Welcome first time reader to my magnum opus. Yes this is a long, long story. But I urge you strongly to read all the chapters in the right order and to not skip ahead or otherwise you will be missing out on the sense of closure and character development I have been writing the past few years.
This is a DCAU fic set in a timeline where Destroyer did not end on the happy note as it did in the JLU. I will warn you right now, this is a story filled with character deaths so if you come here expecting everything to end happily while every character lives, you'll probably be disappointed. Additionally, I will be adding elements from the comics into this fic as well. While this story may be inspired by a recent storyline in the Batman comics, it is by no means an imitation or a retelling. Think of it as more of a merger between the DCAU with the comic universe.
Wonder Woman/Diana of Themyscira
with Metron the Observer
and Hades, Lord of the Underworld
I don't own any characters that belong to DC and Warner Bros so unfortunately I do not make any profit off this and do this as a hobby.
This is a long story with multiple arcs which I have listed below to make things easier for those who need to figure out where they left off.
Chapters 1-4: The End of the Seven
Chapters 5-10: Saying Goodbye
Chapters 11-13: The First Man
Chapters 14-17: The Mantle Returns
Chapters 18-21: The Great Amazon War
Chapters 22-25: Confronting Demons
Chapters 26-30: The Code of Honor
Chapters 31-34: Shayera's Choice
Chapters 35-39: The Land of the Free
Chapters 40-43: Oblivion
Chapters 44-47: Painful Memories
Chapters 48-51: Twilight of the Justice League
Chapters 52-?: The Dark Knight's Revenge
Chapters ?: The End of All Things
One Fateful Day in Metropolis in the year 2009...
A blinding light had hit Batman in the face.
"You're on," Batman replied to Lex Luthor who was next to him.
"I'll take some of that action," Superman offered sarcastically.
The trio watched as the recently resurrected New God Darkseid descended from his ship, undisturbed by the action happening around him. Batman couldn't help but internally feel a little nervous. Darkseid was a lot bigger and a lot more powerful the last time Superman had faced him. Batman hoped Superman realized that as well. Darkseid despite his massive size had gently floated onto the roof of the Daily Planet in front of the trio. His Parademons meanwhile had bowed at his descent onto the roof.
"I hope you appreciate Kal-El," Darkseid said dramatically in a hoarse voice while looking at Superman and ignoring the two mortals on the roof.
"That everything that happens from this point is on your head," the dictator said as he slowly walked closer to Superman.
"The skies will rain fire…the oceans will boil…the streets will run red with the blood of billions," Darkseid threatened. "Only then after your last pitiful hope is extinguished, will I end your life."
Darkseid's eyes glowed red.
"Let's go," he whispered evilly.
At that moment, Luthor had foolishly charged at the New God in rage.
Darkseid lazily lifted up a hand and a force field separated the two from each other. Luthor began to struggle and contort pitifully as he floated in the air. Despite the barrier, Luthor still tried to break through it even though his human strength was no power against Darkseid's.
"You destroyed Brainiac!" Luthor cried defiantly. "I'm going to make you pay!"
"Unlikely," Darkseid said calmly which sharply contrasted to Luthor's rising voice.
Luthor screamed as he was blasted off the roof.
Batman sighed and reluctantly went sprinting after Luthor. The man was responsible for so much tragedy, but Luthor was still their ally at the moment and Batman knew he wasn't going to stand by and watch anyone, including Luthor, get killed. Cursing his own moral code, Batman sprinted off the roof and dove after Luthor.
It didn't take long for the Dark Knight to catch the falling man. The minute he grabbed Luthor, he shot his grapple and swung around. They were heading toward a private office room. Batman closed his eyes in anticipation; this was going to hurt.
The two broke through the glass and were flung into the room violently.
Superman didn't really have time to think about Luthor or his friend who went after him. His priority was the villain in front of him.
"I'm more powerful than I've ever been," Darkseid warned, clenching his fists. "And the last time we met, you barely managed to hold your own."
Superman just glared back.
"Funny. That's not how I remember it," he taunted.
Darkseid didn't show any signs of hurt at that remark, but Superman could tell Darkseid's pride was annoyed by the slight.
"Allow me to refresh your memory," the New God said angrily.
Before Superman could react, Darkseid went up to the Daily Planet globe on the roof and picked it up with his superior strength without any struggle.
Superman couldn't help but groan inwardly. Why was it always the globe that had to get destroyed? He was sick and tired of putting it back on the roof. Darkseid slammed the globe onto Superman who tried to put his arms up to block it. But Darkseid's strength was too fast and strong for the Kryptonian to stop the globe.
Superman felt himself falling through every floor of the building as the globe kept pushing him down.
He struggled to regain control and tried to force it back up or at least stop its momentum. There were still people in the building, especially Jimmy and Lois and he wasn't going to let anything happen to them.
Superman could hear the faint screams as the Daily Planet staff moved to get out of the way of the falling globe as it smashed through the next floor. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Lois fleeing. She was smart enough to get out of the way of danger for once.
Batman got up to his feet at the same time as Luthor.
However the Dark Knight's senses picked up the faint sound of something happening a few floors above. Something big was falling…
Immediately he pushed Luthor and himself out of harm's way.
