"DC Multiverse: Eidolons"
Chapter 2: "Despair of Justice"
Disclaimer: The characters that will be depicted in this story belong exclusively to DC Comics, as they were created by people working for DC Comics and the character licenses are owned by DC Comics. I only own this story.
Author's note: If the world I popped the team (and the readers) into seems familiar at all, it's because I based it off the Elseworlds graphic novel, Superman: The Dark Side. The only thing you really need to know is that it's a world where baby Kal-El's ship detoured to Apokolips and Darkseid raised him. It's not a very pleasant world and the team is going to end up very often going to worlds that are not very pleasant. If that doesn't turn you off, read on.
Kal-El glared at Orion, a glare that was fully returned by New Genesis's Dog of War. The other six flanking him looked at the chaotic tableau somewhat suspiciously. The "Batman" looked at Nightwing with no discernable expression behind his helm, but Nightwing was rather startled to see him.
"I . . . I know these people," he uttered.
"You do?" Jade asked.
"Batman, Steel, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl – I think – and . . . Blackfire." Nightwing shook his head. "But it doesn't make sense. Why would Blackfire be here?"
Kal-El unleashed another barrage of heat vision, this one directed at Orion, who retaliated with the Astro Force. Both energies collided and struggled mightily against each other before dissipating. In the flash, Kal-El had flown at Orion with inhuman speed to attack, only for Blackfire to intercede with a vicious kick. If Kal-El was staggered by this, he didn't let it show, as he retaliated with a brutal punch that would have shattered a normal human's jaw. For Blackfire, it only stung and she unleashed her burning orange starbolts upon Kal-El, who took the blast without flinching.
Green Lantern raised his ring hand and materialized a high-powered, high-tech emerald cannon with his ring. Mounting the cannon on his shoulder, he fired a barrage of explosive bullets from it at Kal-El, who bobbed and weaved through the assault like a boxer operating many times normal human speed. Green Lantern did not give up, intensifying the gunfire from his ring-generated cannon. Just as Kal-El was getting too close, the green-clad redhead launched herself at Kal-El with a mighty kick.
The kick did stagger Kal-El quite a bit as he momentarily struggled to regain his footing. Regain his footing he did, however, and he launched himself at the redhead with a punch hard enough to shatter steel. As it was, it wrenched her head around slightly, enough to put a nasty crick in her neck, but she bore the attack and struck back.
"I don't think I've seen her before," Nightwing said.
"Her name is Maxima," Forerunner explained. "Queen of Almerac, a planet home to a race of humanoids specifically bred and engineered for great physical and psychic power."
"Ok . . . she fought and worked with Superman a few times before in my world," Nightwing stated, remembering something he'd read in the Justice League Watchtower files once.
Maxima and Kal-El fought furiously, exchanging blows in both air and on land with great force and velocity. The very impact of their attacks would have shattered the windows within the vicinity if the windows hadn't been made highly resistant to such. Orion and his fellows watched, ready to intercede if they had to. The reality-tossed heroes were also ready to intercede, but they didn't even know where to begin. Those that knew Kal-El as a gentle, heroic soul in their worlds were appalled to see the brutal tyrant this world's incarnation had become.
"Where did these people come from?" Steel asked.
"I don't know," Batman replied, "but we'll worry about that when we have them safely in our custody." He turned to Orion. "Orion?"
"I know," Orion grunted hatefully. He activated his Mother Box and opened a boom tube, staring down at the reality-tossed heroes. "You're coming with us. Now."
"Why should we come with you?" Kara asked defiantly.
"Unless you would prefer to take on Kal-El, lose, and be sent to the slave pits or his harem, I suggest you do not trifle with me," Orion snarled.
"He means business, Kara," Nightwing said, planting a gentle yet firm hand on her shoulder.
Kara roughly shrugged his hand off her shoulder, nearly breaking the appendage. Nightwing withdrew his hand and tucked it behind his back, while the others reluctantly walked toward the boom tube. "Where does this one take us to?" Nightstar asked.
"Our base," Batman replied, the grim rumble of his voice even grimmer than Nightwing, Nightstar, or Static knew it sounded from the Batmen of their respective worlds.
"Maxima!" Hawkgirl shouted. "It's time to go!"
"I'm not done yet!" Maxima retorted, ducking under a punch from Kal-El and sweeping her leg out to trip him.
