I make no money and they agree not to sue.
This chapter is little bit more straightforward than the last. Not using multiple first persons this time, but still told in sequence only from a "certain point of view"
The Present. Earth. Washington, DC. Trinity/Chloe Sullivan.
"Pssst. Hey, Chloe." Superman said under his breath. In his customary red and blue suit, he stood with Trinity and Green Lantern behind and to the right of the President of the United States on a stage constructed before an aircraft hanger, on the flight line at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC. "Chloe, take a deep breath, it will help with the frustration."
For her part Chloe Sullivan, Cassiopeia to her Amazon sisters and Trinity to the public at large, was in deed quite frustrated. She stood there in her full Amazon battle armor, with golden wings on her shoulders, an eagle helmet under her arm, the Damocles Sword on one hip a golden lasso of infinite length on the other, a black leather jacket over a red and gold bustier, a Japanese katana on her back and chain mail leggings over black spandex and under a blue white star spangled skirt. On the stage behind the President with her partner and their friend she barely contained her seething. "I will not be a pawn to his political grandstanding!" She stage whispered.
"Just because you're guided by Jeffersonian ideals like free enterprise and individual liberty and you're chafing at his very words doesn't make it okay for -"
"Well, how did you know what I'm feeling anyway?" Trinity glanced subtly over at Superman.
"Super hearing." The Man of Steel responded, still standing relaxed and ready; he continued without pausing for breath, "What are you going to do—draw your sword, and make him let us say what we wanted to say?"
"Super hearing?" Chloe sounded incredulous
"Your pulse is up and you're grinding your teeth. I can hear that. Since about halfway through the eighth grade, it's what you've done when you're frustrated."
The Amazon warrior touched the hilt of the Damocles Sword with her right pinky. She had her helmet in her right hand leaving her left hand free... "Maybe..."
"Do you see all the Secret Service agents around us?" Green Lantern whispered. He didn't need super hearing to follow what was going on between the Son of Krypton and the youngest Amazon. The Ring was giving him a blow by blow account, just leaving out the words.
"Yes." She replied.
"Can you actually do the whole bullets and bracelets thing?" the Space Cop continued. "See, I'm not entirely clear on the extent of your powers, and before we go off into space to fight a supernatural evil that has even the White Council of Wizards nervous-"
"Okay." She took a deep breath.
"Good. Now another." Superman spoke in a calm and measured tone, "Patience my dear. Another way will present itself."
Chloe looked around. The crowd was cheering. Clark was standing there calmly. Green Lantern stood at perfect, crisp parade rest, his black and green Uniform resembling an Air Force dress uniform more than fighter pilot's pressure suit. The Amazon started to shift her helmet to the other side so that she could draw her Damocles Sword, but before she did she heard Green Lantern call in a loud and firm voice.
CRACK! The Amazon felt it more than she heard the huge bolt of dark lightening and for just a moment whole world went slant wise with a pink sky and black clouds to top it all off.
Time unknown. Location unknown. Trinity.
"Superman! Snap out of it, come back to us." Green Lantern called in a loud firm voice.
Trinity looked around and saw nothing. No stage. No flight line. No Genesis Orbiter. No Andrews Air Base. She saw nothing and lots of it. No sky. No sun. Except for a faint green force bubble around the three of them, there was just empty space in every direction as far as her eye could see. "Where. Are we?"
"I already told you that I'm working on that." Green Lantern answered. His Uniform was back to its usual pressure suit look.
"We were just at Andrews Airbase." Chloe just hovered there for a moment, then she began checking her uniform and kit: most of it was there, but one of her wing shaped shields was missing, her helmet was cracked, her left gauntlet was scorched and her left wrist burned slightly. "The President was about to give us the Genesis Shuttle." The Director of NASA had been on the video screen and the President had talked of keeping promises...
"Yeah, and I stopped him because we didn't have time to wait for the Orbiter to be mounted on its 777 lift vehicle and fueled. We had to be boosting to orbit in less than a half hour." Green Lantern looked over his shoulder at Chloe. "That was then. Now, we just woke up here. Where ever here isn't" because there's nothing here except for us. Everything else is somewhere else. "Before that we were thrown out the airlock of the godling's Command Ship as it was transiting the Epsilon Erandi Jump Gate."
"Are you sure, because the last thing I remember is that you teleported Pastor Lindquist from Smallville, Hippolyta Queen of the Amazons from Themyscaria, Rabbi Hanoch from Los Angeles..."