They both barely managed to avoid the falling Daily Planet globe as it kept falling through the floors of the building.
Batman briefly saw Superman trying to push the globe back up as it went down the next floor. Batman couldn't help but sigh. That was way too close. But Batman should have known better.
The ground, cracking from the impact of the globe's fall, had continued to crumble.
This time Luthor and Batman weren't so lucky and before they knew it, they both had fallen into the abyss after Superman and the globe.
Diana dodged the blasts from one of Darkseid's war machines. She was in China with a few League and Legion members along the Great Wall.
She managed to dodge another blast and roped her lasso around the machine. Using her Amazon strength, she grunted as she slammed it into a cliff face.
A part of her wished she was fighting Darkseid and not wasting her time with the small fry but she understood why. Superman was the only one who actually had a chance to defeat Darkseid. Her fight with Mongol about two years ago had taught her sometimes it wasn't wise to face a foe head on. She even had her limits although she probably had more than she cared to admit. What was bothering her was the fact Superman wasn't taking on Darkseid alone. She didn't care if Luthor went with Superman. If that idiot wanted to get himself killed, she wouldn't stop him. It was the other one with Superman she was worried about. Why would they let Batman, a man with no powers, try to fight Darkseid? Batman was gifted but she would have been better off than him and more likely to survive. She couldn't help but remember the conversation she and Batman had moments ago on their commlinks before Batman and Superman got ready to engage Darkseid.
"Bruce why are you doing this? Even you can't expect to survive a fight with Darkseid."
"I'm not going to fight Darkseid Diana, I'm just there to make sure Superman doesn't do anything stupid. You remember what happened the last time. He would've been killed if it wasn't for me."
"But no offense Bruce, I'm stronger than you. I would have a better job pulling Clark back," Diana pointed out, not caring she was still violating protocol by calling him by his first name.
"It's not just that," Batman whispered, his voice a lot softer. "I don't think that both of us are going to be able to come back together."
"What do you mean?"
"It doesn't matter who we send. The odds of anyone surviving an encounter with Darkseid are pretty much nil."
And Diana finally understood what was going on. Batman had volunteered to be ready to take a bullet for Superman. Tactically it made sense to her to have the one League member with no superpowers be ready to sacrifice himself if necessary to protect their only hope. It was like sacrificing a pawn to protect the queen in a game of chess. Still, even if the decision made sense on a tactical level, that didn't make it any easier for Diana to accept.
"Bruce you can't…"
"Diana," Batman said softly in a tone she rarely ever heard him use. "We can't have all the powerful ones giving their lives to save Superman. I'm the most expendable…"
"You are not expendable!" Diana shouted. She was angry at that remark. Why did he always have to think so little of himself? Did he never consider the feelings of those who cared for him?
"In this fight I am. All I can do is make sure Superman is around to stop Darkseid if he makes a mistake."
Taking a deep breath, Diana relented. As much as she wanted to complain more, the warrior in her understood the harsh truth of the situation. It was the only way Batman could be useful at the moment.
"Just be careful," Diana warned. She wanted to say so much more but now wouldn't be the time. The world was ending and they couldn't allow each other to be distracted by personal problems.
"Diana…" she heard Batman say her name slowly.
"Yes?" she asked in nervous anticipation. What else did he want to say?
There was an awkward pause on Batman's end and Diana couldn't help but grin a little. It was typical of Batman to be uncomfortable in moments like this.
"Good luck!" Batman blurted out quickly before the line went dead.
Diana shook her head.
"Same to you," she replied as she got ready to re-engage Darkseid's minions.
AHHHH!" a female scream broke through Diana's reverie like a knife.
Diana turned around and saw that Star Sapphire had been hit by a stray blast and was falling to the ground. The Amazon was about to fly after her but she saw Sir Justin on his winged steed going after the unconscious woman already. Diana couldn't help but give a small smile. And they said chivalry was dead. Diana turned around and got herself ready to combat the growing onslaught of enemies that were surrounding her.
Superman groaned as he felt the heavy load on him be lifted up by Darkseid. His costume was torn and he felt like he couldn't move at all. His head was spinning in circles and he felt like he would vomit any second. He could barely make out Darkseid who was standing over him.
"Don't leave us yet Kal-El," Darkseid whispered with mock gentleness as his massive fist wrapped around Superman's neck and pulled him up from the ground.
Superman weakly gasped and tried to break free. He could see that they were standing in what remained of the Daily Planet.
"I want you to see your adopted home world bow down before me," Darkseid commanded as he lifted Superman up higher by the neck. "Only then will I allow you death's sweet release."
Superman glared angrily but before either of the foes could react something whizzed by and embedded itself in Darkseid's fist. Superman noticed the mysterious object was small and black.
The object had quickly exploded and caused Darkseid to involuntarily release Superman from his grip. Superman coughed a little and saw through the smoke Batman and Luthor coming to his aid, both ready to fight whatever Darkseid would throw at them.
Luthor began shooting his plasma guns at Darkseid. The New God wasn't even fazed as his body just absorbed the blasts. It was going to take a lot more than that to hurt him.
"Parademons," Darkseid ordered to his mindless followers that were around him. "Dispose of these annoyances."
