"DC Multiverse: Eidolons"

Chapter 1: "Worlds Crossed, Time Tossed"

Disclaimer: The DC Universe and its innumerable variants do not belong to me. They belong to Time Warner via DC Comics. The only thing I can be said to own is the idea for this story.

Author's note: It's "fact," or at least common opinion taken as virtual fact, that Countdown (to Final Crisis) sucks, that the concept as executed is an utter failure. Of course, we all know that Countdown is riding the coattails of 52, which had the dual revelation that "time is broken" and a version of the multiverse still exists. This is merely my take on how a post-52 series dealing with the particulars of that ought to be done. Here you will see characters both familiar and unfamiliar and hopefully you will enjoy my interpretations of them. Anyway, read on and see for yourselves.

Blue eyes opened underneath whiteout lenses framed by a vaguely birdlike domino mask. Those eyes saw a crimson void punctuated by paler red clouds. The owner of those eyes blinked, not sure whether he was dreaming or not. The skintight black triple-weave Kevlar/Nomex fabric of his body-sheath, marked by a wing-like blue stripe across his chest and extending down his arms, distinguished him as the Dick Grayson of the prime universe.

"Where am I?" he wondered.

Just then, he spotted a girl in her late teens, notable only for her green skin and the eight-pointed green star symbol on the white part of her mostly black uniform. He blinked. Was that . . . no, it couldn't be. She was dead, wasn't she?

"Jade?" he uttered.

"Dick?" the slightly younger replica of Jade responded. "You look . . . different."

"So do you," Dick answered. "Last I knew, you were dead."

"And you were way too old for me," Jade rejoined.

"Nightraven?" a familiar voice asked, prompting Dick to turn and see a dark-haired young man garbed in skintight, armored black fabric with a red T-badge on the left pectoral, red gloves, boots, and belt, a feather-scalloped black cape with red lining, and a red sharp-edged domino mask. Dick blinked when he saw the costumed young man. He looked . . . so much like . . .


"Nightraven?" the black-and-red-garbed replica of Tim asked. "What's with the new costume?"

"I could say the same thing about you," Dick responded lightly.

"Hardy har har," the Tim doppelganger retorted and Dick could see the hard set of the younger man's jaw. It looked so much like the Tim he knew and yet harder, angrier than what he'd seen in his Tim; what he saw was largely bitter sadness and weariness. This Tim seemed angrier. "I've always worn this costume. You're the one who changed outfits."

"Ok, then." Dick looked to another one of the "residents" of this void. "Question?"

The faceless man, garbed in a gray duster and fedora over dark clothes, regarded Dick with a wary tilt of his head. "Do I know you?"

"Yeah, I'm Nightwing," Dick answered. "We used to work together. We both studied under Richard Dragon at one time or another. We both fought Lady Shiva."

"Those names don't ring a bell," the Question said curtly.

"What about Huntress?"

"Huntress?" Jade cut in.

"Yeah, Huntress," Dick said. He kept his eyes on the Question. "That name ring a bell?"

"No?" Question retorted sarcastically.

"This is weird," Dick mumbled. "I know all you guys, but one of you doesn't recognize me at all and the other two of you think I'm somebody different."

"Yeah, you're calling yourself Nightwing," the Tim doppelganger said. "You're Nightraven to me."

"Yeah, this is pretty weird," a female voice spoke into his ear, prompting Nightwing to jump in surprise. Rather, he would have jumped if there was a real floor or ground for him to jump off. Instead, he was just floating, so the most he could do was start a little.

"Who are you?" Nightwing asked.

"Atom," the voice replied, prompting Nightwing to turn his head and see a woman in the Atom's traditional blue-and-red costume with curly blonde hair sticking out of a hole in the back of her mask. As per her namesake, she was only two or three inches high . . . and standing on his shoulder.

"You're no Atom I ever met," Nightwing grunted.

