Come What May
written and illustrated by Rosaline Terrill
This story is dedicated to my unborn child Morgan Jean
Special Thanks to Michael Hutchison for his encouragement to carry this story through. A big thanks to Russell Yocum, D.J. LoTempio and Mathew Rhys for their time spent editing this story. With out them this story would have never made it. And of course to my husband. With out his love, encouragement and faith in me, my contributions to Fanzing may have never come to be.
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers;
Diana, known to the present day world as Wonder Woman, sat up in the middle of a forest. Massive pine trees and the occasional fir surrounded her. The density of the woods seemed to go on forever. She pushed away the broken branches revealing her wounds. Looking up, she saw light pouring a gaping channel in the trees above. "Wha.what happened?" It took her a moment to recall just what had occurred. She chashes trouf the trees and into the ground, that was certian. She rolled on to her hands and knees, and then, with effort, she rose to her feet.
"Woo, now that's what I call a ride! Now can I have my cotton candy?" Kyle, the Justice League of America's Green Lantern, asked as he stumbled toward her, and leaned hard against a tree. "Ow!" He cried out as he fell to his knees, holding his arm tightly.
"Are you all right, Kyle?" Diana asked as she walked over to him. "Here, let me see."
"Hey, that hurts." He said cradling his arm and unsuccessfully attempting to hide it from her.
"Oh, stop acting like a child."
"And it should," she said after she had taken hold of his arm. "It's broken. Now hold still."
"Sorry but I had to set the bone. I'll see if I can find something to splint it. Then we need to look for the others."
A groan came from underneath the debris of fallen timber. A bloody hand reached up between two logs. A weak male voice, barely able to force out the air, called for help.
"Great Hera! Clark!" Diana ran across the small clearing to the pile of logs and took hold of his hand. "Hold on, I'll get you out."
"C..c.can't breathe..." came a labored, airy voice.
Diana wrapped her arms around a an uprooted tree and prepared to lift it--it barely budged. The fallen pine began rolling toward her. "Kyle! Watch Out!" Diana released the uncooperative conifer and jumped over it as it tumbled down the small pile of timber toward Green Lantern. Despite his state of mind, he managed to move from danger's path.
"Here, let me help you," came the eerie alien voice of J'onn. He crawled from behind the mass of newly fallen firewood, reverted to his original Martian form. "Stand back." Using one of the branches as a lever he began to roll the logs from their friend. Each one took a tremendous amount of effort to move, even with the help of Diana, but soon they had uncovered the fallen Superman. He gasped for air, coughing as he was pulled from his temporary grave.
Wonder Woman turned to tend to Kyle's arm, and she noticed him playing with a white feather. Her face became pale as a sudden realization came to her. "Kyle...where did you get this?" She jumped to her feet and began to look around.
He shrugged. "Over there, next to that tree trunk. Why, do you want it? You can have it."
"No, Kyle! Where is Zauriel? Has anyone seen Zauriel?" she asked frantically while looking up in the trees.
"I sensed his presence before the explosion. He was close," J'onn stated as he worked on keeping Clark's bleeding to a minimum. "Diana, I think we need to find some help for Superman quickly. We have no idea of our exact location. Judging from our last known location we should be somewhere in Montana. We don't know how far the blast threw us. Since we are in a National Park, there should be Ranger Stations but we could be any number of miles from their location. Our super powers have been lost due to unknown reasons and with out the ability to fly--"
"And s'mores. You gotta have s'mores when you go camping," Kyle added before cringing over his stomach. "Oh, I think I'm going to be sick."
"I believe Kyle has a concussion," Diana noted, and then she nodded as Kyle stumbled behind a tree to vomit. "and it looks like Clark took out a huge portion of trees when he came down. If you can climb, J'onn, then perhaps you can see if you can find any evidence of help in the area." She then knelt beside Clark to take over J'onn's duties.
J'onn soon reached the top of one massive fir. From there he was able to see a fair portion of the landscape and could tell they were on the backside of one foot hill facing th mountians in the west. The Martian was taken back for a moment as he felt the cool mountan breeze brush against his flesh. The landscape before him brought a tear to his red eyes. The trees covered the ground all the way to the base of the massive mountain range. He saw a lake downhill, about 20 miles away, and it was so blue from the glacier melts that it looked as though it were a painting. A hawk of some sort could be seen in the distance, circling an open patch in the trees a couple of miles away, and from the clearing rose a faint wisp of smoke. The sun was low in the sky and soon it would hide itself behind the horizon. J'onn continued to stare at the enchanting beauty of the scene until he heard Superman groan; Diana had tied some cloth torn from his cape over one of his wounds. J'onn quickly returned to the ground.
"If we head west following the ridge, it will take us to a clearing. We should be able to find someone there. I saw smoke. Possibly a campfire."
With an understanding nod, Diana's eye moved to Superman. "Do you think you can walk?" The kryptonian gave a weak nod. With the help of Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman, Superman stood to his feet and they began down the steep escarpment.
They had traveled less than a mile and with the sky so clear, a few stars were already visible. The path before them was growing increasingly dark and hard to travel. "I'm still worried about Zauriel. We should try looking for him." Diana said as she pulled Kyle back on to the path.
"Maybe he went to back to heaven," Kyle said. "He is an angel after all."
"Diana, Kyle's theory may not be completely without merit. We have been wiped of our powers before if you recall. Zauriel was one of the few that we lost contact with. It is possible that Zauriel has returned to a celestial state," J'onn explained. "It will be dark soon and to go wandering off the path in our present condition would not be wise. Let's get Superman taken care of and then we can return first thing in the morning."
"Oh, that won't be necessary," chimed in a woman's voice up ahead. The heroes looked up to see a Native American woman on a large draft mare waiting for them on the path ahead. "I believe your friend is back at my farm." She slid from the horse's back and led the animal up toward the four heroes. The horse snorted once toward J'onn, and the Martian shied back, not wanting to frighten the creature. "Easy girl. Don't worry, she just doesn't like foreigners."
"And you? Are you afraid of me?" J'onn asked, unsure if the woman had seen him fully in the dim light.
"Are you planning to harm me?" she asked.
"Well no, but I--"
"Well then, there's no reason to be afraid. Just because you come from a different part of the world. We are all God's creatures."
Superman groaned painfully and slumped over. The kind woman titled her head slightly. "Your friend sounds like he's in bad shape. Perhaps he should ride." Smiling, she patted the large horse on the shoulder and then felt up the animal's neck to her bridle. "One of you should sit up with him so that he doesn't fall." Diana mounted up behind Clark and when the woman turned the horse, the animal seemed to be leading her more than the other way around. "There. It's a short distance to my farm and then we can get some care to him. What did you say your friend's name was?"
"Zauriel. His name is Zauriel." J'onn began.
"Is he all right?" Diana asked with concern in her voice.
The woman nodded as she turned her head to look at Diana, but their eyes never met. "Zauriel.is fine. He sustained some injuries that have made it difficult for him to walk. I believe it is nothing more than a sprain. He was more concerned for your safety than his own and he wanted to come looking for you himself, but if any of you were in serious condition Claudia's back would need to be free." She turned her head back to the path. "So how is it you came to the woods?"
"Gentlemen! The Justice League is out of the way! In their own little world!" T.O. Morrow set a snow globe on the table before him. He leaned down into the light revealing an evil grin that peaked from below his bushy mustach. He and four others stood around table in a darkened room where few large windows allowed the view of a nighttime cityscape.
"Now ain't that just a piece of God's Country! Where did you pick that up? Flea market or antique shoppe?" Boomerang asked as he reached for the globe to get a closer look.
"Get back!" Morrow shouted. Then he cleared his throat, ran his fingers through the bushel of his curly hair and lowered his voice. "You don't want to break it. If you do, they get out."
