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Multiple crossover; DC Movieverse / NCIS / West Wing / possibly more to come. See the first chapter for disclaimers etc.
by Marcus L. Rowland
San Francisco, California, Labor Day
Flying at Mach 4, Clark sped over the Golden Gate Bridge, looking for more idiots to rescue from sinking boats, car crashes, barbecue explosions and the other hazards that made Labor Day an annual chore. Kara was currently over the Florida coast. At intervals their routes criss-crossed the country, giving them a reasonable chance of catching any incident before it got too serious.
“...so as soon as you get the rest of the papers to me I can start being Linda,” Kara said over the secure link. “Any idea how we should play that? I can’t just say I was using a phoney name for the fun of it. We need…Rao! I’ll call you back.”
Clark continued his patrol, hoping that Kara hadn’t run into a problem she couldn’t handle. It wasn’t likely, of course.
“Sorry about that,” she said a few minutes later, “Guy put his arm through the safety guard of an airboat propeller to clear out some vines. Then his wife tried to start the engine.”
“Ouch. Badly injured?”
“They might be able to sew his hand back on, I got it cooled and stopped the bleeding pretty fast, then flew him to hospital.”
“Good. You didn’t actually freeze anything?”
“Of course not; it should be okay if they’ve got a good micro-surgeon.”
“Well done. Now, what were we talking about?”
“I was saying that I need a reason to have been using a false name.”
“You don’t want to make a fresh start as Linda?”
“Martha was right; I’ve made some friends in Long Beach, I’d like to stay in touch if I can and there’s a house-sitting job I’d like to try for if I can get the paperwork organised quickly.”
“Does that pay well?”
“No, but it’s six weeks free accommodation plus living expenses, and that gives me time to look for something better. All I have to do is keep an eye on the place and look after some pets. I even get to use their Porsche.”
“Can you even drive?”
“You’re too easy sometimes... I should learn, but I can’t get a license without papers.”
“Okay, I’ll see what I can do about speeding that up, and Lois is working on the back-story, trying to find a good reason for you to be using a false name.”
Arkham, Gotham City, Tuesday 2 AM EST
The new moon cast little light as a shadowy figure dropped down from the wall surrounding Arkham Cemetery, and walked stealthily towards the section of the graveyard reserved for pauper’s graves. Eventually it stopped, and began to dig at the site of the newest grave, just a few hours old. Within a few minutes the wicker casket was revealed, and opened to reveal the bloated corpse of the man who had called himself Lex Luthor. The intruder produced a camera with a bulky image-intensifying lens, took a dozen pictures of the body, then opened a compact medical kit and began to collect specimens of skin, hair, blood, and other tissues.
Thirty minutes later the body was buried again, and the intruder was gone.
Long Beach, California, Friday 9 AM PST
“Visitor for you, Karen,” shouted Mrs. Grady.
Kara ran downstairs, half-expecting to see Lois or Clark, but there was a stranger there, an older man wearing tinted glasses, a striped shirt, and a plaid suit, who was chewing on a matchstick. Kara thought that he looked like the gangsters she’d seen in old movies from Earth; she glanced at him with X-ray vision, and spotted a pair of brass knuckles in one of his pockets, and a thick envelope in another. She noticed Linda Lee’s name on some of the papers inside it.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
“I’m Matches Malone. I owe your cousin some favours, he knew I was headed this way and asked me to drop by, give you some news. Can we talk somewheres private; outside, maybe?”
“I guess,” said Kara. Malone, if that was really his name, led the way to a swinging lounger on the porch; Kara knew that it was just outside Mrs. Grady’s office, and wasn’t surprised to see that the window was open. She would be able to overhear everything they said. “What’s this about?”
“Your cousin wanted me to tell you that you don’t have to worry about that rat Vance. He was in a car crash, won’t be hurting no-one no more.”
