour. The Prime Universe is where the heroes of the DC Universe are found. All Hypertime lines start from the Prime Universe. It is possible that other main timelines exist (i.e. Marvel Universe), but for the sake of this document, all references to the Prime Universe refer to the DC Universe only. The TimeGuardian attempted to “reboot” the Prime Universe and make it into a perverted version of the pre-Crisis Earth-2. However, when the Earth-1 Aquagirl released the Dark Flash, the resulting reaction created an alternate timeline that the Time-Trapper forced into a pocket universe, which would later become Earth-T. The reaction also put a hole between the Prime Universe and Limbo by which the forces of the Phantom Zone under the control of Mon-El came through in an attempt to establish a foothold in the galaxy. The hole has been since been repaired and the Prime Universe is back to normal. Psycho-Pirate – (William Hayden/Criminal) the only person who remembers what the world was like before the Crisis, he was used by the Time-Guardian to help map out the design of Earth-T. The Wardens captured Hayden in order to disrupt the Time-Guardian’s plans. After the Time-Guardian was defeated, Deadman and the Dark Flash returned the Psycho-Pirate to the Prime Universe.

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Reality 1 23.76B – Hypertime reality in which the British defeated the American colonists during the Revolutionary War. The heroes of this reality were all killed when the Time-Guardian invaded while in search of that reality’s Roy Harper. Reality 198743-S – Hypertime reality from where Warden member Kid Flash originated. This reality was to be taken over by Extant, but five years before that event, the Time-Guardian destroyed it. Kid Flash was the only survivor. Red Tornado-T – (John Smith/Adventurer) robotic memb er of the Justice League that was assigned to help watch the Psycho-Pirate. It appears Nightwing of the Wardens destroyed him. Reverse-Flash – (Eobard Thawne/scientist) criminal from the 25th century who became obsessed with his own death when discovered that he would be killed by the second Flash sometime in the late 20th century. Thawne used scientific technology to artificially give himself access to the Speed Force, granting him super-speed abilities. The Time-Guardian used the Reverse-Flash as an assassin, first sending him into the past to kill the original Black Canary. He nearly succeeded, delivering a mortal blow to the hero, but she was later saved. The Reverse-Flash was then put in charge of security at the facility the Legion of Doom was using to hold the Dark Flash. When the Wardens attempted to rescue the Dark Flash, Detective Chimp lost his life when he encountered Thawne. Next, the gunslinger Cinnamon was able to shot the Reverse-Flash in the head even as he moved at super-speed to kill her. He died as she did. Note: it is not known which universe this Reverse-Flash came from, but it is assumed that he was not from the Prime Universe. Quite possibly he had been the Earth-1 version. Rift – an area on Earth-T that is a doorway to the unknown. Through the rift occasionally come persons from other dimensions, past, present and future. Both the Wardens and the Legion of Doom under their

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seven-year truce monitor the rift. People who come out of the Rift are offered the choice of which group they want to leave with. Robin II (pre-Crisis) – (Jason Todd/Student) a version of the pre-Crisis young man who would be Robin, this Jason Todd has spent most of his existence in Limbo, waiting for a chance to escape. When the Flying Fox and Batwoman were trying to find the true Roy Harper, Robin followed them and it was Robin who helped the Flying Fox escape. Taken to Earth-T, Robin aided the Wardens in the fight against the Time-Guardian, including sneaking into the Legion of Doom headquarters. After the defeat of the Time-Guardian, Robin slipped into the life of the Earth-T Jason Todd. He is now semi-retired as a super-hero, wanting to avoid the fate of his now deceased prime universe counterpart. He is the ward of Helena Wayne, the Warden known as the Huntress. Robin-T – (Dick Grayson/Student) first partner of the Batman who began to see the Time-Guardian for what he was. The Time-Guardian killed him before he could reveal the truth. Robin II-T – (Jason Todd/Student) second partner of the Batman who enjoyed being a bad guy. This Robin was a thug and one step shy of being a terrorist. His final fate has yet to be revealed.

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Savage, Vandal of Earth-T – immortal caveman who served as the Time-Guardian’s chief advisor. He disappeared under mysterious circums tances and it is rumored that he is dead. Seven Soldiers of Victory (pre-Crisis) – small team of Golden Age heroes that had several adventures together. The Earth-2 Green Arrow and Earth-2 Speedy were both members of this team. Other members included (all from Earth-2): Vigilante, Crimson Avenger, Wing, the Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy and the Shining Knight. Silvermane, Ace – hero from an alternate timeline that enforces the laws of time. Silvermane served on Extant’s time council to discuss exactly what to do with the Time-Guardian.