"Yeah, you are," Green Lantern replied, using his ring's energy as a tractor beam to pull Maxima away from Kal-El and into the boom tube with him, the rest of the "Justice League," and the reality-tossed heroes.
They emerged inside four austere walls, three of those walls layered with large screens and high-tech touch-boards. "Is this . . . ?" Jade asked.
"Our base," Steel finished in a voice heavy with sorrow.
"Who are you people?" Hawkgirl asked, holding her mace threateningly.
"In the world I come from, I know all of you," Nightwing replied. "Some of you were my friends. One of you was my mentor. Others were simply allies of the moment, regardless of our longstanding relationships or lack thereof." He sighed heavily. "And in the world I come from, Kal-El was a hero, not a conqueror."
"My Mother Box scanned all ten of you," Orion said. "Three of you are purely human, with no superhuman modifications or innate metahuman capabilities. One of you is a congenital metahuman, while another of you was artificially enhanced and two of you were subjected to genomic modifications from external sources. One of you is fifty percent human and fifty percent Tamaranean, and the Tamaranean half is genetically similar to Blackfire. One of you has traces in her genetic code of multiple races, including human and Martian, and the other is Kryptonian with a genetic link to Kal-El."
Blackfire looked at Nightstar. "Does that mean that she's my daughter?"
"No, more like your niece," Orion amended.
"Koriand'r is my mother," Nightstar shot back fiercely.
Blackfire visibly flinched, as though struck in the stomach by what Nightstar had said. "Koriand'r? She's alive where you come from?"
"No." Nightstar sighed heavily. "But she survived long enough to bring me into this world and I was lucky enough to know her for much of my childhood."
Orion looked at Nightstar and then Nightwing. "Mother Box cross-referenced your genetic codes. The human half of the girl's DNA is identical to yours."
"We already know that," Nightwing said.
Blackfire scoffed. "So in some distant universe, my sister married some Earthman and bore his whelp." She looked at Nightstar with some appraisal. "Apparently, Koriand'r's blood is quite strong in you. You look almost exactly like her, and that fire in your eyes reminds me of her."
"I think we're going to need some serious explanations here," Green Lantern remarked.
"Starting with the source of your presumption that you can drag me from the battlefield like some disobedient child," Maxima snarled.
"We needed them alive," Steel answered. "So we could get answers."
"You say you're from an alternate universe," Batman recounted. "You say you knew all of us at one point or another in our mutual histories in your native universe. You say Kal-El was not a tyrant, but a hero."
"He's telling the truth," Orion said. "Mother Box scanned their brains and their involuntary physical responses. Whatever else is going on, they believe they're telling the truth."
"All right," Batman said. "You seem like you know me best. How?"
"We're both orphans," Nightwing replied. "You lost your parents when you were 8. I lost mine when I was a little older. We both pushed ourselves far past the limits of our bodies so that we could make sure no other child had to suffer what we did. The difference is that you were alone . . . and I had help. Your help. You were my mentor. You taught me almost everything I needed to know; the rest was filled in by people you worked with and trusted implicitly, even if you couldn't bring yourself to say it out loud."
Batman sighed. "I knew someone like you once. He was killed. By Kal-El."
It took everything Nightwing had not to gasp in shock, but he shouldn't have been surprised. With this Batman as grim as he was, he probably never had the opportunity for someone like Nightwing to come into his life. That opportunity was brutally stripped from him, and Kal-El had probably done it with no more thought than a human stomping an insect. The thought of that . . . chilled the first and former Boy Wonder to the bone, to the very soul, even.
"Are you all from the same reality this one is?" Steel asked.
"Nope," Static replied. "We all come from different worlds, but some of you seem to pop up in at least half of them. Superman was a hero, too, where I come from."
"And where I come from," Jade added.
"And where I come from," Atom echoed.
"And where I come from," Nightstar repeated.
"And where I come from," Kara joined in. She paused. "At least, that's what he would grow to become if he comes into my care."
"All right, all right, we get it," Hawkgirl grumbled bitterly. "Kal-El's some freaking Boy Scout in the universes you come from. Well, we're not that lucky here!"
"Man, you got as much of a temper as the Hawkgirl I know," Static remarked.
"I can sympathize," Talon said. "My Kal-El is a bad guy, too. Hell, he's one of the chief bad guys where I come from."
"What happened here?" Daybreaker asked. "How'd things get to be like this?"
