Hellsister: Part 9
 by  DarkMark

The problem with battling foes like Professor Zoom and Krellik is that, for the Legion, they were cards from another deck.  Tyr they knew, but even he turned out to be more than they could handle, given the speed of Zoom and the magic and strength of Krellik.

In the end, neither Tellus, Polar Boy, Sensor Girl, Power Boy, Shrinking Violet, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, or even Ultra Boy could prevail against them.  They made a good showing.  But the Legion eight went down to defeat.  Luckily, the threesome spared their lives, as per Mordru's wishes.  They were imprisoned within the defense center at Winath.

But Tellus, a telepath, had sent an account of the disastrous fight to Saturn Girl, who acknowledged it.  Her message: sit tight until the Fatal Five were on their way back to Takron-Galtos in a United Planets "con space" craft, and they would come.  They were forewarned of Zoom's and Krellik's powers.

That still left only a token force of Legionnaires on Earth.

By that time, Mordru had already come and gone.

They probably wouldn't have made much difference, anyway.

 -S-

In Legion H.Q., Brainiac 5, Supergirl, Dev-Em, Laurel Kent, and Dream Girl were listening to the White Witch's briefing on the Devil's Emerald.

"First, you must understand these concepts," said Mysa, the White Witch.  "As Supergirl overheard, in the worlds of higher magic, whether a power object exists before its conception, or comes into being when an entity of great power conceives it, is still undetermined.  Whether I believe in the varied mythos or not, sometimes an entity can bring them into existence, independent of our belief."

"So the Emerald might not exist, until Mordru brings it into being."

"Or it may, Kara, or Mordru may not be able to successfully conceive it into existence," Mysa explained.  "Belief is more powerful than even priests can imagine."

Brainiac 5 said nothing.  His head was resting on his hands, and he gave Mysa his full attention.  Supergirl had seen that expression before.  He was soaking up data faster than a mainframe computer.  Even if he didn't like or trust magic, he was learning something new.  That was Brainy's favorite activity.

Dev sat silently, and his expression was hard to read.  Laurel was clutching her arms and breathing a bit heavily.  Kara didn't blame the girl for being spooked.  Kryptonians were not only vulnerable to magic, it was one of their most common phobias.

For good reason, she thought.

"So what's the story on this thing?" said Kara.  "Is it an Earth legend?"

The antennaed sorceress turned to her.  "Yes, but the basics are on many other worlds as well.  In many religions, including Christianity, there is the story of Lucifer's rebellion against the Creator, and his exile from Heaven.  A few legends state that an emerald fell from his brow, with a great deal of his power imbued in it.  This is not stated in the Bible of the Jews or Christians...it's just a legend.  Which, as I've said, may be conceived into fact."

"So Mordru can, like, warp reality at the level he's gotten up to?" said Laurel.

"Politicians do it all the time," said Dev.

Dream Girl smirked, and even Kara was glad for the momentary release of tension.

"Okay, and both Brainiac and I know about the Helmet of Order," Supergirl said.  "You say there's another helmet?  One pertaining to Chaos?"

Nura nodded.  "Yes.  The Order Helmet belonged to your Dr. Fate of Earth-Two.  He made no more crossings into our dimension after the Magic War, so we know nothing more of it from that point onward."

"Magic War?" said Kara.

Brainiac, the student of heroic history, explained.  "Briefly, Kara, it was a great conflict of sorcerors from our dimension and others.  You may yet live to see it...it involved many of the heroic and villainous magicians of your time.  Dr. Fate, the Spectre, John Constantine, Timothy Hunter, the Phantom Stranger and the like.  There are rumors that Mordru appeared briefly during that war, but I've yet to confirm it."

"Something to look forward to, Kara," noted Dev.

She gave him a sardonic look, then turned back to Brainy.  "Was the Chaos Helmet ever reported in use?  In this dimension, or any other?"

