Ugh. Talk about deadlines bearing down on you. I almost had to swap this for another fic idea at the last minute.
However, I promised you Justice League mpreg, and I'mma give you Justice League mpreg!
Now go, go and enjoy my Cliche Contest entry!
Disclaimer: I do not own Justice League
There were days that reminded John just why he had become a hero. Those days reinforced the feelings that had pressed him to enlist in the Marines, to join the Green Lantern Corps, to defend Earth and all her peoples from harm alongside the other six superheroes that made up the Justice League.
This…was really not one of those days.
"Remind me again why we're out here, J'onn?"
"The Watchtower sensors detected a high concentration of unusual mineral compounds within this asteroid," J'onn answered calmly, not looking up from the device he was setting up, "Its trajectory is such that we have a relatively small window to analyze its structure, before it returns to deep space."
John sighed and shook his head.
"I know that, J'onn. What I meant was 'Why are we the only ones out here?'" John pointed out.
His own device, twin to the one J'onn was setting up, was nearly ready; even if John was spending his time floating alongside an asteroid and griping over the tedium of the job, the Green Lantern's ring was hard at work. John kept a mental eye on its power level, which was lower than he liked. He'd probably need to recharge after this; he'd known it since before he and J'onn had left the Watchtower, which was why he'd agreed to suit up for this run. Normally his power ring would be able to shield John from the vacuum easily, without the need for a spacesuit, but since running out of juice in an inconvenient spot like, say, deep space wasn't John's idea of fun…
"You know perfectly well that none of the others are available," Batman's voice came over the comlink, "Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl are putting out massive wildfires in California, and Superman's three solar systems away at the moment -"
"I know; helping the X'orns patch up their system defenses after that last near-invasion mishap. What about the Flash?"
"At his day job, which he'd probably like to keep instead of being fired for chronic absenteeism."
The fact that Flash had a day job wasn't surprising; heck, Superman had one. Batman probably had one himself, though no one save possibly J'onn knew what it was. Something had to pay for all those Bat-gadgets…not to mention the food for that stable of teenaged sidekicks Batman ran.
What was surprising was that Batman clearly knew what the Flash's day job was; John hung out with Flash more often than anyone else in the League, and even he didn't know what it was.
Then again, it wasn't like Batman was the sort to wait for permission.
"So what's your excuse?"
"I have monitor duty."
John could almost see the smirk in Batman's smug voice. It was therefore almost a relief when J'onn's voice cut across the comlink, bringing John's attention fully back to the matter at hand.
"The devices are in position. I'm linking them to the Watchtower computer now. We're ready whenever you are, Batman," J'onn reported.
"Computer link confirmed. Beginning remote assay now," Batman replied.
"Time for the two of us to sit back and relax, then," John said, carefully moving himself to float a little further away from the asteroid.
There is no need to worry. We checked for methane pockets quite thoroughly this time, J'onn's voice whispered into John's mind.
'I'm convinced. It's my paranoia that's still skeptical,' John thought back.
Through the tinted faceplate of the spacesuit, John could see J'onn smile in response. As much as he liked J'onn, and knew that he trusted the Martian with his life, John wasn't sure he'd ever figure out J'onn's sense of humor.
And so John carefully leaned back and took in the view. He couldn't fault it; Venus was a peach-colored marble in the distance, Mercury a gleaming speck on the other side of the Sun. Earth was nothing but a blue-white dot, and John couldn't make out a hint of the Watchtower in orbit around it. Dominating the scene was the asteroid. As far as asteroids went, this one was an odd and frankly shrimpy little thing, truth be told; it was a dark, vaguely reddish lump, veined in pale candy pink.
John could tell just by looking that there was something odd about it. At the moment, it was floating calmly enough, undisturbed by the twin devices blinking their lights at either end of its elongated form. Yep; all in all, the whole view was amazing, even stunning.
That didn't make John any less annoyed when the five-minute remote assay became a fifteen-minute one.
"Not to sound like Flash, but are we done yet?"
"Is something wrong?" J'onn inquired of Batman a moment later.
"I've run the scans three times," Batman finally reported, "They don't make sense. I'm detecting highly concentrated levels of xenothium."
John's eyes widened.
"Did you just say xenothium? Isn't that stuff toxic?"
"It's also chemically unstable, explosive in large concentrations, and extremely rare," Batman agreed, "Even a small sample of ore is worth a fortune on the black market."
Batman paused for a beat.
"A sample of pure ore, anyway."
"…Judging from your tone, I'm guessing that this isn't pure xenothium."
"Correct. The sensors are also picking up large quantities of organic compounds, suspended in the xenothium. I need the two of you to get a better idea of what those compounds are; the sensors can't identify them."
