Hello. This is Rider Paladin, writing the first chapter of "The Other Exiles." I got tapped to write the first arc of this storyline, and I thought it had promise, so I signed up. It helps that I like the characters involved, too. Here, the new Exiles will be going on a trip to a "different" version of the Kingdom Come universe.
Nobody involved with the writing of this story actually owns any of the characters involved. That's a pipe dream.
Description: The Exiles are a team of reality jumpers whose personal timelines have been fractured, often in ways disastrous to their futures. They have been assembled in an effort to repair damaged timelines and hopefully restore their own broken lives.
Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): In another world, when Buffy sacrificed her life to save Dawn from becoming the Key, she became a pantemporal being, existing across all times and dimensions. Still desiring to do good, Buffy recruited several heroes from different worlds for this task.
Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto): In the world he comes from, he really did kill Naruto Uzumaki in his attempt to defect from the Hidden Leaf. Consumed with guilt, he joins the Exiles to have a second chance to save his best friend.
Spider (Marvel Universe): An A/U Peter Parker who fused with the Venom symbiote to take vengeance upon the killers of his family in the wake of the revelation of his secret identity during the Superhero Civil War. He has joined the Exiles in a bid to save his wife, aunt, and child.
Rogue (X-Men): In her world, an unexpected feedback from phasing through Rogue fused Shadowcat with her, blending both mutants into one entity that still answers to the name Kitty, but has taken on many of Rogue's mannerisms and abilities. It is her hope that she can give Rogue her life back.
Sara Pezzini (Witchblade): In her world, the industrialist Kenneth Irons raised her as his daughter and his weapon, and her horror at what her "father" used her for led her to rebel against him and use the Witchblade to fight him. It is her hope that she can restore the lives she took under Irons.
Nightwing (DC Universe): An A/U Dick Grayson was the unintended beneficiary of a plot by Lex Luthor to steal Superman's powers. Accidentally imbued with Kryptonian powers, and unintentionally contributing to Superman's death, Dick is with the Exiles to restore Superman's life.
Tommy Oliver (Power Rangers): In the world he comes from, the Green Ranger was freed from the evil spell that controlled his mind, just in time to see what he'd done to the Rangers he had once hoped to befriend. Wracked with guilt, he joins the Exiles in the hopes of saving them from himself, especially a certain Pink Ranger.
"The Other Exiles"
Chapter 1: "Bite into the Rotten Apple"
Spider was the first to recover from the shock of the trip. He looked up at the blighted cityscape above him and muttered, "We knew all that pollution was going to kill this city eventually."
The next to recover was Sasuke, the boy with hair styled almost like a duck's backside. "Where are we?" he asked.
"New York City," Spider replied. "Looks like it, anyway." He pointed at the Statue of Liberty, whose head seemed to have been blown open. "Poor Liberty, we knew her well. Ok, not really."
The dark, smoggy clouds obscuring the moon could be seen . . . as could the source of the smog, namely freshly bombed buildings which remains was still burning. The streets were littered with the wreckage of military-issue motorcycles and tanks and civilian vehicles, not to mention rubble from the destroyed buildings.
"Damn . . . what in tarnation happened here?" Rogue asked.
"That's what I want to know," Tommy replied. "I haven't seen anything this bad since . . ." He trailed off, a haunted look in his eyes full of mixed guilt and rage, the kind of look that said that whoever was responsible for this was going to go down hard when he found them.
"Everybody who can go aerial better scout ahead," Nightwing said. He began rising into the air. "I'll take point."
Nightwing and Rogue lifted off and went into flight, gliding quickly and yet carefully, taking their time to observe the sights in this bombed-out version of NYC. Spider shot a string of sticky substance out of the back of his hand and once it was securely anchored to a sufficiently tall building, he lifted off and swung on it. This left Tommy, Sara, and Sasuke on the ground, walking.
"Stay sharp," Sara warned.
Just then, Spider shouted, "Incoming!"
