Chapter 51 – The Feaster from Afar
Before the gathered Amazons' astonished eyes, a shining green aircraft swooped down towards them from a giant spiraling wormhole in the high in the sky above them, which had appeared suddenly and without warning.
"What is that?" Ismene cried out. "Some new weapon of the Alarians?"
"No, it's…it's the Justice League!" Diana was just as stunned as her sisters. A boom tube had opened in the skies above Themyscira, something which she thought could not be possible. She looked at Clark but he seemed just as surprised as everyone else.
Thank goodness! Lois thought with guarded relief. Maybe this was like the cavalry to the rescue...she hoped.
Hal Jordan expertly piloted his construct-aircraft through the smoke-laden skies. The boom tube had worked exactly as Cyborg and Zatanna predicted it would, opening in the skies over Paradise Island. He could see it clearly below him. With him were Cyborg, Flash, and Zatanna, riding with him in the construct. Everyone else in the League was busy trying to deal with the chaos back on Earth. The last transmission they'd received was from Green Arrow and Black Canary - they had their hands full with dealing with out-of-control riots in the city. Many people were panicking, even though nothing else had happened since the sun vanished and the weird black stars appeared. No invading alien force had shown up, no giant monsters stomping on cities, but everyone was acting like it was the end of the world. Then the transmission had gone dead in the Hall of Justice...along with most of the rest of the world's communications, which was not the most reassuring thing.
Perhaps the end of the world really wasn't far off, if people couldn't access their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages.
"Maybe it's some kind of invisible radiation?" Flash had suggested, since no one else had had any better guesses. "Coming from the…whatever's causing this blackout?"
"There's nothing I can detect ever since the EMP, if that's what even happened," Cyborg shook his metallic head. "Other than all the electronics going offline, people just seem to be freaking out for no reason."
"No. There is something going on," Zatanna said grimly. "Can't you sense it? Something's coming and we've got to stop it!"
"You know we don't have your, um, 'abilities,'" Hal stared at her, but then she seemed unwilling to say more, biting her lip in anxiety. He looked at Cyborg instead, since she wasn't being any more help. "All right - so is there a way you can use the motherbox to get us to Paradise Island?"
"Well, we won't know until we actually try it, but if she thinks it can work with her adjustments," Victor nodded. "It's worth a try."
"It will work. It has to." Zatanna acted impatient to get going. No one had see her so worked up before, but then again, these were unusual circumstances to say the least.
Now, Hal looked sideways at the magician-lady, hovering anxiously just over his shoulder as if she was ready to leap out of the cockpit without waiting for the plane to land. He sensed that she was still concealing something, that she knew much more than she was letting on about all this crazy shit going on. He wondered...was she dating anyone? She looked so intense and serious, which really brought out her dark eyes in a sexy way...
"There! That must be the Amazon army! I can see Superman!" Zatanna quickly pointed down at her feet, and Hal reluctantly turned his attention back to his plane.
"Woah. What the hell happened here?" Flash murmured. The plane was just a Ring-construct, so they could see in all directions since it was transparent. All of them could see the war-ravaged city, and as they got closer, the bodies still lying where they had fallen in the rubble. "Did they all fight each other?"
"I don't think so," Cyborg replied. "I see…other bodies in the ruins. They're men...I think. Somebody ran riot here, looks like. I hope Diana's ok." Superman and the baby, too, Victor thought. He could tell the others were thinking the same thing.
"We're going to find out soon enough," Hal muttered. "I see a clear spot to land, right there where Superman and Wonder Woman are."
The shining emerald plane descended, and landed amidst the Amazons, then promptly vanished like a soap bubble, leaving the four Justice League members standing incongruously among the armored female warriors. After everything that had happened, the Amazons were too bewildered to level their spears at them or even utter a word of challenge. For a second there was just stupefied silence.
Hal Jordan only wished he was here on a different occasion other than the potential end of the world. He and the others were momentarily at a loss for words, realizing they were actually here on Paradise Island, Wonder Woman's home. Hal had often fantasized (quite explicit fantasies, at that) about being on the Isle of the Amazons, but in more pleasant circumstances, and now, he wasn't quite sure how to explain himself.