"It started ten years ago," a low bass voice replied, prompting the reality-tossed heroes to look and see a tall, broad-shouldered bald man in a black power suit stepping into the room. "Ten years ago, that damned Kryptonian and his forces came and stripped humanity of everything it fought to achieve."
"Lex Luthor," Nightwing spat, his tone full of anger. "What are you doing here?"
"Backing this resistance force," Lex replied. "Using my technology, my resources, my ingenuity, and my mind to keep this Justice League from being trimmed any more than it already has been."
"What's in it for you?" Nightstar asked. "I remember you heading a resistance force in my world, and you just used it as a way of seizing power for yourself."
"That was your world," Lex answered calmly. "I am not quite the man you knew there. No one person in two separate universes is exactly identical in both universes. There are subtle variations, either superficial or deeper, in one person who answers to the same name in two universes."
"A leopard doesn't change his spots," Nightstar snarled.
"Relax, Star," Talon said. "My Luthor's a good guy, after all."
"I'm starting to think your world is completely upside-down," Jade remarked bitingly.
"If the bickering is over with, it's time I got back to the explanation," Lex cut in. "Kal-El came from the doomed planet of Krypton, rocketed to what his father thought to be relative safety on Earth just seconds before that planet exploded into space rocks. Judging by what my astronomer Dr. Emil Hamilton was able to glean a year ago, Darkseid took notice of Kal-El's vessel and used some sort of tractor beam to redirect its course to Apokolips. The rest . . ." He closed his eyes briefly, as though steeling himself before he could go on.
"What happened?" Jade asked.
"Darkseid raised Kal-El as his ultimate warrior," Lex replied, "pumping him with yellow sunlight and enhancing a few stray genes here and there until there was no one on Apokolips who could stand against his might. With Kal-El at his side, Darkseid razed New Genesis and spread his influence through the universe until he finally came to Earth. When he came to Earth, he sought a piece of what he called the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow him unlimited control over the fabric of the universe itself. He found half of the piece in the mystical side of the emerald energies that powered the Green Lantern Corps, as embodied by Alan Scott, Earth's first Green Lantern. He killed Scott and ripped the mystical green force out of him and then went for the Central Power Battery on Oa, the very source of the Green Lantern Corps' power. Kyle Rayner here is the only survivor and the only one with a still-functioning power ring."
"What about the rest of you?" Question inquired.
"With the exception of Batman, Steel, and myself, our force comes from or has ties to other planets that have fought against Darkseid's scourge," Lex explained. "Orion is a child of both Apokolips and New Genesis, Maxima lost her kingdom of Almerac to Darkseid, Blackfire's family and people on Tamaran were slaughtered almost wholesale by Darkseid's forces, Hawkgirl's harness and weaponry are the products of Thanagarian technology, and Rayner's power ring comes from the so-called Guardians of the Universe."
"Is there anyone else?" Atom asked.
"No," Lex answered curtly. "The energy matrix that fueled speedsters was also consumed by Darkseid, as another part of the Anti-Life Equation, and the Flash was powerless without it. Easy prey for Darkseid's Parademons. He went out fighting, though, which was the only thing that really made me respect him."
"How do you fight Kal-El and his forces?" Daybreaker asked. "I saw that guy in action. He's about as powerful as Kid Apollo!"
"Whoever this Kid Apollo is, he would probably be outfought by Kal-El," Batman remarked. "But your question is valid. We've mostly been fighting by reverse-engineering the Apokoliptian technology we've been able to pilfer and adapting Orion's New Genesis technology for our own uses. That's how Steel and I were able to engineer the armors that we use. They give us the ability to fight Kal-El on more or less even footing . . . as long as we stay with ranged weapons and distance attacks."
"I could hurt him," Jade said. "I can project my power as just about any type of energy I want, including Kryptonite radiation."
"His armor is sealed off against Kryptonite," Steel said. "The only way that would work is if we managed to damage the armor's shielding in some way . . . with an armor-piercing instrument. But nothing we've come with so far has worked."
"It couldn't make it past his armor?" Nightwing surmised.
"His senses were too sharp," Lex replied. "His reflexes were too quick and he incinerated our projectiles before they could reach him."
"Then we'll have to devise something faster and stealthier," Nightstar concluded.
"How do you do that?" Steel asked, perplexed.
"Just let me into your lab or wherever it is you cook up your weapons and I'll show you," Nightstar replied.
