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[Archive] With This Ring (Young Justice SI) (Story Only)

Discussion in 'Story Archive' started by Mr Zoat, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    16:28 GMT -5

    "So, ya wanna actually talk to some of these jerks?"

    The robot facing me looks like it was patterned after a bear, with a screen replacing the head. Ring scans show it to be respectably well armoured by local standards, though not armed with anything beyond brute strength and retractable claws.

    B'dg nods. "They do, governor. I don't, but that's the job."

    "Ya know they eat people, right?"

    Vykin nods. "We have been informed."

    "And ya can't take weapons in with ya. It's like taking keys into a zoo exhibit."

    Serifan starts to open his mouth, an expression of outrage on his face. Vykin raises a hand in his direction and he bites his tongue. "We are capable of defending ourselves without weapons. The Gods of New Genesis are far stronger than normal people."

    "Good for them. What about you?"

    B'dg flies over to the robot and whispers into its microphone.

    "They-? Seriously?" B'dg nods. "Oh, okay, just as long as their next of kin knows the score. So we're clear, the guns here are designed to stop people coming to or going from the planet. We don’t put infantry weapons here in case the berrith get a hold of them somehow. Same with ships. We deliver things to the planet with drop pods so there's no fuel left over. The robots are fuelled with bleed torsion generators which self-destruct if something goes wrong. The robots are strong because that's the only way to make these savages listen. Basically, I'll show you who you can talk to and that's it. I ain't going to help you do something stupid like run an investigation here."

    Bear shrugs. "I think we can manage."

    Another robot trundles forward and Moonrider allows it to take his club. "If you hold them in such contempt, why are you here?"

    "There's a short list of people with the skills to do something like this. It's even shorter when you exclude the people looking for a reason-. An excuse to just kill them all and have done with it, and the people who'd treat them like the civilised species they're not. It needs to be done, and I'm the best candidate."

    Serifan scowls as the second robot approaches him, but he grudgingly divests himself of his pistols. "Why not just shoot 'em all?"

    "Because the Guardians of the Universe asked us not to. And since their Lanterns did most of the work in stopping the berrith, they get the deciding vote."

    "Imagine, Serifan." Lightray smiles at him. "Once we are done with Apokolips, we could be the ones protecting and nurturing younger civilisations."

    "So we could vote to wipe 'em out?"

    "So we would not need to." "Because we can shine the light of civilisation upon them."

    Serifan winces-. Actually, all the Forever People do. Not sure what that's about, it was a perfectly reasonable if slightly naive statement of principle. Maybe they get that from him a lot?

    "Having pursued both possibilities myself, I find that preserving a civilisation and reforming it is honestly the more satisfying, in the longer term. Killing more than a few hundred people just makes it too abstract to have the same psychological impact, whereas seeing a people successfully reintegrate into society with what they've built while not being evil can be really satisfying."

    I consider Chughraghahh for a moment.

    "Eventually. But given how long your species naturally lives, it shouldn't be an issue."

    Vykin nod. "Please take us to those you have settled here. That will allow us to become accustomed to their behaviour before confronting those in the wild."

    The h'lvenite on the screen shakes his head. "I don't think that you really understand what we do here, but alright. Follow this robot and it will take you to them."

    The robot turns away and starts walking towards a compound near the outer perimeter of the h'lvenite settlement. We leave the Forevermobile and follow along behind it, Moonrider frowning thoughtfully.

    "What do you mean? Aren't you trying to change their society by showing them a better way to live?"

    "Ever seen a trapped animal gnaw off its own leg to escape a trap?"

    Moonrider frowns. "No. Though I have nothing against hunting, on New Genesis we use matter re-sequencers to-."

    "I don't care. The point is that the berrith don't want to change. If we build a school… Heck, even a gymnasium, they just smash it up unless they're watched the whole time. If we watch them, they steal things, and make rude gestures."

    Serifan looks mystified. "So what can you do with them?"

    The robot stops at the door to the compound, and raises its right forepaw. The door detects… Whatever it's scanning for, and slides open. I can immediately hear the… Noise? It's coming from living creatures, but it's not reaching the threshold for speech…

    The robot shows us a window on a crèche, infant berrith being tended to by fur-coated robots.

    Bear blinks in confusion. "What..? Is this?"

    "Our attempt to eliminate nurture. Their mothers are living in the nearby berrith settlements. We pay them in food for the opportunity to educate their young."

    "They sold you their children? You bought them?"

    "This will be an educational establishment. On any normal world, they'd be paying us. The berrith here will be free to leave with no obligation to us once they reach adulthood or if their mothers want them back. But in the mean time, we will bring them up to be decent sophonts, something that previous generations of berrith have uniformly failed to do."

