With Great Power...
A New World in my View
by P.H. Wise
A Marvel Comics Crossover Fanfic
Chapter 3 - With Great Power...
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.
Karen stared incredulously at the image of Power Girl floating in the air before her, sunbeams illuminating her translucent body in strange ways. "P... Power Girl?!"
Power Girl kept right on glaring. "My body," she said with exaggerated patience, "Stolen by you. Explanation. Waiting for. "
"I..." Karen began. "I didn't..." She struggled to recover her composure, completely failed, and kept on going, "I didn't do it on purpose!"
"Thanks," Power Girl replied. "That's helpful. A complete stranger is running around in my body, doing God knows what with it, but hey, at least she didn't do it on purpose! I'd thought that when we dealt with Ultra-Humanite, I'd be done with this sort of nonsense!"
The girl who still thought of herself as Xander Harris's eyes widened slightly at that. "Wait, that was real?"
Power Girl's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What was real?"
"The comics. You and Ultra-Humanite. Terra getting her brain swapped. Ridiculous cheesy suitors from outer space?" Karen's voice dropped in volume, and she blushed as she said the next bit: "... Pregno-rays?"
Power Girl glared. "How do you...? Comics?! How do you know about all of that?! I never told ANYONE about that stupid ray."
It suddenly occurred to Karen that everyone on the street was pointedly not looking at her, and doing their level best to avoid her gaze. She flushed red. "... I'm the only one who can see you. Aren't I?" It wasn't a question. "Great. Stuck as a girl in some weird alternate dimension, and now having an argument with an invisible friend that only I can see. Isn't it funny how the earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to?"
The sight of a young mother edging her five year old child away from the crazy girl as they made their way down the street was her only reply.
Ten minutes later saw Karen walking back across the Brooklyn Bridge, trying not to look down into the river that had nearly claimed her life the previous day. The sunlight still felt amazing, but somehow having a ghostly Power Girl that only she could see badgering her constantly took the shine off of things. “Look, I told you,” Karen said, “I don’t know how I wound up in your body! Hey, how do you know isn’t my body transformed into one that matches yours? Huh? … yeah, ok, so that’s not likely.” She grimaced, ignoring the people who were staring at her as she crossed the bridge. “There was a bet, and I lost. I had to dress up as you for Halloween. One minute I’m in Sunnydale being a responsible student and doing my civic duty chaperoning a bunch of kids, the next I’m falling from the sky into this weird not-comic-book-land that’s like if they took all the real comic book heroes, and then filed all the names off!” She paused a moment. “Like the Fantastic Four. They’re like... like someone was totally impressed with the success of the Justice League of America, and just threw together a group of random knockoff superheroes to try to capitalize on the...”
Power Girl didn’t seem amused. “Are you actually thinking about what you’re babbling, or is that just a stream of random syllables coming out of your mouth that only happens to resemble speech?”
“Hey!” Karen said, faking a hurt tone to her voice, “I don’t babble! … I run on. Every now and again I yammer.”
“Then you’re yammering a hell of a lot. Whatever. So I get that you’re just some random girl who dressed as me for Halloween...” Power Girl trailed off. “Hey, why is dressing as me a punishment for losing a bet?” She looked nonplussed. Then she frowned. “... are you a guy?”
Karen blushed red.
“I don’t believe this. I get that men want my body, but I didn’t think they wanted it like THAT!”
Karen blushed a deeper shade of red.
“Though aren’t there easier ways of turning yourself into a woman? Between magic, hormones, surgery, super science...”
… and Karen moved clear past embarrassment into full blown mortified. … until she noticed Power Girl’s slight, almost imperceptible smile. “... You’re messing with me.”
Power Girl grinned. “I’m messing with you,” she confirmed. “We really do need to figure this out, though.” She considered Karen for a moment. “What’s your name, anyways?”
“Karen Starr,” Karen replied.
Power Girl raised an eyebrow, and waited.
“... Xander Harris,” Karen said, all but sinking into the heels of her shoes as she walked. “Look, I just want to find a way to go home and go back to normal, OK?”
Power Girl nodded. “On that we agree. I’d say it was a pleasure to meet you, but under the circumstances...”
“Understandable,” Karen said. She looked down at the pavement. “... So what now?”
Power Girl met Karen’s gaze, her expression serious. “Tell me everything that’s happened since you arrived here. Everything.”
Karen’s stomach was growling. She didn’t have a penny to her name, and her stomach was growling. She knew it was even more hot and miserable today than it had been yesterday, but she didn’t feel
it anymore. She felt... comfortable. Pleasant. The warmth of the sun on her skin drove away the feeling of hot mugginess and left her... well, it would be better if she weren’t hungry, anyways. The smell of pizza was almost overwhelming. She gave a long, longing look towards the pizza place on the corner. Stupid enhanced sense of smell. … Stupid EVERYTHING, actually. “Your powers suck,” she muttered.
