DC One Million: "End Times" #5

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

Characters are the properties of DC Comics

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!)



Justice Legion A Roll Call:

Superman Prime = Superman Dynasty = Batman =  The Flash

Aquaman = Wonder Woman = Owlwoman = The Atom

Continued from Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4

The bright dusty rings of Saturn shine a strange shade of pink as the light of the transformed Super-Sun reflects off them. The gaseous yellow world on which they revolve remains still and silent on a background of the millions of bright shining stars which have reached Sol System in the 853rd Century. It remains one of the few to be terraformed and populated - but on this day a meeting of cosmic significance is to take place . . .

On one side is the being named Lzyxm Ltpkz, the enigmatic Superman of the Fifth Dimension. It is recorded that after the marriage of a Superman into the Fifth Dimension's royal family that the legendary Dynasty broke into two separate directions with each universe having it's own version of the hero.

On the other, resting in his time-travelling "Morbius Chair" is the New God of Knowledge known as Metron. Though he is not originally of Fourth World origins he does have power and intellect on such a high level that he was accepted into their ranks. He scours various timestreams and realities, forever studying and striving toward becoming all knowing.

More recently, however, he has acquired the Worlogog - a New God map of time-space in miniature. It's bearer gains the ability to see and influence over all comprehensible reality, but is now resting safely in the right hand of Metron who uses it exclusively for the purpose of widening his already vast understanding.

The mood shared between the two is somewhat grim as they are of the few whom understand, even know of the current goings on within Sol System. They share a knowing glance, both fully trusting the other with the valuable information they are each about to learn.

"The Justice Legion A's intervention was for too long delayed," comments the New God pondering his 'Philosopher's Stone'. "I fear that Faust's plan of oblivion may succeed, especially after summoning one of Apoch's power."

"You underestimate them, Metron," responds the Imp calmly. "The Legionnaires and the Superman Dynasty are the greatest heroes in the modern-day Sol System as well as the hundreds of other Justice Legions at bay. Surely, we have the advantage."

"I wish it were so. For so long the forces of order have been in power - for balance to be achieved and life to continue chaos too must have it's reign. Faust is a more formidable foe than you realize, Lzyxm Ltpkz."

"Of this I am aware. It was only a matter of months ago that a mystical text written by the ancient Techno-Wizards known as the Grmplktz was stolen. It contains all of the secrets of our arts and it will allow a regular mortal the powers of a Fifth Dimensional native."

"Then he has great power under his control," he ponders. "He could eliminate them all with a snap of his fingers . . . if he weren't as naive to not know how to use it."

"We can't risk anticipating his ignorance," responds Lzyxm with a tone of concern.

"Certainly not," states Metron matter-of-factly. "Though it would be just as foolish to anticipate a victory over one such as Apoch. He, and his creations have brought an end to many great civilizations, including those of the New Gods over history."

"Tell me more of . . . Apoch," he asks curiously.

"Before the Fifth World of Sol System, even before the Fourth Worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips was Urgrund - the home of the Old Gods. On the Second World were the primordial Seven Giants of Chaos, one of whom was Apoch, the Prophet of the Anti-Sun and creator of the Primordial Annihilator - Mageddon*."

(*ORACLE FACT-FILE: Mageddon, the Primordial Annihilator was a machine of the Old Gods, which not only destroyed the Second World of Urgrund and the mystical Wonderland, but was destroyed in the 20th Century by Superman Prime and the other heroes of Earth.)

He continues in his explanation. "Apoch, the original creator of Mageddon, managed to harness to the rays of what he called 'the Anti-Sun', whose effects would stimulate the R-complex within a living brain. The result of which would turn life forms against themselves."

"And you don't doubt his capability to destroy the universe?"

"He is a God," Metron affirms. "He would be capable of achieving anything - especially in this day and age."

Lzyxm Ltpkz stares off to the dying Super-Sun and sighs in despair. "May the Gods have mercy on the Justice Legion A . . ."