Spectre 2 – (Hal Jordan/former Green Lantern) God’s spirit of judgment, the Spectre is a powerful being with almost unlimited powers. Originally the Spectre was bonded with former police detective Jim Corrigan, the angel was later made to join with the fallen hero Hal Jordan. The Spectre wanted to battle the Time-Guardian on his own, but was prevented from doing so by higher powers. Instead, he was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch. Speed Force – dimension that appears to be made up entirely of kinetic energy. Speedsters such as the Flash, Johnny Quick and Max Mercury possess the ability to draw energy from the Speed Force. Speed Force energy is unique in that it appears to be able to hold back the effects of the Crisis Wave (some theorize that the Speed Force is actually made of remnant Crisis Wave). All speedsters, regardless of their timeline draw power from the same Speed Force and in that way all speedsters are connected in some way. Brainiac 5 and the Time-Guardian both used speedsters and their abilities to create giant Speed-Force fields in order to hold back the effects of the Crisis. Alexander Luthor would later use his abilities to place the Time-Guardian in the Speed Force, effectively imprisoning him. Star-Tsar – (Snapper Carr/Criminal) one aspect of the Earth-1 Snapper Carr, an associate of the Justice League of America. The Star-Tsar was Snapper’s somewhat rebellion against authority, a criminal identity whose costume provided him with limited invulnerability and the ability to project blasts of stellar energy.

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The Star-Tsar was a late addition to the Legion of Doom and seemed to have served as a bodyguard for Alexi Luthor when he was alive. He was captured by Super-Woman and Queen Hippolyta shortly before the defeat of the Time-Guardian and is currently being held in the prison facility located under the Warden’s headquarters. Supergirl (Pre-Crisis) – (Kara Zor-El (Linda Danvers)/teacher) one of the many valiant heroes of the pre-Crisis universe that sacrificed their being so others could live, Supergirl was the cousin of the Earth-1 Superman. She was originally from Kandor, a city placed into a bottle by Brainiac. She was trained to be a super-hero by her cousin who then proudly presented her to the public at large. She was an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes where she developed a deep friendship with Brainiac 5. Truthful, fearless and noble, she was a shining example of what a true hero could be and her greatest admirer was none other than her cousin. Her best friend, besides her cousin, in the super-hero world was Batgirl. Supergirl gave her life during the Crisis when she prevented the Anti-Monitor from killing her cousin. Later, the Dark Flash discovered that Brainiac 5 had used his technological know-how and advanced science to create a device that captured her soul and prevented the Crisis wave from completing its cycle through time. The Dark Flash was able to defeat Brainiac 5 and set Kara’s soul free. That device design was later employed by the Time-Guardian to disrupt time. Superman I (pre-Crisis) – (Clark Kent (Kal-L)/Retired) the greatest hero of any generation, he was the first Superman of any universe. As a member of the Justice Society of America and All-Star Squadron on the pre-Crisis Earth-2, he set the example by which all other super-heroes strove to be like. He remained active with the JSA up until the Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he fought alongside his Earth-1 counterpart against the Anti-Monitor. When the battle was over, he was given the opportunity to escape to an ideal paradise world with his wife, Lois Lane Kent, to live for eternity by Alexander Luthor. He accepted it and disappeared seemingly forever. When the spirit of Lian Harper called out for help against the Time-Guardian, Alexander Luthor used his powers to send Superman to Earth-T to confront the Time-Guardian. Superman arrived in time to help save the Wardens and distracted the Time-Guardian long enough for Alexander to send the villain to the Speed Force. Afterwards, Superman spent some time playing with Lian Harper before returning to his paradise. Super-Squirrel – animorphic hero from the world of Earth-C Minus. Sent by the Batmouse to investigate a strange rift in their space-time continuum, Super-Squirrel was sucked into the Limbo Wars. There, he fought and came very close to defeating Mon-El, but was returned to his home planet at the very last moment. Super-Woman II – (Shyla (Sheila Danvers)/Weathergirl) – once a scientist on the Earth-1 Krypton, Shyla took chances in her work, trying to develop the super-abilities that she believed all humans possessed. In her efforts, she accidentally caused the death of an innocent and was sentenced to one Kryptonian year in the Phantom Zone. To her horror, she witnessed the death of her home world. Shyla remained in the Phantom Zone until a lightning bolt freed her and she ended up on Earth-1. She began experimenting again, this time trying to harness dream energy from college students. Her efforts brought her to the attention of Supergirl, who promptly defeated Shyla and sent her back to the Phantom Zone. Shyla was pulled out of the time stream by the Time-Guardian on the condition she would be his lover. Lonely beyond imagining and wanting to live, she agreed and joined his Legion of Doom. When the TimeGuardian started dating his version of Donna Troy, Shyla started to doubt her choice of career.

