Kara and the Dreamsmith

                     by  DarkMark


 Kara Zor-El was dreaming.

 She was dreaming that she was dreaming.

 Yes, that was the answer.  For there she was, clad in her green nightdress, below the quilt her mother had made for her years ago, in the comfortable four-poster bed she'd had built on Rokyn to resemble the one in which she'd slept on Earth.

 There was coolness in the early fall night, and the light of the stars and one of Rokyn's two small-but-full moons shining through the open window of her bedroom.

 She was looking at herself lying in the bed.

 Yes, it was a dream.

 But why would she dream of herself dreaming?  Most curious.

 And then, in an instant, she had a visitor.

 "Kara Zor-El."  The intruder pronounced her name as correctly as a priest of Rao at her presentation ceremony.  "You are needed."

 Kara was on her bare feet in a fighting stance within a second's time.  "Who are you?" she barked. "How did you get past security?"

 The stranger stood closer to the window, and the moonlight played over his tall form.  He was thin,
almost gaunt, and Kara wondered if he were a ghost.  But he seemed as substantial as herself, however that was.  And that last gave her cause to wonder, too.

 The intruder was talking, his arms folded.  "I am no enemy, Kara Zor-El.  I am not Death.  I am no ghost. But I need your help.  The Dreaming needs your help."

 "Then this is a dream?" asked Kara, standing at the ready but a bit more at ease.

 The stranger tilted his head a bit.  "Let us agree that it is.  Yet, you must agree that if it is a dream,
then you, in this form, are also a dream.  In this dream, you may be endangered by the things of a dream.  They must be treated as realities.  Do you understand?"

 The blonde woman in the green nightdress cocked her head suspiciously.  Unless his form belied his
strength, she felt herself in no danger from him.  Also, she felt no threat in his mien.  And that, perhaps, was the most curious thing so far.

 "Well, suppose that I do," said Kara.  "Who are you?  What does your--Dreaming--need me to do?"

 The intruder moved a step closer.  "There are more names for me than I can even remember.  Perhaps all who dream know me by a name unique to them.  But I have been called Kaickul, L'zoril, Shaper, Morpheus--"

 Kara's hand went to her mouth.  "The Dreamsmith!"

 For the Dreamsmith was a figure familiar to Krypton's children.  He was the trickster who wove
puzzles to perplex young ones in their beds, the terror-maker who sent nightmare-vessels freighted from Hell, the soother of sweaty brows when the weary needed calm nights, the procurer who provided imaginary lovers that left the sheets of dreamers wet and tangled at daybreak.   When they neared adolescence, of course, the children of Krypton (whose children had, in turn, settled Rokyn) gave up such beliefs, except as comforting old myths that had made their younger lives more mythic and fine.

 Now, Kara sensed that such abandonment might well have been too hasty.

 She put out her hand, touched his arm.  He was substantial, cool as marble, yet fleshed.  There were muscles below his fish-pale skin, and bones beneath that, or so there seemed to be.  Whatever substance the Dreamsmith was made of, Kara, in her present state, seemed akin to.

 "You must trust in me, Kara Zor-El.  And you must trust in your dreams."

 She put her hands on her hips.  "We'll see.  We'll just see what this dream turns out to be.  Okay,
Dreamsmith, what's next?"

 "Follow me," he said, and touched her hand, and carried her with him through the stone wall and into the air.

 Kara looked back, and saw her dwelling, and through the window saw a sleeping Kara Zor-El, peaceful in her bed.

 And it was only an instant after that when she realized she was now garbed in the costume of


 The Dreamsmith and his guest spent only a short interval in the skies above sleeping Rokyn, over its
new-tilled fields and newly-built cities.  Then he turned to the woman beside him, who was flying as
easily as she had once soared over Chicago (And I have no powers here!, thought Kara, wildly), and spoke again.

 "We must enter the Dreaming, Kara Zor-El.  Nothing in that space of transit may harm you.  After we emerge from the Dreaming, that will be another matter."

 Kara shot a glance at the pale man, pacing her easily in the sky.  "Do it.  But fill me in on the way,
if you expect me to help."

 All around them.  Below and above them.  Perhaps it was them, and everyone else in the Multiverse as well. It was a kaleidoscope, an image-junction, shifting shape and position almost too quickly for even Supergirl to register much of it in her brain.  Shifting quickly, quickly.