    Dreamer steps up to the glass in something of a daze, laying her right hand upon it as she watches a berrith infant be sprayed with something unpleasant when it refuses to give up its empty bottle.

    "They-. You're not a predatory species-."

    "Input from better socialised predators and omnivores was sought and included. That is why this robot is pattered after a large creature rather than after my species. And why they will be taught how to hunt and butcher rather than just farm."

    The robot turns away and walks further down the corridor.

    Serifan looks nonplussed. "D'you mean the Guardians approve of this?"

    Lantern B'dg shrugs. "They haven't objected."

    "The Guardians did something similar to a species in my home system. They took them, and… Completely changed them. That's the reason why my species exists today. And the reason why the descendants of those they altered have an actual civilisation and not a series of bonfires."

    "That's interesting. And restricted."

    "I don’t set Green Lantern Corps data security policy."

    Another set of security doors, and this time the noise is louder and I can easily pick out words. Rowdy… Youths? Shouting at each other. None of it sounds… Especially violent.

    The robot stops in front of another window. Young berrith are being taught… Some sort of team game involving ropes. They… Seem to be getting it.

    "These children are a little bit older. We're not sure where the cut-off is for being able to socialise them, so we're trying with several different age groups. The early indications are that berrith aren't innately stupid, so I'm hopeful that we might be successful."

    One of the children punches another in the face, causing two others to jump on them. The robots move in quickly to pull them apart and apply corrective face-squirts.

    Last edited: May 24, 2023
  2. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    21:37 GMT

    "…the vrangs' own anti-orbital weapons, and the ship exploded-"

    Kara throws up her hands with an excited expression on her face, to the joy of all the children listening to Kryptonian History Story Hour.

    Who all immediately copy the gesture. "BOOM!" / "BOOM!" / "BOOM!" / "BOOM!" / "BOOM!"

    "-in a giant fireball. And then Krypton was free of evil aliens, never to be conquered again!"

    That doesn't meet with quite the same level of joy as the call-and-response part, but the children seem happy enough. I do spot Kara's eyes lingering on the two tamaranean children who decided to sit in, but they appeared to enjoy the story as much as the kryptonians. Bit of a slant, but I suppose that Karsta might have decided to enculturate them through jingoism.

    Nothing wrong with preferring your own civilisation to someone else's. And I say that as someone from objectively the greatest civilisation that the Earth has ever produced.

    But that's not a lot like I remember from the comics. Or much like Kara 50. I think… I mean, she seemed fine, and Karsta's been keeping an eye on her-.

    "Hey, Mister Grayven."

    "Hello, tiny tiny children." I smile at them as I bend down, favouring them with pats on the head as they move past me into the hallway. "Are you behaving yourselves for your teacher?"


    "I'm glad to hear it. Now, run along, little people. I need to speak with Kara."

    The rest of the class files out, heading towards their… Evening meal.

    "Grayven!" Kara smiles at me and takes a few moments to restore the seating to a perfect grid before walking over to me. "What brings you here?"

    "Oh, I like to keep an eye on important projects. You know, turn up in person every so often and talk to people. Make sure that I'm not missing something important."

    "That's very responsible. If Kem-El had kept an eye on Daxam, they wouldn't be a bunch of yokels today."

    "Ah, well, to be fair, there was a primitivist movement on Krypton before he got involved. Though, I mean, if you want to, you can use the hush tubes to visit them yourself."

    "No." Her face slips back into neutral. "They've made their choice, and safeguarding true kryptonians is more important than trying to dig the Daxamites out of the hole they've buried themselves in."

    "Okay, and… You sure you..? Want to keep doing this?" She gives me a concerned look. "I know you were studying mathematics on Krypton, and while this is important work, I wouldn't want you to feel chained to it."

    And she's smiling again. "Nothing is more important than preserving the kryptonian species!"

    "Right, but… There's more to resurrecting the kryptonian species than child-rearing. Ultimately, they'll need-."

    "A New Krypton to live on." She nods. "I know. I've been talking to Clarissi Dox about it, and he says that we can be folded into the current wave of colonisation projects. Ideally, we'd like a world with no one on it, but I can see that it might be better to share a world until the second generation are born and people are settled into their occupations. Besides." She rises off the floor. "It's not like I can't go back to another career later. No one knows how long kryptonians live when they've got access to a yellow star, but it's a long time."

    "Well. Okay. If you're happy. Have you and… Karsta, decided what you want done with the Rao system? We've probably got the manpower for… Whatever you decide."

    Her eyes… There's an odd expression that I can't quite-.

    "Could you restore it completely?"

    "You mean, transmute the kryptonite back into normal rock and stick the planet back together?"

    "I-." The odd expression again. "Y-. Yes."

