The conference room in the Metro Tower dates back to the old Watchtower space station. The League brought the table and chairs down to save time on having to build more of the original Metro Tower, and eventually later Leaguers saw it as a historical monument. There is a round table with seven chairs, corresponding to the seven founding members. And even though all but one of them has retired or died, the current Justice League still respects the chairs as belonging to their heroes.
It is the table, on the other hand, that has become legend. One day, Green Lantern John Stewart heard suspicious noises coming from the conference room. He burst in to see Static and Stargirl lying on the table, naked except for their masks, staring back at him in horror. It was only by a miracle that they weren't kicked out of the League, much less that STRIPE didn't kill Static. The incident prompted a new probation code: 6-2-8, used specifically for sexual activity in the Metro Tower not confined to the guilty parties' quarters. But fear of a 6-2-8 never deterred the other Leaguers. Each generation wonders who will be the first of their own to get laid on the conference table. Superman constantly upgrades the security around the conference room, yet someone always manages to get past it and have a romantic tryst. This generation, however, has taken the longest. Six years after Terry McGinnis joined on a part-time basis, nobody has managed to bypass security. Others in the League started making bets that got higher as the years passed. Rex Stewart is the favorite, though Terry is closing in fast.
The news comes as a shock when one day, the first 6-2-8 in ten years is announced. Princess Merina of Atlantis is one of the guilty parties, which is only a little surprising to everyone—she had, after all, been participating in the bet. What's really shocking is the other, who at fourteen is the youngest to have gotten a 6-2-8. Needless to say, nobody has thought of Green Lantern Kai-ro as a kid since.
From the first time Terry was invited to join the League, there was conflict between him and Rex. On every mission they went together on, they questioned each other's actions and spent half the time shouting. They drove the rest of their team crazy with the constant yelling, and everyone voted that they should never be put on the same four-man squad again.
Things changed when they were the last two left standing against a Class A criminal whose mouth was bigger than his brain. He was stupid enough to say Terry was "not the real Batman" and Rex was a "filthy hawk." Nobody saw what happened, but to this day, they insist that it was only by accident that the guy was injured by one of his own bombs. Nobody asks anymore because Terry and Rex somehow stopped hating each other, and the quiet is worth a lot more than the answers.
A little known fact is that Merina is actually the oldest of her team. But because Atlanteans age differently from surface-dwellers, nobody can tell. When she was very young, civil war threatened to engulf the city. Her father sent her and her older brother—also very young by their standards—to the Justice League for their safety while he and Wonder Woman battled Ares and the insurgents. Merina doesn't remember much about it, but she does recall getting lost in the twisting halls, crying as she waited for any of the superheroes to find her. Thankfully, J'onn was on duty and heard her mental anguish. He found her and brought her back to her brother and a panicking Flash. She'll admit that she was frightened of J'onn at first, but they bonded during the walk back. When she eventually learned what happened to his family back on Mars, she cried a little inside. She knows he must have been a good father, and she thinks it's unfair that he hardly had the chance to be one.
Kai may be the youngest, but he's so mature that hardly anyone can really think of him as the little brother of the group. Although he's been "the kid" forever, he's really not a "kid brother." So that designation goes to Terry.
It drives him crazy. They're always asking him if he's all right, if he thinks he can keep up. It drives him crazy because he's saved their lives already. They know that he's good enough, and yet they don't act like he is. Worst of all, he thinks that behind his back, they pity him. Most of them don't know his identity, but they know enough to pity him. He got into this because his father was murdered. He keeps doing it because he needs redemption for his sins. He'd prefer if they blamed him, if they thought he was a liability. That he could handle; he's dealt with it enough in his life. But the pity is too much. So when he overhears two Leaguers whispering, "What a shame what happened to him," behind his back, as though he's too young to understand that they're talking about him and his tragedy, he yells, "Enough!" loudly enough for the entire Tower to hear. It doesn't stop them from pitying him, but it at least shows them that he doesn't need it.
Normally, the League doesn't do undercover work. They prefer a direct approach rather than all that sneaking around. But sometimes, it's unavoidable, and they have to act like ordinary civilians.
Or maybe not so ordinary. On a mission in Kasnia, Merina dyed her hair black and used some careful make-up to pose as a rich girl from Chong-Mai. Kai grew out his hair enough that nobody recognized his monastic upbringing and played as her little brother. Terry and Rex had to act as her American bodyguards.
