This is the first part of a story set in the universe of my Supergirl Returns series, a variant DC universe with multiple crossovers, although Supergirl is not the main character in this story. Previous stories are archived:
On AO3 - http://archiveofourown.org/series/4031
On Twisting the Hellmouth - http://www.tthfanfic.org/Series-1920
This is a multiple crossover – the main fandoms are the DC universe and CSI, others will be noted at the end of chapters as they appear in the stories, with more detailed notes at the end. All belong to their creators, publishers, production companies etc., not to me, and there is no intent to infringe on copyright or deprive them of income. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.
Note: Earlier stories set in the Supergirl Returns series have referred to a CSI TV show. However, it isn’t the CSI show we know, and characters are completely different, though modelled very loosely on the real Las Vegas crime lab. Whose staff happen to be the people we know from our CSI TV show… In CSI terms this is some time after Gil Grissom left Las Vegas, but well before the show ended.
Marcus L. Rowland
Las Vegas – Friday
There was a storm front crossing Las Vegas, drenching late-night travellers as they scurried between casinos, bars, clubs and hotels. Miles out in the desert, outside the storm’s path, the only sign of its passage was an occasional flicker of lightning on the horizon, momentarily out-shining the full moon and the sky glow of the city’s lights.
She had no good reason to visit the old ghost town, just memories. She’d once come here expecting to die; surviving had finally driven her to confront her personal demons. She’d found a kind of inner peace, and her will, always strong, had given her the strength to make a full recovery. She’d faced her fears and won… won what?
She wasn’t sure. Maybe it was time to move on; Las Vegas wasn’t the only city in the world, and it was one where her past could never be forgotten. A change of some sort would be good. Maybe…
The thought died still-born as something roared across the sky. It was like nothing she’d ever seen before, a streamlined shape combining characteristics of jet fighters and submarines, shedding debris as it banked steeply and seemed to aim towards the city, losing altitude fast. Something experimental out of area 51, perhaps; why didn’t the pilot eject? It plowed into the desert maybe a mile away, slid a few hundred feet, and crashed into rocks. She braced herself for an explosion, but none came.
She checked her phone – no bars – ran for her SUV, and drove towards the wreck. Somehow it never occurred to her to be scared.
As she got closer she could see more details. It wasn’t as big as she’d originally thought, maybe the size of an executive aircraft, with a low wide fuselage and stubby wings that didn’t seem capable of holding anything in the air. In the moonlight she could see brown gas boiling from its interior, rising in a plume towards the sky. The left-hand side of the hull had a huge gash, revealing complex machinery filling its interior, like nothing she’d ever seen before. There was writing on its side, but nothing she recognized; complex characters that didn’t resemble any alphabet she knew. Alien.
Everyone knew that aliens existed; you couldn’t deny it when Superman and Supergirl were on national news several times a week. Maybe it was another Kryptonian – she thought of Zod and his friends, but remembered that they hadn’t used a ship – maybe something else.
As she stopped she heard a faint voice, just two words: “Help me…”
She went to see what she could do.
She’d never really thought about the word ‘alien’ until she looked inside the cramped cockpit. The pilot was definitely not human; humanoid, yes, in having two arms and two legs, two eyes and a mouth, but there the resemblance ended. His skin was purple, creased and lined in ways unlike any human face. He wore a green, white and black costume, and his head turned towards her, weakly, as she pried open the canopy.
“I hadn’t expected you so soon,” he said.
She realised that his lips weren’t moving. Telepathy?
“My name is Abin Sur,” the alien said. “I am one of the Green Lanterns for Sector 2814; I think your equivalent would be something like a Marshal. It is my job to enforce the law between worlds in this region of space. And I am dying.”
“I can try to get help. There’s no signal here, but if I take you to Las Vegas…”
“I’m dying, and there’s nothing to be done about it, except find someone to carry on my work. And here you are…”
“Here I am what?”