"Superman! Wonder Woman!" Flash had no such hesitation - he ran up to his fellow Justice League members and friends, leaving the others to belatedly catch up. "I've never been so glad to see you!" Barry suddenly wondered if Diana had had the baby - she must have, since she didn't look pregnant. But then where was it?
"Barry!...But why are you here?" Diana was still in shock. "I don't understand!"
"We needed to find you two, and Batman," Flash looked around. "I don't see him-"
"What's going on back home?" Superman strode up urgently. "Something's happened, hasn't it? Tell me!"
"It's hard to explain..." Flash scratched his head.
"You know these people?" Hippolyta demanded.
"I do," Diana said. "Except...I think..." She vaguely thought she remembered the small dark girl with them but couldn't recollect her.
"Superman, Wonder Woman - this is all my doing, our being here, I mean," Zatanna pushed past the other startled superheroes. "I needed to find you all."
Clark stared at the small woman. "Zatanna?" He remembered her as a candidate for the Justice League, but not yet a full member. She was supposed to be able to use magick, although he'd never seen her do it. He'd thought she was a bit timid and shy in her initial interview for them, but she didn't seem like that right now. She looked both very determined, although frightened. He could detect her agitation. "What did you do to the boom tube?"
"I'd explain more but I don't have the time, and really don't think I could, actually. But I need you to tell me something right now," Zatanna swept her eyes around the assemblage. "Where is Randolph Carter?"
Batman suddenly heard the tell-tale boom tube opening sound, a sound that he'd heard only a few times before, but it was distinct and there was no mistaking it. Somehow, for some reason, a boom tube had opened up nearby, but he couldn't see it and the noise itself was muted as if coming from a far distance. He correctly assumed that it must have been caused by his colleagues in the Justice League, but instead of relief, he felt alarm. That wasn't supposed to happen! What the hell were they doing, interfering now? Why were they coming here?
"Ah. Your friends in the Justice League," Steve Trevor/The Yellow King murmured, confirming Batman's fears. "Have they come to witness the final act? Do they wish their own part in it?"
"What is the final act, Steve? What happens?"
Bruce took a step closer to the creature. He could see the slowly yet relentlessly spiraling cloud-whirpool beyond the distant black towers of the city, but he avoided staring at it, fearing its hypnotic effect. He kept his attention on Trevor - he still had the baby.
"It's coming, the Magnum Innominandum. I can hear it...the voice of...the...voices..."
Trevor abruptly paused, hesitating, as if he'd forgotten what to say next. A foreboding yet electric quiet enveloped the street. It unnerved Bruce.
"What is coming?" He took another step closer to Trevor, who didn't seem to notice his movement. "What is it?"
A thin gurgling noise came from the dark shadow which was Trevor's face. His head bent forward so that the fold of yellowish cloth hid his eyes, and his body seemed to tremble, as if he were internally struggling with himself.
"I know what you are talking about!" Bruce suddenly shouted. "I know the cursed thing you read! You can't say it even now, can you? There's still enough that's human left in you, Steve! You know you can't do this! Fight it!"
Batman had moved close enough so that with a good leap, he could close the distance between him and the former Justice League liaison. He might be able to. The bubbling noise came from Trevor's hood again, louder and distinctly inhuman-sounding. The baby was still held securely in his hands, which were bandaged with dirty yellow strips of cloth like his face; the baby stirred uncomfortably but didn't cry. It looked around with wide eyes, as if it knew it didn't belong here. Then the baby's eyes settled on Batman and grew wide. Bruce clenched his fists.
"Steve..." Batman said, then stopped - he noticed something exceedingly strange happening.
The crooked, dark buildings surrounding them seemed to be leaning even more lopsidedly than he'd first noticed when he entered this place. It was almost as if - no, it was just like the buildings were living things, and aware of their presence. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw movement in one of the blank windows, like they were eyes blinking at him. They seemed to vibrate even, pulsating in time with the whirling yellow clouds. The sensation prickled his skin beneath his Batsuit.
