JLA: I, Witness

JLA: I, Witness

By: C.W. Blaine (darth_yoshi@yahoo.com)

DISCLAIMER: All characters contained herein are copyright © 2001 by DC Comics Inc. and are used without permission for fan-related, non-profit entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. This original piece of fiction is copyright © 2001 by C.W. Blaine. Any and all questions concerning this piece of fiction should be directed to the e-mail address above.

This story may not be archived without the express permission of the author. This story may not be posted without the disclaimer or the author's e-mail address.

Part 1: 1949

It had been two years since I had first came to this world, this planet that was the sister of my own world, and I still felt as if I had learned nothing about it's dominant life form. Through our science vessels and telescopes, our scientists had, for centuries, observed and recorded the events that transpired on the blue world of Earth, but without direct contact, all of that information, I had proven, was useless.

I had seen the holograms taken of the Exodus; of the Crucifixion; the fall of the Roman Empire; the rise of the British and Spanish empires; the "discovery" of the new world by Christopher Columbus; the American Civil War; and the Great Depression. It was during that time on earth that the first stirrings of war began on my world, which the Earthlings had named Mars, in honor of a mythological god of war.

How fitting a name, really.

I had escaped; banished actually, and would have traveled to another galaxy if not for a stray meteorite striking my unarmed vessel, forcing me down in the American southwest in 1947, two years after the end of World War 2. I escaped, but my two children were killed in the crash and the United States Army took their bodies to a place called "Hanger 13". I was thankful, for once, that my wife had chosen suicide over banishment, so that she would not have to bear the pain I now carry.

My ability to morph my features, "shape-change" in the common American vernacular, allowed me to blend in immediately with the local populace, while my telepathic abilities gave me the ability to speak their language. None of my powers were able to prepare me for the absolute carnage that was soon to follow my arrival.

Using my abilities, I finally was able to gain employment at the Roswell Facility, where the pieces of my craft and the bodies of my children were kept. It had taken a year and a half, Earth-time, for me to do so. It was incredibly fast by human standards, but the time seemed to tick by slower every day. Creating a false identity was not as simple as I had hoped; I had to wait for a particular scientist assigned to the facility, though any would do, to get himself killed. I then assumed their identity, hiding the body in the desert. The first, an older man, died leaving a wife and I could not bring myself to live the lie. Six months later, a single man, drunk, ran his vehicle off a cliff in the desert night. It was the break I had needed.

Why do I ponder such thoughts today, I can only guess. Perhaps I have finally seen enough persecution. I was fortunate enough to have missed the Holocaust, but only because we green-skinned Martians were being rounded up by the majority white Martians. Yet, even after the deaths of so many innocents, these humans did not seem content to just stop and live in peace. It was almost as if they had been jealous of the Nazi's and that the only reason they went to war against them is because they were better at killing then they were. Perhaps the Second World War had been nothing more than several governments competing to be the top of the food chain.

I know that today will be my last day here at the Roswell Facility, as Director Gavin Luthor, a former military intelligence officer, had announced that the project would be closing down and the individual departments dispersed to other agencies. They had done their mission and now it was up to others to maintain the status quo, he had put it, a smug smile on his face.

I have thought about helping, but as voice in the back of my head keeps saying not to…it tells me to wait and be patient, that there is purpose behind my being here at this time and in this place, and that it has nothing to do with my children.

They were dissected over a year ago, their bodies spread out all over the United States. My gods would have to be appeased by my personal pain, instead of their bodies.

I walk past the armed Marines standing outside the door marked "Security Level A" required and flash my badge. Their efficiency and discipline is applaudable, for they make no acknowledgement as I open the door. Had I not shown the badge in the correct manner, or even had the proper security clearance, and had tried to enter, they had orders to kill me on the spot.

As I learned when I first came here in my disguise, the United States Constitution did not apply here.

The room inside was medically sanitized, but I could detect the smell of death heavy in the air. I had received the report this morning that the "Starman", Ted Knight, had expired the night before. That only left three "metahumans" left in the facility. Jay Garrick, the "Flash", was to be executed by electric chair for "crimes against the state" as the official death warrant read. He was the only one to have received a trial, though calling it a trial left a bad taste in my mouth. It had actually been a mockery of justice; the accused at Nuremberg had a better chance of being acquitted than Garrick had.

Alan Scott, the "Green Lantern" was still in a coma and the word had come down that his artificial respirator was to be turned off at some point during the week and his hand amputated so that his power ring could be collected.

My supposed specialty was in religion, an odd posting for this place at first glance, but as I became more and more integrated into the system, I soon began to understand why. There was one being still incarcerated here that defied all explanation. The Spectre claimed to be an angel of God, the name many assigned to the higher power over all things. Even my gods were said to kneel before "One With The Power Of Many And Over All". Human religion, especially Christianity, was easy to understand, despite the many branches of the religion. They all had several common factors, those being the belief in a Messiah or Savior, a belief in one God, one Satan and redemption through acts of goodwill or confession.

I was here, once again, to answer any questions Director Luthor had while he interrogated the Spectre, who was kept chained to a table in a private cell through the use of "magic". As a scientist, both in disguise and as a hobby before my banishment from Mars. I had considered magic to be nothing more than uneducated explanations of naturally occurring events. However, I must confess, seeing a supposed angel of God held at bay with simply pink lightning restraints, did cause me to pause and wonder. Could magic exist? If it did, how could it trap an angel?

I now know that the voice that has been telling me to maintain my deception is that of the Spectre, calling out to me in his weakened state. Every time I show up, he seems to be a little more at ease, as if it is important to him that someone bear witness to these events. It is then when I wonder if I should be proud for being selected for such an honor, or more afraid than ever.

Today, I felt in my bones, was going to be the day the Spectre traveled back to the bosom of his God. One did not need to be telepathic to know that, the expression on the other men's faces told the same tale.

"It's almost as if he's just fading away," Director Luthor said, rubbing his chin which had red stubble growing on it. I could tell he had been here all night. They had been working hard to figure out the power source behind the Spectre's power. It was naturally assumed that he was simple an enhanced human, not an angel.

"I am being called back to my maker," the Spectre said in a raspy voice.

"Oh, please, stop with this religious nonsense!"

Director Luthor turned to a bald man who was busy taking the Spectre's pulse. As always, he didn't have one. "Ultra, you really need to calm down."

Ultra turned to look at me. "You, theologian, can you say with 100% certainty that this is an angel of God?"

I shrugged, as I did every time I was asked the same question. "Dr. Ultra, I cannot, with 100% certainty say that we even exist."

