What We've Got Here
“OK, how many super villains are we talking, Speedball?”
Namorita crouched in the bushes with the other New Warriors and their camera crew, observing the people moving about in the house. Nice place. Suburban neighborhood. Warm day. A little too warm for her tastes. It’d been hours since she’d been submerged in water.
“Three,” Speedball said, his blonde hair flowing in the faux-wind created by his kinetic field. “No, wait. I think I see Coldheart in the backyard taking out the trash. That’s four total, and all four are on the FBI’s most-wanted list, right?”
Microbe and Night Thrasher were on either side of her. Good friends.
The voice of the producer for their reality show at the MRVL Network spoke in her earpiece. “Cobalt Man, Coldheart, Speedfreek, Nitro... yep, they all broke out of Ryker’s three months back, and all of them have records as long as your arm. Coldheart fought Spider-Man a couple of times and - get this - Speedfreek almost took down the Hulk.”
Namorita felt a thrill of fear at that. Seriously? Night Thrasher gave voice to her thoughts a moment later: “He what?”
“These guys are totally out of our league, man,” Microbe said. “No way we should be going in there.”
Speedball grinned. “But think about the ratings
, Microbe. This could be the best episode of the entire second season. Six months we’ve been driving around the Midwest looking for goofballs to fight, and the best we’ve managed so far was a bum with a spray can and a wooden leg. This could be the episode that really puts New Warriors on the map, dude. We beat these guys and people stop bitching about Nova leaving the show to go back into space.”
Namorita nodded. That made sense. “So what’s the plan?” she asked.
Speedball shot her a harsh look. “The plan is you spend five more minutes in makeup, Namorita. You think people wanna see that great big ugly zit on your chin?”
Her cheeks burned, and in that moment, utterly humiliated in front of the camera, Namorita hated Speedball just a little. The makeup people went to work on her chin.
“OK, now we...”
“Uh oh,” Night Thrasher said, cutting Speedball short. “We’ve been marked.”
Coldheart had spotted them. She raced into the house. “Everyone in costume!” she shouted, “It’s a raid!”
“GO!” Speedball yelled. And they went. Speedball flung himself through the window, catching Speedfreek totally off guard, tackling him, taking him through the wall and into the front yard in a spray of debris. “I’d heard that clothes make the man, Speedfreek,” he said, clearly posing for the camera as he delivered a powerful blow to the purple-haired man’s jaw, “and in your case it’s TOTALLY TRUE!”
Namorita and Night Thrasher ganged up on Coldheart, and Coldheart was not amused. Funny how she didn’t look particularly villainous in her jogging outfit. Then she brought out her glowing swords, and Namorita reluctantly conceded that perhaps she was a credible threat after all.
“Wait a minute,” Coldheart said, eyes narrowing suspiciously, “I know you guys. You’re those idiots from that reality show! I’m not getting taken down by Goldfish-Girl and the Bondage Queen.”
Namorita slipped inside her defenses and clocked her one, which made an opening for Night Thrasher: a kick to Coldheart’s midsection sent her tumbling, swords falling from her grasp. “Can we cut the part where she called me the Bondage Queen?” Night Thrasher whined.
“Oh, yeah,” Microbe replied from where he had just dealt with Cobalt-Man, “Because Night Thrasher sounds so much straigh...” He was cut off by Speedball’s sudden appearance, coming flying out backwards through the house at high speed, sending out another spray of debris. He hit a tree and bounced off it with equal velocity.
“You think you can beat me with kinetic force?!” he yelled as he flew back at whatever had hit him.
A gorgeous, stacked, black haired white girl flew through the hole Speedball had left in the house when he’d gone through and spiked him into the ground with a blow that would have pulped a normal human. Not Speedball. He bounced, soaring into the the air a thousand feet straight up before he started to come back down.
“...the hell is that?!” Night Thrasher asked.
