Chapter 52 – Last of the Amazons (Part 1)

Themyscira

"Look!" Penelope suddenly shouted in warning. "The portal! It's growing!"

The Amazons and the Justice League stared at the swirling body of light slowly and inexorably engulfing the agora, instinctively backing away. It eerily resembled a boom tube, but it was smaller, narrower, and its contours were ill-defined, as if it had melted around the edges. It was also difficult to look at directly, not just because it was bright, but because the shape itself seemed to be constantly changing. Barry was reminded of those images on the Internet, a picture someone sent you that invited you to stare at a dizzying pattern of geometric shapes and when you looked long and hard enough, then you'd see something else, like a cute animal or a face.

Barry didn't care to see what would be revealed through this particular picture.

"We must retreat, my Queen!" Laodice shouted urgently. Eurydike wordlessly nodded her assent, still staring in shock at the eldritch light.

"Abandon the city?" Hippolyta stared at her warrior-sisters. "Never!"

"I think that sounds like a smart idea," Lois opined, even as part of her wished she had Jimmy's camera with her. What a crazy story this would make! But she doubted many readers would believe it, she hardly believed it herself. "But Superman and Batman are still in there! Wherever...wherever there is."

Diana waited in agony for a sign, any sign, of her husband and child. Every second that passed was like a twist of a knife into her gut. It was all she could do not to plunge into the portal after them, but Clark's last words to her echoed in her brain, ordering her to stay safe. Her fists clenched tightly. She could not let him fight this battle alone, but if his sacrifice was to be in vain...

"I cannot wait here!" Diana cried. She snatched a long spear from Penelope's trembling hands. "I must go to him!"

"No, Diana!" Hippolyta grasping frantically at her daughter. "You must not risk yourself! You are the Princess!"

Diana violently wrenched her arm away. "He is my man! I won't let him die saving our child alone!" She glared accusingly at her mother. "You never wanted him here! You tried to have him killed! You want him dead even now, when he is our hope! This has all been your fault, all this madness!"

Hippolyta reeled backwards at the glare of pure hatred in her daughter's eyes. It was as if all the Amazons throughout history, all those slain in battle or perished at the hands of men, had stared back in time and condemned her for her misdeeds, her failed leadership.

"Diana..." Hippolyta whispered. "Diana..."

The Flash saw the exchange between mother and daughter. He had no idea what was going on, but he immediately sensed that it was not good, and using his deductive speed reasoning, had a good guess at its cause. He instantly zipped between the two, before anything else could be said.

"I'll go in! I can grab the both of them if they're trapped in there. I'll be too fast to get caught, trust me!"

Before either the Amazons or the other League members could say anything, he turned and raced towards the opening, becoming a red-tinted blur. He saw the portal looming ahead, and he braced himself, lowering his center of gravity, ready to plunge into its shining center.

Then suddenly he thought he saw something loom before him, faster than anything he had ever seen before and he threw up his hands in surprise and fear.

"No!" Zatanna barely spoke the word before the portal appeared to pulse, and the blur of red shot back out at them at high speed, forcing them all to dodge quickly out of the way.

Stunned, Barry felt himself hurtled backwards with tremendous invisible force as if he'd run full-force into a giant trampoline. It sent him flying out of control, his own speed used against him - how the hell...? It seemed countless seconds before he felt himself colliding with hard rock, then felt blinding pain as something in his leg snapped.

"AAAHHHHH!" Flash screamed and writhed on the ground, grasping his leg, which was now bent at a sickening, unnatural angle.

"Barry!" Cyborg shouted and ran to his fallen friend. "Don't move! Hold still!"

"Something...someone was in there and it wasn't-" He gritted his teeth and tried not to cry out as a needle protruded from Cyborg's clenched fist and plunged into the gap between his torn legging, where the bone gruesomely protruded. The painkiller didn't fix his leg, but at least some of the agony vanished. Some.

"Look!" Selene screamed, pointing.

The portal was now pulsating, like slow beating of a heart and its outpouring of light was increasing. There had been no sound before, but now they all could hear something - like a slight humming or distant, wailing flute. It accompanied the pulsations of the portal, and it was also growing in volume.

Zatanna, Hal, and Wonder Woman darted to Flash's side as Hippolyta and Boudicca together barked orders for the Amazons to form a defensive barrier, beyond the shattered walls of the city. The Amazons and Getai obeyed, in mixed shock and fear.

"That was really stupid, man!" Hal said carelessly, and Zatanna shot him an angry look as if to tell him to shut up.