John immediately began scanning the asteroid with his ring. J'onn moved in closer and began examining the surface of the asteroid up close, running his hands over its rough surface.
A minute later, John began shaking his head.
"I can't make heads or tails of what I'm picking up. I found several masses…only one that's solid. It's over in that vein by your right, J'onn."
The Martian Manhunter moved over and began investigating the pink vein in question. John could see J'onn frown almost immediately.
"It's strange," J'onn said, "The vein is soft here. It's as if it were almost malleable. Elsewhere it has crystallized, but –"
J'onn never got to finish his sentence. The soft vein under his fingertips surged into life; pink tendrils reached out, swift as serpents, wrapping themselves around J'onn's arms and torso, pulling him against the asteroid despite his struggling.
"J'onn! Hang on, I'll cut you loose," John said, creating an energy blade and setting into the tendrils that held the struggling Martian.
Much to John's astonishment, his energy blade bounced off the tendrils like rubber. John set about slicing and smashing the adjacent darker rock instead, thinking to free J'onn that way. It seemed to work; J'onn was able to pull away from the asteroid, though he was still entangled.
It seemed like the strange situation was actually under control until a fatter, wider, and saw-edged tendril rose from the center of the vein and tore into J'onn's spacesuit mid-belly. From how J'onn screamed, it clearly hadn't stopped there.
With a roar, John hit the asteroid with all the power his ring could muster. It cracked into pieces, rock splintering in all directions. There was still a large pink mass attached to J'onn, but with a sudden spasm most of it broke apart, hardening and shattering to dust.
The rest of the mass remained attached to J'onn, who groaned and went limp, completely unconscious. John began towing J'onn back to the Watchtower immediately.
The entire attack had taken less than a minute.
Batman busied himself with monitoring J'onn's vitals. It was much more productive than Hawkgirl and John's argument over what had happened and a lot less annoying than Flash's high-speed pacing and fidgeting.
They'd started chiseling away at the remaining hardened pink mass as soon as J'onn was in the Medbay. Batman made certain to collect all the pieces, putting a few of the larger chips into a scanner for analysis. Removing the mass hadn't done much good in the end; there was a jagged but already healed wound in J'onn's stomach. Further scanning revealed that something had not only penetrated the Martian's abdomen, but had made itself at home inside his unconscious body.
And it was growing.
Batman watched with unconcealed anger as whatever was inside J'onn spread hair-thin tendrils of itself into the rest of the Martian's body. It was too late to simply try cutting the invader out; it was already entwined with J'onn's nervous system, reaching up to the very brain.
The analysis on the chips did nothing to sweeten Batman's mood. The chips were sharps of a compound, part xenothium, part something that the Watchtower wasn't able to identify. It was a crystallized piece of a quasi-organic mess.
The shock of the foreign invader moving in had knocked J'onn out, but at least his vitals remained stable. Batman had only a sketchy supposition as to the nature of Martian physiology, but J'onn had programmed the Watchtower with all the required information. It would have to be enough.
He felt…strange. That was the first thing he noticed.
The next things he noticed were more direct sensations. He was lying flat on his back. He could hear the hum of fluorescent lighting above him. He could detect a faint scent of something, a scent that made him aware that he was surprisingly hungry. Most strangely, he could even feel an unusual sensation of warmth coming from somewhere deep inside him.
That was the next thing he noticed; a voice. A spoken, familiar voice, accompanied by a familiar mind. A worried mind…
Opening his eyes, J'onn was greeted by a blurry form possessing long, dark hair and Wonder Woman's voice.
"J'onn! Thank Hera, you're finally awake."
As his vision fully cleared, J'onn was finally able to recognize where he was. It was a position he had remained thankfully unfamiliar with; lying flat on his back in a bed in the Watchtower Medbay. Aside from Wonder Woman, there was no one else present.
"…Where are the others?" J'onn asked, trying to get his still-befuddled mind back into some semblance of order.
"They're all here," Wonder Woman explained, "Superman, Hawkgirl, John, and I have been taking shifts sitting with you; no one wanted you to be alone when you woke up."
"How long was I out?"
"It's been nearly three days."
No wonder he felt so off; prolonged unconsciousness was not something readily compatible with Martian physiology. He often wondered how his human companions could stand going through it up to eight hours a day…
"I'm glad you're awake," Wonder Woman repeated, moving to help as J'onn worked to get himself into a seated position, "We've all been so worried. Batman barricaded himself inside the station's laboratory not long after John got you to the Watchtower."
This, of course, was Batman's method to show concern.
"What about Flash?" J'onn asked, since Wonder Woman had neglected to mention the speedster at all.