That was the only warning they got before a rocket missile nearly cut down Nightwing and Rogue. Nightwing managed to scare it off by swatting at it, but that hadn't been the last of it. No, multiple rocket missiles were flying at the two in-flight superheroes, their number forcing them to dodge rather than just try to meet them head-on.
Sasuke saw the explosions in the air as Nightwing and Rogue outmaneuvered the missiles. "What kind of weapons are those?"
"Where'd you come from, kid, the Stone Age?" Spider mocked. "Those are missiles. The kind that turn you into a nice red paste if you get close enough without being tough enough."
The gem in Sara's bracelet glowed, and the metal of said bracelet expanded over her arm and spread to her body, forming a suit of almost organic silver armor over her clothes.
"I guess it's my turn," Tommy muttered, drawing a buckle from behind his back. The buckle was bronze with a gold coin set into the center and a red circular frame spelling "Power Ranger" around it. He thrust the buckle out, with the coin facing outward, and shouted, "It's morphin' time! Dragonzord!"
Immediately, green electricity and flame crackled around Tommy, and when it cleared, he stood transformed. Instead of his green singlet and black pants, he now wore a skintight green suit with white boots and gloves with green downward-pointing triangles extending from the cuffs. Completing the outfit was a silver-highlighted green helmet with a silver mouthpiece and a black visor framed by teeth, a gold shield with a diamond center around his chest, and the mysterious buckle now in the center of a white belt.
What kind of transformations are those? Sasuke wondered.
Nightwing held the Tallus to his mouth and asked, "Buffy, just what did you put us in the middle of?"
"War, Nightwing. I put you in the middle of a war."
Indeed, it seemed like a war, what with drone aircraft flying after Nightwing and Rogue and drone motorcycles coming at Sara, Tommy, and Sasuke on the ground.
"Would you look at that?" Spider asked. "They're ripping off Terminator!"
Tommy drew his dagger, which was a green blade that happened to look much like a flute, and moved into battle with the drone motorcycles, while Sara's armor formed sword blades from the backs of her hands. Sasuke began to perform hand seals, preparing for one of his signature Katon jutsu. The one he chose was . . .
"Katon! Goukyaku no Jutsu!"
The blue-shirted boy basically exhaled a giant fireball that flew right at the drone motorcycles, while Tommy and Sara jumped out of the way as the drones were consumed . . . and just rode through the fireball. All Sasuke had really done was set the drones on fire, and that wasn't really enough to stop them.
"Great. The one time 'kill it with fire' doesn't work, and it had to be now," Spider commented. "Thanks a lot, Sasuke!"
"Shut up and help!" Sara shouted at Spider.
"Anything for you," Spider retorted sarcastically, spraying his webbing as a thick net that halted the drones in mid-rush.
"Buffy, what are these things?!" Nightwing asked. "My heat vision isn't working on them!"
"Vehicular wardrones," Buffy replied. "A safety measure against this world's metahumans. They kinda . . . I dunno . . . laid waste to nearly the whole world."
"What?" Rogue shouted into the Tallus. "What about the X-Men? What about the Avengers? Don't tell me they weren't around to stop this!"
"The superheroes here would be the Justice League and the Outsiders," Buffy corrected. "At least, that's what they'd be called, if that was what they were . . . these days, anyway."
"What are you saying?!" Nightwing yelled, even as he evaded the aerial drones at high speed.
"I'm saying . . . the Justice League caused this."
"Are you kidding me?" Nightwing asked. "The League would never –"
Buffy cut him off. "This isn't your world, Nightwing. The realities here are different from what you know, and in this world, the reality is that the Justice League is responsible for this."
Nightwing forced his head back in the game. Now wasn't the time for panic. Now was the time to survive, as he performed acrobatic twists in the air at incredible speed to avoid the missiles coming after him and Rogue.
Back on the ground, some of the motorcycle drones had broken through Spider's web-snare and were now powering through after the assembled reality jumpers. "Katon! Housenka!" Sasuke exhaled multiple fireballs, striking the drones directly with each one.
