Crusade, Part II
"The blackest night... falls from the skies...”
“What a difference a day makes...”
“The darkness grows... as all light dies...”
"Listen. What do you hear?"
"Then you understand."
A point of night.
A black ring.
A red cape.
A white light.
"... in brightest day... in blackest night..."
"... no evil shall escape my sight..."
"Save it. You are NOT my father!"
A man in a blue mask with a bullet hole through his head.
The Blue Beetle didn’t commit suicide. He was murdered.
I remember everything.
Kara Zor-L opened her eyes.
A New World in my View
by P.H. Wise
A Buffy Crossover Fanfic
Chapter 07: Crusade, Part II
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 some dialogue from New X-Men #27. Marvel owns that, too.
“... Karen? Karen!”
The world came rushing back with all the force of a freight train. Every perception bouncing through her head: she could see everything. Infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, radio waves, x-rays, gamma rays. She could hear... everything. … but why did it hurt so much?
She remembered. Xander. He’d stepped in front of the gunshot.
“Karen, how many fingers am I holding up?”
She looked at the blonde girl and the fingers she was holding up. “... Six,” she murmured, and the sound of her own voice, and the feeling of it buzzing in her chest against her broken collarbone send fresh waves of agony surging through her body.
“Why isn’t it working?”
“Where’s Xander?” she asked confusedly.
“Xander?” Josh asked. “Who’s Xander?”
She was in the food court. Xander had brought them here. Had been talking with his friends. She’d been... the reality that she was in control of her own body after a month of total helplessness and almost a second month of being relegated to a phantom existence hit her suddenly, and the sheer intensity of it nearly overwhelmed her. “I’m back,” she whispered. “I’m back...”
“Are you sure you healed her?”
Josh shook his head. “I tried. I think... I’ve managed to stop the bleeding, but it’s weird. She’s...” he met Laurie’s gaze. “I don’t think she’s human.”
She was in shock. Oh, Rao help her, she was in shock. “... she’s a star-woman,” she murmured, suppressing a giggle, even though every word was agony, “...waiting in the sky, she’d like to come and meet us, but she thinks she’d blow our minds...”
“Don’t try to talk, idiot,” Laurie snapped. She looked up at Josh. “Human or not, she saved my life. But I think there’s something wrong with her. We need to get her to Miss Frost.”
Josh shook his head. “Colossus told us to stay behind cover until he returned.”
“JOSH! LAURIE!” Josh looked up. Surge and the others came rushing up.
Kara shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. The movement HURT, but she embraced that pain. Used it to force back her rising delirium. “... Josh...” she moaned.
“They got Karen? Is she alive?!”
The face of the sniper burned in her brain. The gun he carried. Every detail. She had to do something. Bombing a school bus full of children. Sending snipers to assassinate Laurie. A climate of fear. It couldn’t go on. Not when SHE could do something to stop it. So she lied.“Josh, I’m dying,” she said.
His eyes bugged out. “No... no, Karen, I’ll... I’ll try harder. I can heal you. I stopped the bleeding!”
“You can save me... but you have to... put me out in direct sunlight.”
They knew that Miss Frost didn’t want Karen exposed to too much sunlight too quickly. But if she was right... All eyes went to Noriko. She was the leader. She made the call.
“Do it,” Nori said.
The sound of approaching Sentinels was loud to the others, almost deafening to Kara.
She hissed in pain as Rockslide lifted her. Carried her to the sunlit portion of the room. Laid her body down almost reverently.
Power began to flood into her cells. The bio-cellular matrix, her birthright as a Kryptonian, drawing in all the power that it could. She took off her hat, stripped out of her turtleneck. Every move was agony. Kara Zor-L rose to her feet, and then floated up into the air.
“...Karen?” Noriko asked, eyes wide.
“I’m sorry,” she told the others. “I have to stop this. This ends now.”
Kara rocketed into the afternoon sky. Up. Up. Higher. Higher. It grew difficult to breathe: she hadn’t yet absorbed enough to sustain her life functions in the absence of other sustenance. She blazed through the sky, accelerating as she went, the wind whipping through her hair, friction alone tearing the clothing from her body. Naked, she ascended, zooming out of the atmosphere, picking up speed as she went, absorbing more and more solar radiation as she went.