“I thought I would have to search you out, but here you are.”
“I’m not a cop; Nothing like one.”
“The qualities of a Green Lantern are courage, both physical and mental, a sense of morality, imagination, and above all strength of will. You are amply qualified.”
She stared at him. “A sense of morality? Me?”
“You are prepared to do what is right, not what is expedient or safe. You are eminently worthy.”
“I have responsibilities.”
“You were thinking that you needed a new challenge. I have one for you.”
“I’m really not the right person for this.”
“If you’re sure… one last request then, please.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I must destroy this ship before I die, your species is not yet ready for the technology it contains, but the Corps will need to know what happened to me. The ring on my right hand holds a record. Please take it, keep it safe. When this world is found again, pass it on to my successor.”
Hesitantly, she reached out and touched his hand. It was warm, but felt smooth like the scales of a snake. There was a chunky green ring on his middle finger, like a large fraternity ring made of translucent green stone. The circular face bore a symbol resembling a zero with lines above and below – Sur had the same insignia on the uniform he was wearing, and she’d seen something like it on the spaceship’s hull.
“Please, take the ring. If you think that it’s unattractive, imagine it in a form that pleases you, it will take that form. Put it on, and keep it safe.”
She hesitantly took the ring, and it shrank in her hand to a delicate band, like the finest carved jade, the symbol reduced to a few millimetres in diameter. “It’s beautiful.”
“It responds well to you, to your will. You would have made an excellent Green Lantern. Please… put it on, and keep it safe. Good… now leave me.”
“Are you sure?”
The strength of his thought drove her back, and she retreated out of the ship. As she clambered down she felt his ‘voice’ again: “One more thing… please don’t think too harshly of me.”
The ring glowed green, and she felt something encase her body – a cocoon of green energy that gently embraced and supported her, held her immobile. She rose into the air at incredible speed, the ground dropping away below her and the sky darkening, her overwhelming emotion awe. Soon she was surrounded by stars, and the Earth was a ball beneath her, dwindling in size as she flew into space. Somehow she had no trouble breathing. The stars blurred into streaks of light, blue ahead of her and red behind her, until she seemed to be streaking along a tunnel of light. Suddenly something loomed ahead of her; a sphere… no, a world… radiating beams of green light into space. She blinked, felt ground under her feet, and stumbled forward, suddenly able to move again. She looked around, and saw alien-looking architecture; huge buildings, pillars and weird shapes she couldn’t easily describe. Something moved at the edge of her vision, and she turned to see a huge flying form land about thirty feet away; a hulking brute with orange-brown skin and a gaping tusked maw, wearing the same green uniform as Abin Sur. It seemed to grin at her as it said “Welcome to Oa, poozer.”
Abin Sur watched as she vanished into the sky then issued his last commands to the Lantern that powered the ship. It flew out to the ground vehicle the native had arrived in, encased it in energy, and flew it back towards the home location he’d plucked from her thoughts, staying low and blocking radar returns to avoid detection. As it flew it erased her footprints and the vehicle’s tracks.
There were primitive aircraft closing in on the ship. He inhaled, shuddered with pain, and triggered the self-destruct. By the time the first helicopter arrived there was nothing left but a scorch mark and a long gouge in the desert sand.
“All right, poozer,” said Kilowog, “today’s exercise simulates a mass attack by a mind-controlled mob. Your job is to stop the attack and neutralise the mind control, if possible without anyone getting hurt. Any questions?"
“Would you give me answers?”
Suddenly she was standing on an alien-looking street, its surface muddy soil, with tree-sized purple fungi growing in neat rows and rounded buildings made of a material like adobe. Yellow creatures resembling decaying termites advanced from all directions moaning "Brains... brains..."
