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The Green Lantern of Earth, Kyle Rayner.
Princess Koriand’r, the tamaranian known as Starfire.
M’gann M’orzz, also known as Miss Martian.
Jaime Reyes, the wearer of a mechanized suit and bearer of the name Blue Beetle.
The demon, Etrigan.
Kara Zor-L, Power Girl.
And the villainous mastermind known as the Riddler, searching for a second chance.
Together, they have gone to the desolate planet of Mars with one purpose in mind – to stop Bizarro from destroying Earth along with his new friends, the white martians.
Together, they are the Justice Society of America.
“Bizarro… will… DESTROY YOU!”
“That means he isn’t going to destroy us, right?” Kyle said hopefully as he, Power Girl, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, and Starfire sped away at their top speed away from the manic roars coming from behind them, back to the bunker where, as far as they knew, Etrigan and Riddler still were.
“Nope,” Kara hissed as she rushed by, grabbing onto Jaime’s arm and yanking him along, urging him to keep up. “He’s learned. He knows how we work now… I suppose it was only a matter of time.”
A dull blue glow in the distance barely gave M’gann enough time to phase away before a burst of icy energy lanced through her transparent form. She swallowed hard, continuing to speed on alongside the others. “Where is this bunker again, guys? He’s catching up, he’s going to get us! He’s… he’s going to get me!”
“It isn’t far, senorita,” Jaime shouted above the sound of dry air whooshing past his helmeted head. “Or at least, it shouldn’t be – we’ll have to rely on the demon and the villain to give us the signal. I’m not sure I’ll be able to find it with the cloak on!”
It had been only moments after leaving R’aih unconscious in his little cave that things had gone awry. An uprise from the white martians had set Bizarro into a sort of violent frenzy when they had started to make their true feelings known – blaming him when their technology had spontaneously stopped working. Needless to say, he hadn’t reacted well.
M’gann took a deep breath, almost a gasp, as the splintered team swiveled their flightpath around a bend of red rock. Bodies littered the ground, those of the white martians. Bizarro had already been here ahead of them, had killed… killed hundreds of them. Even if they were not kindred to her, they were her kin – she had no idea that Superman’s clone could possibly be capable of this carnage, even in this fit of rage. Maybe he wasn’t the eternal victim he wanted everyone to think he was.
“This is… terrible,” Starfire said quietly, barely heard by her companions. The small team didn’t stop moving, however, continuing to rush along at their minimum top speed with Jaime lagging slightly behind.
“Don’t pay attention to it,” Power Girl spoke now, “This is why we have to get rid of him – whether or not he’s this sympathetic, confused villain? He’s still a monster. A wolf may just be trying to eat, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be put down.”
The rest of the group flew on with their heads lowered, not… stunned, exactly, by their leader’s words. But they did sting. The JSA was supposed to be great and noble, like the Justice League. The idea of doing whatever it took to get Bizarro off of Mars was not thrilling to anyone there.
Besides Etrigan, and the Riddler. They were totally stoked about the whole thing.
“So, a man is walking, alone, down a boardwalk….”
“Lucifer’s tears, not another.”
“Shush, you’ll like this one.” Riddler leaned back against the wall of the bunker, keeping his gaze focused on the small windows in anticipation of the return of the JSA. “So a man is walking, alone, down a boardwalk, and stops by a small restaurant upon seeing the sign outside, which states that the restaurant serves soup with albatross found on an island not too far away.”
“Okay…” Etrigan growled quietly, closing his eyes and letting out a small sigh.
“He goes inside and orders a bowl. After taking one sip of it, he spits it out and leaves the restaurant, starting to walk around behind without paying his bill. He draws a revolver out of his jeans, puts the barrel to his head, and pulls the trigger. Why?”
“The soup was that bad?”
Edward smiled softly. “No. The man had just returned from a vacation, that had ended with his plane crashing and he, and his family, being trapped on a deserted island for several months. The pilot, and a few others that had survived, stated that there had been albatross on the island, and had frequently brought the beasts back to their camp for food. He had enjoyed it then, and in his lonely time of struggle as the only survivor of that trip, had decided to remind himself of that time by eating albatross again. After tasting the soup, he realized that it wasn’t albatross, as he was quite familiar with the taste. He shot himself because he had been eating what he could only assume was the partially-digested corpse of his own wife.”
