Fanfiction - Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?catselect=general Fanfiction - Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum en-us Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum Mon, 25 May 2020 20:34:28 GMT http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss YaBB 2.7.00 Revision: 1988 30 Fanfiction Related - A small error in The Return https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1489954944/1#1 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfiction Related https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1489954944/1#1 Sun, 19 Mar 2017 20:34:29 GMT Got it - will get to the pdf and epub versions tomorrow. Fanfic - The Return - 14/15 https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1268684585/1#1 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1268684585/1#1 Sun, 19 Mar 2017 20:26:22 GMT There's a small error in this chapter - When Linda is talking to the Jor-El AI about DNA, at one point I call it Kal-El, not Jor-El. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be possible to edit it after so long. Fanfic - FDK Supergirl Returns 16: Singularity Syndrome 1 https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1473190722/1#1 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1473190722/1#1 Fri, 3 Feb 2017 03:13:08 GMT I found it quite enjoyable.  Hopefully we will see more of this tale.<br /><br />Also I did go and read the other tale you suggested.<br /><br />Thanks <br /><br />Patrick Fanfic - Supergirl Returns 16 - Singularity Syndrome - 1/?? https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1473189383/0#0 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1473189383/0#0 Tue, 6 Sep 2016 19:16:23 GMT This is the first part of a story set in the universe of my <i>Supergirl Returns</i> series, a variant DC universe with multiple crossovers, although Supergirl is not the main character in this story.<br /><br />This is a multiple crossover – the main fandoms are the DC universe and CSI, others will be noted at the end of chapters as they appear in the stories, with more detailed notes at the end. All belong to their creators, publishers, production companies etc., not to me, and there is no intent to infringe on copyright or deprive them of income. This story may not be distributed on a profit-making basis.<br /><br />Note: Earlier stories set in the <i>Supergirl Returns</i> series have referred to a CSI TV show. However, it isn’t the CSI show we know, and characters are completely different, though modelled very loosely on the real Las Vegas crime lab. Whose staff happen to be the people we know from <i>our</i> CSI TV show… In CSI terms this is some time after Gil Grissom left Las Vegas, but well before the show ended.<br /><br /><div><b>Singularity Syndrome</b><br /><i>Marcus L. Rowland</i><br />I</div><br /><br /><b>Las Vegas – Friday</b><br /><br />There was a storm front crossing Las Vegas, drenching late-night travellers as they scurried between casinos, bars, clubs and hotels. Miles out in the desert, outside the storm’s path, the only sign of its passage was an occasional flicker of lightning on the horizon, momentarily out-shining the full moon and the sky glow of the city’s lights.<br /><br />She had no good reason to visit the old ghost town, just memories. She’d once come here expecting to die; surviving had finally driven her to confront her personal demons. She’d found a kind of inner peace, and her will, always strong, had given her the strength to make a full recovery. She’d faced her fears and won… won what?<br /><br />She wasn’t sure. Maybe it was time to move on; Las Vegas wasn’t the only city in the world, and it was one where her past could never be forgotten. A change of some sort would be good. Maybe…<br /><br />The thought died still-born as something roared across the sky. It was like nothing she’d ever seen before, a streamlined shape combining characteristics of jet fighters and submarines, shedding debris as it banked steeply and seemed to aim towards the city, losing altitude fast. Something experimental out of area 51, perhaps; why didn’t the pilot eject? It plowed into the desert maybe a mile away, slid a few hundred feet, and crashed into rocks. She braced herself for an explosion, but none came.<br /><br />She checked her phone – no bars – ran for her SUV, and drove towards the wreck. Somehow it never occurred to her to be scared.<br />As she got closer she could see more details. It wasn’t as big as she’d originally thought, maybe the size of an executive aircraft, with a low wide fuselage and stubby wings that didn’t seem capable of holding anything in the air. In the moonlight she could see brown gas boiling from its interior, rising in a plume towards the sky. The left-hand side of the hull had a huge gash, revealing complex machinery filling its interior, like nothing she’d ever seen before. There was writing on its side, but nothing she recognized; complex characters that didn’t resemble any alphabet she knew. Alien.<br /><br />Everyone knew that aliens existed; you couldn’t deny it when Superman and Supergirl were on national news several times a week. Maybe it was another Kryptonian – she thought of Zod and his friends, but remembered that they hadn’t used a ship – maybe something else.<br /><br />As she stopped she heard a faint voice, just two words: “Help me…”<br /><br />She went to see what she could do.<br /><br />She’d never really thought about the word ‘alien’ until she looked inside the cramped cockpit. The pilot was definitely not human; humanoid, yes, in having two arms and two legs, two eyes and a mouth, but there the resemblance ended. His skin was purple, creased and lined in ways unlike any human face. He wore a green, white and black costume, and his head turned towards her, weakly, as she pried open the canopy.