"Are you sayin' the Justice League is actually in there?" Mirror Master asked as he leaned down to gaze into the orb.
"In a manner of speaking, yes. For our little scheme to work, the League had to be out of the way. It's been proven far to difficult to destroy them with just one step or by trapping them in some device. But here--ah, but here they don't even know they are trapped. And without the ability to fly, they will never find the boundaries in time before our plans are completed and then it will be too late!" He sniffed and then straightened his goggles.
"Tell us how it works. How can the Justice League be in there and not know it?" Poison Ivy asked as she sat on the edge of the table.
"It's very complex, my dear. Neron gave this little beauty to me. It has a limited range, but it has sent them back in time and stolen their powers. The globe merely works as a doorway. I called them out to the middle of nowhere with a false emergency signal and set off an explosion to disorient them. As they fell from the skies, I activated the device and like a huge net, it trapped them and so now they're out of our way! Hahaha--" SMACK! Morrow swatted Boomerang's hand away. "Get back! If you break it, they will be spilt right out on to this table and we are finished."
"And just where are they, Morrow?" Asked Captain Cold.
"This is one of the set backs. They are in earth's past, so they are still on this planet. I had to find somewhere reasonably close but not populated. A somewhat savage environment. Even if they do make it to the boundaries of the globe it will be too late--our plan will be completed."
"So no powers? They're in the wilderness. Middle of nowhere? Wild Animals? I would give anything to be there to see the expression on their faces when they run in to one of those big ol' bears." Boomerang said with a slight chuckle while he rubbed his hand.
It was dark when the League reached the woman's farm. The stars shown bright in the sky above the circling tree tops.
"Here we are," the woman said when the horse stopped at the gate. The woman released the horse's halter and felt along the gate until she found the latch. The large gate swung open into a yard where a small cabin was brightly lit with the warm glow of oil lamps.
"Let's get you all inside. I don't have much prepared as far as a full meal. I do have enough bread and some jarred vegetables. At least you won't go to bed with empty stomachs." She found the horse again and led them up to the steps of the little cabin.
"Take your friend inside and get him upstairs. There is a bed where he will be comfortable. I'll be in shortly to see to your needs." She stood beside her horse with her eyes lowered, waiting for them to enter the house. When she was sure that they had all gone in, she went with the horse out of the light and behind the house towards the barn.
Wonder Woman made Kyle find a seat in the kitchen before he hurt himself any further, and then helped J'onn get Clark up stairs. As they climbed, Kyle began to sing, "John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt, his name is my name too! When-ever we go out, the people always shout--"
"Be quiet, Kyle."
"Green Lantern. It is such a blessing to see you alive! Where are the others?" It was Zauriel who spoke. He came into the kitchen wearing a sheet in a toga fashion.
Kyle chuckled. "Nice toga. Expecting a hurricane? Oh yeah, they went up stairs with some giant green dog. Do you got any marshmellows?" Green Lantern's eyes seemed to dull over as they rolled back in his head and he then rested his head on his arms on the table top with a groan.
"I had lost my armor after the explosion. I woke up and it was gone. Umm, concussion?" Zauriel asked. Kyle just shrugged. "Where is the woman?" The angel looked up stairs and then limped toward the kitchen table and took a seat.
"Oh, I see, Kyle said with a sly smirk, "You're just after the girl. Ok, I can live with that. After all you saw her first. You know, you have good taste."
"What? I was...That is none--what are you doing?" Zauriel's head tilted with a perplexed expression as Kyle tried to hang a spoon from his nose.
"I gotta do it for at least a minute." Kyle responded as the silverwear dropped into his lap. "Try it. Like this." And then he proceeded to demonstrate to the Angel how to balance a spoon on his nose. Zauriel sighed and shook his head smiling.
"It's going to be alright Kal-El. Calm yourself. Clark! Easy. He is not doing to well," Diana said as she held Superman down on the bed.
"The girl. She.?" J'onn asked.
"How could she find us? And the way home?"
"There are many things that the blind can do that we do not know about, J'onn, even mortal humans. It does seem that her equine friend takes care of her outside the boundaries of her home."
"So that is why she did not fear when she found us. When she saw me." J'onn lowered his head for a moment.
"Here, I brought in some jerky, an extra loaf of bread and some apples," the woman said as she came in through the door and found her way to the kitchen table. She brushed along the walls and furniture to keep her path. Setting a large basket in the center of the table, she placed a delicate hand on Zauriel's shoulder, which he went to touch in thanks; but she had already removed it to find her way into the kitchen.
"Please, eat up my friends. I shall get you bedding once I have seen to your friend." She took a box from one of the cupboards and then proceeded up stairs.
"Rrrrowww!" Kyle commented.
"Green Lantern, please. That is not appropriate. She is our host and she should be treated with some respect." Zauriel watched the lady proceede up the narrow set of steps to the only bedroom.
She opened the door and slipped inside, never being shy about her condition as she felt around in front of her. "I just don't want to trip over any of you." Her hands found J'onn first. Her hand slid over his green shoulder. "My goodness, you're cold. There is a warm blanket over there on that chair that you can wrap yourself in and if you are with out decent clothing as Zauriel was, I can get you something that will do." She smiled at him as she patted him and then found a seat on the side of the bed where Superman lay. She opened the box and set it on the nightstand. Her hands started at his head and began to work down to his shoulders then suddenly she stopped. "There is food down stairs. Your friends have already begun. Feel free to help yourself--this shouldn't be long. He will be safe with me."
"I'm sure he will, but should you need any help, please call," Diana said as she got up and went past J'onn, motioning for him to come. They had much to talk about and J'onn could see that.
"Of course." Then the woman went back to her work.
"I remember there being electric wires running though the valley before the explosion," J'onn began. "I also saw a small town near the lake, but I didn't see anything like that when I climbed that tree. It could have been hidden by the ridge. Perhaps tomorrow we can find out what we need to."
"Yes, tomorrow is quite well enough. We are all in pretty bad shape and unless she has a car or phone--which I have seen no evidence of--we are not going anywhere." Zauriel added. "Let's just be thankful we are all still alive and how blessed we are to be taken care of."
"But what about Superman? Will Superman ever fly again?" Kyle said as he looked off dreamily, making his bread soar about him.
"Eat your apple, Kyle." J'onn gave him a serious glare.
"Zauriel, what happened to you? How did you get here and how is your leg?" Diana asked.
"As the dear lady put it, I fell from heaven." He smirked slightly. "As the evidence in her barn roof and the pain on my ankle prove all to well. I believe the pain is just a slight sprain...I landed right in the hay and the barn roof is in need of repair. It made for a rather soft landing considering the height from which I fell. When I stumbled from the hay I was without my armor or my sword and I am unable to fly. The kind lady came out and gave me aid and at my request something to cover myself up with. Being so shaken from the fall I didn't realize she was sight impaired until she was already on her way to find you."
"And what a pretty lady at that!"
"What about her, did you find out anything about her?"
"No, she left as soon as I mentioned you. From just looking around here, she leads a very simple life. And she really likes her horse. In the living room is a wall filled with sculptures in wood and clay. All of them look like her horse."
"Her horse's name is Claudia. A Clydesdale. She told me." J'onn explained. "Fascinating creature."
"Speaking of names.has any one caught our hostess's?"
"Christine. My name is Christine," Her voice came as she started down the stairs. "Your friend is sleeping and resting quite comfortably. He suffered some broken ribs and a good crack to the head. Aside from the cuts, it will take some time for him to heal. I hope that you don't have to go somewhere in a hurry--your friend will not be ready to travel for some time."
"Thank you," Diana said.
"And what of the rest of you? What are the other injuries sustained?" It began from there and she spent the next hour stitching and dressing wounds. She placed some cooling herbs on Green Lantern's head and made a proper splint for him.
