Sent to Earth after the destruction the Time Trapper's Pocket Universe, Superman's adopted cousin gained the powers of an Earthbound Angel and bonded to the mortal Linda Danvers. With powers and abilities beyond that of the average human, she has become one of the Universe's Greatest Champions defending time, space, and the Earth from all threats great and small, fighting for Truth, Justice, and Freedom as--
THE MAID OF STEEL
I’m Not Your Superwoman
Written By Paul Daimler
* This issue takes place after Supergirl:The Maid of Steel #36
The air danced with electricity in the seconds after Reacton had smashed one of the gold discs mounted to her wrist.
Superwoman screamed in pain, as the electricity tore at her very essence of being.
Supergirl pulled herself to her feet, balling her hands into fists. Launching herself at Superwoman, she pushed at the woman pushed her through a wall, sending chunks of brick and concrete showering into the street below. Supergirl carried Superwoman high into the sky above Metropolis, away from the buildings and people.
“Is that how you did it?! Why you look Krytonian? It’s those discs!?” Supergirl shouted, as they flew higher and higher into the sky. All the anger coursing through her—resulting from the ban on Kryptonians, her father’s death, her mother’s pressures to capture Reacton, and the world turning against them—increased by Superwoman’s attempts to befriend her, only to betray her.
Superwoman finally gained some control over the pain coursing through her entire being, managed to twist partially free of Supergirl and get behind her.
“Get your hands off me! And it’s not the discs you stupid—“ Superwoman fired twin rays of heat vision at Supergirl, growing more panicked.
“No? So what happens—“ Supergirl grunted in pain as the heat vision slammed into the back of her head. “So what happens when they come OFF!”
Supergirl ripped another of the gold discs from Superwoman’s arms.
Superwoman screamed again, spinning away from Supergirl as the air filled with an explosion of purple energy.
“You’ve got to stop Kara!” Superwoman shouted.
“Stop? I haven’t even started!” Supergirl raced after Superwoman, tearing two more discs free.
“Super—KARA! STOP! Please! You don’t know what you’re doing!” Superwoman was growing more and more panicked as Supergirl smashed and tore away more and more of the discs. The pain was growing insurmountable and she couldn’t even control her thoughts anymore.
“You’re asking for mercy? Like Agent Liberty got?” Supergirl shouted, slamming a fist into Superwoman’s face—causing the woman’s head to snap back and blood to splash from her mouth. “Like poor Mr. Henderson!? Like my Father!? You don’t deserve mercy, you deserve a beating!”
Supergirl rained blow after blow against Superwoman, preventing the woman the ability to catch her breath or fly away. The pressure within her was growing along with the pain and her thoughts were filled with fear—knowing what the outcome of losing those discs could be.
“And this?” Supergirl pulled at the white and red S-shield on Superwoman’s chest.
Superwoman’s dark blue-eyes widened in fear.
“You don’t deserve to wear this!” Supergirl pulled the S-Shield away, shredding the Superwoman suit.
Superwoman screamed again.
The air crackled with wild energy and electrical bolts dancing from her body.
“AAAAAH!” Superwoman screamed, even though it didn’t do anything to relieve any of the pain that thundered through her body. “HHHRRRRHH! S-S-Stupid girl! –You don’t—know—wasn’t the discs-“
Superwoman pulled away from Supergirl, retreated as best as she could.
“NNNGGG! –Suit—h-h-HURTS—“ Superwoman’s form morphed and mutated, growing grotesque and the wild mutations that the suit kept in check tore through her body, ripping her apart from the inside out.
“Superwom—LUCY! What can I do to help--?” Supergirl’s anger melted as she realized that something truly terrible was happening to Lucy Lane.
“—get away—nnnkilled me—you’ve killed muh—muh---“ Lucy’s form grew more and more grotesque, growing more unrecognizable as anything human. A single tear slipped from her eye. “me.”
The air filled with raging purple energy, knocking Supergirl from the sky. She crashed into the ground below.
--“KILLING ME! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Superwoman’s scream stopped and she spun around, still hovering in the skies. However, the landscape around her was completely different. And her body was completely normal again, the suit fully restored.
“What the Hell?!” She looked around. She was still above a wooded area, but it wasn’t the same wooded area.
“I’m somewhere in the mid-west.” She whispered to herself. Taking in the details, she realized that she was somewhere near Hawk’s Valley, which was outside of Midway City.