The mission went smoothly. Their acting was fluid, and no one suspected a thing. Terry managed to obtain the information, and then he and Rex suited up and took out the threat. Upon realizing that supervillains had infiltrated the government, the royal family instituted massive policy changes and totally reformed the government. Trade began between Kasnia and countries that had had embargos on them for ages, and a long-lasting peace settled in.
There were other repercussions, however. As it turns out, Merina's acting was a little too good. In the short time they were undercover, she quickly managed to get both Rex and Terry wrapped around her finger. She ordered them around constantly, and they couldn't say no out of fear of blowing their cover. Neither of them could walk in the Metro Tower for a month without someone whispering, "Whipped!" behind their backs.
Rex was always confused as to how his mother remained a vehement atheist. She fought against and alongside gods, battled a soulless zombie, and even ventured into Hell itself, and still she denied any religion. She completely contradicted the old adage of "There are no atheists in a foxhole."
It was only after he first saw someone die while he was on duty that he thought maybe he understood why.
Kai, on the other hand, has remained very spiritual throughout his life, something he attributes to being raised by Buddhist monks before joining the Lantern Corps. He never committed himself to it fully, but he held onto everything they taught him. One of his fondest memories was the old monk Gyatso teaching him meditation, to concentrate on letting calmness wash over him like waves from the sea. Even though it's been years since Gyatso died and Kai left the monastery, he still feels a great sense of peace when he sees the ocean. So when he sees Merina crying beside the sea she loves, he quietly sits next to her and offers his prayer beads as consolation.
One of the Justice League's most defining moments was the Near Apocalypse of 2009, an event so catastrophic that people still don't like to talk about it because of the trauma everyone who survived it went through. Another moment—one nobody talks about—was the Cataclysm of 2066, which ironically happened in June. It wasn't exactly on the level of the Near Apocalypse, but it was still devastating. A meteor threatened to crash into the Earth, and the only way to stop it was to destroy it. Redirecting it hadn't worked, so the League and the militaries of several nations banded together to pulverize it. Kai then collected the remains and released them back into space. Nobody died as a direct result of the meteor, and because they managed to get the dust and meteor pieces out of the atmosphere in time, there weren't many adverse effects on the environment. But tens of thousands of people all over the world determined that it was the end of the world, and so committed suicide. It was painful having to walk through the streets and help emergency workers remove the bodies. Superman even had to order Terry to work crowd control just because he couldn't handle the sight of entire families dead. Kai worked with him because of his age. Rex and Merina had to finish their area, and neither of them would talk hours later. After all was said and done, the entire League took a month off to stay with their families, fighting only when there was a nearby emergency. But there hardly were any; their Earth-based rogues' gallery wasn't that heartless. Nobody blamed either side for their choice to remain inactive.
Matt McGinnis is an honorary member of the Justice League Unlimited. Officially, he aided in the capture of a dangerous criminal, putting himself in extreme danger just so Batman could apprehend him. This is the story that is in most of the Justice League's database, except for Batman's files. The truth of the matter is that for a whole year, Matt was Batman, filling in for Terry and keeping it a secret at Superman's request. The rest of Terry's squad learned this six months into it, when he was knocked unconscious and they had to remove his mask to treat his head wound. It had been a test to see if they could detect the infiltration. They failed. And ever since then, they have insisted on maintaining off-duty relationships so that they will not fail for real.
Because he was born to a human and a Thanagarian, by all rights, Rex should be sterile. However, modern medicine allowed for him to produce viable sperm thanks to specialized hormone injections from the minute he hit puberty. Growing up, he'd complained endlessly about the monthly injections, hating how they bruised his arms and made him feel even more awkward as he reached adulthood.
But when he looks at his firstborn child, a quarter-Thanagarian who will be able to reproduce normally, he realizes that all the pain had been worth it.
Among the Warhawk/Aquagirl/Green Lantern/Batman cell, only one of them isn't married.
Merina is in a political marriage for the sake of Atlantis. She loves her husband, even though she loves her job more. Rex went through one divorce, but his second marriage is as happy as it can be. And Terry married his high school sweetheart after years of thinking it would hurt her.
Kai's bachelor status is more from personal choice than anything else. He is very committed to his girlfriend, Melanie Walker, formerly Ten of the Royal Flush Gang. No one was quite sure what to make of this. Nor was anyone sure what to make of it when their daughter joined the League fifteen years later and Terry's son asked her out.
