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Planet of the Bravest 5
Chapter 3: Change
Alex looked at the man whom claimed to be Jon Osterman in shock. Though he called himself Dr Manhattan, Alex could see the subtle resemblance between the man before him and the man fighting both Superman and Adam. But it was still a physical impossibility for Alex, whom though had heard of the idea of alternative dimensions had never truly believed in it. He was an atheist whom believed that there was only one life, no after life or god to reward or devil to punish just one life that couldn't be waste. Though he believed that he never thought he had been wasting his own life until quite recently, when he had become the wearer of a suit of armour. The said armour covered his body and he defensively aimed the blaster on his arm at Dr Manhattan. Osterman looked at the blaster curiously and then smiled.
"I see, you've adapted your armour's magnetic signature to counterpart my abilities, I cant control it, quite brilliant of you to have figured out how I can break objects apart," Manhattan explained.
"Who are you?" Alex asked.
"Someone whom slipped through the cracks in reality, but if you were looking for something more specific then I will explain, I am a version of the man trying to destroy your world, unlike him I came to a very different conclusion regarding how to protect the multiverse."
"Multiverse, you're suggesting that there is a whole universe of realities parallel to one another," Rikai said.
"Yes, that is the universal truth of existence, just as you are not alone in the universe you are not the only you," Osterman smiled as Alex shook his head in denial.
"Impossible, where did you come from?" he asked.
"An Earth where I was the only super powered being in existence, but there were people you might consider heroes, vigilantes in masks, costumed adventurers, psychopaths in at least two cases," Osterman chuckled, an unnerving sight for Alex.
"Parallel Earths," a voice said behind Alex.
Alex jumped slightly and Osterman widened his eyes in surprise. Standing before them was Batman.
"Interesting I did not detect his approach, I must learn how he does that," Rikai said.
"You're from a version of Earth that has a different history to ours, yet a similar history to his aren't you?" the dark knight asked, motioning to the gigantic Doctor Manhattan.
"Indeed I am," Manhattan said. "I wonder could you be this worlds alternative to Nightowl or Ozymandias," he put a hand to his chin as he looked at Batman.
"Lets focus on the problem in front of us, Alex you can analyse Manhattan's atomic structure right?" Batman asked.
Alex nodded his head and looked towards the giant and his minions. Dr Manhattan looked at the boy curiously as he bought up a holographic equation.
"Most of his body is made up of Lithium with some bioelectric energy around it, but internally he's still human," Alex explained.
"Lithium," Batman hummed before tapping a few buttons on his gauntlets.
He then put a hand to his cowl, contacting his partner.
"Robin did you manage to integrate Freeze's gun into the batwing's missiles?" he asked.
"Yeah I did, what do you need boss?" Robin asked as he climbed into the batwing.
"Come over to Star Labs Metropolis and hit the big blue man with a freeze bomb!"
Jason smirked as he flew the Batwing out of the cave's hanger. Superman and Adam meanwhile continued to battle the gigantic Dr Manhattan, blocking energy blasts and countering with their own. Adam fired a blast of energy that actually harmed Dr Manhattan.
"What about those creatures he's creating?" Batman asked.
"They're made of Lithium, there's nothing alive about them," Alex said.
"Beetle," Batman once again put his hand to his cowl.
"Bats? How did you get my frequency, forget it what do you want?" Blue Beetle asked as he bought several people onto his airship.
"Does your ship have any supply of water?" Batman asked.
"I've got a hose but they aren't any fires around the place," Blue Beetle said.
"The creatures are made of Lithium," Batman said.
"I see, the chemical reaction of the water will turn them into steam, that's it," Ted Kord laughed in joy.
He rushed to the cockpit of his ship and activated the hose at the mouth of the whip. Jets of water sprayed onto the Lithium creatures, pushing them away from civilians and heroes alike before they exploded. The two manhattans looked at the exploding creatures in shock.
"A simple chemical reaction," the peaceful Manhattan said. "On my Earth I introduced Lithium batteries into cars, thus eliminating the need for petrol," he explained.
"Then you were an idiot, what do you think would happen if one of your cars got stuck in a flood or someone accidentally crashed into a river?" Alex asked.
"I never knew, or never cared," Osterman muttered.
"Exactly, you don't care about our reality, if you did you would have figured out a way to save the multiverse without sacrificing the precious lives in it," the Sentry explained.
