4 Justice League Darkness
And I'd give up forever to touch you
`Cause I know you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now
And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
`Cause sooner or later it's over
And I don't want to miss you tonight
And I don't want the world to see me
`Cause I don't think they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am.
And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies.
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive
-Goo Goo Dolls
Red Tornado's "innards" were exposed. The outer polymer skin that covered the android's body was stripped back while Mr. Terrific sought to repair Red's damaged core systems. Praxis's warning that the Tornado Champion elemental dwelling within Red's chassis was feeling trapped hurried him along. The revelries had ended two days ago and he'd been hard at it ever since. He was almost there. The burned out microcircuitry had been replaced and everything tested out fine. He was refastening the polymer and flipping the switch…
"That certainly took long enough." Red said as he moved into a seated position, "My chronometer indicates that I was out of action for three days. Was there a problem?"
Terrific was nonplussed. Red Tornado always seemed to be on the verge of being alive but crankiness was a new one for the android. Tornado wheeled on him, "Well? Was there?"
"I…" Mr. Terrific tried to speak but Red cut him off, "Do you know what it's like to be trapped inside your own body for three days? To be aware of what's going on around you but be unable to move or communicate? Do you?"
Mr. Terrific reached up to the reset button on Red's neck and pressed it. Tornado went slack and then he reactivated. This time he was cool and poised. In other words, he was his usual self, "Hello Mr. Terrific. My last memory is of New Delhi. Was I damaged?"
"Yes, you were." Terrific almost sighed in relief.
"Did the Legionnaires escape?" Red asked.
"Some of them did." Terrific informed him.
"That is a pity. Perhaps if I had been functional I could have done something to prevent that occurrence." Red Tornado hypothesized.
"I doubt it Red." Mr. Terrific reassured him, "You're all done here. Why don't you check in with Sue and see if there are any assignments with your talents in mind."
"Excellent idea. Thank you for repairing me." Red Tornado slid off of the table and walked out of the lab.
Now Terrific did breathe a sigh of relief. "Hopefully that won't happen again." He muttered.
Eight days later Mary was released from the hospital wing. Standing in the main hall she uttered the name, "Shazam." The lightning struck her and she became Mary Marvel. Conducting a self assessment, she determined that there was nothing wrong with her super powered form. She said the name again and returned to being Mary Batson. Mary Batson, however, had just gotten out of the hospital and deservedly so.
"Sucks to be you." Ray said from beside her.
She shrugged, "I had hopes. Too bad they didn't come true." She sighed, "But anyway, Sue arranged for me to have a room here in the Hall. The doctors want to see me constantly over the next few weeks so it makes sense to stay here."
"That's great." Ray blanched after hearing his own words, "I don't mean that it's great that you have to see the doctors but it's great that you'll be around. We can still hang out and… Well, you know what I mean."
Mary smiled, "Yes, I do." She kissed him on the cheek, "Now to find that room."
"Does it hurt to walk?" he asked since she'd shuffled her way to the main hall.
"Ohhh yeah." She winced as she took a step.
"Let me get someone with a wheelchair." Ray suggested.
"No." Mary was adamant, "I have to do this eventually. Now's as good as ever."
"If you're sure." Ray was dubious.
"Of course I'm not sure but here goes…" Mary began shuffling again. It took a long time with rest breaks to reach her room. By that time it was time to eat. Mary refused to travel to the kitchen. Upon hearing this L-Ron gathered up trays for the pair and delivered them to her room. They were both immensely grateful and the little guy was just happy to help. He ended up helping a few more times before Mary recovered her strength enough to get food on her own.
Kara brought several changes of clothes and did her laundry for her. She also brought books, music, and homework. Mary appreciated the former and loathed the latter. She started cracking the books though and with Ray's help soon caught up with her classes.
It took four weeks before she was off of the doctor's follow-up list to return to the women's dorm on Manhattan's 5th Avenue. In another four she was cleared for active duty and Ray got his casts off. He'd almost went insane from the itching. She exfoliated his legs before he took a shower which still lasted for 45 minutes. His leg muscles were weak and withered from lack of use. The League doctors gave him a referral to a physical therapist near the UCLA campus and he readily made an appointment.
Mary and Kyle escorted Ray back to L.A.. Luckily, he had a small apartment there rather than a dorm room. When they entered they discovered a God awful smell. Ray hadn't dumped his garbage or finished off his dishes before being injured in the line of duty. Kyle hadn't done them either when he dropped by to grab some of Ray's clothes. Now they were covered in mold and/or decaying into morbid gore.
Mary took charge and had the boys hopping. Kyle took out the trash while she washed the dishes and Ray dried and put them away. Next she dusted while Ray vacuumed. She was almost amused by the fact that it was his turn to hobble around. Kyle threw away expired food from the fridge and then did laundry and surprised everyone with the fact that he knew enough to separate colors and knew what temperatures to wash at. To their incredulous stares he merely said, "What?"
