DISCLAIMER: In some cultures, there really isn't a concept of private property. In those cultures, I own Young Justice.
Chapter 71: Order and Chaos
Red and gold lightening clashed, filling every inch of her mind. Tremors shook the imaginary landscape, sparks flew, flames appeared and vanished as a primordial wind whipped past, drowning out all other sounds.
At the center of this maelstrom were two figures, one red, one gold. One second they were humanoid, Dr. Fate and an older-looking Zatanna with purplish hair. The next second they were incomprehensible beings of energy, shifting forms as fast as the eye could watch.
"Nabu!" shrieked the red figure, Tala. "How dare you enter here! How dare you attempt to steal my host!"
The golden figure did not respond. He had used far too much magic that day to waste any metaphorical breath in debate. Tala would feel the wrath of a Lord of Order regardless.
As the two Lords slammed into each other again, a little girl stood a ways off, watching in stunned horror. For all the amazing magical sights she'd seen in her life, Zatanna Zatara could not believe it. One second, Tala had been in complete control. But now Nabu was here as well, and the two ancient entities were locked in battle. But not a physical battle. A battle for control.
Control of her.
Zatanna was in a unique position, having been host to both Nabu and Tala. While she certainly had no love for Tala, her father had sacrificed himself to save her from the curse of Dr. Fate before. Now that he was finally freed, would she be trapped inside the Helmet of Fate yet again?
"It's quite a sight, isn't it?" came a voice from behind her. "Even if the flashiest effects are simply the result of your brain struggling to visualize what is happening to it." Zatanna whirled (or at least did the mental equivalent) to see a grey-haired man in a nice suit with a gold-tipped cane standing around and smiling, as if everything was completely normal.
"Hello again, Miss Zatara" said the man. Zatanna recognized him instantly.
"Kent Nelson?" she asked. Nelson nodded.
"But I thought that Nabu released you from the helmet!"
Nelson smiled. "Well," he said, chuckling, "Nabu did too. However, it seems I was able to stick around a bit longer than expected. While I do wish to finally speak with my dear Inza again, I couldn't let my old friend Giovanni be trapped on his own with no one but Nabu for company. Nor could I allow his only daughter to run around without someone to keep an eye on her. Magic is a very dangerous thing, after all."
"Is Z okay?" asked a new voice. Greta appeared, still ghost-like in her appearance. "Secret was worried when we got separated." She paused for a second, watching the fireworks as Nabu and Tala went at it. "Who is gold guy and why is he fighting bad lady?"
"That, my dear Greta, is Nabu, Lord of Order" Nelson said. "He can be a little cold, when you first meet him, but he'll warm up after a few decades."
"Do you two know each other?" Zatanna asked.
"Oh, yes, I encountered Greta in one of my jaunts through the, how should I put it, closer-to-earth parts of the afterlife. I knew that there had to be something I could do to assist you against Tala, and as Greta has more... mobility than I, I told her that you were in need and helped her find you. It was quite simple really."
"Simple. Right" Zatanna said, not really believing it. "I don't suppose you have a 'simple' plan to help get us out of this mess, do you?"
"I have an idea, actually" said Nelson. "And the basic premise is, in fact, quite simple."
An earthquake shook the imaginary landscape around them.
"I'm listening" said Zatanna.
"Well, as I see the current situation, allowing Tala to continue to have control of your body is unacceptable, as she will continue to use it as a weapon of evil against the Justice League. However, leaving Nabu in control is also problematic, especially given what your father was willing to do to save you from him the first time. Furthermore, Tala would rather destroy your mind, body and soul than allow Nabu to have it."
Zatanna shivered (mentally) at the thought.
"However, there is an alternative. Tala and Nabu are of approximately equal strength, and are putting all of their power and focus into battle with each other. In addition, they are both somewhat bound to this location, Nabu through the Helmet of Fate and Tala through you. Thus, neither can easily retreat, even to their own planes. This provides a unique opportunity for us. For you."