Director Luthor slapped me hard on the back and I had to make myself stumble forward to be convincing. He let out a thunderous laugh. "That's what I love about your God-fearing types, always afraid to back up what you believe. You want to believe so bad, but since God doesn't talk to you, you have that little bit of doubt. Hypocritical bastards, all of you!"

Luthor had explained to me many times over a late night drink that he felt the concept of God was over-rated. "Man is God, therefore God is man," he would recite over and over, though the point to it failed to reach me each and every time. Luthor believed in human superiority, not in fate and therefore had no place for God. Ultra on the other hand, I had been convinced a long time ago, thought he was God.

I was about to spew a well-researched speech on appearances of angels in history when the Spectre suddenly began thrashing against his bonds. He let out a cry that I don't think I can ever forget, as if it were not entering through my ears, but my thoughts. His eyes fogged over in crimson and his voice was no longer shaky. When he spoke, I swear it felt like the dead were pawing at me.

" Know ye that the Lord, our God, doth create life in all of its splendor and diversities! Woe betides the unrepentant, for His Chosen Son will come! Mightier than man, pure in thought and deed, His vengeance will come like the lightning, swift and sure! Repent, for the Chosen Son will show through sacrifice the Lord's mercy and wraith and They shall follow by His example! From the skies he shall come with angels in his wake!"

He then simply faded away after that, leaving the three of us baffled.

Part 2: 1968

"All of you know me, and you know I never approach this body without carefully considering the outcome of any actions you may take based upon my advice," I said from the podium. The Guardians of the Universe, blue-skinned Oans, sat in their rows above me, clad in their red robes of office. The immortal beings made no sign of approval or disapproval of my opening statement and I began to sweat.

"You are considered a friend and ally here, J'onn J'onzz of Mars; your aid to the Corps member of your sector, Abin Sur, has been duly noted. For you to ask for only an occasional audience in return for your help is most generous indeed," one of them stated. I never bothered to learn their names, since all of them looked alike. I wasn't even sure how many of them there actually were.

I was familiar with their roles in the universe as it was. They were an ancient race, even more ancient than my own or any that I had ever encountered. At some point in their history, an event occurred in which something dire happened to the universe, as if they had opened the doors to Eden and let the Serpent in (I find myself using more and more Earth-like analogies as time goes on). In order to combat this, they formed an organization, an intergalactic police force to patrol the known universe. The split up the universe into 3600 sectors and assigned a power ring wielding Corps members to each sector. The resemblance to Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of the United States was uncanny, though when I mentioned him, I was greeted with mild skepticism.

The Oans, as they were called since this world they inhabited was called Oa, were telepathic and we could have continued this conversation in such a way. It would have been more efficient, in fact, and the entire matter would be done within seconds. However, the Guardians, as they called themselves when wearing their robes of office, required that there be a holographic record of the events for future study and this required that all participants speak.

"I shall try to be brief, since I know that you have pressing matters to attend to," I said, composing myself. It was my third time before the body, pleading my case to them. I expected them to nod and say that they would take the matter under advisement, but I still had to try. I was also armed with information that my friend, Abin Sur, had collected from the Guardians own archives. "I come before you to with information of great importance, and it concerns the prophecy of the being known as the Spectre…"

"Has this matter not already been taken up by this body on two previous occasions?" one of the Guardians asked.

"Point of order, Pella-Al Soota," one of the others said, taking my defense. "The petitioner must be allowed to make his petition before he may be cross-examined. Martian J'onzz has made a formal request to be heard and we have accepted…there was no stipulation as to what he may discuss."

The other Guardians began to nod in agreement and the one identified as Pella-Al bowed his head towards me. "My apologies, Martian J'onzz, my brother has pointed out my error, and I thank him for it."

"The matter is passed, brother," my defended began and I sighed. Such as it was every time I came before them. Millions of years of meetings and debates had firmly pressed the rules of order into their large brains and they took great pains to ensure that no member of their order was embarrassed or made the object of ridicule, though I would assume that they were beyond such things.

Five minutes later, I was told I could continue. "As you remember from my previous audiences, I have explained that the Spectre predicted that a champion would arise on Earth to lead the metahumans out of bondage. I believe that this champion is on Earth now. I have information that a ship carrying an infant from the planet Krypton has crashed on Earth. This ship was intercepted by Abin Sur, who was warned away from the ship by its internal defense mechanisms."

Obviously deciding to now throw the rules of order out the proverbial window, the presiding Guardian spoke. "We have received the report of Abin Sur and found the facts to be acceptable. However, there has been no evidence provided here as to attest to this Spectre's ability to foresee the future. For all we can surmise, his so-called prophecy is nothing more than the ravings of a dying man."

So the battle of facts began anew, I thought to myself. "True, Guardian, however, there is no evidence to suggest the contrary; in fact, the religion of your own peoples speaks of "the white rider garbed in the blue skin". It is an obvious reference to a powerful supernatural being taking the form of one of your race."

There were murmurs and then another Guardian spoke out. "Why is this infant so unique that he is called out among all of the living things on the Earth to be the fulfillment of this prophecy?"

"Because this child is the sole remaining member of the Kryptonian race, as far as we know. Krypton exploded almost a year ago."

Another Guardian started. "A tragic event to be sure, but that in and of itself does not make the child unique. Are you not the last of your race?"

I nodded agreement. "So far as I know, honorable Guardian, I am the last green-skinned Martian, the White Martians having wiped out my kind and making my planet completely uninhabitable."

The Guardian replied. "Then how do we know that you are not the one this prophecy is about?"

Other Guardians began to debate amongst themselves and I was beginning to feel dejected. Abin had given me the information on the Guardians ancient religion in hopes of being able to use it to my advantage. I supposed then that we had both been foolish to believe such things. "The prophecy cannot be about me or else I would not have been chosen to bear witness to it."

Many Guardians were now in active deliberations with their colleagues. The presiding Guardian called for silence and when he was obeyed, he spoke once again to me. "Martian J'onzz, it is obvious that you are a compassionate being, a good soul if you will, who appears to have the better interest of the people of your adopted planet at heart, but this obsession you seem to have with supposed crimes against individuals…"

It was then I just simply lost my temper. My fist came down hard on the podium I was standing at, my enhanced Martian strength easily shattering it. In my natural form, I must have been quite a sight. Several reserve Corps members, who served as officers of the court began to take defensive stances. I ignored them. "For the last damn time, I tell you that there is a systematic effort being undertaken on Earth to exterminate anyone with abilities or powers beyond that of normal humans. Metahumans are hunted down and executed without the sanction of trial by a governing authority. Simply being accused of being a metahuman is grounds for imprisonment!"