“What… what happened to him?” Kara said, pretending that she knew who he was talking about. Malone fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled page from a Chicago tabloid. The story circled had the headline ‘Vance Heir Killed.’ Kara scanned down the page, which described a drunk-driving spree which ended in a crash, and as she had half-expected noted a reference to ‘multiple allegations of stalking, sexual assault and harassment.’ The story, presumably genuine, would be a good background for the scenario Martha had suggested.
“He’s… he’s really dead?”
“They don’t come much deader, Linda. Anyways, the cops won’t need you to give evidence now, and your cousin said I should tell you that it’s probably safe to start using your real name again, but you might want to stay out here a while longer just to be sure. Oh, and he gave me a bunch of papers for you, stuff you’re gonna need.”
“Okay,” said Kara, taking the envelope and leafing through it. As expected, it contained anything she might possibly need to establish Linda Lee’s identity, including her 2004 high school diploma and references from three former employers. The only name she recognised was the Chicago division of Wayne Enterprises, where she had apparently worked as a secretary from January 2006 to July 2007, leaving for ‘personal reasons.’
“I can’t believe it’s finally over,” she said. “I’ve been pretending that everything was okay, but…” she left the sentence unfinished; sure that Mrs. Grady could come up with a scenario to fill in the gaps. “It’s so good to know… Thank you!”
“That’s okay, kiddo, I met the guy one time and he was a real piece of work. If he hadn’t iced himself I might have been tempted to do it for him. Now, I’ve gotta get moving. You have a good life, okay?”
“Okay. And thanks again.” As they stood Kara pretended to hug him impulsively, taking care to keep her strength down to human norms, and pecked his cheek with a quick kiss. His skin tasted of something… cosmetics? A disguise? She was suddenly sure that Matches was even less real than Karen. He winked at her, said “be seeing you,” and walked to a bright red Cadillac with rental plates. Kara thought about tracking him but decided that if she ever needed to know who he was, Clark could tell her.
She went up to her room and padlocked most of the papers into the cheap steel locker Mrs. Grady provided for her guests, leaving the newspaper cutting on her bed, and went out. She was willing to bet that the landlady would take a look as soon as she left the house.
Metropolis – 11.25 PM EST
“It’s on in a couple of minutes,” said Clark, coming in from the kitchen with two mugs of chocolate topped with tiny marshmallows.
“Do you have the recorder set?” asked Lois, “Jason will want to see this tomorrow.”
“Relax; it’s set. Anyway, the Fortress will be downloading the satellite transmission; I can always copy that to DVD if there’s a problem here.”
“And now, sponsored by WayneTech International, WGBS-TV presents The Midnight Show Starring Johnny Nevada… Heeeeeeeeere's Johnny!"
The host walked onto the set, smiled at the cameras, and said “We have a very special show tonight. A few weeks ago most people had barely heard of her… now her name is on everyone’s lips. Emergencies permitting, we hope to be joined a little later by the one… the only… Supergirl!”
“Go Kara,” murmured Lois.
“…but first… she’s blonde and beautiful, and she’s here promoting her new book, At the Pleasure of the President. It’s the inimitable… C.J. Cregg!”
To thunderous applause a tall blonde wearing a Vera Wang dress walked onto the set, shook hands with Johnny, and moved to the seat he’d indicated. “C.J… or can I call you Claudia Jean?”
“President Bartlet calls me Claudia Jean, everyone else can call me C.J.”
“Okay. C.J… until a few weeks ago I think most people would have agreed that as a former White House Chief of Staff you were probably the most powerful blonde in history.”
“That’s flattering, but inaccurate. Margaret Thatcher, who used to be Prime Minister of Great Britain, is a blonde. And if you spell it without the ‘e’ on the end, there’s Jimmy Carter.”
“Okay, let’s say the most powerful blonde – with an ‘e’ - in the history of the USA.”
“I’d mention Marilyn Monroe, but I think that most Democrats would prefer I didn’t go there.” There was more applause.