The planet Maleca'andra J'onn J'onzz - the battleground for the mystical battle between the forces of order, represented by the heroic Justice Legion A, and chaos embodied in the immortal wizard named Faust. By looking at it's still and serene red Martian sands no one would guess that here the fate of all the universe would be decided in only a matter of hours.

Though life on this world is not obvious anyone familiar to its terrain would know that now it is lacking . . . spirit? It was rumored that the ghost of the great Martian Manhunter watches over this planet, and it was confirmed only a year ago upon the return of the legendary Justice Legion A to Sol System. Everyone knows he exists, but the entity as he is today still remains somewhat of an enigma . . .

Even to the Justice Legion A.

They scan the barren deserts in hopes of finding that obvious villain in which they can do battle. No such luck. Faust is accustomed to life in the shadows, there is no way he would make his presence so easily known or felt. He has the element of surprise on his hands, and the partially reluctant heroes have to rely on their wits instead of a battle-plan formulated within the Strategy Engine.

Batman, the Atom, Owlwoman, Aquaman, the Flash and Superman Dynasty - still powerless under a red sun - stand side by side, outstretched from one another like desert marauders in some long lost, forgotten western movie. They all stand plain sight, perhaps foolishly waiting for Faust to strike first. Though truth be told, none of them are sure as to where to start looking.

"A villain from the ancient past," smiles the demon Etrigan to himself knowing, resting on the rocks beside them lazily. "Let's see how long you heroes last."

Once upon a time, even before the 20th Century age of heroes to the year of 560 there lived a great wizard by the name of Merlin. He summoned his demonic half brother to do battle with Morgan Le Fay who, as legend has it, had her eyes set on the crown of the noble Arthur Rex of Camelot. Having no more need for his sibling he bound him to a cage of flesh and blood named Jason, who due to the merging went mad and murdered his loving family.

Over the centuries the immortal Jason Blood accumulated a vast fortune, and summoned Etrigan to his aid whenever it was convenient for him. But demons cannot be trusted  . . . ever.

For his own bitter amusement he stole Jason's memories in attempts to connive control over his body, but did not succeed until the 666th Century when his human cage was destroyed, and finally he had the chance to seize control instead of Neron. What resulted instead was a bloody war, leading to one of two damnations for condemned souls.

"Where could he possibly be?" Although concerned, Superman Dynasty does not sound overly anxious to find the sorcerer - and who could blame him considering his current predicament?

"The foe you seek lies just ahead, praying to skies of bloody red. We find and kill him. That's the plan. So says the demon Etrigan!"

"Everyone leaves alive," barks the Batman furiously. "Your hunger for blood will not be satisfied today, Etrigan. I promise you that."

"Oh, twinkle twinkle little Bat. How I wonder what you're at. You're a fool to try and defy me, so I'll drink your blood. Just wait and see . . ."

"Should we really be trusting him?" The Flash is put at discomfort by the gory details of the demon's threats.

"We have little other options, John," sighs Superman, taking a deep breath and bounding down the rocks with average strength and agility. "We have no other leads. We have limited experience against enemies of a magical nature. We are entering a battle with no clue as to what kind of power we are up against. Do you have any other suggestions?"

"Maybe not," comments Owlwoman following down the rocky path behind him. "Though I still say it's too great a risk to place any trust in a demon, especially one who wants Faust's soul as badly as his rival kin."

"Those words may be your very last," scowls the demon with a hellish frown. "I'll send you to Neron very fast. So be careful what you say of me, else your flesh will quench my bloody greed!"

"You are trespassing," echoes a voice from the psychic plain and into reality. It is blurred and distorted, yet they understand the harsh words with full clarity. It's obvious by its deep, harsh, somewhat ancient tones that it is definitely not pleased.

It seems safe to assume the Justice Legion A have found what they are looking for. "Prepare to meet your maker . . ."

