DC One Million: "End Times" #2

Written by Shadowstar, Edited by Marvelite
Published by the Cosmic Powers Fan Fiction Group in

Characters are the properties of DC Comics
Click here for black&white text version (good for printing!)

DC One Million:


(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: Here's the story so far - the year is 85,273, approximately one million months after the first appearance of Superman Prime in the 20th Century. Superman Prime, Wonder Woman and the spirit of Maleca'andra J'onn J'onzz have been absorbed by the wizard Faust and the mysterious being named Apoch.)

(Meanwhile, Aquaman has been destroyed by magic and Batman eliminated from time by means of magic. The current Superman has deduced an outside force is eliminating the Justice Legion A one by one and has gone to the prison planet of Pluto.)

(And now for the legal stuff. DC One Million and all characters within were created by Grant Morrison during his run on the JLA title and all are copyright to DC Comics and are used in this story without profit, but totally for fun!)


"Ghosts of the Past"

Justice Legion A Roll Call:  
Superman Prime = Superman Dynasty = Batman = The Flash
Aquaman = Wonder Woman = Owlwoman = The Atom

The Boom Tube rips open with a deafening roar, making the air and everything around tremble. The gold-orange tinge of the dimensional portal shines on the plain silver hallway, tainted only by the blaring red lights of the alarms. A shadow appears from the depths of the Boom Tube, racing towards the mouth of the gateway with superhuman speed.

The red and blue form of Superman Dynasty steps through, and tosses his cape to one side. He looks around as the people of the planet Pluto race by him, stopping only to take a look at his proud visage. The guards try not to notice him and continue to order people through the various exits.

The serious look on his face says it all. "This looks like a job for Superman!"

His body rises from the ground and he propels himself through the air over the mad wave of frantic Plutonians below him. He moves at near-light speed, so all they notice of him is a brief blur of light.

Something is terribly wrong with the planet Pluto. The fact that there is a mass population on the planet is a dead giveaway. He'd deduced before that the Justice Legion A's Batman had been eliminated - and now he knows how.

It's as if the great Pluto Massacre* of 85,245 never occurred.

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: In the year 85,245 AD the population of the planet Pluto was ravaged when the villainous Laughing Virus escaped, freeing all those imprisoned on the asylum world of Pluto. The 15,000 children were rounded up by the tyrant Xauron, then were forced to watch the brutal slaughter of their families. Some went mad, others committed suicide, but one made a vow that such injustices would never happen again. That one child grew up to become Batman of the Justice Legion A and warden to Pluto.)

A collection of heavily armored guards turn as the Man of Steel descends to their side. They mount their weapons over their shoulders and salute him in unison. The leader marches forward to address the hero. "We're glad you could make it, Superman."

"What's happened here, officer?" Superman is somewhat uncomfortable in the new surroundings. It feels as if he's jumped backwards in time, like he has so many times before, but in truth he hasn't.

"A dark, unidentified figure has broken free the two villains known as Xauron and the Laughing Virus," states the officer matter-of-factly. "They've taken around 15,000 hostages, all children. We have reason to believe they're organizing a mass-break-out."

"Batman," hisses Superman under his breath. "Have you gone mad?"

"Excuse me, Superman?" queries the guard, also tilting his head in curiosity. "Are you alright?"

The guard can see the look in Superman Dynasty's clear blue eyes and suddenly understands that the situation is far more complicated than it would at first appear. Superman rises up and speaks to all of the inhabitants of the planet though the Galactic Macronet.

"People of Pluto, this is Superman." The sounds of panic hush as Superman Dynasty addresses them. It's amazing how much they trust him - but then again, he, and the Superman Dynasty have been protectors over them for over 833 centuries. "I'll ask you all to remain calm, and I'll ask all guards step down until further notice. I have the situation under control."

Hundreds of people look up to him as he flies away for battle. He can see their glazed looks of worry, and knows that their prayers are with him. Even he feels the weight of the expectations of a whole planet - expectations that he will save the day and make all right again.

He gulps, and adds to his message. "Batman, I know you're there. We need to have a chat."

His super-senses scan about the planet, and his mind exchanges information with the planet's computers* learning as much as he can of the crisis-at-hand. After scouring the halls, mainframes and centers he arrives at the Galtos Arena - the recreation center for the guards and families on Pluto.