"And you're no Dick Grayson I ever met, either," the female Atom replied jovially. "Of course, I never got to meet the esteemed Mr. Grayson; he's quite dead where I come from."

"Where you come from?" Nightwing repeated. "Are you from an alternate universe?"

"Wager we all are," the Atom replied. "My name's Jessica Palmer. Nice to meet you."

"I'm . . . Nightwing," Dick introduced himself.

"Huh," Question remarked. "I always suspected there were multiple dimensions to the universe, dimensions with their own versions of Earth, sometimes bleeding into each other."

"So did I!" Atom beamed excitedly. She hopped from Nightwing's shoulder to the Question's shoulder, clearing the distance like an Olympic athlete performing a long jump. "I think you and I are gonna get along."

"Maybe," Question replied. "But maybe this is an illusion. Maybe I inhaled the gas a little too much."

Atom giggled. "You're kind of funny. And I think you'd be cute with a face."

Question looked at her. "You've got to be kidding me."

"Dad? Jennie?" another female voice uttered, melodious yet steel-strong.

Nightwing and Jade turned to look at the new speaker, finding a girl or young woman, probably slightly younger or older than twenty, floating in their midst. The girl was very tall, tall like an Amazon warrior, and with a lightly bronzed gold-orange skin tone. Her physique was distinguished by a combination of solid, defined muscle and voluptuous curves, both generously exposed by a shoulder-baring purple leotard that was somewhat skimpy in the crotch area and was decorated by a silvery wing symbol with a feathery fringe framing the plunging neckline. Black hair descended down her back to her knees in voluminous waves and solid green eyes with no pupil or iris stared out of a highly expressive, beautiful face.

Nightwing momentarily forgot to breathe. This girl, this young woman, who called him "Dad," looked so much like . . . so similar to . . .


"No, my name is Mar'i," the Kory-like girl answered sharply, and Nightwing could see Kory's fire in this girl's eyes.

"Are you from Tamaran, too?" Nightwing asked.

"My mother was born on Tamaran," Mar'i replied. "She's dead now. Has been dead since I was a little girl."

"And . . . who was your father?" Nightwing was hesitant but firm in his question.

"You. A different you. The you where I come from."

"Another universe . . ." Nightwing couldn't believe it. Somehow, someway, there was a world where he and Starfire had stayed together, or gotten back together, and their love had birthed this wondrous girl that now stood before him.

"You're not going to faint, are you?" Mar'i asked sharply.

"If he did, he'd be just like most Terrans I've heard of," a somewhat airy yet sharp female voice remarked. "Good people, overall, but rather frail in body and mind."

That voice sounded familiar to Nightwing. He looked around for the speaker. When he found her, he saw a tall blonde girl, about Mar'i's age, dressed in a white diaphanous gown that somehow prevented onlookers from seeing the fullness of her charms. Her face . . . "Kara?"

"You know me?" the Kara doppelganger asked.

"Yeah . . . where I come from," Nightwing replied uneasily.

"Hey," a young male voice asked, "didn't I team up with you guys once or twice?"

Nightwing and the Tim doppelganger turned to the speaker, a teenage African-American with oddly styled braided locks and wearing a white domino mask with blue goggles. His outfit was a long blue coat over a tight black shirt with an encircled lightning emblem and loose blue-highlighted black pants with blue-and-gold boots and gloves. The young man stood on top of a flat metal disk and seemed to be floating on it with his own power.

"I'm not sure . . ." Nightwing said. He looked at him. "Wait, are you supposed to be some kind of teenage Black Lightning?"

"I've met the guy; he and I are kinda mentor-student, but the name's Static," the teenage boy replied. "Remember that." He looked at the Tim doppelganger. "Robin? When did you change your costume?"

"It's Talon," the Tim doppelganger corrected sharply.

"Ok," Static said. "You wanna change your name, that's fine by me."

"It's always been Talon," the Tim doppelganger insisted.