The Guardians seemed unaffected by my outburst, even as I regained my control and reverted back to my more humanoid form. "And, as we have stated to you before, you bring no evidence of such crimes. You speak of trials without juries, yet you bring no evidence of such acts. You talk of the slaughter of metahumans, yet you also state that they stood accused of crimes against the state? You even go so far as to try and appeal to our baser instincts with tales of a Corps member that there is no record of who was killed there decades ago…one Alan Scott. Who are we to say this government is not perfectly within its rights to try accused criminals as it sees fit? Not one piece of evidence has been brought before us except…your uncollaborated account of the murder of a supposedly supernatural being."

I sighed. "Then you will do nothing to protect this child? Are you aware of what effect the yellow sun of Earth will have on his Kryptonian cells? Have you spoken to the Corps member of the Daxam system which possesses a red sun like Krypton?"

"We would be willing to take the child into our custody if it is truly the last of its race; we offer it the same protection we offer you, Martian J'onzz."

I shook my head at the offer. "No…this child needs to be raised by a loving family, not in this cold sterile environment. This child…"

"Is a refugee from a dead planet, Martian J'onzz," the presiding Guardian interrupted. "Once again, your petition is denied. You have no proof besides your own word of anything you have stated. Bring us collaboration…anything else that will validate what you say…and we will discuss the options that are open to us. It is not our policy to interfere in the normal activities of any sentient races without probable cause."

"What of Abin Sur? Has he not come to my defense on this issue?"

There was silence for a moment. "Abin Sur is a most trusted member of the Corps and his word is respected by all; however, in this matter, he has not been able to offer anything except circumstantial evidence at best. His testimony, we're afraid, may be tainted by his feelings of friendship towards you."

So, I reasoned, another battle had been lost. I was still determined, though, to see this mission through to it's end. A Kryptonian child would immediately begin absorbing yellow solar energy from the Earth's sun. As time would progress, the child would become a powerful being…mightier than mere mortal men, for sure. I had to get back to Earth. I had to find something to convince the Guardians I was telling the truth and not just reading into things more deeply than what they actually were.

Part 3: 1975

It had happened so quickly, that 8-year old Bruce Wayne could scarcely believe it. There, laying a pool of blood, bleeding to death from a gaping bullet wound to the chest, was a man in a red, white and blue costume. His father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, was trying to open the man's costume, but the fabric resisted the small pocketknife the man had borrowed from one of the police officers.

Bruce held the man's hand, wanting to thank him for what he had done, for saving the life of his mother and father, but his throat was dry and his face was wet. He heard his mother speaking in an excited tone to another police officer and saw two more leading a man Bruce did not know to a waiting police car. The man had appeared out of nowhere, wielding an ugly pistol and demanding money from his father. When he also demanded his mother's necklace, Bruce's father had flown into a rage and launched himself onto the man.

The man brought the pistol up and pulled the trigger and Bruce suddenly felt a wind at his back and then…the gunman was sprawled against an alley wall, apparently knocked out. A few feet away, the costumed man seemed to materialize out of thin air, stagger and then fall, clutching his chest. Immediately, Bruce's mother had run for help, while he and his father tried to help their savior.

Bruce had never seen a man in such an outfit before and he heard his father mutter something like "Flash". The man shook his head and smiled, saying his name was "Max". Bruce noticed he had a Texas accent.

Bruce never saw the man leap in front of the bullet and had no idea how he could have done it. It was impossible for someone to move that fast wasn't it? Maybe in the movies, like those old serials from the 1940's his dad had on 8mm film, but not in real life. It couldn't have happened that way.

Bruce felt the hand go slack and he saw that his father was closing the dead man's eyes.

Within a half hour, a black van drove up, and two men stepped out and identified themselves as F.B.I. agents. Bruce was numb, but still coherent enough to see the agents look the body over and the pull Dr. Wayne to the side. An argument broke out and Bruce saw his father shaking his head in anger until, suddenly, one of the agents looked over at Bruce and then whispered something in Thomas Wayne's ear. The expression on his father's face was going to forever be burned in Bruce's mind.

The next day, Bruce hurried to Alfred to ask for the morning paper. When he looked in it, there was no mention of the costumed man's death and the story of the Wayne's attack ended with the apparent suicide of the gunman, Joseph Chill, as police closed in on him. When he asked his father, he was told, sternly, that he was to forget what had happened the night before and that no matter what, he was never to speak of the matter again. His father also explained that he would be going to school on Switzerland immediately and that he would be enrolling in martial arts classes. His father said it was for his own protection.

As Bruce wandered out of the kitchen, he swore a silent oath. He would not speak of the incident, but he would not forget. He would find out who that man was, the one that had saved their lives and he would ensure that he would not be forgotten.

Part 4: 1978

The eleven-year-old boy thought he was going to go insane if the voices didn't stop.

Over and over again, they told him that he was the one, the pinnacle of the human spirit. He was to be fearless, he was to stand tall and face adversity with courage. All he wanted to do was throw up.

He was dreaming, he knew it, just as he had been since that fateful day when his life changed. He had discovered that he could do things other people couldn't, wondrous things, and powerful things. It was exciting and frightening all at the same time.

He did not know who to talk to about it until he finally made the decision to talk to old Father O'Brien. The priest had listened to the dark-haired youth, nodding and waiting patiently for him to finish. The boy had expected the priest to simply tell him to go and pray for guidance from God. He got something else instead.

"You must keep these things to yourself, son," the priest had said. "I remember a time when such things were not considered impossible…but that was long ago and the world has become a very dangerous place. While I find some of the things you tell me to be impossible…improbable even…I know that you would not have come here if you did not believe it was real."

"The voices keep guiding me to something, father, as if they were training me…teaching me about things that I can't learn about anywhere else. It's almost like I'm not even human, that I'm something else."

The priest laid a hand on the boy's shoulder. "You very well may be, son, but right now, I assure you, is not the time for you to reveal these things to the world. When you are older, when the world is known to you, then, perhaps, you will know what to do."

The boy had left, promising never to speak of their conversation or what he believed was going on inside of him, even to his family. "They may not understand."

The dreams, however, continued unabated.

Part 5: 1995

"Yes, I knew about everything," the old man said from his chair before the Guardians. I stood behind him, offering moral support while Hal Jordan, Abin Sur's replacement, stood next t me. It was Hal who had found this man, a person I thought had died decades before. Hal had been as supportive as Abin had in my quest, God bless their souls, especially Abin's. My friend had died the year before, combating a monstrosity called Legion.

