6 Justice League Family Ties

Kalea had made her way to the closest Argoan settlement. She'd selected a domicile and claimed it for her own. Of course, that meant clearing out the occupants. The animals had been easy. They were rodents and they scurried away when she appeared.

The humanoid residents though, they were a chore. The family had simply huddled together and frozen to death. Kalea couldn't blame them in one way and yet found them utterly pathetic in another. Intellectually she knew her Almeracian heritage gave her a distinct advantage over the native Argoans who under the light of their native red sun were barely more robust than humans.

It still galled her that humans had beaten her. It didn't help matters any that her own, personal trouncing at come at the hands of Diana. She knew that cow had given birth by now and she idly wondered about the fate of her bitch half-sister. She'd never asked for siblings, full blood or not. It was just another way for Diana to flaunt herself and slap Kalea's face when she couldn't do so in person. Only Diana had ever slapped her outside of her own mother. The thought of an inferior laying hands upon her made her physically ill.

She'd lost count of the days using dead reckoning. Her cybernetic eye, however, had a time/date stamp on its display that she could pull up with a thought. She'd been here nine months. That's how she knew her accursed sister was probably three months old.

Maybe there is justice in this universe and Diana died during childbirth, Kalea wished fervently. She looked around her Spartan quarters. She'd dragged a sleeping mat into the living space where she'd constructed a fire pit made of stones. She'd ripped away the natural fiber carpeting and used it for kindling while she burned fallen branches collected from the trees littering the city of the dead.

Evergreens still grew plentifully throughout the planet. The leaf bearing trees were dead for the most part but some of the hardier species had adapted to the ever present cold. Besides the furry vermin and larger predators, the rivers, and therefore presumably the lakes, streams, and oceans, teemed with life. Kalea had risked ice fishing on the river that ran through this now nameless ghost town and she'd scored an impressive haul.

She'd constructed a dozen spears, seven bows, hundreds of arrows, and had even woven nets from the bedding secured from dozens of homes. It wasn't like the Argoans still needed it. She wasn't quite thriving but she was making due.

Her plans now included going across the bridge to the other half of the city and igniting it. A blaze that big would be a visible flare able to be seen from orbit. She'd burn every city on this wretched planet until she was rescued. If she ran out of cities, there were always forests to sacrifice.

Suddenly she heard a sound in the wind. It was something she hadn't heard in months: the sound of antigrav repulsors! Someone was landing a bloody ship! Kalea was out of the door before she even had time to gather any of her primitive arms.

Not that a spear would do her much good against a resonance gun or something similar. Besides she had her dagger and she intimately familiar with its usefulness. She'd been rated as an expert combatant with it before her exile but now it was an extension of her very being.

She pulled the dagger free as the scoutship landed, and it was a scoutship. It was of Imperial origin but it was a civilian model. Far less robust than its comparable military cousin. It was only lightly armed and it had an effective range that was half of the military variant. Someone had had a helluva bur under their seat to travel this far out to find her in this tub.

She heard the outer hatch cycle and she tensed. The next few moments would prove to be crucial. It was dark out, with only the starlight and the faint glow of green kryptonite asteroids, in the distance. The interior of the scout was well lit and Kalea had to momentarily shield her eyes. A figure blocked the light and she was able to drop her hand as her eyes adjusted to the glare.

"Kally?" a familiar voice gently greeted her.

Kalea couldn't believe it. It couldn't be true. The mystery man stepped out of the hatchway and made his way down the steps. Lights washed over him and Kalea suddenly saw the impossible.

It's impossible! Her mind railed, He's dead!

"Kalea, it's me, Magnus," he tried to reassure her.

"You…you're dead!" she stammered.

Magnus' expression became one of regret, "I'm sorry about that ruse. You had to think I was dead while my associates and I finalized our plans."

"Ruse?" Kalea's indignation latched onto that word.

He nodded, "I had to fake my death so your mother and my parents wouldn't look for me. Unfortunately, you were part of the establishment so I had to fool you too. Hell, for a couple of weeks you were the establishment."

"You've been alive all of this time," Kalea dropped her dagger and began to sob, "You bastard! Do you have any idea of how I grieved? You're the only man that I've ever loved and suddenly you were dead and I never even got to say goodbye."

"But I'm not dead," Magnus offered hopefully.

"But you should be!" Kalea suddenly snarled, "I love you! I would've followed you anywhere and joined you in anything."

"But you can join me now," Magnus was quite excited by the prospect.

"What the hell of you gotten yourself into?" Kalea suddenly grew quite still.

"I'm a Democrat. We're revolting against the Crown and we need you," he explained.

"Why now and not before?" she asked warily.

"Before, you were part of the system. You were the Crown Princess herself. And now…" Magnus faltered.

"But now I'm a non-entity with a grudge. Is that it?" she asked dryly.

Magnus wore a rueful smile, "Something like that."

"Well, thank you for your honesty…at long last," Kalea allowed.

"Do you still love me?" Magnus asked suddenly.

"What?" the abrupt question startled her.

"You said you love me," he reminded her, "Do you still?"

Kalea wore a wry grin, "I did, didn't I? Well chalk that up to a cognitive slip. As far as the question goes, I've always loved you. I always will."

"Look, you don't have to join anything," he promised, "If you don't believe in the Cause you wouldn't be effective anyway. All I ask is you sit in on a few meetings and get to know what we believe in."

His eyes bored into hers, "You've seen firsthand the flaws in the system."

She smirked, "Some would say I was the flaw in the system."

