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Thunder over Smallville: Book One

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Thunder over Smallville". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to An Echo of Thunder and Story #2 in the Thunder over Smallville series. Xander Harris arrives in Smallville to start his new life. How will the presence of a Thunder God affect life in this not-so-sleepy Kansas town?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Smallville > Xander-Centered
DC Universe > General
anotherlostsoulFR1551240,4331691326687,30614 Nov 0615 Feb 08No

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR18

Chapter 36 – City of Angels II

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…

Author’s Note: Well, it’s later than I’d really hoped, but here it is, the next chapter of the story. I’m going to continue to try and update regularly, but I’m no longer going to commit to a specific day of the week for updates for the next few weeks. There’s just too much unpredictability in my life to keep up with a regimented schedule the way I’d like to, especially since some chapters take so much longer to write and transcribe than others. So instead, I’ll just update as often as I can and leave it at that for now.

-== Chapter Thirty-six – City of Angels II ==-

Even as the four shocked mortal teenagers registered exactly who it was Xander was kneeling before, Hermes walked forward and added his own greetings. “Lord Odin,” he acknowledged coolly, “I thought that you and the other Aesir had decided to leave Xander to his own devices after he left Sunnydale?” There was an edge of mockery in the Olympian’s question that could not be disguised.

“That would be a gross oversimplification of what happened, Hermes,” the All-father replied with smirk. “However coming from a simpleton such as yourself, I suppose it’s the best you’re capable of.” The king of the Aesir raised a questioning eyebrow at the still kneeling Thunder God. “Rise, Xander,” he ordered gently. “There is no call for a Prince of Asgard to greet me so formally. Such humility is unbecoming in a warrior of your stature; it speaks of a lack of confidence.”

Odin’s words shocked Xander to his feet, “Prince of Asgard? Me? You’re kidding right?” When the older god fixed him with a serious and unwavering gaze, the teen quickly realized that it was no joke. “But…I’m not fit to be a prince!” he quickly protested. “There must be a dozen other Aesir more worthy of the title than I am…”

“There are not,” Odin countered gravely. “You alone were worthy to claim Thor’s legacy, a legacy that makes you the heir to my throne.” He smiled and his expression softened slightly as Xander paled. “Be calm, my child,” he chided sympathetically, “I have no intention of abdicating my throne and few enough beings could pose a threat to my life. It is a fair bet that you will never inherit the throne of Asgard anymore than Athena would ascend to her father’s throne in Olympus.” Seeing the teen relax visibly at his reassurance, he turned his eye back to Hermes.

“Now then,” he stated calmly, addressing the Olympian, “As to your allegations of neglect…” His face turned grim once more. “You know quite well, Hermes of Olympus, that the other Aesir and I have been watching the unfolding events of these past months quite closely. Unlike you and your siblings, however, we do not interfere where it is not needed. And frankly, between the machinations of Aphrodite and your appearances, our presence was quite unnecessary.” He frowned darkly, “Or at least it was until now…”

Hermes frowned in response, well aware that all eyes were fixed silently on this exchange between the Asgardian and himself. “What do you mean, until now?” he asked neutrally, deeply afraid of the answer that he might get.

“The situation has changed, Hermes. Surely even your limited comprehension can grasp that fact,” the All-father shot with a mocking smirk of his own. “The Powers that Be haven’t been directly challenged in more than a millennium, yet two of our number did just that today. Hades and Hel interfered with them in a way that could not be disguised or hidden.”

This time it was the Olympian who paled at Odin’s words. “But that would risk everything!”

“Indeed it has,” the eldest of the Aesir replied solemnly. “The Powers called a conclave and quite nearly convinced the Tribunal to completely erase Xander’s presence from the tapestry. They were persuaded, however, not to indulge the Powers’ desire for vengeance.”

“Wait a second,” Chloe finally interrupted, shaking off the sense of awe that the Asgardian King’s presence inspired. “Why would they hold Xander responsible? What do you mean by ‘erasing Xander’s presence from the tapestry’? And who is this ‘Tribunal’ anyway?”