"Ass." Kilowogg must have taken the zombie imagery from her memories. The creatures were yellow, so ring constructs couldn’t affect them directly. No point trying to fight them hand to hand, knowing Kilowogg they would be strong enough to give her problems, even with the strength boost her costume gave her. And the ring’s force field wouldn’t stop them touching her, she reminded herself. She flew up, hovering twenty feet above the street, and looked around. A hatch opened on the nearest roof and termites were scrambling towards her, and she wondered how far they could jump as she rose another twenty feet.
What did she have to work with? What could her ring affect? The buildings, but she couldn’t risk demolishing them and hurting anyone. The fungi? The mud? From this height she could see more of the surrounding area; more buildings, all roughly the same size, curving around the shore of a big lake. Okay…
She formed a fire-fighting boat on the lake and started it pumping jets of water into the air, and a giant fan to blow it towards the town. Soon it was raining heavily, and the termites were slipping and bogging down in the mud. That was slowing them down, making it less likely they’d hurt themselves – she flew a few yards to make the termites on the roof follow her away from the edge, and discourage them from trying to form a pyramid – but it wasn’t solving the problem. What was controlling them?
She looked around again, hoping to spot an anomaly, and realised that one of the fungus trees was taller and broader than the rest, and surrounded by thirty or so zombie termites who weren’t trying to chase her. Guards? It seemed plausible. She materialised a giant chainsaw, about fifty feet long, and swung it at the tree, and watched lumps of foamy material fly off to reveal metal underneath. It was something that didn’t belong there; probably a ship. She created a swarm of giant green Woody Woodpeckers and set them to work, and in moments the ship was revealed, an inverted triple ice cream cone with a bulbous tip like a minaret about twenty feet across. The bulb had several windows, and inside it she could see a creature like a giant purple-grey starfish, its single central eye gazing balefully at her.
She felt something trying to slide into her thoughts and hardened her shields to repel the mental assault, conjuring up a mental image of the time she’d visited China and eaten starfish from a street food stall; she concentrated on the memory of cracking the hard outer skin open, scooping out the inner flesh, and eating it, and tried not to dwell on the taste. The starfish rolled into a defensive ball, one arm snaking out to a control panel which she guessed operated weapons. She hardened her shield and set the woodpeckers to work on the canopy over the starfish, repelling its mental assault and trying to remember if she’d ever been told about the creatures. On the street below the termites were looking confused; she guessed the mental control was slipping.
She dodged a bright red beam from the tip of the onion, and had one of the woodpeckers squat on the tip. When the weapon fired again there was a loud explosion, and the starfish jerked and wriggled as though electrified. She remembered the creatures now, an aggressive group mind that had come close to dominating the galaxy on several occasions. There was something she needed to remember, but she was consumed with rage, determination to make the creature suffer. She wanted to tear it into hundreds of pieces, and scatter the pieces so that it would never be… That wasn’t her thought! She concentrated again on thoughts of crushing the starfish’s outer surface open and eating the flesh, and remembered why it was a bad idea to throw bits away – even the tiniest piece could regenerate into a smaller starfish, fully capable of dominating a mind or two. And the pieces would eat until they were the size of the original creature.
The dome finally shattered and she scooped the starfish out with a pair of green tongs, formed a ball of force around it, and dragged it up into space. The power ring could keep her alive for several hours, but she didn’t need that long – she used its navigational functions to plot a course to termite-world’s sun, materialised a gigantic tennis racquet, and hit the ball into space – her will shaping forces that would continue to accelerate the ball for hours. It would take a few days to get there, but in seconds it was out of range of anything it might influence telepathically. The ball would disintegrate in a few hours, leaving the starfish in vacuum, but even if it exploded the bits would end up in the sun. She needn’t even feel guilty about ending a sentient life; the remainder of the group-mind was unharmed. It was like scraping a random cell from someone’s hand.