"Your hands work miracles, dear lady," Zauriel spoke to her.
"No, just using the gifts God has blessed me with."
"Thank you, Christine. For everything." Diana added.
"It's not a problem. How many beds shall be required? There are four of you, correct?"
As Diana and Christine spoke to each other, Christine handed a match and lantern to Diana to light. Then she led them to the door and out to the barn.
"Christ-like." Zauriel whispered.
"What?" J'onn asked.
"Oh, nothing. I'll tell you later."
"Now it's probably not what you are used to," Christine said, "but it is dry, warm, and soft." She felt her way along the wall until she came to a chest set at the back. "Here." She opened the chest and pulled out several blankets. "If you lay one on the straw and use one to cover with, it will keep you well through the night. The outhouse is just around the corner there. Here are some spare matches." She handed them to Diana and then began to head out. "And I will be in the house if you need anything. Please, make yourselves at home and help yourselves to the food. Sleep well, and God watch over you tonight." She smiled and began her way back to the house.
"Thank you, dear lady," Zauriel said softly. She stopped and turned, almost looking directly at him. For a moment she paused and smiled at him before turning and leaving.
J'onn found the stable next to Claudia's and moved a bunch of straw into it, where he made up his bed. Claudia was not so eager to spend the night next to some strange green creature with red eyes, so she stood at the far side of her stall. In fact, none of the animals were too sure about J'onn. Diana made sure that Kyle's concussion wasn't too bad and helped him get into bed.
"Who said dreams don't come true. Aren't you going to read me a story and give me a kiss good night?" Kyle asked. It was just by chance that Diana happened to kick his leg as she stepped over him. "Hey..."
As Wonder Woman made out her bed in the hay, she noticed that Zauriel was standing in the doorway of the barn. She stood and walked over to him. "I know you're not used to being injured like this, but if you want that leg to be of any use, you need to rest it."
"Yes, Wonder Woman. I will do that. I was just thinking.how curious."
"A human female.out here.alone?"
"Well that is some of it. There is just something so--pure about it. You're right. I should get off my leg."
"You mentioned something earlier, Zauriel.about her name?" J'onn asked.
"Yes. Christine.it means Christ-like or One like Christ. I just found it so suiting to her."
"I bet she is going to have the shock of her life when she finds a piece of heaven really did fall through her roof." Diana said with a warm smile on her lips. Zauriel turned and grinned himself.
"Have you heard anything yet, Master Bruce?"
"No. Nothing. I contacted the Watchtower and Aztec said that they had all left after some major threat had been reported. Each one had received a different call but they were all at the same place. I'm tracking down records of any transmissions, but so far nothing has come up that would indicate--"
"Excuse me, Sir. The front door," Alfred said, even though Bruce did not acknowledge him.
"Yes, Oracle. What have you found?"
"All I can find is that the calls that were sent to the missing Justice League members all had different problems relating to their specialty, and all the members were called to Montana. Not only that, but the middle of Montana near both an army base and a National Park. The closest town I could find has a population of 23. There were reports of a strange explosion in the sky and it was followed by something that looked like an "aerial whirlpool". Most people think it was the army experimenting."
"Sorry, nothing so far."
Batman glared toward the screen as Oracle began to fade. "Master Bruce, something arrived in the mail for you--most urgent, and I believe to be well worth your attention." Alfred held an old parchment envelope sealed in wax on a silver platter. Bruce took it and opened it. He read the letter, quickly turned, and ran for the Batmobile with out a word.
"Oh man, my head," Came the moan of Kyle as he sat up. "I haven't had a headache like that for years. Umm hello? Hey, where did you guys go? WW? Umm, J'onn? Zauriel? Anybody?" He looked around the empty barn, but only found the curious eyes of animals enjoying their breakfast.
"COCKADOOODLEDOO," crowed a rooster.
"Oh man! Come on.I'm up." He stumbled from the hay and headed towards the barn door. He took in a deep breath of the fresh mountain air. "Eww, animal smells. Wait.Mmm, breakfast." He followed his nose towards the little house. He stepped inside and found that everyone else was huddled into the kitchen area. Even Superman had been brought down and was sitting in a rocking chair that had been moved in from the living room. J'onn stood towards the back of the table in the corner and Zauriel sat with his wings against the wall.
"It's good to see you survived the night." Diana commented as she brought him a cup of coffee.
"Thanks. It's good to see you up and around umm, Cl..Sup..Umm."
"Clark.just Clark, Kyle. You must have gotten hit fairly hard." Superman commented. It made sense to call everyone by their first names since the woman could not see who they really were. "And of course you remember Christine, our hostess."
"Good Morning Brother Kyle. Here. Your plate is getting cold." She pulled out a seat for him where a plate of eggs, sausage patties and pancakes sat steaming.
"How could I forget? Thank you so much." Kyle said as he sat down and instantly began to stuff his face.
"Any one for seconds?"
"Oh Yes please! Please! Absolutely!" Answered J'onn, Clark and Kyle who had finished off half his plate.
"It's been a long time since I've had such a good, home-cooked meal." Clark commented.
"So what brought you up here? You seemed reluctant to answer that last night." Christine asked as she took a seat between Zauriel and Kyle. There was short silence. "I'm sorry. It's none of my business--as long as you haven't come up here to take anything from my land. I will have to ask you all to leave the moment your friend is healed if that's the case. You aren't friends or spies for the army are you? Were you sent up here to survey the land?" She seemed more hurt rather than upset. "Because you can tell that Colonel that there is no way I am signing over this land."
"Whoa, hold your horses." Kyle started. "You're getting just a bit defensive. We are umm just explorers. We had an accident with some of our equipment and that lead to our injuries." The woman didn't look at all convinced.
"Excuse me, Christine. We are not with any one who wants to take this land from you. We are just lost. Are there any towns nearby where we can get to a phone."
"I am sorry for my behavior. It's been hard this last couple years since my father died." She paused a for just a moment longer as though running the memories through her mind. "You must be incredibly lost. There are no towns in any direction for quite some distance. I don't know what a phone is, but the closest thing to a town is the trading post on the far side of the valley. It's a full days journey there. That is probably what you are looking for. Being that it's a military post, I am sure they have a 'phone'."
They all looked around at each other when Christine mentioned that she had no knowledge of a phone. "Yeah, Yes. That will work." Diana said.
"Very well as soon as Clark is ready to travel I will take you there."
"I think we should go and find out where we lost our way first and then we can return for the others. Kyle and I can make the journey on our own and the others can stay here. It would be best," Diana suggested.
"What ever you think," Christine said. "I have a few younger horses. If you are experienced riders they shouldn't be too much trouble. They are still a little green as far as being saddle horses. They have enough spirit you should reach the post before dark."
Kyle's face became rather pale but Diana seemed to glow with excitement. "That should work just fine." Then Christine nodded and rose from her seat.
"I will start packing for your trip. You can leave in an hour and be there by tonight."
"There is little history about the park area. It's right next to a military base located in the foothills of the eastern side of the Rockies. But you might not have to take a trip out there. Logs from the satellite indicate that the signal sent came from New York. So it's a diversion to get the Justice League out of the way?" Came Oracle's voice through the Batmobile's computer.
"That's what it looks like. See if you can track down the exact location from where those signals were sent. I will be arriving in New York in an hour." Batman responded.
"Wait, Robin just sent over the information he found. After doing a list of who could possibly be responsible for something of this magnitude and digging in a little further we have a possible winner." As Oracle read the name and the suspect's last known location, the Batmobile moved even faster over the pavement.
"In precisely 48 hours, the Watch Tower's security system goes in to a updating cycle. The computers are running full with information and low on memory. When we go up there the system devices won't be able to distinguish our disguises from the original members. We slip right on into their Trophy room; take what we need and slip right back out. Simple as that!" T.O. Morrow explained to the others.