“Okay… let’s not mention Marilyn, Jimmy or Margaret… for a while you might possibly have been considered the most powerful blonde on Earth… how does it feel to be upstaged by a kid from Krypton?”
“Uh-oh,” said Lois. “Kara won’t be happy about that one.”
“Well, Johnny,” said C.J., “first of all she isn’t a kid. According to the interview she gave the Daily Planet yesterday she’s nearly twenty-two years old. Nearer twenty-four if you count the time she’s spent in suspended animation.”
“That’s better,” said Clark.
“Second, she and Superman have both said that they are unwilling to become involved in human politics, except by setting examples for others. That takes her out of contention for my kind of power… having said that, I think we’re pretty much agreed that I’m a lot less powerful than a locomotive, and can’t leap any sort of building in a single bound, so I’m obviously out of contention for the superhero power stakes.” The audience cheered again.
“Okay,” said Johnny, “the bottom line is that you’re both heavy hitters. Which of you should I back if you have to fight Godzilla?”
“Supergirl, definitely. Or maybe Margaret Thatcher.”
“How about King Kong?”
“The original tall, dark, and handsome? I’d have to give that one some thought. He’s cute, but I’m not sure I’d want to monkey around with his affections.” Applause.
“Okay, let’s get a little more serious. You’re an expert on politics, what will another superhero do to the political landscape?”
“I could give you a long answer on that one,” said C.J., “but if I told you I’d have to kill you.”
“You’d die of boredom.” The audience laughed. “I’m out of the loop these days, but I’m willing to bet that there are new position papers and threat evaluations every day, and most of them will be more useful once they’ve been recycled as toilet paper. I personally think that we’ve nothing to fear and a lot to gain from Supergirl’s arrival, but I’m not involved in policy any more.”
“Well, right here and now we’re still waiting for Supergirl’s arrival at the studio,” said Johnny, “so we’ll be back with C.J. Cregg and talking about her new book after this word from our sponsors...”
“…I think the bottom line is that the USA can and will do more to help third world nations with the recent economic upturn,” C.J. said fifteen minutes later, “and we should start to see real progress on that front after the next budget.”
“Okay,” said Johnny, “We’re going to have to leave it there for now, though I hope that we’ll get back to it a little later. Without further ado, please welcome Supergirl...” He and C.J. stood and the audience went wild as Kara walked onto the set, wearing a floor-length garment resembling a Greek chiton, spun of pale blue cloth sparkling with thousands of tiny crystals, with a short red cape draped over one bare shoulder, attached by a gold brooch in the familiar ‘S’ and pentagon shape. A broad gold belt and gold sandals completed the ensemble. She shook hands, and took a seat between C.J. and Johnny.
“Okay,” said Johnny, “that’s a very different look for you tonight. How would you describe that?”
Kara looked puzzled, and said “It’s just evening clothes, the sort of thing I would wear to… say… a dinner party if I were in Argo City. The Fortress made it for me.”
“We’ve never seen Superman wearing anything equivalent.”
“Kal-El comes from a very different culture. Argo City was… unusual, a town of artists and scholars, well outside the mainstream of Kryptonian society. The customs and fashions date back to an earlier era, with much more variation in their designs. From what I’ve seen in our records, the mainstream culture was much more austere. Your costume was prescribed by your family and your status. Kal-El became head of the House of El after the death of his father, so he wears the appropriate uniform. I’m sure that there would have been variations for different occasions, ceremonies and so forth, but the exact circumstances would never arise on Earth. I’ll have to talk him into loosening up a little.”
“I think you’ve just made a lot of fashion editors and designers very happy,” said C.J.
“You always seem to wear the same costume when you’re working,” said Johnny.
“It’s practical, and a lot easier to keep clean. And I think it helps if people instantly recognize me.”
“Moving on, you’ve been on Earth a little over a month now. How are things going for you?”