Legion, a reference also the gathering of the minions of Hell. The irony of it all had not escaped me.

For years, I had secretly watched the Kryptonian as he grew to manhood. I had seen first-hand the abilities he wielded, though he worked very hard to hide them from everyone else. I had seen him fly through the air, lift great weights and work in the fields of his parent's farm for hours without tiring. He was a noble being; one could almost sense the goodness radiating from him. Several times, I had wanted to telepathically connect to him, to share a common bond between us. We were survivors of great tragedy and to say I felt kinship towards him was understating the obvious.

I had to redirect my musings so that I could pay attention to Jonathan Law's tale.

"It started around 1944, when it was obvious that we were going to win the war. Congress, now assured of a victory, started to turn their attention to domestic issues. Some senators began to question why the American and British metahumans had not participated more in the war effort. Members of the Justice Society, such as Green Lantern…"

There were murmurs among the Guardians at the mention of the name. It was the title Hal Jordan had taken and it had spread throughout the Corps. Now, all Corps members were calling themselves Green Lanterns and the story of the Unknown Lantern was becoming part of the common mythology.

"And Dr. Fate," Jonathan continued. "...Were considered to be powerful enough to take out the entire Axis powers. The truth of the matter was that the Axis metahumans had erected a mystical shield around their territories that caused anyone of us to fall under their control once we crossed that boundary. If any of them tried to combat the enemy, they would become the enemy. President Roosevelt knew this and for a time, that was good enough.

"When Roosevelt died, however, other forces in the government began to exert control. President Truman was to involved in the Manhattan Project to be concerned about issues like metahumans, so he assigned the task of overseeing them to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the F.B.I. Hoover was convinced that the metahumans, by not fighting, we're communists and thereby guilty of treason. He managed to get others to side, most notable Gavin Luthor, whose father had been a powerful U.S. Congressman and Ultra, a one-time criminal who happened to be the greatest scientific genius in the world.

"They managed to get Truman to rescind the executive order that gave the All-Star Squadron their law enforcement authority and then issued arrest warrants for all members. The problem was that the F.B.I. simply did not have the resources to bring in the more powerful members. They solved that with buying one of the members." Jonathan paused and a pained look came over his face. "The traitor was named Johnny Thunder, who actually wasn't a metahuman, but some guy who happened to have control over a very powerful magic being called the Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt had to obey Johnny absolutely and he used it to determine the more powerful member's weaknesses."

It looked like Jonathan was about to begin crying, so I squeezed his shoulder and stepped up in front of him. "The first metahuman they arrested was Jay Garrick, the Flash. They got him to turn himself in by threatening to charge his wife with treason. He agreed to surrender, but only if he got a fair trial. He got a trial, but it wasn't fair."

Hal Jordan stepped up next to me. "They then learned that Alan Scott, the Green Lantern," he emphasized the title for effect, "was vulnerable to wood, not yellow like we are and they used that to ambush him, causing such extensive injuries that he was put into a coma from which he never regained consciousness. It was then a simple matter to round up the rest of the matters using the Thunderbolt."

The presiding Guardian cleared his throat. "But, how do you know that these are the actual events that occurred? Do you have proof of this 'mystical barrier'? How was it erected? How is it that there is Corps member we have no record of wielding a power ring we did not create? Why is it that this man is still alive?"

"Hoover," Jonathan said. "I was a writer at the time, but I was also the super-hero known as the Tarantula. I was arrested in my home and taken before Hoover. He was a fan of my crime novels. He let me go since I had no super-powers, but they confiscated my weapons."

A Guardian nodded and questioned Jonathan. "Tell me, Earthling Law, when you were active as the Tarantula, did you break any laws in pursuit of criminals?"

"Yes, but…"

The Guardian held up a hand. "Were you a duly authorized law enforcement agent?"

"Yes, until the executive order was rescinded."

"So, afterwards, you were actually operating outside the law."

I saw where this argument was going and stepped up to the challenge. "They were trying to help those who could not help themselves. They were trying to protect the innocent. They were doing something in the interest of the common good of society."

"Seems to me they were trying to create their own society," another Guardian added.

It was then that the most remarkable thing happened and I now know why Hal Jordan is considered the greatest to ever have wielded a power ring. He walked past Jonathan and me and stood no more than a foot away from the presiding Guardian. "Listen to you! Have you guys been alive for so long that you've forgotten what compassion is? Did any of you, just once, ever do something that was against the rules so that you could make someone's life better? Probably not. I used to think the way you guys do, but I've made a new friend on Earth and he's shown me a whole new take on life. The government of the United States is out of control. F.B.I. director Lex Luthor is a dictator with more power than anyone could imagine. They are purposely eliminating every single perceived threat to their way of life…"

"You will silence yourself, Hal Jordan of Earth!" the presiding Guardian scolded. The two locked eyes for an instant and then the Guardian blinked.

Hal pulled off his ring and threw it down. "I quit. I believe in J'onn and what he says. I believe that this Kryptonian may be the savior of not only the metahumans, but also anyone else on Earth who wants to be different. I'm going to help him any way I can since its obvious you won't."

I helped Jonathan up and started to leave the audience chamber, to my awaiting shuttle, loaned to me by a friend I had made from the planet Thanagar. Hal stepped in right behind us and I thought we would leave without looking back, but again, Hal surprised me.

Turning slowly around, a big smile on his face, he gave them a final warning. "If I were you self-righteous toads, I would be worried. If this Kryptonian is what the Spectre's prophecy says he is, what's he going to think of your way of trying to keep 'order' in the galaxy?"

We left behind a very, very quiet audience chamber.

Part 6: 1995

The boy was now a man and quite a handsome man, judging from the way the girls were looking at him as he walked along the beach. The vacation was just what he needed, to get away from everything and just enjoy himself. He had grown muscular and tall, and his jaw was set straight and true. His blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight and more than once, he caught a sunbathing beauty staring at him.

It would be nice to find a California girl, maybe indulge in the nightlife a little, but he smiled, realizing that it just wasn't for him. He preferred a down-to-Earth girl, wholesome and of good morals, but deep inside, he knew he would never have a girlfriend. He still had his terrible secret and if it what the voices told him was true, then married life wasn't in the cards for him. Until the voices stopped, it would just have to be that way.

The voices did not come as often now, as if there was no more information to give him. Perhaps they were through and it was time for him to decide what to do with himself.

He was considering running out into the water and taking a dip, he knew he could stay under for a very, very long time and such things as sharks were not a threat to him, when he noticed some commotion a couple of hundred yards off shore. He could just make out several black speedboats circling around what appeared to be a swimming man. He dared not try using his abilities, not here in the open; the fear creeping up his back like ice. He turned away, but found his head slowly turning back.

