Sins of the Past (Part IV)
Keystone City, 2065
She tasted like a summer day and surprise, not that such things had taste. The kiss that Starfire had given Connor caught him completely off guard, and for a moment he just froze, his mind trying to comprehend what just happened. She had just killed the two Hawkmen that had escorted him to her, and then she just turned right around and started snogging him.
Connor’s reflexes finally kicked in when he shoved Starfire away from him sending her flying for a few feet to which she easily corrected using her own powers of flight.
“What the hell is wrong with you!?” Connor spat wiping his mouth, while Starfire descended near to him a smile across her face.
“I was merely greeting an old ally, Connor. I didn’t think you would be so sore about it.”
“Sore about it, you just murdered two men in cold blood right in front of me.”
“They deserved it. One of them had rather choice comments about the wife of our leader, and the other gave into your story too easily. In reality, it is a relief to be free of their burden, and hopefully their deaths will set an example to the rest of the men.”
“And what example would that be?” Connor asked.
“That in war it is sometimes wise to know the proper use and misuse of your tongue.” Starfire replied, as she winked at Connor. Connor gritted his teeth, and clenched his fist. Every fiber in his being told him to go after Starfire, and bring her down for what she just did, but he didn’t move. He had to remind himself that the world was much different now. So different that the ruler of the nation and his former friend was now considered one of the most pathological murderers in the history of the world. It was so different that no one except for him, batted an eye when two men were murdered by their commanding officer for no reason. Connor couldn’t stand it, he wanted to stand against all of this, but he knew that if he did nothing good would come of it. He knew there was no way he would stand a chance against the new direction of the world.
This was why it would just be best to get his job done with, and do what he had to do to help the world in the only way he could. To do that job though, he would need Starfire’s help, regardless of his opinions.
“I came to seek your permission to enter Keystone City.”
“The City is closed off to all, but those under my command.” Starfire stated bluntly, “Those are my orders.”
“Can we discuss this matter more in private; I have sensitive information that is best not spoken out here in the open.”
“Of course, but this better be important. The situation in the city is most dire,” Starfire informed as she turned around, “Come with me.” Connor followed star to the boat that was pushing the barge and into the cabin. Starfire sat down at one of the chairs and crossed her legs taking on a relaxed posture.
“So what is this matter that is so private that it cannot be shared in front of my men?”
“Um, are you sure this is safe? We’re on a tugboat after all.” Connor said looking around surprised that he was on something that actually wasn’t government issued.
“It blends into the scenery; most of the men on the boat are disguised as civilian workers. The rebels in Keystone would have a hard time picking us out, not that it would matter if they did. Their attacks have been more centralized inside the city. Petty attacks against patrols and things like that. They have been keeping us rather busy if I do say so myself. We should have them taken care off soon.”
“You sound really sure of yourself.” Connor said,
“I should be. Several weeks ago, their leader Escrima, one of our most wanted, fled with another wanted criminal known as Deranger. I also took out, Nuklon, one of the rebel leaders, and ever since then the remaining rebels here in Keystone have been in disarray. We were almost finished here until a week ago when the rebels seemed to organize themselves. We believe one of the remaining rebels must have stepped up and have attempted to organize their rag tag group, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. Now are we going to discuss the matter we came in here for, or are you going to continue to question my efforts in this city?”
“I can’t reveal too much,” Connor said sighing trying to rack his brain for what he should and should not tell Starfire, “I have recently obtained evidence that the rebels may be attempting to clone metahumans, and that one of the possible locations is at an old hospital that was once owned by LexCorp.” There was a pause between them for a moment, and Starfire brought her hand up to her mouth positioning it in such a way that was common for people searching their memories.
“I know the place you speak of,” Starfire said, “Come to think of it resistance around that area has been stronger in that section of the city than other places. It’s strange to consider the strategic value though. There’s nothing in that area, but slums and abandoned buildings. It’s as good of place as any for those Sargnorfs to hide.” Starfire said using a word that Connor wasn’t familiar with, but he tried to brush it off considering there were more important things at stake than finding out what sargnorfs were.
“So will I be allowed to enter the city?”
“I’m afraid not,” Starfire said, “At least not on your own.” Connor felt his heart sink into his stomach. He didn’t like the idea of someone fallowing him, especially considering that Doctor Veritas had told him to keep this investigation as quiet as possible.
“My order stands as that only my own men may enter the city, so I will allow you to enter the city, but I will go with you,” Starfire said, “and you will have to follow my orders. Is that understood?”
“I suppose I don’t have any other choice?” Connor asked, and Starfire stood to her feet and walked toward the door.
“No you do not.” Starfire said as she opened the door, “Meet me on the deck in one hour. I still need to assemble my team before we make our way to the hospital.”
When Starfire was finally out of the room, he flopped down in one of the chairs, and began rubbing his head. It just seemed like things kept going from bad to worse. His job was to keep Starfire as far away as possible, and now she was coming with him. Now if Starfire found out more than she needed to, and caused the investigation to go south, it would be on him.
The cabin on the tugboat suddenly started to feel cramped, and he felt like he needed air, so Connor walked out onto the deck of the boat and looked out across the burning cityscape. There was nothing going on near the shoreline, but he could hear screams and gunfire going on inside the city. He wanted nothing more than to just lift off the deck of the boat, and take off as fast as he could into the city, and put a stop to all the fighting, like he had done back in Metropolis just a few weeks ago, but he knew that he couldn’t. If he just flew in there, it could alert the rebels and harm the investigation.
Then suddenly, Connor heard a voice he had not heard in a long time.