“I think reasonably well; I was a little homesick at first, but everyone has been incredibly nice, and I’ve been keeping busy. And of course I spent a lot of time preparing to come here, studying Earth and its society, so it isn’t as unfamiliar for me as it must have been for Kal-El.”
“We’ve seen you on the news, of course. What do you do when you aren’t diverting lava flows or stopping bank robberies?”
“I’ve been improving my Earth languages, and getting more of a feel for where everything is. I think I’ve memorised most of the world now, but there are a lot of places I’ve only seen from twenty miles up, and that really isn’t the same as being there on the ground. And I’m spending a lot of time just charging up my reserves of energy; Kal-El spent years under your sun, I’ve only had weeks.”
“What’s your favourite place so far?”
“The central Australian desert,” said Kara. “Lots of sun and the animals are very interesting. Of course I don’t have to worry about dying of thirst or being bitten by a snake, and I guess that helps. The sea off your west coast, I’ve been trying to make friends with some whales there, the ones I rescued on my first day. Oh, and I went to a party in Washington, that was fun.”
“I was wondering when you’d visit the White House,” said C.J.
“It wasn’t the White House, just a friend’s home.”
“Talking of friends,” said Johnny, “is there any truth in the rumour that you’ve been seen with Leonardo DiCaprio?”
“None at all; I’ve never met him.”
“But you know who he is?”
“Yes… Argo City used to pick up a lot of TV transmissions from Earth when it was closer, I’ve seen Titanic.”
“That reminds me to ask… Last time you were only here for a few days, and it’s my understanding that you only came to Earth again because you thought that Superman wasn’t going to return. That turned out to be wrong, so how long do you plan to stay on Earth this time?”
“The journey is already very difficult, within weeks it will be impossible, and I think that I can do more good here on Earth; unless things change, I’m planning to stay.”
“Well, I’m sure that I’m speaking for a lot of people when I say that you’re welcome here.”
“One thing I was wondering; you said you studied Earth while you were getting ready to come here, what else did you do to prepare?”
“I spent a lot of time training in gymnastics and Klurkor… that’s a martial art which I think resembles Earth’s Aikido, it emphasises disarming opponents without hurting them. I had some minor surgery that would be impossible once I was invulnerable, and some other treatments to make sure that I couldn’t carry any Kryptonian diseases to Earth.”
“Surgery?” asked Johnny.
“There are a couple of unnecessary organs that sometimes go wrong… I think one is like your appendix, I’m not sure that there’s a human equivalent for the other… also I was slightly short sighted in one eye, I had that corrected.”
“Should we be worrying that Superman might suffer from appendicitis at some point?”
“I don’t think so… before Krypton was destroyed procedures like that were carried out by nano-machines at birth. Argo City didn’t retain the technology.”
“Okay, we’re coming up to another break, after which we’ll be joined by performance artist Lady Gaga for the final segment of the show…”
Metropolis, 12.55 AM
Kara scanned Clark’s apartment block from high altitude, noticed that the lights were still on, landed silently on the balcony and tapped on the sliding door.
“Kara,” said Lois, opening it. “We saw the show, you look gorgeous.”
“Thanks, it was a lot of fun. I just called in to say thank you for sending the documents. Your friend made it very convincing.”
“Documents?” said Clark. “I haven’t sent them yet; we’ve been waiting for your employment record to arrive.”
There was a flare of light at the other end of the balcony, a match burning for a second, illuminating the face of the morning’s messenger.
“That’s him!” said Kara. “Who are you?”
“I’m Batman,” said the stranger, “and we have a problem.”
To Be Continued
The Midnight Show and Johnny Nevada are from DC comics. The version of Batman in this story is post Batman Begins, pre The Dark Knight. Batman used the Matches Malone disguise several times in the comics.
I am very pleased to say that I thought of the King Kong line before attending a program item about horror fiction at today’s Picocon SF convention, during which one of the panelists made a very similar joke.
Comments please before I post to archives.