Using the Kryptonian powers that the suit gave her, she used super-vision to scan the area.
“The Earth is wrong.” She whispered. The geography was different here. She turned her attention in the direction of Metropolis, where her father’s Project 7734 was housed secretly in what had once been the Cadmus Project.
Flying toward it, hurtling at top speed, she reached Metroplis in a few minutes. However, she didn’t get much farther than the outer city limits before her super-vision revealed that Cadmus was still up and running.
“I must have been shunted to an alternate reality.” Superwoman muttered. “One of the other Earths in the Multiverse.”
She hovered silently in place for a time.
“I need to find the General Lane of this world. He’ll know what to do.” Superwoman said quietly.
Scanning the city, she determined that this world seemed to be in the same place her own world had been a couple years ago shortly after the Millennium Giants had attacked.
“Back then, I still lived in my apartment not far from Lois. I was working as a flight attendant for LexAir.” She muttered flying through the city, hoping she could avoid Superman.
With the super-vision afforded to her by her suit and the genetic enhancements her father’s team of scientists had performed upon her, she looked to the sky—only to find that there was no New Krypton. A smile warmed her lips. So, here the Kryptonians had yet to return. Could she actually prevent it her? Destroying Supergirl and Superman before they had time to bring their people back?
Getting to her apartment, she went in, finding the extra key hidden in the dirt in the plant just outside of the door. Had she ever really been that trusting? Going into the room, the alarm on the wall began to beep at her.
“F#*%! What is the code?” She tried to recall, but she had changed her code regularly. Trying to remember what it had been, before she’d quit LexAir and enlisted, she typed the first code that came to mind. Only for the alarm panel to beep at her—telling her it was wrong.
“Damn.” She spat, trying another one. The alarm panel beeped another warning to her. She was running out of time. It would start wailing at her in a few more seconds.
Trying a third code, the alarm panel emitted a single flashing beep before the warning sound stopped.
“Thank God.” Superwoman said, closing the door. She made her way over to the computer under the window in the living room, powering it on, and quickly connecting to the internet.
After about an hour of scanning news sites and super-hero gossip sites, she pushed the chair back from the computer, her gaze going to the city outside of the living room window.
“So, Supergirl is still the Matrix-Earth Angel version here.” She whispered, remembering the files on the original Supergirl. The one who had existed before the Supergirl from Krypton had arrived on her Earth. “Superman is the only Kryptonian here….” Their Power Girl didn’t even appear to be from an alternate dimensional Krypton, although recent reports stated that her mother had been descendant from Krypton and Daxam, her father was from Earth.
“I need to find my father.” Superwoman said, “Warn him about the impending Kryptonian invasion.”
Going to the phone, she dialed the speed-dial button next to “Dad.” It went straight to a voice mail message. Hanging the phone up, Superwoman tried in vain to remember where her father had been stationed three years ago—it would have been before Lex Luthor was elected president and named him Secretary of Defense. It would have been when he was at Ft. Story in Virginia.
Locking the apartment back up, Superwoman took to the sky, making the trip from Metropolis to Virginia in about thirty minutes at her top speeds. Hovering the sky above Ft. Story she scanned the offices for any sign of her father.
Within seconds she was surrounded by helicopters and fighter planes.
“Unidentified meta-human you have entered restricted airspace.” A booming voice came from one of the helicopters. “Please retreat or we will be forced to take counteractive measures.”
“I come in peace.” Superwoman said, without a trace of irony, holding her hands out. “I’m looking for General Sam Lane.”
There was nothing but silence.
“There is no General Sam Lane at Ft. Story.” Came the response after several seconds.
“Oh. Nevermind then.” Superwoman replied, noticeably surprised. She flew away, avoiding the aircraft completely.
She headed toward a nearby town she’d caught sight of while flying toward Ft. Story.
The sign said, “Welcome to New Leesburg, Population 1,739” as she flew above.
Superwoman had read on the super-hero gossip sites that the former home of Supergirl had been destroyed during an alien invasion, causing Supergirl to relocate to Midway City. There was some discussion as to why Supergirl was not moving back to New Leesburg, which the government had been busy rebuilding in the year following the invasion. As she neared it, Superwoman felt a sense of unease slip over her—as if there was something deeply wrong with the city.