 Here a young boy gamboled on a turf-green lawn with a small white dog that had died a week ago, and was comforted.

 There a woman slew her mate upon a bed of banknotes, bludgeoning him to death with a huge silver

 Here a teenaged boy screamed running running through the engine of a car in which he had driven his lover to her death in an accident, pursued by nightthings who chased him into piston chambers and through fuel lines and screeched that his blood would make a fine lubricant.

 There a man dreamed of an invention that would feed a world, if there were only another world to provide its power.

 And there were other heres and theres everywhere. Kara was nearing sensory overload, shutting her eyes uselessly, about to scream.  The Dreamsmith turned to her and enfolded her in cold arms.

 "They cannot hurt you.  This is just the space I work in.  Do you not fear, Kara Zor-El, and do you rely upon me."

 Supergirl steadied her breathing, though she could not have told you what went in and out her lungs.


 He looked into her eyes.  She could not see far into his dark sockets.

 "What is this all about?  Why do you need me?"

 The Dreamsmith hesitated.  "You will be allowed to know something, but not all things.  Even I know not the All-Thing.  But here is what I know that you may know.

 "In a universe like unto your own, connected to your own by such stuff of which I may not speak, a
great battle rages.  Many warriors wage battle upon a being who has destroyed--no, consumed--whole realities.  This is a truth, Kara Zor-El.  By the Endless, it is a Truth."

 He paused, then said, "Or, perhaps, it may not be."

 Supergirl's eyes widened in comprehension.  She forgot about the Dreaming surrounding them.  "You want me to affect the battle."

 "Yes," said the Dreamsmith.

 "But why me?  Why not Kal, my cousin--Superman?"

 The pale man looked into her eyes and soul.

"Because he is not a Nexus in this matter.  You are.  And to resolve this battle--you must save yourself!"

 With that, the Dreaming faded.

 And a new dream began.

 It was a dream from Hell.


 The battleground was a palace of living stone.  On one side, the heroes of the Earth Kara had left behind--or heroes like them, at any rate--fought beside the champions of other Earths, some of whom Kara was familiar with, others of whom were foreign to her.

 Kal had spoken to her many times of the adventures he had had when the Justice League of America had teamed with their allies, the older, other-Earth Justice Society.  Shortly before she relocated to Rokyn, she had even participated in one of these Crises, as they called them--an event of such magnitude as to threaten more than one reality.

 But this must be a Crisis beyond Crises, for every hero or heroine with power enough to qualify had been pressed into service here.  Even some members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, from the future ten millenia away, such as Mon-El, who had all the powers of a Kryptonian, and Wildfire, who was living energy in a containment suit.

 There was Superman, and the older Superman of the Justice Society.  There were the two Wonder Women, and Power Girl (the other-Earth Kara Zor-El, whom she had not yet met).  There was Captain Marvel and the rest of his Marvel Family.  A Green Lantern.  The Ray.  Dr. Fate.  Zatanna.

 They fought living walls of stone.  They fought wizened, short, armored men who threw thunderbolts from quivers.

 They were losing.

 And at the center of the stone puzzle-palace, Supergirl saw a sight that stopped her breath, whatever she was breathing.

 The great over-villain of the piece, the king-controller, three times as big as a man, composed of
some whitish stuff foreign to normal matter, dressed in gaudy armor, was fighting Superman, a Superman who was the very image of her beloved Kal.

 And he was killing Superman!

 Kara lurched forward, fists balled, anger, agony, and horror in her heart.  Her eyes blazed with a
terrible fury no one had ever seen in her before.

 But the Dreamsmith held her easily by one shoulder, and she could not break through into this reality.

 "No, Kara Zor-El.  Not yet..."

 She could not hold back her angry tears, as the villain--she sensed the term Anti-Monitor, whatever the hell that meant--batter the Man of Steel unmercifully, unstoppably, bringing blood, spattering droplets on the walls of the morphing chamber.

 If naught was done to save him, in a short time Kal-El would die.

 Then one of the chamber walls burst open, living rock spewing every which way.  A red-yellow-and-blue human-sized bullet rocketed through and impacted on the Anti-Monitor's body with force beyond force, speed beyond speed.