Namorita recognized her. The girl had been on the news a week back. She’d fought the X-Men and this weird pink robot thing to a standstill. “Everyone, get back! Get the hell back! She’s out of our...”
“You think you can come here and hurt MY friends?!” the girl all but shrieked.
“Divine...” Coldheart said, staring at the girl. “Get ‘em!”
Namorita charged, flying at Divine. “Get clear!” she shouted, hoping to buy time for her team. Divine seized her by the wrist, pivoted, and threw her through the wooden fence that separated the yard from the next one over. Namorita had a brief impression of oncoming blue before she splashed down in a swimming pool. That was lucky! Now she’d be charged up. No way could this bitch take her charged up.
Namorita flew up out of the water and over the broken fence just in time to see Divine take a blow to the face from one of Night Thrasher’s escrima sticks. He cried out in pain and dropped the stick. She was descending, about to punt the bitch away from her teammates.
Divine ducked under her kick, and Namorita plowed a trench from one side of the yard to the other. Then the Kryptonian caught a blast of pepper-spray to the face from Night Thrasher, and though she had gotten her hands up in time, she still screamed in agony. Namorita had only just recovered from her missed attack when Divine moved forward almost faster than even she could perceive, rip off Night Thrasher’s leg as if his armor wasn’t even there, and then throw the bloody limb at Microbe. Microbe screamed in horror, and frantically gestured, trying to force the germs in Divine’s body to overwhelm her.
Namorita delivered a one-two full strength combo straight into Divine’s midsection, sent her plowing back into the house, which collapsed on top of her with an awful roar.
Speedball landed. “FUCK!” he shouted.
Night Thrasher moaned, clutching at the bloody stump that was still spurting blood. “Oh, shit, oh shit, my leg... oh god...”
“We need to get paramedics here RIGHT FUCKING NOW,” Speedball yelled, and the call went out.
Then the rubble shifted. All eyes went to it. “... oh hell,” Namorita muttered, followed by a few choice curses in Atlantean.
Divine burst free from the wreckage of the collapsed house. “You stupid bastards,” she said. “You’re all gonna die here.”
Microbe ran for it. Divine picked up a fallen brick and threw it at the back of his head with godlike force. There was a sick crack, and Microbe collapsed like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Speedball zoomed forward, his kinetic field charged with every impact he’d taken thus far, and channeling all of that into a blow he was sure would crush this enemy. She was ready for his blow: she took it on the chin, and though the blow blasted her backwards, she did not lose her footing. “Immune to kinetic impact, huh? Let’s see how you do against heat.” Her eyes flashed red, and she fired off a massive beam of coherent red light. Speedball vanished in the blast, and when it faded, all that was left was bits of ash floating in the wind.
“You bitch!” Namorita screamed. “You killed them! You evil bitch!”
“Are you going to run away like your friend?” Divine asked casually.
Namorita readied herself. She knew she couldn’t win, but if she was going to die, she’d die like an Atlantean warrior. She moved, lunging forward, attempting to land a full strength blow to Divine’s face.
She never got the chance. Divine sidestepped her attack and then hit her in the chest harder than she’d ever been hit in her life. She flew backwards, through the fence, across the street, and into the side of a school bus. Pain overwhelmed her. She was bleeding, and the cameras were still rolling, and...
The last thing she saw before she lost consciousness was one of the villains they’d come to stop - Nitro - sprinting away down the street.
A New World in my View
by P.H. Wise
A New X-Men Crossover Fanfic
Chapter 10: What We’ve Got Here
Disclaimer: The DC Universe and its associated characters is the property of DC comics. The Marvel Universe and its associated characters is the property of Marvel Entertainment LLC. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon's baby. This chapter contains dialogue taken from ‘Civil War #1.’ Marvel owns that, too.
New York City
“... to our viewing audience, we’re just getting confirmation... but according to the Associated Press, there’s been a disaster in Stamford, Connecticut... initial reports are indicating dozens killed or injured, and significant property damage including several private residences and an elementary school...”