A dark rumble emerges from the heart of the planet causing hundreds of pebbles to jump and the thin layers of sand to sift through the cracks in it's surface. They manage to stand their ground, each of them swaying with the termors which are become all the more violent with each passing moments.

The ground's crust begins to break with fragments of stone collapsing within the deep underground caverns. Batman and Owlwoman use the anti-gravitational capabilities within their suits to keep from falling, each holding onto the flightless heroes about to plunge into the dark abyss below.

Rock daggers shoot up, making their descent all the more treacherous. They make it to the ground, landing with a hard thud and leaving the other heroes to veritably fall off of them. With no time to collapse, they all begin to run down the labyrinth of what are now roofless caves while a wave of spikes rises behind them angrily.

Trapped by a mountain wall all seems doomed as certain death rolls ever closer. But wait - it's died down, as if the planet itself was herding them to this one particular corner.

From nowhere appears a mysterious emerald smoke encircling a single enigmatic figure materializing from its depths. The swirls of mist fly apart with but a flick of his hand and there floating before the Justice Legion A is the rogue at the center of this crisis . . .

Faust. Felix Faust.

Longevity of life has not been as kind to him as it has to other immortals. Every single day of his aging is obvious, making him to look like a living corpse. His clear white eyes bulge from the dark rings of wrinkled flesh hanging from under them. His long, tangled silver hair blows out in all directions, making him look more to be like the supernatural being he is.

In his right hand he bears the stolen text of Grmplktz allowing him the limited control over time and space he has managed to grasp. He looks down upon the entrapped heroes much like a spider would to a number of squirming flies. With disgust and hatred spewing from his heart he begins to formulate the many gruesome ways he can end each of their tedious existences.

From behind laughs the demonic Etrigan, finding morbid amusement in the Legion's struggle - though in particular the desperate attempts of Faust. Does he really think he'll be able to pull off total oblivion?

"You . . ." Faust spits in disgust. In his philosophy there is no way in either Hells that he would allow himself to become subservient to another demon - to become it's pet, it's toy, it's piece of animal meat!

He'd sooner butcher all of Sol System before he'd let that happen - in fact, that is his plan.

Knowing what he must do he collects an eerie blue ball of light into the cup of his palm, then firing it at the devil he knows so well in a single continuous beam. Though Etrigan has a trick up his sleeve, as the illusion of his sinister self disappears and is replaced by the heroic Aquaman, who then refracts the ray through formed water particles in the air.

"Let's see if you can take it as well as you can dish it out," remarks the Neptunian protector, hurling his heavy metal anchor at the foe. It misses, then stops and wraps around Faust tightly, which, on an ordinary human would constrict breathing - and probably kill them.

Unfortunately for Aquaman, Faust is no ordinary human . . .

With inhuman strength and brutality the sorcerer spreads his arms, breaking apart the chains and leaving the hero under his mercy. Having none he pulls on what remains of the chain attached to Aquaman's arm, thus sending him flying through the air until such time as he releases and leaves him to collide with the cliff face and plummet lifelessly.

Owlwoman cries out, "You bastard!" She attacks head-on, exchanging blows whilst John Fox sneaks from behind. He leaps, his grip focused tightly on Faust's scrawny, withered neck - though it will not break, as if it is made of steel . . .

Laughing off their pitiful attempt he blurs at super-speed, then throwing punches and kicks to where Owlwoman would be in only 0.1 seconds time, thus defeating her echo fighting techniques. She is knocked back by the might punches, as if Superman Prime himself had turned on her and defeated her so.

"Oh, please," groans the wizard at the futility of the Flash's no more than human strength strangle hold. With a though he sends the disgraced hero tumbling over, living nightmares of the Speed Metals, the Black Flash and the Chronovore . . . Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

This sends John Fox running - though not at the velocity of one pertaining to the legacy of the Flash. Surely not. He makes a very rough guess that his clumsy steps have him fleeing in a mad panic at something only at the rate of 25.31 kilometers per cycle.