"What did you see?" She asked quickly. "What was it?"

"I-I'm not sure. It wasn't either Bats or Supes, I can tell you that much," Barry groaned, still holding his damaged leg. "But whatever threw me, man, I don't know what could have done it. What the hell is in that place?"

"Cassilda," Diana tightened her grip on her spear and turned to face the expanding hole; beyond the rim of light, glowed something that was its opposite, not light but darkness. "It's her in there."


In lost Carcosa...

Batman and Superman, standing side-by-side, faced the preternaturally slender and white woman who blocked the path between Themyscira and Carcosa. The portal was directly behind her. She made no movement, she only stared at them with a cold expression that held neither malice nor joy, only an indescribable knowing. The city around them continued to warp and bend in towards them, regardless of the laws of physics, but Bruce suspected that there were no laws here other than those created by its inhuman creator.

"What do you want from us?" Batman demanded. "We have no wish to fight with you."

"'Fight'? There is no need for fighting," the pale woman said, her voice a tone of cool indifference. "But why leave? What is waiting for you back there, Bruce Wayne?"

Clark glanced quickly at his friend, but if he was disturbed that the strange woman knew his name he gave no sign of it. He wondered, what had Bruce been doing all this time?

"You haven't seen the true Carcosa yet," Cassilda went on. "The Lake of Hali. The tall towers behind the moon. The black stars in the sky. They all await you, Bruce. You belong here. You have always belonged here."

"No," Bruce said, but Clark thought his voice was wavering. He turned to look at the strange woman.

For the first time Cassilda turned her icy eyes on Clark. He didn't move but he held the baby closer to him, as if to protect it from her.

"The singularity," her eyes drifted down to the child. "It belongs here as well, a gift to Hastur. You can go, you do not belong here."

"No!" Clark said, horrified. "This doesn't belong to you, and we don't belong to you. We're getting out of here!"

"You do not understand," Cassilda said implacably. "Like your friend Steve Trevor, it has always belonged here. You think you own it but you do not. There is nothing that belongs to you here."

"No," Clark didn't understand her words, but he understood damn well that she was a threat. "Stay away from us!"

"We don't have time for this," Bruce made a short and sharp gesture with his hand that was his code signal for: get ready. "Let us go, or we'll make our way out."

"There is no time here," Cassilda insisted. "There is no such thing here. Here, there is nothing to disturb you. You can stay live here forever, as I do. No words, no thought. Nothing to trouble your dreams, Bruce. There is nothing for you back there."

Before Bruce could respond, Cassilda then reached out to Clark. "Give me the singularity," she demanded, a chilling hunger in her voice.

"NO!"

Superman dodged away from the pale hand, and leapt wide aside, trying to avoid Cassilda's grasp. He expected the strange woman to attack him, but to his - and Bruce's - surprise she made no movement. He dashed past her, and grabbed Bruce's arm, and they both ran into the portal...

They plunged into darkness. For a moment Clark couldn't see or hear anything; it reminded him of when he had plunged into the shoggoth back in Smallville, and for a split second he felt an unbearable terror, then the light and sensation came crashing back into them.

They were no longer on the street, but they weren't in Themyscira either.

They had emerged on the shores of a lake, the dark city rising behind them. The waters of the lake were black and still, like polished obsidian, but they reflected the two moons that now hovered in the sky. Overhead the clouds still whirled about, and in the distance, a strange noise, like the wailing of thin pipes, reached their ears. There was no sign of the portal.

"Rao," Clark breathed. "Where are we?"

"We're still in Carcosa," Bruce said grimly. "She's - it's - not going to let us go so easily."

"As I told you, you belong here."

They whirled about, to see Cassilda them, the twisted towers of the city looming behind her. Enraged beyond words, red beams of light shot out from Clark's eyes towards her; they struck her, as harmlessly as a spurt from a water gun. She barely looked at him, her eyes were only for Bruce, staring at him with intensity.

"Take off your mask."


The Agora

"We can't just stand around, we came here to do something!" Hal said angrily. "There must be something we can do."

His question was aimed at Zatanna. She looked at the portal, worriedly. "The entrance into Carcosa. If they're still there..."

"Where else would they be?" Flash gasped.

Zatanna ignored him. "-if they're still there, and if that closes, then there's nothing we can do. But we have to close it, do you understand? Do you see how it's spreading?"

"We can't close it, not until we get Batman and Supes out," Cyborg said with conviction. "Tell us what to do."