 It was barely enough to knock the Anti-Monitor back on his heels.

 Kara Zor-El immediately realized the identity of Superman's savior.

 "It's me!", she shouted.

 The Dreamsmith said nothing.

 The Superman in the scene before them rolled away, lucky to be alive.  An Asian woman in a black and white costume entered through the hole in the wall (was it a wound?), looked on aghast, and knelt to help the beaten Kal-El.

 This Supergirl battled as Kara would not have believed herself capable.  Her hands became reapers, cleavers, hammers, components of a processing machine, crushing, destroying, pulling apart.  She crashed her body against that of the Anti-Monitor, blasting them both through chamber after chamber.  Heroes engaged in other battles stopped briefly to gape at the two travellers through their stone arenas.

 The Supergirl was trying to kill the Anti-Monitor.

 But whatever the Supergirl did, he answered in kind.  The villain had powers and strengths that
dwarfed her own.  He broke her bones, ripped her flesh. He sent killing energies through her body.  Only the girl's Krypton-born invulnerability, and her incredible will, kept her alive.

 He was killing the Supergirl.

 Kara openly sobbed, seeing her other self brought to the brink of death.  How valiant a woman!  Yet, how futile her valiance!  She had saved her cousin, at the cost of her life, but had only beaten back the terrible foe.  She could not kill the Anti-Monitor before it killed her.

 Then the Dreamsmith spoke to Kara.

 "This is a dream.  But it is also a Truth.  You, Kara Zor-El, are the Nexus of this Truth.  Only you may set a new course for it.  If this universe, and the others which are its sisters, are to be saved--you must save this woman."

 And Supergirl burst through the Dreaming with a scream that pierced a universe.


 Even the Anti-Monitor was stopped dead in his tracks.  His catalog of heroes was as well-kept, as
minutized, as his late brother's.

 Another Supergirl?

 Kara Zor-El wasn't going to grapple with this fiend.  She would die in combat if she had to, and be
glad of it--but not until she had stilled this monster's life.

 She dive-bombed him, not even breaking speed as she tore his left arm off at the shoulder.  She threw it into a corner of the room.  It flopped, ignored by all.

 The Supergirl of this realm was still fighting on, plunging her hands deep into the Anti-Monitor's body, ripping at his guts.  He barely felt it.

 He would draw on the power of this universe.  He would drain it dry to get the might he needed.  He would survive--

 Supergirl sheared off his right leg.  He went sprawling.

 Dr. Light, the Asian woman, was cradling the wounded Supergirl in her arms (she had fallen from the Anti-Monitor's body when the villain toppled) and was sending holograms to other parts of the palace, directing the heroes to their aid.

 They came.

 In the meantime, Kara bombed her foe boots-first and smashed him through seven levels.

 With his good arm, the Anti-Monitor grabbed Kara's ankle and channeled enough energy through her to fry a planet.

 Supergirl screamed in pain.  Rao...help me...nothing can be worse than this!, she thought.  She couldn't survive another second of it.

 Then another force knocked them apart and stood between them.

 Kara, recovering her vision, saw the newcomer, clutching her guts with one arm, pure malice in the
gaze she turned towards the Anti-Monitor.

 The Supergirl!

 On the periphery, she could sense others rushing to their side.  But they had to act immediately.  The Anti-Monitor was starting to regenerate his lopped-off limbs.  A shoulder was filling out there, a leg-stump here...

 The two women looked at each other and piled into him.

 The Supergirl of that realm plunged her arms into the foe's body again, tearing the Anti-Monitor's chest wound wider, grasping his spine, holding it fast.

 The Supergirl from the Dreaming grabbed the villain's head, sunk her fingers in deep, and bared her
teeth in a terrible snarl.

 The two Supergirls pulled in opposite directions.

 The Anti-Monitor raged with all his baleful energies.  In this form, he was tied to materiality, he
could be hurt.  And he could not relinquish this form before he removed these two flesh-things.

 But they were like two great hooks in the body of a shark, and, with enough force, even a shark can be torn asunder.

 The anti-energies of his body were smashing at Supergirl now.  Her hands were almost crisped to
blackness, and she was weeping blood.  What her other self was undergoing, after already being at Death's welcome-mat, she didn't want to imagine.