Tommy held his Dragon Dagger to his mouthpiece and played a note that generated a wave of green electricity from the dagger and sent it running along the ground to attack the motorcycle drones. Sara used the Witchblade to form a sword that she used to slice the drones apart. Spider fired a massive spray of webbing to trap the drones.
"They come out again . . . they're not surviving that time," Spider vowed.
"I think we have bigger problems," Tommy said.
"You sure?" Spider asked. "Because Superwing and Kit-Kat Rogue look like they can handle themselves."
Sara formed the Witchblade into great batwings and launched herself into the air with a mighty jump. The aerial drones diverted their focus to her, but she outmaneuvered their assaults and cut through their missiles with her blades. This lasted until she got up close to a drone and sliced it apart.
The other drones moved to attack her, but Rogue punched one of them out of the way, while Nightwing kicked another. At that moment, Sasuke charged up a skyscraper and then positioned himself at the very back edge of the rooftop.
Having formed the blade of white lightning in his hand, Sasuke raced across the rooftop, dragging the blade along the surface, and lunged off to stab another aerial drone coming after Nightwing. The lightning blade pierced the aerial drone and ripped it almost cleanly in half, and Sasuke landed on the building across from the one he'd jumped off.
"Not bad, Sasuke," Spider taunted. "You might just be worth something, after all."
"All you do is spray sticky stuff," Sasuke sneered. "I don't know what use you are."
"Least we didn't come out of a stupid anime," Spider retorted.
"Is he ever going to let up on that?" Rogue asked.
"No," Spider replied.
"Well, we'd better get out of here," Tommy said. "We've won for now, but there'll probably be more on the way."
"Just how are we supposed to get anywhere?" Spider asked. "We don't know where anything is, we don't know if this New York is anything like the New York I come from or 'Rogue' comes from . . . and we're being hunted down by Terminator rip-offs!"
Nightwing and Rogue landed. "We'll figure that out as we go along," Nightwing said. "Right now, we have to find someone who can help us. Buffy, do you have anything else for us on this dimension?"
"There is a resistance force," Buffy replied. "It's made up of metahumans, too. They're mostly second- and third-generation."
"Second- and third-generation?" Rogue asked. "Like, kids?"
"Yeah. Kids," Buffy confirmed.
"Kids," Spider muttered. "Now we know why we never had any."
"Let's just go already," Sara said.
The reality jumpers didn't go unobserved, thanks to the surveillance network established throughout the city. Several figures, hidden in shadow, looked at the footage of the reality jumpers.
"And just who the hell are those guys?" one asked.
"Canary, Hood, Flash – bring them in," another spoke up. "We'll find out who they are."
"Aye-aye, captain," a third assented.
Back in the city, the Exiles were on the lookout for another attack, when Spider shouted, "Look out!"
A lightning-like blur of red moved through the Exiles, knocking them down. "What the hell?!" Sasuke exclaimed, activating his Sharingan, but the blur was still moving too fast for him. He could identify that it was a redheaded girl in a black leather jacket over a gold-trimmed red outfit, but like Rock Lee had once said to him, being able to see who was attacking him was pointless if he wasn't fast enough to keep up.
A Flash, Nightwing thought as he began moving at super-speed himself to keep up with her. "Why are you after us?"
"Nothing personal," the Flash replied. "I've got a job to do."
Nightwing and Flash began to fight, exchanging blows at incredible speeds that even Sasuke could barely see, let alone hope to match. Just as the others were about to get up again, Spider found himself dodging bullets. Without really thinking about it – his spider-sense took care of things like that – he fired a glob of webbing in the direction he sensed the gunfire coming from.
"Damn it!" he heard a female voice shout. A second later, he heard the clang of a discarded gun. Before the gunslinger could even fire, Spider charged and decked her. His spider-sense went off again before he could get a good look at whom he'd just punched, and he ended up dodging a sword swing.