Yes, that is fast for a normal human - but it is not even dawdling to the Flash.

"Just so you know," he boasts, condescending the Justice Legion A smugly, "that I am more powerful than you could ever hope to imagine. Not a few days ago did I steal away the spirits of this world, your Wonder Woman, and . . . Superman Prime!"

"Is he serious?" From the tone of his query, the Atom isn't placing much faith in Faust's claims.

"I wouldn't doubt it," grumbles the Batman awaiting battle anxiously. "We've seen so many fantastic evils over the past few days that his current declaration will be too radical to be accepted as a bluff."

"Felix, you fool. Cannot you see?" taunts Etrigan from his rise above him in the rocky mountains. "There is no way to win against me!"

"We'll just see about that," he remarks back as he fires a pair of bright red lasers towards the demon, spewing forth from his very eyes. This marvel confirms to the remaining Justice Legion A that he is able to draw on the powers of the great Superman Prime . . .

The Atom, not leaving Faust an opening for attack breaks down into billions of miniscule versions of himself, then projecting a radical beam towards the foe and searing away his flesh with a deadly heat. Not many people realize the true power of the new Atom - in particular his power to break down and 'mimic' other kinds of atoms.

Enraged, Faust turns back, resisting the ray with his eye-beams. So far they seem equally matched, but fortunately for the Atom the Justice Legion A are not quite yet down and out . . .

From all sides 17 Savitars of the Batman appear and leap onto the evil wizard. He knows only one is real, but every single one of their blows is solid as if it were a real human being. He fires blasts in random directions from his palms, only slowly and eventually taking down each Batman one by one.

Wait . . . where is the Grmplktz? Drat! It has been knocked from his hands and out of his reach. Now he's vulnerable.

Meanwhile, just 2.314 kilometers away - John Fox continues to run for dear life as the ghosts of his past continue to chase him to the ends of Sol System. Oh, God, will it never cease? He stumbles and falls into the sand, holding his head in his hands with a swarm of tears flowing out, knowing it's all over for good. Though the evils he so feared have passed right by . . .

He looks back to the battlefield. There bright lights explode across the starry sky and the chalky horizon. He thinks of how sick and tired he has become of running. Perhaps now is the time to face his problems, regardless of whether or not he can beat them!

"Get it together, John," he coaxes himself. "All of history, the 833 Centuries of the Flash have lead to this point - to you! You can't just let them down now without a fight! You-are-the-future!"

Now a little built up he begins to run back at the same slow rate as before, though not driven by despair, but by frustration and the drive to stop being a coward. A bright flash from the sky appears in the distance, followed by the roar of thunder 5.23 seconds later. The Speed Force is coming back to him now.

With a mighty explosion his feet begin to blur at lightspeed and once again he is living Heaven on Earth. In less than a moment he is back on the field and zooming around Faust at terminal velocity. He makes another pass, this time adding overdrive and allowing the mass of his body to be pulled toward infinity creating in him an unstoppable speed machine.

With a single punch Faust is sent flying even further than before. He blurs over to the spot where he is destined to land in hopes of laying another shot even Superman Prime would have had a hard time in taking. A pity he did not have the chance as Faust coursed through the air ready for another attack.

Both wheeze heavily, trying to regain their breath. They have just reached a stalemate in their battle.

"Listen to me, John Fox," pants Faust without the same power as he had managed to harness before. "The text known as the Grmplktz, I must reclaim it or else Sol System will have to face a second civil war between the two Hells!"

"To give you back the book," Flash points out, "would be to allow you to destroy reality."

"Only for your own sake as well as my own," retorts Felix. "You don't understand like I do. You don't understand that life isn't worth living . . . that the only true pleasure in life is death, when you can resign the tedious cares of the physical! Surely you, having touched Heaven can comprehend . . ."

"Job well done and very good, Flash!" The demon Etrigan has suddenly reappeared above them both - perhaps to sadistically taunt them both into creating an ultimatum on the fate of the entire universe. "Now the wretch is mine, feel free to dash."