    I do a quick back-of-an-envelope-but-in-my-head calculation.

    "Yes. Not.. quickly, but it's certainly possible. Be a good deal easier if someone as well motivated as you took the lead-."

    "No. My place is here. Living kryptonians are more important than a world that chose not to save itself."


    "So don't prioritise it, but I'd still like it back. Ideally."

    "Rightoh. Is there..? Anything else you need?"

    She shakes her head. "No, I don't think so. You've resourced this project appropriately."

    I nod. "Okay, I'll leave you to it, then. Have a good day."

    "You too!"

    Mother Box…


    Yeah, but… Do the tube thing.


    I walk through the tube to the command station, where Ecksey and Karsta are keeping tabs on things. They both look around, though I wait for the tube to close down before putting a sound-deadening field around the room.

    "What's up with Kara?"

    Karsta frowns. "What do you mean?"

    "Ecksey, you know what I mean, right?"

    "Her mental activity has not changed significantly since she arrived. Neither has her outward behaviour."

    "She was reading a story about the vrang occupation to a class, and-."

    "Oh, the one about Hatu-El's resistance movement." Karsta nods. "It's nice to know that she's taking inspiration from the worthwhile members of her House."

    "Don't you think it's a bit… Xenophobic?"

    "Fighting against people who invaded and conquered our planet? No? I think it's exactly right xenophobic. Look…" She gestures to the monitors with her right arm. "All our kids are growing up surrounded by aliens on a space station built by aliens in a project overseen by you, another alien. That's not a kryptonian thing. We didn't mix with aliens like this."

    "Well, if you know a kryptonian with a cloning-."

    "I know. I'm not complaining. I'm grateful. I know I wouldn't do something like this for your species."

    "My species does kind of suck."

    She gives her head a small shake, and I do know what she means.

    "Even if they didn't. But as far as I'm concerned, Kara Zor-El is far more normal than that exhibitionist weirdo Kal-El."

    "We did rebuild her brain. She's just… It's just that she's acting so different from the parallel universe version I met, I'm worried that we did something wrong. Got something wrong."

    Ecksey shrugs. "Her brain has all the right parts. None of the patterns of activity are all that strange for someone who went through a great trauma. Since I have no idea how she thought when she lived on Krypton, I can't say if it's wrong for her or not."

    I nod. "Okay. Let me get back to you."
    Last edited: May 25, 2023 at 10:34 AM
  3. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    16:46 GMT -5

    The adult female berrith looks up at Bear. I can't read her facial expression, but I'd guess… Impressed? He's a good deal bigger than she is. Than her whole species is. If their whole alpha-dominance psychology is hard-wired, there's a pretty good chance that she'll just do what he asks.

    "We're looking for someone."


    Posture… Ring analysis suggests that she's 'cautious'.

    Bear's head twitches, as if he was going to glance at me and then remembered that the glass is one-way. Then he holds up a data pad with a picture of a random beaver-type h'lvenite, dressed in clothing that Ub'x has not worn in any of the publically available recordings I've been able to access.

    "This guy."

    She regards it for a moment.

    "Is that the alien alpha?"

    "Ah, who exactly do you mean?"

    "With the face on the robot."

    "Have you seen him somewhere else?"

    "No foo-. No. They don't come here without robots. Are you stronger than them?"

    Bear smiles weakly and flexes his arms. "I'm physically stronger than a lot of people, but that doesn't make me better than them."

    I wince, shake my head and turn away, heading towards one of the other observation windows.

    "…better house."

    Vykin is looking a little lost, which is probably why his berrith female is making demands. He's established himself as beneath her in the pecking order, so as far as she's concerned she can just tell him what to do and she can expect him to do it.

    "What is wrong with your house?"

    Wrong response. Obviously -and I say that as an Orange Lantern- there's nothing wrong with it save that it could be better. That's true of any house that exists, and she's pushing not because she needs something but because she thinks that she can get it.

    Were they just training these children to say 'taaru' whenever anything happened, or did they get any practical training as well? Because it doesn't look like it.

    "It doesn't have a good enough shower. Or a drying room."

    "I can talk to the governor about-."

    "Then get the governor and bring him here."

    I suppose that it's better that he learn here rather than somewhere urgent. I turn-.

    "What's the matter?" Lightray appears to be taking the whole… Thing… Lightly. "She's not asking for much. We can easily build a few new rooms."

    "She's not asking because she needs or deserves a bigger house. She's asking because Vykin is displaying weakness. Subservience." I use my ring to review their talks so far and roll my eyes. "She hasn't even said that she knows anything, yet. He didn't use the misleading picture. She just said 'maybe, here's what I expect you to give me for even thinking about it'."