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Shyla discovered that Warden member Nightwing was a Kryptonian and held out the hope that she would find someone she could relate to. She went so far as to provide him a warning with super-ventriloquism during a battle with the Master-Jailer. Nightwing, however, was interested in the Huntress and Shyla finally decided that she could not be a criminal and she could no longer live alone. She tried to return to her Phantom Zone, knowing that within several years it would be absorbed and she would die. Hal Jordan, the leader of the Order, convinced her that she had been given a second chance and that she shouldn’t waste it. Designing a costume and calling herself Super-Woman, Shyla first went to the aid of Wonder Woman III when Alexi Luthor and the Star-Tsar attacked her. After that she was accepted into the Wardens fully where she now serves as the Vice-Chair. She has also started a civilian life as the new weathergirl at WGBS in Metropolis.

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Teen Titans – a team of adolescent heroes banded together to fight common threats. The first Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Speedy and the first Wonder Girl founded the team. Time-Guardian – (Roy Harper/former super-hero, professional criminal) young Roy Harper’s father was killed when their plane crashed on a Native American reservation in the early 1930’s on the pre-Crisis world of Earth-2. The local tribe raised Roy until his hero Green Arrow, who respected Roy’s archery abilities, took him in. Given the name of Speedy, Roy became Green Arrow’s partner. The two of them were members of the Justice Society of America, the All-Star Squadron and the Seven Soldiers of Victory. The Crisis reached Speedy and Green Arrow on Earth-2 where it was assumed that both of them were killed. A bolt of magically enhanced lightning pierced the space-time barrier, opening a small rift between the post- and pre-Crisis universes (the lightning was created by Zatanna who was trying to save Nightwing from a bad luck spell). Speedy stepped through the rift and into the new universe. Upon arrival, Roy discovered he was nothing more than a ghost and to his horror, he watched as another Roy Harper lived out a life. He wrongly assumed that this was the Roy Harper of Earth-1, transferred into the new universe, not realizing that this was a totally new Harper. Upon that Roy Harper’s death, the TimeGuardian was able to assume physical form again. Roy soon discovered that he was immortal and he began to develop powers such as Time Vision. By his own account, he lived until the end of time and then traveled back, determined that a great wrong had been done to him. He blamed God for the Crisis and its results and set about going through Hypertime to destroy every duplicate of Roy Harper in existence. While he was doing this, the Time-Guardian sent several agents into the past to try and bring about the death of his Prime Universe double through indirect means. Unknown to the Time-Guardian, the Time-

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Trapper was busy collecting various Roy Harpers and keeping them safe in pocket universes just in case of emergency. Frustrated with being let down by his minions, the Time-Guardian sent the Composite-Superman to kill Harper. The villain was successful and using a device originally created by the pre-Crisis Brainiac 5, the Time-Guardian altered the past and created a universe in his own image. The new universe was flawed, however, and several heroes appeared on the world that the Time-Guardian had not counted on. These heroes, calling themselves the Time Wardens, faced off against the TimeGuardian and challenged his control of the universe. They managed to sabotage the device holding back the Crisis Wave and the Time-Trapper took the new universe and put it into a pocket universe. On the outside, the post-Crisis universe continued unabated. The Time-Guardian decided that he would replace the true Roy Harper, surrendering his immortality for the chance at a normal life with Donna Troy (he had to kill his version of her when she became pregnant; he feared losing his powers to the child), whom he was in love with. Before he would leave, however, he was determined to kill the Time Wardens and so he sent his Legion of Doom out to find them. Dominus, however, usurped the Legion, and he betrayed the Time-Guardian to the Wardens. In a final battle, the Time-Guardian lost an archery contest to the true Roy Harper and was confronted by the original Superman. Finally, Alexander Luthor offered the Time-Guardian the opportunity to travel with him to a peaceful dimension, but the offer was refused. Seeing no other choice, Luthor used his powers to transfer the Time-Guardian into the Speed Force, where he is currently imprisoned. Time-Trapper – a temporal villain who is fond of creating Pocket Universes. He created the universe of Earth-T and personally allowed the death of Jimmy Olsen because the young reporter was annoying. The Time-Trapper is an extremely calculating and powerful individual who had to be bargained with in order to keep from simply turning his back on the events transpiring on Earth-T. Whether or not this Time-Trapper is the Prime Universe version or some other kind is not known at this time. Time-Wardens – the original name of the Wardens. Titans – one of several incarnations of the team originally founded by several “sidekicks” of older heroes. The Titans was made up of mainly young adult heroes such as Nightwing, the third Flash, and Donna Troy. Both Arsenal and the Dark Flash were also members of this team. Troy, Donna – a most complex woman, Donna Troy is the magically created twin of Princess Diana, known to the world as Wonder Woman. Donna was the victim of a spell cast by the Death Angel, a foe of Diana’s mother Hippolyta. The spell, which had been meant for Diana, split Donna into several Hypertime duplicates. Each version was destined to live a life of tragedy. In the Prime Universe, Donna spent most of her young life as a super-hero. She started as a founding member of the Teen Titans as Wonder Girl. She would assume several identities over the years and eventually married an unassuming man with whom she would have a child. However, Dark Angel’s curse struck and she divorced her husband only months before he and her child were killed in an automobile accident. Donna has also bounced around from boyfriend to boyfriend, unable to find that one man who would make her life complete. One of these boyfriends was Roy Harper. The two heroes are no longer a couple, but their friendship and love for each other runs deep. In the universe the Time-Guardian created, he arranged to marry his version of Donna Troy, whom he had fallen in love with. He had to keep her under the strictest of control in order to maintain her “good girl” image. When Donna became pregnant, the Time-Guardian began to suspect that his waning powers were the result of the unborn child. Though it was not true, he felt he could not take such a chance and he ordered the Grundy to murder Donna.