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: Rapport with computers and machines is another power bestowed upon the Superman Dynasty through the marriage into the Fifth Dimension of the 505th Century Superman and Queen Gzntplkz.)

There below, huddled in the seats are the 15,000 hostages of Xauron and the Laughing Virus. He scans above, and catches the numerous cannons all around prepared to fire upon a single word. Though he dares not attack - not yet. He has something to take care of before a confrontation.

Every one of the children stares up, screaming for their hero to beat the bad guys and take them home. Superman can see every one of their hopeful looks, and can hear every one of their pleas. "How can Batman do this?"

Blasts fire from the arena floor landing directly on Superman Dynasty's chest. He remains unfazed and frowns upon the creature vainly trying to shoot him. He plummets to the ground, landing lightly on both of his feet.

"That isn't going to work on me, Xauron," says Superman Dynasty fighting back a smirk. When will villains learn that laser blasts just do not work against him?

Xauron grunts through his permanent grimace. He's one of a race of mutants created by a mad evolutionist nearly a century ago. Though he has the size and shape of a man (who, it should be noted, partakes in a great deal of physical exercise and could survive in the most brutal of blood-sports) his mind is far closer to an animal, filled with savagery and hungry only for a kill.

His flesh is thick and brown like a natural armor. His ears are pointed, and all over he is covered in spikes - from the top of his head, down his back and to the tips of his dragon-like wings. Certainly, it is hard to depict any kind of humanity there may be buried under his tough exterior. "Not another step, Superman," he snarls. "One word from me and the children die!"

"No! We have to kill all the grown-ups first, remember?" comes the protests of the third voice. "Make all the kiddies watch as their families, friends and loved ones die! Ooh, the thought makes me feel orgasmic!"

Superman turns around to face the hideous smirk of the maniacal Laughing Virus. It's disgusting how much like the 20th Century 'Joker' he is - from the tacky orange-purple tuxedo to the pointed green hair and the stained yellow teeth between his wide, ruby red smile. "Fancy meeting you here, Supey," he laughs, giving him a long cartoon-style kiss on the cheek.

A sickened Superman pushes him away, bowling him nearly halfway to the edge of the arena. "Hey! Loosen up, tight-ass," the Laughing Virus yells back while brushing himself off.

"I know you have no intention of letting these people live," spits Superman giving Xauron a deathly stare. "I just want one piece of information. Where is Batman?"

"I got no idea what you're talking about, hero . . ."

Superman takes one step forward, not once breaking his glance with Xauron. The mutant fumbles back clumsily. "You know, Xauron, I can travel faster than the speed of light. I can silence you before you give the order to kill all these children. Now answer me - where is Batman?"

"You know, tall, dark and gruesome over there doesn't have to tell you anything," giggles the Laughing Virus jumping on Superman's shoulder. He let's out an angry sigh, turns and holds the clown by his throat in his superhuman grip.

"You're really starting to annoy me," Superman hisses through clenched teeth. The Laughing Virus wriggles about, cackling himself and choking. "Now tell me where Batman is!"

"You seem a bit tense, Superman," states Xauron as his cannon whir's against Superman's back. "That would be the Laughing Virus beginning to take over you mind."

"Be careful, Xauron," snaps Superman. It's obvious that some sort of madness is infecting him, making him overly impatient. "I might do something you'll regret . . ."

"Snap his neck for all I care," he snarls pressing the cannon closer against his back. "Now you'll listen to me." He listens for Superman's angry response, but finds he has his full attention. "This here cannon I have up against your back has been reset to work on a molecular level, so I think the next time I fire this, you're definitely going to feel something. Odds are, it's not going to be good, either."

Superman Dynasty drops the Laughing Virus to the ground before his feet, leaving him grasping for breath. "The fact is, you walked in here during an extremely delicate part of the operation. At no point were we gonna kill those kids. Hell, those cannons aren't even loaded. I'm not that kind of monster, y'know."

"Personally I wanted to kill the children," pouts the Laughing Virus. "Though the bastard has to come along and spoil all my fun . . ."