    "How do you think they should do it?"


    "Something that won't drive them insane with berserk rage."

    "That wasn't deliberate. I explained the risks ahead of time, and Orion's an adult. Orion and I both knew that what happened was within the realms-."

    He flaps his right hand at me. "And none of that matters, because it still happened."

    "Your feelings aren't affected by anything as tawdry as facts."

    "Yes. Exactly. I'm already going through Orion-withdrawal and you give off strong Orion-vibes."

    "Is that a New God thing?"

    "Partly." "And partly because you've got the same focus that he does."

    I.. frown. "I'm sorry, what?"

    "I said 'partly'. You don't have his anger-."

    "You mean his..? Focus? Well, yes, my home planet is currently being Anti-Lifed. Given how long it's been going on for a few hours probably doesn't make much difference, but I still want it gone."

    "No one likes Anti-Life."

    "I'm pretty sure that Darkseid does."

    "I wouldn't presume to pretend to understand what Darkseid likes or doesn't like. But I suspect that he finds it… 'Appropriate' or 'useful' rather than 'nice'."

    "Anyway, things happen, and I don't accept guilt. Can you do interrogations?"

    "Not in situations like this. I can frustrate people until they tell me what I want to know, but that doesn't help when they don't know anything."

    "What does Vykin do?"

    "Ah. He.. can control magnetic fields."

    "You don't sound sure."

    "It's because of how our powers work. They require that our natures be in tune with our thoughts. With Anti-Life exposure… With the exposure they had on Apokolips, their abilities aren't… Entirely reliable."

    "Will Dreamer be able-?"

    He looks pained. "Probably. If she's not hurried, and you don't need precise detail. It's… They're here to try and help with their recovery. To remember how to be themselves."

    "You know I only spoke to Dreamer briefly, right? And I've never really spoken to the rest of them."

    "Yes, this is my responsibility, while Orion isn't. Why are you asking?"

    "Vykin could demonstrate dominance by reshaping some metal. He wouldn't need to threaten her, just show a power that she couldn't comprehend that could be used as a weapon. If he could do it reliably."

    "That sort of necessity probably wouldn't help."

    "Alright, tell you what: let them finish up their current interviewees and then send the berrith on their way. Then I'll pick an interview subject and they can all watch me."

    He looks at me sceptically.

    "Obviously, there are good reasons not to just copy everything I do. But they need to know how to question people and I was trained by people far less ruthless than me. If you don't like it, you can always tell them to ignore me."

    He nods. "Alright. I'll let them know."
    Last edited: May 26, 2023 at 8:57 AM
  4. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    16:53 GMT -5

    I sit in my chair, not looking at the female berrith as she walks in. She looks around, and then focuses on me, sniffing quietly. I raise my right hand and pointedly examine my nails. She comes a little closer, and tries to pull out the chair opposite me.

    It doesn't move.

    I make a quietly contemptuous snort.

    She looks at me again.


    I turn in my chair and lower my hand, giving her my full attention.


    Berrith dominance hierarchies work well when the berrith trying to work together know each other, and know who's in charge. Berrith who don't know each other and are put in a situation like this will sort of dance around each other, testing one another until a hierarchy establishes itself. I'm being ridiculously domineering by their standards, and there's a non-trivial chance that she'll attack me due to me trying to force her into a subservient role that she isn't mentally ready to accept.

    I keep my face neutral. Not aggressive or angry. Not particularly invested in what she does. As if I take it as a given that she will comply.

    She puts her right hand on the chair once more and gives it a small tug. This time it moves.

    She pulls it out fully, and sits down.

    Her posture indicates caution, which is a better start than four out of five of the Forever People managed. And I think that with Bear it was accidental.

    I hold out my power ring.

    "Do you recognise this?"

    Tracking her eyes… My face, the ring, stays on the ring for a few moments, then around the room, towards the part of the room that has one-way glass, the ring, my face and then the ring again.

    "What do you want?"

    Don't respond. Don't change the way you act based on the subject.

    "Answer the question. Do you recognise this ring?"

    Ask again in a clear voice to demonstrate that, and if she doesn't respond then instruct her to leave.

    Quiet sniff… Nervousness?

    "Yes. Alphas had them."

    Slight smile, small nod. Indicate that such a response was correct.

    "What did those alphas do?"

    "Demanded obedience. Took people off the planet. Died. The people were brought back."

    "Yes." I nod, maintaining eye contact. "Good."

    "Are you taking revenge? Were they yours?"

    Now, this is a case where I can answer her, because she's requesting more information about my topic in order to understand my intent better.

    "I'm not taking revenge. I killed them for using my rings."