Batman, Steel, and Lex exchanged looks and their body language was clear; none of them thought it was a good idea to let Nightstar in. Just then, Kara interceded. "I can help Nightstar."
"You can? How?" Lex asked.
"I'm Kryptonian, remember?" Kara answered fiercely. "And if you want to know how to fight a Kryptonian, you go to a Kryptonian."
"She does have a point," Steel acknowledged.
"You sure about that?" Batman asked.
Steel nodded, sparing a brief look at Kara and Nightstar. "What about it?" Nightstar asked.
"We'll give you a chance," Batman decided. "But Steel is going to be watching both of you closely."
"Fine, give the girls a chaperone since they can't handle manly man technology," Nightstar droned mordantly.
"It's for our safety," Batman stated. "You're all strangers to us, regardless of what relation we might have in your universes."
"Man, if only Gear was here," Static lamented. "He could probably solve this pretty quick."
"Don't worry," Kara replied to Static. "Kryptonians are very smart." She turned to Nightstar. "Let's go."
Steel escorted the two girls out of the main room and into the side room that contained the League's tech lab, leaving the other seven members of the Justice League alone with the remaining eight reality-tossed heroes. "What are you doing here?" Lex asked. "Really?"
"It's gonna sound crazy, but we were sent here to fix things," Nightwing replied.
"Fix things?" Lex echoed scornfully. "You assume there is something to fix. In truth, this is a broken world; the only thing we can do is remake it."
"Maybe, but what's happened, what's going to happen, is what you get from reality falling apart," Nightwing answered.
"Reality falling apart?" Maxima asked, finally looking up from her sulking.
"Yes," Forerunner stated. "There are many more universes beyond this one and the ones those accompanying me come from. The time stream has become increasingly dichotic to the point of inevitable cataclysm. If we are able to wrest this planet from Darkseid's grip, we may be able to save this universe from entropic collapse. Then we will be gone."
"Gone to where?" Blackfire asked.
"Other worlds that need us," Forerunner replied simply.
"The Kal-El you know . . ." Batman started to say, looking Nightwing in the eye. "What makes him any different from the one in this reality?"
"The Kal-El I know was raised on Earth, by parents who loved him and who instilled in him a love and respect for humanity," Nightwing answered. "He was . . . is . . . my world's greatest hero."
Batman was silent, pondering a world in which Kal-El was a man to be trusted, admired, respected, emulated . . . adored. He shrugged it off; even if such a world existed, it wasn't for him. He couldn't live in it; he had to save the world he was born into. The world that had once belonged to humanity and could belong to humanity again, provided certain preparations came into fruition. He only hoped that the presence of these reality jumpers did not endanger it. With luck, they'd never even know.
Meanwhile, inside the tech lab, Kara and Nightstar looked around. "This is beyond anything I've ever seen before," Kara uttered almost breathlessly. "And I thought Krypton was advanced."
"This is New God technology," Steel commented.
"I'll help," Nightstar offered. "I've seen New God technology in my reality. One of my best friends is the daughter of two New Gods."
Kara looked at Nightstar askance. "All right."
"Show us the weapons designs, including the ones you just have on the drawing board," Nightstar requested, although her urgency made it sound more like a demand.
Steel pulled back a section of wall, revealing scraps of high-tech weaponry and blueprints for even more advanced weapons. "That's what we've got. If you can make anything out of it that's better than what we've made, I'll kiss you."
Nightstar chuckled softly. "Really?" Her tone was one of subtle flirting.
Kara groaned. "Let's get to work, Mar'i."
In what was taken to be the main room of the Justice League base, Nightwing stared down Lex. "You still don't trust me?" Lex deduced smoothly. "That's well and good, because I don't trust you either. Any of you."
"The Lex Luthor I know would have made himself tyrant of the world if it wasn't for the Kal-El I know," Nightwing retorted.
"And the only reason Kal-El does not have total reign over this world is me," Lex answered with an insidious calm.
"Quit posturing," Blackfire grumbled. "Earthmen. Always measuring the size of their –"
"Komand'r," Orion snarled warningly.
"Your mission is to find a way to redeem this universe, right?" Lex recounted. "To save it from falling into premature entropic ruin, if I'm not mistaken."
Forerunner stared stonily at everyone present before her hard gaze landed on Nightwing. "Dick Grayson of Universe Zero, I need to speak with you."
Nightwing looked at Forerunner skeptically. "Why?"