"John threw Flash out of the Medbay when he tried to fill the room with those Oreo-cookies you both like so much. He claimed it was supposed to lure you back to consciousness…"
"That explains the smell."
Wonder Woman blinked, sniffed for a moment, and then decided that it wasn't an important point.
"Since then, he's been running by the door every fifteen minutes. In fact…"
Right on the dot, a red blur blew past the Medbay door. Then there was a muffled squeal of boots screeching to a halt, followed by Flash himself bursting in through the doors.
"J'onn! You're awake! I'll go tell the others –"
Flash took off before he finished his sentence. Thirty seconds later, he was back and standing next to Wonder Woman.
"They're on their way here. Well, everyone 'cept Bats; he rigged up some kinda laser to open fire on me the last time I tried sticking my head in the lab, so I just yelled through the door. How you feeling, J'onn?"
"Disoriented," J'onn replied succinctly, "What happened?"
"Far as I know, you and GL were checking out that asteroid when it took a bite out of you," Flash said, "He smashed it to space dust trying to stop it, too. Man, I haven't seen GL this upset since that one time he –"
John entered then, glaring daggers at Flash. Superman and Hawkgirl followed after him. Everyone's attention turned temporarily to the two arguing heroes, and J'onn decided to take the opportunity to get back to his feet. Unfortunately, J'onn soon discovered a tragic flaw in his plan; putting the slightest bit of weight on his feet triggered a wave of dizziness; he would have crumpled to the ground if Superman hadn't been standing close enough to react in time.
"Easy J'onn, easy. I got you," Superman said as he caught J'onn, easing him back onto the bed.
This had, of course, pulled all the attention in the room back J'onn's direction.
"J'onn doesn't look so good, you guys," Flash said.
"I'll be fine. It's just a small dizzy spell. Nothing to be worried about," J'onn said.
"This is something we should all be worried about."
Flash yelped as Batman suddenly appeared at the door to the Medbay. Ignoring the speedster, Batman walked over to stand in front of J'onn.
"Batman! Did you figure out what that thing inside J'onn is?"
'Something is inside me?' J'onn frowned.
He hadn't really noticed anything different about himself…nothing aside from a vague displacement to his center of gravity and that warm sensation in his midsection, at any rate.
"You didn't notice it, then," Batman said, noting J'onn's expression and addressing him directly, "I suspected that might be the case. The creature has more than enough neural connections to your brain that it could easily erase any sign of its existence."
"Creature? You mean that there's something alive inside of J'onn?" Hawkgirl exclaimed.
"It's a parasite," Batman explained, "I gathered a few samples of it when John first brought J'onn it. It was using the xenothium asteroid as a way to travel across deep space until it found a more suitable host."
"Well if you know it's a parasite, then why can't we just rip it out of J'onn? Who knows what it could be doing in there! We can't just leave it inside him," John demanded.
"It's too tightly embedded; any attempt to forcefully remove it would put J'onn's life in danger. It's an extremely adaptive organism…it's already changed itself on the genetic level to avoid triggering J'onn's immune system."
"Uh, question: how does a space parasite avoid triggering a Martian's immune system?" Flash asked, tentatively raising a hand.
"By altering fifty percent of its DNA structure to match the DNA of its host," Batman answered.
There was a long pause in the conversation as this thought processed. The Flash was the one to break the silence.
"So…what you're saying is that that thing inside J'onn is now half-Martian, half-asteroid-riding space parasite?"
"That's what he said," Hawkgirl replied, "Is that important?"
"It could be," Flash retorted.
Flash hesitated for a moment.
"Look, I'm confused about this, okay?" he finally stated, "He's a guy, but if Martians are like seahorses – help me out here, will you guys? Does this make J'onn the mommy or the daddy?"
After this somewhat disturbing idea had been broached, life for the Justice League took an interesting turn.
Batman had diagnosed J'onn's lightheadedness as being a symptom of hosting the parasite (the now half-Martian baby – uh, parasite). Simply put, J'onn's body needed more energy. Flash called it 'Eating for Two'.
The Martian Manhunter, formerly only needing minimal requirements in food, swiftly gained an appetite that rivaled Flash's. While Flash's hyper-fast metabolism would always have him needing more in quantity, J'onn made it up in quality; while J'onn outright refused to touch the pickles and ice cream Flash readily provided, he found himself very fond of Oreos dunked in spicy mustard for no explicable reason.
When there was an emergency that required the majority of the Justice League to handle, J'onn had remained back at the Watchtower. The presence of the parasite (the half-Martian baby parasite) hampered J'onn's shape-shifting ability to the point where it was unusable. The fact that it was so tightly bound to his nervous system also hampered his telepathy, to the point where J'onn began to feel as if he'd lost a sense.