 But it didn't matter a damn bit.  She'd die, all right.  She'd die ten seconds after the Anti-Monitor
gave up the ghost.

 Then another factor entered the fray.  Two more figures, grabbing the Anti-Monitor from the sides,
tearing him apart lengthwise, taking part of the painful energies away from the Supergirls.

 Through blood-rimmed eyes, Kara beheld both of the Supermen, come to their aid.

 It might not be enough.  It might not.  The Anti-Monitor was impossibly stretched out almost as long and wide as the chamber they fought in.  And he still lived.  It was hard to tell if he was even hurt.

 At that, four new arrivals hurtled in.  Two males, two females.  All of them leaped into the Anti-
Monitor's punctured chest cavity and began pushing out from the inside.  Kara dimly registered them.  Captain Marvel.  Captain Marvel, Jr.  Mary Marvel.  Power Girl.

 It didn't matter a damn bit.

 She still had her hands on this bastard's head, and she was going to pull it off, and then she would die.

 She prayed to Rao a children's prayer, committing her soul to the Happy Lands.

 Then the bastard's head came off.

 Kara flew across the chamber, crunching into the stone wall.  It wasn't morphing anymore.  She barely felt it.

 She'd pulled the bastard's head off.

 She looked at it there in her lap.  No blood, no fluid of any sort, just that loathsome head.  Like a
cork out of a champagne bottle, she thought, and laughed giddily.

 The eyes of the head looked up at her, in focus.

 He was still alive.

 She recoiled as if she were a mortal woman with a cobra's head in her lap.  His energies still pulsed.
He could still kill her...

 Two red-gloved hands picked up the head.

 Wildfire.  The Legionnaire who was pure energy, in a manlike orange containment suit.

 "I'll take it from here, Supergirl," he said, in a synthesized voice, holding the head like a game
football.  "Good job."

 "No!", yelled Kara, even as she knew it was the only way, even as Wildfire opened his visor and dumped the terrible head inside his suit, inside himself.

 Wildfire crashed through the outer wall of the palace, hurtled into space, passed light velocity, and
propelled himself into the anti-void as far as he could.  His positive-matter energies reacted upon the
negative energies of the Anti-Monitor's head.  In his last conscious instant, the over-villain realized that he'd lost the game for the last time.

 A new star exploded into being, and burned for many millions of years.

 Kara's hands were blackened claws, but she didn't register the pain.  She looked out on the strange scene before her, and burned it into her memory.

 There were all the heroes, of course, her near-dead sister-self sprawled unmoving on the floor of the chamber.  Power Girl, who looked younger than either of her sister-selves, was trying to muster life back into her, with no luck.

 Superman, the one who looked most like Kara's cousin, and the Marvel Family were destroying the
withered remains of the Anti-Monitor's body.  Not a cell could be allowed to survive, lest he somehow regenerate.  The older Superman was exhausted and had to lie down.

 Two other figures appeared, and only Kara saw them.

 One was the Dreamsmith.  He stood in front of the dying Supergirl and Power Girl.

 Before him was a short, beautiful, black-haired girl with flesh as pasty as the Dreamsmith's.  She wore a black tube top, stretch pants, and stacked heels.  It was so damned incongruous Kara almost laughed.  A fashion statement in a charnel house.

 But it wasn't funny at all.  The girl was trying to get at the other Supergirl, and the Dreamsmith wouldn't let her.  Kara didn't know why she just couldn't walk around him, but she didn't.

 "Move aside, little brother," said the girl, snappishly.  "You wouldn't believe how busy this damn
thing's made me."

  "You will not take this woman, sister," said the Dreamsmith.  He didn't budge.

 The girl looked down, ran her fingers through her tangled black mane, and threw her head back in
frustration.  She pointed to the Supergirl of that realm.

 "Look at her, Dream.  She's dead already.  What could she come back to?  You want she should be a zombie?  Let up, for cryin' out--"

 "I said, the woman will not be taken."  There was real menace in his voice.  "She is under my protection.  To touch her, sister, you must touch me first."

 The girl swore.

 "All right, all right.  You know the rules. Somebody else has to go.  Who?"

 The dark girl cast her eyes in Kara's direction.

 "Don't even think about it, sister," warned the Dreamsmith.