Spider managed to get a good look at his newest assailant, a petite blonde in a black leather jacket, something that looked like a one-piece swimsuit, fishnets . . . and a sword blade protruding from her forearm. "And who the hell are you supposed to be, Lady Samurai?"
The blonde simply jumped up and kicked him in the face, then pressed her advantage by swinging her blade at him. Spider simply clapped his hands on either side of her blade, stopping it. He then kicked the blonde in the gut, sending her flying . . . only for her to flip backward and land on her feet.
When she attacked again, Tommy and Sara blocked her with his Dragon Dagger and her Witchblade. The leather-clad blonde slashed Tommy with her arm-sword, not managing to cut through his armor, but still stinging quite a bit. This left Sara to fight the blonde by herself.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"Black Canary," the blonde replied, just as she attacked Sara.
Just then, Rogue came up to Spider. "You all right, sugar?"
"We'll live, Kit-Kat," Spider answered. His spider-sense went off again, and he dodged more bullets coming from the gunslinger, whom he could now tell was a redheaded girl wearing a red hood and red-tinted sunglasses. "Who do you think you are, Lady Cyclops?"
Rogue was dodging bullets as well, but one grazed her. Normally, she would have been able to laugh it off . . . but this one really, really stung. "What the –?!"
"Armor-piercing rounds," the gunslinger explained tersely.
"Katon! Housenka!" Sasuke began shooting fireballs out of his mouth at the gunslinger, but she dodged them and returned fire with her guns. Sasuke attempted to dodge, but one of the bullets caught him in the shoulder. "What!? What's going . . ."
"You've been shot," the gunslinger answered. "With a bullet. Where do you come from that you don't know about guns?"
Sasuke gripped his bleeding shoulder and triggered his Cursed Seal, the red flame-like marks spreading over his body and hardening into black tattoos. He held his bloodstained hand and formed a second Chidori in it, then charged the gunslinger, fully intending to repay her for the injury he'd suffered. The gunslinger shot at him, but this time Sasuke saw her bullets and dodged them as he made his way toward her.
The thing that stopped Sasuke from impaling the gunslinger with his Chidori was the Flash deflecting it with a chop to his wrist and then kneeing him viciously in the stomach. Sasuke snarled and, while it was still active, turned the Chidori on her, which the Flash grabbed and absorbed!
"What . . . are you?" Sasuke asked.
"Explanations later," Flash replied. "You're coming with us."
"I don't think so," Rogue said, tapping Flash's shoulder. Flash used her speed to skip behind Rogue and then throw a "hurricane kick" faster than Rogue could dodge. Another "hurricane kick" knocked down Sasuke alongside Rogue.
"Thanks for the save," the gunslinger commented sourly.
"Sure thing, Hood," Flash answered with a slight smirk.
Just then, Nightwing came up from behind her. "I thought you were running away at first . . . but you were saving your teammate instead."
"Your boy's a loose cannon," Flash remarked.
"You were trying to kill us," Spider commented.
"If I really did want to kill you, you really would be dead," Flash retorted.
"Speaking of 'dead,' what about Little Red Riding Hood?" Spider asked. "She was shooting at us."
"And if you'd been hit that easily, you wouldn't have been worth the effort," Red Hood rejoined. She kept her gun hand in a relaxed but ready position, aimed right at Spider.
"Canary!" Flash called. "You can stop now. We won't get anywhere fighting them."
"You sure?" Black Canary asked, even as she blocked another slash from the Witchblade.
"I'm sure," Flash confirmed.
"Sara! You can stop, too," Nightwing called. He turned to Red Hood. "And as for you . . ." A wing-styled shuriken flicked out from his wrist and he snapped it out at Red Hood's gun, knocking it out of her hand.
"What the –?" Red Hood uttered. "What the hell was that about?"
"I don't like guns," Nightwing stated. "Now. What do you want with us?"