"You may have to kill my counterpart," Manhattan said.
"That's not how we do things," Batman glared at Manhattan.
The action was enough to make Manhattan step back. Whoever Batman was, he was nothing like Nightowl and definitely not Ozymandias.
"In my universe I didn't care about life, but then I had learnt like now how even the simplest of things can be revolutionary. The simple impossible act of a woman choosing to love a man, a terrible man and giving life to a good woman was what inspired me to help protect my world…but we were too late, when I stumbled upon another version of my Earth I tried to convince my counterpart to save his world before it was too late, but I hadn't counted on just how different my world was from his, how different he was from me," Manhattan explained.
"That's the base theory of the Multiverse, there are many Earths some significantly similar, others significantly different," Batman said.
"Indeed," the blue man sighed.
The batwing suddenly flew over Star labs, firing a missile towards the giant Manhattan. But the blue man fired an energy blast at the missile, blowing it apart. Robin flew around the giant, barely avoiding his hand.
"Well that worked out well, any other plans boss?" the boy wonder asked.
"He has an energy field around him, that's probably why he wouldn't blow up on a rainy day," Batman explained.
"An energy field, we cant get rid of that because its raw energy coming from a person, its part of his physiology," Alex said.
"My other self was helping a man on my world commit mass slaughter because he believed that people needed to be sacrificed for the good of the world," the pacifistic Manhattan continued to explain the events that had led him to that Earth.
"Then he doesn't know a damn thing about life, you don't sacrifice countless innocents like that," Alex snarled.
"One part for the whole!"
"What exactly was happening on your Earth that made mass slaughter a necessity?" Batman asked.
"Boss you cant possibly be condoning what this guys done can you?" Robin asked over the radio.
The boy wonder widened his eyes as the aggressive Manhattan appeared in front of the cockpit.
"You think you can blow me up with a water missile? I have slaughtered thousands, there's no discernible difference between a thousand dead bodies over a million dead bodies only the number of particles," he explained.
"I'm not even going to talk about how wrong that is, but I do have one famous quote from a certain actors last decent film," Robin smirked as he pushed one of the buttons on his console.
The windshield suddenly opened, striking Manhattan's chin. Robin brandished an electrified knuckle-duster and slammed it into Manhattan's cheek.
"GET OFF MY PLANE!" he yelled as Manhattan rolled off of the jet.
Superman delivered a flurry of punches to the giant Manhattan's face and then flew upwards as Adam fired a blast into Manhattan's chest, burning it.
"He's mimicked my energy, he can kill him," Osterman said.
"No, that's not how we do it," Alex retorted.
"Tell me what happened on your Earth," Batman said, gripping Manhattan's shoulder.
The pacifistic man sighed as he looked at his more aggressive counterpart. A world full of heroes, but they were all held back by their principles.
"Aggressions between Russia and America had escalated, they were getting ready for war. They had nukes and I was the only deterrent against those weapons, but Ozymandias, a friend and a former vigilante deceived the people of Earth into believing that I was its greatest danger, he then teleported a creature he had designed into New York, though it had died it had released a psychic wave that killed most of the population. We were too late to stop Ozymandias, but we had found out that his intention had been to unite the people of Earth against a threat that wasn't there."
"And united Earth was, troops were called back and Ozymandias celebrated, he was successful in stopping world war three, or rather the nuclear war that would have destroyed all life on the planet. But still, Ozymandias had committed mass murder, the debate of what we had to do next was very short, if we had told the world what Ozymandias had done then we would have risked restoring the conflict, myself, Nightowl and Silk Spectre chose to remain silent…Rorschach however didn't, the others assumed he wouldn't be believed, I however felt differently!"
"What did you do?" Batman asked.
"I killed him, to protect the peace Ozymandias was going to create!" Osterman said.
Batman narrowed his eyes at Osterman. But the punch didn't come from him it came from Alex. The Sentry punched Dr Manhattan to the ground.
"Peace, you think that's peace, well how's about you listen to me, one constant in the universe is the preservation of reason, people will never turn to nuclear weapons like that, the world wont turn to nukes like that. They may war with one another, they may fight and hate one another but they wont destroy one another like that, do you know how I know that…because history showed me, people lived in fear of nuclear war during the cold war, we came pretty close, as close as your world came I'm sure. But when it came down to it the war never happened, there were some accidents with nukes but never a full scale nuclear war, because unless there's an Earth out there full of idiots people know that nuclear war isn't what saves nations, its what destroys the world," he explained.