"Right.like kids in a candy store. Clean up time!" Captain Cold stated with eagerness.
"No.there will be time for that later. Right now we just get what is on the list. Once we have those items, we will have the power to destroy the League members once and for all." Morrow insisted.
"Now tell us again how these so called disguises are supposed to get us passed security?" Ivy inquired.
"The hologram suits reflect the information according to each League Member. We only need three for us to go and get the items we need. The only reason for getting rid of the others members was because of their abilities to see past the disguise. Superman has his x-ray vision. Martian Manhunter can read our minds and the Angel.well the Angel would have powers unknown to us. He probably already knows our plans if he keeps in touch with God. Green Lantern is too much of an idiot to notice but powerful enough to stop us if tipped off in anyway. So is Wonder Woman."
"Ahh, I can take care of the Sheila," Captian Boomerang protested
"Yeah right.like the last time. How long were you in the hospital?" Asked Mirror Master.
"All of you just shut up. Let's keep focused. The clock is ticking and we have much to prepare. Every one must know what their job is if this is going to work. Boomerang! Quit playing with your toys before you break something. " Morrow snapped as he straighten his white lab coat.
After breakfast, the woman helped Diana and Kyle prepare for their trip. At Diana's request, Christine provided some clothing, which Kyle thought was extremely outdated. J'onn met Diana and Kyle at the gate.
"I am not sure of the year, but we are not in modern times. Be careful. If we have gone back in time, the loss of our powers would be explained. Many times, trans-temporal travel can have such effects." The green Martian warned Diana.
"If you are correct then it was wise to take the attire. Be wary yourself J'onn. I am certain you would be mistaken as some monster. If she receives company, stay well hidden." At Diana's words, J'onn nodded and watched as the two rode off.
After Dianna and Kyle left, Clark returned to bed while J'onn went exploring. Zauriel chose to stay at the house. He found a door at the back of the living room that opened up on to a deck. The view was spectacular. The cabin itself was located on the bend of a small mountain river. The water was shallow and fast moving but so clear that it was easy to see the many colored stones that lined the river's bottom. There was a waterfall located just up stream and it fed a water wheel, which provided water right up close to the house. From where he stood, he could see the mountain range brilliantly lit by the mid-morning sun. A deer noticed him as it was grazing across the stream. Both exchanged a long gaze before the deer returned to its eating. He stood there in silence and then lowered his head to pray, then fell to his knees. Although there was the sound of the river, for Zauriel there was so much quietness and he felt very alone. And for the first time, he had to allow himself to trust--to bare true faith because now he did not feel or hear those spiritual connections he had known since the beginning of time.
The silence was broken by haunting melody of a flute. It had a ghost like quality and it echoed through the area but did not kill the sounds of bird song or the soothing sound of the river. Zauriel looked around and his eyes finally found the source. Christine was sitting down by the river's bank not far off playing that flute. Zauriel did not move but just watch her play. Her fingers were nimble as she found the notes a created a beautiful song. However, to Zauriel the only thing more beautiful than the song was the woman who brought it to lift. She sat in the late morning rays of the sun and to him, she was bathed in Heaven's light. She didn't play for long before she brought the song to a close and then pulled the wooden flute from her lips. It was as if she felt him watching because she slowly turned her head to face him. A small smile rose to her lips and Zauriel started to raises his hand to wave before remembering she couldn't see him. He closed his hand and let it fall at his side. She suddenly stood as something caught her attention, carefully made her way back from the river and dissapeared behind the house. Zauriel was curious and went to follow her.
"Honestly, I won't hurt you." The large alien was offering his hand over the stall door to the even larger equine inside. He then felt a soft warm hand on his shoulder.
"It must be your voice. It's just new to her. Horses can't see very well so all men look alike to her." Then Christine opened the stall door. J'onn noticed that the woman had a small bucket hidden behind her. "But she has a weakness. Oats usually do the trick." She motioned for him to follow. He came up behind her. Claudia stood unsure and ready to bolt over the top of him until Christine revealed the bucket to her. The woman felt for J'onn's hand but found his wrist. She handed him the bucket and called the horse over with a series of clicking noises. J'onn attempted to duplicate the noise but was unsure of just how she did it. The horse stepped towards them cautiously but once she caught wind of what was in the bucket, her will power fell and the animal lowered her muzzle right into the bucket. Christine began to pet her neck. "Now slowly bring your hand up where she can see it."
The horse jerked her head back, startled at his motions; but then began to sniff at the alien hand and even proceeded closer to J'onn's face to inspect him. J'onn smiled and closed his eyes as he felt the animals hot breath upon his cold Martian skin. Then J'onn was allowed to reach out and pet the old horse as it returned to emptying the bucket of oats. "How extraordinary." The alien whispered.
"I think these horses have warmed up enough, let's stretch their legs a bit."
Behind Diana, Kyle grippped tightly to the saddle horn and bounced around in the saddle as the horse trotted at a horribly fast pace. Diana looked back and laughed as she gave the horse it's head and nudges the animal's ribs with her heels. The young colt lunged ahead and Kyle's horse followed.
"You're CRAZY!" Kyle yelled as the two raced down the steep trail. "What do you think this is? SNOWY RIVER!?" Diana laughed rather heartily at Kyle's comment. "Oh man, I'm going to get another concussion."
"Just lean back and grip with your legs."
"Is that why women love riding horses.to feel the power between their legs?"
Diana turned with a glare. "Are you ever going to grow up?"
A man in a janitor's suit works his way down a dimly lit hallway as he mops. He hears the noise going on inside one of the rooms--a boisterous group sitting around on black leather furniture. One man, an Aussie is showing off his skills with his boomerang along with everyone else who tries to impress the others in the room.
"Oh yeah. Well watch this." Mirror Master shouts out. "He pushes his hand right in to a mirror held in the other hand and then it appears behind Boomerang to tap him on the shoulder. "Boo!"
"Watch it, Mate! Now that just gives me the willies."two! Knock it off!" Morrow shouted. "We leave for the Watch Tower in 12 hours. Quit messing around and get your rest!"
"Sure thing mum. But can I have a drink of water first?"
A pair of blue eyes glares through the crack in the door watching the scene intently.
"I was curious why I hadn't heard from her in the last couple days. I was afraid that perhaps a predator had gotten her. I guess that tomcat is still around here. She must really like you J'onn if she is allowing you near the kittens. Normally, she allows me to pet her once and then she dashes off.
"Christine, forgive me if I over step my bounds but, why is such a lovely, young woman as yourself is without husband or a family of your own?" The Martian asked her as he held one of the kittens close to his chest.
"Oh, not at all Brother John." She seemed to find the question rather amusing. "The most serious reason is because of my beliefs. My mother, God Rest her soul, taught me what marriage should be as God wishes it. There have not been any men who share those beliefs.they only remember, 'Wives submit to your husbands.' They always forget to read the rest. Also the tribal men in these lands do not wish to be burdened with a blind wife or my father's farm. And the children won't come until I have selected the appropriate father."
"The rest?" J'onn asked not being able to recall the written text. Zauriel however quoted it word for word as though he were reading it out of the Bible with out flaw..
" 'Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.' Rarely do men take the second part to heart because they have the desire to dominate. 'Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her....' Of course, Christ came as a servant and teacher; and loved the church enough to bear all it's sins. He died as a sacrifice, so that those sins could be forgiven." Christine stood still and in awe of this man's knowledge of the scripture and how each word he spoke carried such serious meaning to him. Her lips were slightly parted as she listened to him. "Of course if you go back to the very first part of that chapter where it says for Man to be imitators of Go, it also becomes words spoken upon deaf ears."
