Author's Note:

Added a scene or two. Story needed a little more Batman, so I added a scene that happened off-screen in the previous version, and I'm trying to feature the mini-ninjas more since they didn't get a lot of character-focus in the latter half of the story the first time around.

Kyle Rayner wasn't having a particularly good day. He wasn't complaining about it really - he'd gotten used to the fact that having good days as in law enforcement required serious effort. When you go out looking for wrongs to right, you tend to find them, and while he truly believed his work was worthwhile...

Well, if you want to improve the universe, you get exposed to a lot of its nastiness.

He wasn't inclined to think well of someone that bodyjacked a thirteen-year-old, but his artistic sensibilities definitely approved of what of the battle he could see from ten thousand feet up. The sight of a veritable world tree in pitched combat against strangling vines, looming over a darkened city beneath the night sky... Well, he was feeling inspiration for his next drawing, for sure. But as a superhero, it concerned him. This was a display of power on both sides that posed a serious threat to not only the general populace, but also to heroes in the same weight bracket as himself.

That wasn't arrogance. It would have seemed that way once to him, even as little as a year ago, but Kyle had grown into being a Green Lantern now. He wielded the most powerful ranged weapon in the universe, limited only by his imagination and willpower. And he was a damn good artist.

But the point was, whatever their powers were, it seemed similar enough to the scale and strength of capability a power ring granted, though he didn't know how flexible it was. This could turn out really badly.

As the tree fell, crashing down on the buildings below, Kyle focused his thoughts. The streets were unnaturally clear of traffic and pedestrians, so his first goal was to stop the sky-scraper that was currently failing to prop up the sundered tree's branches. Thinking of cathedral walls, vast green buttresses sunk into the building and the street, while an oversized emerald car jack was quickly shoved beneath the tree, and two big hands grasped the crank and turned it, quickly removing the weight the buildings beneath had been suffering.

"Damn, the guy she was fighting vanished," Flash's voice came over the communicator. "I got a pretty good look at him, though. He's rocking a black bodysuit and cape with this... silvery-white upside down triangle insignia with straight lines coming out the top. It's not cloth, it's like, made out of light or something, like the stuff Shikako's wearing except black, if that makes any sense. Has a big old knife. Anyone see him?"

"We'll search the area," Superman said. "Flash, try to talk to her, find out what's happening." Keep her in one place, in other words. Hopefully they could sort out the possession issue peacefully, but if not, well, kids before bodysnatchers. Fighting the thing in Shikako's body wouldn't be fun, but they'd do it if they needed to. "Green Lantern, keep an eye out, but if you could deal with as much of the collateral damage as possible..."

"I'm on it," Kyle promised, forming a hydrophone construct with a headset. It was actually a sonic sensor, calibrated to look for quiet but regular sounds like heartbeats and breathing. Usually it would be futile trying to use this in a big city like Milwaukee, but everything was unnaturally quiet. No power, no cars, no pedestrians... though he did pick up on unconscious people in nearby buildings as he swept up and down the street. Nobody looked like they were in danger, or even hurt worse than being scraped and bruised a bit, and he was hesitant to try to evacuate them without a clear and present danger. He could send the whole lot of them out of the area on flying construct beds, though he'd have to smash a few walls. If he were to avoid property damage, which was always good when it wasn't necessary, it would take a lot longer and he wouldn't be able to stand on overwatch for the League which, as the only one with a truly viable ranged power, was an important job.

His attention was drawn to the tree of white light, which slowly began to dissipate into liminal sparks. The vines were persisting, until a tracery of white flowers began to spread upwards from Shikako's glowing figure at their base, and the black light began to flake away under the glow. Superman and Wonder Woman flew about the side streets, keeping an eye out for the black light guy's return, while J'onn floated on the other end of the street. He had no idea where Batman was. Kyle felt J'onn's gentle prodding as his mind, and acquiesced to forming the mental link.

"We can all hear you now, Flash," J'onn's thought-voice informed the speedster. "Please inform us of what you learn."

"So, as I understand it, Shikako's possessed by a life elemental, with no given name allegedly. The other guy is possessed by a death elemental called Nekron. She- It- I'm just going to use female pronouns. 'She' realized that Nekron was preparing to annihilate all life, so she sent out a call for a conduit she could use to counter him. Shikako was the one that ended up picking up the phone, and the life elemental isn't keen on just letting her hang up again until Nekron's gone back to the elemental plane of death where he's supposed to be. This is going over my head a little, does anyone know a trustworthy magic type we can get to look into this? I'm tempted to trust her on this, but I don't know nearly enough about this to judge whether or not she's actually a particularly shiny demon or something."