Looking down at the neat buildings and houses below, she couldn’t figure out what it was. They all looked normal enough. The ground had been landscaped and reshaped, and there was no way one could tell that once this had been a massive crater. She flew down toward the massive monument not far from the sign welcoming visitors to New Leesburg.
“Dedicated to the Men and Woman of Leesburg who lost their Lives.”
Superwoman stared at the massive monument, it was made of bronze and had a police officer and housewife and small child on it. Aliens did this.
She grimaced, clenching her fists. Aliens from other worlds were the biggest threat to Earth’s survival. Her father was correct. She had to find him.
Scanning the town, she frowned.
“The houses are all lined with lead.” She whispered.
Moving into the town, she hovered several feet off the ground, surveying all that was around her.
She spun around to see a small platoon of troops, armed and with a tank backing them.
“I’m no threat.” Superwoman said coolly, “I was just stopping by to see the reconstruction.”
The soldiers did not respond.
“Cat got your tongues?” She frowned. There was something off about them.
“That symbol on your chest says you don’t belong here.” A female voice said as a blur knocked Superwoman off her feet, sending her spiraling away. She landed on the ground with a thud.
Sitting up, she got a good look at the woman who had knocked her down.
“What’s the symbol on your chest say?” Superwoman asked with a raised eye-brow.
The woman standing before her was wearing a red and blue costume very similar to Supergirl’s. The only true difference she could discern was that there was a giant U on the chest. The woman’s silver-blonde hair danced around her face, and she appeared to be a little bit more buxom and plastic-surgeon modified than Supergirl.
“I’m Ultra-Girl.” She said, putting both hands on her hips. “And, you are trespassing.”
“It’s a free country.” Superwoman said, her voice level as she stood. “I saw no signs stating that New Leesburg is a restricted area.”
“My fists say otherwise!” Ultra-Girl said, flinging herself toward Superwoman.
The two women battled, trading blows. As they knocked each other into buildings. Superwoman noted that none of the buildings were affected, and there was an odd tingly sensation against her body whenever they slammed into one.
Magic? Superwoman wondered. It certainly felt like magic.
Superwoman gripped Ultra-Girl by the shoulders, winding up and tossing her—so that she hurtled through the air. She was soon little more than a dot in the sky.
“Me am going to be nice to you for being nice to me enemy Ultra-Gir.”
Superwoman looked at the odd misshapen girl who landed on the ground roughly in front of her, dressed in an odd dark parody of Supergirl’s costume. It looked like a Bizarro.
“You must be the Bizarro-Supergirl of this world.” Superwoman said, “I don’t think we have one yet on my world.”
“Me am going to keep fists from pounding you into ground!” Bizarro-Supergirl screamed, throwing herself at Superwoman.
“You’re going to—“ Superwoman started, but Bizarro-Supergirl knocked the wind out of her, and they smashed into a building.
Again, the building held up against the onslaught, and the feedback that tore through the suit from the impact hurt more than Bizarro-Supergirl slamming into her.
“What the HELL is going on with these houses?” Superwoman screamed, knocking Bizarro-Supergirl away. “Is that magic?”
Superwoman turned to the voice, having recognized it. Although there was something slight off about it.
“Hello Lucy.” General Sam Lane said, standing near the tank.
“How did you know?” Superwoman asked, removing her cowl and hood to reveal the blonde haired blue-eyed visage of Lucy Lane.
“A father knows.” General Sam Lane said, “I also know you’re from another reality. My men have been tracking the breaches as meta-humans pop up from your Universe into ours.”
“Is there a way to get back?”
“Not sure.” General Lane said, “Hopefully. We don’t need a bunch of alternate reality meta-humans running around. We have plenty of our own.”
“I need to get back.” Lucy Lane said, tilting her head. There was something slightly off about General Lane. Was it just because this was the General Lane of this world? There had been no invasion, no Imperiex War here. Lex Luthor had never been elected President here. It was a completely different world here. “We are in the middle of a war against the Kryptonians. They are trying to destroy our way of life.”
“My men are working on trying to find a gateway back to that world.” General Lane said. “We have our own Kryptonian problems here in my reality. Perhaps you could help us with it, while we work on your problem?”
“What do you need help with?” Lucy asked, putting the cowl and hood back on.
