Mindstorm, part 10

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0" Note parts of scene are verbatim retellings of parts of JLA #86-87

The upper level of the conference room was in flames. Green Lantern was lying in a pool of his own blood.

...not real...

"Damn it, Superman get with it!!"

Superman swung unsteadily on his feet. "Batman? Where's ... where's J'onn? I--"

Sleep Kryptonian. The words were intoned inside his head, forcing him-

"No. No more distraction--"

"GNNNGH!" Superman cringed. The sorcerer - Manitou Raven - why - who -

...not...

"You must see! YOU MUST SEE-- HRRKT!"

Superman felt the third eye open in his forehead, and ... and .... "No," he breathed.

... not real...

So you see now, do you? You finally see the truth.

...not the truth... not real...

Superman reeled, watched the fire build, watched as J'onn - how could J'onn be doing this? He had said he was going to fight his fear of fire but this-

...not real ... still fear...

Superman shook his head as he sat in the Fortress of Solitude with the rest of the League. "Martians choose their physical form as a reflection of their ideals-"

... not real... I wouldn't...

"To become this ... 'Fernus'-"

... NOT REAL... PLEASE...

Superman shook his head again as the doorway to phantom zone opened and spilled the guts of dozens - hundreds of white Martians - and J'onn - Fernus -

... not real... isn't real... Kal...

There was fire, fire everywhere, and Fernus' hands at his throat and he could, he would kill him because he could, and -

... not... no ... not real...

Lantern, from nowhere, rescuing...

...please... please Kal...

More flames, normal flames, not Fernus, at Stonehenge and Manitou Raven -

...who is Manitou Raven?... not real...

Manitou Raven asking, "What's in Metropolis?"

...Kal... not...

Lois. God, where was Lois? What was he-

...NOT REAL...

Superman felt his eyes forced open and there she was, her mouth open in a scream and everything shaking and he felt himself falling... falling... falling...

Wally was back on his feet before the ground under him quit shaking, dancing on the jumping floor of the monitor womb trying to hold the signal he had just established to Batman - or any signal at all. Before he was back to his station, every monitor from the planet had dropped its feed and the room was ablaze in red light and blaring sirens. Another second and a computer voice reported, "Danger. Moon orbit compromised."

"Fuck!" The ground was still heaving, and now the computerized voice had more to say.

"Hull breach in northeast living quarters. Danger. Moon orbit compromised. Hull breach in northeast living quarters."

"Seal northeast wing!" Wally barked, trying to patch a new feed to the medbay. After two futile seconds, he gave up. He could get there faster.

The red emergency light filled all the corridors on the way up, and he narrowly avoided a sparking live line as he dashed out of the monitor womb. The voice followed him. "Danger. Moon orbit compromised. Sealing northeast wing. Danger..."

The medbay door was jammed shut. "GodDAMMIT!" he cursed, slamming through the manual override code on the control panel to no effect. If he vibrated through the door would explode and shrapnel could -

"Fuck!" he shouted again. If there was a hull breach in the medbay area and both J'onn and Superman were out of commission, he wouldn't have to worry about shrapnel hitting Lois.

"LOIS! J'ONN!" he yelled at the top of his lungs. "I'M VIBRATING THROUGH. STAY CLEAR OF THE DOOR!"

That would have to be enough, he thought, speeding himself up and bursting through the door...

"Lois!" he called, eyes desperately scanning the scatter of equipment. The ground had finally stopped shaking, but the area where Superman had been was a shambles of overturned chairs and monitor equipment. A fine dust filled the air. "Lois!" he called again, noting with relief that the atmosphere seemed intact but now worried that somewhere in the rubble...

"Here, Wally!" Lois answered, and something in the pile of tangled equipment shifted.

"I'm coming!" he yelled back, already pulling away a heavy equipment cabinet that was... dented? He realized belatedly that it was really something too heavy for him to move, that he was getting help.

"J'onn?"

Relief flooded him as a green shoulder pushed up against the fallen cabinet and an arm opened up to reveal a shaken but unharmed Lois Lane.

"What the hell happened?" she demanded.

"Something threw us out of orbit," Wally explained, his words echoed by the computerized voice from the hall. Why wasn't it sounding in here, he wondered? He shook off the question. "Are you okay?"

Lois accepted Wally's hand and climbed out from under J'onn's sheltering body. Wally realized suddenly that the Martian must have tented himself over Lois and Superman when the shaking started.

"I'm fine," Lois confirmed. "J'onn?"

There was more shifting of equipment, and then J'onn was standing clear, Superman cradled in his arms. "Thank you, Lois, for breaking the hold his delusion had on me."

Wally blinked. "Wait. How-?"

Lois looked equally confused for a moment, then her brow cleared. "I didn't imagine it, did I? He opened his eyes."

J'onn nodded.

"He did? Is he back? Does this mean-?"

"Wallace, stop." J'onn took a step forward only to drop to one knee, staggering under Superman's weight.

"Oh, hell, sorry. J'onn, here, Lois-" Wally slipped under Superman's arm and straightened, struggling with the dead weight of the Man of Steel as he partially relieved J'onn of his burden. Lois came around to the other side and offered her shoulder so that Superman was propped between them.

If he had any idea what was happening to him, he gave no sign.

"Clark?" Lois whispered.

"He's back in the delusion, Lois," J'onn reported wearily, scanning the medlab and spying a bed that was whole and relatively free of tangled metal. He crossed to it and set it upright. He stayed there for a moment, looking around the room and staring for a moment out the observation window. "H'ronmeer," he murmured.

In the hall, the computerized voice changed it's message. "Moon position stable. Northeast wing sealed. Moon position stable. Northeast..."

"J'onn?"

The Martian turned back to face Lois and Wally, then crossed the space between them to claim Superman from them. "The good news is we are not hurtling toward the planet," J'onn said as he settled Superman onto the new bed.

Wally heard Lois gasp beside him, and he thought he might have gasped as well. He hadn't considered the possibility-

"But the effect on the tectonic plates and - crap!" Wally took off, back to the monitor womb, back around the sparking cable and the debris strewn halls. His fingers went back to the keyboard, back to resecuring a line to the planet below, to anyone, anywhere.

All he got was static.

There were no monitor feeds.

There were no radio signals.

Just white noise.

He sat heavily one of the chairs fortuitously attached to the floor and stared at the empty screens, silently praying to whatever gods might be listening that his wife and unborn child were okay.

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