Mindstorm, part 19

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0"

Despite the speed of Mercury, it took a few minutes for Wonder Woman to cross the Atlantic. By the time she arrived in Manhattan, the last of the Earth's convulsive shudders had completely settled, and most of the bedraggled looking JSA had gathered downtown near the demolished courthouse.

She picked Dr. Richard Occult easily from the crowd. His trench coat and fedora were dusty, but otherwise the disaster area around him seemed to have left him untouched. She settled lightly beside him and gave a nod to Dinah Lance. The other woman looked tearful, and many of the JSA members seemed badly shaken, but she didn't have time to concern herself with what losses they might have suffered. "Dr. Occult," she greeted. "Has Batman briefed you at all?"

"The Oracle was insistent that such a briefing would require a secure line," he answered, walking a few steps to draw her away from the JSA and other assembled heroes.

"That means no, then," Diana interpreted. "I know you have your own means of transport, but it would probably be best if I fly you and brief you on the way."

Occult nodded his head once and raised his arms enough for Diana to get a good hold on him. She did so and lifted them both into the air. Behind them a loud BOOM sounded, but she didn't turn, and, she was pleased to note, neither did Occult. He knew whatever work he had was in front of him, and the JSA had to be trusted to fight their own battles.

"Superman has been attacked," she said to him as soon as they were clear of the city. "At least, it looks like an attack. Several hours ago. Before all this -"

"What kind of attack?"

"Something on the psychic level."

Dr. Occult grunted. "That's a telepath's area of expertise."

"We know. J'onn J'onzz has been working with him. But whatever it was was designed to create a psychotic break. J'onn was able to stabilize Superman, but not help him."

"J'onzz couldn't help him?" Occult sounded surprised.

"I can't tell you much more than that. Aquaman might be able to. He's in Kansas."

"Hence the flight over the cornbelt." The comment was uninflected, but she sensed an irony in him anyway. She supposed it didn't seem a very logical place to find an Atlantean, but she couldn't explain that Arthur was with Superman's parents.

"Is Superman also in Kansas?" Occult asked.

"No, no. On the moon."

"Off planet. Batman does have a way with the truth." Again that underlying implication of irony.

Wonder Woman's comlink buzzed. "Wonder Woman here," she acknowledged.

"It's Oracle. We've got a code blue on the moon. ETA with Occult?"

Diana suppressed the emotion rising in her. "Two minutes. You have the teleporter ready?"

"Negative. Batman says it shouldn't matter to Occult if he's right about what happened in Smallville."

"And if he's wrong?"

"Protocol Zed," the synthesized voice replied.

Her hands on Dr. Occult tightened a little before she could stop them. "Understood. Wonder Woman out."

"Bad news?" Occult asked. He hadn't squirmed, even as her fingers had dug into his flesh.

"Superman is rampaging," she said flatly, translating code blue. "Whatever was done to his mind is keeping him from recognizing reality-"

"And he's acting out his delusions," Occult finished. "And you had hoped I would-?"

"I don't know," Diana replied honestly. "Batman determined you were the right person to contact, and he has been in contact with J'onn."

"Of course he has." The matter-of-factness of Occult's tone surprised her; the rumor mill must be more efficient than she realized. Or maybe he was just commenting on Batman's mythic reputation for having a plan, and it wasn't a comment on Bruce's relationship with J'onn at all.

Smallville came into view, and they lighted easily on the empty heliopad beside the hospital. Aquaman was waiting for them. He extended a hand to Dr. Occult. "Good to see you again, Dr. Occult."

Dr. Occult returned the handshake and bowed his head a little. "Your highness. A bit far from your kingdom, aren't you?"

Aquaman raised his head to squint at the noon sky. "A bit, but when duty requires-" he shrugged. His eyes shifted now to Diana. "Oracle reports a code blue."

Diana nodded. "I don't know any more than you do. Batman thinks that Dr. Occult will be able to do something from here, but-"

"Yes," Aquaman cut her off. He turned toward the hospital. "Whatever made the attack also affected a man here."

"Oh, really?" Dr. Occult sounded more interested than he had when Diana revealed the situation. "That's unusual for a telepathic assault. And Superman was hit on the moon?"

"In Wyoming," Wonder Woman supplied.

"And there were no other instances between here and there?"

"Not that we know of." Arthur held the door for both Dr. Occult and Diana. Without a helicopter drop off, the hall was almost eerily quiet, and Aquaman had them into a private room before they encountered anyone.