"Shut up, clown," barks Xauron, still fixated upon the Man of Steel. "Now, me and my associate have to escape, but you won't be able to stop us. You got bigger fish to fry, understand? There's a plague-bomb somewhere on the other side of Pluto which is going to kill everyone except the inhabitants safely isolated in this arena."

"And yet, you still want the children to watch," Superman points out with a tone of disgust in his voice.

"Of course," smiles Xauron wickedly. "That's the kind of monster I am!"

Superman Dynasty begins to breathe heavily. He can feel the Laughing Virus still creeping into his mind, trying to pollute his very soul. Though strangely, it's extremely tempting, as if his mind is being opened up to a new world free of pain and anguish and full of laughter . . .

He can't help but yield to it . . .

He's freed when a blast goes off from Xauron's cannon, but in a direction tangent to his own body. The children scream as it fires up into the rafters, leaving a thin rain of sparks fall down upon them. He turns as he listens to the beast struggle, and watches as invisible fists collide with him over and over. The cannon flies from his arm, and the form of Owlwoman appears from thin air.

"Need any help?" she asks rhetorically, standing over the unconscious Xauron. She's large and muscular for a woman, but not so much that it makes her look unlike a lady. Her costume is dark brown and grey in color, trimmed with triangular patterns in similar fashion to other heroes of this time. Over her head she wears a pointed helmet, with curved owl ears and round yellow glasses over her eyes, and on her back a pair of wings covered in metallic plates resembling bird feathers.

She's a rare creature, one from the anti-matter universe of Qward. She carries on the legacy of Owlman, the 20th century villain of the Qwardian Earth and doppelganger to the Batman. Tough, unlike so many before her she discovered the good in her heart and fled the Qwardian Sol-System to join the Justice Legion A, where she also learned that she has the ability to live in either the matter or anti-matter universes.

"Your presence is not needed here, Owlwoman," Superman says calmly. "It would be best for everyone if you were to leave so that I can sort this out."

"You can't do this alone, Superman," protests Owlwoman stomping her foot. "I'm staying, and that's all there is to it."

"I'm afraid you don't fully grasp the situation at hand." She scoffs at that condescending look he gives her. He's just like every other Superman there's ever been - he thinks he can carry the weight of the world alone.

"Listen to you two bitch," giggles the Laughing Virus painfully. "You're like an old married couple! HA! Why don't you get a room already?"

"I'm afraid neither of you understand," speaks a familiar, grim voice. Superman, Owlwoman and the Laughing Virus turn to the shadows where they see the Batman step from the darkness to finally meet. "You have to let the Laughing Virus and Xauron cause the Pluto Massacre. It's the only way to put history right again."

The universe rests in silence under the majestic shine of the millions of star clusters filling the inky void of space. Never in all of time, in all of the realities that have, could have or should have existed has life been so strong or so prominent. It seems that in the utopian 853rd Century of Sol System that the conflict between the forces of order and chaos, good and evil have finally been settled, and from it a kingdom of wonder is born.

But the forces of evil only lay dormant. They fester in the shadows growing stronger, waiting for the time to strike - which is sooner than anticipated. There was a saying lost over time stating that the greater something is, the greater it's fall.

At least, it was something like that . . .

On the belt of drifting asteroids between the living world of Maleca'andra J'onn J'onzz and the Justice Legion's homeworld of Jupiter is a quiet explosion, sending massive rocks flying every way without a single noise (except maybe on a psychic level). The light of creation flies out in all directions in the form of light rays and fire, thus lighting up the night sky for 274.62 kilometers before thinning out into nothingness.

On of the numerous asteroids a pair of giant, feathered, silver wings unfurls revealing beneath them a pale skinned figure with bright red eyes. He is clad in the armor of God and nearly invincible. His flesh is marked with strange symbols of mystical origins protecting him from the magical forces existing on the physical plane.

His body is cold and hurting, and his lungs gasp for the familiar sensation of breathing for air, which, in space, is nowhere to be found. He does not really need to, though he always enjoyed the experience of breathing oxygen. Though despite the pain, despite the exhaustion, he feels good, and glad to be back on a plane he loves so much.

Zauriel pants, "I have returned."

He wishes he only had time to enjoy being back in human form when suddenly his senses go wild, and a voice from the heart of the Source, of God, alert him to the presence of a vicious, evil, manipulative force. A force somewhat . . . familiar . . .