J'onn's red eyes watched the two as they spoke to each other, both bringing up points in scripture. Although Zauriel did seem to have the upper hand, since he knew every version including the original. Yet Christine seemed to have interesting views on what the scripture could mean pertaining to certain circumstances--things that an angel would never have seen with out the perspective of being human.
"Forgive me, my friend. But it grows late in the day and I should be finishing dinner," Christine said after they had spoken for well over an hour. "I am sure the stew has had plenty of time to simmer, but it shall need more wood in the fire."
"Might I join you, Christine?" Zauriel asked.
"Of course." She said with a warm smile on her lips as she reached out to find his arm and then allowed him to lead the way, leaving J'onn to play with the kittens.
Later in the afternoon a pair of sweaty horses were ridden close to the fort. On one sat a tall, commanding woman; on the other hunched a dark haired man who was only inches away from falling out of his saddle.
"This has got to be a joke." Diana said as she pulled her horse up to a stop.
"What?" Kyle said; then he looked. "Oh."
What stood before them was in fact an army fort, built of logs. Patrolling troops marched along outside, passed by Calvary in the uniforms of the latter 1800's. Kyle and Diana stared in disbelief for a long while. Finally, Diana said,"Come on. We need to find out all we can."
Diana rode up to the gate. "And just what business do you have here little lady?" A scroungy-looking guard asked as he came up to her and looked her over with a hungry eye.Diana cleared her throat. "My husband and I just need to buy a few supplies and rest our horses for the night and then we will be on our way."
The man looked back at Kyle who was still trying to find a comfortable spot in his saddle and sneered in disgust. "Husband huh? All right. Come on through." He motioned them through as he spoke, "Head on over there to the stables where you can put up your horses, and across the way is the supply house." Diana nodded and making sure Kyle was able to follow she rode her horse in to the fort and towards the stables.
"Now don't get cocky, but I think to avoid conflict it's best for me to act as your wife," She said as she dismounted. "These men are very uncivilized in the way of treating others. They have absolutely no ability to reason."
Kyle nodded as he slid from the saddle and, unable to stand upright, waddled while rubbing his legs. "How can you even walk, WW?" He complained as he handed the reins over to Diana. She merely just shook her head, holding back a smug smile, and tied both horses up to a hitching post. She took a saddle bag from her horse's back and handed it to Kyle. She took a few coins from it and looked at them. "The latest date on these is 1845. That's over 150 years ago, Kyle." She looked around and spotted something that might help them. "Here is the list of supplies that Christine asked for. Go over there to the supply house and get what we need plus dinner. I am going to see if I can get us some help."
"But if we're in the past how can you."
"Just go Kyle."
"Fine." He again began to waddle towards the supply house. It wasn't much more than a slanted box with no floor set on the dirt. A few older soldiers chuckled at the youngster, who clearly had no business being on a horse. Kyle went in and walked up to the shop keep.
"What can I do fer ya, weary traveler?" a smelly and toothless older man asked. Kyle just forced a smile and handed him the list. "Ya got money?" Kyle replied with a smile and the jingle of the saddlebags. The store keep nodded and went to gather the supplies. Outside he could hear the angry voice of a man talking to another approaching the large shed that Kyle was in.
"I don't care what they say. We are moving tomorrow morning and by the next day that whole area will be ours." The man who spoke was tall and ranked as colonel. He was a lean man with a short beard and curled mustache. His hair was slightly curly and brown, and hung just above his shoulders. He stepped in to the supply house accompanied by a smaller, balding sergeant. The sergeant was still in his early thirties, but seemed much older in the eyes. He was clearly not happy with where he was at the moment.
"I just don't think it's right. I mean it is just one woman," the bald man said and then recoiled from the Colonel's glare. Then the colonel smiled with a gleam of malice in his eye.
"Come now. I would never go attack a single, blind woman. It would be just terrible should her life become one of the causalities when we go to fight the band of hostiles that have been spotted in that territory. After all we are just protecting the country's best interest." By this time Kyle had stepped aside so as not to be too obvious. "Speaking of which," the colonel continued, "how much gold did we recover today?"
"Ten pounds six ounces, Sir," the sergeant answered as if ashamed. "Of course that is over the course of a week. I doubt we will find much more with out actually mining."
"Hmm," the Colonel hummed thoughtfully to himself as he scanned over the interior of the storehouse and then started back out. "Well then, our timing will be perfect. Tomorrow when the troops head back up there, send them with some dynamite." As the Colonel continued to give his orders, the keeper came back with a full burlap sack.
"Here ya go. Everythin' that was on your list. That'll be three dollars and seventy cents." Kyle paid the man and then reached out for the bag. Without looking inside the burlap sack, Kyle said thanks and headed back over to find Diana. She was on her way back over to the horses when Kyle saw her. He continued over to the horses so as not to draw any more attention to himself if possible. When Diana arrived he told her everything he had heard. She heard Kyle's story and contemplated the best solution.
"Wait here," Diana said sternly. Diana walked over to one of the young stable keeps with a sensual smile, and he was more than happy to lend the lady two horses for an evening ride. Diana mounted a horses and rode to the gate. Kyle followed. They had some trouble getting out of the gate, but with the show of a little leg, the fat man allowed them to leave; and even warned them to be back before dark, because that is when they closed the gates.
Once out of site, Wonder Woman dug her heals in to the horse's side, and Kyle, although struggling with his broken arm and sore backside, was able to stay close behind Diana. "I don't care what time we are in or even if its real.but we are not going to let them kill innocent people!"
"But WW, if it is real won't we be interfering with that space-time continuum thing?"
"I honestly don't care, Kyle. Those people are going to kill that sweet girl, and I am not going to let that happen.not if I can do something to stop it. YAH!!!" Both horses raced down the trail digging up the earth as they go.
During the time she worked on dinner, she and Zauriel carried on an extensive and in depth conversation about Christianity and God. He helped her serve Clark his dinner upstairs and brought J'onn a hot bowl so he didn't have to leave the kittens.
"Let us continue our discussion outside," Christine suggested. Zauriel was more than happy to offer his hand and help her out to the deck. "Be careful, dear brother, or you shall spoil me."
"I find it hard to believe one such as yourself to ever spoil," he said with softness in his voice. "Christine, how did you loose your sight?"
She was hesitant, but then spoke after taking a deep breath, "Things started to blur when I was eight.by the time I was 12 my vision was completely gone, no light even.just darkness."
"How is it you became so well versed in the bible? I am sorry, I ask to many questions."
"Oh no not at all. We never learn if we do not ask. My mother, who was a white teacher, read to me up until the day she died, which was only a few years before my father. My father could never read the English language. But he would explain to me and show me how things worked around the farm and helped me to deal with my lack of sight. Like how to tell what time of the day it is. Not that it matters since I need no light."
"But you can't see the light of the sun, correct?"
"Even though I cannot see it, I can feel it. Only the clouds will occasionally block its rays. It helps me remember that there is light in the world, even though I live in darkness. I can tell the sun is setting by where the heat comes from.over there.low on the horizon and just about to disappear behind the mountains. The evening birds sing their song and the day birds have taken to their nests. Soon only the hoot of owls and the howl of wolves will be heard," she said smiling softly, though her eyes seemed to strain as though she were trying to see that light.
Zauriel watched her expression with intenseness, noting the movement of her lips and the way the light reflecting off the water danced over her beautiful features. "You're right, the sun is setting now."
"Please describe it to me, Zauriel?" She asked him as she reached out to find his hand. He looked down to watch his hand turn palm side up so that she might lay her delicate hands in his. His red eyes came to look back at the sky and then after a short moment in silence he began to speak.
"The mountain peaks are a dark purple, shadowed by their own mass from the brilliant golden rays of the setting sun. The clouds above us are pink on the side that face west and dimmed purple on the side that faces away. And there are thin clouds that sit low in the sky and they are gold.gold like the eyes of Jesus on the day he rose from the grave. But that gleaming beauty falls short of the luminous splendor I see in your eyes, nor does the majesty of the mountains compare to the strength in your heart, Christine."