"And even so, we find the way that doesn't involve killing, that's who we are, we never compromise, even in the face of Armageddon," Batman said.
"Never compromise," Osterman muttered, seeing a different man in place of Batman.
Alex looked to the evil Osterman as he batted Adam and Superman aside.
"Energy can't be destroyed or created, it can only change," Alex said to himself, remembering Lex's lesson from earlier.
He flew away from Osterman and Batman, formulating equations in both his head and on his HUD.
"I see, perhaps he can succeed where I failed," Dr Manhattan sighed.
"That's the Sentry, the man who protects no matter what," Batman said before he turned to Osterman.
But much to Batman's shock, the glowing blue man had disappeared.
"So that's what that feels like," he muttered.
The giant Dr Manhattan stepped over star labs, snarling as his burnt chest regenerated. The others heroes looked up at the man as he gathered energy into his hands.
"Nothing, NOTHING WILL STOP ME FROM SAVING EVERYONE!" he roared.
Alex suddenly flew in front of Dr Manhattan.
"We're A PART OF THAT EVERYONE!" Alex yelled.
He fired a blast from his hand, engulfing Dr Manhattan in an energy field. Firestorm and Adam looked up at Alex and the energy that had surrounded Dr Manhattan. It was as if light bulbs had lit up over their heads. The two nuclear-fuelled heroes flew either side of Alex and followed his equation; unleashing the same form of radiation Alex had designed his armour to unleash. Dr Manhattan grit his teeth together, more annoyed than harmed by the super heroes. He felt his body begin to shrink, something that shouldn't have been happening. His body was pure energy, it was eternal and no matter how much intelligence a person had they were no more a threat to him than the world's most intelligent insect.
"No, No, what are you doing, this is impossible this cant happen…my mind has been opened to every bit of knowledge concerning science, this is impossible!"
"That's what heroes do big blue, we make the impossible possible," Firestorm said.
"True, but in this case it comes down to Osterman not being as clever as he thinks he is, you're not pure energy, you've just been coated in an energy field," Alex explained.
"That we've turned into something else," Adam smirked.
Jon Osterman screamed as he did the day he gained his powers. He felt fear again and the knowledge he had before left him. The man fell to his knees, looking at his hands in shock, they were pale and brittle. He had been essentially turned into a normal human. The heroes surrounded the thin, pale bald man that was the real Jon Osterman.
"What have you done?" he asked.
"The energy field you were caught in gave you your powers, so I created an equation that would turn that energy into its opposing force, don't ask me to fully explain it because unlike you I can admit I'm no where near clever enough to explain it in a way that makes sense," Alex explained.
"He basically reversed the effects of the accident that gave you your powers," Batman said, stepping up between Guardian and Sandman.
"Police should be arriving soon, they'll get you some help," Superman said.
"Help, what do you mean help?" Osterman asked.
"Anyone who would risk a whole universe obviously needs help," Firestorm muttered.
Osterman lowered his head and Alex actually felt pity for the man. A part of him also felt pleased with himself, once again he had done something great, he had helped the League without one casualty. There was no risk of Adam going nuclear and star labs though damaged was repairable. He looked up at the sky optimistically and sighed in relief.
"Batman, I'm switching to stealth mode, we've got government aircraft incoming," Robin said over the radio.
The looked up, standing their ground as a vertical take off craft landed on the grass. A hatch on the side of the craft opened, revealing a military officer.
"Eiling, I thought he'd be retired by now," Adam muttered.
"Who is he?" Alex asked.
"General Wade Eiling, he ordered the experiment on me," Adam said.
"Nathaniel Adams, we've been expecting you," Eiling said, saluting the man.
Several armed soldiers flanked the general and despite how little a threat they were physically to the heroes, everyone with a mask was worried by their presence.
"Did you have something to do with this?" Alex asked, stepping up to the general.
"You're the Sentry right? You caused quite a stir with your declaration of an invasion coming, if its true," the general narrowed his eyes at Alex. "But that's another issue entirely, we're here for the captain," Eiling pointed at Nathaniel.
"You really think we're going to let you take him?" Alex drew out his weapons on instinct.
The soldiers gripped their guns tightly as they aimed at Alex.