 "What is it with you?  You've suddenly developed a thing for blondes?  Okay.  Your choice.  Gimme somebody.  But make it fast.  Real fast."

 The Dreamsmith made his choice.

 The older Superman had been overtaxed by the fight.

The pale man nodded in his direction.  "Oh, thank you," said the girl, sarcastically.  She trudged over to the old man's side and put on her best Welcome Wagon manner.

 "Time's up, Kal," she said, and stooped to grasp his hand.  She stood up, and the spirit of the first
Superman came with her.

 The new ghost looked at his body, and then at the scene around him.  "This is it, then?"

 "'Fraid so.  It was you or the girl," Death said, cordially.

 Superman smiled broadly, with strength.  "Best bargain I've ever had, then.  What about Lois?"

 "Not for a good while."

 "Suits me.  Let's go."

 Kara heard a sound of fluttering wings, and the two were gone.

 Superman, the one who looked like her cousin, came flying in with a hooded girl in his arms.  He sat her beside the fallen Supergirl.  "Get to work, Raven. Now!"

 The alien empath-girl took the Supergirl's body, worked her magic, nearly dying herself in the process.

Eight minutes later, the eyes of the blonde heroine opened.  She smiled, looked up at Raven and Superman.

"Did we get him?" asked Supergirl.

 "We got him," said Superman, smiling, then wiping his eyes, then crushing his cousin to him in a tender embrace.

 There was a wail from the other side of the room.

 Power Girl was pounding on her cousin's chest, trying to get his heart started again, wetting the body with her tears.

 It took Mary Marvel and Wonder Woman three minutes to pry her loose.

 "I never told him I loved him," sobbed Kara Zor-L of Earth-Two.  "I never ever told him that."

 Kara was beginning to feel the pain.  "Oh, Rao," she moaned through gritted teeth.  "Take me to the
Happy Lands, the verdant fields, to be with my own forever."

 Then the Supergirl of this realm was at her side, an arm around Kara's shoulders, looking into her face.  Kara noted, through her pain, that she had been restored completely.  No sign that a monster had torn out her guts.

 There was one other there, the hooded girl.

"Raven, please work her," said the Supergirl.  And Raven did her laying on of hands.

 The girl, only a teenager, as Kara had been when she first wore her costume of red and blue, knelt over her and swayed and moaned in pain, keening as she took the agony from Supergirl into her own body and then dispersed it.  She did it a stage at a time, or it would have killed her.  As it was, coming after her salvation of the other Supergirl, she was as weak as she had ever been when it was over.

 But it did end, and Kara's hands were as pink as a newborn's and her eyes clear and moist and her body free of baleful pulsings when she was done.  Kara looked up at Raven and blinked.

 "Thank you," she said.  "Thank you very much."

 The Supergirl of this realm held Kara's hand in one of her own and supported her back with her other arm.

"We're grateful, Raven.  I'm grateful.  You were as much a warrior today as anyone here.  Thank you for my life."

 "You're welcome," said Raven, who had been raised with manners (by Trigon, who had that virtue, at least, if little else).

 "Are you from another Earth?" asked the Supergirl.  "How did you find us here?  And by the way...thanks very much for everything you've done."

 "I'm not sure of anything," admitted Kara.  "This may all be a dream."

 Only the Supergirl saw pale fingers emerge from the air and touch her newfound friend's shoulder.

 But all of them saw her vanish.


 The Dreamsmith's arms enfolded her in the Dreaming. Thankfully, she noted that the surroundings didn't bother her as much as before.  But she wasn't sure that the Dreamsmith was as benign as he had seemed to be.

 No...that was not it.  He was just acting as a general, sending a soldier where she needed to be.  Not that such an analogy appealed to her.

 "You have questions, Kara Zor-El," he said, as a statement.

 "Yeah, you might say that," she noted, dryly.  She waited for him to speak.

 "Through your actions, you have altered a Truth.  What was once the Truth, or at least an important
Truth, has become a Truth.  Do you understand?"

 "A parallel universe," said Kara, her comprehension growing.  "You used me to set up another universe.  Would the Anti-Monitor have destroyed that one?"

 The Dreamsmith paused before answering.

 "There are Truths in which he would have, and Truths in which he would not.  In that particular
Truth, he would have destroyed Supergirl, and many others, before he was destroyed in turn.  Their Truth, and several sister Truths, would have become one.  Much instability would occur, and it would be, in a way, as mutable as the Dreaming."