Odin turned and fixed the girl with a bemused smile. “The Powers that Be hold Xander responsible because it is his presence in this reality that weakened them enough to make such a challenge possible, a fact they were less than pleased to discover and quick to use against him. And by erasing his presence from the tapestry, they would have ensured that Alexander Lavelle Harris was never even born. They would have folded time and space and changed the past so that he never existed and, therefore, never posed a threat to their power,” his face settled back into the grim expression it had worn earlier as he explained. “And lastly, the Tribunal are the judges of all disputes among the gods and goddesses of different pantheons. Among you mortals they have had many names: the Parcae, the Fata, the Norns, or any of a hundred others. You would know them as the Fates.”

“But…” Willow interjected before she could stop herself, “I thought that the Fates were Olympians and the Norns were Aesir…”

“Those three bitches exist beyond all of the gods,” Hermes countered venomously. “They were old when the Old Ones ruled and they serve only the Creator of All and His plans. They have names in almost every pantheon, but are not part of any of them. Even we gods are prone to their whims.”

“The Creator of All?” Clark asked with a frown. “I don’t remember that being mentioned in the things Xander told us about…”

“The Creator is rarely spoken of,” the All-father explained with a sigh. “It is a being beyond even the comprehension of the wisest of the gods, one whose purposes are a complete mystery to us all. It fashioned the entirety of all that was, is, and will ever be and is content to allow the Fates alone to know the reasons why. They’re sole purpose is to ensure that our reality continues to exist.”

“Okay, that’s all well and good,” Xander put in, his voice clearly agitated. “But can we go back to the part where the Powers that Be tried to have me erased from existence?”

“You have naught to fear there, Xander,” Odin answered calmly. “Zeus, Athena, and I were able to persuade the Tribunal that they should only hold you accountable for your own actions since you were born a mortal and are still human at heart. But concessions had to be made to protect your continued existence.”

“What concessions?” Hermes demanded before anyone else could.

“The Fates will not intervene in the matter, provided that the Gods of Asgard and Olympus stop trying to unduly influence or alter the destinies of Xander and his friends,” the King of the Aesir answered bluntly. “To that end, Zeus and I have decreed that there shall be no further direct contact between the Aesir or the Olympians and these children on this plane.” He turned his gaze from the shocked expression on the Messenger’s face back to the five teens. “Until the Powers that Be either lose their control over this world completely or rescind this ban, we gods can no longer meddle in your affairs. However, you will also be deprived of our advice and counsel, lest you come and seek us in our own realms.”

There was a strangely saddened moment of silence as Odin regarded the group of mortals and former mortals. “The coming months and years will be difficult for you all,” the All-father said sadly. “You have set yourselves on the path of champions by the choices you’ve made so far, but what comes of it is up to you. Not all of the mortals who have, or will, acquire the kinds of abilities you all possess will choose the path you have. Many of them will turn down a darker path, using their powers to dominate and control others, to take what they want in the belief that they have every right to do as they will to those who are weaker than they are.” He smiled broadly, the sadness on his face melting away as he spoke. “You five can stand against the rising tide of darkness. You can protect the weak and the innocent from what is to come. This is the beginning of a new age of heroes and so long as you five stand together, fighting for justice and freedom from the tyranny of evil, the world will be a better place than it was before.”

Before anyone could say another word, Odin lifted his spear and rapped its iron-shod haft forcefully against the concrete beneath his feet. The resounding crack of the impact echoed like thunder in the silence and both Hermes and Odin vanished before their very eyes.

* * * * *

Lenny Thompson wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was smart enough to recognize a good thing when it happened to him. Frankly, there hadn’t been a lot of good things in his life by anyone’s accounting, but this …this was his ticket to the big time. He’d spent his entire adult life as a petty crook: knocking over convenience stores, mugging tourists, boosting cars, doing occasional muscle work for a local bookie, that sort of thing. But after today, he’d never have to work again… and to think, it had all started with a moment that should have ended his life.

* * * Flashback * * *

It was later than usual when he slipped out of O’Malley’s on his way home. So far, it’d been a shitty week and his bankroll was starting to feel a little light. Unfortunately, Jimmy and the boys didn’t have any work for him, which meant he’d have to scrounge up some of his own. He’d just have to rob a Quickie Mart or two to hold him over a while, not a real big deal.