The parasite (the half-Martian baby parasite) grew surprisingly fast; J'onn was visibly bulging in under a fortnight. As it grew, J'onn's telepathy loss grew worse and worse. During the middle of the second week he began to feel constantly queasy, until it got bad enough that he couldn't so much as stand the idea of holding down the slightest portion of food. Batman checked things out and discovered that there was a new problem at work.
Due to the fact that the parasite had been riding in the belly of a more or less solid xenothium asteroid, it had carried pieces of xenothium into J'onn with it. The xenothium was slowly poisoning J'onn, but it had done minimal damage to him so far, something Batman attributed to J'onn's Martian heritage; a human with that much xenothium in his system, Batman had told him flat-out, would be dead already.
"Is there something that can be done?" J'onn asked.
"The creature is the source of the contamination; we'd need to remove it immediately to prevent any permanent damage from the xenothium," Batman explained.
"But you've already said you cannot do that," J'onn pointed out.
"It's hooked into your nervous system and every vital organ. If it feels threatened, it could kill you in a heartbeat."
J'onn thought this over.
"Perhaps I can use my telepathy to render it docile while you remove it."
"I thought your telepathy was gone," Batman pointed out.
"Considering that this creature is connected to my brain directly, I believe I should still be able to make contact," J'onn assured him.
It was a very strange contact; the parasite was still throwing up interference to try and convince its host that it wasn't really there. Pushing past that interference took considerable effort, and J'onn had to focus his attention quite strongly to do so.
What he found shocked him to his core. He and the rest of the Justice League had assumed that they were dealing with an animal; it was a strange animal originating light-years distant, but an animal nonetheless.
That…was not the case. J'onn knew the feel of an intelligent mind when he touched one. This one was mostly quiescent, concerned with eating, sleeping, and little else. Still, there was something else, something almost like a memory –
There was once a simple species with great adaptive powers. Those powers saved them when their homeworld was engulfed in a brutal war and left dead husk. There was no future left on their world, so in hopes of preserving their people they encased their remaining young in asteroid shells and launched them into the depths of space. Their adaptability meant that the shells could be made from the toxic materials they had on hand. Each youngling had had the history of their species flash-imprinted into their minds, to ensure that when the young had grown they would know who and what they were.
But they had overestimated their own adaptive powers; in the asteroid the Justice League had detected, only one of the young had lived long enough to reach hospitable space. It had been weak, dying, and had done the only thing it could do to survive. It had invaded J'onn's body as a parasite, to grow big and strong enough to live on its own.
With the addition of J'onn's Martian DNA to its body, it had reached that point with amazing speed. And so J'onn held on to that tiny mind as Batman surgically removed the youngling. It was badly scared by the invasive procedure, and J'onn had work on distracted it.
When it tentatively reached back along that psychic link, J'onn found himself thinking of his Martian family. They had not had children…
"You took it out already?! Ah, man – I didn't even get to take any pictures! I brought my camera and everything…"
"It was major, highly-invasive surgery, Flash," John shot back, "Why in the world would you be taking pictures of it?"
The Flash shrugged.
"I thought it was traditional to get the miracle of life on tape. Speaking of which, where is the little guy? Or girl?"
"We haven't been able to determine a gender yet," Batman reported, not looking up from the console where he was working on just that problem.
J'onn, meanwhile, was sitting up in the bed in Medbay. In his arms was a mass wrapped in a white blanket. All that could be seen peeking out was a narrow, dusky-red colored face with no nose and four orange eyes.
"So…you're going to raise it?" John asked just to make sure.
"It shares half of my DNA. By most legal standards, that would make me its parent," J'onn replied, "I believe I will make a suitable parental figure…"
"That is so cute," Flash said, raising his camera and taking a picture of the creepy, yet heart-warming scene, "And since we didn't have time for a baby shower, I get to give little…J'onn's-half-alien-baby-thing his first present!"
J'onn and John both blinked as Flash handed over a box covered in red wrapping paper, topped with a yellow bow. Inside was a small and fluffy bright pink teddy bear. The button eyes were different sizes, the head was lopsided, and there was something which looked like it might've been intended to look like an Oreo on the chest. It gave John the willies, but J'onn carefully tucked it into the blanket next to the youngling as if it were the best gift ever.
"This is very considerate of you, Flash," J'onn said, "Thank you."
"Bet you didn't know I could sew," Flash smirked.
"As a matter of fact, I did," J'onn said.
"Huh? …Oh, right. Telepathic Martian. Almost forgot. Well, at least it's not like I just gave you a gift card or something, right?"
J'onn raised an eyebrow. How he did this while having no eyebrows, no one had figured out the trick to yet.
"Yes, but why in the world did you make it pink?"