Once upon a time, Merina's love life had been a constant gossip topic among the women of the League. Her shocking brief affair with Kai was the only thing anyone talked about for months, from their 6-2-8 probation to their mutual break-up. It was also common knowledge about her relationship with Rex, and even after they both got married to other people, everyone still whispered that they loved each other.
On a mission in Denmark, Merina somehow wound up fighting at the site of the Little Mermaid statue. Once the danger was over and the civilians were safe, a small child asked if she was the Little Mermaid. She smiled at this and said, "No, I'm not. But thank you for asking," before going on her way. But this experience made her curious. She only knew the movie of The Little Mermaid, made nearly a hundred years ago. She knew the original story was by Hans Christian Andersen, so she went to a bookstore and bought it.
The book was completely different from the story she was familiar with. The movie's happy ending involved the Little Mermaid and the Prince marrying and living happily ever after. The book had the Prince marry another woman and the Little Mermaid dying and becoming a daughter of the air, trying for three hundred years to gain an eternal soul. Merina took this oddly; she knew it was only a story, but the child who called her the Little Mermaid kept ringing in her mind.
A month later, she told Rex that they couldn't keep seeing each other. He was hurt, and so was she, but it had to be done. She was not the Little Mermaid, after all.
History has a funny way of repeating itself among the League. Nobody's ever aware of it, but they often echo decisions, battles, and conversations of Leaguers past.
Case in point: while on a mission, Rex found himself accidentally sent into the future. When he returned, he tortured himself trying to keep everything he'd seen a secret. It was tearing him apart, and he knew that the only way to keep his sanity was to tell somebody. He decided the best person to tell would be the last person he'd normally consider talking to about these things: Terry.
They met on the street because Rex decided it would be safer than the Metro Tower. Neither of them had any idea that the conversation they had was almost a word-for-word reenactment of arguments between John Stewart and Bruce Wayne after the forgotten Chronos battle.
"So you have a son?" Terry asked.
"Yeah. By Merina."
"You still love her?"
"Yeah. But I love Rebecca too, and I don't want to leave her just because it's supposedly my fate to have a son with Merina."
"You sound like you've decided what your fate is."
"It was the future."
"It was a possible future. Just by knowing it, you've altered its path." He checked his watch. "I've got to go. I need to meet with someone tonight."
"But what about…"
"Forget it. And be glad that you have a future."
Terry hadn't been on that mission, hadn't been sent forward in time. But he was positive he knew what his fate was without having to ask Rex. He had just run the DNA tests that morning and found out who his real father was. And every time he looked at Bruce, he worried that he was seeing his future.
Kai has always been in a unique predicament because he is the only one of his team that isn't connected to the previous Justice Leagues. He may be a Green Lantern, but there has always been a Green Lantern guarding Sector 2814. It's not the same as being the son of a Green Lantern and Shayera Hol, or the daughter of Aquaman, or the hand-picked heir to the Batman legacy. The others never tried to leave him out, but there was always a feeling of alienation, especially around Rex and Merina. For many years, Kai felt a sympathetic closeness to Terry that could only be attributed to the fact that they were not children of former Leaguers.
He doesn't know why he feels so personally betrayed when Terry's biological father is revealed to be Bruce Wayne.
Every year, most of the League gets together for a little bet. Those who are of age get a few drinks and start up a contest: Who has the most messed up family life? It doesn't matter if they come close to blowing their identities; it's fun. It starts with Micron, then Rex, then Terry, and so on and so forth. Every year, Superman and Kai win. The answer why is simple: the League is their primary family; even though they've started families of their own, they're closer to the JLU than to almost anyone in their real families.
Half the League insists that they cheat by answering this way. The other half insists that they're honestly not that bad. A good-natured argument starts, but after a few more drinks, it's not always that good-natured by the end. Ironically, they never realize that they're proving Superman and Kai right.
Probably the biggest mistake Kai ever made in his life was agreeing to mentor a new Green Lantern recruit. In the beginning, it made sense; he was roughly the same age as the newbie—despite the age difference between their species—but had years more experience. Eventually, his student was placed back in his home sector, but he still called for help often enough. Kai felt obligated to help, so he constantly flew off to that sector. The League was frustrated with this, as were the Guardians on Oa: Kai-ro had been assigned to 2814, and only in an emergency should he abandon his post to aid another. The Guardians forbade the fresh Lantern from contacting his former teacher for help unless it was an actual crisis.