"I am no practitioner, but I believe that her claims meet the facts, and the sense I have of her power lacks the foulness I am accustomed to in the magic of those who dabble with the infernal," Wonder Woman spoke up. "Unfortunately, my old ally Doctor Fate has succumbed to old age and passed on from this world, after hiding away his helmet and the order elemental it contains until a worthy successor discovers it. I must warn you all, elementals do not see the world as we do. I expect that attempting to compel the life elemental to leave for the sake of morality will be a lost cause."

Batman offered advice next. "I have an... associate that has been of help with the mystical in the past. Zatara, a stage magician with a degree of real power. I believe I can arrange for a consultation."

"What does she think Nekron is up to?" Superman asked. "And what is she planning to do next?"

"He's left to allow his body to recover. Even an undead can only channel so much of the Black Light of Death before their physical form starts to degrade. Nekron's plan is to wipe out all life, so she's... I get the impression that she's acting as bait? If he actually managed to kill her, um, yikes. She says that sentient life would have extreme difficulty propagating until a new life elemental manages to form as an embodiment of the White Light of Life. Wounds wouldn't heal without magical intervention, it would be almost impossible to have children naturally, drastically shortened lifespans... She knows he'll come after her, but she thinks she can win and force him to abandon his link to this plane, which would be... his host body, right."

"Invite her back to the Watchtower," Superman suggested.

"...Yeah, she isn't biting. She might not think there's anything wrong with joyriding somebody's body, but she knows we think differently. She says she 'does not plan to allow us an opportunity to come up with and execute a method of ousting her until the crisis has passed'." Flash sounded rather chagrined. "...Okay, she's agreed to not plan on having the next fight in the center of a major city, so she's going to head out into the countryside. I'm planning on following her, unless anyone has any objections?"

"I'll come with you," Superman decided. "I'm not going to be much help with anything magical, so I might as well play bodyguard for a while. Batman, Wonder Woman, could you start looking into ways to deal with possession and look after our guests on the Watchtower? And Green Lantern, J'onn, can you continue searching the area and cleaning up here? How are the civilians doing?"

Kyle frowned. "All unconscious, all mostly unharmed except for one police officer who has a nasty looking scar all the way around his neck. No dead bodies yet, somehow... Oh, right, life elemental! No wonder."

"What do you mean?" Wonder Woman asked.

"Well, Nekron gave up. The life elemental won here. So of course nobody died, right?" Kyle postulated. "This whole area is practically swamped with the white light she's giving off, and she claims it's basically life magic, so... QED."

"...She's smiling at you, GL," Flash said, confused. "Is she telepathic? ...Either no, or she's ignoring me. I think she's ready to go, Superman."

"Alright, call us if you figure something out," Superman sent, mostly towards Batman and Wonder Woman. "Tell the kids that she's unharmed, and we're keeping an eye on her until we figure out what to do."

Chiyako and Hanabi were curled up against each other in a corner of the lounge, having made a little resting place out of the cushions that had previously been on the sofa. Chiyako's insects were spread out around the room here and there, and one buzzed and moved away as Diana entered. One of Chiyako's eyes struggled open, but upon seeing only Diana there she turned onto her side and went back to sleep.

Shiho was, technically, awake. She had appropriated a table to unroll a scroll on, and was blearily looking through a sheaf of handwritten notes while consulting an open book. It didn't look like she was making much progress. Diana pulled up a chair and sat down across from her.

"We found her fighting a death elemental," Diana told her quietly at her inquisitive look. "It fled, and she's unharmed, but she is still possessed. Superman and Flash are keeping her company while Batman and I try to find a way to remove the possessing entity."

Shiho looked down at the Earth, and twisted her hands together. "It... could be worse. Thank you."

"You should rest," Diana said. "When was the last time you slept?" The girl was beyond exhausted at this point.

"I..." Shiho clearly had to think about it. "A couple of days ago by now, I guess. After Shikako realized what was happening to her, she had me take dictated notes while she worked so... so that I could maybe get us home if she... if she got her personality permanently erased." Shiho swayed slightly, and blinked repeatedly, trying to focus.