Nura shrugged.  "I'm not sure.  Your Dr. Fate was a hero.  Perhaps the ‘Dr. Chaos' was a villain--"

"Great Rao!" Kara shouted, slapping her hands down on the table in surprise and almost splintering it.  "Dr. Chaos!  I've heard that name...let me think a moment."

Dream Girl stopped Mysa from going over to Supergirl.  "She's got super-memory, sister.  She doesn't need your magical memory probe."

"Just so," said Mysa.

Supergirl closed her eyes and probed back through her memory bank.  Someone had mentioned that name to her...she traded gossip with so many heroes.  It was a game they played quite often, both to keep others in their business aware of potential foes and as a way of bragging, though few acknowledged the latter.  Thanks to her powers of Total Recall, if she tried hard enough, she could remember almost everything up to the moment when she left the womb.

There it was.

"Dr. Chaos," said Supergirl, her eyes still closed.  "Kal told me.  He fought him when he was Superboy.  He had a yellow and blue suit, a blue helmet...like Dr. Fate's colors in reverse.  Kal took the helmet and wound it up in copper, which was proof against its magic.  Then, he told me he cast it in a block of copper and buried it under the Fortress of Solitude years later.  That was the end of it, he thought.  Dr. Chaos never came back."

Dev was up from his seat.  "Then let's go to the Fortress," he said.  "We all know where that is."

Brainy stood up as well.  "Kara, if you'd stay here," he asked.  "You might learn some things of your future life..."

"I will not stay here," she said.  "And you can hypnotize me later.  Let's go."

"Just a minute," said Dream Girl.  "Mysa, can you interpret my dream?  The yin-yang one?"

The White Witch shook her head.  "I don't have the slightest, right now."

Laurel said, "That's all right.  Let's hit the Fortress."

 -S-

"Oh, Rao," said Kara, a few minutes later, towing Brainiac 5 and White Witch in her cape.  "Oh, great Rao, look what he did."

Dev, with Dream Girl and Laurel in tow, shielded by Laurel's cape, didn't say a word as he set them down.  He just looked out at the snowy expanse of chaos, saw the splintered building wreckage, the twisted signs, the twisted bodies reddening the ice, the few rescue vehicles using force-beams to go after survivors.

And all of them heard the screaming, the crying, the cursing, the weeping, and the praying.

Without a word, Kara and Dev leaped into action.

Their heat-vision melted ice trapping people beneath its bulk.  Their powerful arms dug tourists out of danger spots, lifted debris and hurled it aside, gently but super-swiftly carried the victims to hospital ships hovering in the area.  The authorities were astounded at the mighty helping hands that were turned to their aid.

Some protective bubbles of force had been activated automatically by the blast's impact...more or less the 30th Century's version of airbags in a car.  Many people huddled within such bubbles, and were safe, though still terrified.  When the strange blurs outside slowed enough for them to get a glimpse of the man and woman who made them, particularly when they saw the red, yellow, and blue of Supergirl's uniform, some were comforted.

But many were dead, and many were dying, and many more were somewhere in between.

Of the latter two categories, Supergirl and Dev-Em brought more than a few to the spot where Brainiac 5, Laurel, Dream Girl, and White Witch stood, and had Mysa perform a kind of magical hands-laying that helped sustain their lives, and helped counteract their injuries.  Mysa performed the rite again and again, her eyes tearing from emotion and exertion.  Over 100 people gained her help.  Like a nurse in a MASH tent, Mysa didn't dare dwell too much on the torn-up bodies she saw.  The horror, the nausea, all of that would have to wait.  Nura knelt beside her and offered comfort to both Mysa and the victims.

Mysa made it to about victim 133 before she threw up.

She wiped her mouth.  Dream Girl held her arm and said, "Mysa, it's all right to stop now.  You've done all you can."

"Like Tartarus, sister," said Mysa.  "Just help me over to the next one."

Laurel Kent went to a spot that Dev and Kara had not yet covered and tried to roll away a support pillar that was pinning several screaming people to the ground.  She dug her bare feet into the tundra, gritted her teeth, closed her eyes, and pushed.  The muscles of her half-clad body, particularly in her arms, stood out in relief as she exerted her power.  It just had to work...she was needed...