“Supergirl lives in Midway City. And, she is a great threat to our entire world.” General Lane said. “Her powers are vast and could be of great use to us. If you could capture her, it would assist our cause greatly. We could study here and see if we’re able to replicate them. Her protoplasmic nature could possibly give us an entire army that would be impervious to harm.”
“I’ll take care of it.” Superwoman said, then flew off.
Ultra-Girl came flying back as soon as she was out of sight, as did Bizarro-Supergirl.
“I can’t believe she fell for it so easily.” Ultra-Girl said landing next to General Lane.
“She has a desperate need to have her father’s love.” General Lane said, nodding. “She would do anything he asks. She even subjected herself to his genetic manipulations to become Superwoman to help him in his insane war against the Kryptonians.”
“Do you think she can destroy Supergirl?” Ultra-Girl asked.
“I don’t know.” General Lane said. “Possibly. She is nearly as strong as Supergirl. At the very least, she should wound Supergirl’s morale even more, leaving her even more of an emotional mess. If she can be kept off kilter, then when the Angels Three oppose her, then she should fall… and with her off the board, I can defeat Wally and the Angels Three and finally seize the Chaos Stream. And once the Chaos Stream is mine then Bete Noire shall fall before me.”
Ultra-Girl smiled widely, “And, then I can remake this world into the world I know.”
General Lane nodded, “Yes, dear. You can remake the rest of the world into your beloved lost Earth-3.”
“Me hate that idea.” Bizarro-Supergirl said.
General Lane’s vision continued to be trained on the spot in the sky where Superwoman had disappeared.
Supergirl frowned as she hovered in place over the Red Zone. The sounds of sirens rose up into the night, the orange industrial glow that permeated this part of Midway City from the air and noise pollution stung her eyes. It hurt some deep part of her that people in this part of the city suffered so much, and especially since so much of the suffering was of their own making.
In her time in Midway City she had spent so much time working these streets, chasing drug dealers off, speaking to the prostitutes and trying to convince them of better ways, trying to help the homeless find shelter. She had done a lot of good here. While stopping bank robberies and super-villain rampages were what the press seemed to focus on, very few news outlets had noticed the work Supergirl had done here in the Red Zone.
“They don’t want to know.” Supergirl muttered. “The media would rather tear someone down than build you up.”
It was easier to focus on the super-villains. You stopped them. Send them to Belle Reeve or Iron Heights or in some very extreme cases Arkham. The things she fought here in the Red Zone were harder to report on because there was no ending to the stories. People didn’t want their morning news interrupted with the fact that Supergirl had gotten several homeless people out of the cold and into shelter for the night. Or that she had helped several of the young runaways get into counseling to help them with the issues that had led them to runaway to begin with. It wasn’t a story that ended when the Johnny Drew or Joan Raymond came back on and started chattering about the weather or the latest celebrity news.
And of course the death of the Silver Scorpion had only served to sour things more in Supergirl’s favor. The news was more likely to report on the negative aspects of her work now.
The irony that she was working in the media in her secret identity of Linda Danvers was not lost on her.
Looking toward the nicer areas of Midway City, including the Genoa Park neighborhood where she lived, Supergirl wondered why her life seemed to be growing darker and darker, much like the Red Zone below her.
Beside the death of the Silver Scorpion during their battle, her boyfriend Dick Malverne had been possessed by the demon Buzz that had spent years trying to corrupt her and destroy her. And then the destruction of Our Holy Queen of Heaven Church here in the Red Zone by Dynamic, some third-rate super-villain who had managed to convince people he and Supergirl had some long term rivalry going back, even though she’d only dealt with him two times. She still hadn’t rescued Kara of Argo City, from wherever she was lost in time. She was going to have to face at some point Lord Xenon, who was the Anti-Monitor reborn, and of course there was all these cryptic whisperings about her angelic nature.
“Everything is falling apart.” Supergirl muttered, turning her gaze back toward the Red Zone below. It was a mostly quiet night, a couple of drug deals, working girls plying their trade, and a couple of street fights. Nothing down there needed her immediately attention. She generally didn’t interfere with the prosititutes and drug buyers. She say them as needing her help in different ways. Once the johns left or the drug dealer was alone, then she intervened. It was far more successful with the johns, than the drug dealers. The johns she was able to scare off and had not seen a single one of them return to the Red Zone just by putting a massive guilt trip on them and threatening to report them. The drug dealers weren’t as easily scared. And she suspected it was because they were far more afraid of the Slow Demons above them.