A loud screech and a blowing horn startled his whiskey soaked brain back to more immediate concerns and what he saw shocked him back into near sobriety. He looked up to see a city transit bus barreling down the street straight at him! He froze as adrenaline flooded his system, his inebriated brain hesitating for a fatal split-second as he registered the sight of the driver slumped over the wheel, unconscious. When he started moving, it was already too late. He turned away and made to dive out of the vehicle’s path just as the bus mounted the curb and slammed into him at more than fifty-odd miles an hour. A moment later he was crushed between the now mangled front-end of the bus and the reinforced concrete wall of the building behind him. Thankfully, he blacked out at the moment of impact and didn’t feel a thing…

When he opened his eyes, he didn’t know how much time had passed or even exactly where he was, after all, nobody survived getting hit by a bus… But it didn’t take him long to realize that he was pinned between several tons of transit bus and a wall. As shocked as he was at still being alive, he was even more surprised by the distinct lack of extreme agony. He wasn’t sure if it was the bourbon he’d been drinking or the massive rush of pain-killing endorphins that kept him from feeling the pain he should have been in, but he actually felt better than he had in his entire, miserable life. He felt strong, alive…powerful. The feeling reminded him of the way it used to feel when he played football in high school, only to a much more extreme degree. He felt an overpowering desire to move, to do something… anything… to burn off some of this massive rush of energy he suddenly had. Only he was trapped, crushed against a wall by the city bus that had hit him.

With a loud grunt, he tried to twist his body, hoping that the bus might’ve bounced back off the wall enough that he could at least shift his position a little. He deliberately kept from thinking about the part where he should be dead after such an impact; since what really mattered was that he was still alive and he needed to get out of there. If the cops caught him, the fact that he’d just miraculously survived being hit by a speeding bus wouldn’t keep him out of jail for the various crimes he was sought in connection with.

To his surprise, he felt the bus give way a little in response to his movement. Shifting around and bracing himself, he shoved against it harder and felt the bus slide backwards with minimal resistance. His first thought was that the bus must be out of gear and on a slight downhill incline or something. Then he realized abruptly that the bus was lying on its side and yet was no harder to push than an empty shopping cart. So he did what any reasonable individual would do… he got the hell out of there before anyone saw him or asked any questions about how he survived.

* * * End Flashback * * *

At first he’d thought he was going crazy and had merely hallucinated the entire incident, but his strength had lingered, fading away slowly over the span of a couple of weeks. After that, everything had gone back to normal, until he got shot while attempting to mug a guy a few days ago. The bullet had flattened itself against his chest painlessly, failing to do more than put a hole in his jacket and shirt. The shooter emptied an entire clip into him, eleven bullets in total, and with every shot Lenny had felt himself grow stronger and stronger. When he’d finally punched the guy for shooting him, he’d hit him so hard that the other man’s head had caved in from the impact, killing him.

After that, Lenny had decided to start experimenting. Everything that hit him: bullets, cars, buses, fists… it all made him physically stronger without hurting him. In fact, the harder the impact, the stronger he got. It felt like his body somehow stored the energy off the hit and used it to fuel his muscles. Then, as he used the increased strength, the energy burned off until he was eventually left no stronger than a normal guy of his size. Of course, he also seemed to be pretty much unbreakable too.

This had led him to today and the plan he’d concocted to change his life forever. He’d gotten a tip from a reliable source that the Federal Reserve Bank’s Los Angeles Office was receiving a couple of hundred million dollars in cash from the San Francisco branch today. Admittedly, the transfer would be far too heavily guarded for most people to even think about hitting it and the high security vaults were virtually impenetrable. Pulling off a heist like this one with so little time to plan would require a full team of very experienced, very skilled, heavily armed experts to accomplish… or one man who was bullet-proof and strong enough to bench-press a bus.

So far, the toughest part of his plan had been managing to get onto the roof of the high-rise office building opposite the bank without attracting undue attention. Now he just had to wait for the armored cars transporting the cash to roll up and it would be show time. Once he made off with a few million dollars in unmarked, untraceable cash, he could just disappear and enjoy the good life.