“…That’s not even a riddle, it’s just a really morbid story that doesn’t even make sense. How did he know that it was his wife?”
Eddie offered a particularly sinister grin. “Because he had already eaten the captain.”
“You’re a sick bastard, I ever tell you that?” Etrigan smirked. “I love it. You need to tell more ‘riddles’ like that o – shh.”
Riddler gave his demonic companion a lazy glance before turning back to the window in front of him. “Uh oh. You remember the signal?”
Etrigan puffed out his chest and stood. “I’m a lord of Hell, and you should do best to remember that, you insignificant pinprick… of course I remember the signal.” The demon lunged forward, placing both taloned hands against the side of the open window and leaning his head out to belch forth a long, powerful gout of hellfire.
“There they are! Etrigan’s fire is the signal!” Kyle shouted out, little green rockets forming on the sides of his outfit and quickly starting to shoot out emerald fire, hurtling the Lantern forward.
“Quick, regroup before he finds us aga—ahhh!” Power Girl screamed out as she was hurled forward, another blue bolt sending her sprawling into the crimson dirt, face-first.
“You have… you have come for Bizarro… turned Bizarro’s only friends against him? Are you so eager to see Bizarro unhappy?!” By the time Kara had brought herself to her feet, a hulking, blue-and-purple figure had blitzed past her, sending her sprawling yet again.
“Friend Karen!” Koriand’r shouted, spinning around mid-flight and hurling a volley of starbolts towards Bizarro, who seemed unimpressed – what few missiles struck into his muscular hide seemed to have no effect whatsoever. In response, the hulking clone only turned, his deep crimson eyes fading through the shades of deep purple until they burned with an unholy sapphire light.
“If Bizarro may have no friends, then neither may you,” he growled before letting loose, the beams from his eyes freezing Starfire solid before the other heroes (or… villains) could react to help her. “You wanted to see Bizarro become angry and sad… this is what he looks like when he is angry and unhappy.”
“And this is what I look like, Peter Pan,” Power Girl growled, sending a fist rocketing into the huge kryptonian’s jaw, making his jaw tilt subtly.
“Your strike is like the bite of an insect – unpleasant, but no more than that. Bizarro has learned from his time on earth, but none of you have learned from your time among Bizarro – I am stronger than you.” A casual backhand sped toward’s Kara’s face, barely blocked in time by a spiked steel wall made of green energy. The spikes dented and the energy construct shattered, but it saved Power Girl in time.
“Thanks Kyle,” she cried out, zooming away from Bizarro to join the rest of the league, scooping up the still-frozen Starfire along the way and sending a quick blast of heat vision into her body.
“No problem, bunker’s this way—glllk!” Kyle’s eyes widened, small streaks of green energy streaming out from around Bizarro’s closed fingers as the hulking clone of Clark Kent held the Lantern up by the throat, his eyes burning blue again.
“You think you can evade me? Lose Bizarro? You are no threat to me, merely an annoyance.”
“Enough of this,” Etrigan barked, leaping from the open doorway to the cloaked bunker, his own tattered blue cape billowing absently behind him from Mars’ low gravity. His bare-footed step spoke of years in Hell, seeing physical and emotional hardening that someone like Bizarro could barely even dream of. The Thing of Steel turned his head from a wiggling, gasping Kyle Rayner, glancing to Etrigan with a barely-respectful nod.
“I see you, demon,” he growled. “What do you want with Bizarro? To assist him in crushing these bugs? Do you see how they hunt Bizarro, finally?”
“Oh, believe me, big blue, I’d like nothing more,” Etrigan said with a snarl, his thin, dry lips twisting into a sort of smile. “But I’m on a sort of community service at the moment, and I’m playing nice – you, however, are not. What do you propose we do about that?”
“Bizarro could crush you, as well,” the imperfect creature offered.