Were there any other loose ends? She flew back to the planet, found termite-town again, and flew down towards the ship. As she approached she heard hundreds of chirping clicks which the ring translated as loud applause. Another thought produced a scanner, which she visualised as a dentist’s X-ray machine. She ran it up and down the ship, checking for explosives, more star-fish and other surprises. There didn’t seem to be any, but the engines could be dangerous and it was way beyond any technology she could see on the planet. There were laws against leaving it there. She discarded the scanner and scooped up the ship in a net of green force, flying it up into space. The planet had a couple of small moons, and she took it to the most distant and buried it. By the time the termites found it they’d be advanced enough to handle it safely.
Anything else? She drafted a report to the Guardians of Oa and the Shadow Proclamation, detailing the steps she’d taken, ordering a sector-wide alert for similar ships, and suggesting that the natives should be checked for after-effects the next time a Green Lantern was in the area. As she sent it the simulation ended.
“Not bad, poozer,” said Kilowogg. “Good work with the mental attack. Do you really eat things like that?”
“Not if I can avoid it, and certainly not if it’s intelligent. I tried starfish once, it was disgusting. But some people on my planet seem to like it.”
“No accounting for taste. Okay, go get some rest. You just graduated; tomorrow morning the Guardians will brief you on problems in your sector, it’s time to start earning your keep.”
“That would imply that the Corps was actually paying me. Have I missed something?”
“The work being its own reward?” suggested Kilowogg.
“I was afraid of that.”
“Okay, the pay may not be great, but the free travel is excellent…”
Las Vegas – Monday
“…as I was flying over the city I heard shots; when I flew down I saw three men with guns running from a jewellery store, and the body of a police officer on the ground. So I used my ring to put them into force field bubbles until the police arrived. I didn’t arrest or caution them, since I don’t yet have official law enforcement status on this planet, but the first officer on the scene did so.”
“Are you buying this?” whispered Jim Brass. “Think she’s really an interstellar cop?”
“How would I know?” asked Ray Langston. “Ask Superman or Supergirl, maybe they could tell you.”
The Green Lantern signed her statement on the robbery with a flourish of her ring; the symbol on her uniform was replicated on the paper as a glowing green seal which faded, leaving the mark seemingly burned into the paper.
“That’s innovative,” said Brass, “but your name and address would be more useful.”
“I’m sorry; I have family, they might be endangered if I reveal my identity.”
“You’re from Earth, then?” asked Langston.
“Yes. My predecessor crashed here recently and recruited me before he died. But I’ve spent a year or so in evaluation and training on Oa, where the Corps is based.”
“I didn’t hear anything about a spaceship crash,” said Brass; “A year ago, or any other time.”
“It was a few days ago in Earth’s time,” she said. “He destroyed his ship to make sure that nothing dangerous fell into human hands, there wouldn’t have been anything left to find.”
“The crash was a few days ago, but you’ve spent a year training?” asked Langston.
“It’s complicated. Basically, I travelled several thousand light years. When you do that a few months are almost irrelevant; you can tweak the return journey to reduce the locally elapsed time. Provided that you get back after you left, it can’t change history.”
“Doesn’t that mess up causality? What if someone else had left Earth a couple of months after you and tipped you off about events after you’d left?”
“They wouldn’t have to tell me anything; just being there would mean that I couldn’t return prior to the other person’s departure.”
“The Oans would stop you?” asked Langston.
“The universe would stop you,” she said. “It really doesn’t like paradoxes. Unless you’re a Time Lord, of course, but the Oans think they wiped themselves out with one so I don’t recommend it.”
“That’s fascinating," said Brass, with an obvious lack of conviction, “but until the government says otherwise you’re going to have to be treated like any other witness.”
“I have some documents I need to present to Earth’s governments. They identify me as a law enforcement officer and as an ambassador for Oa under the Shadow Proclamation. Some of Earth’s governments are aware of these matters, and I’m sure that Superman and Supergirl will be able to confirm that they are universally-accepted credentials.”
There was a knock on the door as she spoke, and a uniform came in and said “Captain Brass? Supergirl just landed outside.”