The man, blonde- haired and wearing an orange and green wetsuit seemed to be fighting the boats. One of the boats appeared to have plucked a dark-haired boy in a red wetsuit out of the water and a fistfight had erupted. The sound of the gunshot reached his ears almost immediately and time seemed to slow down. The boy fell into the water and the blonde-haired man screamed. When the man started to swim towards the body, one of the speedboats ran him over.

The water was crimson, it was obvious and a crowd was forming at the shoreline, eyes covered with hands out shield out the sun. His stomach was churning. He could help, he knew it, but the old priest's warning came back to him. He wasn't sure what to do. He asked God to help him and then sank to his knees.

The next day, the local paper stated that two drug smugglers had been killed while trying to escape from DEA agents.

Part 7: 1997

"Hello, Clark," I said, floating down. I was morphed into my humanoid form, though you could tell I was not from Earth. The green skin always gave me away.

He did not run or cry out. "I was wondering if you were ever going to reveal yourself," he said holding out his hand. I took it and we shook, a common Earth custom for a pleasant meeting. "I've heard you for years, though I couldn't see you. You're not very quiet."

I smiled. "Do you know who I am or why I'm here?"

"No. Yes. I don't know. I suppose you know what I can do. I've been told that people like me have a tendency to disappear once they're found out. Are you here to take me away?"

I was enthralled by his sincerity, his willingness to accept his fate with such courage and conviction. "Only if you want to come with me, Clark. It's your choice. I have someone I want you to meet. He's someone who can tell you about how important you are."

"I'm from Krypton; I'm the last of my kind…I already know that. My true father put memories into my head…"

I took him gently by the arm. "Do you know how to fly under radar?"

He was quiet for a second. "I don't like to use my powers in public."

Though I normally did not do such things, I probed his mind and found so many fears. Had we the time, I could have helped him with his fears. I could not imagine what it must have been like having all of those memories of dying planet thrust upon you starting at such a young age. "We could walk, but it would take a long time."

He laughed at my joke and we began to float in the air, just about a hundred feet above the ground. I reached out with my mind and ensured that anyone looking up would see nothing but blue sky. "Where are we going?" he asked.

"Gotham City," I replied.

Part 8: 1997

"My name is Bruce Wayne," the man said, offering Clark a seat. Bruce examined Clark's clothes, jeans, work boots and simple T-shirt. "You must be Clark Kent. Son of a farmer, correct?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Wayne," Clark said looking around at the vast penthouse office. I could tell that he had never seen anything like it before. "You know, for as much as this office costs, you could feed a lot of people…"

Bruce smiled and took a seat at his desk. "Yes, I suppose you could, but don't let this fool you, Clark. It is important in our cause that we maintain certain appearances."

"J'onn told me about the prophecy and everything, but I'm not sure I understand. I'm not that special…"

"You're being modest, Clark; I know it must be hard to find out that you may be a Messiah of sorts…"

"I'm not a Messiah, Mr. Wayne…"

"Call me Bruce."

"I'm just a man who happens to be a little stronger and faster than other men."

Bruce nodded and stood up. "I'd like you to meet a few other people, Clark, if that's okay with you."

Part 9: 1997

We entered the Cave and immediately I could sense fear creeping through Clark's mind. Obviously, when he thought of being taken away for his powers, he imagined places like this. I whispered into his ear. "It's okay, really."

He nodded and all three of us walked down some stone stairs where a crowd of costumed people stood. "Mr. Kent, allow me to introduce the Justice League of America, formerly the Outsiders."

A woman, dressed in a blue body suit that his nothing of her form stepped forward. "Hello, handsome, I'm Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. Around Gotham City, I'm also called the Bird. This young man next to me is my partner, Robin, but you can call him Roy." A red haired youth in an orange and green costume, a large "R" on his left breast stepped forward and took Clark's hand. The man stepped back and put an arm around the Black Canary's waist. I sensed the sudden desire to chastise Robin coming from Clark. It was natural. He was raised to believe that women should not be with younger men. He had much to learn about the real world.

Garbed in the same costume worn by Alan Scott, Hal stepped up. "Hi, I'm Hal Jordan, also known as Green Lantern. This fellow on my shoulder is Ray Palmer, the Atom and our resident espionage man." Palmer said something, to which Clark's hypersensitive ears picked up on immediately. I sensed Ray was happy that he could be heard.

Another man stepped forward, clad in a costume of scarlet with a lightning bolt on his chest. "Hi, I'm Barry Allen, the Scarlet Speedster."

From behind Barry, a woman blonde-haired woman wearing a costume that simply revealed too much cleavage stepped up. "I'm Kara…Power Girl."

Clark turned slightly red and took her hand, working hard to keep his eyes forward. I sent an immediate telepathic message to Kara that it was time to fix her costume. She nodded in my direction and slowly moved to the back of the crowd.

Another man stepped up, sporting a blonde goatee, but dressed in an expensive European cut suit. "Hiya, man," he said, sounding like a typical hippie. "I'm Ollie Queen…I help Bruce here finance this little project. Good to have you here, man."

Hal slapped Ollie on the back and the two moved out of the way as a stunning redhead woman, dressed in a conservative, yet flattering dress, stepped up. "Hi, I'm Barbara Wayne, Bruce's wife, and it is a pleasure to finally meet you. I've heard so much about you."

Clark seemed to be a little overwhelmed by the attention. "I don't know what to say…do all of you have powers?"

"Well, my powers are reserved for…other things," Robin said, goosing Black Canary, She cried out and slapped his arm. I needed to have another talk with the boy.

"Everyone else has some sort of gadget or power that makes them…different than normal humans. Roy may be the only exception in that he's growing up to be a typical pig," Kara said.

"Say's my ex-wife…Jesus H. …oops, sorry, Clark," Roy said, obviously embarrassed.

Clark looked at me than back at Roy. "I'm no Messiah…really."

Bruce stepped down and buttoned his jacket. "Well, now, I guess we'll have to see about that. Kara is the strongest person on Earth, so far as we know; we'd like to see if you could out lift her. We have a hydraulic weight set for you to try out."

Clark shook his head. "No…I'm sorry Mr. Wayne, but you have the wrong person. I'm not this guy that was predicted to appear. I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

Bruce nodded and called Ollie over. The two conversed in hushed tones and I distinctly caught that Clark was not listening to them. I only wished that Roy Harper would have the same manners. Bruce turned to Clark. "Are you saying that you don't feel a responsibility to use your powers to help others?"