His eyes roam about between the stars through the asteroid field around. Whatever it is, it's extremely close and is leaving a strong psychic imprint in its wake. He can tell by its aura that it neither is of this dimension. Could it be a wandering spirit of perhaps a warlock? Could it be a false 'god' created by the collective mentality of man? A fallen angel? Or perhaps . . .

He mutters bitterly trying to sniff the visitor out of his hiding spot. "I would know that damned demonic scent anywhere . . ."

"Angel, run if you can," hisses a voice from the shadows. "Or else face the wrath of ETRIGAN!"

The demon steps out from his darkened corner and out of obscurity, facing the angel without coaxing him into battle. He is the great demon general under Satan himself, and the face of the 'typical' demon, which has appeared in ancient texts and paintings. He looks much like man, but twisted into a part beast with the pointed ears, jagged teeth and bloody red eyes.

If anything he looks like a golden skinned goblin, clad in a tight red costume decorated hideously with spikes, blades and black leather straps. Over his back he wears a light blue cape, which in the human world he wears to hide amongst the mortals inconspicuously.

At least, he'd be able to if cloaks as a fashion hadn't died out in the 18th Century.

The angel draws his flaming sword from its sheath, then pointing it toward Etrigan's throat. His sweet angelic face contorts with disgust and his eyes tell the demon that not for a moment would he hesitate to slay him and send him back to Hell. "What is it that you want in this realm, demon?"

"Dark forces are at work, this you know," the demon begins to rhyme. "But I've been sent here to see this isn't so."

"What can you possibly gain from stopping the reign of death and destruction destined to follow?"

"The rogue here has business with me," Etrigan laughs insidiously. "He's also wanted by Neron*, see? So grab him first, this I must, as so to satisfy my bloody lust."

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: The Firelords, lead by Etrigan and Shadowmasters of Hell, lead by Neron broke into civil war during the 666th Century for reasons still unknown. The two factions have since been split and are constantly at war.)

"Revenge. Civil war. Unrest. The desire for the destruction of one another," smirks Zauriel with a mocking gaze. "It's no wonder Hell could never stand against the Silver City*."

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: The Silver City is the name given to Heaven by the Endless.)

The demon snarls and begins to chant his intent in rhyme. "On this holy mission I can lend a hand. We could team together, form a plan. They can try and stop us, yes they can. But will never defeat Zauriel and Etrigan!"

Zauriel focuses his 'cosmic awareness' bestowed upon him by the Source, following the scent of magic around Sol System. Pluto, Neptune, Jupiter . . . Maleca'andra J'onn J'onzz. Whatever dark forces are at work have been there, and as a mortal man Zauriel will not be able to fight alone, especially with an untrustworthy demon behind his back.

"We need to gather the Justice Legion A," he says, looking up at the storm clouds of the giant planet. Etrigan smiles smugly through his gruesome features, with a look saying to him 'trust me, I'm the spawn of Satan'.

Zauriel spreads his angel wings and launches himself into space toward the Justice Legion A headquarters with Etrigan following close behind. He looks back upon the demon, hoping vainly he won't cause any mischief and praying that he isn't too late to ask for help . . .

Tensions build as his black coated finger flirts with the round blue trigger to the plague-bomb detonator. If he dares press it the thousands of Pluto's innocents die senselessly. If he hesitates, then Superman Dynasty will race toward him and disable all of his defenses. Though there is method to his madness, for in his confused mind the innocents of Pluto were to have died years ago, or else the new Batman could never have been born . . .

Confusion doesn't even begin to describe what he feels. Like all of those driven by the spirit of the Batman he was shaped by tragedy, and that his more human half would have given so much to bring back all those who meant so much to him. Now, he's been presented with that reality, yet for some reason is struggling to put it back the way it was, dooming the lives of all those on the asylum world. But why?

Perhaps he is mad. Perhaps he has grown to depend on, possibly love the darkness surrounding him. And for now to resign that would be to forget all he has ever known.