Ten months later, there is an emergency. Three planets have lost their governments in sudden, bloody coups, and a pirating racket has almost completely taken over the system. Kai, Merina, and Rex head out to assist. Somehow, Kai and Rex find themselves nearly sold as entertainment for the femme fatale pirates, and Merina hides herself among their ranks. It ends with the pirate ship exploding, a crew of bounty hunters rescuing the Leaguers, and Kai's former student having to form a new government for the planets. And while the League has never officially refused to help him, everyone tends to re-direct his calls to Oa.
Terry honestly doesn't know how genetically modified he and Matt are. Waller didn't want to run the risk of losing her new Batman before he had a chance to make a difference, so she carefully rewrote certain genes, removing the genetic potential for heart disease that ran in the Wayne family. In its place, she wrote a newly-discovered resistance to many diseases. She didn't anticipate the threat of Blight, but this modified gene allowed Terry to avoid developing cancer from the intense radiation. Terry still thinks his immunity is from the anti-radiation pills he took before every patrol, just in case.
Furthermore, she wrote it so that Bruce's genes would be dominant. This is why Terry and his brother both have blue eyes; their mother didn't have a genotype for blue, so their genotype is heterozygous with blue eyes dominant over brown. Dana's genotype is also homozygous brown, so she and Terry have a fifty-fifty chance of having children who will either pass down the normal dominant brown or the modified dominant blue. There is no real classification for people like Terry and Matt; they aren't metahumans because they don't display powers or any kind of mutant abilities, but their modifications made them slightly more than ordinary humans. They are the result of someone playing God. Put bluntly, people like that aren't meant to exist. With any luck, he will never know.
The greatest prank war in the history of the world happened on the Metro Tower. It started out with Terry and Rex arguing over something, and eventually snowballed into this war. Terry felt a little vengeful after losing the argument and modified a picture of Warhawk by putting him in a pink tutu. The editing was so seamless that he posted it in the Metro Tower for the entire League to see. Rex got revenge in a simulation by somehow replacing all of Terry's weapons with cheap plastic toys. Eventually, Merina got involved and got them in trouble with their girlfriends. Deciding that this was crossing the line, they teamed up and replaced all of her battle suits with the most suggestive swimwear they could find. She got back at them by wearing one of the swimsuits in battle. Neither they nor the villains could concentrate very much on the fight, and Merina excused her choice of clothing by blaming it on "two idiots who messed with my laundry." And so the war continued among them for weeks, with the pranks gradually becoming more and more insane. In the end, it was Superman who won. There were few witnesses, but the wreckage included a pound of applesauce, ping-pong balls, a high-powered fan, and the bathroom. They're still ashamed of themselves for it.
Years have passed since Rex, Merina, and Terry retired, and now their children have joined the League. Kai looks at his team: Rex and Merina's son, Seahawk; Terry's son, the new Batman; and his own daughter, codenamed Spade by her mother. In battle, they perform beautifully, complementing each other's styles easily. Seahawk fights in air or water, Spade on the ground, Batman in the shadows, and Kai in the bright light of the Green Lantern. Even though the others are teenagers, the League's enemies take them extremely seriously, and many are even afraid to face them.
Outside of battle, however…
"I'm sick of your superior attitude!"
"And I'm sick of you questioning my orders!"
"You're younger than me!"
"I was still mission commander."
"Your tactics wouldn't have worked!"
"They would if you'd just gone along with them!"
Batman punches, then groans as Seahawk blasts water at his chest and flies toward him.
"Dad, they're at it again!"
Kai sighs and blasts his ring at the boys, restraining them against the wall. Sensing another lecture, his daughter takes her spot on the floor next to them. There's snickering down the hall, and Kai wonders whether he got stuck with these team out of karmic retribution or Superman's lousy sense of humor.
They are called the Justice League Unlimited. As per their names, they know no limits. This particular team has taken love, life, and everything in-between far beyond their ordinary boundaries. And they are all the stronger because of it.
For the pre-requisite disclaimer: I don't
own Justice League Unlimited or anything that might be
slightly referenced in this fic. This story is completely unrelated
to anything else I've written, and it's based on the "20
Truths" Naruto fics found on LiveJournal and FFN.