"I'm flying," she said in wonder. The green aura that surrounded her kept her warm despite how little she was wearing, not even letting a stray breeze ruffle her hair as they flew through the Gotham night sky.

"One of the perks of the job," John said cheerfully as he followed her direction to an apartment building in Crime Alley, many of the locals deciding they had business elsewhere as the two glowing green figures landed.

"I'm still glowing?" she asked, looking down at her hands.

"Protective shield," he explained. "I'm keeping it up until you are out of Gotham."

"Probably a good idea," she admitted. "Not that I think Rufus is going to pull anything… but he's never happy when a girl decides to leave."

'Rufus?' John thought to himself as he followed her up the stairs and into the building.

The halls were dingy and ill lit, with a faint hint of urine. It was like someone had read all the 50's detective noir novels and decided to make it a reality. It was about what he expected from the slums of Gotham.

"What is your name?" he asked. "I forgot to ask earlier."

"Susan," she replied with a smile before knocking on door 121.

It only took a few seconds before the door was opened, revealing a slightly muscular, Eurasian man in his early thirties. His eyes widened as he saw the two, but he didn't panic. "Bust?" he asked with forced calm.

"No," John assured him. "Susan says you don't have a problem with girls leaving if they want to, so I have no problem with you."

"Oh," he said, stepping back from the door. "Well, I'm guessing you're here cause Susie decided to split?" he asked, stepping back and allowing them into the apartment, which had a large desk and a whiteboard where you would normally see a couch and TV.

"Sorry Rufus," she apologized, "but I really want to get back home. After seeing Gotham, small town life is looking pretty good."

"I get it," he assured her, "living here isn't for everyone."

"Thanks," she said and vanished into the apartment, leaving John to stand there awkwardly with Rufus.

"So… been a Lantern long?"

"Popped into existence just a couple of days ago because someone messed with the timeline," John told him, "had my ring with me, but no memories since the timeline I come from no longer exists to remember."

Rufus just stared at him for a few seconds. "What the fuck can I say to that?" he asked in disbelief.

John shrugged. "I kinda suck at small talk."

Rufus chuckled. "Yeah, bit of an understatement there."

"I know the secrets of the universe, but small talk is still a mystery to me," he said with a sigh.

"There an afterlife?" Rufus joked.

"Multiple ones," John replied, glad to talk about something he knew about.

"Seriously?! Like angels and harps and shit?" Rufus asked in disbelief.

"The Silver City is a decent afterlife, but they are continually at war with Hell, even though the leaders of both sides have left," John said. "The Norse pantheon is very much a warrior's paradise, so it would annoy me as I don't really find that lifestyle fulfilling. I suppose the Olympians have a good afterlife, even if their gods tend to be assholes-"

"God and the Devil have done a runner?" Rufus interrupted in shock.

"Jehovah is very much a 'mysterious ways' kinda guy, so only he knows what he has planned," John told him, "but Lucifer got fed up with running Hell, so he left to open a piano bar in San Francisco, didn't even bother to change his name or anything. The locals all think he's delusional, which he just finds amusing. The groups now leading both sides are pretty assholish by our standards, so I'm not planning on getting involved beyond banishing any demons I run across."

"Why hasn't the Justice League put out an announcement about this or printed a flyer or something?" he asked, trying to wrap his head around it.

"Wonder Woman has been pretty open about the Greek gods being family," John assured him. "I think the League as a whole tends to stay away from theological debates though."

"Wonder Woman… So, is Maxie Zeus actually Zeus? I thought he was just some rich nut."

"He is," John assured him, "though I suppose he could be descended from him. The gods don't tend to physically manifest all that often and the stories we have about Zeus are just a small fragment of what all he's done."

"I could get behind Zeus," Rufus said thoughtfully. "You said they have a solid afterlife?"

"The Amazonian embassy would have all the details, but yeah their dead seem to rest easy, unlike a bunch of other afterlives," John said. "Heroes excepted of course; they always seem to have unfinished business."

"I can see it," Rufus said with a slow nod. "So, if I call the Amazonian embassy, they'll hook me up with what I need?"