"That's good," Diana started to say, but Shiho slammed the book shut and shook it at her.

"No it isn't!" Shiho hissed. "Do you have any- no, of course you don't." She looked dejected.

"You could try to explain," Diana offered, to which Shiho hunched her shoulders and nodded.

"Shikako and I, we're part of the military village of Konoha, which has a defense contract with the Land of Fire. We're ninja..." Shiho blinked at the odd look on Diana's face. "Um, superpowered military, police, and mercenaries. We guard the borders, clear out bandits, gather intelligence, and we do commissioned work for outside parties if it doesn't conflict with our nation's goals. Well, I'm actually a codebreaker, so I don't really have anything to do with that. Which is kind of the point. I'm... well, I went into intelligence straight out of the academy. Until this happened, I never fought in a real life or death battle, never left the village on a mission..." She swallowed back tears. "I always complained about having to do my training hours for operational readiness, you know? I never thought that I would have to fight, so I did the bare minimum. I never tried to become stronger, so I'm... I'm weak. If it weren't for Shikako helping me out, and setting me up with her kunoichi training group... I'd be even weaker. I wouldn't be alive right now." Shiho focused on Diana's face.

"Shikako is different," Shiho explained. "She's a jounin track ninja, one of the up and coming elites. It hasn't even been a full year since she graduated, and she's already been promoted twice. When she went to the international chunin exams in the Village Hidden in the Grass, she fought Gaara of the Desert to a standstill! He's the head of his village now! The Raikage thought she was a plant!"

Diana lacked the background to judge what that actually meant, but she nodded along. The general idea was clear enough.

"She's a real genius," Shiho continued. "I mean, everyone knew she was smart. She totally redid our storage scroll system," she gestured to the open scroll in front of her, "in a week, after an idiot in logistics insulted her brother and said it was impossible. And she picked up all of the code work that I helped teach her way faster than most people. But I didn't really understand how smart she was until now. She just... We got dropped into another universe, and she's just like 'Oh, I'm sorry, it might take me an entire week to invent a seal to open a portal home, I apologize for the inconvenience.' And, I... I've never made a seal in my entire life. All I have is a bunch of entry level texts that Shikako wrote in her spare time because she was frustrated that they didn't already exist, and a bunch of lectures about how sealing is an interface for thought to interact with the world so that I'm not, you know, completely screwed, and as much as she could teach me about the fabric of space-time and how gravity isn't really a force, but actually a distortion effect that mass has on the universe and-" Shiho paused her rant to breathe in gasps of air. At some point, she'd kicked her chair back and stood. "And I... I don't get it. I'm not smart enough, not educated enough, not, not whatever lets her understand this stuff! I'm a cryptographer! I don't just naturally understand tensors and I don't get how I'm supposed to make sure all of the hyper-surfaces are space-like, I barely understand what a 'hyper-surface' is and, and I'm not her! I can't do this!" Shiho shouted, exhaustion making her tremble. "I'm too weak to save her, and I'm too stupid to get us home, and-"

"Shiho?" Hanabi spoke up from behind her, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. Shiho's back went ramrod straight.

"S-sorry for waking you up," Shiho said nervously, not looking at her. "Get some rest, okay-"

She was cut off by Chiyako wrapping her arms around her waist. Hanabi hesitated a moment before following suit. Shiho tried to stifle her tears as she embraced them back, to little avail.

Diana gave them a few moments before speaking up.

"You don't have to do everything yourself. There are people like us with the strength to help you, and there are people on Earth who spend their whole lives studying and teaching the things you need to know. You can't be expected to be a specialist in everything. Events have put you in a situation you weren't prepared for, but you've survived, yes?"


"As long as there's life, there's hope," Diana assured her. "We can help you learn the things you need to know, if it comes down to it. But we aren't giving up on Shikako so easily. For now, these two are relying on you, so focus on that. You are tired and stressed. Get some rest, and in the morning I'll get you some texts on general relativity for you to look through, alright?"

Shiho looked down at the two girls, smiled tearfully. "Thanks... all of you."

Batman walked briskly up to the door of the mansion, keeping his mind focused on his intentions, politely knocked on the door, and stepped two paces back. He remained there, fully visible.

Normally, he preferred to meet acquaintances on his own terms, in fashions that would bolster his reputation. Reputation went a long way in this business, he found. Reliable, strong, brilliant, and almost supernaturally capable; that was the sort of reputation that did wonders among allies. And the effect on his enemies spoke for itself.