    She pulls away slightly, because I just marked myself as someone who fought and killed alphas with magic rings. While she's reconsidering the wisdom of her agreeing to talk to me, I take the photo out of subspace.

    "Did you meet this h'lvenite?"

    She looks at the picture, but she's sniffing-. Right.

    I use my ring to replicate his scent. She starts sniffing harder immediately.

    "No. I smelled something similar, but not quite the same. He doesn't look quite right."

    I nod, clearing the air and sending the picture back into subspace. Then I take another picture, still not of Doctor Ub'x, and add the scent.

    "This one?"


    Ub'x this time, though I'm careful not to change my posture or expression.

    "This one?"

    A sniff, then a couple of deeper sniffs.

    "I did not see him. But I have smelled him before."

    "Do you know anyone who spoke to him?"

    "Not for certain… I think Marran might have spoken to him. Maybe. I didn't."

    "What makes you think that?"

    "The smell. And she spoke strangely for a while. I think she met someone who was not berrith. It might not be him."

    I nod, affecting 'pleased alpha' berrith body language.

    "Thank you. That's helpful. I will speak with her next."

    I smile inwardly as she affects 'pleased beta' body language.

    "Do you have any children here?"

    "Two daughters."

    "Why do you send them here?"

    "Should I not?"

    "I'm interested in your reason."

    "We berrith went to war. We lost. The other species, the ones we fought, were stronger. My children will learn from them and be stronger. Wiser. I can't do that for them. The h'lvenites can."

    "Do you visit them?"

    "Yes." She makes a quiet whine. "I shouldn't. I don't want to distract them, but they're my daughters."

    I nod. "That's enough of a reason."

    "No. If I visit more, they might learn from me. The aliens don't smell right. They don't smell of us."

    "It would go better if they smelled like berrith?"


    "Thank you for bringing that to my attention."

    I can't change that, obviously, but I'll speak to the governor about it.

    "Now, please take me to Marran. I'll need to speak to her next."
    Last edited: May 27, 2023 at 1:49 PM
  5. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    17:06 GMT -5
    Earth 50

    I get a half-second view of her dainty fingers, then I'm flying backwards across the Metropolis skyline with my nose pancaked across my face.


    Through… My environmental shield and…

    Really ow.

    Fix my nose back into shape.

    By your command.

    OW! Which hurts more-. And-.

    I'm jerked to a stop as Kara blurs after me, her hands grabbing my gorget. "What are you doing here?"

    "Fixing my nose, you-. Deeply rude woman. What the heck was that for?"

    "What did you think I was going to do? You're still a wanted fugitive, Grayven."

    "What? But I barely committed any crimes at all." She looks incredulous. "One little vault break in and maybe a few thousand dollars worth of damage."

    "And the people you killed."

    "They were Anti-Lifed to the point of being unsalvageable." I shake my head as my nose finishes regenerating. "I honestly didn't realise that people here were still throwing such a fit about things."

    "John and Shayera aren't here. They-."

    "They're on Thanagar. I know. I'm still in contact. I'm a friendly guy with people who don't respond to 'hello' by punching me in the f-. Flipping face."

    I jerk my arms up, knocking her arms away. And yes, I know that if she was gripping hard that wouldn't have worked, but I'm happy to see that she hasn't quite learned real savagery yet.

    She folds her arms across her chest. "What do you want?"

    "I found our version of you a while ago. Ah. Sort of. She's Kara Zor-El, not Kara In-Ze, but… Same idea. Blonde kryptonian female, survived Krypton going up…"

    "I'm not the only blonde kryptonian."

    I feel guilty for thinking it, but I can't help it any more than I can prevent myself snort-chuckling.

    "Wha-?" She blinks as she gets it. "Ugh. That's not funny, Grayven."

    "If it makes you feel better, Kal-El's the only black-haired kryptonian." I exhale. "I don't find the death of your species funny or anything, but it was the juxtaposition between you just saying it like that-."

    "I can go back to hitting you, you know."

    "If it makes you feel better-. No, let me… So, we located her and brought her back to the facility I'm using to clone the kryptonian species back into viability-."

    "Y-? How do you mean..?"

    "I got a load of kryptonian genetic records from… Various places, mixed them up a bit and then used some ex-Citadel cloning machines to create more kryptonians. Hired some people to raise the resulting children… And since that was-. Actually, do you have any kryptonian genetic records here? We're doing okay for genetic variation, but there's no such thing as too much variety."

    "Ah… Brainiac's database might have some medical records… He could access all of the data on Krypton, but I don't know if he bothered loading it onto the database Kal captured. There's… Probably some intact bodies on Kandor. We didn't really get much kryptonite radiation, unlike Krypton."

    I nod. "Nifty. I'll have a look around at some point, we can include them in the next batch."