The Slow Demons were the gang that ruled this part of Midway City. She had not made much headway in figuring out who was in charge of them and following the money to get to the real power behind them. The gang members she’d busted were notoriously tight-lipped and weren’t giving any names.
“Maybe this is all for nothing.” Supergirl muttered. Superman still hadn’t been able to stop Lex Luthor. Batman hadn’t stopped the Joker. Wonder Woman hadn’t defeated the Cheetah. They might put them behind bars or stop them, but they always escaped and terrorized their communities again. Maybe more final steps should be taken. Supergirl suddenly shook her head, pushing the thoughts away as quickly as she could. Heroes didn’t think that way.
Maybe you aren’t a hero… you’re an angel. And not all angels are nice… She shook away the annoying voice in her head as quickly as she could. Although that voice was cropping up more and more lately as she dealt with more and more.
The sounds of gunshots from below were more of a relief than they probably should have been, but they provided a suitable distraction from the turmoil surging within her.
Flying down into the streets, she saw a group of three gang members robbing a small market.
A cop shouted, “HALT!” drawing his service weapon.
Supergirl moved toward them, even as gunfire was exchanged. She quickly diverted her attention long enough to move several bystanders out of the line of bullets.
“What the Hell is that cop thinking?” Supergirl fumed, “He’s going to get some pedestrian killed!”
Supergirl leapt back into the sky, flying toward where the cops and gangbangers were firing at each other.
A woman in red, white, and blue with a S-Shield flew up—moving right in front of Supergirl.
“Hello, Supergirl.” The woman smiled from behind her blue cowl.
“And you are supposed to be?”
“I’m Superwoman.” The woman replied, her smile growing wider.
There was something that Supergirl didn’t trust about the woman. The smile seemed forced and fake.
“Are you here to help? Or just distract me from stopping that cop and those gang members down there. One of them is going to shoot somebody if I don’t intervene. And, I’m bullet proof. No one down there is.” Supergirl said, trying to move around Superwoman.
Superwoman moved with her, blocking her from getting around.
“What are you doing? People need my help!”
“We have a few things to settle.” Superwoman said, “We can worry about the drama down there later.”
“We can worry about settling whatever it is you want to settle after everyone is safe. Once that happens you can have my undivided attention.” Supergirl said, trying to move around Superwoman at super-speed.
Superwoman blocked her again, also moving at super-speed.
“STOP THAT!” Supergirl shouted.
“Ok.” Superwoman shrugged, her smiling growing, before punching Supergirl square in the face—knocking her out of the sky.
Supergirl struck the ground below, bouncing. Each time she hit the ground deep craters formed beneath her as the streets buckled and cracked. The final bounce threw her into a ten story building that had once been a business complex, but was now filled with homeless squatters and drug addicts holed up in dark rooms without power. She could hear some of them scream, as she flew through the building. She skid to a stop, taking out seven walls before she was able to do so.
She looked up to find a couple curled up together, basking in some sort of high. Needles cooling near them, as they looked at her with glazed slitted eyes.
“Groovy man.” The woman said.
The man curled up next to her just laughed. She soon joined him.
“You guys have got to get help.” Supergirl said to them, dusting plaster and dust off of her. She flew away, going back out into the sky. She headed upward and was half-way up when Superwoman nailed her again.
“You’re no match for me!” Superwoman said.
“I seriously doubt that.” Supergirl lashed out, her foot striking Superwoman in the chin.
Superwoman rolled with the punch, firing back immediately with another blow. Supergirl avoided it, hearing it slice through the air where her head had been only moments before. This woman had Kryptonian power levels, but did not appear to be Kryptonian.
Supergirl wasn’t sure who hid beneath the mask. She had telescopic vision, but not X-Ray vision. Although something told her the woman probably had lead lining in the hood—since most people assumed Supergirl had all of Superman’s powers.
Superwoman grabbed her by the arm.
“YOU ALIEN TRASH!” Superwoman screamed slamming Supergirl into a building.
Supergirl felt concrete and steel shatter beneath her as she hurtled through, come through on the other side—taking out an entire level of the building. Quickly with her flame vision she welded weakened support beams for that level of the building—hoping that it would be enough to keep the building’s top levels from collapsing until more long term repairs could be made.
This was not going to help her reputation here in Midway City at all. She needed to get Superwoman away from the city so as to limit the damage.