He grinned widely and pulled a ski mask over his face as he watched the expected trio of armored cars pull up to the bank. Moving quickly to an alleyway at the side of the building, he stepped off into the open air, letting himself freefall to the pavement below. The impact from his landing would be more than enough to ensure that he could pull off the rest of his plan.

This was going to be fun.

* * * * *

The silence in the wake of Odin and Hermes’ departure stretched out for what seemed like hours as Xander stared mutely at the empty air the god had recently occupied. It was a lot to take in. While he could understand and appreciate the reasons for his divine family accepting the Fates’ ban, he’d grown rather used to the idea of them being around and keenly felt the sudden weight of their newly imposed absence. It was disheartening to lose access to their knowledge and advice, no matter how cryptic much of it had been.

The Thunder God could feel the eyes of his friends on his back as he stood there, contemplating the All-father’s departure. He could practically feel their tension. On some level, he believed he understood what they were feared. He had lost a great many things that were important to him over the last few months and they worried what this newest loss might do to him. It was only natural. What he didn’t think they realized, however, was that it was not sadness or depression that held him rooted in thought. While he would indeed miss the frequent visits of his Olympian family, it was Odin’s parting gift that held him in thrall as he stood there.

As the one-eyed God had spoken to them, imparting his final bits of wisdom, the veil of time had parted briefly, allowing him a small glimpse of what could be. He’d seen himself and his friends united with other super-powered beings, standing as a shining example of what it truly meant to be a hero, a champion of the light. It was a vision that gave him a great deal to consider and the more he thought about it and about the gifts they’d been given by his Olympian cousins, the more convinced he became of the rightness of what they were suggesting. The idea struck an unshakeable note in his heart, one that filled him with a sense of purpose like none he’d ever felt before.

Slowly, the teenaged deity turned to face his friends and was confronted not by the worried expressions he’d expected, but with the same awestruck look from each of them that he knew rested on his own features. “You all saw it too?” he asked hopefully.

“It was us… only not exactly. And there were more of us, other people with the same kinds of abilities ours,” Midori said slowly as her all-too-human mind came to grips with the divinely inspired vision. “I think it was the future.”

“We were heroes,” Clark added hesitantly as his Kryptonian brain struggled to understand what it seen. “All of us were superheroes…like something out of a comic book…”

“We were more than just superheroes,” Chloe said confidently, a sense of awe coming through clearly in her voice. “We were a symbol, an example… something that the people could believe in. We gave them hope for a better tomorrow.”

“We were the Justice League,” Willow put in with a nod of agreement. “Earth’s greatest heroes, assembled to protect the people from the forces of darkness…”

As his friends spoke, Xander was left wondering slightly about their responses. It seemed as though Clark and Midori hadn’t been able to fully comprehend the vision, while Chloe and Willow had clearly seen as much as he had. Willow had even managed to perceive a detail that had completely eluded his own perception. He smiled broadly and filed the anomaly away to figure out later, focusing instead on the task at hand. Somehow he knew, almost instinctively, that these next moments were going to be critical to future he’d glimpsed. This was the beginning of something that was bigger and more important than just five super-powered teenagers. This was the start of something that could change their entire world. “The Justice League,” he repeated with a slow nod, “I like the sound of that…”

“I’m not sure that the world is ready for crime-fighting teenage superheroes just yet, Xander,” Clark countered with a frown. “This isn’t some comic book… The police in this world tend to frown on vigilantes.”

“That’s just it though, Clark,” Willow answered with a frown of her own. “The world is changing. We’re not the only ones with powers and regular cops won’t stand a chance against the first super-powered criminal they run into.”

“This is what Odin was talking about,” Chloe agreed with a fervent nod. “It’s why the Olympians gave Xander Thor’s armor, why they gave you the uniform you’re wearing and me this mask. It’s why they gave Willow the tools to master her powers. So that we could walk this path without fear until the world can accept us for what we are.”