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Wardens – the only super-hero team on Earth-T, it is composed of heroes from worlds not longer in existence and from several timelines. The group was formed by Deadman and Kid (Roy Harper) Flash in order to combat the Time-Guardian and his Legion of Doom. The Wardens have a headquarters located in a mansion in an unidentified location in Southern California. The team now acts as protector of not only Earth-T, but also of Hypertime. The membership is as follows: Name Aquagirl Arsenal Batwoman Cinnamon Dark Flash Dawnstar Deadman Detective Chimp Elastic Lad Flying Fox Hawkman Huntress Kid Flash Nightwing Robin Super-Woman Status Active Honorary Deceased Deceased Reserve Active Reserve Deceased Deceased Active Active Active Active Chair Reserve Vice Chair

Warrior’s – Bar owned by former Green Lantern Guy Gardner. Super-heroes in and out of uniform often frequent it. The Composite-Superman ambushed Roy Harper at Warrior’s where he murdered the hero. Waverider – (Matthew Ryder/time enforcement agent) member of the Linear Men who was part of Extant’s time council. Weasel – (John Monroe/Criminal, former University Teacher) a minor Earth-1 foe of Firestorm who, as a member of the Legion of Doom, tried to capture the real Roy Harper. He was taken down by Arsenal and the Earth-T Cheshire, but not before he killed two Metropolis police officers. The Weasel is currently awaiting trial on Earth-T for murder. WGBS – television station on Earth-T’s Metropolis that Lana Lang works at. WGBS is known for getting exclusive interviews with super-heroes. Wonder Dog – animal companion of Marvin and Wendy. Wonder Dog made the mistake of attacking the Dark Flash in Limbo. In a rage, the Dark Flash killed him. Wonder Wabbit – animorphic heroine from the world of Earth-C Minus. Wonder Wabbit is a member of the Justa Lotta Animals and the object of affection for Super-Squirrel and Captain Carrot. She helped the Batmouse monitor Super-Squirrel’s vital signs while he investigated the tear between their universe and the Prime Universe.

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Wonder Wendy – (Wendy/Dominatrix) a former inhabitant of a pre-Crisis world that had the “Super Friends”, Wendy and her friend Marvin and his dog were trapped in Limbo. There they developed fantastic powers including enhanced strength and invulnerability. Wendy also became very emotionally unstable. Wendy claims the members of the Super Friends sexually abused her and she also developed an unnatural fixation on the teen hero Robin. Wendy believes that she and Robin are destined to be together. Besides her powers, Wendy uses sexual perversion as a weapon as well, demonstrated when she molested Aquagirl when the Warden was a prisoner of the Legion of Doom. Wendy was freed from Limbo after she and Marvin encountered Warden members Dark Flash and Robin, who stopped the two villains from killing several members of the Order (they had already killed many beforehand). She is currently a member of the Legion of Doom and has set her sights on capturing Robin. Wonder Woman III – (Hippolyta/Queen of the Amazons) the mother of the prime universe’s Wonder Woman, Hippolyta first assumed the identity of Wonder Woman after her daughter died (she later returned to life). During this time, Hippolyta became an active member of the Justice League and traveled back through time to aid the Justice Society of America during the World War 2-era. When she decided to put her costume back on and travel into the past for a brief vacation, Wonder Woman accidentally got pulled into the Earth-T universe. Realizing something was wrong, she tried to blend in and gain information in order to assess her situation. When she accessed the internet at a public library and began doing “illegal” searches, Alexi Luthor and the Star-Tsar confronted her. With the aid of Super-Woman, both villains were defeated and captured. Wonder Woman then aided the Wardens in their final battle with the Time-Guardian before returning to the prime universe. She has no recollection of her time on Earth-T and only recalls it as a dream.