Supergirl whizzed up and shoved the pillar away with a single thrust.  "Help me get these people to a ship, Laurel," she said.  "You've got a flight ring."

"Dammit," snapped Laurel, as she wrapped her arms around a moaning businessman and took flight.  "Why wasn't I born with strength?"

Brainiac, not far away, talking with a rescue officer, heard Laurel's words.  While one part of his mind and his mouth worked on outlining a way to deal with the problem, another part began analyzing Laurel's problem.   Between point A and point B, her present condition and what she wanted to be, he built hypothetical bridges, multiples at a time, tore them down with logic, built them up again.

He vowed he'd have an answer for her.

Dev-Em's face was made of stone.  He rescued almost as many people as Mordru had destroyed.  His comments to the Terran Emergency Operations people were curt and to the point.  But he pushed himself, and there are few things more awesome than a man with the power of a Kryptonian when he pushes himself.  He was filling the hospital vans, depositing others before doctors' triages, taking still others to Mysa and Nura.

And despite his stony visage, no one who saw him thought that he was not affected by what he saw.

Supergirl held back her tears.  She was possibly the most sensitive, the most caring of all the El family, and it was hard for her to do.  But Kal had trained her well about keeping her emotions in check, at least the part that would interfere with her work, when there was an important job to be done.  And none, to her, was more important than saving lives.

So she dug men, women, and children out of stony debris, cauterized wounds with heat-vision, pounded hearts back to life, breathed air back into deflated lungs, tried to keep people from going into shock, and wouldn't even touch the part of her that said, No matter what you do, some of these will die.

Minutes later, Dream Girl helped a thoroughly exhausted White Witch to a medical tent.  The sorceress was spent, exhausted.  A doctor with yellow skin and four arms looked at both of them and said, "I'm sorry, miss, but I can't spare medicine for her right now."

"The hell with you!" snapped Nura.  "All I want is a place for my sister to rest!"

The doctor stepped back.  Nura fireman-carried her sister to one of the few empty cots in the 144-bed tent.  She lay Mysa atop it, removed her sister's shoes, and tucked her in.  "S'ter, get me up," mumbled Mysa.  "People.  Need hands."

A floating monitor-nurse, half the size of a breadbox, whisked up, buoyed by tractor beams, and hovered over Mysa's cot.  The simulated face of a Terran doctor was showing on its screen.  "Problems, ladies?" it said, in a well-modulated voice.

Dream Girl looked at it for two breaths.  Then she said, "Get me a hot drink.  Get my sister a relaxant."

The monitor sped off to do just that.

Nura collapsed over her sister's stomach and started crying.

Outside, the heroes had done about as much as they could do.  The Service Commander was talking with Brainiac, and Laurel, Kara, and Dev showed up individually during the conversation.

"We're damned glad for your help," allowed Commander Shen.  "But I didn't think they'd gotten word to you so fast."

"They didn't," said Brainiac, simply.  "We were too late."

Shen cocked his head at Brainiac.  "What's that?  You knew this was going to happen?"

Laurel piped up, "We didn't get it figured out in time.  If we had, we could have shown up maybe, like, before it happened.  But we didn't get it figured."

Dev wasn't saying anything.

Kara alighted among the small gathering, burning the bloodstains of victims off her hands and uniform with her heat vision.  Shen, a small Asian man, said, "You're Supergirl.  Aren't you?  Well, never mind, can some of you tell me what happened here?"

"Mordru," said Kara.
Dev lifted his head.  The glare in his eyes bordered on madness.  Kara went over to him, but before she had taken a step, he had thrown back his head and was shouting.

"MORDRU!  YOU BABOOTCH-WHELPED SON OF A BITCH, WHERE ARE YOU?"

The cry was heard for miles and echoed for minutes.  If the ground hadn't been relatively level, it might have triggered avalanches.