He had the mad thought that the buildings themselves were masks, disguising what they really were, hiding the entity behind this all, but it was present, here. It pervaded every inch of this space, and it knew he was there.
This place made its own reality, Bruce realized with dawning horror. It concurred with what he had researched in those ancient occult books he'd acquired. Whatever was here, he knew without doubt had to prevent it from emerging into his world. What would happen if it did...
He knew he had to get the hell out of this place, and fast. But he wasn't leaving without the baby, or Trevor, if that was possible.
"Come with me, we've got to get out of here!" Batman stretched out a black-gloved hand to Trevor. "This place is-"
Steve's face looked up and Bruce saw his eyes. Reflexively, with instincts honed over his entire lifetime, he stepped back. Those aged eyes suddenly resembled the wide and empty windows surrounding them, reflecting nothing behind them except the thing that lived here. Not human eyes.
"This place is where I belong...I am an inhabitant of Carcosa."
"No!" Batman shouted. "You're not! You don't belong here! You're still alive!"
"I belong here...with him," Steve's voice grew louder, becoming distorted. "He is the feaster from afar. He comes to devour the land of these Amazon whores, so let him have them!"
"Is that why you did all this, Steve?" Bruce's lips turned down in disgusted sneer. "Just to get back at Diana, for not being what you wanted her to be?"
The figure in the yellow tattered robe seemed to stiffen with anger, but he said nothing.
"You know it will not stop there!" Batman saw the whirlpool cloud pulse again, beginning to glow and spin quicker, and he knew he didn't have much time. "It will devour the whole Earth!." Batman stepped forward again. "I know what it is you serve!"
Steve's eerie eyes widened, and somehow he seemed to grow taller in his robes, straightening. The baby clenched in his hands started to whimper. "You know?"
"I know what you tried to do," Bruce growled. "Who gave you the play, Steve?"
Bruce could see the tremors convulsing Steve's body, in ways that weren't normally physically possible. He had changed, somehow.
"I...the Colonel...he-he tried to help me," Steve finally whispered, and his voice was like Bruce remembered it. "I-I needed something to do, something to take my mind off of you and the League, off Diana...it's so hard to think..." his voice took on an uncharacteristic whine.
"If you don't stop, Trevor, then this thing will destroy you, and it will kill Diana. Is that what you want? Are you so less of a man that you would kill her because you couldn't have her?"
The word seemed ripped from Steve's mouth, and his eyes looked wide with sudden horror, as if he'd just realized where he was, as if he'd just come to himself again. "I-I didn't mean to...where's-where is Tracy? Where's...where are the kids...?"
Without hesitation, Batman leapt at Trevor.
"What are you doing here, Zatanna?" Diana demanded. "Why would you seek the Alarian?"
"We're trying to help you!" Green Lantern insisted, but Diana didn't pay attention to him. He realized he'd landed in the middle of some kind of battle, but he wasn't sure who was fighting who, or what.
"Carter can stop this," the young magician insisted. "What's happening on Earth...whatever's happened here is affecting the planet!"
"Everything's gone dark, and I mean dark," Flash said, and hurriedly described what had happened. The Amazons around them whispered among themselves ominously. "I mean, I don't understand it myself..."
"The less you actually understand the better," Zatanna snapped. "I said, we don't have time for this! It's coming, and we have to shut the door, before it gets worse...before we can't close it at all."
"What is coming?" Clark clenched his fists. "What are we really up against?"
"Doom," Hippolyta said blankly. The Justice Leaguers turned to stare at her. "That young soldier, Trevor, he has become death, bringing it to all of us."
"If only we had killed him when we first saw him," Laodice muttered in a voice filled with anger. "We would have been spared great grief."
Zatanna stared curiously at the Amazon elder. "But Steve Trevor is only an avatar. The King in Yellow is the mask of our reality the entity wears."