Flying away, she was pleased to find that Superwoman was following her.
“Running from a fight? Am I too much woman for you little girl?” Superwoman taunted, flying behind her.
Supergirl did not fly at top speed, realizing that while Superwoman was as strong as she was, she was not quite as fast. She didn’t want to escape Superwoman—just get her away from the city.
Once they were above Genoa Lake, Supergirl paused, hovering in place.
As soon as Superwoman caught up with her, Supergirl’s fiery wings exploded behind her and the flames danced from her eyes.
“That’s almost impressive.” Superwoman sneered, “But you are not angelic savior. You’re destined to destroy this world.”
“I don’t know who told you that.” Supergirl replied, “But, I’m actually going to save all of reality from Lord Xenon.”
“Fat chance!” Superwoman spat, twin rays of crimson heat vision exploding from her eyes and slamming into Supergirl’s chest.
“That actually hurt!” Supergirl muttered, looking down to see two small burn marks on her chest. Maybe the V-neck blouse wasn’t the best costume option after all.
“I’m powered by magic and Kryptonian science.” Superwoman smiled darkly, “Both of which are dangerous to members of the House of El. Even a mutt like you, culled together from various realities.”
“Oh, that hurt.” Supergirl rolled her eyes. “You know, I don’t have an identity issue anymore. I’m perfectly content as I am. I’m a little bit of that, a little bit of this, and it’s all combined into one Supergirl.”
Supergirl hauled off, punching Superwoman, sending the woman flying toward the Hawk’s Valley area.
Supergirl flew after her.
“I realize people assume I have doubts about myself,” Supergirl continued. “But, I don’t. My identity is secure. Do I have fears about the direction of my life? About where my destiny is taking me? About the anger and fear building in me? Yes! But, I don’t have any doubts about who I am and the various components that make me up! I’m a mortal, I’m angel, I’m part protoplasmic life-form from a Pocket Universe. I’m cool with all of that.”
“You talk too much!” Superwoman said, clobbering Supergirl.
“Have some super-breath.” With one single puff, Supergirl encased Superwoman in ice, sending the woman hurtling to the lake below in a giant block of ice. “Super-breath might be a dumb power, but it sure is useful.”
The lake surface beneath her exploded in a torrent and shards of ice flew past her.
“It’s going to take more than that to stop me!” Superwoman screamed, tackling Supergirl and dragging her down to the water’s surface.
They slammed into it at great speed, hitting the mud and debris at the bottom of the lake, where Superwoman slammed her fist into Supergirl’s face repeatedly.
Bringing her knee up swiftly, Supergirl knocked Superwoman off of her—sending her flying backward through the water. Supergirl flew upward—not stopping until she was nearly in the stratosphere.
“We’re almost evenly matched.” Supergirl muttered, “I don’t know how I’m going to stop her. She’s even more powerful than Ultra-Girl.”
“You’re not going to stop me!” Superwoman shouted, flying up and punching Supergirl.
“You keep saying that.” Supergirl replied, “But eventually I will stop you. You’re the bad guy. I’m the good guy that’s how it works.”
“You’ve got that turned around.” Superwoman replied. “I’m protecting the U.S. and the planet from alien invaders who are here to subject and rule over our people—if not just kill them outright.”
“Oh please. Good guys don’t show up and start a fight.” Supergirl replied. “You started hitting me for no reason while I was trying to stop some gangbangers from shooting a cop. You’re obviously a bad guy.”
“I AM NOT!” Superwoman screamed, punching Supergirl in the gut.
“WHY DO PEOPLE ALWAYS PUNCH ME IN THE GUT!” Supergirl screamed, before she slammed her fist into Superwoman’s face with all of her might while grabbing her arm with her other arm. One of the gold discs lining her costume shattered beneath Supergirl’s grip and purple lightning sparked from it.
“NO!” Superwoman shrieked. “NOT AGAIN!”
“What are you talking about?” Supergirl asked. Nothing about this Superwoman was making much sense. She kept spouting off gibberish that sounded like delusional ranting.
A bolt of purple lightning dancing from Superwoman’s costume struck Supergirl, hitting her squarely in the chest.
Supergirl screamed in pain as it raced through her.