"YOU DID THIS JUST TO PICK UP A PIECE OF JUNK!  YOU KILLED PEOPLE TO PICK UP A PIECE OF GARBAGE!  WELL, WE'RE HERE!  COME BACK AND FACE US, YOU COWARD!"

"Dev, please--" said Kara.  Brainiac grasped her shoulder, and she held back.

"YOU COWAAARD!"

Laurel, clad in nothing but her black bikini and cape, went over and held him.  "Just let it drain, Dev.  I'm here, just let it drain."

Brainiac and Kara looked at each other for an instant, then snapped their gaze back to Dev and Laurel.  His head was buried in her shoulder.

It wasn't possible for Supergirl to tell from that angle whether or not he was crying.

She didn't use her super-hearing.
 

Brainiac got a call on his Legion communicator from Dawnstar, who had stayed behind to mind the store.  "Brainy, we've got a message from Saturn Girl," she said.  "It doesn't look good."

"What?" he said.

"It's a relay of a message from Tellus," she said, and explained what had become of the Legion force on Winath and what had been reported of their three foes.  "The group on Saturn is going on a rescue mission.  We're on our own."

"Delightful," said Brainy, evenly.

Dawnstar hesitated.  "I guess that means things aren't going well where you're at," she offered.

"We were late," he said.  "I'll brief you about it when we come back.  Give us an hour.  Out."

The communicator winked off.  Commander Shen stood before Brainiac.  "What was this Mordru after, here?"

Brainiac looked at him, tiredly.

"Something to put on his head," he said.

Dev had finally let go of Laurel when Kara took his hand and led him off to a place outside the perimeter of activity.  Laurel gave Kara a meaningful look and let them go.

The ex-knave of Krypton straightened a bit, but only a bit, and didn't look at Kara while they were walking.  She sat him on a snow-covered rock, walked a few paces away, rolled a mass of snow into a ball with her hands and cooled it into rough ice with her super-breath.  Then she sat down on it, legs crossed, and waited for Dev to speak.

"I've made myself a perfect ass," he said.

"No, you haven't," said Kara, quietly.

His hands rubbed the back of his neck.  It kept his head down and kept him from having to look at her.  "Right, little kid screaming in the snow.  ‘It just ain't fair, it just ain't fair.'  Really going to help things like that, eh?"  Dev snorted.  "Yeah."

"Oh, Dev, stop it!" snapped Kara.  "What you showed me a few minutes ago was the best thing I've ever seen from you.  You saved several hundred individual lives.  You brought a whole bunch of people back from the verge of death.  You were like a one-man salvation crew out there, and I'm proud of you."

"You did it, too."

"Let me talk!  We're talking about you, Dev."  She uncrossed her legs, her hands resting on her knees.  "You were right to be mad at me about blowing the mission.  But now I know why.  It's because you can't stand to see all those people killed, can you?  The big picture."

Dev's hands came off his neck.  He clenched them, resting his forearms on his knees.  "Tell me, commander.  You've got all the answers now."

Supergirl grimaced.  "I feel like slapping you again.  If I didn't love you more now than I ever have before, I'd do it.  I--"

Her hand went to her mouth.  Dev looked at her.  His expression was caught coming up from anguish into hope.

"So you said it," he murmured.

Kara was flustered.  She looked down at her lap, put her hand down, fumbled with her flight ring just to have something to do.

"Yeah, well...now you wanna tell me why you joined the UPIC?"

Dev looked at her curiously, and then laughed, hard and long.

"Oh, Sheol," he said, still laughing.  "She tells me she loves me, then she wants me to talk about my career.  How's that for romance, Kara?"

She chuckled.   "So I'm awkward with romance.   Doesn't change the fact that you look a hell of a lot better now that I've seen some human concern under your hard candy shell.  Talk to me."

Dev smiled, tightly.  "All right.  All right, Karaish, or Karaian if you prefer, let me tell you the story."

"Try Karaish."