“Fun, though I think you may find it more challenging than you suspect. Besides, there are some issues with crushing myself, or any other member of the ‘Justice Society of America’. A friend of mine, whose name shall go unsaid to prevent you from doing anything rash, just happens to have access to the very weaponry you’ve been failing to sufficiently harness.”
“Etrigan, what are you—“ M’gann began, only to be silenced by the demon’s raised hand.
“While these mortal insects have been attempting to think of a way to talk you into exiling yourself yet again, myself and my… friend, have found a way to keep you gone. If you don’t want to see what that way is, I suggest you leave Mars and don’t return to any other inhabited planet.” Etrigan casually shifted his gauntlets, tightening the barbed-wire straps that held them on, doing his best to seem utterly unconcerned.
Bizarro blinked a few times, his eyes fading to a dull violet. “I can crush this man before you use any weapon against me.”
“Go ahead,” Etrigan said simply.
“Wait, wait… what are we talking about?” Jaime spluttered. “Are we talking about killing him? We don’t do that! We’ve never done that!”
Only because you won’t let me. The suit whispered into the young man’s ear.
“Yes, and that’s because… because we’re the good guys! We can’t do this, we can’t even threaten it! The Justice League would never kill him!”
“That’s why he’s still alive,” Etrigan said simply. “That’s why thousands of white martians are dead and dying on the surface of this planet. We aren’t the Justice League… we have to do what they wouldn’t, or we have no purpose.”
“I… I have to agree with Jaime,” M’gann whispered, stepping aside to stand next to the blue-suited boy. “We can’t do this. We can get him to leave.”
“…Kara?” Kyle said quietly, turning to the kryptonian, whose eyes were downcast in thought. “You don’t support this, do you?” His voice was strained – even being held gently by Bizarro meant that his throat could be effortlessly collapsed at any instant, and the little bit of green light that he had ringed around his throat was all that had kept him alive until now.
Power Girl glanced up at the Lantern with a deep breath, before tilting her gaze to Etrigan, who had been acting as her second-in-command until this moment. “What weapons are you talking about, Etrigan? What weapons does Riddler have?”
“All of them.”
“On Tamaran, this tactic would have been resorted to long ago… universal enemies have to be removed by any means, to preserve our way of life,” Starfire said from her gasping position on her knees, her deep orange skin faded to a pale gold color from the cold still shaking her body. Bizarro turned to her with a cold stare, his fingers tightening around Kyle’s throat.
“Etrigan… if Bizarro doesn’t leave, tell Nigma to fire. This is your last chance, monster.” Kara’s voice was little more than a whisper, strained and quiet, but audible in the thin air. Miss Martian cupped one hand across her mouth and took a step back.
The Imperfect Superman clenched his free fist. “You are no better than the rest of them. You exile Bizarro to life alone on some desolate planet, under threat of destruction. I hope that you see the error of your ways, someday. I hope that you have the opportunity to understand Bizarro’s pain and exile, someday.”
“Go, Bizarro.” Power Girl said softly.
There was a soft vibration before Bizarro seemed to vanish, leaving Rayner’s oxygen-deprived body lying in the dust. Those whose eyes could follow his movements, such as Kara and M’gann, could see the Thing of Steel fly up and away, shooting himself out of Mars’ atmosphere.
The team sat in silence for several long moments, with Power Girl, Etrigan, and Starfire exchanging soulful glares with Miss Martian, Blue Beetle, and the Green Lantern. A minute or so later, a power-suited Edward Nigma came slithering out of the cloaked bunker, idly trying to scratch at an itch hidden safely beneath his armor. “So, did we win?”
“I guess,” Miss Martian intoned softly.
Many lightyears and many isolated planets away, a lone, imperfect kryptonian with no true name landed his violet-booted feet into the soft brown turf of his new home. A small smile curled his chalky lips as he gazed out along the wide, grassy turf of this side of his new planet. No intelligent life besides him. Nobody to hurt him or betray him, nobody to drive him away. No Superman, no Lois, no martians, no weapons. Nothing and nobody but Bizarro and six perfect sides.