"I want to…it's just…I'm scared."

Ollie piped up. "Hey, man, we're all scared sometime, especially with old Baldy running the Federal Bureau of Piggies, but sometimes you have to rise to a higher thing, man."

"Clark, I want you to see exactly what it is that you would be turning your back on."

Clark was puzzled by Bruce's statement, but nodded anyway and he and Bruce, with myself tagging along, strode over to a huge monitor screen. Barbara was already seated at the keyboard, quickly typing in commands. Clark did not even notice when the others filed out of the cave. The monitor suddenly sprang to life and there was a woman, perhaps the most beautiful in the world, by human standards. Bruce began to narrate. "Her name was Princess Diana and she came from a foreign country to this country in hopes of teaching the meaning of peace. Her mother had served as a member of the All-Star Squadron during World War 2, but retired just as the metahuman witch hunts began."

The scene shifted and it was obvious that this was being filmed by a handheld video camera. The whole area was shown. The woman, naked, bruised and bleeding, was shackled to the ground and seemed to be straining to actually break the chains. Her beauty enamored Clark and I think he may have actually fallen in love right there.

Bruce continued. "As a matter of precaution, Princess Diana took a secret identity, that of Lois Lane, a reported for the Daily Planet. Believe it or not, she actually used a pair of glasses as her disguise…"

"That as well as the way she walked, talked and a special bra…" Barbara added.

"She was turned in by someone who had figured out her identity, Jimmy Olsen, a distant relative of…surprise, Johnny Thunder, the man who betrayed the Justice Society. He wanted, well, certain favors from her for his silence. She refused, stating that her mission was one of peace; that she wanted to help out humanity."

The scene now showed a bald man wearing a jacket that said "F.B.I." approached the woman. He pulled out a pistol of the likes Clark probably had never seen before and fired into her face. The screen lit up with the energy discharge. "The pistol belonged to an astronaut named Adam Strange, who brought it back from another planet. He also suffered a similar fate."

The screen went blank after a few moments of footage of a smoking crater where the woman's face had been.

"She's not the only one, nor was Mr. Strange. Over the years, a secret, subversive wing of the F.B.I., unknown to even most of its agents, has been hunting down the metahumans and destroying them…snuffing them out. Others who try to be so-called super-heroes are arrested and executed in secret, their equipment used to capture the more powerful ones. This footage was taken when the Atom broke into the F.B.I. headquarters to steal the power ring of the original Green Lantern."

"But," Clark began and I could feel his mind going numb over what he had just witnessed. I think I could actually feel his heart breaking. "The Justice Society…it was real? I thought it was something the government made up to drum up morale at home during the war."

"That's the cover story that's been played for decades. Clark, there are some people who say the Holocaust never happened. If they will believe that, they'll certainly believe that there's no such thing as a metahuman."

"Why?"

I spoke up. "They were jealous. They were envious of what these people could do and how they would do it without thought of reward. It upset the very fabric of political power. Politicians do things in exchange for the power they are given by the people. The metahumans, the super-heroes, did it only to help society. It was a hard image to try and live up to. The elected officials foresaw a future where they were no longer needed, where super-powered champions became the darlings of the people of the world."

"So they kill…just to maintain control?"

Barbara swiveled in her chair and started putting her hair up in a bun. "Yes…it's not so hard to believe. That's why they killed Jesus, because he was a threat to their established way of doing things. That's why the Christians went on the Crusades, because Islam was a perceived threat to their control over their people. Imagine it, why would you kneel in a church that couldn't control the Holy Land?"

"Our problem has been that we haven't found someone who is invulnerable to anything they can throw at us. We thought Kara was a good choice, but she has some…well, emotional and psychological problems. We didn't realize it at first, but…let's just say she's very angry."

"I remember one of the messages my father left for me," Clark said, suddenly speaking with a different tone. "My real father, Jor-El, he said that I would be very special and that it was important for me to have courage…to face up to what I was."

I started to smile. I could feel charisma radiating form the Kryptonian and the effect spread to Bruce and Barbara. "It appears we have our super man," I said to the three of them.

Clark smiled. "Yes, Superman, I like that. It says I'm different, but that I'm also a man. I feel, I care, and I know joy just like anyone else. I have every right to live however I want…"

And it was on that day I was sure that the prophecy of the Spectre came true.

It's ironic that now I realize I was so wrong.

Part 10: 1998

F.B.I. director Lex Luthor sat behind his large oak desk, fingers together and holding his chin. He was contemplating the direction he needed to move in and he was running out of choices. The past few months had been…eventful he had told himself. A new metahuman had appeared in public, the first picture taken by a young woman named Donna Troy, who worked for the same Daily Planet that the Amazon woman had. She was already being investigated.

This "Superman" as he called himself snubbed the authority that Lex had inherited from his father, smiling as the latest and greatest weapons taken from would-be super-heroes and super-villains were brought to bear. Nothing seemed to harm Superman. Worse yet, Superman seemed to be out to harm him directly.

Several key holding facilities throughout the country had been raided throughout the country, literally freeing dozens of metahumans onto the unsuspecting public. It had taken months to round them up and put them down, and still more were coming out of the woodwork. New costumed buffoons every other day were popping up and urban legends were spreading throughout the hemisphere. There were rumors that the "Bird" of Gotham City had run his agents out of town.

That was true, but for all of the wrong reasons.

Government scientists had predicted that a major earthquake was due to hit Gotham City within the next two to three years. If the metahumans wanted to congregate there, what did he care?

The real problem was Superman. There were news stories about him every day; some people were calling him Jesus Christ returned. He could walk on water, see through walls and had his damned Justice League following him everywhere he went. The common man had found a champion. Whole cities were clamoring for him to come visit, to "bless" them with his presence. It made Luthor's stomach turn.

"A genetic reject…a mutant freak…an evolutionary accident," he said to the man who stood at the window, smoking a cigarette.

"You sound so much like your father," Ultra said. He was in his fifth transplant body now, this one a middle-aged man with a penchant for nicotine. Ultra had perfected the brain transplant back in the 1940's. Some of his other accomplishments included the AIDS virus, created to rid the world of another "deviant" population.

"I am my father's son," Luthor responded, smiling. "I do have a plan, but it requires your help."

Ultra turned to Luthor and inhaled deeply. "Of course, the Central Intelligence Agency is always ready to help out our friends in the government."

"Good. It hinges on one thing…the Doomsday Project."

"Very good, Lex…how did you find out about it?"