Forerunner hardened her glare even more, signaling silently that she would brook no more questions. Nightwing nodded to Lex and walked over to Forerunner, who whooshed him to a more secluded area of the base. Once she stopped, Nightwing looked at her askance. "What is it?" he asked.
"The solution to redeeming this universe is a dual solution," Forerunner replied. "The equal and opposite forces of Kal-El and Darkseid and Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor must be expunged from this dimension."
"Expunge?" Nightwing repeated. "You mean, we kill them?"
Forerunner's obsidian eyes were harder than diamond. "Yes."
"I can understand Darkseid, Kal-El, and even Lex, but why Batman?" Nightwing was both confused and disconcerted.
"This universe's Luthor and Wayne are not to be trusted," Forerunner stated. "They have their own agenda for this world, one that they would be closer to fulfilling if not for Kal-El's presence on this Earth."
"I can't . . ." Nightwing uttered.
"These are not the same men you knew in your universe of origin," Forerunner harshly cut him off. "Lex Luthor's ambition consumes him in all worlds and would consume those worlds without someone to keep him in check. Bruce Wayne in many worlds has never fully trusted metahumans and you know full well that he has plotted against Earth's metahuman champions – many of whom were people you looked to and respected – in your own world. With Kal-El ravaging this world as he has, you have no idea what lengths this Bruce Wayne would be driven to in order to restore Earth to humanity."
"I can't believe that," Nightwing answered. "Bruce is a good man, no matter what world he's in."
"You have so much faith in him," Forerunner remarked, her stony voice taking an almost purring quality. "I wonder . . ." She stood closer to Nightwing. ". . . what it would be like to trust and believe as much as you do."
Nightwing had no idea how to take that. Forerunner had sounded so serious when she said that to him, but the glitter in her eyes, those strange obsidian eyes, told him another story. He couldn't tell what he was seeing in those eyes. Was it passion? Was it curiosity? Was it longing? Was it fascination? Was it something else?
Then the spell broke and Forerunner turned away from him. "Come. We should see how Mar'i Grayson of Universe-22 and Kara Zor-El of Universe-16 are doing and inform them – and the rest of our unit – of our mission."
"How do you know?" Nightwing asked.
"I am psychically connected to the Monitors," Forerunner replied. "Now come."
Nightwing followed Forerunner into the Justice League's tech lab, where they found Steel supervising Kara and Nightstar as they worked on the designs for anti-Kal-El weaponry. The girls seemed to be making excellent progress and even getting along fairly well. "If you recalibrate the –" Kara started to say.
"– and adjust the shielding matrix," Mar'i continued.
"They seem to be getting along very well," Nightwing remarked.
"Yeah," Steel agreed. "You'd never know they were from two separate universes, the way they carry on."
"Mind if I talk to you alone?" Nightwing asked, slightly uneasy.
"Is your girlfriend gonna tag along?" Steel inquired sardonically.
Nightwing didn't bother to contradict the "girlfriend" part. "No."
Soon enough, Steel had led Nightwing to a secluded area of the base. "What did you want to talk to me about?"
Nightwing sighed regretfully. "Forerunner told me that our team . . . to save this universe . . . would have to not only kill Kal-El and Darkseid, but Batman and Luthor, too."
Steel put a hand on his forehead and then pulled it back. "I'm not surprised."
"What do you mean?"
"Lex has always been bad news." Steel's tone was one of resigned anger. "Before Kal-El blew into town, he owned Metropolis, both its legal industries and its underground economy. He was branching out into other cities, both inside and outside this country. Gotham was one of his prime targets and that was when he and Batman started clashing. But when Kal-El showed up and threw a monkey wrench into everything, Lex and Bats buried the hatchet and joined forces. A more optimistic person would think that Bats would temper Lex, but I think it's the other way around."
Nightwing kept his expression controlled, but the shock was in his body language. "Do you think, if it comes down to it, if Lex goes too far . . . that Batman will turn on him?"
"At this point, they're almost egging each other on," Steel answered cynically. "It's no surprise. Couple of billionaires with brilliant minds, they probably think they know better about what's good for the world than everybody else. Lex is just more upfront about it."
Nightwing grew more and more disheartened with each word Steel spoke. He couldn't believe it, he couldn't believe that any version of Batman could be almost indistinguishable from Lex Luthor. Sure, his Batman had had his dark moments from time to time, but within that steel core lay a beating heart full of compassion for his fellow man.