Flash glanced at her. "I don't understand."
"Think of it as like a living spacesuit, or a robot-probe, to be worn and used in another dimension. It appears only when...when it is close to opening the door. When someone on this side turns the handle first. That's what we have to stop!"
"You're not making any sense!" Hal snapped impatiently. "What is 'it?' Some kinda alien? If so, we can take care of it!" He held up his fist with the ring, displaying a confidence that he didn't actually feel.
"Your little glow-ring isn't going to do shit," Zatanna snapped in exasperation at Hal's bravado. "This is why we had to come here, to find the Dreamlord."
"We'll see about that!" Hal yelled, his ego stung. "So where is this Carter guy?"
"He's in that pile of rubble," Clark retorted. "I don't know what he is, but he doesn't seem the type to help. I don't know what you're trying to do, Zatanna, but Trevor has my son, and I'm going to go after him!" He turned away towards the agora.
"No!" Zatanna said hurriedly, reaching for his cape. "If you enter Carcosa, you'll never return!"
"Carcosa? Why?" He looked back at her. "What's in there?"
"It's...please Superman, just listen to me! Don't do it!" Zatanna pleaded.
"Batman is in there! My son is in there!" Clark bellowed. "Trevor took him there. I'm going in after him!"
"Batman went into the portal? You're-?" Zatanna gasped, then recovered herself. "No! Please listen to me! If you do that you will never come out of there! Even if you make it out alive, you won't be the same person!"
"What are you talking about?" Clark loomed over the magician, his face a mask of agony and rage at his predicament. "That there's no hope? That's he's gone?"
Zatanna stared up at him; she was not intimidated by his size or emotion, but her face showed her dismay. She answered slowly and distinctly.
"If your child really is in Carcosa...then he is."
There was a shocked silence after Zatanna said that. The Justice Leaguers stared at each other, stunned. Was all this a waste of time?
"No!" Diana shouted, shoving Zatanna unthinking, in absolute terror and anger. The magician stumbled backwards and Flash caught her before she fell. "I won't accept that!" She looked desperately at Clark. "What can we do?"
"I haven't changed my mind," Clark said with grim resolution, although he felt weaker than ever, and he feared that it showed. The Amazons were staring at him, as were the others, realizing what he was saying.
"We haven't either," Cyborg strode up. "We'll help you! Whatever we can do, we'll do it, whatever the hell we're up against." The powerful Cyborg stared pointedly at Zatanna. "I don't believe we came all the way here just for nothing."
Lois suddenly pushed forward. "What are you all just doing standing here then? Batman's already in there!" She pointed to the scintillating light pouring out of the agora.
The light seemed to have spread, and it pulsated as if it had its own form of heartbeat. Clark could see that it had grown larger.
"What's beyond there?" Flash wondered. "It just looks like a blur."
"Carcosa," Zatanna said in a shaky voice. "It's...another place. The realm of the Magnum Innominandum,the Great-One-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
"Is that something from Harry Potter? What the hell does that mean?" Hal said.
"A Great Old One," Zatanna's words were barely audible. "More powerful than anything we've ever faced. The most evil among my people have sought to gain their favor, they all ended up mad, or dead. My own grandfather was one. He attacked Randolph Carter, a Dreamlord, to try to gain his power and knowledge of them. His end was unspeakable." Zatanna shook her head forcefully. "Now it seems like Steve Trevor has tried to do the same thing."
"Well, that's not a a good vibe I'm getting from you," Hal replied. "Anyway, why the hell can't we just go in there? If the atmosphere's toxic, or something like that..."
"Because it is a place created by it. It does things to your mind," Again, Zatanna was not replying to him but talking to Superman. "You're not human, but still..."
"I don't care what it is or what created it," Clark said. He stared up at the lightless sky, wishing for a last glimpse of sun, for more strength than he had, but it was not to be. "Whatever the risk, I'm going to go in there,"
"Please wait, let me try to find Randolph Carter first...if he's here...maybe I can-"
"He attacked my people, he is our enemy," Diana retorted. "Why would he help us?"