“Not my fault you’re not woman enough to handle them,” Power Girl replied cheerfully.
“... Aren’t I supposed to be super everything? How come I can’t fly?”
“No, seriously. You can. You just have to want to.”
Karen frowned. “... Whatever. I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I’m broke. Yay me.”
Power Girl rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a baby. Another couple of days exposure to sunlight, and you won’t get tired anymore. A couple of months, and you won’t need to eat or sleep, either, unless you want to.”
“I won’t last a couple of months if I’m dead of hunger before I get there,” Karen snapped.
“It must be so difficult for you, not having eaten since dinner yesterday. Yep. Pretty much on the brink of starvation.”
“Sure,” Karen said. “Mock my pain.”
“Excuse me, miss?”
Karen turned at the unfamiliar voice. A man in blue jeans and a t-shirt. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Tall. “Yeah?” she asked.
“... Who are you talking to?”
Karen glared. The man backed away. And then her stomach growled. Loudly. “... it’s not really stealing if we’re starving, is it?” Karen asked.
“I don’t know,” Power Girl replied. “Tell you what - you get towards starvation and we’ll talk about it.”
“... How am I supposed to..”
“Geeze, you whine a lot,” Power Girl said, interrupting Karen.
Karen shut her mouth and kept walking. Five minutes later, she’d left the smell of pizza behind her. She was approaching a small square with a lovely little fountain full of pennies at the bottom of a long, broad stairway that led up to a savings and loans branch she didn’t actually recognize. Other side of the street was shops. Shops, shop, shop. Yay shops. It was cruel, she decided, to walk past so many shops filled with useful stuff (and not-so-useful stuff) when she had no money and no way of getting it that didn’t involve crime.
“... Maybe I should go back to the Fantastic Four,” Karen muttered.
Power Girl shrugged. “Maybe you should.”
Karen scowled. “... No. They set me up. Ambushed me as part of some weird test. Wanted me to be willing to die for one of them. That’s not something a friend does to a friend.”
“You’re the one who brought it up,” Power Girl pointed out.
Karen opened her mouth to reply, but whatever she might have said was lost: at that moment, there was a tremendous crash, and people came running out of a nearby bank.
Karen jumped, looked towards the bank, looked around, and kept walking.
Power Girl’s eyes narrowed. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Karen blinked. “... huh?”
“It’s a bank robbery! Happening right in front of you!”
“So you’ve got my powers! You’re not up to full strength, I admit, but there’s a crime happening right in front of you, and you’ve got the ability to do something about it, and you’re walking away?!”
Karen rubbed the back of her neck. “Er... isn’t that something for the police?”
Another crash, followed by more screams, and then the distinct sound of a bank vault door being ripped off its hinges.
“Xander...” Power Girl said warningly.
“You want me to go stop a bank robbery?” Karen asked, still not quite believing the other girl.
“GET IN THERE AND STOP IT!”
“All right, all right! I’m going!”
Somewhat belatedly, Karen rushed through the doors of the bank. … only to take a thrown bank vault door to the face. She went flying back down the steps and onto the street. Someone screamed. And then she got back up. “Ok, THAT was uncalled for,” she said. And then she picked up the vault door and threw it back the way it came as hard as she could. It went flying through the remains of the entrance to the bank and there were several loud crashes as it smashed through who knows how many internal walls.
“XANDER! You can’t just throw a bank vault door! You might have KILLED someone!”
Karen’s eyes widened. “... you said I needed to do something!”
There was a sound like tearing metal, and then half of the vault door was shoved back out of the bank entrance, followed immediately by a tall man in a green and black striped shirt, carrying an enormous backpack bulging with cash.
“Get him?” Karen asked.
“Get him!” Power Girl confirmed.
That was all she needed.
The Sandman had known SOMEONE was out here - bank vault doors don’t just throw themselves - but the tall blonde girl in wrinkled jeans and an equally wrinkled t-shirt wasn’t what he was expecting to charge him. He barely had time to react.
Karen hit him hard. So hard he lost his grip on the backpack he’d only had half-on. The strap tore, and the backpack went tumbling off even as he slammed into the stairs leading up to the bank, leaving a crater.
No cape. No mask. Just some girl. “... So,” he said, rising back to his feet, eyes narrowed. “Mutie girl thinks she’s a hero?”
“People keep calling me that,” Karen muttered. Then she raised her voice. “You. Bank robbing. Me, here to stop. Got it?”
Sandman laughed. “All right, girl. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Battle was joined. Empowered by what sunlight she had managed to absorb in the last hour and a half, Karen was an unsubtle fighter. Not that she’d ever been particularly subtle - or even skilled - back when she’d been Xander. She knew the bare basics, and it showed. She went all out, charging him and attacking him again and again. Driving him back towards the bank. Smashing the stairs completely to rubble in the process. People were running and screaming, but there wasn’t any sign of police sirens yet.