The Parademons began to swarm on the two mortals.
Batman sighed. Some things never changed. Quickly the two mortal men began to defend themselves from the Parademon assault. Darkseid stood by to watch it with mild curiosity. The New God was too busy observing the two mortals struggling to survive, he didn't notice that behind him, the Kryptonian had gotten back up. Superman took advantage of the distraction Luthor and Batman had caused and managed to get behind the New God.
"Excuse me," Superman said with mock politeness, tapping Darkseid on the shoulder.
Darkseid turned around just in time to receive a hook with the force of a freight train right to the face.
His massive body went flying and crashed into some rubble.
Superman calmly walked a few steps before taking off after his foe. If it was a fight Darkseid wanted, it was a fight he was going to get. Unnoticed by Superman, a figure was sitting on a floating chair in the distance with a grim look on his face as he watched the fight.
Metron sat in his chair and sighed. This wasn't supposed to happen and the future was in jeopardy now. The New God had seen how time was supposed to happen originally. He had dedicated his intellect and whole life to the study of time and space. Eventually, Metron had built a device that allowed him to see the future. This device enabled Metron to show up at certain moments in the timestream and observe important events of history, hence his title Metron the Observer. He chose the title observer because he knew the consequences of interfering in the past, present, and future. He was a scientist, not a meddler. Often Metron found himself on Earth which seemed to be a catalyst for important moments lately. In fact the machine that displayed the future showed Metron the android Brainiac's defeat on Earth years before the actual battle took place.
Metron still watched the actual fight between the Luthor-Brainiac hybrid and the founders of the Justice League live unseen. It truly was a battle for the ages. After the Justice League had defeated the Luthor-Brainiac hybrid, according to Metron's computer machine, that was supposed to be the end of Brainiac. But it was supposed to come at a price as all victories do; the hero named the Flash was supposed to have died.
Thus Metron was surprised when he personally saw the League pull out the speedster from the Speed Force, saving him from death. Metron's technology had foreseen that Flash would die not survive in the end. Even Metron with all his knowledge and studies wasn't sure why the machine did not predict this. He quickly assumed his machine hadn't taken in the unpredictable nature of the Speed Force into account when it projected the future. A fault that Metron put on himself. He should have accounted for more variables when he programmed the technology. But that mistake quickly proved to be more than a simple miscalculation. After the battle with Brainiac, the machine showed Metron not one, but multiple futures. It was unable to predict a definite future now. Nothing could be set in stone. The machine had not accounted for the unpredictable nature of the Speed Force so it couldn't clearly pin the actual projected future until more parameters were added. But that was the least of Metron's problems. Almost every possible future the machine displayed ended the same way; the death and destruction of reality by the return of Darkseid.
It didn't take long for Metron to deduce what had happened. When the League had pulled Flash out of the Speed Force, they had created a small window between the world and the Speed Force. In the Speed Force Brainiac tried to send out a call to Luthor to help him via the small window. Unfortunately for Brainiac, the window was closed before the signal could latch a stable control. But still, the damage had been done. A small fraction of Brainiac's signal had managed to embed itself into Luthor's brain, driving the mortal man into madness. Metron had watched as the man slowly became more desperate in his attempts to resurrect Brainiac due to the unstable signal in his brain. The man had remained completely unaware that he was just seeing a remnant signal of Brainiac, not the actual consciousness of the once mighty android. If only Luthor realized what he was doing when he tried to resurrect Brainiac.
When Metron saw Luthor engage in a last ditch effort to try to resurrect Brainiac by magic, the New God knew it wasn't going to end well. Metron even broke his own personal rule of remaining unseen and tried to warn Luthor, but it fell on deaf ears. And Metron couldn't do anything about it because he had vowed his whole life to never interfere directly. He would be willing to try to manipulate others to influence the timestream, but the New God himself promised he would never get his own hands dirty. After all, how could he hope to remain an impartial observer if he got himself personally involved? Soon Luthor made his mistake and brought Darkseid back to life instead of Brainiac, dooming not just Earth, but the universe as well. Yet Metron hadn't given up yet. Despite the fact that most of the futures that the machine had showed him ended badly, Metron saw one possible future that gave the universe a slim chance of survival. It was still a very slim chance. Metron already discovered the machine was faulty so he knew he couldn't trust it completely. He was basing his new plan on a possible, not definite future. Yet desperate times call for desperate measures.
All he needed was a sacrificial lamb to manipulate and steer into the right direction. Flash was supposed to die, so now someone else needed to die to save the future. Metron folded his hands as he watch the two mortals, Batman and Luthor, battle below him, mainly focusing on Luthor. All he needed was to wait to reveal himself to Luthor again. He would enact his new plan when Luthor would be desperate enough to do anything.
Diana, Sir Justin, and Star Sapphire, were doing their best to fight off Darkseid's army as they were slowly being surrounded. Diana's body was covered in sweat while her face was angry with determination and battle ready. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw an old man walking along the Great Wall of China. He must have been a civilian who hadn't evacuated yet.
"Get away from here!" Diana ordered. "It's not safe!"
"Don't worry," the old Asian man said calmly and undisturbed by the battle around him. "I'm here to help."