Zatanna began to see what he was getting at, but it was utterly insane. "You think that I can...?"
"I lived over a century, Zatanna" said Nelson. "And I've learned to never underestimate the strength of human willpower."
"But that's ridiculous!" Zatanna shouted. "There's no way I can overpower two Astral Lords! I'm fourteen for crying out loud!"
"Ah, yes, but you'll be fifteen in two months" Nelson laughed. "Besides, I brought a friend."
He gestured for Zatanna and Secret to follow him into a cave that had somehow formed in Zatanna's mental landscape. They did so, only to find the cave empty save for a glowing blue sphere.
Greetings, Zatanna Zatara echoed a voice. It sounded old, no, ancient.
"Who are you?" Zatanna asked. As if this day could get any crazier.
I am Tynan said the voice, which Zatanna was pretty sure was coming from the sphere. I am a Lord of Balance.
"Balance?" Zatanna asked, wondering exactly how many extradimensional magical beings were in her head at the moment, and what the exact upper limit was before her brain was fried.
When Chaos is too powerful, the voice continued, anarchy reigns. When Order becomes excessive, stagnation occurs. It is only though a balance between them that civilization may exist. We of Balance are few, and prefer to avoid interference with the others. However, the balance of this planet has reached a tipping point. Either Order will reign, or Chaos. We of the Balance feel that beings must choose for themselves how they shall be. To you, Zatanna Zatara, we offer this choice.
"T-to me?" Zatanna said, meekly.
You may submit to Nabu and become a soldier of Order. You may submit to Tala and become a harbinger of Chaos.
Zatanna was worried. Neither of those were really good options.
Or, you may subdue them both and become a force for Balance.
"Subdue them? You really think I can do that?"
We have observed many species throughout history said Tynan. However, unlike Order and Chaos, we of Balance rarely bless agents to do our work for us. Never before has a human had the opportunity to become an Agent of Balance. We will grant you our strength to harness the magic of both Chaos and Order, and all we ask in return is that you ensure that your world continue as your kind sees fit.
No matter which of these three you choose, I will lend you my power.
"So, Zatanna" asked Nelson. "What will it be?"
Zatanna thought about it for a minute. She really would prefer a clear head again, but that seemed to be off the table for the moment. Assuming Tynan was telling the truth, she really only had three options. Tala was a big threat, obviously, so she had to be taken down. But Nabu could be trouble as well. He certainly wasn't a good listener. As much as she hated to admit it, there was really only one good option, assuming that this random blue ball was telling her the truth...
"I'm pretty sure my dad's gonna kill me for this" she said "but..."
She turned to Nelson, Secret and the hovering sphere and took a deep breath.
"How does 'Zatanna Zatara: Agent of Balance' sound?" she asked. "Too cliché?"
So, some of you old readers might remember that it was my birthday a week ago. However, instead of getting presents, I'm giving some out instead. Like a new chapter!
In today's chapter, we analyze the complicated themes of Order, Chaos and Balance, or, for those of you familiar with Twitch Plays Pokemon, Dome, Helix and Amber. According to Wikipedia, Lords of Balance to exist, but they seem to be rare and not often written about. Since Young Justice has such themes as Order and Chaos, it seemed worthwhile to have some plot threads related to that.
Speaking of which, I have done the final calculations, and there are, in fact exactly two chapters after this one. It is time to end this ridiculously long story once and for all, and the only way to do that... is with explosions.
Brightpath2: "Almost but not quite impossible odds"-that basically sums up this entire story.
Riley 000: Yeah, it's probably going to be really awkward, assuming that any of them survive, which is up in the air as it is.
Casey: No, Artemis doesn't know about Wally's little realization about his life. And I might eventually do a Season 3 fic, but first I'd have to do this RIDICULOUSLY long series, and my oh-so-fun Season 2 AU, so it's entirely possible that I will have completely run out of Young Justice related ideas by then.