Images quickly exploded through her mind, in a quick succession. Of a massive Kryptonian city floating in space around the sun. Of Allura and Zor-El—Superman’s aunt and uncle who had adopted her when she’d been stranded in the past on Krypton month’s ago. But, they weren’t quite the same as she remembered them. Then there were images of a blonde girl in a blue and gold costume, a red cape dancing in the wind behind her. An S-Shield on her chest. She was fighting Superwoman. The girl was so familiar to Supergirl. In the images, Superwoman was screaming at this other Supergirl, “KARA! NO!”
“Kara?” Supergirl blinked as the images faded. Was it Kara of Argo City she’d just seen? It looked enough like her, and she was almost the same age (maybe a little older) than the girl who’d disappeared at the Dawn of Time. Had she ended up in some parallel reality? A reality this Superwoman came from?
By the time Supergirl had cleared her head, she found that Superwoman was gone.
Slowly floating to the ground, Superwoman’s head was down, hanging in shame. Standing near the vast complex on the edge of New Leesburg, General Lane stood, his hands clasped behind his back.
“I’m sorry I failed you.” Superwoman said, her bottom lip trembled. “I couldn’t even defeat the Supergirl of this world. She ruptured my costume and I fled while she was dazed.”
“It’s all right baby-girl.” General Lane said, going over to his daughter and holding her close. He patted her reassuringly. “You’ll get her next time. And, then you’ll be able to go home.”
Pulling from his embrace, Superwoman sadly regarded General Lane.
With a heavy sigh she said, “There’s no way to go home. My super-hearing reveals that the people who have shifted here from my world are stuck here.”
“Well, I’m glad to have you.” General Lane beamed at her. “You are everything I ever wanted my Lucy to be.”
Superwoman smiled bleakly, “I know you aren’t my father. During the battle with Supergirl there was some sort of psychic feedback when she blasted me with a TK blast. In that blast I saw many many things.”
“What did you see?” General Lane asked, his voice gentle.
“I saw you. As you really are.” Superwoman said softly. “You’re the Carnivore. The demon lord trying to take control of the Chaos Stream and warp it to your own goals.”
“It’s too bad you figured it out.” General Lane’s form morphed into the visage of the Carnivore—in his more human guise. He looked like a grown-up version of Wally the God Boy.
“It’s not.” Superwoman said, “My father never loved me as much as he loved Lois. Despite her love for Superman. I was always the one in the way. He would have never have been as kind to me as you have been.”
The Carnivore tilted his head to the side, thinking it wise not to interrupt Superwoman.
“I want to join you.” Superwoman said finally, “I want to help you. If we take down Supergirl, the Angels Three, and Wally, then you can control the Chaos Stream and after that this entire world. I can help you.”
The Carnivore smiled brightly.
“I’m so glad you said that.” The Carnivore said, smiling jovially. “I already have Ultra-Girl and Bizarro-Supergirl on my side. With you on board, surely we can easily overwhelm Supergirl.”
“Give me some time to study the Supergirl of this world, and I can take her down by myself.” Superwoman said, her expression firm and determined.
“There is one thing that must be done for you to be useful to me. There is only room enough on this world for one Lucy Lane.” The Carnivore said menacingly.
Lucy Lane pushed the door to her apartment in Metropolis open, her arms heavy with packages and suitcases. As per her usual ritual, she had taken a cab straight from the airport to Metropolis Mall and bounced from store to store. At some point she needed to get her spending under control.
Lucy set her packages down, wondering if Jimmy Olsen was available. They had been dating off and on for years, never really settling down into life as boyfriend-girlfriend because she was either on a flight somewhere or he was off with Superman or chasing his next big story. At one point, Lucy had thought that there was a big future for the two of them. Lately she was thinking the exact opposite, and wondering if it was time to start dating other people—perhaps finding someone she could get serious about.
Closing the door to her apartment and double-locking it, she began moving from room to room turning on lights, opening windows. It was stuffy and stale in here, the result of her being gone for the last four weeks. Normally she only worked two weeks then had a week off, but one of the flight attendants had quit unexpectedly and Lucy had picked up the extra hours. She had reasoned that there wasn’t anything else waiting for her and the extra money would be nice.
Reaching her bedroom, Lucy opened the bedroom window, looking out over the city of Metropolis. Most of her apartment had views of other buildings and the street outside. But her bedroom was located on a side of the building that faced downtown and gave her a sweeping view of the skyscrapers and sliver buildings that lined the horizon. The sight always took her breath away. The first time she’d come here to visit her sister Lois that view from the airplane window had been what had got her.