"Diana!" Martha Kent greeted with genuine warmth. "It is so good to see you again!" The older woman gave the Amazon a hug. "Do you have news about Clark?"

Diana shot a look at Arthur who gave the tiniest head shake. "I brought Dr. Occult here about that. A... mutual friend thinks -"

"He's right," Dr. Occult announced from beside the sleeping Jonathan Kent. He had removed his fedora and now looked at Mrs. Kent. "I am sorry, ma'am, but time is of the essence. I'll introduce myself properly when I return." He fished something out of his coat pocket and suddenly disappeared.

Martha Kent blinked and looked from Diana to Arthur. "My! I just can't keep up with you kids."

Diana smiled wryly, trying not to think about why time was of the essence. "How is Jonathan?"

Martha waved her hands. "The doctors have no idea what's wrong with him, but I'm inclined to agree with Arthur that he'll be fine with rest. It was so good of you to come sit with me, dear."

"It is my pleasure," the Atlantean replied, and Diana sensed his sincerity. She wondered how he was keeping hydrated. Her effort to not think about what might or might not be happening on the moon was interrupted by the buzz of her comlink in her ear.

The Amazon smiled ruefully. "I'm afraid I cannot stay," she apologized. "There are things I need to attend to."

"Of course, dear," Martha Kent accepted, settling in the chair by Jonathan's bed. "Take Arthur with you. He has been good to me, but he misses his ocean."

Aquaman hesitated. "Are you sure?"

Martha Kent gave him a sharp look, and the country politesse faded from the scene as she reached to turn on a transistor radio that Diana had not realized was there. Lex Luthor's voice filled the small hospital room.

"...teams have been deployed globally. We remind people to boil water before drinking it even if your area has been spared the worst of this catastrophe. Where phone and radio communications remain possible, we ask people to leave the lines free for emergency personnel. ... People of the world, we have confirmation that the attack on our planet is finally over. Although we must thank the members of the superhero community for finally vanquishing the threat brought upon us by their enemies, we must rely on ourselves to ..."

Martha turned off the radio. "If my son were able to, he'd be out there. He would not thank me for detaining you when the world still needs you. Off with you, both of you," she shooed.

Another buzz sounded in Diana's ear, more insistent. "Arthur, let's go. Give my best to Jonathan when he wakes."

"I will, Diana, dear. Good bye."

"Good bye," Arthur echoed, and he followed Diana from the room.

She waited until they were outside to answer he comlink. "Wonder Woman reporting."

"Never mind," the Oracle was saying, whether to Wonder Woman or someone else, Diana wasn't sure. But her next words were clearly for Diana. "You're needed in Calcutta. Drop Aquaman in the nearest reservoir. We need his help stabilizing aquifers."

Diana turned to Arthur, but he had keyed into the JLA channel and was already answering. "Understood. Did Dr. Occult make it?"

There was the briefest hesitation. "Uncertain. Green appears to have regained an upper hand."

"Oracle-" Diana began.

"No details yet," Oracle cut her off, "but we need you to help sift rubble in Calcutta. We need to get to Lantern."

Diana's brow furrowed as she caught Aquaman under the arms and began lifting him into the sky. "Get to Lantern?"

For an impatient moment she thought Oracle had closed her link, but then Kyle's voice came weakly over the line. "Hello, Wonder Woman. You en route?"

Aquaman touched her arm and pointed down toward a large body of water on the Kansas plain. She nodded and dropped lower. "I will be in about 5 seconds. Where are you?"

"Oh, somewhere," he replied vaguely. Then his tone seemed to sharper, become more focused. "In Calcutta. I got cold cocked by a building."

Diana released her hold on Aquaman and watched him disappear into the water. Then she coordinated herself to the most direct route to India. "So shrug it off," she suggested, guessing from Kyle's drifting tone that Oracle had connected them at least in part to keep Green Lantern talking.

"I'm working on it," he answered, matching her light tone. "Lots of survivors in the air pockets above me, though. Gotta keep..."

"Lantern! I'm en route. Talk to me!" she snapped as the Eastern Seaboard slipped away beneath her.

"Sorry. Head hurts. I told the ring to keep the air pockets open no matter what. I promised..."

She imagined him under tons of rubble, who knew how badly hurt, maintaining a network of open spaces so hundreds of scared people wouldn't die but unable to muster the energy to free them. "I'm almost there," she told him. "You'll keep your promise."

"Thanks," he answered, his voice weakening again. "Stupid building," he muttered.

"We'll take care of it." Below her, the blue of the Atlantic was giving way to the coast of Africa. "We will."

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