    "You're not… Keeping them as slaves, are you?"

    "What? No. Karsta Wor-Ul would-" Try to. "-kill me. And they're children; there's basically nothing they could do that it wouldn't make more sense to have an adult or a robot do."

    "But when they grow up…"

    "They're part of my domains. If they want to work for me, I'll hire them. But their capacities make forcing them completely impractical."

    She stares at me searchingly, and I shrug.

    "Okay. So-? Wait, are you asking me to… Contribute?"

    "Ah. No? I mean, you can-. And I can manufacture kryptonian sperm if that's something that you want, but-. We're getting away from my point."

    "Which is?"

    "Our Kara was severely injured due to having been in a malfunctioning pod ship which was trapped in a kryptonite asteroid. We fixed her up with a daxamite medical sarcophagus, and she seemed… Fine-ish..? But she's a lot more… Socially vicious. And… Loudly devoted to Kryptonian nationalism in a way that I wasn't… Expecting."

    "Okay? She's not me. I don’t really… I mean, aside from Jax-Ur, that wasn't really part of kryptonian politics. We didn't have any contact with aliens and no one really wanted to leave."

    "No vrangs on your parallel?"

    She frowns. "No who?"

    "Vrangs? An alien species that invaded medieval Krypton before eventually being kicked off by the natives. That didn’t happen on your Krypton?"

    "Not that I remember. I never really bothered studying ancient history, and if Brainiac didn't think it was important, he might just have got rid of the records." She relaxes her arms. "So, okay, she's acting weird. Why do you want to talk to me about it?"

    "Because you're both young kryptonian women and I don't know any kryptonian psychologists. I'd like to you try talking to her, find out if there's actually something wrong with her."

    "I can't just disappear from my job."

    "I could kidnap you? I mean, it's not like I ran out of gold kryptonite."

    "And it's not like I ran out of radiation shields." She looks away, thinking. "How long will this take?"

    "I don't know. How good at psychology are you?"

    "Why don't you ask Kal?"

    "Your Kal-El?" She nods. "Because I don't want him near the children. Or near me. Did you tell him I'm the one who dosed him with gold kryptonite?"

    "No, I left that out. He's actually… Talking to me now. He approves of…" She glances down at her 'S'. "This."

    "I imagine he wasn't entirely displeased to learn that Batman died either."

    "I'm not sure. He wasn't happy when I told him, especially when I told him how." She shrugs. "They were friends for years. I don't think his… Feelings about Batman were that… Simple."

    "So is that a hard no from you?"

    "I'll see if I can get the time off work, but I'd like to get Kal out of the Fortress. It's not healthy."

    I sigh. "Okay. I'll give him a try."
    Last edited: May 28, 2023 at 9:09 PM
  6. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    22:11 GMT
    Earth 50

    "Oh. It's you."

    Kal-El returns his attention to one of the alien animals he acquired from his fight with the Collector, a big purple herbivore of some sort. It gives him a hug with its face tentacles, and he pats it fondly on the side of its neck.

    "It's me."

    He walks over to check on the feeding station. "Did you want something?"

    "Yeah." I sigh. "I wanted Kara's help with something and she's busy with work-."

    "And I'm not." He pats the animal again, then makes his way to the exit from the enclosure. "Not that that means I'd want to help you."

    "I wasn't expecting you to volunteer, but you have specific expertise that I need and I'm prepared to hire you."

    That gets a frown as he wipes the tentacle goo off with a prepared towel.

    "What makes you think I'd want to work for you for any price?"

    "Have I done something to offend you?"

    I mean, yes, obviously, but Kara didn't tell him about the gold kryptonite-.

    "Kara didn't tell me about the dust you used on me, but I run a farm here. I do soil sampling to check that the soil chemistry is right for the crops, and I've got air purification systems set up. It started showing up in the filters a little while after you left."


    "Guess I'm rumbled then."

    "What is it? I couldn't tell exactly what it did, but I doubt that you'd have used it unintentionally."

    "Kryptonite comes in more than one colour. That was gold. It basically turns off your powers without causing other damage."

    He grimaces. "Luthor beat you to the punch."

    I shrug. "What, you expect me to trust Luthor?"

    He huffs. "I guess not. And that's why Kara was getting sick, until you removed it."

    "Yeah. I kind of assumed it would have settled… Or that she was angry enough to have written you off. She's a really nice person."

    Perfectly innocent noses aside.

    "Nice isn't enough. I thought what S.H.A.D.E. did would have been enough to teach her that."

    "I'm-." I frown. "Did you want her to kill you? Or lobotomise you? Because that would seem to be the logical continuation of that thought process."

    "If she had, I'd have understood. But I was more hoping that she'd join me after she experienced how bad America's politics are for herself."