"Enough, I'm going with them Sentry," Adam said.
"Adam no, these are the people responsible for all of this," Alex said.
"Maybe they are, maybe they're not, I know they're responsible for what happened to me, it doesn't matter what I think Alex I'm a soldier and I'm still a patriot, I'm not going to fight my country," he sighed before grabbing Alex's shoulder. "Besides someone needs to get the bottom of what Cadmus is don't you agree?" he asked, whispering to the boy.
Alex hesitantly nodded his head before allowing Adam to go.
"Good to have you back Captain, Sentry, Superman," Eiling grudgingly nodded to the heroes before turning back to his aircraft.
"Can Eiling be trusted?" Alex asked.
"No, he hates metahumans, but despite his headway with the army he cant be the one really in charge of Cadmus," Superman said.
"Lets hope Adam can figure out what Cadmus is, before they cause another catastrophe!"
Whilst many of the heroes stayed to help star labs with repairs, Batman and Robin returned to Gotham. After finding a secure place Alex deactivated his armour and resumed his visit. Professor Stein's research was relatively intact, and after a long discussion over the faults in the generator he was applying the firestorm matrix to, Stein gave Alex some advice in his studies and the assurance of his cooperation with Luthor at least in regards to alternative energy sources. Alex stayed away from Stein's young assistants however, prompting the man to give him some advice.
"You know there's a certain privilege in learning more from a student than they can from you, Ronnie taught me how to care about life, before he came along I had been stuck in my own head, thinking about revolutionary ideas without really caring about anything, that's the mistake I think Osterman made, he thought of everything as an equation, he never saw the value of something as small as a boy hanging out with his friends," Stein chuckled as Jason began yelling at Ronnie over a mistake he made.
"What are you getting at Professor?" Alex asked.
"Its not the things you learn that make you better Alex, it's the people you learn those things from, Lex Luthor is a good scientist but I wouldn't call him a good man," Stein sighed.
Though it gave him another reason to doubt Lex, Alex found Stein's advice helpful. He took a cab back to Lexcorp tower and presented his findings to Lex. The man looked through the notes Alex had taken, intrigued by how much Alex had learnt from just one visit to the professor. He was also glad to see Alex was unharmed.
"You could've easily have come back here boy but you didn't, you stuck around even when all that chaos with the metahumans had consumed the lab, well done, well done my boy," Lex walked around his desk and patted Alex on the shoulder.
"Thank you Mr Luthor, now I had a chance to analyse Professor Stein's research and I believe the Firestorm matrix is too unpredictable, but despite the faults in his generator I believe with some adjustments it could effectively utilise a new power source," Alex explained.
"We can discuss it tomorrow Alex, you should get some rest, I believe there is a hotel nearby you can stay at a few blocks from here," Lex said.
Alex nodded his head and walked out of the man's office. Lex smiled as he sat back at his desk, his windows once again darkened as his holographic communicator appeared. His associates appeared one by one.
"Ladies and gentlemen, as I believed Alex has already proven his use!"
Elsewhere, far from the eyes of everyday society, Osterman stood in a deserted warehouse with his colleagues. They were like him, people who had failed or had committed great sin. One was a man whom appeared to be normal, yet there was an air of mystery about him. The Stranger wore simple clothes that included a hat, cloak and a necklace made from thirty silver coins. Beside him stood a young woman with a red coat and hood, partly concealing a face with red markings on it. Above them floated the one with the most blood on his hands, a white spectral being in a green cloak and hood. But standing away from the group, his face concealed by shadows was the one Osterman trusted the most.
"They are the ones whom will protect the world, and perhaps even the Multiverse itself," Osterman said.
"They have their own problems to deal with, they do not follow the path of true justice," Spectre growled.
"No they're truly not compromising, they are remaining true to their beliefs," Stranger said.
"But wont that endanger the 52 Earths?" the woman asked.
A soft chuckle escaped the lips of the man in the shadows. The others turned to him; his bright blue coat and fedora made him the brightest thing in the room. He turned his face away from the shadows, revealing that he in truth had no face. Even with no eyes he saw, even with no nose he smelt and even with no mouth a fierce and hollow voice emanated from him:
"That is the Question!"
Next Chapter 4: Welcome to London
:) more famous characters introduced. Next time Alex goes to London to learn about magic from Zatanna, but gets caught up in a case from a certain chain smoking detective.