"Uh-huh. I also brought the Abbot of a Buddhist monastery in Nepal where Superman studied." He turned back to Superman. The Kryptonian's body seemed to be functioning normally: pulse, breathing, reflexes, pupils dilated in light. But he wasn't responsive to sound. Hmmmm. "Yeah that was after we stepped off to the side of the stage out of sight of the TV cameras and gave our statements to Lois Lane of the Daily Planet introducing the world to a team of heroes who would watch over them and before I flew us to the Epsilon Erandi system."
"Where we put up a good fight, but all of us got captured and then you came and broke me out of my cell. I saw them take your ring. How did you work that out?" Chloe was counting events off as they returned to her mind.
"Trade secret." Green Lantern smiled.
"And then we got flushed out of an airlock as the Command Ship of the attack fleet was transiting the Epsilon Jump Gate." Chloe floated over where Green Lantern hovered over Superman. "So where is everything? The fleet. The Gate. The star?"
Suddenly the solution was clear to Trinity. "He needs a kiss."
"What do you mean a kiss?" GL took a step away from the Amazon.
The focus changed in here eyes, a Chloe's mind wandered a bit from Green Lantern as she said, "I mean a Kiss. Long and slow with lots of tongue."
"You're kidding." The rookie's face twisted up in disgust. "I'm not going to do that."
"Move over cowboy." Chloe pushed past GL and elbowed him gently out of the way. In zero g she saw him just float away until his Ring flared a smoldering green and he slowed him to a stop. Chloe continued, "I most certainly didn't say for you to kiss him. He needs true love's kiss."
"What is this a fairy tale now?" GL smiled at thought. Maybe there was a trail of bread crumbs out here that would lead them home.
"Hey we just went on a long journey to fight a vastly evil minor deity. I'd say we're definitely in fairy tale country." Chloe remarked.
The Lantern considered for a moment. "No forest. We're up in the stars. This is mythological territory."
"Either way, it's true love's kiss, now step aside." She floated over and took Superman in her arms.
"I'll just be over here." Green Lantern flew a few yards away and formed a big set of green ear protectors around his head, the kind that air plane wranglers and flight crews wear on the tarmac around really loud jet engines.
Chloe made a turning sign with her hand, and smiled meekly.
"No. I'm not turning my back on you. You might both disappear."
Seeing a frown crease the Amazon's features, Green Lantern turned and blinked. During the blink, Kyle saw a blinding light and felt jostled around like he was standing in his loft during an earthquake back in Los Angeles.
The present. Space. Green Lantern 2814/Kyle Rayner
He floated next to an asteroid. Epsilon Erandi was a modest light way off in the distance. He could see the Jump Gate not too far off and the attack fleet moving into position to begin Jumping through. A glance over the rookie's shoulder showed no Trinity and no Superman, but he could make out the Epsilon system's gas giant off in the distance.
With the godling's attack fleet moving into position, it was clearly time to go bust his friends out of the brig of the Command Ship. Hadn't he just been with Superman and Chloe in the middle of millions of miles of void? No matter. His concentration had clearly wavered and no doubt the energy duplicate he'd made of himself had dissipated. He had to hurry. If his friends weren't in immediate jeopardy of their very lives already, they would be as soon as who ever was in charge of the brig noticed the Green Lantern shaped hole in his cell.
But before he rushed off into battle half blind with no thought or plan, Kyle Rayner paused. "Show me," he said to the Ring. And his field of view suddenly expanded into five dimensions and he could know everything about his environment if he chose to. In front of him he saw the tight beam tactical communication lasers frantically sending the final transmission to set up the Jumps. Wide beam Terra-Watt death rays powered down and stowed themselves. Shields powered up and flitters swooped back into their bays as pickets mated back up with their battleships. Next to him hovered an asteroid the size of a tractor-trailer's cab. In the distance behind him swarms of other asteroids and comets of varying sizes from soccer ball up to Madagascar cut gracefully through the aether guided on the pathways they had plied among the moons and planets of this solar system since God had said "Light Be!" guided only by Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion.
"Ring, get me some of those asteroids, about five hundred and smash the into the ships of this fleet at speed."
Done. They begin arriving in seven and half minutes.
"How long until the attack fleet begins its Jumps?"
Four minutes, forty-seven seconds and counting.