"They should," John agreed. "They'll probably try and encourage you to worship one of their goddesses, but they should tell you what you want to know if you stay firm. Regardless, it's more about the intent than the form of worship you practice. So, if they won't give you what you need you can develop your own rituals and they'll work as long as they appeal to the god you are worshiping, just not as well as rituals that have been used and refined for centuries."

Rufus nodded.

"I'm ready," Susan said, as she came back with a pair of suitcases, her makeup absent and wearing jeans and a long sleeved flannel shirt.

"Hate to see you go," Rufus told her, giving her a hug, "but I hope things work out. If they don't, give me a call."

"I will," she promised as John took the suitcases so she could give him a proper hug. "Thanks for everything."

"We help each other," he told her, sounding like it was something he often said.

"I'll call and let you know how things go," she promised.


"Do you have the schematics for a blue ring of hope?" Kara asked as she touched down in the Fortress of Solitude. "It serves a similar function to a Green Lantern ring."

"Schematics on file," the Fortress replied.

"Good, now for the important question," she said before taking a deep breath. "Can you make me one?"

"Warnings on file states several ounces of an unnamed, deadly and rare substance, unique to Krypton and only found in minute quantities deep beneath the crust are needed to produce the ring," the Fortress replied.

Kara groaned.

"Searching… Sufficient amounts of the substance have been located," the Fortress announced. "Begin construction?"

"Yes!" Kara exclaimed with a cheer.

"Authorization needed," the Fortress announced.

"No!" Kara groaned and then sighed. "Contact Kal El, please."

"Kara?" Clark's voice came over the Fortresses system. "What do you need and is it an emergency?"

"Not an emergency, but I need authorization for the Fortress to make me a piece of equipment on file," she explained.

"What do you need that requires my authorization?" he asked curiously.

"A Blue Lantern ring," she replied.

"I've never heard of such a thing," Clark admitted.

"The new Green Lantern has one and it's from Krypton. Apparently, someone on Krypton made one and then… they just did nothing with it," she said, shaking her head. "Anyway, he used it to heal a bunch of children and I want the Fortress to make me one so I can do the same."

"Why do you need my authorization?" Clark asked.

"Creation of the artifact requires the use of a restricted substance," the AI replied.

"What's the substance?" Clark asked.

Kara silently prayed to Rao that the stock of the substance wasn't needed for some other project, or that they could synthesize some more if needed.


"Really?" Kara asked in disbelief. "I thought it was a rare substance that was found in microscopic amounts near Krypton's core."

"When the ring was designed and created that was true," the AI agreed, "now the substance is a lot more abundant but restricted due to its radioactive properties."

"Will the ring be radioactive?" Clark asked.

"Negative," the AI replied, "molecular realignment of the crystalline structure will render the material inert."

"Yes!" she cheered, leaping up into the air and forgetting to come back down.

"Authorization granted, code zero, zero, zero, zero," Clark ordered.

"The code is seriously zero, zero, zero, zero?" she asked in disbelief.

"If you can access the Fortresses' mainframe a simple four-digit code is useless," Clark replied, clearly amused, "it's really just there to let me know when I'm dealing with potential hazards."

"Oh, that makes sense," she said with a nod, settling back onto the ground.

"Time to completion: Six months, three days, five hours, twelve minutes, and thirty-three seconds," the AI announced, making Kara groan.

"Additional resources are to be released for this project," Clark ordered, "authorization code, zero, zero, zero, one."

"Time to completion: Five hours," the AI announced.

"Woohoo!" she cheered. "Do I have to ask about this code?" she asked curiously.

"Normal system functions use limited resources," he explained. "The Fortress can run nearly forever at its current state, so I normally limit it to remind me of the costs."

"Reasonable," she agreed. "Thanks, Clark!"


John entered the closed down factory, watching the various henchmen rushing about while ordered by the Green haired, white faced man in the purple suit. The henchmen were so anxious to obey they didn't even notice him as he sat down on a box behind the Joker and pulled a bag of popcorn out of his subspace pocket and began munching on it.