"I can't do that, Etrigan," says John sternly. "Faust is not your property - he is a human being. A human beings whom has committed grave crimes, and must be punished in this dimension."

Etrigan raises an eyebrow in perplexment. Who does this human think he is? Surely he does not expect him to pay any attention to a mediocre speech about the supposed greatness of humanity. The very idea is laughable at the very least!

The demon's eyes glow, and in doing that so do those of the mystical Felix Faust. A bright red 'E', the mark of Etrigan burns into his forehead as his will is forced to succumb to that of his new owner. His arms wrap around the Flash, crushing the life out of him with a force that could tear apart whole worlds.

John's body plummets to the ground limp, as if he were nothing more than a rag doll. Faust stares blankly at his master, awaiting his next orders. It was only with the Grmplktz that he could work in his own strength, but now all hope seems lost.

"What is your next order, Lord Etrigan?" He bows against his will, but does so out of 'respect'. Deep down, the urge and desire for death is all the more strengthened. "Would you like me to find and destroy Superman Dynasty?"

"Forget about the Superman," he laughs hideously to the figure hiding in the cliffs. "He's nothing next to Etrigan. After all, he's just a man . . ."

The angel Zauriel passes through a slim gash in space and into the empty expanse that is the otherworldly Phantom Zone. This place has had many names, all of them describing the limbo through which spirits pass and look back into the many worlds - whether they are physical or of dreams created with a single thought.

He searches the bleak, white abyss in search of three heroes, recently disappeared in the Civil War of the Hell was savagely re-ignited. Their exact location is as of late unknown - he only has a vague trail of thoughts and emotions to follow. To a spiritual being they are like food in which they grow stronger and more powerful.

The three 'gods' of Sol System - J'onn J'onzz, Wonder Woman and Superman Prime - are nowhere to be found in the mortal reality, and Zauriel is the only one who can ever hope to find them . . .

Wait, there they are. Each of them are trapped in a prison of dreams whilst their bodies are being siphoned to another mystical force - namely Felix Faust.

Their dreams manifest in front of him, with space being the sheet in which their thoughts are being projected. Firstly, there's J'onn J'onzz. The Martian Manhunter pines for the red sands of his home planet, even when in an induced sleep. He fantasizes about the day his people will come back, and they too will be as proud and as strong in the very same way the rest of Sol System is.

Next, there is Superman Prime. He stands there in the middle of a Kansas field in the 20th Century, still gleaming gold alongside his resurrected wife Lois. They embrace each other, and look over to the farmhouse where Kal grew up as his biological Kryptonian parents, Jor-El and Lara meet with his adopted family of Jonathan and Martha Kent.

The guardian angel smiles knowingly, as he has watched over the lives of the Justice League ever since his time among them, and is re-affirmed in the fact that dreams do come true. He knows that the meeting does in fact take place. After all, he was there - in spirit at least.

The fact of the matter is that Kal-El had not in fact lived it yet . . .

Lastly, there is Wonder Woman. She still dreams of Superman, and the ways she has loved him in one form or another. In fact, at one point it was rumored she had his child in the 432nd Century. For countless ages her desire has burned only for him, and continues to do so until this very day.

Though Zauriel is somewhat surprised to look in upon a fantasy about their wedding night when . . . "Oh my!"

As a being of light it is his duty to look away from such carnality. Not to mention that as a gentleman he believes everyone has the right to some privacy regarding their train of thoughts. With a wave of his hand the three of them awaken, though somewhat disorientated.

"Wh-where are we?" Superman Prime's expanded intellect seems to not be registering enough information to inform his as to his location - especially when it's as desolate as this place.

"We, Superman, are in the Phantom Zone," answers Zauriel working his magic. "For the past few days the three of you have been held hostage by the wizard Felix Faust and were being used as batteries for the being known as Apoch, the Prophet of the Anti-Sun."