"Whoa, you really are from an alternate universe," Static said. He looked at Nightwing. "Let me guess, so are you, right?"

"Yeah," Nightwing admitted.

"I could tell; you cut your hair," Static remarked sardonically.

"Yeah, I used to have long hair," Nightwing admitted. "Then I realized it got in my way and I had it cut."

A scoff was heard nearby and everyone turned to spot a copper-haired teenage boy in white-highlighted skintight black with a white circle on his chest and a black domino mask covering his face. "Hey, don't mind me."

"Who are you?" Mar'i asked.

"Daybreaker," the black-garbed young man replied. "And we're gonna get our answers soon."

"How do you know?" Question asked.

"Because I volunteered for this," Daybreaker answered with a sardonic grin.

"Lucky you," Talon sneered. "I just got kidnapped."

"What is this place?" Jade asked.

"It is the world in between worlds," a toneless female voice replied. "The space between dimensions. The Bleed."

"Bleed?" Question echoed.

All nine turned to face the source of the voice, a slight woman with indigo-slate skin, pointed ears, and purple hair. She was garbed in a skintight purple battle outfit and black eyes stared out from her face. It could have been a pleasant face, a lovely face even, if not for the utter cold porcelain of her expression.

"I am Forerunner," the woman spoke. "I will be your guardian, your instructor, your companion."

"For what?" Static asked. "What are we doing here?"

"Your worlds are in danger," Forerunner answered. "And not just your worlds, but all worlds. The multifarious dimensions of the multiverse will eventually collapse on themselves."

"Why?" Atom asked.

"Because the universe was not supposed to dichotomize to the extent that it has," Forerunner explained. "One became two, two became four, four became sixteen, sixteen became two hundred and fifty-six, and now there are a multitude of dimensions within the vastness of the universe. This was not meant to be."

"Why not?" Atom challenged. "How do you know that this isn't the natural state of reality?"

"I know because I am a servant of the Monitors," Forerunner replied coldly. "The Monitors – all 52 of them – are charged with watching over the multifarious universes. They cannot directly intercede, but they can do so through me . . . and all of you."

"Why pick us?" Jade questioned.

"Because you are the ones the Monitors find most worthy of such a mission," Forerunner answered. "You should consider that a compliment."

"Why kidnap us from our worlds?" Mar'i asked. "For crying out loud, there are people who need me back where I come from!"

"And you will be able to return to them at the precise moment they will need you most," Forerunner replied. "If you succeed, that is."

"What do you mean?" Mar'i interrogated.

"Time is broken," Forerunner expounded. "The time stream has fractured, split itself into manifold parallel tributaries, and the whole structure is beginning to collapse under its own weight. This impending collapse is reflected in the traumatic events that have befallen your worlds. Dick Grayson of the prime universe, is it not true that your brothers and sister within your family of urban paladins have suffered greatly in recent times? Jennifer-Lynn Hayden of secondary prime universe two, have you not lost your world's greatest hero? Timothy Drake of the third secondary prime universe, have you not been bereft of the woman you call lover? Victor Sage, is not Captain Atom on the verge of a nuclear meltdown reflected in greater emotional instability?"

"All right, we get it!" Mar'i exploded. "What's the point?!"

"And you, Mar'i Grayson, did not your world descend into anarchic violence perpetrated and perpetuated by young metahumans with no regard for the ideals and morals of their predecessors?" Forerunner went on. "Daybreaker, was not your world stripped of its adults?"

"Not answering my question," Mar'i snarled. "What's the point?"

"The point, Nightstar, is that the fracturing of time is causing not just your realities, but many others as well, to suffer," Forerunner replied. "The trauma that has happened in your universes is spreading to other universes and none of them can take so much damage forever. Eventually, there will be a final trauma and then each universe will collapse, one by one, into accelerated entropy."

"Accelerated entropy?" Question echoed. "Is that your way of saying that the world is going to end violently?"