She left the protective envelope of the Earth. Consciousness was fading. Her lungs burned, but held their rapidly diminishing supply of oxygen against the vacuum. She went on, exposed herself directly to the full force of the solar wind. Her pain vanished. The blackness at the edges of her vision receded. The Earth hung below her like a jewel suspended in the void, and for the first time since her arrival, Kara Zor-L felt whole. She was not at full power. Not yet. But this was enough for her purposes.
She shot back down towards the Earth, the light of her reentry blazing a trail in the skies from San Francisco to New York city.
Early warning systems began to sound their alarms across the United States. Something was entering the atmosphere.
At NORAD, a technician stared incredulously at the sensor readings he was getting. “Sir?”
“What is it, Specialist?”
“Inbound unidentified flying object, sir. Just hit atmo above California.”
The captain frowned. “Show me.”
The technician did.
“Incoming at mach...” The captain’s eyes widened. “... That’s impossible.”
S.H.I.E.L.D. went on high alert as the projected flight path of the unknown contact was traced: it was headed for New York. Resources were reallocated, but it would be at least an hour before a helicarrier could be on site.
An alert went out to the New Avenger, and Earth’s mightiest heroes assembled at Stark Tower: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Woman were on call. Theirs would be a response time of minutes and not hours.
The X-Men, too, had their early warning system, installed long ago after repeated dealings with extra-terrestrial beings, and they leaped into action as they learned of the unknown object leaving a plume of plasma two miles long in its wake blazing across the United States. When it began to decelerate, their computers quickly calculated a likely destination: Westchester County.
And high above the Earth, basking in the sunlight at the edge of the atmosphere, Divine looked upon the sign and knew it it for what it was.
Emma was very, very calm as she asked, as calmly as she could, “What happened?”
Valerie Cooper shook her head, “We’re still gathering data, Ms. Frost. Our initial report indicates that a sniper positioned in a third story apartment on the building across the street from the shopping mall a group of your students had chosen as their site of recreation opened fire, injuring, or possibly killing one of them in the process.”
“We were assured of their safety, Ms. Cooper,” Emma said, very, very calmly. “Can you perhaps explain why the incompetence of your security measures has allowed the ‘injury or possible death’ of yet another student?”
“... The shooter didn’t show up on any of our scanners...”
“You expect us to put our lives into your hands,” Emma began, her calm unravelling slightly, “And when we do, you fail on every conceivable level, and you wonder why we are less than inclined to cooperate? You wonder why we see you as more of a hindrance than a help?”
Val didn’t have a good reply for that, and she was spared further anger when a call came through to Emma’s office. Emma picked up her phone. “This had better be good,” she said.
#Emma,# Scott said over the line, #Colossus just reported in. No casualties, but Karen is missing. Josh and Laurie claim she saved Laurie’s life, and then flew away. I...#
The early warning alarms began to sound. They had an inbound contact from outside the atmosphere, and it was coming. Here.
It was days like this made Emma glad she never gave up drinking.
Protesters had been gathering outside of Xavier’s since the first confused days after M-Day. At first, it had only been a trickle of crazies. Two days back, that trickle had become a flood. All the nation seemed to have turned out to show their anger at the presence of this last bastion of mutant-kind upon the earth. Hundreds of thousands of fearful, angry human beings gathered in common purpose beneath the guidance of one Reverend William Stryker, and he was greatly pleased. But more importantly, the Lord was pleased. He had sent out the call, and his people had answered magnificently! The police had never seen anything like it, and it was all they could do to keep the throng of the faithful from storming the gates of that God-forsaken school.
The tool the Lord had granted to him had proven a bounty beyond knowing.
He had been a crusader, once. One of god’s chosen in the war against Satan and his demons, and their blasphemous children known as mutant-kind. But he had strayed. She had tempted him - it always seemed to be women who did the tempting - and he, like Adam, had fallen. Had been convinced that God was wrong. Had fallen from grace.