Tony Stark looked up at the monitor, and a cold dread welled up inside his heart. He didn’t know how or why, but he was sure this was going to be bad. It took him all of six seconds to bring up the news feed. Another two to scan the headlines already popping up across the Internet.
“We’re getting more,” the anchor said. This was going out as soon as the network got the info. No fact checking. No analysis. No waiting. They were dumping raw information onto the airwaves. “The New Warriors... the superhero team and popular reality TV stars known as the New Warriors are involved somehow. We’re trying to get a news chopper into the area...”
Other news sources weren’t much better. ‘STAMFORD DESTROYED! HEROES FEARED RESPONSIBLE!’ read the headline on one site. ‘NEW WARRIORS MURDERED BY X-MEN ALLY! REVEREND STRYKER EXONERATED!’ another proclaimed. The next ten minutes were chaos in the news sources as they struggled to get the story straight, but it was time enough for Tony to cancel all his meetings for the day, then send out a call to his lawyer, another to S.H.I.E.L.D., and a third to Captain America, who had already seen it and sent out a call for the Avengers to assemble.
This was going to be bad. It was up to them to make sure it didn’t get worse than it had to be.
Xavier Institute for Higher Learning
North Salem, New York
Karen reveled in her new-found control of her abilities. Every restriction she’d ever had to worry about was now gone, and she was fully in command of her body, and it felt... glorious. She was on the basketball court with six other students: all of them against her. As Xander, she had never been the most physically adept, but now... she almost giggled as she dodged the green-skinned kid - Victor - and flew up to make another slam dunk. Her: 30. Them: 0. She had never felt so exhilarated. So...
“... she doesn’t have to rub our noses in it...” Victor muttered to Alani, the tattooed redhead that he always seemed to be hanging out with. It was quiet enough that Karen would never have heard it if she hadn’t had super senses, but as was...
Her sense of elation vanished like a popped soap bubble, and she sank down to ground level.
“Isn’t she supposed to avoid direct sunlight?” came a voice from across the yard: Cessily had spotted her on the court. She was walking by with Noriko and David. “Seems like she’s taking it in every chance she can get, now...”
Other conversations. Not related to her. Students worrying about the new school year. Students still in shock over what had happened not so long ago.
She met the eyes of the opposing team on the basketball court, some looking hurt, others looking annoyed, but none of them neutral. “... Sorry,” she said.
Victor took the ball. “Not your fault, I guess. No offense, but I don’t think it’s fair for you to use your powers in this game.”
Karen felt a stab of resentment, but she nodded. “Yeah.” She headed off the court. A moment later, new teams were assigned, and the game continued. Without her.
‘Karen, I need you in Mr. Summers’ office as soon as possible.’
She jumped at the ‘sound’ of Emma Frost’s mental voice in her head, looked around, realized what had happened, and headed off towards the main building, wondering what she’d done this time.
“What.” Karen couldn’t quite process what she was being told. Once more that yawning chasm had opened up beneath her feet, and her brain needed a few moments to regain the cognitive faculties to put together a more articulate response.
Scott Summers exchanged glances with Emma Frost. “I know you didn’t ask for this, Karen, but your twin just murdered a team of super heroes.”
“No,” Karen said, her thoughts still moving sluggishly. “Go back to the part where there are superhero reality TV shows?”
Scott looked annoyed. “This isn’t a joke. People are dead. Good people.”
The chasm seemed to grow ever deeper. Karen could feel the blood racing through her veins. Could hear the heartbeats of Scott and Emma both. Could hear three voices, far away, crying for help, followed by the distant sound of a car crash. Super hearing. “I need to sit down,” she said.
“You are,” Scott replied.
“We realize that this is something of a shock,” Emma said, and Karen tried very hard not to giggle.
“Pull yourself together,” Scott said. “We need you for this. We need you here, focused, 100%. Understand?”