Diana turned around to fight some Parademons flying at her that she didn't notice the old man, with reflexes fast for his age, had managed to grab a Parademon's staff and send it flying with one punch.
"I appreciate your intention..." Diana shouted before the sound of a major fight caught her own attention. To her surprise she turned around and saw the old man was easily defeating the Parademons that had surrounded him.
"Hera…" she whispered amazed at what she was seeing.
She and Sir Justin watched as the man suddenly took off in the air and began to transform into something else. His body was replaced by a large glowing red dragon that was engaging a whole swarm of Parademons with ease. It swatted them away like flies.
The Parademons were easily dispatched in mere seconds. The dragon then flew up to the shocked Diana, Sir Justin, and Star Sapphire. Diana watched as the dragon began to change shape again, shrinking into the familiar image of a tall green man with orange eyes and a blue coat. Diana recognized him immediately.
"J'onn!" Diana cried excitedly and embraced her friend much to his surprise. She didn't care if the world was ending right now. She was glad at least she was able to see him again one more time before the world ended.
"Good to see you Diana," J'onn said softly as he returned the embrace. "I've got a lot to tell you about."
"We'll catch up later," she said happily.
"Wouldn't miss it. First things first?" J'onn asked, beckoning his head.
The group then flew off to attack more of the war machines with new inspiration due to J'onn's surprising return.
Batman shot a grapple gun at a Parademon and pulled the rope hard enough to send the mindless drone flying to the ground.
He hissed annoyed as he felt his shoulder pop out slightly. He slowly began to back up into Luthor who was keeping Parademons at bay by shooting them.
"Problem?" Luthor asked when he and Batman were back to back.
"I'm out," Batman admitted reluctantly. He was angry he didn't come more prepared.
Luthor presented one of his guns to Batman.
"Take my extra," he said nonchalantly.
Batman gave a disgusted look. He may be on the verge of dying, but he wasn't going to sacrifice his principles yet.
"Not my style," Batman said a little arrogantly and insulted at the same time.
"Suit yourself," Luthor shrugged. "I'm planning to live through this..."
The sudden shriek of an attacking Parademon interrupted the conversation and Luthor ducked to avoid it. Batman took advantage of the opportunity and grabbed the Parademon's staff and jerked it free from the monster's grip. The now weaponless Parademon went crashing down.
Batman then ran away from Luthor who had resumed his shooting of the Parademons. Superman was going to need all the help he could get and at least Batman had a weapon now.
Superman fought Darkseid on top of a giant pile of rubble. Together they were exchanging all the blows they had. But Superman knew what Darkseid said earlier was true. He was a lot more powerful than last time. Reaching back for another blow, Superman lunged forward only to find his punch falling into the big hand of Darkseid who clenched on it.
Superman struggled and tried to free his hand but Darkseid was too quick.
Darkseid head butted the Kryptonian, knocking Superman off his feet and onto the ground.
Superman groaned slightly as he saw Darkseid calmly stepping forward. That head butt had almost knocked him unconscious. He was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.
The minute Batman saw that Darkseid had managed to get a good blow to Superman and knock him down, it was time to act. He came here to ensure Superman wouldn't get killed so now it was his time to shine. Without even thinking, he kept running, jabbing the staff he had stolen from the Parademon to launch himself toward Darkseid like a pole vault.
Batman, using his momentum to his advantage, managed to knock Darkseid a good distance away from the body of Superman. Unfortunately, Darkseid wasn't completely knocked off his feet and had managed to regain his bearing. A lot quicker than Batman had anticipated. The New God was angry now.
"Flee," Darkseid whispered as he turned around and shot Omega Beams out of his eyes.
The omega beams came out faster than Batman had anticipated. For a half-second he had almost thought it was too late to react. But it was only for a half-second. Not minding the situation around him, Batman did a backward handspring, falling off into a lower level of rubble. If only Dick could see him now. Batman knew Omega Beams would follow their target relentlessly until it was destroyed. It was time to put that theory to the test.
As if fate was sending him a gift, a lone Parademon flew by Batman's side as he fell from the pile of rubble that Darkseid and Superman were on. Batman could hear the sound of the beams still chasing him. He needed to time this just right….
Batman managed to get on top of the Parademon just as he was about to hit the ground.
Wasting no time, he used the Parademon as a spring board and jumped away as far as he could. The Omega Beams weren't as quick as Batman and they hit the Parademon that Batman had used to cushion his landing before they could change direction.
Batman was still in midair from his jump when the beams had hit the unfortunate Parademon. The blast caught him off guard and sent him flying smack into a wall of rubble from the remains of the Daily Planet.
Batman groaned and fell to the ground, trying all his best to stay conscious.
"I'm getting too old for this…" Batman thought to himself as his world went black.
Superman opened his eyes and rolled over the ground to look over the edge. He looked over just in time to see Batman avoid the Omega Beams. He let out a sigh of relief. Batman was always too stubborn to die.
"Impressive," Superman heard Darkseid say who was looking down below at the unconscious Batman.
"No one has ever avoided my Omega Beam," Darkseid said with a little admiration for the one man who achieved a feat thought impossible.
Darkseid then noticed Luthor was in the distance shooting at a bunch of Parademons.