The Lord had chastised him for his lack of faith, for his moment of weakness. Surely the agonies of Saint Peter in the moment when the cock crowed that third and final time could not have been more terrible. He, the man who had only ever wanted to serve his God and his country, had forsaken them both for the sweet lies of the whore of Babylon. Oh, but his revenge upon Kitty Pryde would come, and when it did, it would be swift and terrible. He would give her no chance to tempt him with her pretty lies this time. But all of that was in the past. He was a new man, now: forgiven. God had forgiven him, and had taken his sin as far away as the East was from the West. After a long and difficult road to redemption, the Lord had granted him a second chance, and a tool with which to strike down the devil-spawned abominations once and for all, and what a tool it was!
A Sentinel from a glorious future where humanity had won its war against Satan’s spawn. Where every trace of the mutant filth had been tracked down and destroyed. It had taught him things. Terrible, wonderful things. For such was his calling as a man of God: what he bound on Earth, God would bind in heaven; what he loosed, God would loose.
But it was time. The stage was set. His people were waiting. The cameras were waiting. “Oh Lord,” he prayed. “Be with your humble servant this night. Guide my steps, and grant me the strength to do your will. Amen.”
“... Miss Frost, you have to listen!”
Emma raised an eyebrow. The students had been returned more or less safely, and no sooner had Noriko returned to her room than she came rushing back to her office to speak with her.
“There was a blur, and then Power Girl’s costume was gone. I think...” Noriko looked up. “I think she’s going to do something foolish.”
The pieces began to fall into place. Karen had been injured. Emma couldn’t find her telepathically. … was it because she was searching for the wrong mind? Could it be Kara who was in control? “Then we’d better find her before she does,” she said.
He walked out onto the stage. A great amphitheater had been provided for his use, and every seat had been filled. Cameras flashed. The roar of the crowd was deafening. He raised his hand towards the sky as if to redirect their praise to the one to whom it was truly due: he was but the servant; the glory belonged to the Lord. He knew that his words were being carried all around the world by the television cameras, but also to his Purifiers, and to the hundreds of thousands who protested outside of the Xavier mansion as well. “My children,” he began, “Let us pray the way our Lord taught us: Our Father,” and the whole crowd joined in, their voices mingling with his own until it seemed there was no distinction between them, “Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name...” The prayer went on, every heart lifted in submission, every knee bent, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, and ever, and ever! Amen!” By the time the prayer concluded, the crowd had reached a fever pitch, none of them, him least of all, seeing the tiniest contradiction between that prayer and the hatred they poured so freely upon the least of these, my brethren.
“My children, I speak to you tonight of the Anti-Christ: the man who will be empowered by Satan to lead the forces of darkness against the children of God. Have you not heard? He will lead the world into the terrors of the Apocalypse. Although he will be against the faithful Christians, and will mock God’s word, the world will view him as a man of peace. He will use deception and lies to spin his web of deceit and to conceal his true motives, promoting a vision of universal brotherhood between man and mutant, when his true goal is conquest, and to ride forth to conquer us all! Can anyone doubt that this man is Charles Xavier?”
The crowd roared its approval. Power. He felt it in his veins. Every word carrying these people with him, driving them onwards to accomplish God’s calling.
“The signs are beyond number! But God in his mercy has performed a great miracle! The devil-spawn have been driven from our presence like the pestilence that they are, and now their last remnant lingers in that,” his voice took on a mocking tone, “Institute for Higher Learning.” He paused for effect. “But the time has come! Today, we take back the paradise that was lost by our inaction! Today, by your actions, we strike a blow for the Lord!”
The crowd roared its approval, and he basked in it. “AMEN!” he shouted, as if he were an observer and not the preacher. “By the power of the holy spirit, we shall be more than conquerors, my children! We shall be sons and daughters of the most high God!”
And then a streak of white and blue and gold came out of the sky, landing with a thunderclap, and with such force that it shook the outdoor theater and left a crater six feet across in the concrete stage.
Power Girl had arrived.