And then Sandman stopped playing around: his fist visibly hardened into massive spiked pile-driving things, and he started to hit back. His first blow send Karen flying into the building across the street and through the wall of a clothing shop, sending brick and mortar spraying in all directions, with people screaming and continuing to run.
Karen had landed headfirst in the lingerie section of the shop, and had to swipe several bras off of her head to clear her vision. Then she got up and flew back at him, zoomed under his fists, and hit him as hard as she could.
His flesh was sand. It gave. Her fist came out the other side. And THEN his body solidified.
Karen’s eyes widened as she tugged on her arm, trying to wrench it free. “Er...”
“Can we talk about this?”
“Sure.” A pile-driver fist hit her in the face, and it HURT. Another one smashed into the top of her head, forcing her downwards. Then another cratered the sidewalk she was standing on. Another. Another. Another. Her world momentarily dissolved in a haze of pain. Then the ground gave way beneath her, and she fell into the subway track.
No train coming. That was good. Grimacing, Karen rose to her feet. “Damnit...” she muttered, and flew back up out of the hole. Sandman wasn’t looking in her direction, so when she ripped a street light out of the ground and started using it like a mallet in an enormous, psychotic game of whack-a-mole, he was taken completely by surprise. First blow squashed him flat. He reacted to the second: He dispersed, reforming next to her... and took a street light to the side of the head, dispersed, reformed, dispersed, reformed, dispersed, reformed behind her, struck her in the back, and off she went, plowing through two vehicles before coming to rest on the hood of a third.
“OK,” Karen muttered. “The ‘charge in and fight’ plan isn’t working very well. Got another one?”
“... it usually works for me,” Power Girl replied, feeling a little embarrassed. “Charge, fight, smash, laugh in the face of danger.”
“Yeah, I’m more of a ‘laugh in the face of danger, and then run away’ person, myself.”
Sandman frowned. “... Are you talking to yourself?”
Karen opened her mouth to answer, and got a blast of sand to the mouth for her trouble, which knocked her back and sent her into a coughing fit. “That’s cheating!” she managed, spitting out sand as best she could.
“You picked this fight, mutie. You don’t get to complain about my methods.”
Karen charged again, this time delivering a spectacularly unskilled kick to Sandman’s midsection. … Or trying to. He caught her leg in mid-kick, grabbed onto her foot with his other hand, and began to smash her repeatedly into the ground head first a dozen times, leaving a dozen craters in the street. “Ow, OW, OW, damnit!” she hissed. “This isn’t...” She ducked under another punch. “Working!” Yet another blow sent her plowing into the side of another vehicle.
Her clothes were getting torn pretty spectacularly, and Karen didn’t like that one bit. So she picked up the armored car that had been parked out in front of the bank and threw it at the Sandman.
It missed. By six meters. And crashed into a fountain, the doors were ripped off of their hinges, and money tumbled out into the water.
“... Ooops,” she said.
“You know,” Sandman said, “You’re really bad at this. Amateur hour is over, kid. Why don’t you go home and tell your mom all about it?”
“... you have got to be kidding me,” a woman said from somewhere above. Karen looked up, and spotted what was quite possibly the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen looking down from the roof of a building: long white hair, green eyes, a stunningly gorgeous face and figure, and clad in an incredibly revealing skin tight and bosom-baring black leather catsuit.
Karen’s mouth went dry. Her eyes widened.
“Pay attention, kid. Uncle Marko’s gonna teach you a thing or two about fighting.” Accompanying the words came a fist to the face. Or would have.
At that moment, Karen whirled around to face the Sandman, and her system flush with hormones from being more than a little turned on by the sight of the woman in black. She felt heat. And then it was blazing out from her eyes in a blast of incandescent radiance.
Sandman’s attack didn’t stop. Her heat vision struck him full in the arm; the arm was instantly fused to glass. The glass shattered into a million pieces as he uppercutted her with the force of a semi.
Karen went flying.
“Oh hell...” the woman in black had time to say before Karen collided with her, bowling her over and nearly crushing her - would have crushed her, if not for the reinforcements built into her suit.
“Um... hi,” Karen managed, staring at the beautiful woman she’d landed on.
“... get off...” the woman in black groaned.
Karen’s thoughts went wild. “... Here? Now?”
“... get off of me...”
“... Oh.” Karen rose to her feet, blushing like hell, stumbled a bit, reached out to steady herself on the roof with her left hand, and accidentally punched a hole in the roof of the building. “Oops.” Then, her balance regained, she reached out to help the woman in black back to her feet.
The woman in black took one look at the hand, another at the hole in the roof, and stood up on her own. “Your villain’s getting away,” she said.