Lex made a motion with his hand, as if batting an annoying insect away. "It doesn't matter; what does is that I think it will suffice to kill Superman. If not, I have another ace in the hole."

Ultra walked over and stubbed out the cigarette and blew his lungs clear. "Not another traitor? How is it that your family is so good at finding the Judas's among the disciples?"

"Because I, like my father before me, am willing to go to whatever length it takes to secure the services of whomever we need. My father gave Johnny Thunder an ambassadorship, though it required several bribes. Now, I've found a person of, shall we say, low morale in the Justice League."

Ultra was immediately curious. "Who? The young one, the one they call Robin?"

"It doesn't matter, my friend; please do not concern yourself." Luthor spun his chair around and looked out his own window at the crowds below. "Look at them; they have no idea how fortunate they are to have people like us safeguarding their existence. Without us, the freaks would take over. How do they repay us, by worshipping the ground of some costumed…"

"Calm down, Lex," Ultra said, pulling out another cigarette. He loved to smoke, and since he had found the cure for cancer a decade before, he could afford to do it as much as he wanted. "How did you find out about the Doomsday Project?"

"I hacked into your PC. You should try buying a better security program."

Ultra looked totally astonished and then suddenly broke into a fit of laughter.

Part 11: 1998

I should have guessed that something was wrong then, but I suppose I was still blinded by Clark's radiance. Hal's death started to chip away at my resolve. I suppose I expected Clark to raise him from the dead after he was shot through the heart with a simple wooden arrow. I loved Hal like a brother, just as I had loved Abin Sur. I felt very alone that day at the funeral.

There would be no replacement for Hal. I was refused permission to land on Oa. I had once again been banished, and all because I believed that some being of higher intelligence wanted me to believe in this man from Krypton. I was finally starting to see the flaws in Clark's character.

The Spectre had said that the Chosen One would be of flawless soul, pure, and Clark really was far from that. He had a girlfriend back home, a Lana Lang, but was seeing the photographer, Donna Troy, now that he lived in the "big city". I didn't want to pass judgment, but I started to hear a voice again in my head and it was telling me to wait.

Again.

I so desperately wanted to fly into the upper atmosphere and just scream! For over five decades I had waited and waited and had tried to be patient.

Then the voice reminded me of St. John the Baptist.

John, as the story goes, was the cousin of Jesus and a firm believer that the promised Jewish Messiah would one day come to free the Jewish people. When asked if he was the Messiah, because he had drawn such large crowds of followers, he stated that he wasn't.

They executed him anyway. But the irony was not lost on me. Clark had firmly stated that he did not believe he was the prophesized person the Spectre had spoke of. I hadn't listened.

I needed a friend badly, and Hal was now gone. I had one other true friend left and I decided it was time to call him. I couldn't do this alone anymore.

Part 12: 1999

He sat in his modest apartment, watching the television, eating a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The scene on the television was horrific. A gray monstrosity, something that seemed to come from the bowels of hell itself, with bony protrusions was destroying the city of Metropolis. The army had been devastated and the death toll was rising.

He could help, he had the power. He was still afraid.

There was a knock at his door and he got up and opened it. It was Mary, the pretty young girl who lived next door. They had become friends very soon after he had moved in and were almost like brother and sister. He gave up any thoughts of girlfriends long before, but he was more than happy to have a good friend like her. "Can I come in?" she asked, her voice quivering.

He nodded and held the door open for her. "I was just watching the news. Metropolis is taking a beating."

"That monster has killed so many people…it's horrible," she said, dabbing her eye with a tissue. "I wish there was someone who could help."

The announcer on the television suddenly blurted out the name of Superman and the two watched as the now-familiar blue and red costume of the super-hero. He had heard the stories through his job at the local paper about secret government contracts and black-ops set up against the hero, but there was never any hard proof. Some heroes, like the Blue Beetle of New York, openly accused the government of acting against metahumans, but the populace didn't seem to want to believe it. It wasn't their problem they figured.

"I'm sure Superman can handle himself," he said glumly. He didn't know for sure, but he could feel the pressure building up in the back of his head. The dreams had returned during the past week and the voices were pounding in his head day and night.

"Maybe…hopefully he will. My God, this is like something biblical…as if this is the Beast set loose upon the Earth."

He smiled. "Then I guess that makes Superman our Messiah."

Suddenly, she turned to him, her face the scene of clear calm. "Do you really believe that?"

Then suddenly, the voices stopped and he heard the sound of life itself. His powers were manifesting without command, as if someone had just turned on a power switch in his soul.

It was then, after all of these years since that fateful day when he was told of his destiny, of his duty to mankind, finally crystal clear.

His moment was here.

He looked on the television to see the heroine called Power Girl hit Superman in the back and send him flying towards the behemoth. A mighty fist swatted the hero, even as Power Girl faced off with other members of the Justice League.

"They're my people…they're like me…they've been betrayed by those whose trust they desired."

Mary laid a hand upon his shoulder and when he turned, she was gone, replaced by a pale figure in a green cloak. 'It is your time. This is their ultimate weapon and it must be stopped. Without it, they must accept their destiny as the Lord has decreed it."

"I'm scared…does it have to be me?"

The Spectre smiled. "Yes, Billy, it must be you and no other. The Superman is not the one; look deep into your heart."

Billy Batson swallowed hard and looked around. He considered running away again, just as he had many times before when the responsibility seemed too much for him to handle. Then he thought about all of the awful things he had seen in his lifetime; the murders and rapes, the stealing and cheating and lying and he was ready to refuse. Then the image of a newborn baby came to his mind; a first kiss; a warm spring day; a bedtime story; growing old with someone you love. It wasn't based on color, sex, age or abilities, it was based on being alive, being part of some great plan some little man thought he could put a monkey wrench in.

Billy got up and launched himself out of his window, plummeting towards the ground below. To the curious onlooker, it seemed that an attractive young man was killing himself; fairly common in New York. Almost to the ground, Billy Batson shouted out the word that had been told to him so long ago in a subway tunnel by a man who called himself a wizard.

"Shazam!"

Part 13: 1999

I'm not him; I'm not the chosen one.

Clark's thought raced into my mind, even as I was defending myself from Kara's attack. I couldn't understand the sudden change in her loyalties, but at the moment I didn't care. I had always held back my strength, afraid I would hurt or kill someone, but with Kara I didn't have to. Her mind was simply too far gone for me to try and reach her telepathically. I caught images of foster homes, of lecherous brothers, fathers and even sisters who took advantage of girl who was more physically developed than she should have been.