"Give me a count down display in the lower left corner of my field of view. Stealth me." The rookie flew away from his asteroid and made a smooth curve through all the flitters and pickets and dumped space junk speeding directly for the Command Ship. On the way he reached out through the Ring to the hyperspace beacons that would guide each ship from this Jump Gate to the next one.
"Okay then let's go after the propulsion systems."
Schematics appeared in his mind so bewilderingly complex that he felt lost and wobbled of his graceful perfect arc. "No, wait," a flitter the size of a Volkswagen nearly smashed into him from behind, but his five dimensional vision showed him where it was and when when it would be occupying the same space as him and he rolled over into a dive worthy of the the Thunderbirds. "That didn't work last time."
What do you mean last time?
"Try the environmental controls inside these ships. Make it blazing hot and freezing cold. Burst the water pipes and the waste pipes. Fluctuate the gravity fields and magnetic fields, have them rotate randomly. While the fields do that, also multiply and divide them by the first twenty-two prime numbers in no particular order at intervals of forty-five and one hundred twenty seconds."
Smaller ships began to wobble and crash into each other as well as the larger ones. He could hear the shouting on the flight decks, bridges and combat information centers. And then the chaos began to reorganize as another will asserted itself from the center of the Command Ship AND spreading outward. Kyle took the measure of this will and chose to back off.
Reaching the hull of the Command Ship, he formed a cutting tool in his mind and he saw the edges of a circular saw spinning in green glints in front of him. The bulk heads of the ship separated themselves before him. He allowed the compartment he entered to outgas. The fierce wind rushed around him like a hurricane but against his implacable will it separated and flowed around him like he was a human airfoil. Air locks began to seal and he let them. It wouldn't do to be trying to rescue his friends in a vacuum if he could avoid it.
Remembering it's location, Rayner walked thru air tight doors and bulkheads and decks making a bee line for the brig. He found Chloe first and then Superman. He saw them both in his mind's eye. Chloe was restrained in a hideous looking machine. Superman just writhed on the floor of an empty cell in torment. Rayner rammed his will through the Ring like a laser scalpel slicing through machinery as he pealed the layers away from the Amazon.
Her twisted rictus of agony smoothed out into a soft smile and she said, "Clark?" as she opened her eyes.
"No, I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you."
"Aren't you a little small for a stormtrooper?"
"Bring her gear."
"What?" Chloe saw her uniform, armor and weapons appear.
Kyle felt the change in the hum of the deck plates through the soles of his black boots and glanced at the countdown in the corner of his view. Seemed it should have been down to counting just seconds, but instead it showed a few minutes minutes. He guessed that his distraction plan was working. He knew there might be enough seconds on the clock for the Amazon to robe and arm herself, but they still had to retrieve Kal-El and get off the ship.
"Hurry and dress."
While the Amazon was still affixing her wing shaped shield with swords and helmet yet to be clasped on, the Lantern declared, "We must get Kal. Take my hand. This may seem a little strange."
Chloe quickly hitched on her swords, tucked her helmet under one arm and reached out with the other, clasping her gauntleted hand around his black gloved hand. A green glow spread from the Ring around the Lantern's body and then up Trinity's arm and around her body, too. They began to walk diagonally down through the deck. The Amazon saw the contents of compartments scattered onto bulkheads and decks. All manner of fluids and waste sloshed around everywhere. In ten steps they stood within Kal's cell, on the exterior bulkhead, as though it were the deck.
Trinity knelt next to Superman and began to reach for him tenderly. "Wait." GL said. His face creased with concentration. The Ring glowed. A green haze formed around the Man of Steel. Within the green haze a tangle of black barbed wire and silver razor wire bound Superman from head to toe. The spiked cables went into his skull and spine and major organs.
"Wow," the Amazon leaned back. "Where was all that a second ago?"
"It was all right there, we just couldn't see it." the Lantern glanced at his Ring. "It's some kind of supernatural working, equal parts curse, hex and spell. I can't peel it off, the way I did your machinery."
"No problem. You just keep it lit up and I will cut it all off with the Damocles Sword."
"Good, just be quick about it. This ship will Jump in less than 80 seconds."
Chloe deftly sliced through layers of magical torture, delicately removing each one.
Suddenly the wall cracked open and the void of space reached in and yanked them out into the swirling energies of the Jump Gate.
Time unknown. Location Unknown. Kyle Rayner/ Green Lantern 2814.