She was lost for words as his comment took her by surprise. Slowly her lips parted as a hope began to fill her heart at the possibility of finding a true friend and possibly love, but she could not even put words to what she felt. "Zauriel.I." Her blind gaze directed towards the flowing water as she searched for a way to change the subject. "Your name.it is truly heavenly. What is it's origin?"
He was unsure if he had over stepped a line, but all day he had felt himself wanting to know more about this precious creature before him. He had entered a world unlike anything he had experienced. He could feel the coolness of the breeze and the softness of her touch and now it pained him whenever she withdrew it from him. He could hear the song of the stream and the tenderness in her voice. He could smell the fragrance of the flowers and the sweetness of her perfume. When she asked that question he was quiet. "I guess you would say it is 'heavenly' for that would be the closest of it's origin."
"And what about your origin? Where do you come from?" she asked him.
He chuckled. "As you said lady, I fell from heaven."
"More likely you were crawling around on my barn roof hiding from something. But your voice.it's not like anything I have ever heard. So strong and yet at the same time so smooth, so comforting. I guess that is what I find most likeable about it. You make me feel so safe like a guardian angel." Then she sighed as Zauriel smirked ever so slightly. But then she went on. "Just having you here has been a blessing. I have been so alone. It's like God has answered my prayers." Again she reached out and found his hand as though it brought her comfort. At that moment a chilling evening breeze swept over them and Christine recoiled into Zauriel's chest with a shiver. "Perhaps we should go in." Zauriel's heart seemed to jump in his chest as she pressed against him.
"As you wish, Dear Lady," he said with an even softer voice as he helped her inside.
"I think a fire will be in order this evening."
"Here, allow me," he offered as he helped her over to the wicker couch.
"You are going to spoil me." She chuckled.
"It's the least I can do. You have taken such good care of us, and we are just strangers to you," He said as he began to build a fire.
"Now you of all people should know that if I wish to do my part as a good Christian woman, I wouldn't do it any other way."
"Yes, I suppose you're right."
As the dry kindling began to crackle with flame, Zauriel blew a few breaths on it and the dry pieces of chopped timber began to grow in to a cheerful flame. "Now tell me, where did you get all these horse sculptures. They resemble your horse. Did you collect them? I really like this one in the red clay." He stood admiring her collection on the walls.
Christine grinned. "Which one? Bring it here." As Zauriel carefully lifted the figurine of the horse, she began to explain. "I did most of these myself. If you look you will see the progression. I started doing them when I began to loose my sight. Claudia was my favorite because she was alive and she would actually hold still for me to study. She wouldn't shift her weight on me to often."
"This is really quite incredible, Christine," he said as he placed the sculpture in her hand.
"Oh Yes. This was the last one I did, just this past winter. I suppose someday I should take up a new subject. But I love the way her coat feels, especially in the summer when it's sleek and so soft. Your hands are amazingly soft, too. Such a contrast to the muscles in your arms." She placed the horse aside and once more found his hand and brought it before her. With both hands she began to explore the intricate details of his. Tracing the veins over and over, caressing the bones below the ivory skin and reading the details of his finger nails and palm. Zauriel's eyes watched her and said nothing. His heart began to beat faster with the simplicity of her presence. Then she set his hand down. "Zauriel?"
"Yes Dear lady."
"May I see what you look like?"
"As you wish." He said with a broken whisper. She leaned forward as did he. She began to raise her hands and he helped with his own to guide them to his face. At first she felt where his features were set, then began to explore the details. The noble angle of his brow, the silk like texture of his eyes lids, the length of his lashes and the way they tickled her fingertips when he blinked. She took time to study the arch of his nose and the bridge of his cheeks, the strength of his jaw and then something most unexpected.. The passion in his lips. As her thumb crossed over the white flesh she felt them tremble. He swallowed hard and took in a deep breath. She began to lean closer to him now with her hands still on his cheeks as he watched as her head began to tilt slightly and felt himself being pulled into the kiss by his own will. Their lips came within less than an inch of touching. Zauriel pressed instead his forehead to hers to stop what was taking place. "Christine, there is something you should know first."
Immediately she began to pull back from him, feeling rather ashamed and embarrassed. "No, No," Zauriel said, "it's all right. Just continue your study first." Her face was perplexed at what was going on, but as he requested she continued down his neck and then down his shoulders. Moving her hands over his muscles slowly, almost trembling now, never sure of what she was doing. Zauriel's hand began to duplicate her movements. He touched his hands to her face and went through the same motions. His hand caressed her cheek and as he did she pressed lightly against it. His stroke continued down her neck. He ran his hand over her breast and pressed his palm against it. Christine took in a deep breath but his hand did not remain there. Instead moved and touched the place over her heart. "This is the most precious thing I have ever known." He lowered his head further towards her as he embraced her body until his ear lay over her heart. She cradled his head in her chest. Her hand we nt to caress his back but found something quite shocking.
A gasp was heard from her but she did not with draw away from him. Instead she proceeded with shaking hands over his wings. "This can not be," were the words she spoke with little more than a breath passing over her lips. "How can this be?"
Zauriel did not wish to release her body but did and rose to look at her. He found her cheeks glistening with tears. He allowed one wing to remain with in her reach and he watched as her hands ran over the feathers, listening to the rasping sound, as they would rub together beneath her touch. He took the blanket from the back of the couch and wrapped it around her. Then he drew her in to his arms.
"Just be with me this night." His voice was only a whisper but it pleaded to her. She turned her body and lay back into his embrace. His hands clenched the fabric of the blanket, and then released. As he did, he laid a tender kiss on the nape of her neck. Neither spoke more than a few words to each other for many hours into the night. They were content to be close th each other. Zauriel held her body firmly to his as her head was rested back on his shoulder. His lips would find their way to her neck occasionaly and they remained that way till morning's light began to pale the sky.
"Listen up! Captian Cold and Ivy. you're with me. Holograms on," Morrow ordered as he pressed a button on the band wrapped around his wrist. He was transformed into Superman. Captain Cold became Green Lantern and Ivy became Wonder Woman.
"Lookin' good there, Sheila!" Boomerang whistled. Ivy returned a serious glare.
"Silence!" Morrow shouted. "Now Mirror Master and Boomerang will stay here. Mirror Master, you are responsible for getting us out--Boomerang! I told you stay away from that. The last thing we need is to end up with the JLA right here. Now let's get to the transports. We will only have a short window."
"It's already dawn. The horses are done." Diana said as she dismounted from her animal. " I think we only have a couple miles left. We can go the rest of the way on foot."
"So what? We just leave the horses here?"
"Look at them, Kyle. If we ask any more of them we are going to kill them. Now come on!" She began stripping the saddle and bridle from her horse.
Kyle slipped off his horse, patted its frothy neck that was dripping in sweat, and followed Diana's example. "All right." The two tossed the tack off to the side of the trail including the saddlebag and supplies they had gotten. Then they headed off at a fast jog up the hill. They arrived back at the camp just as the sun was clearing the treetops. J'onn was out in the barnyard feeding the chickens with a content smile on his Martian face.
"Well, well if it isn't farmer J'onn," Kyle said between breaths.
"Shut Up, Kyle." Wonder Woman scolded as she ran up to J'onn. "Where is Christine?!"
"The dear lady is in the cabin with Zauriel, finishing breakfast." He said. Diana ran for the cabin and Kyle fell to his knees. "Diana.What's wrong?" J'onn asked as dropped the bucket of seed on the ground and ran after her.