Karen tried. And then Xander wasn’t in the driver’s seat anymore. Her body swayed, and then Kara took control, steadying it, and looking Emma in the eye. “She passed out,” she said.
Scott looked at Emma questioningly.
Emma looked annoyed. “I had hoped...” she shook her head and looked to Scott. “Darling, I’m afraid I haven’t been completely honest with you.” Even as she spoke, Emma got a strange look on her face as she considered her boyfriend.
Scott looked entirely unsurprised. “Go on,” he said.
“It’s me, sir,” Kara said. “My situation is a bit different from what you may have been led to believe.” She waited a beat before continuing. “Karen and I...”
“Are two people sharing the same body,” Scott finished.
Kara’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wha-?”
“Give me a little credit here,” Scott said. “Your mannerisms are noticeably different. You try, but you don’t share the same speech pattern either. Karen slouches, and you don’t. Karen is almost completely disorganized, you’re markedly more so. I could go on.”
Kara flushed red. “... Damn,” she said. “Apparently, I suck at being secret identity girl even when my secret identity IS a completely different person.”
“OK,” Kara said. “Ms. Frost, I need you to keep Karen asleep until this is over. Only one of us can be running the body here, and I’m not sure if she can do what needs to be done. I hope she does, but if I’m wrong...”
Emma considered Kara for a moment, and then acquiesced. “Very well,” she said.
“Hold on,” Scott said. “As inconvenient as it may be, I’d like to get Karen’s input on this. This affects her, and she doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who takes well to having decisions made for her. You’ve already gone around her more than you should have. Let’s avoid making things worse.”
Kara’s lips thinned. “Fine. But let’s do it quickly.”
Karen came back to awareness. “Oh... hell...” she muttered. And then saw Emma Frost leaning in over her. “GAH!” she yelped, and stumbled back.
“Welcome back,” Kara said, her spectral form once more standing next to Karen once again.
“... I’m getting really sick of that,” Karen muttered.
“You may wish we’d left you unconscious in another moment,” Kara said. “Can you deal?”
Karen took a few deep breaths. “... OK,” she said. “I can deal. What do we need to do?”
“An interview with CNN,” Emma said.
Scott glanced at Emma, then looked to Karen. “It doesn’t have to be you that does it. It could just as easily be her.” He gestured at Kara.
… Mr. Summers knew about Kara? Oh hell. Karen felt another surge of panic. “What?!”
Emma looked faintly amused. “I am ‘translating’ telepathically between Scott and Kara. I felt it would help things go more smoothly if all parties involved in the conversation could, in fact, communicate.”
“Calm down, Karen.”
And just like that, Karen’s rising panic vanished as if it had never been there. “... You did that, didn’t you?” she asked, looking suspiciously at Emma.
Emma’s amusement was now replaced by irritation. “Would you prefer I allow you to needlessly delay us with another panic attack? Be useful or begone, Karen. We have no time for your childishness.”
Karen felt like she’d been slapped. A stab of bitterness went through her, and she clenched her teeth, but she nodded. “OK,” she said, her tone icy, “What, exactly, is going on, and what, exactly, do I need to do?”
Emma’s phone buzzed. She checked it and grimaced. “... Wonderful. Valerie Cooper is on her way up.”
“What does that mean?” Karen asked.
“It means we need to act quickly,” Emma replied.
“We realize that we’re asking a lot of you, Karen,” Scott said, “And if you can’t or for any reason don’t want to do the interview, you’d better tell us now.”
“And you’ll put Kara in charge and have her do it, right?” It was hard to hide the bitterness in her voice.
“Yes,” Emma said bluntly.
“Maybe you should, then,” Karen said. Bitter? Angry? Oh, yes. “Apparently, the only thing I’m good at are screwing things up, getting blamed for whatever the latest thing is that Kara’s done, or having other people’s problems dumped on my lap, right?”
“Karen, wait,” Kara began. But Karen didn’t wait. She zoomed out of the office and slammed the door behind her. … which had the side-effect of splintering the door.