"I wonder if the other one is as agile," Darkseid mused and looked at Luthor.
Luthor saw Darkseid's eyes begin to glow red. For a second, Luthor froze, showing complete fear on his face. Then the man turned around and ran faster than Superman ever thought possible.
"Excellent strategy," Darkseid commented.
"Luthor!" Superman shouted angrily as he tried to get to his feet. He should have known better and not have trusted a self-serving coward like Luthor.
Darkseid turned around and kicked Superman before he could get up.
Superman moaned as he was knocked down another level. Before he even had time to catch his breath, Darkseid had landed nearby him.
"Your friends have abandoned you or fallen before my might," Darkseid said menacingly as he moved in closer to Superman, ready for the kill.
The New God proceeded to repeatedly beat Superman. Superman was trying to fight back and defend himself but Darkseid was too fast and strong. He healed a lot faster than Superman could ever hope for. Superman was barely even able to stand up.
Superman collapsed after the umpteenth beating he received from Darkseid. Darkseid then picked him up from the ground.
"Super or otherwise," Darkseid said calmly as he raised Superman's near lifeless body over his head. Superman could barely even hear his foe. His world was fading away.
"You're merely a man. And I am a god!" Darkseid announced as he brought Superman to his knee, cracking his spine.
Superman felt it pop and yelled in pain. It was a miracle his back didn't break. Darkseid tossed him aside like a bean bag. Superman continued to roll and moan as he was slowly losing the life in him.
Metron watched grimly as he saw Darkseid crack the Kryptonian on his knee. He winced a little when he heard Superman's cry and closed his eyes for a second in resignation when Superman was tossed aside. These events weren't supposed to happen. This timeline wasn't the future he had hoped for.
Metron turned to see Luthor had returned and noticed him. Good, maybe his last ditch plan had some hope after all.
"You knew this was going to happen!" Luthor replied angrily and arrogantly, seemingly forgetting that Metron had tried to warn him.
"This outcome was the most likely possible result of your foolhardy actions," Metron said coldly and with a little disdain. Luthor didn't sound desperate enough yet.
"You can help me! I demand that you help me!" Luthor complained.
"You are in no positions to make demands of anyone," Metron sneered as he navigated his chair around Luthor. "I warned you that you were dabbling with forces beyond your comprehension…"
"You would be surprised at what I can comprehend!" Luthor interrupted as Metron continued to slowly fly away on his chair.
"For instance if you know so much about Darkseid I'll wager you know how to beat him!" Luthor accused.
Metron tried hard to not smile. His plan was working. Metron suddenly stopped his chair.
"There is one possibility," Metron said dramatically turning around to look Luthor straight in the face. "One thing in all the universe that might…"
Metron stopped right there to pause for a second. It would be better play to Luthor's ego to ensure the man would take the bait. Metron turned away from Luthor.
"But no...the risk..."
"I know a little something about risk myself," Luthor interrupted with a mixture of anger and arrogance. "Care for an abject demonstration?"
Luthor pointed his gun at Metron, not even thinking that if it would even be able to harm a being that traveled through time and space on a chair.
Metron let out a satisfied grin. He had Luthor hook, line, and sinker. His manipulations had paid off. Soon the timeline would be set right and things would end up as they should have been. And the best part was, Metron wouldn't have to violate his vow at all.
"Very well," Metron said as he turned his chair around while smirking with smug satisfaction. "I will take you where you want to go."
Metron hit a button on his chair and a teleportation bubble surrounded both of them. In a flash they were gone, leaving the losing battle between Superman and Darkseid.
Batman was stirring when he heard the sound of moaning and punching. He looked up and he could see Darkseid was beating Superman back with ease. The Kryptonian looked like he had no life in him. It was only a matter of time before…
No! He wouldn't think that. He refused to! With new inspiration, Batman got up to his feet and sprinted at Darkseid. He wasn't going to let Superman die before him. Relying on pure adrenaline and willpower, Batman tackled the New God.
"NUNGH!" Batman grunted as he tackled Darkseid by the shoulders. Unfortunately, like the last time he attacked Darkseid, Batman didn't succeed in knocking his target down. Darkseid may have lost his balance for a second but he soon regained his bearing. Batman was now trying to choke Darkseid out even though it was hopeless; Darkseid's skin was too rough.
"You still try to fight?" Darkseid asked while feeling confused by Batman's unwillingness to give up.
Batman ignored the remark, even when Darkseid reached back and grabbed him by the head. Darkseid tossed Batman on the ground.
Batman hit hard and groaned as he rolled away from the New God, his body nearly broken.
"NNNGH!" he moaned in pain.
"Can't you see that it's hopeless?" Darkseid taunted.
Superman fell to his back just in time to see Batman attempt to tackle Darkseid. Superman was confused by that sight. What the hell was Batman doing? He couldn't be Darkseid physically head on. But then Superman came to a realization. Batman was doing all he could, even without powers, to beat Darkseid. The Dark Knight refused to give up. Superman then began to feel anger at himself. He was the most powerful member in the League and yet he was giving up? No he wasn't! With a second wind, Superman slowly got to his feet, ignoring the pain. He felt the rage boiling up in him as he saw Darkseid throw Batman aside.