When the work was done, Kyle used Netflix movies on demand to rent a show. Mary prepared snacks from what was salvageable from Ray's meager stores of food. She and Ray cuddled while Kyle moped because Kara was unavailable. It was a pleasant, lighthearted day. When it ended, Mary said her goodbyes.
"I'm sorry I have to go so soon but I have someone to see." She apologized.
"No problem. Say high to Dr. Vashti for me." Ray said.
Mary gave him a strange look and then flew off. She disappeared into the sunset and Kyle noted something, "Mary lives in New York, right?"
"Yeah, so?" Ray was oblivious.
"Then why is she flying west when she lives on the East Coast?" Kyle brought it home.
Ray was stumped.
Mary crossed the Pacific and came in over Asia. Pressing onward she eventually came to the Caspian Sea and the country of Bailya. She'd made a promise to Black Adam that she would visit and here she was. The country was in the wee hours of the morning as she landed on front of the Royal Palace's gates. Challenged by the guards, she told them she wanted to see Black Adam. Seeing as how he didn't need sleep in his Marvel form, she knew he'd be available.
Mary was quickly ushered into the palace itself. A major domo met her and escorted her to Adam's private office. Inside was the Marvel himself and Galatea. Mary had called Galatea earlier in the day and requested that she be here when Mary visited. Tea looked uncertain while Adam could guess what Mary wanted.
"Welcome child." He said as he led her to a comfortable chair. Tea occupied the seat next to hers. Adam leaned against his desk, "I see you have at long last accepted my offer of tutelage. But tell me why?"
Mary haltingly described Darkseid's invasion of her being. When she'd finished she added, "I feel him eroding my very soul. I live with his 'quiet darkness' curse every day. His spirit is inside mine and I don't know if I can control it. You've mastered the darkness inside of you. Or at least mostly mastered it. I need help and you're the best qualified to give it. I need you to teach me the Path of Absolute Justice."
"It is a hard path. You must be prepared to give your all. Ask Galatea." He suggested.
"Tea?" Mary queried her.
Galatea nodded, "He's gonna challenge everything you know and believe. There will be hard choices ahead. Including a few you won't want to make. I reconciled my choices but I know you won't make the same ones. Don't be afraid to follow your heart. Let it be your guide."
"I see." Mary said but Tea knew she really didn't fully realize what would be expected of her.
"Can you commit? Will you commit?" Black Adam asked.
"Yes. I can." Mary declared.
"Then return here tomorrow after my country reaches midnight and we shall begin your training." Adam decided.
"Tomorrow?" Mary repeated, "But I thought…"
Adam smiled indulgently, "You need a day to come to grips with what you have pledged yourself to. It is one last chance to pull out as it were."
"I won't quit. I'm not afraid." Mary stated resolutely.
"You will be. But come child, let me show you out." Adam walked her all the way to the grand foyer, "I look forward to tomorrow."
"So do I." she said and then she exited the palace and flew back to New York.
Galatea approached from behind Adam, "You'd better know what you're doing."
"What do you mean?" Black Adam wondered.
"If you hurt that girl or corrupt her, I'll kill you." Tea vowed.
"I doubt I will be able to corrupt her any more than Darkseid already has." He replied.
"Fine. Just remember, I'll kill you." Tea said and then she followed Mary's exit.
The Black Marvel considered her words. She might just be powerful to carry out her threat. He honestly didn't know. The thought invigorated him. There were times when his soul ached from his 5000 year lifespan. He knew he didn't have a death wish but still, he sometimes longed for the peace of the afterlife. He brushed these thoughts aside and concentrated on what was important.
Child, I shall show you how to conquer your inner darkness by learning to embrace its reality. He thought to himself.
a/n: There are a lot of acknowledgements this time around.
a/n: First off to my beta reader animeluverqueen. She made the experience of having a beta reader a delight. She accepted the extra workload and told me where I messed up without equivocation. Her help was invaluable. Her specialty is grammar and she pointed out where I had royally screwed the pooch. All mistakes in the work are mine alone and usually a result of my being too lazy to check the work one more time.
a/n: Next comes Paul Levitz. In the 1980's he wrote a Legion of Super Heroes story arc called the "Great Darkness Saga". It originated the idea of Daxamites gaining super powers and being held under Darkseid's control. Without that core concept I wouldn't have been able to shift it a thousand years into the past and use a different super team. The original is available in a hardcover trade paperback that was just released. Check it out!
a/n: To the faithful reviewers – Thanks so much. You encouraged me and also let me know where I could improve things. It has been appreciated.
a/n: A part 8 & 9 are already planned for the series. We'll see if the plot bunnies breed enough to bring about Part 10.
Final a/n: Thanks for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it!