Xander’s consciousness was stronger now. Not strong enough to push her out of the driver’s seat, but strong enough that Power Girl knew that her time was short. Tracking Matthew Rissman might have proven been looking for a needle in a haystack for the police, but for a Kryptonian with super-speed, x-ray vision, a starting point, a bird’s eye view, and a very good reason to follow him back to his boss, it had proven a matter of patience and determination. She’d found him eight minutes after the shooting. He’d switched vehicles at least once already, and he did so twice more before he finally returned to his safe house. He hadn’t been cooperative, but the journal that he kept hidden behind a secret panel - easily discoverable when you can see through walls - had been... illuminating. What she’d found there had led her here. She wasn’t here to do what her first impulse had been: she’d never really been a plan kind of girl. She was all about action and smashing things, but that wasn’t going to work here. It might even make things worse.
But this was about more than just what had happened to Xander earlier today. This was about right and wrong. This was about... how could she call herself a hero if she wasn’t willing to confront William Stryker for what he had done? No plan. No equipment. No backup. She had a brief ‘What the hell am I doing?’ moment.
‘KARA, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!
’ a voice all but screamed in her head. ‘Oh. Hi Emma.’
‘You had better not be... no. Absolutely not. Going after Stryker is idiotic. Assaulting him at a public event will only hurt our cause.’
‘Who said anything about assaulting?’
‘Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just turn off your brain and puppet you back to the school myself? What the hell do you think you’re doing?’
‘The right thing.’
‘No. I’m not going to let you do thi...’
Something cut off Emma’s telepathic signal in mid-thought.
Screams filled the amphitheater. Terror. Rage. The crowd was shaken by her arrival. The Reverend Stryker held forth his hand and called out, “Be not afraid, my people! The Lord is with us! She is a servant of the Devil, come to test our faith! Stand strong in the hour of trial!”
Power Girl tossed the broken remains of Matthew Risman’s sniper rifle onto the stage. “Stryker!” she yelled, modulating her power to amplify her voice as if she, too, were speaking through the sound system. “This insanity ends now!”
Silence, and then the crowd began to rumble like a hundred thousand angry bees. Not a single security guard made a move towards her - they weren’t being paid enough to confront a superhuman. William Stryker’s voice pierced the din, and as he spoke, his people fell silent. “It is no insanity to follow the will of God!” he proclaimed. “You come against us with your demon fueled powers, but we come against you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost!”
Power Girl walked forward, and the news cameras followed her as she went. “Your assassin has failed, Stryker. Your attempt to murder a teenage girl has failed.”
“We will not hear your slander here, mutant,” Stryker replied. “But I guess you already knew that. Why have you come?”
“To give you a chance,” Power Girl replied. “To stop this. To give up this hate that has poisoned you: this hate that you spread to everyone you touch.” She looked out at the crowd, “I’ve seen what human beings can do. The good and the bad. Your aggression, your blind submission to leaders, your hostility to outsiders, your compassion for others, love for your children, your great, soaring, passionate intelligence. You can be a great people; I know that you wish to be. Turn away from this madness.”
“Or I’ll stop you.”
Stryker seemed momentarily taken aback, but he recovered quickly. He laughed. “Just like that, you’ll stop me? You think you can stand against the will of God, girl? Who do you think you are?”
She continued her slow walk towards him. “I’m Power Girl. I’m the last daughter of Krypton. I’ve seen the death of worlds, survived the death of universes. I stood against the Blackest Night, I’ve faced monsters, gods, and demons, and I am not afraid of you, William Stryker.”
His pride was pricked. Fury built within him. How DARE this little girl challenge him here, in front of his own! He slipped on the gauntlet that he kept behind his podium. “My children,” he cried, “It’s time to win the war between Heaven and Hell!” He raised up the gauntlet of Nimrod.
“Stop this, Stryker. This is your last chance.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” he replied. “I answer to a higher power.” There was a deep, bass rumble, and a pulse of blinding light, and then...
Pandemonium. That suited Kara just fine.
“Purifiers!” Stryker called, “The time is now!” And then he leveled the gauntlet at Power Girl and let loose with a terrific blast of electromagnetically sheathed plasma. She didn’t try to dodge: she knew that if she were to do so, hundreds of normal humans behind her would die. She clenched her eyes shut and covered them with her hands. The plasma blast detonated on impact, obscuring her body in fire.