"All right, Karaish...it goes back a few years to this punk kid, Dev-Em by name, a budding anarchist with a tube of acne cream in his belt pack.  He was smart enough--I was smart enough--to rig up an alien shelter with rockets and get himself and his parents off Krypton just before the thing, uh..."

Kara shifted position on her ice seat.  She studied Dev's expression, all the stress it registered.  It was never easy for Kryptonian survivors to talk about the Destruction.  And, unlike her, Dev had been born on Krypton.

"Before the planet exploded, Dev," she said, to help him out.

"Right, right," he sighed.  "Oh, Rao, where to start?  Well.  You probably know about the gag I played on your cousin.  I mean, this three-year-old kid whom I used to get in trouble had become the greatest hero on his new planet.   Think that didn't make me jealous?  If you do, you don't know me, or the ‘me' I was, worth a damn.  Am I still coming across, Kara?"  He looked at her, with, for once, a pleading expression on his face.

"You're doing fine, Dev.  Keep going."

Dev got up, started walking around, not looking at her very much.  "So, all right, I played the prank, I almost got little Kal-El in trouble again, and I took off for the future with my parents, who were still in that bally alien shelter.  Why did I choose this century?  Well, when I was pretending I was Superboy, I checked out his house with my trusty x-rays, and I found out about this Legion of Super-Heroes thing.  30th Century.  Why not?  By then, maybe Earth would be an interesting place."

"You didn't find it interesting in Superboy's time?" said Kara.

"Interesting?  Hell, no!  So backward they didn't even have personal CompUnits, meat animals from Genetix, a Fire Falls, a Scarlet Jungle...any of that.  You and Kal adapted.  I never could.  But maybe Earth in 1,000 years would be worth getting an apartment in.

"Well..."  He sighed, stopped, faced Kara, spread his hands in helplessness.  "Well, imagine this.  I take the alien shelter to this time, and get my mom and dad out of suspended an.  It was on the outskirts of Metropolis Greater Spaceport.  By the time my folks came out of the vapors, started breathing, and started hugging themselves and me and crying, a whole horde of Science Cops were coming through the door and wanting to know what the hell was going on, who we were, and why we had suddenly appeared from out of nowhere in a medium-security area of the ‘port.  Luckily, they still spoke English that I could recognize, even though one of those cops had eight eyes and held his blaster in a tentacle.

"So I plastered this dumb grin on my face, the one I always practiced in the mirror for when I met a mark, and said something like, ‘We are from Krypton, from about 1,000 years ago.  We come in peace.'  Not exactly that, but something like it.

"And all of a sudden the head cop stiffens and the rest drop back.  Mom and Dad and I looked at each other, like, they don't enjoy Kryptonians here?  I mean, we could have taken on every one of them, and everybody in the whole spaceport, too, but that's not what we do.  And me, I was a con man...maybe I am a con man...but I'm not a thug, or a killer.  So when they do a short bit in whispers, and then the head cop said, ‘Come with me,' we came with him.  And they sent us all through Alien Processing.

"Okay.  Upshot of this is, they learned we were Kryptonian.  They gave us Truth Analyzer tests and found out yes, we really were from the past.  But you know how the law is here, Kara...Krypts and Daxamites are not allowed off-planet without a permit.  Right?  And, when they learned we were Kryptonians, they had to learn what kind of Kryptonians we were."

Dev folded his arms, kept walking back and forth, thinking of what he had to say next.  Kara said, "So how did they find out, Dev?"

He looked at her.  "They put a call through to Rokyn.  And you know how nuts Kryptonians are for history, Kara.  Even for Krypts on other planets, like you and Kal.  I mean, they have whole history departments just devoted to Kal, and you, and even the damn dog and monkey, and the Great Confrontation--"

Dev stopped, and quietly brought his hands together in front of his nose.  "Uh, do you forget what you learn of your future when you go home, Kara?"