“She’s right, Clark,” Midori said after a long moment of silence. “I didn’t want to believe in gods or demons or any of the other stuff that Xan told us earlier. It was just too much, you know? But I can’t deny it… That was a god, Clark, straight out of the pages of a mythology text.” She paused again, gathering her thoughts. “He showed us that we can make a real difference in the world and I think we’re the only ones who can do this. If what I saw is right, it has to start with us.” She moved her gaze slowly from person to person, looking each of her new friends in the eyes briefly as she continued to speak. “No matter what the four of you decide, I’m already committed to this path. Being a Green Lantern obligates me to fight this battle, to stand against evil wherever I might encounter it.” She looked down at the power ring glowing softly on her finger for a long moment before looking back to Xander with a smile. “I’m in, Xan. Not because I have to be, not because I’m a Green Lantern, but because I believe it’s the right thing to do.”

“I’m in too,” Willow confirmed with an excited smile of her own. “I mean, I’m not exactly ready to throw on a spandex bodysuit and go beat up a bad guy just yet, but once I figure out how to control my powers I will be. Except maybe for the spandex part…cause that would be kind of, you know, revealing…” She blushed slightly as finished that thought.

Somehow, despite this being her first exposure to it, Midori managed to decipher the red-head’s babble first and quickly commented, “I don’t know, Red… I bet you’d look pretty hot in spandex.” She grinned wickedly as the other girl’s mouth dropped open, her eyes went wide, and her face turned the same shade of red as her hair. The Green Lantern looked around quickly in the silence that followed her comment to see everyone looking at her in surprise. “What?” she asked innocently. “It’s not my fault that all the super-powered people I’ve met so far are total hotties, now is it?”

Shaking his head and pushing Midori’s comments aside, Xander turned to Chloe. “What about you, Chloe? I know that being part of the superhero crowd probably isn’t anything like what you had in mind…”

“You’re right, it’s nothing like what I had planned for my life to be like,” the blonde agreed with a smile. “But Midori’s right. It is the right thing to do, so of course I’m in.”

The Aesir turned to his Kryptonian brother, but before he could say a word, Clark spoke up. “Alright,” he said with a slight grin, “I’m in too. You guys are right. This is the right thing for us to do. I just let what our dad would say about this get in the way of realizing that. We can make the world a better place and that’s something worth fighting for.”

“So I guess that settles it then,” Xander said, his broad smile never wavering, “Look out world, here comes the Justice League.”

* * * * *

Lenny hit the ground on his feet and laughed as the impact supercharged his system. Enough strength flowed through his muscles that he knew he’d have no trouble ripping the doors off one of those armored cars, scooping up enough loot, and getting the hell out of there. The plan was pretty crude and one dimensional, but with his special abilities a smash-and-grab seemed like a pretty effective bank robbery technique.

When Lenny had played football back in high school, his teammates had dubbed him ‘the tank’ for his uncanny ability to plow through defensive lines like they weren’t even there. Of course, when word got out that he was taking steroids they’d thrown him off the team and ruined his chances at college or professional football forever. But now, as he charged down the alleyway, accelerating to speeds beyond what even professional track stars could obtain, the old nickname suddenly seemed even more appropriate. He grinned wider as he felt the asphalt beneath his feet give way and compress with every step as he pushed harder and ran even faster.

He had to be moving at just over fifty miles an hour when he twisted and slammed shoulder-first into the side of the nearest armored car the same way he used to hit defensive linemen in football. He laughed aloud as the entire armor-plated side panel buckled from the force of the impact. The vehicle groaned loudly as it rocked up onto only two of its wheels as a result of the hit before finally tumbling over completely onto its side. The vehicle’s entire frame buckled as it crashed into the ground, twisting slightly under its own weight.

The sight of it drew Lenny up short. Something about the entire situation was suddenly setting off alarm bells in the experienced (if small time) criminal’s mind. He knew from discussions with the kind of professionals that routinely robbed armored cars that their frames were highly reinforced to support the weight of the armor and to make hitting them with another vehicle a bad idea. There was simply no way that a real armored car’s frame would twist the way this one had, which meant that something was very, very wrong here. The sudden bustle of commotion around him dragged him out of his momentary contemplation and back into the present.

