Author's note – Marvel and DC own all character rights.
Kal looked up as his host floated into the library.
"Kal," Xavier said, "We have just received a message from a starship in orbit. Fortress, please play the message."
A holographic screen shimmered into existence and an image of a white-haired man formed.
"I am John Snow of the organisation known as Planetary." He said. "My companions and I are here to seek out the wayward traveller known as Kal-El. Kal-El, if you have received this message, please contact us on this frequency. Your brother wants you back. Message repeats. I am John Snow of the organisation known as Planetary. My companions and I are here to seek out the wayward traveller known as Kal-El. Kal-El, if you have received this message, please contact us on this frequency…"
Kal rose to his feet. "Can we contact them? And my brother?"
Xavier tapped several controls on his chair's armrest and a second screen faded into view, clearing to show a view of the Monitor Womb.
"I have set it for split-screen at their ends." Xavier whispered as a blond girl in a black-and-silver bodysuit turned and grinned.
"Hey, Kara." Kal said with a smile. "Can you identify the gentleman who should also be on the screen?"
"Yep, that's John Snow. Hey, John, does this mean you found him?"
"I seem to have done, yes." John replied. "Tell Batman to prepare the station. I'll be bringing Kal back soon."
"Also, could you bring back something else as well?" Kal asked. "The people here have just finished building a Gate that will let us move between our realities. If you can get it to the Watchtower…"
"A Reality Gate?" Kara gasped. "Wow, that's just sooooo cool!"
"Interesting." Snow mused. "Do you mind if I let one of my people look at it during transit?"
"I'll send one of my people along as well since he'll be able to return through the Gate." Xavier said. "He's called Forge and he's something of a technopath."
"Sounds like a lesser version of The Drummer's power." Snow said with a raised eyebrow. "The Drummer can understand all the information around him. He's told me that you can only send signals through that… swirly thing."
"The micro-vortex." Kal nodded. "Yep. I'll get the Gate boxed up and fly it and Forge up."
"We've already placed a reality beacon so that we can find this dimension again if we need to." Snow said. "We'll be waiting. Snow out."
The first screen blinked out and Kara leaned closer to her screen.
"So, cousin, any cute guys there that you think I may like?"
"Whoah!" Peter Parker said from behind them, making Kal jump. "Hello, beautiful!"
Kal glared at the teen and he backed away quickly. "What? What did I do?"
"She's. My. Cousin."
"Deyaaam." Peter whistled. "I thought she looked familiar! You're Supergirl, right? Love the outfit."
"I am." Kara giggled. "Hey, do I exist in your reality?"
Peter nodded. "Yup, but you're… the you that is here, I mean, is dating Captain America."
"Who?" Kara frowned.
"Supersoldier." Peter explained quickly. "He's leader of the Avengers."
Kara's expression remained perplexed.
"I'll explain it when I return." Kal sighed.
The Earth seemed to shrink behind them as Kal accelerated out of the atmosphere, the Gate held in a complex web of straps and cords while Forge lay in the personnel pod strapped to his back. Ahead of them, the cylindrical-cluster shape of John Snow's starship grew against the starscape.
"That is one cool starship." Forge said, his voice relayed by the comm systems to Kal's headpiece. "Looks kinda art-deco. I'm accessing one of the orbital arrays Clark put into place… looks like it has one primary engine, eight secondaries around it and… that can't be right. The energy readings are… off."
The ship grew until it was a curved wall with an airlock surrounded by flashing lights. Kal flew into the airlock and raised an eyebrow as he found himself in a bay filled with air despite being open to vacuum. Five people were waiting for him, one of whom he recognised instantly.
"Kal-El." The white-haired man nodded back. "These are my associates, Ambrose Chase, Jakita Wagner and The Dummer, all from Planetary. And this is Jim Wilder, the Pilot of the Ship."
"Honoured." Kal said as he landed. Hitting the quick-release, he placed the container on the ground, letting Forge step out.
"This is Forge, technopath from Xavier's Institute."
"Yo." Forge waved. "Groovy place, this. Wow! That's a lot of tech you're wearing!"
Kal followed Forge's gaze to Wilder, who was smiling self-consciously.
"I'm not really wearing it…" He admitted and Forge darted closer to him, reaching out to rest one hand on his grey-with-gold-circuitry bodysuit.
"That is… I've never come across anything like this before! There's quantum circuits, dimensional shunts, bio-interfaces and things I've never even dreamed of before. Wow, dude, just… wow."
"Thanks, I think." Wilder said after a long moment. Now, if you'll pardon me, I really need to get to the bridge so that we can leave."
"Oh, right, sure." Forge said in embarrasment. "Sorry."
Wilder smiled, then vanished in a flare of light. A moment later, a small vibration seemed to ripple through the ship and a large hatch slid closed across the outer entrance.
"It'll only take a few hours." Snow said. "This reality and yours are linked by several channels which will speed our voyage."
"From what I saw, the two reality-clusters have had several crossings already." The Drummer chimed in. "Other worlds must have had some cool crossovers…"
The Drummer trailed off as Snow gave him a Look.
"Sooo…" The Drummer said, turning his attention to Forge. "What say I give you a tour through this ship and leave the old guys to talk?"
"Sure." Forge shrugged.
Snow sighed and waved for Ambrose to go with them before turning his attention back to Kal.
"Hey, I heard you're strong, right?" Jakita burst out. "There's a great sparring area, come on! Unless you're chicken."
Kal laughed as he followed the jumpsuit-clad woman. "You realise I'm a Kryptonian, right?"
"So?" Jakita shrugged. "I went up against The Four. You're probably easy after those bastards."
The salle seemed to shudder as Jakita slammed into the wall. Pulling herself out of the dent, she staggered towards her waiting opponant, fists clenched but her gait unstable.