"Not unless I want to, Dev," said Kara.  "I take it this ‘Great Confrontation' was--"

"Let's press on," said Dev, overriding her words.  "So they put through the information request for data on Dev-Em, Ron-Em, and Leeta.  And they got it.  They summoned all three of us to the office of an immigration inspector.  Two of us checked out all right.  Guess which one they didn't like so well?"

His face showed the regret.  Kara said, "Go on, Dev.  It's all right.  Just go ahead."

Dev looked her straight in the eyes.  "It was the first time my parents had ever heard what a nasty little bastard I had really turned out to be.  Thief.  Industrial spy.  Vandal.  Juvenile delinquent.  Even caused a mean bit of trouble for Superboy I, their Favorite Son through the ages.  My dad grabbed the desk he was sitting at when he heard it all, not even thinking, and broke it.  Vanadium steel.  He broke it like it was toasted bread.  Hardly knew he was doing it.  My mom, well, she was hysterical.  I can still hear her: ‘You're wrong!  You've made a mistake!  You're lying!  That's not my boy!  That's not my boy!'  Dad had to grab her, shake her, to keep her from tearing up the whole building.

"So the imm authority looks at me and says, ‘Well, Immigrant Em, is this a substantially true record?  Are you guilty of these actions?'

"For a second--for a second, I thought I could pull off another con.  Hell, you know me, I'd done it before, gotten out of dozens of fixes, just dumb-grinned my way out of it.  I could've said, ‘Sir, there's obviously been a mix-up in the records.  I mean, me, a crook?  It's been a thousand years since Superboy's time, and you can't tell me that records they got from that far back are accurate,' and all.  I might have been able to do it.  I might have made Mom quite relieved, if they'd bought it.

"But I just--" Dev swallowed, looking at Kara but not seeing her.  "I just--my Dad was there, and he looked at me, and he could tell I was about to lie, all of a sudden he knew what I'd been into for all those times...he only heard about one or two of the cases, when the cops brought me home, but now he knew about so much more, and...ah, hell, I couldn't lie.  Because...well...look.  This was a new planet, a new time.  My folks, they had a right to make it.  They were the people I made sure survived with me.  I may have been a son of a babootch, Kara, but I love my parents.  I really do.  Even if I put them through hell."

"So you didn't lie," said Kara.

Dev said, "No.  No, I didn't lie.  Told him the truth.  ‘Yes, sir, the record is basically accurate,' I said.  And Mom started crying harder than before.  The imm guy said, ‘The planet of Rokyn has been settled by Kryptonian survivors.  Immigrants Roz-Em and Leeta, you will be relocated there tomorrow.  But your son will have to be detained, till a decision can be made in his case.'  And he told the guards to take my folks away.  Mom was still crying, telling them it still had to be a mistake.  And Dad was holding her, and he flashed me a look...he didn't hate me.  But, dammit, Kara, you know it when your Dad's telling you, the hardest way he can: I'm ashamed of you.  He doesn't have to use words.  It just hurts."

Kara put her hands on his shoulders.  "I'm sorry, Dev.  You can stop now if you want, I--"

"No," said Dev, controlling himself.  He grasped Kara's shoulders himself.  "Thanks for being here, Kara.  I mean that.  But let me finish up, okay?

"So the guys came in with their low-level Kryptonite cuffs and slapped them on me.  First time I'd ever felt Kryptonite.  I was scared as hell.  I said, ‘What are you guys doing to me?'  I mean, my strength, my powers, it was like somebody turning a bath valve and all of that was draining out.  The imm guy said, ‘Just Kryptonite, Immigrant Em.  It will dampen your powers for awhile, but the gradation isn't strong enough to seriously harm you.'  And they led me off, and put me in a holding cell.  Wham, the door shuts, I'm there.  Heh.  Things really hadn't changed a lot in a thousand years.

"And for a few days, that's where I stayed.  Three square meals molecularly reassembled per day, all the vids I want to watch, all the books I want to read or hear or see simmed, restricted info hookup...and those damn cuffs on my wrists, and the camera watching even when I have to use the flusher.