Scott opened his mouth.
“Say it, and you’re on the couch for a week,” Emma said warningly.
Scott shut his mouth, and smirked.
“They’re counting on us, Xander,” Kara said. “You can’t just run away.”
Karen ignored Kara Zor-L, zooming down the long halls of the Xavier mansion.
“XANDER!” Kara shouted.
No response. Kara would have ground her teeth if she could control them to do so.
Karen stopped short at the door to her room: the door was closed, but Karen could see through that: the room was occupied. Noriko and David were...
Karen kept going, wanting nothing so much as to scream at the top of her lungs. Not being able to go hide in her own room wasn’t that big of a deal, but added to everything else...
Karen looked up. Irma. Standing in front of the open door to the room she shared with her sisters, wearing a white tank top and blue jeans. “Irma, hey.”
Irma smiled. “How did you know?”
Despite her unhappiness, Karen blushed, and Irma gave her a stern look.
“You can tell us apart by our NAVELS?” Irma asked, sounding mock-scandalized by the idea. “… Xander Harris, are you looking at me through my clothes?”
“No,” Karen lied.
“Liar,” Irma said, though now she seemed amused.
“... I’m only human,” Karen said.
“Again with the lying,” Irma replied, and Karen blushed so deeply that it reached her ears.
Irma looked Karen in the eye, and whatever she found there, it inspired a look of sympathy. “... Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.
Karen sighed. “If you promise that by ‘talk’ you don’t mean ‘reprogram my brain with your telepathic powers.’” she said.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Irma said.
“... Good enough.”
Karen stepped into the room, and Irma shut the door behind her.
Namorita woke up, and for one blinding moment, all she knew was pain. She tried to scream, but she had no breath. Something was in her mouth. Something was going down her throat. Her eyes shot open. She couldn’t move. Where was Divine?! Was she still...
“Peace, cousin.” It was Namor’s voice. The rising panic was snuffed out. “You have been grievously wounded, but you are in the hands of healers.”
She turned her head, and she realized suddenly that she was lying on a hospital bed submerged in a low set gleaming silver tank not four feet tall and filled with water. The sounds of Atlantean chants mingled with the regular beep of her vital signs from the human machines. It was water. She had woken up and tried to breathe the air, and water had gone into her lungs. Not really that big of a deal for her. “...how... long?” she asked. Or tried to. All that came out was a gurgle, and not because of the water.
He must have guessed her meaning. “Hours,” Namor replied. “Rest now. There will be time enough for questions when you are healed.”
With a shuddering sigh, and still nearly crippled by pain, Namorita sank back into the comforting depths of unconsciousness.
“How is she?” Reed Richards asked. He and Sue had come to the hospital as soon as they’d heard. … apparently, Namor had as well, and when they arrived, the King of Atlantis was already engaged in a loud argument with the hospital staff. But now, all of that was settled. Now, Namorita Prentiss was being treated by her own.
“She will live,” Namor replied.
“More than can be said for her team-mates,” Sue said, and Namor nodded.
Namor met Reed’s gaze. “I understand there are tapes.”
“The film crew escaped more or less unharmed.”
“A record of the attack,” Namor continued, “and of the woman who dared to strike down Atlantean royalty.”
“Namor, the Avengers will handle...”
“We take care of our own, Doctor Richards,” Namor said, his voice cold, “And we do not allow the attempted murder of our royal family to go unanswered. Show me the tape.”
Reed exchanged glances with his wife, and then sighed. “...Fine,” he said. “Come to the Baxter building in an hour. I’ll have it ready for you then.”
Namor nodded. “... thank you, Doctor Richards.”
Reed looked towards the grievously wounded yet healing girl in the water, and his heart sank. Tony was right: this was going to get worse before it got better.
“Am I the Zeppo?” Karen asked.
Irma raised an eyebrow. “Zeppo?”