Karen blinked, and rushed to the edge of the roof just in time to spot the Sandman dash into an alleyway. She tensed her legs to jump after him... and then the sound of sirens filled the air. Startled, she lost her balance and fell off the building, crushing yet another car.
The woman in black looked down and shook her head as Karen climbed out from the wreckage of the car and tried to get glass out of her hair. “Wow...” she called. “You’re... pretty bad at this. You sure you really want to be doing this?”
Karen glared up at the woman. “No! But... what else could I do?”
The woman shrugged. “If you say so. Hey, good luck, kid! … You’re gonna need it. I’d totally give you a comforting hug, but you’d probably just get off on it, and you’d probably break my ribs.” She winked, and then she was gone.
The police pulled up a moment later, and even as Karen turned to face their vehicles, a dozen officers leveled their weapons at her. “Put your hands in the air!” one shouted.
It was then that Karen realized that her fight had turned a functioning block of the city into... rubble. Mangled metal. Shredded cars. Buildings missing walls. The steps leading up to the bank completely pulverized. Sand everywhere. Glass everywhere. Armored car in the destroyed fountain. Water still fountaining from the shattered fire hydrant she’d been punched through.
“Um...” she began. “... oops?”
The police were strangely unimpressed.
“Do you know how much trouble you’re in, miss?” The police officer was large, well muscled, and bald as an egg, and even though she knew that she could break him into pieces with one hand tied behind her back, Karen was kind of intimidated.
“Look, I didn’t do it on purpose...”
“Yeah, yeah. You’re lucky we didn’t sic the Sentinels on your ass. It’s in your best interest to cooperate. Sandman is a known criminal. An accomplice of his - even a really incompetent accomplice, is going to be in for a rough time.”
“I’m not his accomplice,” she snapped.
The cop gave her a flat look. “Not his accomplice?” he echoed. “You weren’t helping him to destroy an entire city block to send a message to the city?”
“It wasn’t your intent to cause MILLIONS of dollars in property damage?”
“You were trying to stop him? Make sure nobody got hurt?”
“Then you didn’t try hard enough!” the policeman roared. “You caused more property damage than he did!”
“... not on purpose,” Karen replied, and even she knew it was a weak excuse.
She was in a police interrogation room. The bald officer was pacing back and forth like a caged animal. Power Girl’s ghostly image had vanished when the police had shown up, and Karen hadn’t seen her since.
“Twelve people are in the hospital! You’re lucky nobody’s dead!”
Karen shrank into her seat. “... I’m sorry,” she whispered.
That only seemed to make the cop angrier.
It went on like that for almost an hour. Hashing and rehashing her story, the cop not believing her, questioning her on the tiniest little details, occasionally muttering about how she was an ‘irresponsible mutie freak,’ and generally being less than pleasant company. It became clear fairly quickly that the cop wasn’t getting what he wanted from the interview, and that only made him more hostile.
Finally, a knock came at the door, and the bald officer went to answer it. Then, scowling, he turned back to her. “You’ve got friends in high places. Someone’s here to see you.” He left the room.
A moment later, Ben Grimm strode into the room in all his rocky glory.
Karen’s cheeks flushed with fresh shame at the sight of him.
“Hey kid,” he said. He didn’t bother trying to sit down.
“... Hey,” she replied.
“Heard you gave Sue and Johnny the slip, tore up a bank.”
“I didn’t do it on...”
“Purpose, yeah, I know.”
Karen sighed. “... I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”
“... Reed says ya need training. I think he’s right.”
Karen nodded. “... Not likely to get it if they nail me to the wall.”
“Well, about that. See, when I came here, I didn’t actually come alone. Reed and Sue pulled in some favors. We’ve kind of got this deal worked out for you with the cops if yer willing to take it. Up to you. We pay for the damage you caused. You get probation and go to this school for training people like you. In return, they don’t prosecute you for mass destruction of property. Sound good?”
Karen swallowed heavily. “... why would you do that for me after...”
“What, after that test? Yeah, that was pretty stupid of em. There are better ways of finding out what sort of person you are than that.” Ben shrugged. “Ain’t important. What matters is the offer’s open, if you’re willing to take it.”
Karen thought about it for a long moment, and then sighed. “... I don’t think I have a choice.”
“You always have a choice, kid,” Ben said.
She didn’t have anything to say to that.
“Right,” Ben said. “Then get out there into the hall and meet your new teacher.”
With reluctance, Karen rose to her feet. The door opened. She stepped out. The bald cop looked like he’d eaten a lemon, and the sight made her want to smile - she might have, too, if the situation hadn’t been what it was. Three blonde girls in the hall, next to...
Her eyes fell upon her new teacher.
“Karen Starr, meet Emma Frost.”
Karen stared, and when she spoke, she could only say, “...Shpadoinkle!”
Some things never changed.End Chapter 03