"There's no way."
Steel looked at him, allowing Nightwing to continue. "There's no way that Bruce Wayne could be that far gone."
Steel placed his hands firmly but gently on Nightwing's shoulders. "Get it through your head, kid. The Batman you know doesn't exist here."
"But I can't just . . . kill him." Nightwing's tone was almost defeated. "I can't . . ."
"You really love this guy, don't you?"
"He's my father. He gave me a home, gave me hope, gave me a reason to keep going after I lost my parents."
"I understand." Steel's voice was a comforting rumble. "I understand how hard it can be to let go, to acknowledge that things can't be the way you thought they were or should be. But if you're telling the truth about saving reality, then you gotta make the hard choices. That's what heroes do . . . and I can tell you're a hero."
Nightwing looked up at Steel and nodded, slowly, determinedly. "Steel! Nightwing!" they heard Kara call.
The two men walked into the tech lab. "You're finished?" Steel asked.
"Uh-huh," Nightstar confirmed.
The Justice League and the reality jumpers had gathered in the lab to see what Kara and Nightstar had created. "This should be interesting," Green Lantern remarked.
Nightstar held up a chrome-plated, high-tech bow without a string. She pressed something on the bow and a green energy string materialized between the curved ends of the bow. Kara passed Nightstar a sleek arrow with a chrome-plated shaft and a high-tech arrowhead that seemed to glow on either side. "This is an armor-piercing sunburst arrow," Nightstar explained. "It's made from a highly aerodynamic material that also muffles sound as it travels through the air. The arrowhead is surrounded by an electromagnetic energy matrix that operates at a frequency that interferes with the shielding field that reinforces Kal-El's armor and the bioelectric field that naturally protects his body. Once it penetrates Kal-El, the arrowhead will detonate and release red solar radiation throughout his cellular structure, stripping him of his powers and making him just as vulnerable as any human."
"And what if that doesn't work?" Maxima asked skeptically.
"We also have Kryptonite arrowheads," Kara replied.
"How come that doesn't hurt you?" Static asked.
"My universal vibration pattern is foreign to this dimension," Kara explained. "Therefore, Kryptonite in this universe will not affect me. The Kryptonite arrowheads are also armor-piercing and have a more-than-ninety-percent chance of lethality."
"And what if that doesn't work?" Blackfire asked.
"Then Jade channels the mystical elements of her power to beat him down as hard as she can, weaken him enough for someone of comparable strength to land the finishing blow," Nightstar answered. "Ideally, we will use her power in conjunction with the arrows to finish him."
"Why a bow and arrows?" Batman asked.
"Nobler than a gun," Nightstar replied. "And some of my best friends were archers."
"Sounds pretty good," Green Lantern remarked.
"You sure this will work?" Hawkgirl asked.
"We've recalibrated and rechecked everything a hundred times," Nightstar replied. "Ok, Kara has; her brain goes as fast as she runs."
Kara visibly preened. "Thanks for the compliment."
"I'm to take it that this will be an assassination by way of sniping and not an open battle," Maxima deduced.
"Yes," Batman confirmed. "With someone of Kal-El's power, we cannot risk an outright confrontation. That is not how we've survived up to this point."
"Who's going to do it?" Daybreaker asked.
"You guys can't be serious!" Static exclaimed, unable to contain his shock any longer. "We're talking about killing Superman like he's any other bad guy!"
"In this universe, he is," Nightwing answered with grim sorrow in his tone.
"Who's gonna do it?" Daybreaker repeated.
"I will," Batman stated.
Nightwing heard Batman's statement, remembered Steel's words about the nature of Batman's association with Lex in this reality, and shuddered internally. If Steel was right, if Forerunner was right about what they needed to do in order to truly save this universe . . .
No . . .
End Notes: There's a good point to end it on. We all know the Kal-El in this universe is a bad guy, and thanks to Forerunner and Steel, we don't know if Batman and Lex Luthor are any better. Lex, you could have guessed from a mile away, but Batman? Then again, in certain interpretations, it does make sense for Batman to have taken this turn. A certain kind of twisted, morbid sense, but it does make sense. Can Kal-El truly be killed, though? Is there a way for Nightwing to save this universe's version of his mentor and surrogate father? And just what else will the heroic reality jumpers find in this world? For the answers to those questions and others, read on and let me know what you thought of this chapter. Peace.