But there was a time and a place for that. And the time for showmanship was 'not during world-ending crises' and the place was 'not a magician's home'.

Batman had a lot of strengths. Being immune to magic was not one of them.

Giovanni Zatara answered the door in full costume, impeccable waistcoat and top hat and all. He also murmured a spell under his breath before opening the door. This was because Zatara was not an idiot. Any practitioner on the side of the metaphorical angels either took precautions or died young, or worse. And the literal angels, as Batman understood it, were rather hit and miss.

"So what brings you to Shadowcrest this time of night?" Zatara stroked his magically coifed mustache. He quite pointedly did not invite Batman in.

"Two cases of elemental possession, purportedly," Batman answered, lowering his voice a little from its natural timbre. "A life elemental and a death elemental. They smashed three square blocks of downtown Milwaukee to pieces as they fought each other. The Justice League needs mystical advice on how to drive out the possessing entities."

Zatara nodded, and stepped back from the doorway. Batman followed him down the halls and, at a warning gesture from the man, stopped outside the library while Zatara went inside, leaving the door open behind him.

"Please tell me that 'life' is not a thinly veiled reference to fertility or procreation," the magician pleaded as he perused the shelves. "That never ends well. Ever."

"Not… specifically fertility," Batman said slowly, rather unsettled by the potential implications. "The host of the life elemental is a thirteen year old girl, so…" He trailed off.

"…Probably not then," Zatara decided with real relief. "It would be quite obvious by now, I can assure you." He shuddered as he set a small stack of books on a table, and then turned his gaze on the vigilante. "Now, tell me everything you know. Start with their names, if you can."

Chiyako had been scared of the strange place the thing possessing nee-chan had brought them at first, but the people seemed nice enough and nothing bad had happened yet. If it was just until Shikako-neechan got rid of the mean white thingy, this wasn't a bad place to wait for her. And Hanabi seemed to think the people in the colorful uniforms were really helping, so it shouldn't be too long. But she didn't really have anything to do but replenish her hive and it was kind of boring.

At least Wonder Woman didn't mind her asking questions.

"That's really the world we were on?" Chiyako asked Wonder Woman as she looked out the window. "Are we on the moon?"

"We're a good ways closer to Earth than that," the statuesque warrior told her. "This is an orbiting satellite."

Chiyako frowned at the strange word, somehow getting the impression that it was artificial and expensive. Really expensive. But if they weren't on the moon, they probably wouldn't disturb the Ten-Tailed Beast, so that was good. Wait, if they were in a different world now…

"Is your moon a prison, like ours?"

"A prison? No, there are no habitable areas on our moon." Wonder Woman seemed somewhat bemused at the concept. "Is it not prohibitively expensive to transport prisoners to yours?"

Chiyako giggled at the thought. "It's not a prison for people. It's a prison for a big scary monster! The Sage of Six Paths made it when he struck down the Ten-Tailed Beast. He scooped up a big ball of rocks and stuff and wrapped the Ten Tails with it and tossed it so high in the sky it never came back down!"

Wonder Woman smiled down at her, clearly a little disbelieving. "Is that so?"

Chiyako pouted. "It is! The Sage of Six Paths was the best ninja ever."

"Well, he did invent ninjutsu," Hanabi admitted. Chiyako perked up. Hanabi had been really quiet all day, just moping and spying on everything with her byakugan. "But that's ridiculous. Do you have any idea how far away the moon is? And it's huge. Nobody has that much chakra. The story my family tells is that the Sage became disgusted by the violent use of chakra and went to live on the moon by going through a portal. In time, all evils visited upon those of his descendants who remained on our world will be returned ten-fold by those who survive on the moon." She gave a little snort. "And of course the Hyuuga are the Sage's direct descendants and so on and so forth. The Sage lived a thousand years ago. Nobody knows the true story anymore."

"So this is a historical figure?" Wonder Woman asked, interested. "My people have been somewhat perplexed by how history becomes mythology so easily. I suppose that more than twenty-five centuries is a long time for those without immortality, but our own records have been much more consistent than those of others."

"Everyone agrees someone like him had to exist," Shiho spoke up over a big old textbook. "But I think he's more of an idea than a person at this point. We know someone created ninjutsu and spread it, and then everything basically devolved into warfare until the modern village system was created with the founding of Konoha."