"I...I don't know," Zatanna admitted. "I don't know what's beyond there..."

"You do!"

Abruptly Diana grabbed the startled magician by her lapels and yanked her hard so that they were face-to-face. "Tell me, Hera curse you!"

"I don't know what will happen if you go in there! That's why I wanted to find Randolph Carter," Zatanna looked at Diana without flinching. "I don't know what happened here on your island, but he is more powerful than you dream of. He knows the Gate...he is the Gate. He can close the door, that's why I must find him," She looked around quickly. "You said Clark and he fought in the Palace..."

"Why would he listen to you?" Diana snarled. "Who are you?"

"Diana, stop," Cyborg tried to calm her. "This isn't helping."

"I ask you again, why would you ally yourself with a monster?" Diana demanded. Zatanna touched her grasping hand and she yelped, surprised at the painful shock she felt, letting her go.

"I'm not your enemy, Wonder Woman," Zatanna said furiously. "Don't threaten me! I hope for your sake you haven't done anything stupid!"

"If you've come seeking Ilek-Vad, then you've failed," Diana turned away sharply. "There's nothing he can do for you! Get out of here!"

For the first time, Diana felt true despair wash over her. Zatanna was right - she wasn't her enemy, but the lack of one that she could fight back against and strike...it was overwhelming her. She fought it back, but it was hard.

"Bullshit!" Cyborg didn't usually curse, but now he felt like letting out a whole string of them. "I'm not buying that we've come all this way to have lost already! If he's here somewhere I'll find him! I think I can do a pretty good convincing!" He flexed his hefty metallic arms/weapons. "If he's there by that palace, like Superman said, I'll go search for him."

Zatanna shot a careful look at Diana, but she realized that the warrior was too distraught to listen to her. "I'll go with you."

"Hurry up and do that," Hal nodded. This was more like it! "I'll try to stop the portal from spreading...or try, anyway."

Cyborg raced away across the piles of rocks. Hal turned and raised his arm, aiming at the portal. They could hear him whisper to himself as he walked away from them.

"In brightest day.."


The Temple of Ananke

"Sir. Someone approaching."

Vizier Titus looked up from where he had been silently contemplating the rubble of the Palace, his hand to his pointed beard. One of the Alarian Guardsmen had come in to report.

"Who is it? An Amazon?"

"No, sir. No one like we've seen before," He held out a long scope to him. "A man who seems to be encased in metal. There's a woman with him but she doesn't look like one of the wenches."

Titus stood up, took the telescoping glass from the man, put it to his eye.

"A metal man, eh? One of the Amazon's friends, I expect. That woman though..."

"Should I have them brought in?"

"No. I will go out to them. I think I know what they want."

Suddenly, the earth shook beneath them, not a big trembler, but just enough to sent bits of rock tumbling from the ruins around them. The ghouls yipped.

"What is it?" The Guardsman asked.

Titus saw the rubble of the Palace begin to shake. The ghouls jumped and yipped again, excited. The Alarian, however, stood still, waiting. Pickman pumped his paw in the air, and looked at Titus expectantly. The old man nodded.

Titus turned back to the Guardsman. "Prepare. He's coming."

The Alarian Guardsman saluted, and went to assemble the Alarian army. Titus turned around and looked thoughtfully again through the spyglass. Yes, this may help, but it would have to be handled with some consideration...maybe they had come just in time. Maybe.

Cyborg climbed easily over the broken, colorful columns and tiles; a part of him marveled at what he saw. Even ruined, he could tell they had once magnificent buildings. Then he saw the broken bodies lying mangled amongst the rocks, and it sobered him. Something awful, a battle, had happened here. Whatever had done this, he knew, could be pretty dangerous. He helped Zatanna over some of the bigger boulders. She was lithe and nimble and had little trouble.

"This is incredible," he muttered. "What do you think happened here?"

"How the hell would I know?" Zatanna snapped, then apologized. "I'm sorry. I have no idea what happened between the Amazons and...the others. But if Randolph Carter is here, then that's the only thing that matters right now is finding him."

Victor looked suspiciously at the smaller woman. He didn't know her that well either, but she didn't seem dangerous to him, but he could be wrong.

He looked around the remains of the Palace. It must have covered quite a few acres, and he felt the same unpleasant sensation he'd always gotten when he saw a war-zone, anywhere in the world. They'd come far enough they couldn't see any more of the living Amazons, and the light of the portal was a distant glow, but he could hear them, and it. The whole atmosphere was unsettling, creeping him out immensely.