 Supergirl breathed more calmly now.  "Then we prevented that from happening."

 "We did not."  The Dreamsmith looked intently at her.  "We simply allowed it, and another Truth, to
happen.  It was the creation of this other Truth--and Truths which will stem from it--that was paramount.  And it was done."

 Kara shook her head in wonder.  "Will they know what has been done?"

 "Those who experienced the first Truth will have no idea.  Indeed, their memory of the entire affair will fade.  Those who perceive only that Truth, even those who watch it from other Truths, will probably know little of what was done today."  He paused again.

"You, Kara Zor-El, when you leave the Dreaming, will know nothing of it yourself.  And, since you will forget all, I will tell you this one thing, and perhaps another.

 "First:  that all Truths begin as Dreams, and perhaps end the same, in time.

 "Second:  my motives here were not unselfish.  In that Truth, or one to stem from it, had it not been
altered, there would be another Dreamsmith.  And he would be taken prisoner by savants who botched a spell, and be held captive for most of a human lifetime.  His Dreaming would be poisoned.  Within only a few years of his release from captivity, his sister would take him."

 Kara stared at the Dreamsmith.  "That Dreamsmith would die."

 "And so he will, Kara Zor-El.  But now that Truth is also a Truth, and other Truths exist beside.  Other Dreams, as well."

 Supergirl sighed.  "So they'll forget.  So I'll forget.  Will anybody remember what happened here
today?  Will anybody know?"

 This time, she didn't miss the suggestion of a smile at the corner of his mouth, for a brief instant.

 "I will remember, Kara Zor-El.  So will those of other Truths who love you.  And their number is not few.

 "Now, go.  We will not meet again.  But the Dreaming will be good to you, when you return to it.
Well done, Kara Zor-El."

 And Supergirl vanished from the Dreaming.


 In the Truth which had now been created, those who had been in the battle went home to their respective Earths.  But this had been a battle of great consequence, and all who experienced it had cause to revalue their lives.

 Superman made an unexpected visit to Lois Lane's apartment.  She had never seen him in quite this state before.  He couldn't even speak for several minutes.

 "Lois, I've seen a good friend die," he said, at last.  "I saw somebody else I loved very much almost
die.  I've cheated death a lot of times, but now that I've seen it--up close and personal, you might say--I don't want to die without having had you for a wife.  Will you marry me?"

 She didn't say a word of response, but went to him and crushed herself to him in an embrace.

 Stroking her hair, Superman mumbled, "Uh, Lois, I'll go ahead and admit it now.  You were right.  I am Clark Kent."

 "I know," she said.  "I know."

 There were many marriages that year among the heroic community, and some complained that they might as well have rented a tux for the whole twelve months.  They were vets home from the war, and, like earlier vets, they were thinking of settling down, or at least of having families.

 Even Captain Marvel, Jr. and Mary Marvel asked for the gift of aging from Shazam, and were granted it, that they might wed in the coming years.  Billy, still afraid to abandon his boyhood, took on most of his cases alone after that.

 The Robin and Huntress of Earth-Two tied the knot, and had a boy and girl so soon after that that the gossip-mongers among the heroes had a field day.

Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance had a double ceremony with Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris.  Ollie and Dinah didn't make a go of it, and ended up in divorce court within a year, though they slept together for a long time after that.  Hal and Carol made out better, and had a son, about whom Hal wondered if he could be made to go into the Lantern business.

 Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle had a gala ceremony, as did Dick Grayson and Starfire of the Teen Titans.  In between those weddings, the Joker and some of his thugs came to the Gordons' home intending to do her violence and kidnap her father.  Barbara checked out the surveillance cameras, saw the newcomers on her doorstep, changed into her uniform, took them by surprise, and damned near beat the Joker's brains out against the sidewalk.  After he recovered, he confined his activities to other heroes, and kept a somewhat lower profile.

 Superman made a visit to Lex Luthor's cell that, officially, never happened.  Quietly, he told his arch-enemy that things had changed, and Luthor was no longer to try the sort of funny stuff he had done before, as it would not be tolerated.  When Luthor laughed at the statement, the cons in the adjacent cells heard some terrible bangings and smashings and a few high-pitched screams.  The guards didn't come until a few minutes after Luthor was alone in his cell.