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Zatanna – (Zatanna/Stage Magician) the daughter of the world-renown magician Zatarra, Zatanna is a semi-retired super-hero and practitioner of the mystic arts. Trained to wield magic by speaking her spells backwards, she joined the original Justice League if America at age 18, becoming one of its youngest members. She stayed with the team for several years before deciding to pursue a stage career in the tradition of her father. When she encountered the hero Nightwing, she determined that he was under a curse cast by Abra Kadabra. The curse caused a bolt of lightning to nearly strike Nightwing, but Zatanna used her magic to move it away. The magic gave the lightning bolt the ability to pierce time and space and it opened a rift between the present day and the Crisis. Through this magical rift stepped the future Time-Guardian. After battling Abra-Kadabra, Zatanna removed the curse from Nightwing. Zauriel – Angelic ambassador and former member of the Justice League of America. Zauriel was assigned to guard the entrance to Limbo from Heaven during the Limbo Wars.

Zero Hour – Event that occurred several years after the Crisis on Infinite Earths in which a power-mad Hal Jordan, the former Green Lantern, calling himself Parallax, attempted to restructure the universe in what he saw as the perfect image. In order to facilitate this, he enlisted the aid of Extant. Jordan succeeded partially in his venture, but was stopped by Earth’s heroes before he could realize his full dream.

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Zod, General – (Zod/former military officer) criminal sentenced to the Phantom Zone along with several accomplices a short time before the destruction of the Earth-1 universe’s Krypton. Zod would go on to harass Superman for several years until the Crisis occurred. The Phantom Zone was slowly being absorbed by the new Phantom Zone created after the Crisis. When a hole opened up between Limbo and the Prime Universe, Zod realized that by going through this hole, he could escape certain death. He organized the forces of Limbo into an army to accomplish this, but failed to account for Mon-El, a Daxamite occupant of the Zone that had been psychologically tortured by Zod and his comrades. Before Zod could achieve victory, Mon-El killed him and assumed command of his forces.

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KILLING ROY HARPER: An interview with author C.W. Blaine By Ben Tinsley

BEN TINSLEY: So why did you use Roy Harper as the main character in your saga? And what led you to pick the characters you used in the story? What, in your opinion, drove the story? C.W. BLAINE: I didn't plan on using Roy Harper at the beginning. I knew that I wanted to write a story that had an intricate plot through Hypertime, but I wasn't exactly sure where it was going when I first started writing it. So many stories have been written about the Cris is and the noble sacrifices made by the heroes (Barry Allen, Kara Zor-El) that I wanted to do something different. I wanted a story about someone who was ticked off by what happened, but somebody who lacked the maturity to appreciate the nature of the universe. That left me few choices and Speedy (Roy Harper) seemed to be the least used character, so it was something new. At first I started picking characters that I thought would compliment each other. Zatanna and Nightwing (two good-looking heroes); Batgirl and the original Green Lantern (the learner and the master). After awhile, though, it became apparent that my readership wanted me to delve deeper into the Silver and Golden Age and bring back many of the characters that they loved so much. It was their responses and suggestions that really drove the story and pointed me where to go to find new characters. TINSLEY: You brought back some really old and diverse characters such as Andrew Bennett of ``I Vampire'' fame. The original Nightwing. The original Huntress. You also used the original templates for revised characters such as Jason Todd, the original replacement Robin, and The Flying Fox, the youthful hero identity assumed by a young Bruce Wayne in the original Earth-1 continuity. Hal Jordan if he hadn't become Parallax. In your opinion were these heroes superior to the versions who took their place? BLAINE: Not so much superior as they were familiar. They all also had rich histories to draw from. Some of these characters had been around for thirty years before the Crisis. They had their own series, their own lives per se, and then they were just written off. My story is more of a dedication to the creativity of those Silver Age writers and artists. I think that they did some great work and a lot of that work has been forgotten. That's an injustice to me. The new generation of comic readers don't know what the World's Finest Team was; they don't understand that originally Superman fought the Nazis. I don't want to take away from what they have now, I merely want to provide some background so that they can appreciate how these characters have evolved. TINSLEY: Some of the characters you brought back died horrible deaths. Batwoman's in particular was kind of gruesome. What were your motivations in writing these deaths? BLAINE: Someone had to die! I guess Batwoman's death was particularly horrible because it showed that she never was the real deal. She wasn't Batgirl. Too many times in comics we see first time heroes whoop up on seasoned villains. I cant see it that way. Sometimes even the good guys go down and it isn't always pretty. She was outclassed, plain and simple, and her death also pointed out that this was a serious crisis. Being a super-hero is a serious game and it doesn't have a whole lot of reward (something the Time-Guardian seemed to have forgotten). It also established the Grundy as one of the guys you have to watch out for and sets the stage for any other time I, or some other writer, wants to use him. This is not your Solomon Grundy from the Super Friends! TINSLEY: How did you keep track of all the characters you used? I personally would have had to use a flow chart to keep track of all of them. BLAINE: I actually keep a notebook for when I write my stories and sometimes that doesn't help! That is why the compendium version of the story comes with an appendix so you can look up what something was. I was not trying to write War and Peace, but when you are dealing with alternate realities, you end up with a lot of characters. TINSLEY: Kind of reminds me of the early Marvel days when Stan Lee would forget what character he was writing and give him an entirely new name! (Or powers he'd never previously had.) BLAINE: I'm lucky that most of the characters I used already had names and I was familiar enough with them that I wouldn't get too mixed up!