Owlwoman stares into his clear white eyes, covered like the rest of his grim visage. He is covered totally in black, from the top of his pointed ears, along his smooth, faceless mask, down his armor and all the way to the swirling tails of his cape. He may not be the same Batman born in the 20th Century, but truly the similarities are uncanny - they may be two separate bodies, but their entity, their spirit is just the same.

The Man of Steel sighs in frustration. Before him Owlwoman is psyched for a battle with her physical equal, forcing him to make a life or death decision for the whole planet. Though it doesn't have to be this way. Surely, the Dark Knight is one of the strongest heroes he's ever had the privilege of knowing, in mind and body, but he also knows that he's not capable of planetary genocide. It goes against everything he's ever stood for.

"I'm warning both of you to stay away," he hisses, covering up his reluctance with angst. His finger circles around the detonator and Owlwoman remains totally focused on her opponent, still intent on taking him down 'the hard way'. Though he is wary as not to present her with an opening for attack, and anticipates what he, himself would do when forced into such a situation with a warrior of his capacity.

"This show's getting boring," mocks the Laughing Virus making snoring noises. "When will one of you, either of you, make a damn move?"

Without breaking her gaze with the Batman, Owlwoman flings a round metallic device from under her wings towards the clown. It collides with his chest and holds tightly, then sending jolts of power through his nervous system and sending him into radical spastic convulsions. "He was beginning to annoy me," she comments flatly.

"The both of you, you're making this more difficult than it has to be." Superman Dynasty's growing impatience is obvious in his voice. He looks down upon them both condescendingly, as if they were both a pair of siblings fighting over a toy - though on a much larger scale. "Now it's obvious that you're doppelgangers."

"As always, you are right," sighs the Batman pressing a button de-activating the detonator and then draws it back into his black cloak. "It's time we had a talk."

Superman Dynasty's senses alert him to an approaching force, and his attention snaps to try and decipher it. He can hear the sounds of multiple footsteps in the rafters beyond the children and can detect the radiation emanating from the guard's energy weapons. Quickly, he enters the computers and is informed that the guards are preparing to storm the arena, isolating the villains from all sides. Billions of calculations run through his mind and he deduces that they will penetrate the defenses and gain control of the situation in approximately 9.136 minutes.

"I'll be right back," he says, bolting away at light speed, securing the perimeters as to delay the intruding authorities. It seems rather odd that the Superman Dynasty in any way would defy the law for any reason - but Batman is, above everything else, a friend in crisis and need.

Owlwoman suddenly disappears, and in that instant he feels a wall of pain collide with his chest, throwing him back. He knows the next one is coming, as he is familiar with the technique himself. His anti-gravity thrusters lift him from the ground, and his body contorts as so to avoid the second approaching Echo Punch*.

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: Echo-Fighting is a style of psycho-physical martial artists developed by the Skree Royal Army in ancient times and introduced to Sol System in the 631st Century. It allows the warrior to strike blows on a physical, psychic and spiritual level while also leaving of an 'echo' of their aura in previous occupied space.)

She rolls, and throws a kick into the air above her, which the Dark Knight catches and answers with an equally devastating kick to her stomach. She curls up and moves to a safer position to quickly recover and devise a strategy of battle against him. The Batman looks down upon her, though does not attack. Instead he gives her a subtle nod so to let her know that he is the Batman - a bad boy fighting for justice, who will not stand for such . . . indiscretions.

All she sees, however, is one of the bad guys. One of the fallen whom she has never known until now. It doesn't matter if he and Superman Dynasty have a past - that's their problem. She only needs to know that he's threatened this world and must be stopped at any cost.

The two warriors throw themselves at one another in furious battle. Fists and feet fly about at speeds faster than the untrained human eye can follow and even then a few moments behind regular reality. The beastly Xauron watches though foggy semi-conscious vision as his dark ally battles Owlwoman of the Justice Legion A within a maelstrom of blows. There before him rests his faithful cannon . . .

With a hard cough Owlwoman falters and unwittingly submits to an assault from the unknown Justice Legionnaire. With a chop to her back and a knee to her gut she is sent flying across the sand, scraping sharply on the rough surface of the arena floor. What happened to her strength? Why is she all of a sudden so weak?

It's as if her inner strength or life force . . . is . . . being . . . drained . . .