"Yes," Forerunner confirmed. "That is what will happen to each universe, unless you band together to stop it."

"Why should we believe you?" Question inquired. "Why should we believe that this is not some collective delusion on our parts?"

"You will come to believe soon enough," Forerunner answered. "I will show you, by taking you to the first universe we are to save."

Before the assorted persons knew it, they were out of the Bleed and looking out from the border of a cityscape. The cityscape was made up of tall, chrome-and-steel spires with tempered glass breaking up the façade every so often. The sky was dark gray with the gathered clouds, and the streets were almost empty.

"Where are we?" Question asked. "Looks familiar, though. Like Hub City."

"We're not in Hub City," Nightwing replied. "It looks . . . like Metropolis."

Just then, Jade got the sense that something was very wrong. She looked up at the darkened sky and saw green-and-gold-armored bulky humanoids flying through it. "What are those things?"

"I've seen them before," Nightwing replied. "They're Parademons. Darkseid's foot soldiers. Earth is probably being invaded right now."

"Then let's do something," Kara said.

Just then, the Parademons spotted them and descended upon them. Nightstar's response was a double-fisted purple starbolt to the first wave, incinerating them all in one fell swoop. As the scorched Parademons fell to the ground, their backing companions came after Nightstar, who flew into the air to meet them with vicious punches. Kara soared up to aid Nightstar, her eyes burning with heat, heat that poured out of those eyes and incinerated the Parademon immediately coming after her.

Static glided up on his metal disk and began projecting streams of electromagnetic force at the Parademons, knocking them back. Jade rose into the air, her body glowing emerald, and fired emerald energies at the Parademons, battering them with the force of the blast. Despite the best efforts of those with the power of flight, the Parademons did make it past them to attack the ground-bound heroes.

Nightwing immediately drew his escrima sticks and began to fight the Parademons as best as he could with his merely human abilities. The strategy he found best was to use his superior speed and maneuverability to keep himself safe in between opportunities to attack their weak points. Beside him, Talon seemed to find that a good idea, too, only he was using twin combat knives in order to attack. Surprisingly enough, the blades were apparently strong enough and sharp enough to cut through the Parademons' armor.

Daybreaker was moving between Parademons, taking more hits than he dodged. Then again, Nightwing noted, the masked teenager seemed rather distracted, like he was watching for too many things at once and not focusing enough on anything in particular. He would have to find a way to train that out of the rusty-haired boy, he mused silently as he dodged yet another Parademon attack.

The Question seemed to be in really bad shape, judging by the way he was retreating for one of the cars. He smashed the driver's-seat window open and squeezed inside, but not to hide as an onlooker might have suspected. No, he quickly hotwired the car and began using it as a bludgeoning tool for Parademons, punching out any that tried to squeeze in after her.

Resourceful, Nightwing thought, striking a Parademon in the jaw with his escrima stick. Fortunately, the sticks were made out of ultra-hard and ultra-dense material, ensuring that they wouldn't break so easily against the thick head of a Parademon.

Atom had shrunk to escape the notice of the Parademons, only to bounce around hitting them just as hard as she could have done at normal size. In fact, she seemed to be hitting them even harder than that, if such a thing was possible. Indeed, it was the result of learning how to manipulate her atomic density regardless of what size she was. She lowered her density to make herself lighter and faster, then increased her destiny so she could hit harder.

Forerunner was moving so quickly she was barely visible even to Nightwing's speedster-trained eyesight, let alone the sight of someone who had no experience with speedsters. Not only was she using that speed to evade the Parademons, she was using it to attack them, her blows shattering the armor protecting their heads . . . and their skulls. Some Parademons managed to land blows on her person, but she didn't seem very much affected, or maybe she just didn't let it show. In any case, they seemed to be hurt more than she was by their own hits, which she used to her advantage.

"What's going on here?" Kara asked. "What are these creatures?"

"Parademons," Static replied. "From Darkseid's army. I know. I've seen them before. I've even fought some."