"Anti-Sun?" the Martian Manhunter queries in a ghostly tone. "You mean as in . . . Mageddon?"

"The very same," says Zauriel as he summons them all to new surroundings. "Apoch was the creator of the legendary Primordial Annihilator. Now, he's been brought back to fulfil Faust's evil purposes. Now, we must find an old ally in order to defeat him . . ."

Suddenly, the futuristic heroes are faced with a scenery not seen since the times before humanity moved off the Earth's face and into the corners of Tesseract Space, to times when the power of only simplistic computers were harnessed - World War II. There they are in the killing fields, where the smoke is still rising from fresh corpses lay in the trenches are the smell of blood and decay permeated the air.

These were the dark days of humanity - though they were vital in the leading up to the utopian 853rd Century, and now its salvation.

"What are we doing here?" Wonder Woman is somewhat bewildered by becoming an anachronism in the 20th Century for the second time in so may days.

"The inhabitants of the Phantom Zone live in a series of different worlds," the Guardian Angel explains. "Here, your thoughts, feelings and dreams are brought into visual reality. It's due to this that many societies across the universe have used it as an inter-dimensional prison."

"So, none of this is real?" Superman Prime too is disorientated by his presence in this timeline. "Who are we here to find?"

"To answer your first question, Superman, it depends on your definition of 'real'. If you comprehend a reality, does it not then exist? To one man, the man we are here to find, this is very real. To answer your second question . . ."

"Halt," interrupts a voice from on high. "Who goes there?"

They recognize the voice immediately. Looking up they can see a team of ancient heroes who fought against the Third Reich during those infamous dark days. They are the originals - Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, Black Canary, Starman, Hourman, the Spectre and Dr. Fate - the Justice Society of America!

"We seek the one named Doctor Fate," says Zauriel bluntly. "We are in desperate need of his presence elsewhere."

"It's not as simple as that," replies Green Lantern. "If he is to go with you, then so do the other members of the JSA."

"I'm afraid not," the Guardian Angel states simply. "You are all but a dream."

The Justice Society takes their positions for battle. Obviously they won't give up Dr. Fate without a fight. Though to Zauriel it is simply frustrating tedium that he should fight with that which does not exist, the basic products of a single human mind. Then again, it's best they get it all over and done with.

"I'll take the Flash and Green Lantern," commands Superman Prime forming a battle-plan for them all to follow. "J'onn, you can handle Starman and Hourman. Wonder Woman, you take Hawkman and Black Canary. Zauriel can take care of the mystics. Agreed?"

"Agreed," says Wonder Woman.

"Agreed," says J'onn.

"Agreed," says Zauriel, revealing his divine flaming sword from its golden sheath. He looks up to the heroes with his weapon in front, spiked for attack when needed - and the JSA share the same readiness and determination. "Let's do this."

With a single bound he is away, his darting body causing the golden age team to scatter. His fellow heroes quickly follow, then splitting them all into different corners of battle.

Green lances of light fly out, forming elongated ropes chasing and entangling Superman Prime. While he's distracted by disbanding Green Lantern's attack with his laser-vision the Flash whirs around punching him at an average rate of 26 blows per second.

If he's going to defeat them quickly and easily, then he has to take them out of their element and eliminate them one by one. He starts by flexing his arms and breaking the shackles only as strong as Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern's will.

The Flash darts up to him, hoping to lay a number of attacks before Superman would have a moment to retaliate. Though he does not realize his full power, and is swept away when he's caught up in a crushing bear hug and lifted 1.205 kilometers off the ground in 2.34 seconds.

With no grounding, there is no way for the first Flash, Jay Garrick to mount any kind of offense. With just one punch to the chest Superman Prime winds him, causing Flash to fall unconsciously to the ground below. Fortunately, he was saved by a giant emerald hand reaching out to catch him.

After gently placing his team-mate safely on the ground the Green Lantern pushes back his heavy purple cape to reveal his green and orange costume with the famous lantern symbol on his chest. He looks back up to Superman Prime as a gush of wind blows his light blond fringe to one side. He may be a dream, but he is every bit the great hero that he was shaped after.