He spun around to find himself surrounded by heavily armed LAPD tactical assault officers and federal agents. He’d been set-up. The realization caused a red-hot rage to boil up inside of him. Rationally, he knew that this trap couldn’t possibly have been intended for him. No one else knew what he was capable of; no one else knew that he was going to hit this transfer using his newfound abilities. Hell, no one else even knew about his powers. Combined with the presence of federal agents running the show, it could only mean that he’d stumbled into a trap clearly intended for a much bigger fish than himself. Unfortunately, none of that mattered now. Raw fury at being played by a guy he’d trusted and at the cops who’d set him up and ruined his first real chance at getting rich completely dominated his brain, shoving aside the more rational concerns.

“…For the last time, get down on the ground and put your hands on your head!” he heard one of the feds yell at him, the sound finally breaking through the storm of rage that was roaring in his head.

Lenny sneered derisively. After all, what were they going to do, shoot him? “Listen up, assholes,” he yelled back at them, “Do you piss-ants really think I’m afraid of you? You’re a bunch of pathetic losers that I could rip limb from limb with my bare hands. You guys just tried to arrest the wrong mother-fucker!”

He clenched his fists, waiting for the inevitable, as he stalked menacingly toward the nearest group of officers with a maniacal grin on his face. He was going to enjoy taking his anger and frustration out on these guys. He ignored the repeated shouts and warnings, never slowing down or wavering from his path. He half-wondered if they’d actually have the guts to start shooting before he started killing.

And then it happened. There was no order to open fire, just a single round squeezed off by a nervous cop who let adrenaline get to him. It triggered a chain-reaction among the assembled law enforcement personnel and almost instantly a small war-zone worth of gunfire erupted with Lenny at the center. Scores upon scores of bullets peppered his entire body, each one making him stronger as it flattened against his skin.

Unfortunately, in his homicidal rage, each surge of power he experienced only fueled his desire to maim, kill, and destroy everything in his path. Not merely the insignificant array of police troops spread out around him, he found himself wanting to watch the entire city burn for the myriad times it had kicked him when he was down. As he struck the first police officer he got within arms reach of and watched him go flying through the air before crashing into a wall, the cops began to get just a tiny idea of precisely how bad this situation was about to become.

* * * * *

“So what do we do now?” Willow asked with a curious look at her oldest friend, a look that was quickly mirrored by Clark, Midori and Chloe.

The Thunder God swallowed hard as it became abruptly clear to him that his friends were looking to him for leadership. Suddenly he understood why it was that Buffy was always so quick to defer to Giles in their efforts to keep the Hellmouth safe: being the one who had to come up with the answers was terrifying. A part of him, the part he was coming to think of as the ‘old’ Xander, wanted to run screaming from the responsibility they were handing him. Didn’t they realize that until just a short while ago he was just the Zeppo? Nothing more than a donut-fetching clown whose only real contribution to the group was being the comic relief? Didn’t they realize that his only real qualification for leading a team of superheroes was the fact that he had read a lot of comic books?

There was another part of him, however, that knew better. A part he was slowly coming to accept and believe in. It was the same part that had allowed him to step in and defeat Jormungandr’s minions back in Sunnydale, the same part that had given him the strength to threaten to destroy Wolfram and Hart if they ever came after the people he loved again. In a moment of clarity, he realized that this was the part of him that made him worthy of wielding Mjolnir and claiming Thor’s legacy.

It was this part of him, his inner warrior, which spoke up in answer to Willow’s question. “For now, we don’t do anything,” he said with a certainty that he didn’t entirely feel. “We work on mastering our powers, on learning how to fight, and how to work as a team.” He quickly held up a hand to forestall the arguments he anticipated hearing. “I know those aren’t the most exciting things we could be doing, but its stuff we need to do if we’re going to do this right. Besides, the cops in this country have been doing an adequate job of dealing with criminals for a couple of centuries now, until they run into something they can’t handle…”

“You mean something like Jeremy Creek?” Chloe asked with a knowing expression.

“Jeremy Creek?” Midori asked with a puzzled frown, not catching the reference.