"Who is Darkseid?" Kara asked.

"Only the meanest S.O.B. to ever grace the universe," Static explained even as he warded off several more Parademons that thought to surround him with a multidirectional electromagnetic wave. "He's a tyrant, and he's tried to take over or destroy Earth – at least my Earth – a few times. It's not something we enjoy."

Jade looked at Nightstar. "I can manifest my power in the form of any type of energy I want. Yours comes from ultraviolet radiation, right?"

"Yeah," Nightstar replied, "but what does that have to do with anything?"

"Kara's heat vision is from the same family as ultraviolet radiation, which is electromagnetic waves," Jade explained. "And Static manipulates electromagnetism . . ."

"I get it," Static cut in. "If we combine our powers, we can take these things down, right?"

"Yes!" Jade exclaimed triumphantly.

"Then let's do it," Kara said.

Nightstar's hands glowed violet, while Jade's glowed green, Static's hands and eyes glowed white with blue-violet framing, and Kara's eyes burned white-hot. As one, the four young people projected their energies, pooling them together as one overwhelming electromagnetic force blast from multiple spectra. The Parademons could do nothing against this force except simply burn and plummet to their ends.

"Whoo!" Static sighed loudly. "Is that all?"

"Not really," Nightstar replied. "Our ground-bound friends could use our help."

"Then let's go," Jade said, diving toward the Parademons with Kara, Nightstar, and Static following, Kara accelerating ahead of Jade. In response, Jade poured on the speed, suspecting that Kara was attempting to circumvent her authority. Nightstar poured on the speed as well, wanting to get to the man she called father in her world before the Parademons could kill him. Static just soared down on his disk and began blasting the Parademons with electromagnetic force.

Nightstar had gained so much momentum that it was child's play for her to plunge her starbolt-reinforced hand through a Parademon's back and out of his chest like a knife. She ripped her hand out and swept her leg out to knock the Parademon's legs out from under him, finishing him with a full-power starbolt. Nightwing watched in horror at his would-have-been daughter's savagery, reminding him so much of how Starfire had been when he first met her that it unsettled him. With nary a pause, she fired another starbolt at a Parademon, punching through his chest and destroying his internal organs with the sheer force of the blow.

Jade shaped her emerald energies into barriers to protect herself and her nearby comrades. When she wasn't doing that, she was shaping that power into viridian blades that flew at the Parademons. Kara was still incinerating Parademons with her heat vision and Static had charged his hands with electromagnetic energy in order to reinforce his punches.

As hard as they were fighting and as many Parademons as they were taking down, Darkseid's troopers just kept coming. Nightwing didn't know how long they'd been at it, but he knew that some of his comrades – and maybe he, too – would tire out long before the Parademons ran out of numbers. Just as he thought things couldn't get that bad, they did. In fact, they got worse.

A blast of scorching heat and crimson light ripped through the air, Nightwing barely being able to dodge in time. The others either managed to dodge or ended up getting hit by the blast. Fortunately, the ones getting hit were largely able to protect themselves, either through their own durability or their powers. Once the first Boy Wonder thought he could chance a look at their assailant, he saw a tall, imposingly broad-shouldered man in pitch-black armor with a black helm concealing his face, the only visible part being burning red eyes. The armor was decorated only by a hollowed-out pentagonal symbol, turned on its point and with a red outline and with twin red lightning bolts forming an S-like symbol inside.

"No . . ." Nightwing uttered. It can't be. Not him. Not of all people.

Nightwing wasn't the only person horror-stricken by this dark vision. Jade, Atom, Nightstar, Kara, and Static were also out of sorts from the attack that had been directed at them, as well as whom they suspected the attacker to be.

"This is wrong," Static said, with no traces of levity in his voice. "This is just plain wrong. Superman? Uh, you were aiming for the Parademons, right? Not us?"