I wanted to help her, but I was lost on what to do. The monster, the beast, was turning poor Clark into a bag of broken bones and flesh. I sensed him praying to Rao, his Kryptonian version of God, for strength. Then I felt his strength falter.

My "Messiah" was about to die a horrible death. There was nothing inspiring about it.

As I blocked another blow from Kara, I prayed to God (by now I had adopted Christianity completely) to be merciful and forgive an old Martian fool for thinking he was supposed to be doing the Lord's work.

Then, a red gold streak came flashing down out of the sky, hitting the monster on the head and burying him deep into the rock. I turned a telepathic blast onto Kara, ripping her memories from her mind; a desperate act for sure, but a necessary one. I quickly flew over to Clark, who was slowly bleeding to death and used my "Martian Vision" to cauterize the wounds.

A man leapt out of the hole and stood on the edge. He was dressed in red, a large lightning bolt on his chest, and a white cape with gold trim flowing behind him. He put his hands on his hips and looked over at me. "You're green!"

"And you're not," I replied. There was warmth to his smile that immediately put me at ease. He was easily as big as Clark, but he held his power in reserve, as if he were contemplating the wisdom of his next move. "Can I help?"

He looked over to see a news crew moving in closer. "Please move the civilians and out of the way. I'll take care of the rest."

And I believed him. For the first time in fifty years, I actually and truly believed in something good and pure. As I moved Clark out of the way, he asked me who that was. I told him I didn't know, but that he was here to help. Clark looked at me with hopeful eyes and I nodded.

How can I put into words the battle that took place next? It is impossible for I don't believe that any human language has anything in spoken or written form to give what happened next justice. Even my own language fails me now as I think back.

The monster roared a mighty roar and struck at the man, who blocked each blow with a telling counter blow. The man was firmly rooted to the ground, he would not be budged no matter how hard the beast tried. Thunder sounded and flashes of light could be seen as the monsters spikes struck the hero's impervious skin. For hours they did this, the hero's stamina was beyond comprehension. The remaining members of the League worked at keeping the crowds back, while police and rescue squads evacuated the wounded. Clark began to recover quickly, the sun feeding him the energy he so desperately needed. He was in awe of the man battling the creature and inspired at the same time.

There was no fear coming from this man. We could all feel it.

Yet I knew what the outcome would be and my heart was saddened. When it happened, though, I was surprised like everyone else. With a single word, "Shazam", the hero called down a bolt of lightning from the heavens and struck the beast. The ground cracked open and then it started to waiver. Just as it started to fall, I realized then that the sacrifice was to be made. With a last desperate lunge, the beast drove a spike on its wrist into the heart of the hero, all of its power thrown into one final and desperate attack.

The hero cried out again for the lightning and it came down hard on both of them. The creature exploded. The hero fell.

All was silent and the first sound I remember hearing was that of feathers against the wind.

My friends had arrived, albeit too late.

Katar Hol and his wife, Sheyra, clad in costumes reminiscent of the Hawkman and Hawkgirl of the 1940's floated down next to the hero. Their costumes were actually their police uniforms from their home planet of Thanagar. I realized then that they must have looked like…

Angels!

Slowly, they picked up the fallen body of the hero and I sensed great sadness from them, for they had witnessed the battle. Together, they pulled the body up and carefully headed off into the sky, determined that this great man would not fall into the hands of the government.

Part 14: 2001

"Mr. Luthor, so good of you to stop by," the President said, his Texan accent putting a slight draw on his words.

"Of course, sir," Luthor said as he took a seat without being invited to do so. "Whatever can I do for you?"

"Listen here, you smug son-of-a-bitch," the President said, his face turning red. "Seems we have a problem with determining exactly who is in charge of this country. Is it true that you've been carrying out a personal campaign against metahumans?"

Luthor laughed. "Mr. President, my department is charged with apprehending criminals…"

The President held up a finger. "Hold that thought, baldy." He pressed a button on his desk. "Send in the ambassador."

A secret service agent opened the door and Superman strode in with a beautiful woman, clad in a shear gown. She wore a wreath on her head. "Mr. Luthor, allow me to introduce the Ambassador to Thymerscia, Ms. Donna Troy. I believe you know Superman."

Luthor nodded and saw the familiar little lightning bolt woven into the left shoulder of Superman's costume. "We've met."

'Mr. Luthor, as a representative of my country, and with Superman's help, I've come to arrest you for murder."

Luthor started laughing. "Based on what?"

"Why, my testimony, dear boy," Ultra said, striding in. "Seems you forgot about one little traitor in your midst."

"See, Lex," the President began, "my C.I.A. director hacked into your personal computer…downloaded all kinds of things about you; not very nice things. If this were Texas, I'd say your chances of getting the death penalty would be pretty good. However, in the interest of good foreign policy, I'm gonna let your sorry butt go to their island for trial. As I understand it, you stop aging there, so you can get a real long prison sentence. Of course, Ms. Troy, this Tartarus place you keep talking about sounds like a good crime deterrent for the United States."

Superman stepped up. "I would hope that the Justice League would be enough of a deterrent."

The President smiled. "Damn right. Listen, while you're here, I've got a great idea for a new member…a boy from Houston named Guy Gardner…"

Part 15: 2998

"So you see, Lar," the girl in the pink and white jumpsuit began, "we're a team, a team of super-heroes that protect the galaxy."

I watched as the young man from Daxam listened intently. He was being indoctrinated into the Legion of Super-Heroes, a team of youths who modeled themselves after an unknown hero who wore a lightning bolt on his chest. Even the "L" crest of their team was done in a lightning style.

The Spectre, my companion for the past few years, looked at me. How I could tell since we were both invisible is my secret. "Do you understand now? The Plan is complete to this point. Without you, there would have been no influence after the centuries of warfare, but now, humanity has its protectors again. Angels in flesh."

I turned away and listened again to Saturn Girl. "How do we know all of this? Why, from the writings of J'onn the Witness. He put down the legend of the Marvel into a telepathic matrix, which was eventually deciphered on Titan, my home planet. With it, we learned of him and of Superman, a disciple of the Marvel's way. They taught of sacrifice, of not expecting reward for good deeds, for doing what's right even when you are scared. What better code of ethics to live up to?"

Lar Gand said nothing and I sensed he was still trying to figure out what to call himself. Saturn Girl sensed it as well and would have sensed me if not for the Spectre. "How about Captain Marvel?" she asked.

He nodded and smiled.

I turned away and the Spectre left me. As a Martian, I should have died long ago.

I couldn't, and as I watched them walk down the corridor, discussing heroics of the past, I knew it wouldn't be long before I had something else I was supposed to watch.

The End