"Get the lead out boys or I'll put some in you!" the Joker yelled. "I swear it's so hard to get good help these days," he muttered. Stepping back he sat on a box and checked his watch with a frown. "I really should have scheduled a snack before I started this," he complained to himself only to find someone sitting next to him offering a bag of popcorn. "Thanks," he said accepting the bag and grabbing a handful, eating it before taking a look at who had handed it to him. "Green Lantern?!"

"One of about half a dozen these days," John replied and grabbed another bag out of subspace. "I have some tacos if you prefer."

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to get decent tacos in this city?" the Joker asked. "And even when they do have a decent place open up, I can't exactly walk in without them panicking or trying to poison my order." He seemed to accept John's presence like he was an expected guest.

John grabbed a couple from subspace and passed them over. "Got them from Mexico a couple of hours ago."

The Joker fell on the tacos like a starving hyena. "Yeah, that was exactly what I wanted, almost worth having my fun spoiled." He turned and yelled at a henchman, "I don't pay you to stand around! Get back to work!"

"I think he was trying to warn you about me," John pointed out.

"Well, he was a bit too slow for that and if you want any respect in this game you can't show surprise," the Joker lectured.

"Good point," John agreed, nodding. "Weak leaders are failed leaders."

"So how do you want to do this?" the Joker asked. "Batman usually has a nice brawl with me, usually while I have someone dangling over a pit of acid or tied to a bomb, but since you brought dinner, name your poison!" he said cheerfully.

"Wild women and whiskey," John automatically replied, causing the Joker to burst out laughing.

"An oldie but a goodie," the lunatic said. "Do we get a decent fight or are you just going to do something dull like stick me in a green hamster ball?"

"Neither, I was just stopping by to see what you were doing and wanted to ask you a few questions," John replied. "This is Batman's territory, and you are his arch nemesis while I am just a sidekick, since I don't see any hostages that means I can't interfere."

"Huh," the Joker said and rubbed his chin. "Not sure anyone else would agree with you, but Batsy probably would. Okay, what's your question?"

"Why is it always death or dismemberment?" John asked. "I mean, I know the whole race against time really adds tension and pushes him to do his best, but have you ever thought of setting it up so when the trap goes off, you drop a boy scout troop into a giant vat of pudding or some rich asshole into a tank of milk, preferably a lactose intolerant asshole, just to mix things up a little?"

The Joker chuckled. "I have been getting kinda predictable, haven't I? The occasional prank would be fun and it's not like he can slack off, since he knows I'm playing for blood most nights. I'll add it to my schedule, maybe just use them when I'm facing Nightwing just to cheese him off, since I'm not taking him as seriously as his old man."

John laughed. "Oh man, that would seriously piss him off."


The two turned and saw Batman standing over half a dozen unconscious henchmen.

"He's good," John said, "I didn't even hear him approach."

"He's the best game in town," the Joker said with a grin, getting to his feet.

"What are you doing here?!" Batman demanded with a menacing glare.

"I think he's talking to you," the Joker whispered loudly out of the corner of his mouth.

"I told you he'd get upset if I fought you or interfered," John said, "that's why I've just been sitting here."

"Doesn't look like it worked," the Joker said. "Hey, Bats! This is our time, yell at him on your own!"

Batman ducked as the Joker swung and slammed a fist into his stomach, but even as the Joker's breath exploded out of his lungs, he ignored it to slam an elbow into his foes shoulder, which just set him up for a left fist to the face making him stumble back a step even as his right foot kicked out and was blocked by a forearm.

John pulled another taco out of subspace and began eating as he watched the battle in fascination. He'd never understood how the Joker could match Batman in hand to hand considering the differences in their training and levels of physical fitness, but as they fought, he understood; the Joker didn't react like a normal human being, ignoring blows that would have put a normal man down and if there was a pattern to his fighting neither John nor James could see it.

It took nearly five minutes and several hidden weapons from both sides before Batman managed to subdue the Joker, who even unconscious had a big grin on his face… and a bit of lettuce between his front teeth.

Beta by: Abyssal Angel & Mist of Shadows