Title: linaF ekirtS fo eht neveS sreidloS

Author: Mike Pulgoni, Prince of Wales

Disclaimer: You know the drill.

Rating: T

Prologue

No one had thought to build a summit or a mound, so the three of them weren't really standing any higher than the others, nor would they have ever thought to... still, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman somehow always seemed to be standing a little taller than everybody else.

"We'll have three teams," Batman announced. "We're going to need every single one of you for this one, but we're going to have to be organized, too."

"Those of you who will be stationed with me, our job is to clear a path," Wonder Woman said, gracefully but with an undeniable air of authority. "Ours will be a hard path and many of us may fall, but we will save a world."

"That will give my team a chance," Superman chimed in. "There's no way we can win this one without the Helmet of Fate and the Phantom Stranger, it will be up to us to find them."

"Which leaves my team," Batman finished. "This city might end up the human race's last stronghold... and we're going to fight them off here."

Superman turned slowly and addressed the Dark Knight as a friend. "I'm sorry, Bruce," he whispered, "you won't be leading the third team."

Batman's eyes widened in betrayal. "I've fought with worse injuries than this, Clark, and you know it."

The Man of Tomorrow nodded. "This isn't about that. You said it yourself, Bruce, we need to be organized. That's why we need you to work with Oracle to coordinate our efforts. No one knows our strengths and weaknesses better than you... there's no one better for the job." Superman paused for a moment. "And, if we should fall... someone has to protect what's left of the human race."

The Batman could not bring himself to argue, largely because Kal-El seemed to be making his last wishes for an entire species known, so he settled for nodding darkly.

"And besides," Wonder Woman interjected warmly, "I think you'll like our choice for your stand-in."

Never one to miss his cue, Nightwing strode boldly between them, still carrying the sword Bruce gave him.

Bruce nodded. "Good to see you again."

Nightwing gave a broad smile. "Always glad to do my part."

The Batman cast his eyes into the assembled army of superhumans and instantly found who he was looking for. "Zatanna!"

The master magician nervously made her way to the crowd, still clearly intimidated by what she'd done to the Dark Knight. "Yeah, Bruce?" she whispered, her frightened eyes looking up expectantly.

"Clark's going to be in real danger out there,"the Batman said in a hushed hiss. "He's vulnerable to magic and he's going to need someone to watch his back."

Zatanna nodded solemnly.

"...And I can't think of anyone I have more faith in," Batman concluded. And though he restrained himself from smiling, Zatanna more than made up for it on her end.

Meanwhile, deep within the vast crowd of metahumans, two of the least decorated of their number watched the scene unfold.

"God, some people just never get sick of stroking each other off," Guy Gardner spat derisively. "It sickens me."

"You know," Booster Gold reflected, "when I was a kid, I was never picked last for anything. Not football, not baseball, not blernsball... nothing."

"Me neither," Guy Gardner concurred.

"Then I got here and suddenly a was a fourth-stringer. Even when I was in the Justice League it wasn't the 'real Justice League,'" Booster said as thoughtfully as is possible for Booster. "Used to bug the hell out me."

"Yeah," Guy snorted, "imagine how me and Kyle and John Stewart felt when we all show up and everyone wants to know where Green Lantern is."

Booster nodded. "But, now, for the first time I really don't care about getting picked last."

"Because you're getting picked last to die?" Guy offered.

Booster shook his head. "Because we're all going to die anyway," he said, staring off into the thousands upon thousands of Grundies slowly marching towards them.

Guy nodded. "And maybe this time some of them will even stay dead."