"He's not human, and besides, he's buried under whatever remains of that Palace. Diana's right - I saw his mind. He doesn't care for humanity any more, I know that much. If time is short as you're telling me, then I have to go."
"I will go with you!"
"No!" Clark grasped Diana's shoulder, stopping her. "If...if something happens to me, I want you to live!" He looked at the faces of Green Lantern, Cyborg, and Flash. "Protect these people! And get out of here if I don't come back!"
"Clark," Diana grasped his hand. "We can do this together! Like we have before! We have fought side by side so may times, I won't fail this time, of all times, now!"
"If what Zatanna says is true, then I won't risk you too. Let me do this alone, Diana."
He looked into his wife's eyes. She was certainly not the type for weepy goodbyes, and she certainly wasn't giving him one now. He wondered how many soldiers going off to war, throughout the ages, saw their women's faces like this. Solemn, grieving, yet strong, resigned to the almost inevitable fate.
"I'll come back with our child," Clark whispered. "Whatever happens, I won't let him...he won't die there. I will come back."
Diana stared at him for a long moment. She knew he would do his best, although her heart was breaking. For a moment Clark thought she would not say anything to him. But before he turned to go, she leaned up and whispered in his ear.
"Go save our son, my husband. Remember always...that I love you."
The Temple of Ananke
Vizier Titus stared up at the boom tube opening in the sky. The ghouls behind him yipped in alarm at the strange new sight, and he made an impatient gesture with his human hand. Pickman glibbered at them to shut up, and they fell silent.
"What the hell is that thing?" Pickman loped next to Titus.
"I believe it is some kind of alien technology, linking Themysicra to one of the major cities on Earth. The alien must have interesting friends, to come to his assistance at this time."
"It's a bit late for that!"
"Maybe not. I sense that one of them is a homo magii. They have most interesting friends indeed."
Pickman made an ungraceful shrug of his shoulders.
"So what? What can they know?"
"It's not what they know. More importantly, it's what they do now, that will determine whether Carcosa will emerge."
"If it does?" The ghoul licked his muzzle.
"We evacuate Themyscira and return to Alar. Fortify the city."
"A shame," Pickman replied. "Things were getting so interesting here."
With almost inhuman speed, Batman launched himself at Trevor, striking at his face. When his fist connected with Trevor, he felt the strangest sensation of hitting something soft and pliable, unlike a human skull, but it only registered in a lower region of his mind. All his senses were focused on prying the child from Trevor's hands, utilizing that moment of surprise. He felt the child come loose and he caught it, tucking it tightly into the crook of his left arm like a football player snatching a fumble. He felt his right fingers snag on the yellow cloth covering Trevor's mouth and he instinctively yanked it off.
That was when all hell broke loose.
Bruce caught a glimpse of a yawning black and cavernous hole beneath what was left of Trevor's nose. For a split second, Bruce saw Trevor's misshapen face, then he realized it was just distended at an impossible angle. Then something slammed into him from below. He felt the impact, and rolled with the hit, protectively holding the baby, ignoring the pain like he usually did. He saw the writhing appendages where Trevor's feet should have been, like a mutant octopus's. It doubled Trevor's height. He fell to the cobblestone ground.
"What are you?" Batman shouted, rolling away.
What had been Steve Trevor now hovered in the air several feet above the ground. Extending from the hem of his robe writhed numerous black feelers, blindly searching in all directions for him. That was not the only thing - before the air had been still, now a powerful wind was blowing in from between the buildings, and growing, like a sudden storm cell. It whipped at Trevor's body, pushing the cowl back from his head. Bruce stared in horror at his disfigured face, which he could see clearly now. Trevor's eyes were like weepy egg whites, dripping and unseeing, yet Bruce felt that Steve could still see him somehow.
"Steve!" he shouted. "Fight it!"
"Take off your mask," The Steve/Yellow King thing said; although his mouth didn't move, Bruce could still hear him in his mind. "I have taken off mine. Now you see me as I truly am. I am an inhabitant of Carcosa. You will be one too."