"You'll… have to… do better… than… that!" She ground out, throwing a haymaker at the unmoving Kal and missing him by several feet. "Hold… still, dammit!"
"Jakita, stand down!" Snow snapped and Jakita growled at him before her feet shot out from under her, dropping her onto her ass. Kal looked down to see that a patch of ice had appeared from nowhere. Lifting himself slightly into the air, he floated over to Snow's side.
"Nice trick. One of the kids at the Institute could do something similar, but he fires blasts of ice and also uses it as armour."
"Interesting." Snow mused as Jakita fell over again and started to swear. "I can subtract heat from things. My file said that I was… heh… a cold bastard."
"I never really checked my file." Kal admitted. "I just have what some call the Flying Brick powerset with a few extras. Flight, super-strength, super-speed, virtual invincibility, enhanced senses… that kind of thing."
"Interesting." Snow mused. "You're stronger than Jakita…"
"He was just lucky!" Jakita protested.
"He caught me by surprise!"
"And flying gives you another dimension in fights." Snow finished. "How did you do against the you from back there?"
"He didn't stand a chance." Kal shrugged. "He admitted that he's never really fought anyone on his own level before whereas I've studied the fighting arts."
"Ah." Snow nodded slowly. "So, you have lots of skills that he lacks."
"But he can use his powers better to help people." Kal admitted. "He's been operating as a hero more openly than I have, and for longer if you go in terms of hours active, and has more experience working with others with varying powers. I think we both learned quite a bit from each other. He's given me an open invitation to teach him how to really fight."
"I'll have to wrangle an invite and look round." Snow mused as Jakita finally made it off the ice and stormed over.
"Dammit! Another few moments and I'd have had him!"
Both Kal and Snow looked at her in disbelief and she had the grace to blush.
Forge whistled as the Watchtower slowly grew in the forwards viewport.
"That is quite a space station." He said quietly and Kal nodded.
"We are clear for docking." Wilder said from the podium where he was holding an odd wheel that had lightning-bolt-shaped struts that didn't actually connect with the hub. Forge gave it another look.
"How does that work?"
"It works very well." Wilder snarked as he adjusted the angle of thefloating wheel. Forge glared at him before turning back to the viewport and jolting as the green-aura'd man on the other side waved at him.
"Hello, John." Kal said and the figure on the other side said something.
"Putting him on the speaker now." Wilder said.
"John, you're speaking to all of us now."
"Okay. Welcome back, Superman. New recruit?"
"This is Forge and he's here to help us install a new bit of technology before he heads home."
"Excellent." John said, giving Forge a nod of acknowledgement. "I've got a job to do on Oa, so I'm heading out now. I'll see you when I return."
Forge's eyes widened as a green sphere formed around John and he vanished into a whirling tunnel that collapsed inwards once he was gone.
"Who. Was. That?"
"John Stewart, one of the Green Lanterns." Kal replied. "Why?"
"I could sense his tech." Forge said, still staring at where the man had vanished. "It was… even Kryptonian tech doesn't feel like that."
Kal raised an eyebrow.
The airlock door opened and Kal grinned at the assembled trio waiting for him.
"Diana, Lucius… hey, bro."
"Brother." Batman nodded back to him. "Welcome back. Interesting trip?"
"You have no idea." Kal laughed. "So, did you get the chamber ready?"
"I did. We have full datalinks and power supplies at the required levels." Batman said. "We are ready to install… now that's just showing off."
Kal gave his brother the most innocent look he could manage, ignoring the fact that he had tucked the passenger pod under his left arm while using his right to lift the Gate.
"Fine." Batman growled as he turned, his cape flaring dramatically. "This way."
Clark Kal Wayne grinned as he followed his brother out of the hangar and into the applause of the gathered superheroes.
"…nice place." Batman allowed as he looked around at the large dome, then his gaze settled on the dome that rose far above the others. "That would be yours, yes?"
"It would." Xavier agreed. "Clark moved the Hall of Doors to inside it and reconfigured the top few levels to act as a spaceport for the groups of Earth."
"And since no-one else will need a spaceport in this reality, it is secure." Batman nodded, then he looked round at the dome again. "Any limits on how we can arrange things in here?"
"No weapons that can damage the Domes are allowed, nor are you allowed to touch the shield relay at the apex of the Dome. You can either supply your own power through the Gate or buy power from us. No fighting with anyone else. Trips to our Earth are only allowed under certain circumstances."
"I get the general idea." Batman nodded, then he paused, looking up at the massive cylindrical starship passing overhead. "What is Planetary doing here?"
"They asked for a Dome for themselves." Xavier said, earning a glance. "They came to collect the Gate that we made for them to take it back to their Earth."
"And the more realities that make contact, the more secure you will be against an incursion since the advantages of this base are great enough that the groups that use it will wish to preserve it." Batman agreed. "Impressive."
"Hey, Nightwing." Clark smiled at his adopted nephew. "Sorry it took me so long to get back."
"Hey, I heard you went to another reality." Dick Grayson grinned. "I can forgive you… if…"
"If?" Clark prompted and Dick looked round to see if they were being overheard.
"If you can tell me about the hot babes that were there."
Clark grinned. "Well, the hottest person there was Johnny Storm."
"WHAT!?" Dick shouted in shock. "The hottest person was a dude! What sort of reality is that?"
Clark burst out laughing.
Author's Afternote – I know that this is a short story, but it fulfills the intention of setting things up so that I can pull characters from the Dark Knights universe to the Institute Saga and vice-versa.
So yeah, this is a 6 chapter Chekov's gun…
And several of the scenes will appear in Institute Saga 3, albeit as seen from different viewpoints…