"I wouldn't. The problem was with the monarch wielding absolute power. No one can handle that much power," Magnus declared.

Kalea held up her hand, "Spare me the sales pitch. I'll hear that soon enough."

"So you'll join me?" he eagerly inquired.

She plucked her dagger out of the snow and sheathed it on her belt, "I'm in."

"Really?" he beamed.

"I'm in for you and me. Anything else may or may not happen," she advised.

"There are some that may object to your being in the movement's periphery without being a member. They'll be afraid that you'll report us," Magnus warned.

"Are you?" Kalea asked point blank.

"No," he confidently replied, "You have no love for your mother or the Crown."

Kalea grinned, "I should have known you'd do this. You always were a radical."

"That's why you loved me," Magnus grinned.

Kalea's eye softened, "No, that's why I adored you."

Magnus offered his hand and she filled it with her cybernetic one. He shivered, "Damn that's cold."

She smiled brightly. Most men would have rejected her hand and demanded to have possession of the organic hand. Magnus never had. Never. It was one of the reasons why she'd fallen in love with him.

He guided her up the steps and sealed the hatch behind him. He toggled an intercom and informed the cockpit that they were ready for takeoff. He led Kalea into the ship.

"We have clothes available," he mentioned, "And I suppose you'll want to take a shower."

"Are you implying I stink?" she asked bemusedly.

"I'm flat out saying it," Magnus chuckled, "I'm also volunteering my services in cleaning you."

Kalea wore a coy smile, "Well that certainly brings up back memories from two years ago."

"Just remember, I know how to get all those places you can't reach," he said suggestively.

"All right, on one condition," she countered.

"Name it," he said.

"You tell me about your life over the last two years," she demanded.

"Only if you tell me about your years," he counter offered.

Kalea was delighted and she didn't try to hide it, "I think we have an arrangement."

Magnus smiled brightly, "Gods, I've missed you."

"And I've missed you. You're being gone led to me making some stupid decisions so don't disappear again," she advised.

"Yes, Princess," he agreed.

"Magnus, I've been stripped of my title. I'm not even a citizen. I'll never be a princess again," she said with equanimity.

"You'll always be a princess in my heart," Magnus vowed.

Kalea smiled gratefully, "Let's take that shower."

"Your wish is my command, Milady," he said with a bow of his head.

She wore a rueful expression, "Y'know, if I'd been treated this way at the palace I might actually miss being a princess."

"I just want to see you happy," Magnus informed her, "I know I put you through hell and I'd like a chance to make up for it."

Kalea's smile was born of warmth and affection, two qualities rarely associated with her; "I already said 'yes' to you when I came aboard."

"You would've said or done anything to get away from Argo," Magnus protested.

"That all changed when you came out of that hatch. If I weren't willing to give you a second chance, I wouldn't have come aboard," Kalea explained.

"You'll never regret it," Magnus promised.

Kalea laughed, "Sure I will but only on occasion. Pain is part of love. No one can truly hurt you like a lover."

Magnus looked abashed, "I'm thinking you're speaking from experience. Your experience is with me."

"You'd be right," she replied, "Now what about the damn shower?"

"Follow me," he urged. He led her to the shower center. There were two sonic showers and neither was in use. There was a little alcove as you entered the space where you dressed and undressed.

"You start and I'll grab you some clothes," he assured her.

"Take your time," she said dreamily as she shed her thick coat, "I haven't had a shower or bathed in none months."

"Yes, I can tell," he dryly remarked.

She threw her coat at him and he grinned like a Cheshire. She followed this with every article of clothing she wore. Magnus drank in the sight of her.

"Wow! It's been too long," he mused.

"Just burn those, find me something in my size, and get back here," she commanded.

"Yes, Milady," he said with an overdose of amusement.

Kalea blanched, "Please?"

Magnus nodded his approval, "See? You're already learning."

He ventured forth leaving Kalea behind thinking, I not only am free of Argo but I have a chance at a whole new life and real happiness. Who would have thought it was possible?

Unfortunately, she could see forces within the Empire and without conspiring to rob her of her chance. She knew she'd fight. It was what she did. Especially now that she had something to fight for. Her enemies had best beware for she was more determined than ever to carve out a niche of joy for herself and those she loved. May Creation pity those who opposed her.

Thanks go to all the readers who faithfully read all the chapters. A few of you even reviewed. :D The important part is that the story was enjoyed by many. Despite the lure of being in the "silent majority", some of you expressed concerns, doubts, questions and criticism that all served to shape the story and improve it. I'm not saying the simple messages of "great job" weren't appreciated because it's always nice to be appreciated and loved. I treasure each review.

Now for an unabashed plug: Check out S-Bumblebee's Advococy series. It's about the Justice Lords and the people that live in that parallel Earth. Her work has largely shaped my interpretation of John and Shayera and her Justice Lords series has made me re-examine my interpretation of the Lords and of Galatea. I heartily recommend all of her stories.

Thanks go to animeluverqueen for her hard work and insights. Check out her Alien story for an alternative take on John and Shayera trying to get married. It made me seriously ponder the legalities of such a marriage. Unfortunately for her, she doesn't have the city-state mechanism built intio her story but the good news it makes the readers much more empathetic with the characters.

Part 13 is on its way. I just don't know when. I have three other stories for other fandoms lined up to do first. Plus I'm experiencing a real dearth of ideas for Part 13. Long range goals, yup, got `em covered. But try and write the next story in the series? Nyuh! Ain't happenin'. So I'll get to it when I do and hopefully everyone will want to read it. :)