“Oh great… This was always going to be a media circus, now there are going to be three rings. Show her in.”
“There are a lot of reporters outside the precinct,” said Supergirl. “If you don’t mind me making a suggestion, you’ll probably need to talk to them sooner or later.”
“Sooner is probably best. Okay, would you mind introducing me?”
“As Green Lantern?”
“Yes; I want to keep my identity private, at least for now.”
“I could ask the same question.”
“Any hints on dealing with the press?”
“Mostly they’re okay. And Lois Lane can’t have got here yet, so you’ll probably be able to keep a few secrets.”
“Thanks.” She smiled at Supergirl, waited while she said a few words, then walked out to join her in a blaze of flashguns and camera lights.
One of the reporters shouted “Are you an alien?”
“No. I was recruited on Earth.”
“So the aliens that recruited you – why are they hiding?”
“That’s not the way it happened. An alien spaceship crashed-landed here, the pilot was one of this sector’s Green Lanterns. Before he died he decided that I’d be a suitable replacement, and sent me to Oa for training.”
“The planet where the Green Lantern Corps is based. I don’t think its sun is visible from Earth.”
“Why did he choose you?” shouted another reporter.
“I have some mental attributes that meet the Corps’ selection criteria. Most notably, I have strong willpower and a good imagination, both of which are essential for controlling my powers, and I’m not terrified of aliens. I’ve met about fifty types so far, they don’t bother me.”
“If you’re an interstellar cop, why are you fighting crime in Las Vegas?”
“I was in the area and was able to help. Would you prefer me to ignore an armed robbery?”
Another reporter shouted “What’s with the mask?”
“It’s traditional for Green Lanterns to be anonymous on their home worlds; it helps to ensure that they’re unbiased and free to have a normal life when they’re off-duty.”
“It’s not much of a disguise.”
“It’s worked so far. Next question?”
CNN – 10 Days Later
“And now over to Dan McDonald in New York, where the United Nations Security Council is debating Green Lantern’s accreditation to the governments of Earth. On Wednesday Green Lantern presented details of the Corps, since then they’ve been in closed session discussing details of her offer. Joining Dan in the studio is Green Lantern herself.”
“Ms. Lantern, a lot of viewers must be wondering how this would work, and what we’ll be committing to if we sign up with your organisation.”
“Since there seems to be some confusion about this, I’d better start by explaining that Green Lantern is my title, not my name, in the same way as someone on Earth might have a title like ‘Special Agent.’ It’s a title symbolic of the source of our powers, the great Power Batteries on the planet Oa where the Corps is based.” Behind her a screen showed images of Oa, projected by her will.
“So Oa runs the Corps?”
“Not exactly – Oa set up the technology, but the Oans themselves mostly stay out of things. They’re primarily concerned with keeping the Corps honest and preventing abuses of power. Beyond that the Corps mostly operates to provide support and information to the individual Green Lanterns.”
“So what do the Green Lanterns do, and what part would Earth play in it?”
“Basically, Lanterns are travelling law enforcement officers, a little like US Marshals. Earth’s been asked to agree that we have jurisdiction over crimes in space, or involving aliens.”
“What sort of crimes do you look out for?”
“Anything that disrupts interstellar travel or endangers planetary populations. Piracy is the most common, but not usually very dangerous to planetary populations; apart from that we’re talking about things like aggressive terraforming and destruction of inhabited biospheres, most forms of colonialism, use of various weapons of mass destruction, natural disasters, that sort of thing. And some crimes I can’t really describe in any human language, but none of them are likely to affect Earth.”
“What happens if we don’t agree.”
“Numerous alien races know that Earth exists, and some of them consider us ripe for the plucking. We have a little protection under the Shadow Proclamation and the Protected Planets Treaty, but those basically define Earth as a reservation for primitives who aren’t advanced enough to take care of themselves. That restricts trade so much that the only aliens you’re likely to see are criminals and would-be conquerors. It’s why Superman and Supergirl can’t do much to help advance Earth’s technology, Krypton was a signatory and it still applies to them.”