Something in Bruce's mind clicked on that word.
There was some hidden meaning to this. He realized it was a weakness - a type of doorway, only to the mind. The entity, whatever it was, that had preyed on Trevor's mind had used this weakness. He had lost his military position, his profession - it had been his sense of identity, his dignity. He was searching for another role, anything, while he stayed at his sister's house. Someone had known this and had preyed on Trevor, given him the play that had allowed the entity to take root in his mind. Roles, masks. Steve had fallen for the bait and reached out for the new mask, the mask of the Yellow King. He had placed his hand on the doorknob.
He had to take that hand off.
"No," Batman hissed. "I wear no mask. This is my true face. I won't let you through."
The Trevor/Yellow King thing glowered down at him. "No mask? No mask!" Trevor's voice was distorted, inhuman.
"I'm going to leave here," Bruce got to his feet. "You won't stop me."
"No one leaves here," the Yellow King said in his mind. It wasn't Steve's voice. "Since you wear your face, you may leave, but not the singularity."
"Why?" Bruce backed away. He heard no response, but now the wind was coming from the whirlpool, which was now larger, and approaching. There was...something in it. He couldn't see it, there was flying debris in the sky, but all the same he knew it was there.
"The baby, I'm leaving with it," Batman said firmly. "Whatever this singularity is to you, you can't have it."
"Not for me...to the feaster from afar...to Hastur..." The Yellow King rose higher in the air.
Batman turned and ran. But it was so hard, the wind was so strong. He sensed pursuit behind him, and he channeled his energy into his legs, running as hard as he could down the twisting streets. The doorway was before him, but he felt the Yellow King's tendrils touch his limbs, and he knew he wasn't going to make it.
Damn, Bruce thought. So close...
He stopped dead and spun around, swirling his cape around and striking out at Trevor with it. The monstrous figure brushed aside his cape, ripping through it with his skeletal fingers. He felt himself flung down, hard and he hugged the child to his chest, shielding it from the impact. He waited for the tentacles to encircle his body and choke the life out of him.
Then something flew out of the portal, a blur of dark blue-and-redcolor in this otherwise dark realm. It hit the Trevor thing square in the chest and forced him back with immense power, slamming it into one of the crooked buildings which shattered like balsa wood.
"Clark!" Bruce shouted. "You idiot!"
Clark struck repeatedly at Trevor, but as much as he hit him, it felt as if his fists were sinking into dough, with as much impact. Trevor said nothing, only glared at him with those horrid milky-white eyes, and he wondered how much of him was still left.
"Where is he?" Clark roared. "Where is my son?"
"Clark, I have him! Let's get the hell out of here!" Batman leapt to his feet.
He spun around, seeing Bruce holding an infant in his black arms. An immense flood of relief filled his body, then he felt the thing's tentacles ensnare his body and fling him away as if he were nothing but a rag doll. He slammed into the street hard, next to Bruce, the cobblestones shattering under him. He lay there for a moment, wincing at the unfamiliar shock and pain. He stared around him at the unnatural city, seeing the sulfurous fog around him, and something that looked like a funnel of clouds growing in the sky, its center a vortex of light and wind. Then the Trevor thing was over him, and he was face to face again with his former friend. He was nearly unrecognizable, a shapeless blur held together by strips of flapping yellow cloth.
"Steve!" Clark gasped as the thing's tendrils encircled his throat. "Stop! Please!"
"You stole her from me!" Trevor snarled, in a voice that was almost human. "You stole my life! Did you think I would just like down like a dog while you and your friend walked all over me? You're not even human!"
"You still are!" Clark grabbed at Trevor's arms, which were no longer humanlike, but like his legs nothing more than a mass of protrusions of shifting protoplasmic matter. He couldn't get a grip, and he wrestled with it. "You're not this!"
"Clark! We've got to get out of here! Now!"