And then they were all three back in the true middle of nowhere with only a glowing green translucent sphere around them and dozens of thousands of billions kilometers of inky blackness all around. Other than the Ring, the only lights were a few distant pinpricks of stars.
Kyle breathed hard as beads of sweat formed all over his body. He heard a woman's voice "Aren't you going to turn around and give me some privacy?" Chloe, Cassiopeia, Trinity, Superman's friend and partner.
Kyle took slow deep breaths. "No. I just did that, and got ripped back in time to when I tried to fight the Attack Fleet single-handedly. Forgive me but I don't want to let either of you out of my sight for the present moment."
"Hmmm." The Amazon took Superman's hand in hers and floated down so that they were arranged as though he lay in a sick bed and she stood next to him. "Yeah, I was just back at the President's speech. What did that stout Arab in the western business suit and trainers say to you as we were walking around the side of the stage?"
"Something about Angels" I am a righteous man. Kyle had heard him say. I am traveling for three days from Basrah to be here now, to tell you that I can send with you many Angels. I can send with you many Angels so that you find victory in your mission. Kyle had looked him in the eyes, had known the man from Basrah meant every word, and had thanked him.
Chloe knelt and caressed Kal for a few moments. "I know you can hear me. I'm not afraid anymore. I know that we're going to make it. I love you, Kal. I love you." And then she kissed Kal. It began as a peck, but she knew that wouldn't break the spell. She locked lips with him and continued the kiss warmly, sweetly, tenderly. Floating in space, it was her choice whether she was kneeling beside him or standing next to him. She extended her legs and entwined them with his. The Amazon's arms wrapped the Kryptonian in a strong, yet tender embrace. She breathed in through her nose and continued kissing him. Her tongue wandered into his mouth.
The Lantern saw Superman's hand move from his side to the Amazon's back, and at this point he turned to give them some privacy.
Kal kissed Trinity back. Taking her in his arms, Superman opened his eyes and looked into Chloe's face. "Hey." He reached up and touched her cheek. "I missed you, Chloe Sullivan In all of time and space you are my best mmmppfff."
She kissed him again. Throwing her arms around him, thrilled that he was back, not wanting hear him call her friend again. She felt his hand in the small of her back.
"It was so terrible. At the end." Superman whispered to Trinity. They just floated there and held each other whispering tinder words.
"Shhh." Trinity whispered back. "I'm here. I'm real. That bad stuff was all in your mind."
At length Green Lantern cleared his throat.
"Now that we're all awake," Trinity looked up from Superman and over at Green Lantern, "we can get back to the question I asked."
"Which one?" the Lantern asked
"Grrr. You know. Where are we?"
"I still don't know that, but...my Ring was able isolate a few others and triangulate. It disturbs me that it only found only a few dozen. It tells me there should be around a 7200 Rings in service at any given time." the Space Cop noticed the Amazon staring daggers at him. He also sensed other Rings, than the Green of Will and Yellow of Fear that he already knew of, "I don't know where we are. And the Ring can't tell me where here is in any meaningful because there's no here, here. But what I do know," he extended his Ring hand, and a huge glowing green arrow pointed the way "is earth is about 14,000 light-years that way."
"Then let's go." said Kal.
"As soon as I re-charge my Ring"
Time unknown. Sol System. Superman.
Green Lantern dropped the three heroes out of Transluminal inside the orbit of Mars. Kyle and Superman studied the sky, in particular the positions of Jupiter and Saturn relative to the inner planets, and then glanced at each other. Something's wrong. Kal smiled and basked in the golden sunlight choosing to ignore the problem for the moment. GL's mind went to work on it as he guided the group toward earth. As they zipped past the moon, approaching earth from the night side, Kyle noticed the lack of lights along the coastlines. Normally the lights of major cities shine easily up to orbit.
They zipped over Indian Ocean, across the Persian Gulf and crossed into daylight over the Mediterranean Sea. Over Sicily they stopped and stared across Europe in stunned silence. The coastlines were still there, but the interior where the fields and forests and cities should have been was covered in a single giant Fire Pit. A humongous statue of a humanoid form stood astride the Straights of Gibraltar. It was muscular and wore a tunic with trousers and jackboots. It's face was craggy and filled with menace. It's skin was jagged and apparently it had been carved to look that way.
Superman, Trinity and Green Lantern looked at each other, breath caught in their throats at the utter desolation, then all together, "We're late,"