When the flames died down, her exposed flesh looked like she had stayed out in the sun for far too long, but she was otherwise fine.
People were screaming, running in all directions, praying for their god to save them.
“You had to have known. If I had dodged, how many people would you have killed just now, Reverend?”
“MY FLOCK IS PREPARED TO LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES IN SERVICE TO THE LORD!” ‘Analysis complete,’ a mechanical voice chimed from Stryker’s gauntlet. ‘Necessary adaptations made. Prepare to fire.’ He raised his gauntleted arm once more, preparing something worse. Something lethal. That deep, awful rumble nearly split the air as power gathered in his gauntlet.
"I wouldn't be so sure," she replied. Then, her voice still amplified to reach every person in the amphitheater, she called out, "Ladies and gentlemen, I recommend you walk calmly to the nearest exit."
The rumble grew louder. The power buildup reached its peak. He drew back his hand, clutching a ball of pure destruction between his gauntleted fingers.
She took his arm off at the shoulder with a blast of her heat vision. The wound was instantly cauterized, and arm and gauntlet both hit the concrete stage with a thunk. The ball of death flickered and went out.
Stryker stared at the blackened stump that seconds ago had been a functioning part of his body, and then directed every ounce of his hatred at Power Girl. “... You... you cannot defeat me so easily!” he spat, “I have the holy spirit power, girl! I will purge this world of your filth!”
Power Girl smiled a bit viciously. “Yeah? You and what arm-y?” And then she blanched, horrified by what she’d just said. “... Oh God. I need to spend less time with Xander.” And nobody but her understood why that last bit was funny. Damn.
Stryker laughed. He couldn’t help it. He laughed. “What arm-y? What army? This one! Purifiers!”
Dozens of robed men rose up from their hiding places, each of them carrying weaponry tailor made to kill super-humans.
They opened fire.
“Something isn’t right,” the purifier said.
“I know. Paul and Joseph should have returned by now,” his fellow replied.
They stood guard in a hidden chamber inside of Reverend Stryker’s church. A damaged, angular, pink robot hung from a cross in the center of the room, surrounded on all sides by banks of computers.
The first shook his head. “No, I’m talking about the device. After that last power spike, everything changed... the levels are off the charts.”
On the ground, a young mutant by the name of Joshua Guthrie was bleeding to death. “... I’m sorry,” he moaned, “So... sorry...”
The first purifier grimaced. “What’s taking them so long? They’re supposed to come and pick up this one, too.”
The second grew angry. “Will you shut up about the mutant?! Something is very wrong here.”
The robot lifted its head.
“I... oh, no.”
That was all he had time to say before the discharge of a beam of pink energy from the robot’s outstretched hand blasted him into a cloud of superheated but swiftly cooling carbon dust.
“NIMROD UNIT ONLINE, CONTACT ESTABLISHED. WEAPONS SYSTEMS AT 7.24 PERCENT.
” It clamped its hand down on the other purifier’s skull and lifted him into the air, his screams muffled by the palm its robotic hand. “HUMAN COMBATANT IDENTIFIED: DESIGNATION 'PURIFIERS.' ANALYSIS: THREAT TO PRIMARY OBJECTIVE. TERMINATE.
A second discharge. A second life extinguished in the blink of an eye.
The boy on the ground stared in terror. “... please... Julia... forgive me... I didn’t want to...”
“UNIT ENERGY AT 16.5 PERCENT. MUTANT TARGET CONFIRMED: JOSHUA GUTHRIE, DESIGNATION: ICARUS. RECOMMENDATION: TERMINATE. ERROR. SYSTEMS AT CRITICAL ENERGY LEVELS. DISCHARGE OF PRIMARY WEAPONS JEOPARDIZES PRIMARY OBJECTIVE. SOLUTION. MASSIVE INTERNAL BLEEDING IN PROGRESS. SOLUTION. TARGET DEATH IMMINENT.
