Mindstorm, part 5

by Chicago

Disclaimers and other information in "part 0" Note some parts of the scene verbatim from JLA #74

...not real it's not real it's not real it's not real it's not real it's...

Shut UP! Superman mentally screamed at himself as he joined Plasticman in holding Lantern back.

"Run..." Wally's voice, so weak. "Please... just run."

Superman waited a split second for Kyle to compose himself enough to allow him to let go. Then he asked for translation and stood forward as leader to face the warrior whose massive hand wrapped around Wally's torso and neck. "Give him to me," Superman demanded, trying not to let the blood trickling from the stumps of Wally's legs distract him. "For god's sake," he breathed. "There's still time. Let me help him."

He could barely process the message of Rama Khan, telling him they were destroyers. A misunderstanding. It was a massive misunderstanding.

"You have been misled," he tried to explain, rage storming through him, up into his eyes. "Please... let me help my friend... and let's talk."

...real it's not real it's not real it's not real it's not...

With a roar, the giant warrior threw Flash's body down and stormed at Superman, and with an enraged scream, Superman unleashed his heat vision into warrior's face. Around him the others jumped into the fray, picking their enemies, ready to fight to the death. Over the clash of weapons and bodies, Superman thought he heard Wally call to J'onn, and then a raging bonfire erupted below.

...it's not real it's not real it's not real it's not real it's not....

Superman spared a glance to see J'onn's body writhing in the flames, Wally's broken effort to reach for him, and then the big warrior was slamming into him again, carrying him far from the battlefield over Atlantis.

...brought Atlantis back this isn't real isn't real isn't real...

He tried to reason with his adversary, explain how the corrupt Atlantean government was keeping slaves, about Arthur, trapped in that pool, tortured - but the warrior recited his belief that Superman was the destroyer of the world and came at him again, carrying their battle across China and Siberia, throwing punches that sent Superman's body over the pole and into the new world.

...not real no fight safe isn't real...

LIKE HELL IT'S NOT! Superman railed, mustering his waning strength for another hit from the warrior. There must be magic involved somewhere, because he could feel his ribs snapping, and he was certain there was blood spreading inside his guts, kept in his body only by his skin. He blinked the sweat out of his eyes and slammed his fists into the warrior's head, repeated blows that resounded almost as loud as the sonic booms of their travel over water, into the stratosphere, and then down down down down...

...not real don't believe it don't believe...

Superman felt his body hit, his shoulders dislocate and spine shatter. The force of his collision with the ground compressed his chest, squeezed rib fragments through heart and lungs and spleen and stomach. He couldn't breathe, couldn't...

...not real not real not real not real...

He left his body, could see it below him, watched as a final heave drove a mammoth stone dagger through his chest. He saw himself spasm once and lie still, not far from where... oh god...

...not real not real not real...

Wally, lifeless. J'onn's corpse, desiccated by flame. Batman and Wonder Woman, their hands reached out toward one another as if... no that wasn't right. They were comrades in arms, not lovers. His mind was going now, joining his body in death. Things weren't making sense, like Lantern, standing there and letting -

KYLE! Superman's soul screamed, but who could hear a spirit crying over the sound of a beating heart being ripped from an unresisting chest? Superman flung his spectral self at the man who killed his friend, wanting to batter him lifeless, but he felt a pulling, a drawing away...

...not real safe you're safe not...

And all was darkness.

"J'onn. J'onn!" Wally called softly, staying a careful distance away from the Martian.

J'onn was barely managing some semblance of humanoid form. One arm reached out to rest a hand against Superman's sweat-drenched forehead. The other arm was melded into his torso and what should have been legs, folded together and hovering three feet off the ground. The blue cape curled around his misshapen body, collar rising almost protectively around J'onn's neck. The expression on J'onn's face was strained, his eyes closed and his jaw tight as if he were gritting his teeth. His entire form was trembling.

"J'onn!" Wally called again.

This time the eyelids fluttered for a moment, and Wally waited as the rigidity seemed to ease from J'onn's body. The tight knot of his melded limbs loosened, and he brought a shaking hand to his face for a moment before he raised his eyes. "Wallace," he greeted.

"You okay there, green guy?" Wally asked. He glanced at Superman, noting with a shudder that there were tears rolling down the sides of his face. "Is he okay?"

"We will live," J'onn answered, gently brushing away the tears at Superman's temples with the backs of his fingers before withdrawing his hand from the Man of Steel's face.

"Okay," Wally acknowledged uncomfortably. "I've got Lois waiting outside but I just wanted -"

J'onn turned his somber face to regard Wally fully. "I understand, Wallace. It is good that she is here. Please have her come in."

Wally averted his eyes from J'onn's meaningful gaze, once more looking to Superman's face. "Should I warn her of anything or-"

"I will talk to her, Wallace."

Wally sucked in a deep breath. "Okay. Okay." He turned toward the door but was arrested by J'onn's voice.

"He is glad you are well and whole, Wally. And he is glad for Lois. We won't lose."

Somehow, J'onn's words only made everything seem worse.

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