The armored man looked at Static and the red glow of his eyes seemed to intensify. That red glow soon turned into a blast of heat, which Static blocked and absorbed with an electromagnetic force field. "You know, heat is just another manifestation of the electromagnetic spectrum. And I control electromagnetism. Just to let you know who you're messing with."

"This isn't Superman," Nightstar said. "No Superman I know would side with Darkseid." She shot a starbolt at the armored man, only for the blast to be quietly absorbed by his armor. The armored man glared at her and fired another blast of heat vision, this one more powerful than the one he had fired at Static. Nightstar crossed her arms, revealing silver bracers on her forearms, and the bracers managed to hold against the heat vision attack. Once the attack was over with, she uncrossed her arms and flew at the armored man with enough speed and force to at least bruise . . . if the armored man had allowed her to connect.

With the speed of thought, the armored man grabbed Nightstar's wrist and began to squeeze. Nightstar simply used that as an opportunity to set off a close-range starbolt, which scorched the dark man's armor. She then swung her leg into a vicious kick that managed to knock the armored man off her. She quadruple-somersaulted in midair and uncurled to slam her feet down on his chest in a hard kick made all the harder by the momentum she had gathered.

Kara saw the symbol on the armored man's chest and looked at the bracelet on her wrist. The bracelet was silver and inscribed with the sigil of the House of El, which a Terran would interpret as an "S" within an upside-down pentagon. The symbol on the armored man's chest was very similar, the only difference being how the "S" in his symbol was formed.

"No . . ." she uttered. "Kal-El?"

The armored man heard his name spoken and stared down at Kara. "How do you know my name?" he asked, his voice deep and forbidding.

"You are not Kal-El!" Kara declared. "The Kal-El I know wouldn't have grown into a tyrant! Wouldn't have grown into a monster who betrayed the planet he was sent to protect!"

"Earth was never my home," Kal-El answered. "I was raised on Apokolips, dominion of my lord and father Darkseid."

Nightwing gasped in horror, as did everyone else who knew anything about Superman. "Damn . . ." Static uttered. "This is like what happened in my world. Superman got brainwashed into thinking he was Darkseid's son and attacked Earth for him! We gotta snap him out of it!"

"Somehow . . . I don't think he's being brainwashed," Jade said, her eyes and voice filled with horror. "Somehow, I think this is a world where he really was raised by Darkseid."

"In that case, what are we gonna do?" Talon asked. "Damn, and I thought Ultraman was bad."

"Ultraman?" Nightwing asked.

"Yeah, Ultraman," Talon confirmed defiantly, almost as though challenging Nightwing to make something of it. "He's to my world what this guy probably is to this world."

"And what's that?" Nightwing asked.

"Terror." Talon's jaw was grimly set and his voice was low. "Absolute f$#& terror."

Hearing Tim swear was something Nightwing wasn't often exposed to. The Tim Nightwing knew was almost always in control of himself, so much more like Batman that Nightwing honestly wanted to be or wanted Tim to be. Then again, this Tim wasn't the Tim Nightwing knew; this Tim was far darker, even more so than the Tim Nightwing knew. Hearing the tone in Talon's voice as he said those four words, Nightwing at last began to understand why this Tim was so dark.

"We're gonna have to find a way to fight him, but we're gonna do it smart," Nightwing said. "Jade, your Starheart power is magical in nature, right?"

"Yeah, so?" Jade asked.

"In my universe, Kryptonians have no special protection against magic-based attacks," Nightwing explained. "I don't know how Kryptonian physiology works in this world, but I'm willing to give it a shot."

"If you're anything like the Dick Grayson I know, you're probably right," Jade said. She charged up the mystical properties of her Starheart powers and flew up at Kal-El swiftly, aiming to strike him as hard and as fast as she could. Kal-El opened fire with his heat vision on her, but she wreathed herself in a shield that protected her from the blast. When she was within striking distance, she punched him with a Starheart-empowered fist, surprisingly managing to knock him back.