Diana barged in the cabin door and looked towards the kitchen where she found Zauriel and Christine holding hands. For a moment she was a bit taken back, but the emergency at hand was far too important. Christine and Zauriel both turned towards Diana. "What is it Diana? We were not expecting you until this afternoon." Zauriel noticed the urgency in Diana actions and become concerned.
"Christine, we have to get you out of here. You were right about the Colonel. He is after your land and he is coming.Today! Let's get you packed and out of here. He is bringing up around 50 men with weapons. I am sorry but there is no way we can fight that many. And according to Kyle he plans to kill you."
Christine paused as pain swept over her face and then she stood up. "No! I am not leaving my father's land!"
"We have no time to." Diana began but Zauriel held up a hand and then he turned to Christine placing his hand on her shoulder. Diana just nodded and left the cabin.
"Please.Christine. I know this place is special to you but it is not worth your life." She lowered her head as a tear escaped and rolled down her cheek. Her arms folded in front of her to bring her some comfort to the situation. Zauriel wrapped his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "I don't want to loose you." Those words seemed to be enough and she turned and hugged him tightly hesitantly nodding in agreement.
"As long as I am with you.
"Come on, let's get you things packed. I am sure we have enough time to get most of your things out of here."
Kyle and Diana looked to one another and then to J'onn who stood smiling at Zauriel and Christine.
"Did we miss something?" Kyle asked.
"No, like this Diana, she just isn't used to strangers." J'onn was out showing Diana how to win Claudia's trust. "There, now we can get her into harness. I think she is just nervous because of how rushed you are Diana or it may have to do with the storm coming in."
"Kyle, have you got that axel fixed yet?" Diana asked.
Kyle crawled out from underneath the wagon wiping his hands. "Yeah, that should do it! It was just the wood that was broke. I braced it well enough, I think."
The Colonel dismounted from his horse and knelt down to inspect the tracks. "They think they're clever, but not clever enough. The tracks of these horses are much lighter than the ones we have been following. Ah, look there. The saddles. They were trying to throw us off the path. It seems our friend has guests. She's gonna want to fight." He stood and remounted his horse. "Sergeant! Let's move out. I want a barrier set up around the farm 500 feet in all directions. I think we need to give our little 'Injun' woman and her friends a nice army roast. Hurry up, just a couple miles to go!"
The sergeant was not happy with how things were going, and with hesitation he called out the orders."You see, Sergeant. I knew when those two left the fort it meant trouble. Who knows how many others she has up here?"
"Hey Boomerang aren't you supposed to be watchin' .wait. What are ya watchin there?"
"Braveheart!" Boomerang answered through a mouth full of popcorn."
"Really?" Mirror Master settled in next to Boomerang grabbing a handful of popcorn from Boomerang's bowl.
"How many times do I need to explain this to you, Cold? We take the items we need, and in using them for the next stage of the plan, we destroy the JLA for good. Now grab the Artificial Kryptonite. Ivy, get those keys and I will get Kirby's Dots. After all they are the essential piece that will make this all work." Morrow began walking towards the stand where the dots were located.
As Captain Cold reached for the kryptonite his hands passed right through it. "Huh?"
And so did Ivy's hands in the case where the Cosmic Keys were located. "What? This isn't funny Morrow."
"What do you mean?" T.O. Morrow went to grab the dots and his hand passed right through it. "What!?! NO!" His hands were frantic as they tried to grab the jar containing the dots but he found no success. Suddenly the lights wnet out and spotlights turned on, located right on the three intruders. Their holographic disguises vanished.
Aztek appeared under another light. "I hope you enjoy your stay here," he said, "because you are going to be here for quite a while." The lights came on and the three found themselves in an electric cell.
"Quick, Ivy! The mirror!" Morrow shouter at her. She pulled out a roll from the pack on her back. When she unrolled it, it was a large reflective surface. "Morrow to Mirror Master. Now! . Mirror Master? Boomerang?" The three would be crooks look at each other and then finally acknowledge their defeat.
Back at Marrow's office, Boomerang and Mirror Master were enjoying a fight scene from Braveheart in full theater surround sound. Over on the table next to the snow-globe, the beeping pager was going completely unnoticed.
Tar was laid thick on the forest floor all around the farm and right up to the waters edge. "Prepare to light the fire on my command," called out the Colonel's voice as several troops lit torches and stood ready. From overhead there was a flash of lightning followed by the roll of thunder.
"I'm sorry sir but this isn't right. I just can't let you kill that girl." The sergeant said as he cocked his pistol from behind the colonel. The large man dismounted from his horse and began to walk toward the sergeant.
"Oh come now, you don't think you are really going to kill me? You are already committing treason, and for what? A half Indian witch? Lower your pistol, soldier."
"No. I said nothing when you killed her father. An Indian he may have been, but enough is enough." The sergeant still held the gun aimed at the colonel, his hands shaking terribly. The colonel stood only inches in front of the barrel. Men began to gather around, curious of the dispute as another clap of thunder was issued from above.
"So now you're going to shoot me?"
"If I have." The sergeant began, but the Colonel smacked the pistol from the sergeant's hand; and then delivered a punched to his face, knocking the smaller man to the ground. The gun hit the ground and fired, the bullet striking one of the torch holders in the foot. The man dropped his torch. The flames ignited the dry pine needles of the forest floor.
The small blaze traveled along the ground quickly, with the help of the mountain breeze to feed it, and it soon hit the trail of tar. In an instant there was a wall of fire. The colonel laughed in joyful victory. But the sergeant wasn't done. He stood and ran at the Colonel, and hit him from behind, knocking him into one of the wagons. The Colonel flailed his arms about for balance, but grabbed one of the half empty buckets of tar and dumped it, blinding himself. He stumbled around and stepped right on to a torch, He burst into flames, a pyre of screaming chaos. Blindly, he fell into the flames of the now burning forest.
The Sergeant wiped the blood from his lip and cried out, "Hurry! Get those wagons and the men out of here! Move! Move!" Then men were quick to respond. The sergeant watched in horror as the forest began to consume inward. The dryness of the summer forest didn't stand a chance against the growing inferno. With tears in his eyes he turned away and grabbed the colonel's horse. There was nothing he could do for the woman now. He mounted the horse as the rain began to fall from the black cloud looming overhead.
When the shot was fired, Claudia reared up her head. Diana and Kyle looked in horror at each other. "The colonel got here a lot sooner than we expected," Diana said as she buckled the last strap onto the horse. "Hurry, you and J'onn get inside and let's get Clark and the others." Even J'onn stopped, who was tucking in the kittens in the back of the wagon. As they stepped onto the porch, J'onn seen from the corner of his eye smoke beginning to billow in the tree tops and like a wall closes them in as it began to turn orange with flame.
"What is it J'onn?"
"We have something far more serious to worry about!" He pointed to the billowing smoke and orange glow. J'onn began to breath heavily and sweat as his eyes filled with fear.
"Great Hera! He's going to try and burn the whole place down. HURRY! Everybody get out! J'onn? J'onn!" She grabbed his shoulder and made him look at her. "Just focus on the task at hand and the fire won't hurt us. All right?" J'onn quickly nodded although his eyes darted back to the approaching fire.
Zauriel saw the fear in Diana and went to look outside for himself. "Dear God! Christine, quick, we have to get you out of here." He limped over to her and began to lead her out and down towards the stream. With her in his arms despite the pain in his ankle, he waded across the cold waters then sat her on the river's bank.
"I will wait here. Go back and get the others. I will be all right down here until you get back." Her expression was so sad but she forced a smile. "It must be for this reason God made me blind.so I wouldn't have to watch this happen."
Zauriel knelt before her and kissed her lips and wiped the rain from her face which did little to hide the tears that were rolling down her cheeks.. "I will be back for you." He held her tight for a moment and then headed back across the water.