Xauron's weapon whirs as it charges, pointed in the direction of the now unconscious Owlwoman. A dragon-like smirk crawls across his lizard lips - he is clearly impressed by the Dark Knight's fighting abilities. "I've never seen anybody fight like that. At least, not in person," he chuckles viciously.

"Well, let me give you a closer look then." Before he could let out a confused 'huh' a barrage of Datarangs* fly out in pursuit of the mutant, quickly knocking the cannon from his hand and pinning him to the floor by his limbs and neck. The more he struggled, the greater the pulse from the Datarangs, quickly causing him to bellow in burning agony.

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: Datarangs are a device used by the 853rd Century Batman based of the original 'Batarangs', except modified with New Genesian technology and given the capability of pursuit and genetic recording of an inmate or prisoner, thus allowing him to monitor them at all times.)

"Let me tell you something, Xauron," growls the Batman spitting upon the fowl villain. "I am not like you, and I am ashamed that I was brought down and almost became like you. Do you want to know what I am?"

He chokes under the pressure of his restraints and tries vainly to spit back through foaming lips. How dare this dark stranger be so defiant! "You made me, Xauron. In another time, maybe, but you definitely made me. And now, I am vengeance. I am justice. I am the voice of 15,000 tortured souls."

"Frag . . . you . . . " Xauron curses, barely able to hold onto control of even his basic bodily functions. Though he can't help but wonder - who is this masked man?

As if knowing his enemy's thoughts, he smiles, even if it is only to himself under a mask. "I'm your worst nightmare, Xauron. I am the Batman."

"Is everything alright?" He turns to face Superman Dynasty helping Owlwoman over his broad shoulders for support. All around the 15,000 children watch in stunned silence, not sure whether to cry or scream. "The guards will be here soon. I recommend we leave for Justice Legion A Headquarters while we still can."

"I stopped the Pluto Massacre," is all he said. Though the words conveyed so much more. After all the battling, the heartache and woe he finally managed to restore those he was fighting for - those he cherished the most. And in the end he had the strength to do the right thing, even if it meant losing the Batman and the universe as he always knew it.

Superman Dynasty lets out a knowing smile before opening the Boom Tube to the planet Jupiter. The Dark Knight slowly follows and looks back over the sea of kids before being thrust through space in a dimension vortex. For the first time in ages he makes a wish.

He wishes that in the crowd before him, that one boy who fell into darkness could for once grow up to know hope, and find happiness and fulfillment. And then, he is gone.

The lights strobe in a hypnotic fashion, lighted only by the fuchsia colored energies of the Purple Ray being soaked into his being. His body falls numb as they are absorbed into his system, quickly healing his cuts, breaks and bruises, restoring him back to full health. It stops, and he opens his eyes foggily, as if he's been sleeping for the past few minutes.

Though his physical injuries have been healed, the psychological conflict within rages on. The darkness of his soul tempts him to fall within and lose himself. He is a servant of justice and has set out great distances to see it done. But here and now, what justice is, he's not entirely sure. Pluto did not deserve to face the brutal massacre of so many years ago, but Sol System needs a Batman to watch over it - and one cannot happen without the other.

"How are you feeling?" He obstinately tries to ignore the relief he feels from Superman Dynasty's comforts, choosing instead to wallow in misery and confusion. He tries, but fails against the kindness of his friend.

"I'm doing . . . better," he lies unable to look his comrade in the eyes while saying it. Damn him for being here now. He's the Batman, he doesn't need help. Isn't there an alien invasion somewhere he should be stopping?

"Batman, I've been doing some thinking," he says. He remains silent, and pretends to ignore him. "I think that the chronal anomaly on Pluto we've just experienced is simply an illusion created by magic. Firstly, if whatever force we're facing were using time-travel, then I doubt you'd still be in our current timestream . . . "

" . . . And secondly, you remembered me," he interrupts. "Your mind is unaffected by magic due to your Fifth Dimensional ties, and a chronal shift would effect you like everyone else."

"Precisely," he concludes. He'd taken the words right out of his mouth. "I'd say it sounds like a rational conclusion, wouldn't you?"

There is an awkward silence between them. Batman only wants for Superman to shut up, and stop reminding him of the fact that he allowed his emotions to overthrow him over his rationale. He's the Batman, harbinger of justice, and he allowed his feelings to come before his impartiality and sense of fairness, to himself and the people of Pluto.