He holds up his ring, unleashing all the powers of the Starheart within him upwards. An emerald explosion reigns across the sky leaving a shower of energy to fall to the ground. Superman is thrown off by his power, though manages to counter it with his patented laser-vision.

Together they wrestle, each trying to prove to the other that their will is greater.

He's strong - even for a dream. Though he's not real, that's what Superman Prime has to keep reminding himself. Being trapped as Apoch's 'battery' has left him somewhat weaker, with only a strength equal to that of one of the past heroes - but Green Lantern is not real!

A thicker beam of energy rises up almost knocking Superman from the air. He refuses to fall like this, especially at the time when Sol System needs him the most. From that corner deep within he draws on his true strength, making his will invincible.

His energies bombard the dream figure, forcing him back. With anger and frustration, fuelled by the thought of the deaths of Lois, New Krypton and all of Sol System on his head he fires blasts with full force, leaving Alan Scott to fall into obscurity, and fade . . .

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter have their hands full with the other JSA's Hourman, Black Canary, Starman and Hawkman. The four of them have the 853rd century icons surrounded, waiting for them to make a first move so that they might be able to attack them whilst their guard is down - even if only for a split second.  

Their resemblance to the real team is so uncanny that it is difficult for them both to think of this Justice Society as a figment of Doctor Fate's imagination. There in her tight black uniform is the blonde-haired Black Canary, one of the greatest martial artists and US. spies of her time.

Next, there is the Hourman, Rex Tyler, cloaked in a heavy golden robe and a heavy cowl masking his identity. With the powers granted to him by patented his 'Miraclo' pills he has enhanced strength, speed and flight capabilities for exactly one hour.

Beside him is the original Starman, Ted Knight. He wears a red costume with a yellow star on his chest and a large red fin on his helmet. This kind of garb could only be fashionable in an age such as this. Most notably he was remembered for his creation - the cosmic rod - a device able to wield vast amounts of cosmic energy and has, over time, been compared to a more basic version of a Green Lantern's power ring.

Lastly, there is the heroic Hawkman of the planet Thanagar, Kator Hol. Armed with a heavy iron mace, he was no doubt one of the better remembered of the original JSA, who then managed to live up to the time where he joined an early incarnation of the JLA. He spreads his large, silver wings and gazes at the two strangers through his hawk mask.

It really is hard to believe the figures before them are in fact unreal. Though the fact still remains, the drained Sol System heroes are left greatly outnumbered.

"Cease this conflict," says the Spectre to his teammates. The pale face of Jim Corrigan looks out from under the jade hood of his spiritual alter ego. His expression is enough to allow everyone to know that matters are more pressing than they would at first appear.

"Spectre, what's going on?" Alan Scott is nursing his head, still painfully living the aftermath of his battle with Superman Prime.

"I have been allowed to peer into the soul of the one known as Zauriel," continues the Spectre. "From what I have been told by he, and now Dr. Fate, I have reason to believe that what he speaks is the truth."

"Is this true, Kent?" The Flash rushes to Dr. Fate's side, who then pulls off the golden mask of the Nabu to reveal his true face. "Are we really but a dream?"

"I'm afraid that is so, Jay." Kent Nelson now knows the truth, and 833 centuries of lost memories have been restored to him by the angelic Zauriel. Though he does sound somewhat disappoint - it was true in this case that ignorance was bliss. "I truly wish I could stay, but now I have a duty to fulfil - to Sol System, it's inhabitants . . . and myself."

He steps away with his mantle under his arm, turning back for only a moment to witness the sad expressions on his comrade's faces. It must be rather disappointing to say the least that you are not the dreamer, but in fact a part of somebody else's dream.

"Good-bye," he whispers with a wave of his hand, dissolving them and their world while taking himself, Zauriel, Superman Prime, Wonder Woman and J'onn J'onzz to his Tower of Fate in the heart of the Dreaming.  