With a new found inspiration, Superman flew at Darkseid just as the New God was calling the situation hopeless.
Superman had flown at Darkseid with such surprising renewed speed and energy mixed with anger, that the New God was completely caught off guard. Darkseid was knocked off his feet and skidded a good fifty yards. But Superman wasted no time. Despite feeling like he was going to pass out, he made his way to the New God. As Darkseid slowly got to his feet, Superman responded with another quick punch.
Darkseid was again caught off guard and flew into a wall. Superman grabbed him by the throat tightly. He was angrier than he had ever felt. All that bottled up rage he had been keeping buried, always afraid it would make him lose control, was being released. A part of him was afraid what he was doing. He never lost control like this. But Superman didn't care at the moment. He wanted to punish and stop the tyrant before anyone would get hurt again. Besides, it felt good to let his anger out for once.
"That man won't quit as long as he can still draw breath. None of my teammates will!" Superman responded angrily. "Me? I got a different problem…"
Superman reached back and began to throw a frenzy of powerful punches at the villain until he had forced the tyrant through the wall.
Darkseid groaned as he fell backwards into the streets of Metropolis. Superman triumphantly stepped out into the sunlight, ready to use all the power he ever had as his cells absorbed the energy from the Sun.
"I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard," Superman explained as he walked closely to his foe who was struggling to get up. "Always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control. Even for a moment, someone could die."
Darkseid was trying to get to his feet and glared at Superman who kept bravely stomping toward him. He tried to throw a fast punch but it was block. The New God received an aggressive upper cut to the face.
Darkseid went airborne and flew across the street.
As Darkseid angrily tried to get to his feet again, Superman continued his rant.
"But you can take it. Can't you big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you, just how powerful I really am," Superman announced as he got into a fighting stance.
And with such speed to the surprise of someone as fast as Darkseid, Superman suddenly flew at the New God throwing one mighty punch so fast and so hard, it sent a shockwave around the two fighting giants.
CRASH! CRUNCH! CRASH!
Darkseid went flying into the air across the entire city. He was flying through all the buildings of Metropolis. He hadn't expected Superman to suddenly show this much strength. But Superman wasn't done yet. Using his powers of flight and speed, Superman flew onto the other side and right into the path of Darkseid as the foe flew through another building. Superman calmly waited as Darkseid out of control flew towards him. Lifting up both his fists and clenching them tightly, Superman slammed down on Darkseid when the New God got close.
The force of the blow sent the New God violently falling to the ground with so much force and speed, the impact on the street caused a crater. Smoke and debris flew everywhere. Truly this was the most power Superman ever showed. A part of him felt relieved. It felt like he had just lifted a huge weight off his shoulders. But he knew it wasn't' over. He slowly descended to the crater when the smoke cleared to see Darkseid, despite taking the massive beating, was still alive. But the New God was showing signs that he was weakening finally.
"Had enough?" Superman taunted, ready to cut loose even more.
"Not…quite…yet…" Darkseid whispered weakly as he slowly turned around, daring Superman to attack him again.
Superman charged out ready to deliver another mighty blow. But it was here when Superman made his mistake. He had in his anger lost control. It may have been aiding him in his fight, but it also had been making him not think as clearly. He should have expected a trap from Darkseid. Superman was about ten feet away from Darkseid when the alien tyrant threw an electrical ball of energy at the charging Kryptonian.
Superman screamed as the electricity hit him.
He tried to fight through it but he never felt this much pain before. He felt like he was on fire. He couldn't move his body because of the shock going through all of his nerves. His fists clenched tightly against his will as his limbs jerked and contracted all over the place. He fell to the ground as the pain continued. There seemed to be no end to it. He wasn't even aware that he had been screaming this whole time as well. He was so distracted by the pain.
"It's called the agony matrix," Darkseid gloated. "Direct neural stimulation of pain receptors. All of them."
The New God began to slowly trot to his defeated enemy.
"Imagine the worst pain you ever felt in your life, times a thousand. Now imaging that pain continuing, forever," Darkseid narrated wickedly as he walked over to a squirming Superman.
Superman was trying to fight but what Darkseid said was true. This was the worse pain he ever felt.
"Oh that's right," Darkseid said with mock realization. "You don't have to imagine it."
Somewhere in the Universe
Metron used his Mobius Chair to transport Luthor to their intended destination. This plan was very risky and a long shot but it was the best plan he had. The machine had showed him that this was the only way to stop Darkseid. This was the only possible future where Darkseid would be defeated. Metron couldn't help but feel a little smug at how Luthor gasped at amazement at what they were approaching. He had led Luthor to what looked like a wall. Except it seemed to go on for infinity at both directions. The wall was decorated with many ugly carvings of heads. But somehow it still sent an aura of menace, wonder, and fear at the same time.
"Behold the Source Wall!" Metron said with hints of dramatic overtones in his voice. "Behind it is the single, greatest secret of the universe. This is as far as I dare to go."
Metron transported Luthor to the outer ridges of the massive Source Wall.
"I warn you one final time. Only a twelfth level intellect has the slightest hope of surviving of what you are about to experience," Metron warned.