    "I think it was less personal than Luthor was for you. She hadn't had years of graciously not tearing his head off to regret. So anyway, reason I'm here, is that I'm worried about the mental state of my universe's Kara. She's… Ah, not like yours, and I'm worried that when we fixed her up after she was seriously injured a while ago we got something wrong."

    "And you want me to take a look? I do probably know more than most people about kryptonian medicine. And I've still got Brainiac's database."

    "I wanted Kara, but, yeah."

    "What are you offering? I doubt you'll give me my powers back."

    "No, obviously, but I could upgrade your defences, if you like?" I'm definitely not including him in the program. "Get you a universal television receiver so you can watch alien T.V.? Or just more materials for your own projects? Heck, if you really want I can relocate this place somewhere so you don't have to worry about being murdered in your sleep by vengeful government agents."

    "That last one sounds good. I'd still need some way to get back to Earth, though."

    I nod. "I can build a zeta beam transporter easily enough. It will be point to point, so if the end station gets discovered that's your problem. That all?"

    "I hate corrupt governments. I don't have anything against sick young women, and I…" He sighs. "It wasn't ever about taking power myself. It was always about… Trying to help people. Make their lives better. You hit me with that gold kryptonite of yours a few minutes after meeting me. Would you have handled the supervillains we lobotomised any different?"

    "I'd have settled for killing most of them. Having them around with two burn scars on their foreheads just harmed your brand. When they stop being capable of evil, anyone who interacts with them is just left looking at a harmless person you harmed." His eyes drift away as he considers what I'm saying. "With a corpse, people would just move on, and they wouldn't have that constant visual reminder of who killed them."

    "That's not a bad idea."

    "There were actually a whole lot of other things you could have done better, propaganda-wise. Given your background as a journalist, I'm surprised it didn't occur to you to manufacture some consent."

    "My journalism classes were about teaching me to spot someone else doing that stuff, not how to do it myself."

    "You were in charge of the country. Should have changed the curriculum."

    He makes an amused exhalation. "I'll remember that next time."

    I smile. "That's the spirit. Anything you need to do, or are you alright to head out now?"

    He walks over to a wall panel and presses a button. A few moments later, a… Somewhat weathered Superman robot trudges in and heads towards the next pen.

    "It's not that hard to automate things, but I need something to do myself."

    I nod. "Right then. Mother Box?"



    A few animals squawk or grunt, but for the most part they accept the noise and the glowing hole in reality.

    I lead the way through, back into Karsta's office in the cloning facility.

    "Karsta Wor-Ul, this is Kal-El Fifty." Karsta studies his face intensely, frowning as she does so. "I've asked him to have a chat with Kara, see if he can-."

    "Fine. Fine. I don't need to know every little thing you get up to."

    "He took over his Earth after their Lex Luthor proved to be an incompetent lunatic. I think you might like him more than our Kal-El."

    She takes in Kal-El's farm overalls. "He dresses better."

    "I probably used to dress the same way. It's just not really a good idea to wear a cape around farming equipment."

    I nod. "Alright, I'll take-."


    I stare down at Mother Box. "Seriously?"


    "Okay, ah…" I look at Kal-El and Karsta. "I'm sorry, but it sounds like Atlantis has risen from the ocean and I need to get back to Earth. Karsta, could you please show Kal-El around, introduce him to Kara, that sort of thing?"

    She gets up out of her chair. "Sure. Probably-"

    Mother Box.


    I jog through the portal back to Challenger Mountain.

    "-best to start with the healing pod…"
    Last edited: May 29, 2023 at 12:41 PM
  7. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

    Dec 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    13th February 2013
    17:35 GMT -5

    From Marran to another to another, we finally have a lead.

    The Forever People share a discomported look as we walk through the berrith settlement. Probably a medium sized town, though I'm not sure how to judge their order of service. The berrith are actually a post-industrial society, but… They haven't ever developed some technologies that humans have now, while being more advanced in other areas. Personal computers aren't something they really had even during their initial advance into space. They do have computers, but they're work tools rather than a consumer item, and they prefer using terminals which connect to servers rather than personal computers.

    Their heavy industry means that the air quality is quite a bit worse than most places back home-. Maybe some Chinese cities are like this? Smog clouds are an ongoing issue, and the sky sort of greys the background out after a certain distance. The roads are concrete, and the vehicles are like humvees with proportionally larger wheels.

    Serifan is pulling a face. "How do they breathe this?"

    Vykin looks around, relatively untroubled. "Did you not study the early industrial society of Earth?"

    "That weren't the part I was reading about. Plenty of fresh air in the Wild West."