Damn . . .

They're interrupted by a tired groan as Owlwoman drags herself from the medical examination room. She leans on the nearby wall, still drained of nearly all of her energy. Suddenly, from her falls a number of red and blue particles swirling together to form the shape of a man - namely the brilliant scientist known to Sol System as the Atom.

He eyes Batman again, still not recognizing him as a member of the Justice Legion A. His reaction is met a scoff from the Dark Knight. He shrugs it off. He trusts Superman enough to believe his every word, even if it is something as preposterous as a forgotten member of the modern Justice Legion.

"What's the diagnosis, Atom?"

"Truly she is being depleted at an atomic level," he explains. "It appears to be a reaction to her current environment. Beforehand, she was physically able to exist on either side of the Qwardian gate, in either a matter or anti-matter universe. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, it would appear she is reverting back to her original physiology, making her anti-matter being unstable in our Sol System-2."

Superman Dynasty looks over to Owlwoman. She's panicked to say the least. In her home dimension she is a betrayer and an outcast, teaming with the forces of good and the just. To return to the Qwardian Sol System is to veritably condemn her to death under the evil Super Syndicate - though if she were to stay she'd be bringing on the same sentence to those she's befriended, maybe even . . . loved?

"I'm sorry, Owlwoman," says the Atom trying not to sound so cold and calculating as so to comfort her. It seems of little use. "The fact remains that if you do not return, then life all over the cosmos ceases. As of now, you are to be exiled back to Sol System-1."

"Owlwoman?" The Man of Steel's hand rests on her shoulder softly, calling her wandering thoughts back into the room. She looks up and swallows a hard lump in her throat nervously, though of course tries to cover it up.

"I guess there's a lot of tough decisions to be made today," she laughs meekly. Superman's hand falls as she stands and walks over to the control panel to program the Boom Tube taking her to her 'home'.

"You know you can come back if you need us." It's almost as if Superman is pleading for her not to give up all traces of hope, but the truth still stands that ever since she defied Superwoman* and the Super-Syndicate* she is a rogue in their territory.

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: Superwoman is the Qwardian counter-part of Wonder Woman, though using her powers to serve evil instead of good. She is a member of the Super-Syndicate, a team of superpowered villains of which Owlwoman used to be a part, in the anti-matter Sol System-1 based off the 20th Century Crime Syndicate of Amerika.)

A fierce roar shakes the foundations of the Justice Legion A Headquarters as an inter-reality Boom Tube opens it's gaping mouth into the heart of Jupiter in the anti-matter Sol System. She drags her feet as she steps further toward it, bit by bit. She looks back into the eyes of Superman and the Atom, telling her it doesn't have to end this way.

She looks to this 'Batman' character, who is doing his best to ignore her by examining Aquaman's examination tank. It's a pity that she didn't have the chance to get to know him, even if it is for a second time. She admires him, but before would have scoffed at the idea crossing her conscious mind. But this is different - now it is time for her to say "Good-bye . . ."

She is swallowed by a bright golden light, and the next thing she knows she is standing among darkened ruins of a civilization, ruined by an ancient cataclysm. They appear to be fashioned like Greek or Roman columns, or possibly like the Egyptian temples? She cannot tell, nor does she care as she looks over the dark rocks under the bleak grey sky.

All she can think of is the world she's left behind and . . . "Ahem."

She turns quickly to face a pale figure, garbed in warrior armor. His tangled, silver hair flows out behind him and his deep emerald eyes seem to gaze deep into her soul. It's as if he has known her all his life, and that she knows he comes bearing 'good tidings' although she has not a clue as to what his name might be. "Who are you?"

"Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm a man of wealth and taste," he chuckles sincerely. His general aura no less than reeks with the feeling of pure desire and temptation. "My name is Neron, and I've come to make you an offer you cannot refuse . . ."

NEXT ISSUE: War is waged when the Eradicator and New Krypton invade Earth, and only Superman Dynasty remains to stop them. Meanwhile, the Flash is trapped within the Speed Force to face his own challenge, as he must race Death, the Black Flash! Read if now in Chapter 3, "What Dreams May Come" . . .

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