"Then I'm overqualified," Luthor said with smug defiance.
Metron released the bubble and watched as Luthor took off in space towards the source wall. He couldn't help but feel a little amused at how little resistance Luthor offered. Luthor was so easy to manipulate if you played off his vanity. All mortal men were the same. They all were vain, self-centered, and petty. If it wasn't for superior beings like Superman or the New Gods, mankind would have died out long ago. Metron from his chair brought up a screen so he could watch the fight between Superman and Darkseid which was happening across the universe.
Darkseid had trapped Superman in the agony matrix and was watching him slowly suffer to death. According to Metron's computer machine, this event was where the key moment was supposed to happen to save the future. As hoped looked grim for the Kryptonian, Luthor would suddenly reappear beside Darkseid and give him the Anti-Life equation, trapping both of them in the Source Wall forever while saving both the universe and Superman.
But still the machine was wrong before. For the first time in his life, Metron felt uncertain. A lot of variables were still unaccounted for.
Luthor felt like he was flying...No he was floating...No he was standing! Actually, he couldn't tell what his body was doing. He wasn't even sure he could feel. He felt his head was about to explode by all the flash of colors at him. All of sudden he felt great pain in his head.
Everything. Everything was entering his mind. The entire secrets of the universe and reality were his to know. His brain almost exploded from the overload. The knowledge was everything. He knew everything now. He knew how to stop Darkseid. How to trap him, trick him. He needed to stop the tyrant…
But wait. Why should he try to stop Darkseid? Who cares if he destroyed Earth? Luthor would easily be able to destroy him later for revenge. He had all the time in the world to know everything. This was what all he ever wanted.
After all, Francis Bacon once said that knowledge was power.
Superman tried to struggle through the torture device. He didn't care if every nerve in his body was on fire. He refused to give up. Darkseid was even showing a little fake admiration at how Superman was still showing resistance to his device.
"Still alive?" Darkseid asked with fake surprise and flattery. "You impress me, Kryptonian. More, your valor has touched my heart. Yes, there is still some small part of me that knows mercy."
Darkseid began to search for something in one of his armored gloves.
"I will end your pain," the New God taunted as he pulled something out from one of the secret compartments on his gloves. "With something special I've been saving for just this occasion."
Darkseid revealed a knife made of kryptonite and was grinning madly. It glowed a sickly green color. Superman couldn't help but groan in even more pain as he felt weakened by the exposure of the kryptonite radiation despite the agony matrix shocking him all over his body.
"I'm going to cut out your heart and put it on a pike in my throne."
Superman groaned as Darkseid slowly got on his knees. He knew the villain was going to take his time and enjoy this.
Somewhere in the Universe
Metron sat in his chair shaking his head. This wasn't supposed to happen. Luthor was supposed to reappear and defeat Darkseid the very second the kryptonite knife was introduced. It was what the machine had shown. But Luthor hadn't appeared. Darkseid had got on his knees ready to stab Superman with the knife. Metron closed his eyes when he realized he had made a mistake again. The machine not only failed to have taken the Speed Force into account when it was showing the future, but human greed as well. The future was probably now going to end up as a disaster.
There was no hope. No one could save the universe or Superman now...
Superman groaned as he felt Darkseid grab his fidgeting body and roll it on the side. Superman could tell the sight of his own broken body was entertaining Darkseid. Despite the pain all over his body, Superman managed to force his eyes wide open and glare at Darkseid angrily.
Darkseid grinned with amusement.
"A valiant gesture, but your story ends here Superman. The last son of Krypton falls at my hand!"
Darkseid lifted the knife up, ready to strike.
Superman still glared defiantly even when he saw the knife making its way towards his heart….
"Not today!" a deep voice shouted.
Darkseid turned around just in time to be hit by something black flying at him.
Someone had tackled Darkseid at that moment. Someone who had run at the New God with so much force and speed, the New God was knocked to the ground and the knife fell out of his hand, flying across the other side of the crater. Superman, still trying to fight through the never ending pain, managed to realize who his rescuer was.
It was Batman.
When Batman saw Superman punch Darkseid across Metropolis, he knew what would happen soon. Superman would lose control of his anger and he wouldn't be thinking right. Darkseid easily would be able to trick him. It was what the New God wanted. Batman somehow had managed to make his way to where he saw Superman and Darkseid fall in record time. That was the fastest he had ever sprinted. He didn't care if he had felt like he had a few broken ribs and that he was about to pass out. He just simply refused to stand down while Superman was in trouble. His legs had started to cramp during his sprint but he had ignored it. He finally had reached his destination just in time to see Superman in a crater howling in pain as electricity shot out of him. Darkseid was on his knees, raising a glowing green knife, indicating he was ready to slay the subdued Superman with it.
When Batman saw the sight before him, he didn't stop his pace, but increased it to levels that would've impressed the Flash. He wasn't going to be too late. He wasn't going to let his friend die. He wasn't even sure what he was thinking when he lunged at Darkseid. All he knew was he needed to save Superman.
"Not today!" he shouted as he got airborne.
This time when Batman had attacked Darkseid, he had finally succeeded in knocking the New God off balance. Darkseid fell to the ground. Batman knocked the knife out of his hand and watched it slid to the other side of the crater.