Trevor's appendages squeezed, and Clark screamed with pain. He tried to free himself, but he couldn't, he no longer had the physical strength. "No! Stop!"
"You all..ruined..." Trevor's ruined eyes glazed over and he suddenly heaved, fluids pouring from his distended jaw, a mix of blood and fluid. "Iä Hastur! Cf'ayak vulgtmm vutlagn, vulntnn Hastur! Iä! Iä!"
At the sound of that alien language, the same he'd heard in Smallville at the Red House, something snapped in Clark. His eyes flashed dark red. Beams as sharp and penetrating and more powerful than lasers blasted into Trevor's head, boring out those alien eyes, and striking what was left of his brain. There was a horrid sound of burning and an atrocious smell, before his head burst. Abruptly, Trevor released him and they both dropped to the ground.
Stunned, Clark struggled to his hands and knees, gaped at Trevor next to him. He was shaking in the death throes, his appendages flapping weakly on the ground, his yellow robe hanging in shreds over his distorted body, or what was left of it. His head twitched, and he seemed to look in Clark's direction.
"Steve," Clark gasped. "I'm sorry."
There was no voice but only the fading wisp of a thought, and it was all too pathetically human.
"Tell Diana...tell her...I'm sorry...Tracy...Mom...where are you...?"
It was more of a fading thought than a voice. Then, there was nothing. He was dead.
Clark staggered to his feet, feeling sick. He had killed Trevor, but he knew that there was nothing else he could have done, but it didn't make him feel any better. He had been filled with rage at him, but it was evident he had been possessed by something terrible, and he wasn't able to save him. What was left of Trevor's body just seemed to dissipate into the cobblestones, melting into it before Clark's horrified eyes. Not even a corpse remained. Everything had been devoured by this place.
"That wasn't Steve anymore, Clark."
He shook his head. "No, I heard his voice. He was still there."
"Only what little was left of him. He would have killed your child. Look, Clark."
Clark whirled around, saw Bruce standing behind him, holding a tiny thing in his arms. For a moment he didn't understand what he was seeing, then he blinked.
"I believe this is yours." Batman said, and held it out to him.
Clark held out his arms, which had somehow grown numb, and they were filled with something he could hardly believe. His son. The tiny, dark-haired infant stared up at him with eyes of clearest light blue, and for a moment his mind was blank, all except for the thought: This is my son.
"We can't stay here. Look around us."
Both Bruce and Clark saw that the buildings were crumbling, but in slow motion. No, not exactly collapsing. With shock, they realized they were morphing changing shape. Some were turning into blocks, while others were twisting in on themselves, as if obeying some bizarre, Nth-dimensional form of gravity.
"Let's get out of here!"
Bruce's sharp, commanding voice cut through his reverie like Diana's sword. He looked up and nodded, unable to speak. They had to get out of there. He looked over his shoulder and saw the whirlpool of clouds moving, it was growing larger, pulsating with light.
The two of them turned and ran for the portal. They were nearly there when something flew threw the air towards them, very fast. Clark quickly pulled Bruce out of the way, possibly saving his life.
Someone now stood in front of the portal, blocking them from returning to Themyscira. A tall figure, young-old, her pale skin pulsating with the same light as the funnel of clouds, her eyes staring at the two superheroes with unknowable, burning intent.
"Welcome to Carcosa," said Queen Cassilda. "You must not think of leaving so soon, gentlemen. There is so much more to see."
[A/N: Tragic ending for Steve Trevor, but it could only have ended this way, I think we all knew. Also wanted to have Diana say I love you to Clark since she didn't say it in the last SMWW issue. It's the final chapter up next, the end is here at last - who will live, who will die? Next chapter will reveal all! Thank you all for reading, and as always, please review!
Note: "The Feaster From Afar" is another title of Hastur, the Great Old One. It is also the title of a short story by J.P. Brennan, the plot is about a writer who rents a remote cabin in the woods against the advice of the locals and has an unpleasant encounter with the monster. It's a pretty predictable story. Since he's written as a bit of an asshole, you end up rooting for Hastur!]