    "Usually, a planet that had space ships would have moved away from burning hydrocarbons for fuel. I guess the berrith just…"

    Actually, why haven't they moved on to fission fuel?

    Original berrith homeworld had only small quantities of fissile material, along with plentiful quantities of easily accessible hydrocarbons. While berrith science was aware of the principles involved, it was impractical for them to implement on a wide scale.

    "Didn't have enough heavy metals on their homeworld for fission."


    Moonrider shakes his head. "New Genesis is the perfect world. Most other worlds lack things that we consider normal."

    "Yes, floating cities over a largely untouched forest aren't things most worlds have. Even Oa doesn't have that."

    Serifan looks outright confused. "Why not? Them Guardians could make Oa like that. Couldn't they?"

    "I can't speak for the Guardians, but if you're asking me to guess, I'd say that they consider themselves above any animal part of their nature that would like there to be plants or animals around. Since as far as I know Oa never had any wildlife, it's as desolate outside of the buildings that they and the Green Lanterns have built as it was when they moved there. Maltus is more like New Genesis, though our cities are on the ground and a good deal bigger."

    We're getting a few stares from the locals, but… They're temporary stares. They look, they sniff, then they go back to doing whatever they were doing before. I remember my college textbooks calling that 'the diffusion of responsibility', but considering how berrith social hierarchies work it might be more accurate to call it the focusing of responsibility.

    "Though if you were serious about that stewardship thing, feel free to get started."

    Dreamer… Her arms are wrapped around her chest, her hands rubbing her sides. She's looking around, but I can't tell what she's looking… For? At? Bear's spotted it to.

    "Have you found the one we're looking for?"

    "What do you-?" She focuses on him. "No. This world… There is usually a connection between a people and their home. The berrith feel nothing."

    Bear nods. "Their original home was lost during their war. The species who won wanted more space between them and the berrith."

    "Between the orbital bombardment and the heavy hydrocarbon use, their original homeworld is a far less pleasant place to live than this, and will be for some time. To say nothing of the likely response of the rest of the Sector if the berrith tried resettling it."

    "That… That might be it. I don't think I've ever been on a world like that before."

    "It's not common. Usually, an invader would wipe the locals out rather than displace them. Ah." I stop outside a foundry, heat and the sound of heavy machinery emanating from inside. "I do believe that we're here. Vykin, would you care to take the lead?"

    He steps forward, heading towards the yard where the raw ore is laying in piles awaiting smelting. The workers notice him, but since he doesn't appear to be carrying a tonne of ore on his person they allow him to pass.

    "I-." He glances back at me. "I wish to speak with Mister Huyen."

    The workers do a quick hierarchy-check, then one of them abandons his task and runs off into the foundry.

    Progress. I give Vykin an approving nod.

    Interesting how the other berrith aren't paying us much attention. Their eyes linger if they were looking in our direction anyway, but other than that they stick to their tasks. If this happened in a human place of work then I imagine that a whole crowd would gather around.

    There's a slight… Something, and I notice that all of the New Gods are now looking at a window on the first floor of the structure. I follow their gaze and see a male berrith with a number of minor burns on his face disrupting his fur pattern. Not the one we're looking for, but… Check with the records… Yes, that's the boss of this place. Checking us out, perhaps? Berrith civilisation doesn’t have an overall alpha at the moment, so his status as local alpha has more significance.

    Maybe that's why they never really developed commercial radio? It created a direct link between ruler and ruled when governments started broadcasting on Earth. I could tell you who the Prime Minister was for most of my life while never having any idea who the head of the East Sussex County Council was. Would they have found that too disruptive, or would it just never have occurred to them?

    The berrith who went inside comes back out, accompanied by a younger berrith. The younger one - Huyen- cautiously approaches Vykin.

    "What do you want, alien?"

    Vykin hesitates for a moment, hopefully trying to decide how to put my instructions into effect.

    "I am here about your brother."

    "My brother is dead. He was eaten. The alphas said that he was unfit for anything else."

    "You know the h'lvenite he spoke to?"

    "He did not speak to me. But I saw him, sometimes. He glowed with purple light."

    Vykin taps his Mother Box, and a hologram of false h'lvenite one appears.

    "Is this the-?"

    "No. No, not like that. I will not forget the one who took my brother away. Do not bother with more fakes. I could draw his face."

    "Take us to where this happened."

    Huyen looks up at the first floor window. The elder berrith considers for a moment, then makes an affirmative gesture. The Indigo Lantern's brother returns his attention to us.

    "I can take you to our home. But I have no way to contact the h'lvenite. I was not what he wanted."

    "That is my concern."

    Huyen looks at him for several moments, before fluffing and then flattening his fur.

    "Then follow me."
    Last edited: May 30, 2023 at 1:10 PM