"Bruce!" Batman heard someone cry. Batman turned around to see Superman still writhing in pain.
"Hold on Clark!" Batman said and made his way to Superman's body to see if he could free him but he was met by a sudden punch to the gut that sent him flying to the other side of the crater.
Batman was getting double vision and trying his best to keep his eyes open but he couldn't even move his arms.
His body was sore all over.
"You dare strike a god, especially during my finest hour?" Darkseid replied angrily as he slowly began to menacingly walk to Batman, forgetting his other prisoner momentarily.
Superman found new energy and tried to open his fists and break free from the matrix. He didn't even care if it was impossible. His own friend was in danger.
"At first I was impressed at your skills mortal. Your agility was amazing. I was tempted to recruit you to my ranks, but when you had struck me again I thought you were foolish for thinking you still had a chance to beat me."
Out of the corner of his eyes, Batman saw the kryptonite knife.
Darkseid was still advancing toward him slowly.
"And now, this time, when you dared to attack me again, I see you nothing more than a pest. You're just an annoyance like a cockroach; difficult to kill but ultimately will be squashed under my foot."
Batman began to try to move his now dead arms.
"But I won't end your life until you get on your knees and bow to me as I kill your friend. Only then will I grant you mercy…"
At that moment Batman had lunged for the kryptonite knife. The mortal man then pointed the knife at the New God.
Darkseid hesitated for a second, alarmed by the second wind Batman had displayed even though kryptonite wouldn't hurt him.
Batman angrily glared at Darkseid as he got to his feet slowly.
While still keeping eye contact with the New God, Batman crushed the kryptonite knife in his fist, breaking it into a million pieces which he dropped at his feet. In a last act of rebellion, Batman kicked the pieces to the side where they were scattered and buried in the dirt.
Darkseid was fuming with anger by that insult. He could easily find another way to kill Superman in seconds but he was angry at the fact that this pathetic mortal still dared to show disrespect to him.
"You dare?" Darkseid growled angrily and ran up to Batman.
"Bruce!" Superman shouted between screams in pain as he tried to break free. He was surprised he was even still conscious.
Darkseid picked up Batman and brought the mortal's head to his level. Batman continued to calmly glare at him.
He had served his purpose and protected Superman. He had provoked Darkseid long enough to give Superman time to break free. He just hoped Superman would possess the will to do so.
"You have insulted me for the last time, you miserable wretch!" Darkseid threatened and threw Batman to the side of the crater.
Batman grunted when he made impact with the wall and fell to the ground.
"I should kill you right now..." Darkseid mused as he walked up to the cornered and broken Batman. "But death would be too merciful. Instead I will give you the most painful punishment of all; oblivion!" Darkseid threatened, his eyes glowing a mixture of bright orange and red.
Superman was struggling to get free. He couldn't hear what Darkseid said but he saw the New God's eyes. Darkseid was going to kill Batman! Superman's body seemed to be fighting the matrix. He wasn't going to give up on Bruce. He couldn't give up! Clenching his teeth and screaming in pain he slowly began to fight through it. He could feel his muscles tensing even more but he could tell he was close to freeing himself.
"Good-bye Batman…" Darkseid said as he shot the Omega Beams out of his eyes.
Batman didn't even bother to flee this time. He didn't have the energy anymore. Funny, he always thought he would go down like this; fighting until his body couldn't move anymore. When he saw the Omega Beams heading towards him, it felt like time had slowed down. He looked at his side to see Superman in the distance getting to his feet. He couldn't help but smile. His last act alive was saving his friend and probably the world.
Superman got to his feet and using all his might and mental strength began to fight the matrix. He looked at Batman and Darkseid just in time to see the Omega Beams being shot out. They were heading toward the helpless Batman. No he couldn't be too late! He couldn't have failed!
"BRUCE!" Superman shouted just in time to see Batman turn towards him and smile as the Omega Beams struck him. Superman broke free at that moment. He didn't know how but the electric shocks had somehow stopped. But it was too late...
A blinding flash of red and white light appeared when the beams had struck Batman. It caused a blast that sent Superman flying across the crater wall.
"Ugh..." Superman muttered as he looked up in desperation. This couldn't have happened. He couldn't have failed. But his eyes didn't deceive him.
Darkseid was standing up looking triumphantly at where Batman was moments ago. Instead of a body draped in a cowl, there was a pile of ashes at the spot Batman was sitting moments ago.
Batman was gone, forever.
Sitting calmly in his throne was the Lord of the Underworld himself, Hades. The god of death closed his eyes and laughed.
"Oh Darkseid," Hades said in a condescending tone as he shook his head. "You think you will actually succeed in invading Earth? You will fail."
Hades opened his eyes and began to stroke his beard.
"You are a fool. Your search for absolute power is meaningless because there is no power greater than death."
Hades brought his hand down and began to smile.
"You are not the Destroyer. I am the true Destroyer of Worlds and it won't be long before I accomplish what you have failed to do; the absolute destruction and subjugation of the entire Multiverse. I will bring about the End of All Things."
The god then stood up from his throne.
"All I have to do is bide my time. I've waited three thousand years for my revenge, I can wait a little longer."