Now, despite the beauty of the view, she wondered it was time to find a new city to call home. One of her very own. Metropolis was too much Lois’s city, and somehow she suspected her life would always be lacking so long as she lived in Lois’s shadow. The airline she worked for, Excelsior Airways had an opening in Midway City. She found herself thinking about that position. It was a job at the offices in the airport. She would no longer be a flight attendant and would actually be able to put down roots.
“And Midway City has Supergirl.” Lucy whispered. She liked the idea of living there. She lived in Lois’s shadow every day. And Supergirl surely lived in Superman’s shadow. Even though Lois had explained Supergirl was not Superman’s cousin, every one still assumed she was.
A sudden haziness fell over her, her thoughts suddenly going cloudy and unfocused.
“What the Hell?” Lucy whispered, swinging around—feeling something behind her.
Standing there was a woman in a red blue and white uniform.
Lucy’s eyes focused on the S-shield on the woman’s chest. Just like the one Superman and Supergirl wore.
“Who are you?” Lucy asked. Why did she feel so awful all of the sudden. Why was there a sudden cloud in her head, making it hard to think, and under that was a static that sounded something like radio interference.
“I’m Superwoman.” The woman smiled. There was something very familiar about the expression to Lucy.
“Something is wrong.” Lucy made her way over to her bed, sitting down on it. Her whole body was in turmoil.
“Nothing is wrong.” Superwoman said quietly. “We’re just too close to one another. It’s causing a backlash. You are still fully human, so it’s effecting you more strongly than it is me.”
“What the Hell are you talking about?” Lucy asked, trying to think through the fog. She suspected she was in mortal danger. In her purse, there was a signal device that Superman had given her. “Use this to call me if you ever need me.” He had said, giving it to her. “Your sister is someone very dear to me. And that makes you important to me.”
“Your purse is out of reach in the other room.” Superwoman said, “You’ll never get past me.”
“What are you doing here?” Lucy was having a hard time breathing.
“This Universe is only big enough for one of us.” Superwoman grinned, pulling her mask off.
Lucy gasped as she gazed into her own face—a cold hardened version of her face.
“This is impossible!”
“Oh, I assure you that it’s not.” Superwoman smiled. “I’m stuck here Lucy Lane. And, as you can tell by the way you’re feeling, our close proximity is a problem.”
“Get out of here.” Lucy said, “You can’t be me!”
“But I am. I’m you if you’d grown a backbone. If you’d gotten tired of your empty vacuous life and made something of yourself.” Superwoman laughed.
“GET AWAY FROM ME!” Lucy Lane screamed, jumping from the bed and trying to run past her.
When Lucy got too close to Superwoman, the psychic backlash was so intense it knocked both women out.
A few moments later, Lucy Lane awoke, looking around she saw Superwoman sprawled on the ground, her eyes still tightly closed.
Her entire body throbbed with pain as she crawled across the floor toward her purse.
“I’m sorry my dear.” A cold voice said, “But it’s not going to be that easy.”
Lucy Lane looked up and screamed as she saw the hooded figure standing before her.
Superwoman awoke with a start, her head clear of all the feedback from Lucy Lane getting too close. Looking around the apartment, she found no trace of Lucy although all the memories that had loaded into her mind from Lucy’s close proximity began shifting and filing into her memory—creating a second layer of memory where there were differences between Superwoman’s life. Had she somehow absorbed the Lucy Lane of this world? The Carnivore had said that the result of the two Lucy Lanes meeting couldn’t be accurately predicted—as the castaways from the other Universe were each different—and would be adapted to their new world differently depending on their surroundings and the needs of the Universe.
Superwoman went to the telephone in the kitchen. Lifting the receiver, she punched the number her new memories contained.
“Evie? Hey it’s Lucy Lane. Yes. I’ve thought about it a little more and I wanted to let you know that I’m interested in that position you offered in Midway City. Yeah, I’m ready to be on the ground and have some more stability to my life. Great! Awesome. Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow morning so we can hash out the details!”
Superwoman hung up the phone, smiling coldly.
Everything was falling into place.
Next Issue: Follow the entire FDCU as they battle to save all reality in “Dangerous Toys”. Then check out the FDCU’s ongoing Supergirl: The Maid of Steel series (written by yours truly).