J'onn helped Diana get Clark down the stairs. When they stepped outside, their eyes were met with an awful site. The sky was going dark with the storm and the flames had already taken the back of the barn and in a short time would soon claim the house. "Hurry!" Zauriel shouted to his friends. Christine is waiting for us down at the water's edge.
But Christine was not waiting for them. She remembered Claudia was being hitched to the wagon in the barn. As soon as Zauriel had left, she began to cross the river. The rocks were slick and she tripped and fell into the water. It picked up her light body and rolled her down away until she regained her feet and she tried again. Soon she made it back to the other side and she started for the barn.
With the help of Zauriel, Kyle had gathered a lot of food from the kitchen along with some blankets to get them through the night. J'onn and Diana got Clark to the other side. "Hold up. I have to go back." J'onn stated.
"But why?" Kyle asked, but the whinny of a frightened horse was the answer.
"No! Wait! Christine! Where's Christine?!" Zauriel began to fight the water's currentas he headed back. Lightning crashed overhead and thunder boomed. Rain began to fall in torrents but provided no aid against the fire.
Inside the barn, Christine worked fast to release her dear friend from her harness. A beam had fallen, wedged the wagon and had trapped Claudia. The massive horse danced about in a frenzy trying to break free, and came very close to stepping on the woman who was trying to save her. She would rear, and Christine would loose her place on the harness and have to start over again. "Just one more. There!" The animal broke free and charged out of the barn leaving the Christine stranded behind.
Zauriel cleared the riverbank to see a frightened and charging draft horse race towards him. He moved aside and the animal went splashing into the river below. He turned back to the burning barn and saw Christine stumbling about just outside the barn that was consumed in flames. He began to rush towards her as the barn started to crumble behind her.
"No, like this." Captain Boomerang twirled his weapon around his fingers.
"Aye, just showin' the intelligence of the Aussies. as if you can ever stop Flash with those things. Do you think being able to do that is ever going to get you anywhere in life?" Mirror Master commented as he polished the large mirror in front of him.
"Oh yeah, take that ye ol Kelt Boy!" The Captain hurled a boomerang right at Mirror Master's head. The Mirror Master held up the mirror in defense, with the reflective side facing the on coming attack. The boomerang passed right through only to come out through a mirror at the other end of the room and smash right into the snow-globe, shattering the glass.
In unison the two criminals assess the situation. "Uh-oh." And then both rann for the door, only to find it locked.
"Christine! CHRISTINE!" He called out to her. His voice was barely able to break over the raging inferno of the forest fire.
"Zauriel?" She said searching for him with her hands out into the darkness. She slipped in the slick mud and fell to her hands. As she fought to regain her footing, a brilliant flash of light formed behind Zauriel, and a vortex appeared pulling him toward it.
"No.not yet.NO! NO! " His hands clawed into the mud as he tried to crawl toward her. With only human strength available to him, he attempted to beat his wings against the vortex's suction. Then he watched with terrified eyes. "Christine! CHRISTINE NOOOOO!" he cried, his voice almost a scream, as the burning barn crumbled down on her small body, engulfing her in flames. Zauriel could only watch as he was pulled back into the vortex.
A small whirlwind spun on the floor near the broken globe, and the missing Justice League stood before Captain Boomerang, all restored to their full powers and health. It took them a moment to get their bearings as Batman stepped from his hiding place in a shadowy corner.
"I hope you all enjoyed your vacation. You lot are awful 'bout takin' time off." Boomerang wryly commented. Zauriel's eyes flared brightly as he drew his sword and flew directly at him, grabbing the villian up by the collar of his shirt and crashing through a window with him. "Oh My God.He's going to kill me!"
"Zauriel! No!" Diana yelled at him. Zauriel held Boomerang out at arm's length, almost 10 stories above the busy streets below.
"God? You really want to meet your maker?" Zauriel asked him as he held his sword ready. Completely in shock by the angel's rage, Boomerang was lost for words and hung terrified.
"Zauriel. I don't think that is what she would have wanted." Diana said from the window. Zauriel lowered his head even though his wings still beat. He brought Boomerang back to the window and threw him on to the floor. The rest of the group turned to look at Mirror Master, who held his hands up in immediate defeat without uttering a word.
Back at the Watch Tower, the tale of their adventure was told to the other JLA members, minus the viewpoints of two absent members. Batman explained that once he received Diana's telegraph from the past, he went through a list of all villains capable of sending people back through time. He was able to find out through some interrogating that Dr. Kilgrave was one of the villians Neron struck a deal with. Batman tracked down the most likely place Kilgrave would be and set up watch. That is where he discovered his plans. He then warned Aztek of the danger and preparations were made. Batman also knew that it would be just a matter of time that with Boomerang's loud mouth in the mix, he would find out where the missing members were. He didn't have to look far.
Zauriel stood along the familiar riverside where the remnants of burnt stumps mingled amongst a renewed forest. He turned and began to walk away from the riverbank. As he stepped, he felt something crack below his foot. When he moved the dirt and ashes away, he found a clay horse. The sculpture had been fired in the heat of the cabin's blaze and remained safe in the ground. Zauriel fell hard to his knees and bowed his head low. His arms hung loose in his lap as he held the horse. He then felt a hand on his shoulder.
"I know why these things happen. I understand why God allows this to happen.but not even for one beat of my heart can I find a shred of comfort in it." He held up the clay horse to J'onn who stood beside him, along with the broken leg. "I think you should have this."
"Thank you, Zauriel. Come on Friend. It's getting late." The Martian said patting his friend on the shoulder.
"I will be along soon."
J'onn nodded slowly and then took to the sky. Zauriel stayed kneeling on the forest floor fighting to hold back the tears. After a while, he took a deep, painful breath the slowly rose to his feet. As he turned to leave his eyes fell on the woman his heart was so longing for. She was standing there silently smiling at him, looking into his eyes. He could see through her ethereal form to the river behind her. She was not as he remembered her. Instead of some thread-worn cloth garment, she was dressed in a white doe skin dress, her hair was allowed to flow freely and her eyes were as gold as the sun as they made contact with his. He swallowed hard and walked to her. She was glowing in the sunbeams that still made their way over the mountain peaks. No words were exchanged as they reached out to each other to take the others hands only to have hers pass without touch through his. He reached out and traced the line that would have been her cheek. Her eyes closed as her head til ted as though she could feel his touch.
"Why didn't you come find me in Heaven?" He whispered.
"You would not have known me if I had, and you had many things to do." She told him with a soft, voice that seemed to come from all directions.
"But why remain here? Why not in Heaven?" He looked at her in confusion.
"This is heaven for me. I remain here until you are no longer needed here. You have much to do."
"But Christine, that could be a very long time."
She continued to smile. "What is a long time compared to eternity? For that is what we will spend together when you tasks here are done." She began to fade as the sun continued to set.
"No. Please wait." He begged as he alabaster cheeks were wet with tears.
"You're even more handsome than my hands remember." She said with her diminishing voice. "It's getting late."
"You are right, the sun is setting now." He said as he looked to the mountains. When he looked back to here, she was gone. He looked around and then bowed his head. Slowly he turned and took flight, not looking back.
"Please describe it to me, Zauriel?"
"The mountain peaks are a dark purple shadowed by their own mass from the brilliant golden rays of the setting sun. The clouds above us are pink on the side that face west and dimmed purple on the side that faces away. And there are thin clouds that sit low in the sky and they are gold.gold like the eyes of Jesus on the day he rose from the grave. But that gleaming beauty falls short of the luminous splendor I see in your eyes, nor does the majesty of the mountains compare to the strength in your heart, Christine."
The ghost of his love walked on bare feet over the ground, step by step into the middle of the clearing, and watched him fly away.
All characters are © DC Comics
This piece is © 2003 by Rosaline Terrill
Artwork is © 2003 by Rosaline Terrill
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