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TINSLEY: Any ``deleted scenes'' that you didn't use in the final version of the story? Anything we could see? BLAINE: I am adding a section that sort of explains what happened on Earth-T after the defeat of the Time-Guardian. For example, we know that the Batman and Robin of Earth-T died, so what happened to their fortune? What's going to happen to the two minor members of the Wardens (Robin and the Flying Fox). What will happen to AlexiCorp now that Alexi Luthor is dead? Stuff like that. I'm also including the story "Tell Kara I Love Her" which explains how the Time-Guardian got the device he needed to hold back the Crisis wave. TINSLEY: Do you miss Kara Zor-El as a character? BLAINE: I really do. It gave someone for Superman to relate to but she was also original in that she had to live in her cousin's shadow, but didn't resent it. Normally we read stories about characters wanting to strike out on their own (Nightwing) but here we had one so in awe of her cousin that it was, well, sweet. Plus she was so darn cute!

TINSLEY: What were your original intentions behind the story? And what changed along the way? BLAINE: The original intention was to make it a quick 5 to 6 chapter short story. Obviously, the length of the story changed. I also didn't plan to have the Limbo Wars, but I thought it would be a cool way to get new characters into the story like Super-Squirrel. The story itself seemed to take on a life of its own after awhile. Ideas would come to my head and I saw that I was writing a story that would affect so much if it were true. If time was screwed up, it makes perfect sense that several time heroes and villains would gather to discuss how to fix it. People would be asking what is real and what is not, and of course the question of religion. You can't forget about that no matter what because a majority of people have some religious beliefs. Speedy was very religious and in a way reminded me of Mel Gibson's character in Lethal Weapon. He didn't understand what happened or why it happened and so he focused his anger at God. So, one of the things that changed is that I started to add a little religion to the story.

TINSLEY: I understand you will be using your Time Warden characters in future stories. Did you intend this in the beginning? Or did they grow on you? BLAINE: The Wardens grew on me. I originally intended to have them all die, except for Deadman and the Dark Flash, at the end of the story, returning to the dust from when they came. After awhile, though, I started to see some real potential in using these characters for future stories. Most people do not like my in-continuity stories and they are the hardest to write since as a fan fiction writer I have no control over the destinies of the characters. People like my AU (alternate universe) work and this provides a good medium to work with. TINSLEY: Do you have a fondness for the Wally West Dark Flash character? You've used him in a lot of stories. My personal favorite was the Hostess Fruit Pie universe. BLAINE: The Dark Flash is one of the best characters created in the Modern Age. He is completely original in that he does what he does now out of guilt for the terrible things he did in his home dimension. He is a lost soul as well, alone in the fabric of time, and when he finally does get home, there is a real good chance he'll be executed for the crimes he committed when he was insane. In effect, he is always racing towards death and every good deed is like a way to get out of a little more purgatory. A complex and fascinating creation; the poster boy for angst and redemption. He is also an anti-hero; being sorry doesn't mean being a wimp as he demonstrated when he cut Marvin's leg off and killed Wonder Dog. TINSLEY: Any characters who didn't make the final cut in this saga? (Ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak?) BLAINE: One guy suggested Superman, Jr., and Batman, Jr. I plan to use them at a later date. My problem was, essentially, that I only wanted one Superman in the story (hence why I killed off the Earth-T version) and that was to be the original Man of Steel from Earth-2.