<br /><br />“I hadn’t expected you so soon,” he said.<br /><br />She realised that his lips weren’t moving. Telepathy?<br /><br />“Expected me?”<br /><br />“My name is Abin Sur,” the alien said. “I am one of the Green Lanterns for Sector 2814; I think your equivalent would be something like a Marshal. It is my job to enforce the law between worlds in this region of space. And I am dying.”<br /><br />“I can try to get help. There’s no signal here, but if I take you to Las Vegas…”<br /><br />“I’m dying, and there’s nothing to be done about it, except find someone to carry on my work. And here you are…”<br /><br />“Here I am what?”<br /><br />“I thought I would have to search you out, but here you are.”<br /><br />“I’m not a cop; Nothing like one.”<br /><br />“The qualities of a Green Lantern are courage, both physical and mental, a sense of morality, imagination, and above all strength of will. You are amply qualified.”<br /><br />She stared at him. “A sense of morality? Me?”<br /><br />“You are prepared to do what is right, not what is expedient or safe. You are eminently worthy.”<br /><br />“I have responsibilities.”<br /><br />“You were thinking that you needed a new challenge. I have one for you.”<br /><br />“I’m really not the right person for this.”<br /><br />“If you’re sure… one last request then, please.”<br /><br />“What do you want me to do?”<br /><br />“I must destroy this ship before I die, your species is not yet ready for the technology it contains, but the Corps will need to know what happened to me. The ring on my right hand holds a record. Please take it, keep it safe. When this world is found again, pass it on to my successor.”<br /><br />Hesitantly, she reached out and touched his hand. It was warm, but felt smooth like the scales of a snake. There was a chunky green ring on his middle finger, like a large fraternity ring made of translucent green stone. The circular face bore a symbol resembling a zero with lines above and below – Sur had the same insignia on the uniform he was wearing, and she’d seen something like it on the spaceship’s hull.<br /><br />“Please, take the ring. If you think that it’s unattractive, imagine it in a form that pleases you, it will take that form. Put it on, and keep it safe.”<br /><br />She hesitantly took the ring, and it shrank in her hand to a delicate band, like the finest carved jade, the symbol reduced to a few millimeters in diameter. “It’s beautiful.”<br /><br />“It responds well to you, to your will. You would have made an excellent Green Lantern. Please… put it on, and keep it safe. Good… now leave me.”<br /><br />“Are you sure?”<br /><br />“Leave!”<br /><br />The strength of his thought drove her back, and she retreated out of the ship. As she clambered down she felt his ‘voice’ again: “One more thing… please don’t think too harshly of me.”<br /><br />The ring glowed green, and she felt something encase her body – a cocoon of green energy that gently embraced and supported her, held her immobile. She rose into the air at incredible speed, the ground dropping away below her and the sky darkening, her overwhelming emotion awe. Soon she was surrounded by stars, and the Earth was a ball beneath her, dwindling in size as she flew into space. Somehow she had no trouble breathing. The stars blurred into streaks of light, blue ahead of her and red behind her, until she seemed to be streaking along a tunnel of light. Suddenly something loomed ahead of her; a sphere… no, a world… radiating beams of green light into space. She blinked, felt ground under her feet, and stumbled forward, suddenly able to move again. She looked around, and saw alien-looking architecture; huge buildings, pillars and weird shapes she couldn’t easily describe. Something moved at the edge of her vision, and she turned to see a huge flying form land about thirty feet away; a hulking brute with orange-brown skin and a gaping tusked maw, wearing the same green uniform as Abin Sur. It seemed to grin at her as it said “Welcome to Oa, poozer.”<br /><br /><div>==<br />(O)<br />==</div><br /><br />Abin Sur watched as she vanished into the sky then issued his last commands to the Lantern that powered the ship. It flew out to the ground vehicle the native had arrived in, encased it in energy, and flew it back towards the home location he’d plucked from her thoughts, staying low and blocking radar returns to avoid detection. As it flew it erased her footprints and the vehicle’s tracks.<br />There were primitive aircraft closing in on the ship. He inhaled, shuddered with pain, and triggered the self-destruct. By the time the first helicopter arrived there was nothing left but a scorch mark and a long gouge in the desert sand.<br /><br /><b>Oa</b><br /><br />“All right, poozer,” said Kilowog, “today’s exercise simulates a mass attack by a mind-controlled mob. Your job is to stop the attack and neutralise the mind control, if possible without anyone getting hurt. Any questions?"<br /><br />“Would you give me answers?”<br /><br />"Nope."<br /><br />Suddenly she was standing on an alien-looking street, its surface muddy soil, with tree-sized purple fungi growing in neat rows and rounded buildings made of a material like adobe. Yellow creatures resembling decaying termites advanced from all directions moaning "Brains... brains..."<br /><br />"Ass." Kilowogg must have taken the zombie imagery from her memories. The creatures were yellow, so ring constructs couldn’t affect them directly. No point trying to fight them hand to hand, knowing Kilowogg they would be strong enough to give her problems, even with the strength boost her costume gave her. And the ring’s force field wouldn’t stop them touching her, she reminded herself. She flew up, hovering twenty feet above the street, and looked around. A hatch opened on the nearest roof and termites were scrambling towards her, and she wondered how far they could jump as she rose another twenty feet.