“The electrically charged metahuman you helped us deal with the other day,” Clark explained quickly.

“Yeah,” the Aesir confirmed before anyone else could interrupt. “If something like that comes up, we’ll intervene. Otherwise, we let the cops do their jobs and stay out of their way until we’re a bit better prepared.”

“And after that?” Midori asked with a strangely eager grin.

“Once we’re really ready, we start patrolling in Metropolis,” he answered with an eager expression of his own. “And then we’ll give the city’s underworld something to really be afraid of.”

“What about me though?” Willow asked with a frown. “Metropolis is an awful long way from Sunnydale.”

“I can’t go back into Sunnydale, Will,” Xander said with a frown. “And honestly, Buffy and Giles can take care of patrolling there. It’s kind of their area of expertise anyway.”

“I can pick Willow up in Sunnydale and bring her back to Metropolis or even Smallville,” Midori volunteered. “It’s no more difficult than coming to LA was, just a half-hour trip each way.”

“Thanks Midori,” the red-head said with a smile.

“There is one other thing to consider,” Chloe pointed out with a grin. “If we’re going to be superheroes, we’re going to need code-names. After all, costumes and masks are all well and good, but if we’re still using our own names somebody is bound to figure out who we really are.” She couldn’t help but giggle at the surprised looks on Clark and Willow’s faces at her words. “Xander and Midori are the only ones of us who have ready-made superhero monikers, so the rest of us should probably put some thought into it…”

“Uh, guys,” the Green Lantern interrupted abruptly, “I think we need to go find a TV, post-haste. My ring’s picking up some seriously heavy traffic on the emergency radio bands; something really weird is going on downtown.”

“Clark, switch back to normal clothes so that Midori can drop the wall across the door,” Xander replied quickly. “I saw a TV in the lounge just inside the door.”

“Uh, how do I…” Clark began to ask, suddenly realizing that Hermes had never told him how to actually deactivate the uniform. Luckily for the Kryptonian, the super-advanced smart fabric that made up the uniform reacted to its wearer’s desire and quickly reverted back into the clothing he had been wearing earlier before he could even finish the question. “Oh,” he finished with an embarrassed grin, “I guess that’s how.”

With a half-suppressed giggle, Midori willed away the emerald barrier that had ensured their privacy and converted her uniform back into her normal clothing. Within moments the five founding members of the Justice League were standing alongside a dozen or more college students who were staring at the TV news report in horror. They were showing live footage of a man in a ski-mask engaged in a pitched battle with the LAPD. The man shrugged off everything that they hit him as though it were nothing before picking up what appeared to be an armored car and throwing it several hundred feet through the air to hit a police helicopter that was observing the scene. The unfortunate aircraft exploded mid-air, raining down flaming debris on the streets below. Streets that were not entirely empty of innocent bystanders.

As the anchorman broke back in and began to explain something about a sting operation having gone bad, Xander whirled and strode purposefully back out onto the roof, followed quickly by the others. The door had no sooner swung closed behind him than the Thunder God activated the Armor of Thor and turned to face his friends.

“I guess we’re going to be needed sooner than I thought,” he said grimly. “I don’t want any of you to come with me if you don’t feel ready for this, but I’m going to stop this psychopath before any more people get hurt.”

Even before he’d finished speaking, Midori and Clark had switched back into their uniforms and stepped toward him. “We’re coming with you,” the Green Lantern said flatly, leaving Clark to nod his head in adamant agreement.

“I’ll stay behind with Willow,” Chloe said quickly. “I may have come a long way in learning how to control and use my powers, but not that far. I could accidentally hurt someone like I almost hurt Clark earlier.”

Xander nodded his understanding, before shooting a goofy and most un-god-like grin at the girls who were remaining behind. “Than just sit tight ladies,” he said confidently. “We’ll be back before you can miss us.”

With a quick nod to Clark and Midori, the three rookie superheroes took off. The God of Thunder and the Green Lantern flew off at blinding speeds as the last son of Krypton stepped off the roof and dropped to the ground below before running off after them.

A single thought dominated the minds of the ones they left behind: “Let them come back safe and unharmed.”
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