"You said back there that Carter could stop this, but how's that possible?" Victor asked. "Do you think he'd really help us?"

Zatanna was quiet for a moment, and she looked very young and vulnerable, so much that Cyborg worried for her, despite her powers. "I have no idea about that either, after whatever's happened here," she said softly. "But maybe...maybe I can talk to him. It's worth a chance, anyhow."

Suddenly the ground beneath them shook, and Cyborg held onto Zatanna's arm to keep her from losing her balance. They held their breath, wondering if the ground would become more unstable, but then it subsided.

"Damn, an earthquake on top of all this?" he cursed.

Zatanna stared at the still slightly vibrating ground. "I don't know."

He wondered at the way she'd said the last, but there was no time to consider it. He called out in his booming voice.

"Randolph Carter? Hey, are you there? Come out! We just want to talk to you!"

He tried to scan his surroundings, but his internal systems were jacked up ever since the pulse that had damaged the Earth's electronics. All he saw was rubble, no heat signals.

"Do you see anyone?"

"We're being watched," Zatanna hugged her arms. "They're all around us. Can't you feel it?"

Who? Victor thought, but he shouted again.

"Come on! Talk to me! Where are-"

"There's no need to shout, young man."

Cyborg and Zatanna whirled around, Cyborg raising his gun. They saw a tall bearded man dressed in a long black coat, holding a long black staff. He was standing fairly close - how had he snuck up on him, Victor thought? He seemed to have come right out of the ground. "Carter?"

"No, my name is Titus. Carter is my friend." The man's voice was deep, baritone, his accent vaguely...English?

"Where is he?"

"I'm afraid he's currently indisposed. But he shall join us presently."

Cyborg kept his gun trained warily on him, although the man just stood there, his arms at his side, unthreatening.

"Be careful," Zatanna whispered to him, her hand on his elbow.

"Did you...do all this?"

"Me? No. The Army of Alar, yes," Titus looked around him. "Partly, I mean. I believe the Amazons did their fair share. But tell me: who are you and why are you looking for Mr. Carter?"

This was getting surreal. "I'm Cyborg and this is Zatanna," Victor said shortly. "Don't you know what's happening here?"

"I know very well what is happening, young man, but I wonder that you do," Titus looked them up and down. "So, a half-robot and a homo magii, just as I thought. I haven't seen one of you for a long, long time."

Out of the corner of his eye, Victor could see Zatanna stiffen in shock.

"I assume you came here to find the Princess, and her man, yes?"

Cyborg ignored his question. "You and Carter attacked them," he accused. "We're going to stop this war. With or without him." He could sense rather than feel Zatanna's tension.

"We didn't come here to fight," Zatanna involuntarily glanced at some of the bodies lying not far off. "We just want to parlay."

"Parlay? You did not come on behalf of the Amazons?"

"No," Zatanna shook her head firmly. "We don't belong to their army. We just want to talk to him."

"I'm afraid it is a bit late for talk, young lady. You should have arrived much earlier. There's not much that can be done now."

"No!" Zatanna stepped forward. "Just...help us. If you can just..."

Titus looked at her closely. "Zatanna...is your father's name Giovanni?"

Zatanna's eyes widened. Cyborg stepped forward, raising his arm again. "This is getting us nowhere. Where's Carter, man?"

Titus pointed at Cyborg's arm. "You're not going to stop anything with those. I'm afraid there's only one way to make you understand."

He strode towards them.

"Hey! Stay back!" Victor lifted his arm again. "I'm warning you-"

Zatanna's eyes started to glow, and she opened her mouth: "Pots-"

The tall bearded man immediately raised his staff and aimed it at her. She didn't complete whatever she was saying, she was frozen in place; Cyborg could see her stunned eyes dart in confusion, but she didn't seem able to move.

Titus resumed his approach, walking directly towards him, his free hand out and extended. Alarmed, Cyborg fired, his cannon booming loudly. He saw Titus' black coat shred to pieces, and for a shocked second thought he'd killed the man. He stopped firing, but he was still standing, his staff still pointed at his companion. When the smoke had cleared, the remaining sunlight glinted off the spinning wheels and cogs revealed underneath his coat, as if he'd peeled back a layer of a grandfather clock. The metal part of him ended at his neck, and he couldn't see if the rest of him was metal or flesh. Cyborg gaped.

"You...you're a...cyborg?"

Titus stood directly in front of a shocked Victor, and nodded. "We didn't have that word in my time. I'm afraid I'm not as good with modern words as I once was. So - all I can do is show you directly."