“Tell me what happened, Xander.”
Karen shook her head. “I... look, all I’ve done since I got here was cause trouble, get stuck with other people’s messes, and take a back seat to...” she trailed off, then tried again, “Back home, my best friends are heroes. Buffy’s the Slayer, and Willow’s... useful. She’s like super-smart hacker girl, and she’s even helped Giles with spells a couple of times. I’m the guy who gets kidnapped by sexy preying mantis ladies or stuck with Inca mummy girls who want to suck out my...” Karen suddenly became aware of the look Irma was giving her, and flushed, “life... force... and you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
Irma shook her head. “I can dig through your memories if you want. But I won’t unless you give me permission. I’m not Emma.”
Karen smiled. “Good to know.”
“I understand, though. You think more is being asked of you than you can give. You think you’re a side-kick, not a hero.”
Karen nodded. “I’m doughnut guy. I bring sugary goodness to the research party. I’m not... what you said.”
“You’re wrong,” Irma said.
Karen blinked. “... I’m wrong. Right.” A beat passed. “How am I wrong?”
Irma smiled. “You’re a hero, Xander. I don’t know what you did or didn’t do in the world you came from, but I do know what you’ve done in this one.”
“You sure you’re not mixing me up with Kara? She’s Power Girl. Last survivor of a dead universe, and all that jazz? She’s Roxy Hart. I’m the Hungarian woman who gets hanged.”
“Didn’t Roxy Hart murder the man she was having an affair with and then set up an elaborate lie about her own pregnancy in order to get off scott free?”
Karen frowned. “... right. Bad metaphor. OK, she’s... she’s Batman, and I’m Alfred at best. She’s...”
“Xander, when that sniper took his shot at Laurie Collins, did you know you could survive the gunshot?”
“Did you mean to step in front of the bullet?”
“I didn’t WANT to, but it was either that or let her die, and...”
“Right,” Irma said. “So the one time you were put to the test, a sniper had a bead drawn on your friend. You saw it. You knew you could get in the way. You knew it would probably save Laurie, and you had no way of knowing whether or not your powers were strong enough to allow you to survive, you stepped in the way of the bullet. Like it or not, Xander, you’re a hero.”
Karen stared at Irma for a moment, at a complete loss for words.
“... She’s right, you know,” Kara said.
Karen startled slightly, then relaxed, but said nothing.
“I’ve asked Emma NOT to turn you off,” Kara said. “I’ll do it if you refuse, but I want you to do the interview. I’ll help you, but I want you to be the one answering the questions.”
And now Karen stared at Kara, with Irma watching the exchange. “Why would you want that?” she asked, completely incredulous.
“Because you have it within you to be a hero. I believe in you, Xander.”
And for the second time in as many minutes, Karen Starr AKA Xander Harris was at a complete loss for words.
And here she was. About to do an interview with CNN. Karen had never been more nervous in her life. OK, that’s a lie: she’d been more nervous when he’d been at the mercy of Preying Mantis Lady, waiting for Buffy to show for the big rescue. But aside from that, she’d never been more nervous in her life.
Who the hell was she to be sitting down to do an interview with Piers Morgan?
Someone Power Girl believed in. Someone Irma believed in, too.
Karen held on to that thought, and it blazed like a torch inside her heart, filling her whole mind up with light.
They’d done her makeup. Did her hair as best they could, and even without the ability to cut it, it was amazing what you could do with hair product. She looked... like Power Girl. Kara was there with her. They’d prepared for this. Emma and Scott had quizzed them on potential responses. Karen had walked into the studio through a veritable horde of reporters who wanted to get commentary from her, from Emma, from Scott.
The studio lights were hot and bright. Piers Morgan was on the set. Emma and Scott were on the set, and they would be answering questions as well, even if the majority would be directed at her.
The clock counted down. ‘I can do this,’ Karen told herself.
“Damn right, you can,” Kara replied.
Showtime.End Chapter 10