“Let go of me, you bastard!” Iris Allen’s voice rang in Connor’s ears. He scanned his vision over the horizon looking for where the voice was coming from, and he finally spotted the source coming from an elderly woman, pulling away from a Beetleman that had ahold of her. Iris was out in the housing projects that were located near the edge of the city, and though Connor knew that he shouldn’t be doing what he was about to do, something took over. He lifted off the deck off the boat and took off as fast as he could toward where the beettleman had Iris.
“Enough, Lady” The beettleman said, as he lifted his arm which morphed into a blade that started to vibrate at a high frequency that was so fast that it made a shrill cry as it came to life, “Stop resisting or I’m going to have to get rough.”
The beetle started to raise the blade up to strike Iris when suddenly Connor appeared between them and separated the Beetleman’s grasp from Iris’s arm that he had been tugging on.
“That will be enough, soldier.” Connor said glaring into the Beetle’s eyes, as he shoved him back. The beetle stumbled slightly and then glared back.
“The hell, you’re that guy from Metropolis.” The beetle spat, “You have no jurisdiction here, and no right to command me.” Connor stood up straight and marched right up to the Beetle.
“I rather not have to hurt you kid.” Connor said coldly, “You know what I did in Metropolis, and that was several men moving faster than the eye can see. What chance does a punk like you in a tin suit have?” The beetle’s look suddenly shifted from a look a pure rage, to a mixture of that and terror.
“How, how dare you!” The beetle stammered, “The commander will hear about this!”
“Go ahead tell her, tell her you were afraid of someone that interfered in the performance of your duty. I’m sure your, commander,” Conner spat as he put emphasis on commander, “will take really kindly to the news, and I think you know what I mean by that.”
The beetle said nothing, but merely scrunched up his face and growled, but in the beetle’s eyes Connor saw fear, and he knew that he had won.
“Get out here.” Connor spat. The beetle then snorted and flew off into the night sky leaving Connor and Iris alone in the street. Connor turned and attempted to show a friendly face, but he could already hear her heart racing, and he could see the look of pure terror.
“Look, please just don’t hurt me.” She begged, “I have a niece to look after, she’s only thirteen. Please, I don’t want any trouble Superman.”
“Iris relax, It’s me Connor.” He attempted to explain trying to put on as friendly of a presence as he could, “You remember, Superboy? Bart’ and Wally’s friend?” For a moment there was a pause, as Iris attempted to comprehend what she was just told and then her eyes went wide in shock.
“My god Connor,” She said as she walked up to him, and placed her hand on the side of his face as if trying to see if he was actually real.
“Yes, Mrs. Allen. It’s me.”
“Dear God, you look just like he used to, in the old news photos.” She said as she took her hand down from his face, “What are you doing here in Keystone and why are you wearing that uniform.”
“I’m just doing a job, Mrs. Allen. Wonder Woman came to…”
“Wonder Woman!” Iris shrieked, as she backed away, shocking Connor.
“Yes, Wonder Woman came to Smallville, and asked me to come do a job.”
“I see,” Iris paused and looked away and Connor noticed tears starting to well up in her eyes, “Thank you for saving me from that thing, but I think you need leave now.”
Connor stood froze to the spot. For a brief moment, he had thought maybe, just maybe, he may have found something about this world that wasn’t completely insane, but it seemed that even here the insanity that was going on had affected those who should not have been affected at all. It chilled him to think of what Diana could have done to Iris to make her so afraid. If Clark could wipe out the entire Justice Society, then what had was it that Diana had done to make Iris break down at the mere mention of her.
“Iris, what’s going on?” Connor asked, “I don’t understand. You’re in danger here, and I want to help you, but I…”
“Auntie!!!” Connor didn’t get to finish his sentence, as he saw a young girl come running up to Iris, who Iris immediately grabbed hold of, and hugged tight.
“Thank god, Thea.” Iris shrieked, “Thank god, are you alright?”
“I’ll be fine, Auntie, but I need to get you out of here.” Thea said, and then she turned and noticed Connor who she immediately grimaced at, and spat “Who’s the creep?”
“Hush Thea, this young man just saved my life, but he was also just leaving, weren’t you Connor?”
“I, uh, yes I was just leaving.” Connor said with sorrow in his voice. He knew when he was no longer welcome. He began to lift up and hovered slightly off the ground when he noticed something different about Thea. He had to look closer to be sure at first, but after he did he was certain. Thea’s molecules were vibrating at a speed that he had only seen before in Bart and Wally.
“You’re name’s Thea right,” Connor asked,
“Yeah, what of it?”
“You have a really special gift.” Connor said, “Always try to use it to do the right thing, okay?”
“What about you, you have gifts too, and you’re a spook.” She retorted, only to earn a scowl from her aunt, but still continued to ask, “Are you doing the right thing?”
“I hope I am,” Connor muttered, before turning his gaze back to the horizon. After a quick glance around he turned back to Thea and Iris to say, “Take the road to the northeast away from the city. It’s the least guarded, and you should be able to get out with no problems and still be able to take it easy on your aunt.”
“Um, thanks. I guess.” Thea stammered, slightly confused by the information, “Uh, Goodbye, nice-government-spook-guy-dude?”
“Goodbye,” Connor said, smiling slightly at the girl’s word choice, and then turned back to Iris, but he quickly lost sight of the small hint of happiness he had felt when he looked into the old lady’s eyes, “Goodbye, Mrs. Allen, and for what it’s worth I’m very sorry.”
“Me too, Connor.” Iris mumbled as she looked away from Connor and to Thea, where she said softly into the girl’s ear, “Let’s go, Thea.”
Then in a flash the two women were gone, and once again Connor was left behind, standing alone.