He raised his metal arm, and long spindling spines grew from his arm and wrist. Startled, Victor tried to draw back but they lunged for him, rapidlywrapping around his arm and crawling up towards his face. Zatanna stared helplessly.

"No! Stop! What are you doing?"

"This is just what you would call a 'download' I believe. Also, it is two-way: I need to learn as much as I can from you. Don't worry, it won't hurt - very much."

"No!"

The golden tendrils wrapped themselves around his head next, and he froze as they penetrated his mainframe. His thoughts and words began to break up.

"Begin," Titus ordered.


Carcosa...

Bruce Wayne took a deep breath.

He could smell water, and a faint metallic tang in the air, like blood, but not quite. He thought he could smell Cassilda herself, a scent of fire and earth, and also something his olfactory organs had never noticed before. There was something utterly alien here, even more than his friend Kal-el could ever be. It was not here yet, but soon it would be. Then that would be the end.

He looked at his friend. Clark held his son to close to his chest, staring in furious desperation at Cassilda. He knew what he was thinking. As long as he could move, and think, then hope existed that he would get himself and his son to safety.

Hope. Now that was something that would never exist here, because there was no meaning of it that could possibly be understood by Carcosa's other inhabitants.

Do I really belong here?

Bruce had long ago accepted that he would aways be haunted by his murdered parents. During his brief stay in the orphanage, he had known other kids who had also lost their parents, either to murder, like his, or to accidents or illnesses. Most of them had managed to live with it, and move on, and be successful. He still kept in touch with some of them. But unlike them he had never made his peace with it. He knew, deep within, that there would never be a future for him other than as the Batman, clawing a grim and bloody retribution from Gotham's flesh.

Then he had come to Alar, and for once in his life, he had felt...what? Not quite peace, but as close to a peace as he thought possible.

It was almost like the peace of death, but he wasn't at death's door. He was somewhere else, not alive but not dead. And hadn't his cousin said that Alar was the mirror of Carcosa?

I am an inhabitant of Carcosa...

I am...

"Cassilda," Bruce spoke up. "Let Kal and the baby go. I will stay here."

"What?" Clark stared incredulously at him. Bruce ignored him. Cassilda turned her soulless eyes on him.

"That is not for you to choose. There is no choice here."

As if to accentuate her words, the water in the dark lake began to pulse, ripples moving from the center outwards evenly.

"Magnum Innominandum," Cassilda said. "The singularity, he will want to examine it for himself," Her voice took on a menacing, hungry tone. "Give it to me."

"Never," Clark suddenly knew that he would die here, if he could not get out of Carcosa. If that had to be... "You will never have him!"

"Then," Cassilda said. "We will take it."

Something rose out of the lake, at the far end, very slowly. A long, slender tentacle, but it wasn't really. It was just a convenient, mentally easy way to think of it.

Cassilda's eyes widened, and her attention was focused on the thing.

"Clark," Bruce said close to him, and he nearly jumped. "Do you trust me?"

"I've always trusted you, Bruce."

"Then do as I say - when I give you the signal, fly into the air, as fast and as far as you can. Anywhere away from here."

"What about you? I'm not leaving you here!"

"Never mind me, damn it! Just take your son and go!"

Clark's first instinct was to say to hell with that but he already knew the answer to that. There would be no arguing with him. He stared at him a millisecond longer then turned back to Cassilda, who was gazing at him now with predatory hunger that chilled his Kryptonian bones.

"Give me the singularity or I will take it from you and what's left of your body will be left at the bottom of Hali."

"Cassilda!" Bruce shouted. "Look!"

Cassilda's eyes darted to Bruce as he raised his hands to his bat-mask.

And pulled.

And pulled.

Clark leapt into the air again and sped as fast as he could, with what power was left to him. He had a last glimpse of Bruce pulling at his mask, but something was wrong. The mask...

The mask was now attached to his face, and he was pulling it off with the mask, revealing underneath...

Clark caught a vision of Cassilda snarling and lunging for him, but Bruce's cape swirled about him and shot out from either side of his body and enveloped Cassilda. He heard her scream of hate and at that sound he found the power to go even faster. Where he was going, he did not know, he only wanted to get as far away from that sight as possible.

Bruce...what's happening? I'm sorry...forgive me.

The winds whipped at him and he held onto his son with all his strength as he flew through the unnatural sky


The Agora

"Green Lantern's Light!"