Chiyako tuned out the boring history lecture she already knew, and looked Wonder Woman over speculatively. Eventually, she couldn't hold the question back.

"Are you really old and wrinkly like Tsunade-sama?"

Shiho gaped at her, and Hanabi almost reflexively shushed her.

"We don't talk about that!" Shiho scolded Chiyako. "If Tsunade-sama wants to pretend she isn't actually like seventy or something, that's her prerogative."

"Don't be rude," Hanabi agreed. "Tsunade-sama is most definitely a youthful woman who isn't wearing a genjutsu all of the Hyuuga can see through." Chiyako thought she heard Hanabi mumble something about Tsunade aging pretty well, really. And… at least she didn't have a magic mirror? Maybe Chiyako had misheard.

"Sorry," Chiyako muttered, and bowed apologetically to Wonder Woman. "And, sorry! I'm sure that you're definitely under thirty too!"

"Well, I'm actually a little over one hundred," Wonder Woman admitted, thoroughly amused.

The elderly man cursed to himself as his back gave him grief about reaching across the driver's seat of his car to grasp the bouquet of flowers he had left in the passenger's seat. He winced as his spine popped a little as he stood up straight, tucking the bouquet of lilies under his right arm. It was a fairly large bouquet.

Alan had a lot of flowers to place, these days.

It had been a rainy night, and heavy wet drops occasionally plopped down from the overhanging yews. He momentarily considered grabbing the extendible umbrella from his car door, but decided that it wasn't worth it. It wasn't as if he'd melt if he got dripped on. Closing and locking his car door, he walked through the cemetery gates towards his first destination.

As always, he paid his respects to his wife first. As he brushed the tombstone free of leaves and previous flowers, he thought back to the happy times of their youth together. Their marriage had been tragically cut short by illness, of both the body and of the mind, and he had spent long years grieving at losing what the two of them had once had. But today he thought back to the joy of their honeymoon, to the first fumbling steps of courting, and to the brush of her soft lips against his. Even with the little time their marriage lasted, he would do it all again. He set the lilies upon her resting place, and walked away from Rose's grave feeling lighter than before.

There was another place he had to visit here, though it was set far at the back of the cemetery. A large black metal door obscured a walled-off portion of the graveyard. It wasn't locked, it didn't even have a lock in the first place, but what it contained was not widely spread. Terry had purchased it outright, many years ago, and appropriately the only indication of this location's meaning was the words carved into the door. 'Fair Play' might seem a strange choice to some, but Terry had lived and died by the words. Sadly, Terry's body hadn't been able to be interred here. All that remained of him, physically, was a memorial, but Alan was proud to say that his legacy lived on.

The door was ajar today, which made him frown a little. The graves didn't get many visitors. Hopefully he wouldn't have to track down a dumb punk who had too little respect for the past and had decided to redecorate. Once had been more than enough. His mouth twitched up a little at the sides. The brat could probably still hear his lecture, twelve years later. He'd been mighty riled.

Alan reached out, and the door silently swung out with a gentle tug. What he saw there, however, stopped him in his tracks. He couldn't breathe for the shock as he groped in his pocket for an item he had stopped carrying years ago.

Glowing with black light, surrounded by moving corpses of five of Alan's dearest friends, a man reached out towards the last occupied grave.

"Jay Garrick of Earth," the man sneered. "RISE!"

As Jay's casket burst open, Alan turned and fled, and in what seemed like moments exited the cemetery as fast as his legs could carry him. His hips would make him pay for this later, but he didn't care. His body's protests meant nothing. The flowers he had been carrying long forgotten, he slammed into his car as fast as possible, not even bothering to put his seatbelt on. He pushed the speed limit as streets blurred past, and only paused long enough to put the car in park before dashing into his house, slowed only by a momentary fumble with his keys.

It's where he left it, of course. He hadn't seriously thought of putting it on in years, but he could feel it in his bones, like a lodestone to his soul, and it maintained pride of place in his study.

Grasping the ring once more, Alan Scott looks into his lantern, and basks in its glow once more. It's been over sixty years since he first made his oath, but the words come back like it was yesterday.

In which: We get some exposition and the Justice League starts taking action, Shiho starts to get a handle on things, Batman's off to see the wizard, Chiyako has complete faith in Shikako (and an eight-year-old's attention span), and Nekron is an unmitigated asshole (though not a stupid one) as he makes his next move.