“So if Earth signs up we’ll get advanced technology?”
“Eventually. Any importer would still have to jump through a few hoops, basically ensuring that they don’t bring in anything that would wreck the planet or destroy society.”
“Is that possible?”
“Yes. I think Lex Luthor’s use of Kryptonian technology is an obvious example, there are many other examples.”
“What else would you do?”
“My main job is to help enforce the law in a volume of space containing about seventy-five thousand solar systems. Most of them lack intelligent life, of the remainder most are less advanced than Earth, but there are a few that are more advanced. Apart from that the Corps tries to stay as hands-off as possible; we’re allowed to help local law enforcement, but we don’t try to tell planets how to govern themselves.”
“And if Earth doesn’t sign up?”
“I’ll have to base myself in another system, which might cause delays if Earth runs into problems.”
“If Earth does sign up, what will it cost us?”
“Nothing. If anything Earth’s economies will be stimulated to the tune of several million dollars a year, eventually much more, because I’ll be opening a Corps office and hiring civilian employees.”
“What sort of employees?”
“General office staff, a forensics team for cases that need it, eventually educational staff when I’m allowed to release new technology. Sooner or later we’ll probably want medical facilities for aliens, holding facilities for prisoners, maybe a spaceport and hotel set up for alien visitors. It’ll be an ongoing development program for years to come.”
“How will you pay for that?”
“Initially I’ll be bringing in a few hundred tons of rare earth ores from the asteroids. They’re badly needed by the electronics industry, especially for making things like LEDs and widescreen TVs, and mining them on Earth is very bad for the environment.”
“What else is out there? Gold?”
“I haven’t looked for it. If I found any I’d leave it alone, I don’t want to upset anyone’s economy unnecessarily.”
“Thank you. Now, we’re just hearing that the Security Council will be making an announcement at six this evening. How do you think it’s going to go?”
“I hope that they’ll sign up but I’m not a politician, I couldn’t begin to guess what they’ll decide.”
Sunnydale Crater Lake, California
Unseen, something dark drifted across the night sky and silently descended into the water at the deepest part of the crater, directly over the site of the old High School. It manoeuvred for several hours then dug itself into the bottom ooze and went quiet.
The Sorbonne, Paris
Gil Grissom looked up from his desk, suddenly realising that he wasn’t alone. The woman in his office was a surprise.
“Green Lantern, right? What can I do for you?”
“If you’ve been watching the news you’ll know that the UN has agreed to recognise the Green Lantern Corps’ authority, and I’ve set the wheels in motion to build a permanent base. As part of that I’ll be recruiting personnel and setting up facilities including a specialist forensics laboratory. I’d like you to run it.” She handed him a thick envelope. “This is a contract for your consideration. I also have some briefing material if we can reach an agreement.”
“You’re the best forensic scientist I can find who isn’t already working for a government or a police force, and a significant proportion of the more intelligent alien species in this sector are similar to Earth’s arthropods. Forensic entomology would probably be extremely useful.”
“Take a seat and tell me more.”
They talked for a few minutes, and eventually he said “I’m flattered… Lady Heather.”
Chapter 1 crossovers: DC movies (Supergirl), CSI (Lady Heather, Jim Brass, Ray Langston, Gil Grissom), Buffy (Sunnydale), Doctor Who (the Shadow Proclamation), Stargate SG-1 (the Protected Planets Treaty).
One of the sources that inspired this story was the story Probationary Member by Adrian Tullberg, on fanfiction.net, which suggested the identity of my Green Lantern. Adult rating, but well worth a look.
Soon after I started writing this I learned that Al Plastino, the creator of Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes and much more, died in 2013. He’ll be missed.
Comments, please, before I post to archives.
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