 Guards, officials, and inmates alike concluded that Luthor should be careful not to fall out of his bunk that way again, if he expected to be put together again in recognizable fashion.

 About The Flash there was no definite intelligence.  Some say that he lived to a ripe old age in a future century with a woman who, supposedly, was the wife he thought he had lost.  Others say he gave his life heroically, to defeat another plot of the Anti-Monitor.  Whatever the case, Wally West donned a copy of his mentor's uniform and took up his role as the new Flash, and did him proud.

 In another reality, several heroes managed to stop one of their own from completing a megalomaniacal plan to destroy half the people of New York so as to avert nuclear war.  Dr. Manhattan himself bollixed the conflict, inundating the planet with wavelengths that prohibited missle launchers from working, and appeared to both American and Soviet heads of state and told them to work things out peaceably if they didn't want to have to fight him themselves.  Faced with that, both
sides chose the better part of valor, and negotiated.  Rorschach returned to New York, where little more was heard of him.  Adrian Veidt was imprisoned on his estate in Antarctica by Dr. Manhattan for the rest of his life, however long that was.  Nite Owl and Silk Spectre got married.

 The Comedian died, as did the original Nite Owl.  So did John Lennon.  Nobody could do anything about those.

 There were many other Truths which branched off from these, some that impinged on each other, others which did not.  There were Karas which resembled the Supergirl of Earth-One, and ones which differed from her in certain aspects.  They were loved by many.

 The Supergirl of Earth-One, after her near-death experience, came home and decided to reorder her life.  It was not enough to dabble in college life, or acting, or even reporting.  And it was not enough just to be a girl-copy of Superman.  She wasn't quite sure what she would do yet, but she'd chart a course quickly enough and follow it.

 But that's another story, or perhaps another dream.

 There was, of course, another reality in which terrible things happened.  In that realm, Kara Zor-El
never existed.  Barbara Gordon was shot in the spine by the Joker, and lost the use of her legs.  The Joker went on to beat the second Robin with a pipe, and then blow him and his mother up with a bomb.  The Batman would have his back broken by a hulking villain, have to be replaced for a time, and then have his spine reconstructed so that he, impossibly enough, could go back to crime-fighting.  Nightwing's and Starfire's wedding would be polluted by a Raven gone demonic.  The noblest Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, would go crazy and kill his best friends, try to take on a role like unto that of the Anti-Monitor, and mold his Truth's destiny into a different shape.  Superman would die, and not be taken by Death, and would return to life.  Millions of others, in Coast City, were not so lucky.

 And the Dreamsmith of that realm died, too.



 And then Kara Zor-El woke up.

 She was suprised to find the sheets damp with sweat, in the coolness of the fall night.

 She looked up at the clock.  Four hours worth of sleep.  There was one thing for sure:  even though she had introduced the pizza business to Rokyn as a sideline, and was making good money off her chain of restaurants, she was going to tell her chefs never to use seafood as a topping.  Not if it gave her the night sweats.

 Kara got up, changed her nightgown and sheets, and heated some milk.  While it was heating, she fumbled in her record cabinet for one of the lp's she had brought from Earth.  She came up with the first America album, which she'd bought because she liked "A Horse With No Name", originally, but had come to like the second track best of all.

 Try as she would, though, she couldn't get the record player to stop skipping off that track.  "I
understand you been running from the man, who goes by the name of the...BRRRRPPP," went the needle.

 Ah, frab, she thought.  Better invest in one of those blasted CD's the next time she went back to

 She tried to remember what she had dreamed.  She had little luck, only managing to catch a bare glimpse of some tall, skinny, pale geezer.  Drinking her warm milk, she guessed she must have been dreaming of Elric.  She'd gone through a Moorcock period some years ago. Yeah, it must have been him.

 But somehow, she felt very good about herself that night, and decided she must have had a nice dream.  A very nice dream after all.

 So Kara Zor-El turned out the lights, and went back to bed.

 And had pleasant dreams, or no dreams at all.


This one's for Neil, in hopes that he'll understand.

And for Sharon, who will.

All characters copyright DC Comics.  No money is being made from this story, and no infringement is intended.