"Considering that the six of you are walking out in the open in a warzone, it's only going to be a matter of time before the Justice Pricks find you," Red Hood replied. "I mean, we're just using equipment pirated from them, so imagine what they could do."
"Our mission control said something about the League being responsible for the mess we're in here," Nightwing said, as the other still-conscious Exiles gathered around him. "What did they do that made the world turn out like this?"
"You wanna know?" Black Canary asked. "Come with us. It's not safe here."
"You sure about this?" Spider asked. "Because we don't trust you one bit."
"Spider . . ." Nightwing responded. "We don't have to trust them. But we might be in more danger out here than we would be with them. I'm willing to take my chances. Are you?"
"That's why you're the Fearless Leader," Spider quipped.
The Exiles and the Canary-Hood-Flash trio arrived in what looked like a hollowed-out subway station. "This is your base?" Spider asked.
"It's a lot cooler than it looks," Red Hood said. "Hell, why do you think the League of Dicks hasn't found us yet?"
"Yet?" Tommy repeated, having powered down his Green Ranger armor.
"It's only a matter of time," Red Hood answered cynically. "I intend to go down kicking ass when it happens."
"Very optimistic and hopeful of you," Flash drawled sarcastically.
"There you are," a deep, almost sinister male voice greeted. "It's nice to meet you."
The Exiles and the Canary-Hood-Flash trio turned to see that they were not alone by any means. Standing before them was a man in a full-faced pointy-eared mask with glowing white lenses and black body armor with a dark blue bat symbol across his chest and back. If Nightwing hadn't known better, he would have sworn that was this universe's Batman.
Beside "Batman" was a Tamaranean woman in what appeared to be a black-and-purple one-piece styled after the Nightwing costume, only with plunging cleavage and Tamaranean battle braces. There was an armored man whose suit resembled a blue-black Atlas beetle. Another was a shadow simultaneously more solid and more insubstantial than the other shadows surrounding them. Beside the shadow was a woman in a black-and-white outfit with a green flowerlike symbol over her chest and green skin.
"So who are you guys supposed to be?" Spider asked mockingly. "The Amazing Super-Friends?"
"The resistance," "Batman" replied. "So who the hell are you, and what were you doing wandering out there in League territory?"
"I still don't get this," Nightwing said. "The League. Why are they the danger here?"
"I don't know what kind of idiot you're pretending to be, but I'm not falling for this," the shadow snarled, making a move to attack Nightwing.
The green-skinned woman held up a hand glowing with green light to stop him in his tracks. "No, Obsidian. We're not going to get answers this way."
"So how about we just simmer down and talk it out all grownup-like?" Rogue suggested.
"Batman" nodded, turning to the others. "You mind?"
"Still don't trust them," Red Hood grunted, "but whatever. Your call, Batwing."
"Batman" glared at Nightwing, looking at the symbol on his chest. "You wear his shield. Want to explain that?"
"Circumstances," Nightwing answered.
"Really?" a voice asked. "Circumstances are making you wear his symbol?"
Nightwing turned and looked at what appeared to be Kyle Rayner, who was in a costume Nightwing didn't quite recognize. There were familiar parts, such as the armored fingerless green gauntlets and boots and the Green Lantern Ring on his right hand. The parts he didn't quite recognize were the white facemask with green-rimmed eyes and the white breastplate with a cracked green lantern in the center.
"Kyle?" Nightwing asked.
"You know me?" Kyle asked.
"Yeah . . . at least I did," Nightwing replied. He turned to "Batman" and glared at him. "I know you're not Bruce."
"How astute," "Batman" answered. "But that doesn't make me any less Batman."
"You don't get to call yourself that!" Nightwing exclaimed in outrage, about to lunge for "Batman's" throat when a black blur stopped him. Nightwing got a clear look at the boy, and a boy it was, no older than Tim Drake. He wore a skintight black suit with gold highlights and a gold symbol on his chest that simultaneously resembled a bat and a bird. A thin black domino mask concealed his eyes. "And who might you be?"