"Whoa . . ." Static uttered. "I never saw anybody deck Superman like that unless they had Kryptonite."

"Who knows, she might have used her powers to duplicate Kryptonite radiation when she hit him," Atom remarked.

"Kryptonite?" Kara asked.

"In the worlds where we have Kryptonians, Krypton is a dead planet," Nightwing replied. "Its only remnants are the man we call Superman, plus some others, and green rocks we call Kryptonite. It's not harmful to humans, at least not immediately, but its radiation can kill a Kryptonian with enough exposure."

Kara seemed to pale at the mention of Krypton as a dead planet. Nightwing realized his error; whatever universe this Kara came from, she must have been very recently – at least in her personal timeline – sent away from Krypton. She probably didn't know yet what had befallen her home-world, and that was assuming things played out the same way in her universe that it did in his.

Of course, Kal-El quickly recovered and his eyes were lurid with fury. "You dare strike me?!" he roared, and retaliated with a thunderous blow, which Jade was not quite able to outmaneuver. She caught it as a glancing blow, her shields absorbing most of the impact but barely. It was still enough to send her plummeting toward the ground, only for Static to catch her by tapping into the energy field around her body and taking control of it to levitate her some "safe" distance away from Kal-El.

Unfortunately, Kal-El wasn't done yet. Kal-El was angry that he had been wounded and he wanted to repay the green girl in kind. He dived swiftly toward her, intending to tear through her in his pass. Of course, he got caught by Static's electromagnetic field and thrown hard some distance away.

"How did you do that?" Talon asked.

"Sunlight is a form of electromagnetic radiation," Static replied with a cool he didn't really feel. "I just jacked into the solar radiation in his cells and used it to take control of his body."

"Whoa," Kara uttered. She immediately raised her estimate of Static's abilities by several notches.

Kal-El managed to recover, landing on his feet and super-speeding toward Static. Kara and Forerunner moved to intercede, both extraterrestrials blocking Kal-El's attack. Kal-El attempted to swat Kara aside, but Kara dodged and did an aerial flip to kick him in the chin. Forerunner battled him, channeling the momentum from her speed and the toughness of her bodily tissues into blows of remarkable force.

"You're quite strong," Kal-El remarked.

Forerunner did not answer with words, instead with a particularly forceful blow that sent Kal-El skidding backward on his heels. The armored Kryptonian regained his footing and the battle resumed . . . until the crashing noise reminiscent of a thunderbolt rang out. The combatants looked up, finding a boom tube open in the sky. A tall, forbidding man in red-and-blue armor with a silver helm concealing his face emerged from that boom tube, joined by six others. Three were men, two tall and imposing in build like the Kryptonian and the third somewhat slight of build and younger. The two tall men were in armor, one's armor being silver and dark gray with rivets in the silver parts of the suit and the other's being sleek and black with a bat emblem within a gray oval emblazoned on his torso and a pointy-eared, red-eyed helm covering his face. The young man wore green-highlighted black with a green domino mask and a stylized lantern symbol emblazoned on his chest. The other three were women, one a Tamaranean woman in silver armor over a black body-sheath and the second a woman with a winged harness and hawk-styled helmet evocative of Hawkman or Hawkgirl. The third was a woman with flowing, voluminously curly red hair and a skimpy green costume.

"Who are these guys?" Question asked, getting out of his car. "Is this world insane or what?" He snorted to himself.

"Kal-El!" the red-and-blue-armored man shouted.

"If it isn't Orion and his Justice League," Kal-El sneered, his disdainful tone deepening at the word "justice."

"You will stop . . . or you will die, Kryptonian," Orion replied. "Your choice."

End Notes: That's the first chapter of the adventures of our heroes through time and space and manifold worlds. Now, if you want to see how this story progresses, how the characters cope with being removed from their worlds and forced to save others before being able to return, you'll have to wait for the next chapter. In the meantime, let me know what you thought of this one.