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The prime universe's Donna Troy got dropped at the last minute only because I wanted to focus on Cheshire. Donna really represents Roy's teenage love; Dinah Lance (to me) represents his first real adult love (as I stated in Chapter 2, he was in love with her at one time) and Cheshire represents the love that is 'killing" Roy Harper. Captain Marvel and Black Adam both got dropped because I couldn't figure out a way to write them into the story. The Earth-1 Superwoman (From the DC Comics Presents Annual #2) was dropped in favor of Shyla assuming that role. Like the Wardens, I was going to have her die at the end in a Crisis -Supergirl way, but decided she would be much better off as a character I could use later. Right now, she and Nightwing are the last Kryptonians of that universe and she has to live with the knowledge that despite how much they have in common, he's attracted to the Huntress. TINSLEY: You brought back the original Superman! How does your story reconcile with his recent appearance in The Kingdom? And is he currently living in an alternate universe? Or a specially created dimension? Do you plan to write more about the Superman Hypertime dimensions that were created in the final chapters of the story? BLAINE: In The Kingdom, a character who appeared very similar to the original Superman was seen trying to get out of a world. My story does not change that. The Time-Guardian screwed with time and Alexander Luthor explained that in this situation, they were able to traverse dimensions without causing the end of everything. They are back now and I don't have any plans to use him any more in any stories, though that might change. TINSLEY: What kind of character potential do you see in the original Superman? Do you have any plans to use the character in the future? Do you think DC threw the baby out with the bathwater when they retroactively declared he never existed? BLAINE: There really is no potential for the original Superman as I see it. Most readers would not be able to identify with him and I think that they would more likely rebel. As unfortunate as it is to admit, most comic buyers seem to be kids, not us old timers. I think the way DC ended his career was just fine. He was the flagship hero of the line for decades and to have him retire with Lois to a utopian world seems to me to be a just reward. TINSLEY: Also, in regard to the characters that you killed off in your story -- do you think there is any chance they could be resurrected if circumstances demanded it? BLAINE: In comics, anything is possible, so yes, I do see situations where these characters could return. TINSLEY: Do you have any plans to use Andrew Bennett in the future? BLAINE: Not at this time. TINSLEY: That's too bad, because you've really got him nailed. BLAINE: The problem is that I already have a set of vampire characters that I used in my Huntress: Blood and Lust stories. I think I would rather work on developing them. You never know, though! TINSLEY: Who is your favorite Silver Age character? BLAINE: Barry Allen by far, though I had many, many runner-ups. I loved the Justice League and the World's Finest Team. To be honest, though, I was really a Marvel man during the Silver Age. TINSLEY: That's an interesting answer, since you focus so much of your writing these days on DC, not Marvel, characters. BLAINE: Well, to be honest, I think Marvel has gone downhill as far as storytelling. They've gotten a corporate attitude and seem more worried about making a buck. I understand business is business, but ever since Stan Lee left, there's been something missing at Marvel. I don't agree with their editorial decisions, nor do I agree with the direction many of the characters are going. I feel bad for Marvel to be honest; they need something to make them really great again. Though I don't like his attitude, I think Jim Shooter is what they need. Hate him or love him, he knows how to run a comic business.

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TINSLEY: Is YOUR Time Trapper an older Cosmic Boy as was revealed in Zero Hour? BLAINE: To be honest, I haven't thought of that. I was pretty sure that the Time-Trapper was once revealed to be Timber Wolf during the 80's. Maybe I was wrong… TINSLEY: What was the first comic you ever read? Was it the comic that inspired your love of the Silver Age? If not, then what was? BLAINE: On December 25th, 1977, I received three Star Wars comics and three Whitman Star Trek comics for Christmas. An avid reader (I was reading by age 4), I was immediately hooked. No single comic hooked me into the Silver Age. I think its more appropriate to state that "you don't know what you've got until its gone". The Crisis occurred in 1985 and I went into the Navy in 1987 (I stopped collecting comics for the next four years) so I missed out on a lot of the background for the Modern Age. When I finally did get back into the books in 1991-1992, things were so different that I started to immediately miss the "good old days". I'm not saying the Modern Age is bad; it's just different. TINSLEY: Are we ever going to see any Golden Age characters in your stories? BLAINE: I try to use many Golden Age characters, but I think you have to specify which ones. I do use the Golden Age Green Lantern a lot, but would you be referring to pre-Crisis Golden Age? TINSLEY: Either way. Let's say both. BLAINE: I always try to use the current old-timers. I like a lot of them and I have tremendous respect for the characters. Going pre-Crisis is probably not an option at this time. TINSLEY: If you could go back in time and assume control of DC Comics, would you have assisted or prevented Crisis on Infinite Earths? BLAINE: I would have been a bump in the road. Barry Allen's death angered me for lack of a better term. I see the Crisis series as an incredible work of fiction now and I don't think Marv Wolfman gets enough credit for the fantastic writing he did with it. His writing made me feel something; that's when it goes from being a story to a tale. I would have probably kept more of the Earth-2 heroes and not just written them off which means that the Crisis would not have been very good. If I knew then what I knew now, I'd be a "hands-off" kind of guy. You only get one chance to write something so spectacular and they did a great job with it. TINSLEY: Will we ever see your work in mainstream comics? BLAINE: Nope. Don't have the talent and the companies are not looking for any new talent. Would I like to? Sure, but I'm not quitting my day job just yet. TINSLEY: Who were your favorite characters in the story? (I was fond of Super Squirrel, myself.) BLAINE: I love the Justa Lotta Animals! I was trying to put a more modern spin on them. I like Aquagirl, only because she's so cute. My favorites besides the Time-Guardian had to be the Huntress, Batwoman and the Composite-Superman. TINSLEY: Why did Mon-El have to be a villain? BLAINE: Because I think the rationale that Mon-El spent all of that time in the Phantom Zone being harassed by the criminals not having some sort of effect on him is B.S. Besides, he would have really been the only one to give the JLA a run for their money. TINSLEY: Do you think any of your Hypertime ideas might be usable by DC? BLAINE: Sure, but they won't. They make it a habit of not using stories or ideas already published as fan fiction. TINSLEY: If you can, outline your original inspiration for the story followed by factors that evolved as you went along. BLAINE: The original inspiration was a desire to write a series of stories that had the feel of the old DC Comics Presents series. Personally, I always loved the series because you never knew who Superman was going to be teamed with. Everyone from the Legion of Super-Heroes to Santa Claus. It was