"You did well to awaken me," he says seriously, plotting the next course of action. "Now is the time that we must end Faust's tyranny, and end the war of the two Hells . . ."

In the rocky cliffs of Maleca'andra J'onn J'onzz a single figure lays in wait, watching as just below his vantage-point as the events deciding the fate of the entire universe unfurl before his very eyes. It frustrates him beyond anything else that he is powerless to do anything and that just below his friends may very well lose their lives due to his lack of action.

Once upon a time he was one of Sol System's greatest heroes - only a few days ago, he was Superman Dynasty.

What else can he do? How can he possibly hope to beat the master of chaos and a reality-destroying threat without his powers? If only Superman Prime were there, then he'd again be blessed with the power to destroy them all, and live up to the name on which he's based much of his own existence.

There, below him, around a fire ignited by the spawn of Satan is the demon Etrigan, dancing and celebrating his victory in rhyme whilst sucking on a piece of bloody meat in a miniature feast. It would seem he has already won the war, but perhaps he gloats too soon.

There is still Apoch to be seen, yet.

Next to him is the wizard Faust, formerly a madman with a single desire to bring on his own death and end the sentence he must live out in a physical prison - no matter what the cost. Now, he is simply a slave to, as Etrigan proclaims, 'the new and one true master of Hell'. He remains frozen, unable to act on any will of his own until such time as the demon allows him.

And, pinned to the cliff-face beneath him is the Justice Legion A - though right now they are less than the majestic embodiment of the human race they were only a few days ago. Now, they are chained to a stone wall, slowly dying of a sadistic crucifixion, converting them from heroes to martyrs for what very well may be a lost cause . . .

Superman Dynasty turns his head and lets a tear fall down his cheek. How could so much have happened so quickly? If only he'd known . . .

The demon continues to laugh and feast, still ignorant to the goings on in his very midst. He is too caught up in his current carnal pleasures in which he is currently indulging. Not for a moment does he notice the stirring of Faust as his eyes flicker, or his fingers wriggle slightly in rebellion of Etrigan's control.

It would seem the only one able to notice is Superman, who is still gazing down from 17.852 meters above them - but what is he to do? He cannot let Faust free himself, else he'll summon Apoch and all life is destroyed. He cannot let Etrigan remain in control or else we'll start a second civil war and all life is destroyed.

Damn. He hates these 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' predicaments.

Suddenly the ground begins to shake and crumble once more. Could this be a sign of Faust's re-emergence? No . . . it's something far more sinister. The shards and fragments of sand and stone fall upwards, as if an unstoppable new power from deep below is rising up, despite whatever might be at the top.

"Apoch," whispers Superman Dynasty in silent horror. He knows for sure, as well as Faust, that the time has come.

The red lights of the Super-Sun pour down, heralding the arrival of the famed 'Prophet of the Anti-Sun'. Etrigan simply slows his chewing in confusion, trying to comprehend the happening around him. He is taken completely by surprise when the ground breaks and he is consumed into the emerging monster.

From the dark pits comes a large golden bull, which would be considered a giant amongst men. It is the size of an entire building, with a metallic shine as bright as that of a sun or stellar computer. It is coated in midnight black armor, making it seem all the more ferocious and in the center of it's horns a bright orange orb - the symbol of the Anti-Sun.

"Lo and behold the inhabitants of Sol System," cries Faust's gravelly, angry voice to nobody and everybody in the same moment. "Behold the might that is Apoch - the Prophet of the Anti-Sun . . . and YOUR DOOM!"

NEXT ISSUE: A special extra-sized conclusion to DC One Million: "End Times"! Doctor Fate, the mystical master of order, returns to do battle with Faust, the mystical master of chaos! Meanwhile, the Justice Legion A battle Apoch, the Prophet of the Anti-Sun and the end of the universe. This, and more in Chapter 6, "Armageddon" . . .

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