” The pink Sentinel clenched its fist. “PROCEED WITH RECOVERY OF MISSING PARTS. INITIATE REPAIR PROTOCOLS. MISSING PARTS LOCATED. INITIATING TELEPORTATION EVENT.
Nimrod vanished in a flare of violent pink energy.
Bullets designed to penetrate telekinetic shields bounced off of Power Girl’s skin, some ricocheting wildly, most simply falling to the ground with their momentum cancelled. It stung a little bit, and she would probably have all manner of unsightly red marks from this, but she was otherwise unharmed. “Is that the best you can do?" she asked.
A thrown vibranium knife scored a long gash along her forearm, and it was little comfort to know that had she been human, it likely would have cut her arm off. Power Girl looked at it the gash for a moment, looked to the Purifier who had thrown it the knife, looked back at the gash. “... F#!$.”
A dozen more purifiers began to brandish their knives, Stryker, clutching his charred shoulder, began to laugh.
Overhead, a VTOL jet aircraft zoomed over the amphitheater at extreme low altitude. As it circled back around, and the sound of its engines became all but deafening. Simultaneously, a large pink robot appeared in a flash of pink.
There, surrounded by enemies wielding weapons that could actually hurt her, with unknown threats approaching, Power Girl took a moment to stare incredulously. “... OK, now you’re just making fun of me,” she muttered.
“ALERT: MISSING PIECES DETECTED. ALERT: ENEMY COMBATANTS DETECTED. ANALYZING. OMEGA CLASS THREAT DETECTED. INITIATING REPAIR SEQUENCE.
Pink light flared around the robot, and the gauntlet Stryker had once worn rattled dangerously on the stage. Then, all at once, the robotic arm shot up towards the Sentinel, still carrying its cargo of severed limb, and reattached to its body. Immediately, repairs seemed to flow across the robot’s body. “SYSTEM REPAIR COMPLETED. UNIT AT 75% OF FULL CAPACITY. ALERT: SILENT SYSTEM ALERT PROTOCOLS DISABLED. ALERT: TELEPATHIC SUPPRESSION FIELD DETECTED. ALERT: SUPERHUMAN CONTACT DETECTED. ALERT: AVENGERS INCOMING. NEW X-MEN INCOMING. UNKNOWN CONTACT INCOMING. ACCESSING DATA STREAM. CHRONAL ERROR DETECTED: DATA STREAM IN FLUX.
” Its sensors honed in on Power Girl, taking in every data point it could get, comparing her against what it already had in its data-banks. “ERROR: SUPERHUMAN NOT FOUND IN HISTORICAL DATA. ANOMALOUS PRESENCE DETECTED. TIMELINE CORRUPTION DETECTED.
” It turned to face her then, seemingly heedless of the barrage of thrown vibranium daggers she was in the middle of dodging. “ANOMALOUS PRESENCE WILL STATE ITS DESIGNATION.
A blast of lightning came from back stage. It washed over the Nimrod without effect.
“Power Girl!” Surge - Noriko - shouted as she and the rest of the team rushed onto the stage.
Power Girl’s eyes widened. “... Surge?”
“DESIGNATION ‘POWER GIRL’ ACCEPTED. INITIATING HOSTILE ACTION
The amphitheater was nearly empty now. Just a few stragglers remained of the crowd that had been here when the conflict began: mostly lone individuals recording the event on their phones and digital cameras, heedless of the very real danger around them. The real reporters had fled with the crowd, and the television cameras stood unmanned but still recording.
“Why are you here?!” Power Girl asked, leaping out of the way of a plasma blast Nimrod sent her way - it detonated against the first line of seats, sending leftover belongings flying in every direction, leaving behind a scorched crater. "Emma would never let you..."
“You have to ask?” Hellion asked, cutting her off.
“We’re a team,” Rockslide said.
“And we don’t abandon our own!” Surge finished.
“How touching,” came a voice from above. Power Girl spared a glance upwards, and her heart nearly lurched in her chest. “But ultimately futile.”
Divine was HERE.
“I don’t know what you did to take me away from Max,” she said, “But you’re going to pay. RIGHT NOW.”