"Nightwing," the boy answered. "Who are you?"
The other Nightwing made a short clicking noise with his tongue. "That's a doozy. I'm Nightwing. You're Nightwing. How are we not going to get confused with each other?"
Nightwing took off his mask. "Because I'm Dick Grayson."
"Liar!" the dark-haired Tamaranean yelled, going for his throat almost immediately. "Dick Grayson is dead! I watched him die!"
"Not the one you know . . . whoever you are," Nightwing-Dick clarified. "I'm from a different reality than this."
"Different universe, huh?" Obsidian remarked. "That might explain why you're walking around wearing that guy's shield; you don't know what it means here."
"You keep talking about Superman and the Justice League like they're the bad guys," Nightwing-Dick said. "Why is that?"
"Because they are," the dark-haired Tamaranean replied, letting go of Dick's throat.
"Batman" looked at Dick and removed his mask, revealing a tanned, handsome face with sharp features framed by dark hair and accented by ice blue eyes. "This world's been in a bad situation for the past ten years. Metahumans running wild with no regard for life whatsoever, kicked off by Magog killing the Joker after the Joker gassed the Daily Planet staff for his usual sick laughs. When Kansas got blown off the map in one of their skirmishes, Superman and Wonder Woman decided to reform the Justice League and bring back some order . . . only their order was even worse."
"Even worse? How?" Dick asked.
The other Nightwing looked at Dick. "They decided to take over the entire planet. Since the human race had welcomed the new 'heroes' on the block even knowing what kind of raging violence junkies they were, the League decided that they'd lost the right to decide for themselves how the world was going to be run. In other words, 'the strong must protect the weak, sometimes from themselves.' So was their justification."
"Looks like not all of you agreed with that," Spider remarked.
"Nope," Red Hood said. "Never liked anybody trying to tell me how to live."
"That's what happened?" Rogue asked. "Bunch of super-powered fascists decided to run the show themselves?"
"Yeah," Black Canary confirmed. "And anybody who disagreed with them was forced to go underground if they didn't want to get killed or sent to the Phantom Zone."
Nightwing-Dick took a step back, appalled. "How . . . how could things have gotten like this?"
"World went to hell," the armored Blue Beetle replied. "They got sick of it . . . and sick of the people they felt let it or made it happen."
"Now you're going to answer us," "Batman" declared. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"Who are you and where do you get off masquerading as Batman?" Dick retorted.
"I am Batman. That's all you get."
Dick tensed up, ready to fight, but the other Nightwing held him back, along with Rogue and Sara.
"Aww, man," Spider moaned. "We wanted to see a showdown."
"Batman" put his mask back on. "That's enough. Nightstar, Lantern, Beetle . . . take them somewhere they can sleep it off. We'll deal with them in the morning."
"Sure," the Blue Beetle said, escorting the Exiles to some available sleeping rooms alongside Nightstar and Kyle.
"He's actually kind of cute," Red Hood remarked.
"Who?" Black Canary asked coyly.
"Who do you think?" Flash asked. "The Hunk Wonder himself."
"Yeah . . ." Black Canary agreed with a smirk. "And the best part? This one's young enough to be my brother."
"Olivia, we know damn well you've got nothing sisterly in your head for him," Flash commented.
"You guys!" Nightstar exclaimed. "He's my father!"
"Not in his universe," Red Hood amended. "Hell, he's too young to be your father, anyway." She popped some gum into her mouth and chewed it.
"Well, father or not, I'd still love to go a few with him," Flash remarked.
"Iris, you're shameless," Nightstar growled with playful irritation.
"You only say that because you've got Batman," Flash drawled.
"What Batman and I do is none of your business," Nightstar retorted.
"Then you shouldn't have a problem with what we want to do with Super-Hunk Wonder," Red Hood rejoined with a smirk.
"I'm just gonna sleep," Nightstar groaned. "Listening to you three talk about my father like that is going to give me nightmares . . ."
"Or really sweet dreams," Black Canary purred.