The Amazons stared in amazement and wonder as green light shot forth from Hal's clenched first towards the portal. It took the form of a clamp, grasping at its edges. For a moment the portal seemed to stop expanding, then it actually seemed to bubble and crackle around the force which constrained it. Hal grimaced and clenched his wrist with is free hand. The power he could feel from that portal opening, whatever it was! It was so strong!

"I don't know how long I can hold it! I'll try as long as I can!" Cyborg had better hurry the hell up, Hal thought. The Flash lay on the ground nearby, watching, his leg bandaged up as best as circumstances permitted. He would be happy to get out of this in one piece, he thought.

Diana joined the Amazons who waited with drawn weapons. "Princess, what shall we do?" Penelope begged.

Before she could respond, the ground quaked, a huge tremblor. Amazons shouted, as some of them fell and horses whinnied and reared up. Diana reached out and caught someone and realized it was Lois.

"What fresh hell is this?" Lois gasped.

"I don't know," Diana held onto her. "But it's not stopping! Hang on!"

Suddenly, there was a thunderous noise, like a cross between a foghorn and a shriek, which rose even over the sound of the quake. Debris flew everywhere, as the remains of the palace exploded upwards and outwards. The Amazon cried out and took cover.

A flying chunk of rock struck Hal in the shoulder and it knocked him off balance, making him lose his construct. Free of the interference, the portal began expanding faster than before, swallowing up whole portions of the ground and space around it. He was suddenly reminded of a Stephen King movie, in which alien monsters appeared to chew up the scenery - literally. He didn't have much time - he grabbed Barry, threw him up over his shoulders in a fireman's carry ("Sorry, it's gonna hurt.") and flew him out of there, back where the Amazons were assembled.

"Look! Look at that!" Barry shouted, nearly blowing out Hal's ear.

"I know the portal's growing again, I'll try to-"

"No, I mean THAT!"

Hal looked up and what he saw made him nearly drop the Flash, which would have been bad. His jaw dropped in its place.

"What the fu-"


The Temple of Ananke

Pickman ignored the falling bits of plaster on his moldy hide as he saw the remains of the Palace explode. From his vantage point above the Agora, he saw it bulge outwards before it did so, like something heaving out of the ground. A person would have seen something like a pressurized bubble trying to burst out of the ground.

Pickman grinned, or as much as his distorted maw would allow. The other ghouls were leaping out of the collapsing temple. Outside, the Alarians, who were beyond the ruins, dropped to their knees to a man, in homage, as they saw what emerged from the ruins.

Spectacular, he thought.

Even the old ghoul was astonished, even as he recognized what he saw. A congerie of spheres, iridescent and gigantic, bubbling out of the ruins, filling the air and sky with the light that glowed from within.

"The old boy's still got it in him...literally."

Pickman loped down, and the ghouls followed him. Time for a better view.


Carcosa - Above the Lake of Hali

Clark grasped his child in his hands, hardly seeing or hearing anything around him. He tucked the tiny thing (so small!) in the crook of his arm. It felt so warm, and so fragile, and the fear that his child might fall victim to this terrible place powered more than sunlight ever could.

Bruce, I won't let your sacrifice be for nothing!

Clark didn't see any way that Bruce could defend himself against that woman - that thing - back there. Whatever had been in his mind, he was certain, he had done it in order to give him and his boy a chance.

He tried to tell himself he hadn't seen what he'd thought he'd seen.

But he didn't know where he was going, he was flying so fast but he saw no landmarks ahead of him, and he didn't dare to look back. Everything was dark clouds, and above him the stars, which glowed with a bizarre black light, and impossible as it was, he thought he heard...splashing behind him.

Something was chasing him.

He looked over his shoulder, and saw the whirlpool of clouds, rotating slowly. It was following him. He couldn't see into its center, but he knew something was there...something that Cassilda called the Magnum Innominandum. Hastur.

And it wanted the child.

Clark thrust his fist out and sped faster than he thought possible, than he ever could.

To be continued...


[A/N: This was going to be the last chapter, but it's getting too freaking long, so I'm splitting it into two, lol. Part 2 up by Sunday, I hope, now I can finish the dam thing now that finals are over! Next half should be just as long, lol. My apologies for the long wait, but it IS coming to a rapid, crazy, and VIOLENT climax, so check your pants. Is Bruce really gone? Will Supes escape? What about the League? And what will Diana do next? Will Zatanna meet Carter? What's happened to that guy anyway? Thanks for reading, and as always your reviews are welcome :)]