Battle was joined, and no graceful ballet this, but the superheroic equivalent of a bar room brawl: New X-Men plus Power Girl vs Nimrod vs Divine vs Purifiers. Nimrod let loose with a volley of pink energy blasts, and the team scattered to avoid them: the stage was not so lucky. Explosion after explosion rocked it, and shards of torn and shredded concrete and pieces of rebar flew in every direction. The sound of gunfire became omnipresent.
Divine opened with a blast of heat-vision that carved a bubbling furrow in the Earth twelve feet long, Power Girl appearing to take the brunt of it, before she dove down to engage Power Girl in hand to hand combat. Power Girl was waiting. She had avoided the worst of the beam and pretended to be more grievously injured than she was: she pulled the same trick on Divine that Colossus had pulled on Xander not long previous, suddenly, unexpectedly grabbing her by the arms and yanking her savagely down to meet her knee, blasting the air from Divine’s lungs. Then she hefted her clone over her head and threw her into Nimrod, and the impact blasted them both backwards and off the back of the stage.
They came up a moment later, fighting each other with a level of ferocity that neither Kara nor the New X-Men had ever seen, Nimrod attempting to adapt to the Kryptonian’s sheer level of strength while she tore huge gaping holes in his structure with every blow, culminating in her heat vision meeting his full strength energy blast, and the ensuing detonation sending them both rocketing backwards.
A little girl lay trampled and bleeding, and in the path of a stray plasma blast. Power Girl’s eyes widened, but she didn’t hesitate: she flew with desperate speed, took the plasma blast to the back, was flung forward over the little girl, tumbled head first into the wall at the back of the lower section of the stands. She was up a moment later and flying the little girl to safety before darting back into the fray. “We have to get out of here!” she yelled.
Surge nodded. “X-Men,” she called through her communicator, motioning for her term to form up on her. “Let’s do this! Dust, clear us a path! Hellion, shield us as we move! Power Girl, cover us from above! Mercury, left flank, X-23, cover the right. Rockslide, you take the middle! Let’s move, X-Men!” And they did. Moving as a cohesive fighting force, with Power Girl covering them from incoming attacks, the New X-Men cut a path through the line of Purifiers, broke and scattered them.
“OK,” came a sudden voice from above, “I like to think that I’m a pretty understanding guy, but this seems downright excessive.” A moment later, Spider-Man’s spider sense began to tingle, and he leaped to avoid a blast of bright pink energy from the Sentinel, then shot a strand of web to swing down and bowl over a pair of gunmen who had their sights fixed on his team.
The New X-Men looked up.
Iron Man. Spider-Man. Captain America. Miss Marvel.
The Avengers had arrived.
A flash of movement. She had barely enough time to get out of the way before Divine landed feet first in the column of concrete directly behind where her head had been. She emerged just in time to take a blast from Iron Man’s repulsors at full strength. A moment later, a familiar looking woman in a black uniform flew down and hit Power Girl as hard as she could, and it was her turn to be knocked flying.
“OW! Damnit, not me! Not the bad guy here!”
Nimrod ascended, then, and Iron Man turned in midair to face him, firing off blast after blast from his repulsor rays, each one knocking the advanced Sentinel backwards.
“ALERT: SUPERHUMAN RESISTANCE BEYOND CURRENT CAPACITY. INITIATING TELEPORTATION EVENT.
Nimrod vanished in a burst of pink light.
“Screw this,” Divine muttered. “We’ll finish this another time, Power Girl.” And then she too was gone, leaving a massive sonic boom in her wake.
“All right,” Captain America said. “Every single one of you is under arrest. Put your hands on your heads. RIGHT NOW.”
After a series of exchanged glances, the New X-Men and the two Purifiers who were still standing did just that.
Kara grimaced. Xander was waking up. She could feel him stirring around the edges of her brain. He wasn’t going to be happy.
“Shut those cameras off,” Iron Man said.
And on what was left of the stage, lying on his back, his flesh scorched and torn, missing an arm and bleeding from where he had bashed his head when the stage had collapsed, William Stryker laughed like the madman that he was.End Chapter 07
OK, I admit, I had fun writing that. It’s a bit rougher than I prefer, but I’m sure that I’ll live.