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campy, yes, but it was also fun in a simple way. In a world where you have to buy thirty comics across ten titles to get one storyline, I thought it would be nice to just have one place to go for a simple story. The story evolved as I started to realize the wealth of old characters out there and a desire to put as many of them in as possible. I also was fleshing out the Wardens and the Legion of Doom as well. TINSLEY: What were your favorite lines in the story? BLAINE: Not so much a favorite as it was the line that really told you what the story was about: "I will hate you for all eternity". That was the first line and though it was Abra Kadabra thinking it, it summed up the theme. This was a story about hate and love and the fine line between them. The Time-Guardian hated everything (though the reasons why remain somewhat murky) and Roy Harper kept putting himself through hell because of his love for his daughter and to a lesser extant Cheshire. Both men were driven to the dark side of humanity. Remember, Roy had no qualms about killing Mon-El in order to save his daughter. TINSLEY: How much times does it take to come up with each chapter? For awhile it seemed like you were putting out one installment a month then toward the end you cranked out numerous chapters. BLAINE: I've been keeping a log of my writing lately and I average about ten pages in four hours if I know exactly what I want to write. Sometimes I get stuck and then it will take longer. I've been cranking out more because I have been gaining more confidence. Many people do not realize that writing fan fiction is tough. First off, you don't get an editor who will go over everything and point out errors. You have to rely on computer software spellcheckers. You have to rely on your own knowledge of a character or situation because you don't have access to any secret vaults of information. You can't call up the former writer of your character and ask about the direction you're going. You have to go to another job and then find time to do this on your own. Finally, after all of this, you have to listen to some a-hole tell you that your story doesn't make sense and that you suck. Also, I wanted to finish the story so I could move on. I'm in the process of trying to finish all of my previously started stories. It isn't fair to the few loyal fans that I have to start a work and then not finish it. TINSLEY: I was wondering if you could outline and trace the timeline of your writing career. (As it pertains to fan fiction ...) BLAINE: My very first fan fiction story was written when I was about eleven or twelve and it was called "The Empire Strikes Back Again". Basically, it was the same story as the movie only I had Luke Skywalker kill Darth Vader. After that I concentrated mostly on poetry and original stories, wanting to get into horror and fantasy. When I went into the Navy in 1987, I gave up writing for several years until the Persian Gulf War when I found I had a lot of time on my hands while waiting to be gassed or nuked! I didn't get back into fan fiction until I was in the Army Reserves some years later (circa 1994) and I began writing original Star Wars fiction. In 1998 I got the internet full time in my area and I started browsing the various comic book fan fiction sites. I noted that there was a lot of interest in Batman related fiction and so I thought I would try my hand (with my mother's encouragement). My first story was "A Painful Beginning" and it certainly was. Most sites refused to post my story and I was ready to give up when I got the idea of starting my own website. In November 1999, the DC Comics Fan Fiction Lair went up at Yahoo! GeoCities and from then on I continued to write as I saw fit. Along the way I made some very dear friends inside and outside of the fan fiction community. I think everyone knows about myrelationship with Dannell Lites, a superb author and dear friend whom I am sorry to say I lost contact with just prior to her death last year. I have made other friends as well and continue to do so and those friends affect what I write.

Ben Tinsley, a life-long comics fan, is a crime reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper in North Central Texas.

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About the author…
Christopher W. Blaine is a pseudonym for an amateur author and comic enthusiast that lives in southeastern Kentucky. Born in 1969, he joined the Navy in 1987, served in Desert Storm, got married, joined the Army reserves, got divorced and got married again. He currently works as the Director of Regulatory Approvals in the food service industry where he also writes service manuals, fulfilling his lifelong dream of writing boring information that nobody would ever use. His first internet story, A Painful Beginning, was published in 1999. Afterwards he started the DC Comics Fan Fiction Lair which has had well over 40,000 visitors in the past few years. His website can be reached at http://darthyoshi.topcities.com

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