"Finally, this guy comes in, flanked by several guards who have these lead containers in their hands.  I know there's Kryptonite inside them, I can figure it out, and I can bet that it's the kind that'll kill me if they pop ‘em open.  I'm not dumb, so I don't make any stupid moves.

"The guy is about 5' 6", no hair on top, kind of fat, but his face tells me he's not going to take any crap from me and I don't feel like handing it out.  All I want to do is get out of those cuffs and out of that cell.  He knows it, too.

"He tells me he's from the UPIC, the United Planets Intelligence Corps.  He knows my record and says that he might have a job for me, if I qualify.  If I decide not to, I can stay in that cell until they decide to send me to a Rokyn prison.  If I decide to, I get out, with those K-guards and a Truth Analyzer on hand at all times during my training to keep me on the straight-up, and my folks get told that I'm starting to make good.   He says they want me to try the spy game.  I say I'm up for it.  I'm up for anything that'd get me out of that damned cell.  So he says, we can get you out of the cell.  But the cuffs stay on for awhile.  How long awhile?, I ask him.  He says, ‘When I say so.  Now put your face here.'  He holds up a Retina Plate.  I get my eye laser-scanned.  Then he hands me an IdentiCard, with the big red PROVISIONAL 1 right across it.  And he turns and walks out.  Doesn't say a word, doesn't look behind him.

"But the K-guards stood there, with the door open, looking at me.  I finally said, ‘It's okay for me to go now?'  They said I was catchin' on.  So I stood up, and went with them, and we caught a TransPort to a UPIC training center.  And that's where it started, and a month later I was out of those cuffs.  And a month after that, I was doing my interview with one of the chief reps of the company.  I passed, solid.  I had a lot of good working skills for the company.

"My parents got told I was working out nicely.  I got messages from them, censored.  From me, they got back stuff through channels: ‘Your son thanks you for the communique of last Friday, blah blah blah, wishing you the very best, sincerely, on behalf of, Dev-Em.'" He paused.

"But I made it work, Kara.  And it got to be a gas, it really did.  I'm too sawed-off to be one of your Legionnaires.  I like conning the bad guys, putting it all on the line, making off with the goodies like Sprite-of-the-Morning.  Hell, I even love the price some of ‘em have on my head.  But..."

Kara, still holding him, finally said, "But what, Dev?"

He exhaled again, heavily. "But I haven't seen my parents since that day we were separated, Kara.  And I'm told my mother is dead."

She embraced him tightly.  Very tightly.  He wasn't crying.  But from the strength of his hug, and the sounds she could detect, she knew he was hard-pressed to hold himself back.

"Rao, I love you," he whispered.

 -S-

Satan Girl, Black Adam, and Ar-Ual had each received a psychic summons from Mordru and were assembled in his throne room.  Satan Girl sported a bluish bruise on her cheek and glared at the other two, daring them to say anything about it.  They didn't, but neither of them suppressed their sardonic grins.  Drang stood nearby, saying nothing.

Mordru appeared to them, warping in so quickly even super-senses couldn't track his materialization.  He wore the blue Chaos Helmet on his head, and the wizard's hat over that.  Black Adam thought it looked stupid, but from the power Mordru was radiating, he dared not even hold the thought for very long.  Drang, feeling the degree of magic, prostrated himself.

<I will undertake the next phase of my quest directly afterward,> he sent to all of them. <Drang will rule this world in my abscence, and under my authority.  You have personal tasks, and you will accomplish them, and keep them secret from each other.  I will convey to your minds the methods to be used in your undertakings.>

<Dread lord, please, your sending hurts me,> said Ar-Ual.  Kryptonians and magic never got along very well.

Ignoring her plea, Mordru sent her a private message. <You will destroy Daxam,> he said.

To Black Adam, he PM'ed: <You will destroy Rokyn.>

And to Satan Girl, he sent a message that invoked from her the wickedest grin either of the other two had seen on a human face before.

<Tomorrow, you will battle and destroy the Supergirl.>

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