<br />What did she have to work with? What could her ring affect? The buildings, but she couldn’t risk demolishing them and hurting anyone. The fungi? The mud? From this height she could see more of the surrounding area; more buildings, all roughly the same size, curving around the shore of a big lake. Okay…<br /><br />She formed a fire-fighting boat on the lake and started it pumping jets of water into the air, and a giant fan to blow it towards the town. Soon it was raining heavily, and the termites were slipping and bogging down in the mud. That was slowing them down, making it less likely they’d hurt themselves – she flew a few yards to make the termites on the roof follow her away from the edge, and discourage them from trying to form a pyramid – but it wasn’t solving the problem. What was controlling them? <br /><br />She looked around again, hoping to spot an anomaly, and realised that one of the fungus trees was taller and broader than the rest, and surrounded by thirty or so zombie termites who weren’t trying to chase her. Guards? It seemed plausible. She materialised a giant chainsaw, about fifty feet long, and swung it at the tree, and watched lumps of foamy material fly off to reveal metal underneath. It was something that didn’t belong there; probably a ship. She created a swarm of giant green Woody Woodpeckers and set them to work, and in moments the ship was revealed, an inverted triple ice cream cone with a bulbous tip like a minaret about twenty feet across. The bulb had several windows, and inside it she could see a creature like a giant purple-grey starfish, its single central eye gazing balefully at her.<br /><br />She felt something trying to slide into her thoughts and hardened her shields to repel the mental assault, conjuring up a mental image of the time she’d visited China and eaten starfish from a street food stall; she concentrated on the memory of cracking the hard outer skin open, scooping out the inner flesh, and eating it, and tried not to dwell on the taste. The starfish rolled into a defensive ball, one arm snaking out to a control panel which she guessed operated weapons. She hardened her shield and set the woodpeckers to work on the canopy over the starfish, repelling its mental assault and trying to remember if she’d ever been told about the creatures. On the street below the termites were looking confused; she guessed the mental control was slipping.<br /><br />She dodged a bright red beam from the tip of the onion, and had one of the woodpeckers squat on the tip. When the weapon fired again there was a loud explosion, and the starfish jerked and wriggled as though electrified. She remembered the creatures now, an aggressive group mind that had come close to dominating the galaxy on several occasions. There was something she needed to remember, but she was consumed with rage, determination to make the creature suffer. She wanted to tear it into hundreds of pieces, and scatter the pieces so that it would never be… That wasn’t her thought! She concentrated again on thoughts of crushing the starfish’s outer surface open and eating the flesh, and remembered why it was a bad idea to throw bits away – even the tiniest piece could regenerate into a smaller starfish, fully capable of dominating a mind or two. And the pieces would eat until they were the size of the original creature.<br /><br />The dome finally shattered and she scooped the starfish out with a pair of green tongs, formed a ball of force around it, and dragged it up into space. The power ring could keep her alive for several hours, but she didn’t need that long – she used its navigational functions to plot a course to termite-world’s sun, materialised a gigantic tennis racquet, and hit the ball into space – her will shaping forces that would continue to accelerate the ball for hours. It would take a few days to get there, but in seconds it was out of range of anything it might influence telepathically. The ball would disintegrate in a few hours, leaving the starfish in vacuum, but even if it exploded the bits would end up in the sun. She needn’t even feel guilty about ending a sentient life; the remainder of the group-mind was unharmed. It was like scraping a random cell from someone’s hand.<br /><br />Were there any other loose ends? She flew back to the planet, found termite-town again, and flew down towards the ship. As she approached she heard hundreds of chirping clicks which the ring translated as loud applause. Another thought produced a scanner, which she visualised as a dentist’s X-ray machine. She ran it up and down the ship, checking for explosives, more star-fish and other surprises. There didn’t seem to be any, but the engines could be dangerous and it was way beyond any technology she could see on the planet. There were laws against leaving it there. She discarded the scanner and scooped up the ship in a net of green force, flying it up into space. The planet had a couple of small moons, and she took it to the most distant and buried it. By the time the termites found it they’d be advanced enough to handle it safely.<br />Anything else? She drafted a report to the Guardians of Oa and the Shadow Proclamation, detailing the steps she’d taken, ordering a sector-wide alert for similar ships, and suggesting that the natives should be checked for after-effects the next time a Green Lantern was in the area. As she sent it the simulation ended.<br /><br />“Not bad, poozer,” said Kilowogg. “Good work with the mental attack. Do you really eat things like that?”<br /><br />“Not if I can avoid it, and certainly not if it’s intelligent. I tried starfish once, it was disgusting. But some people on my planet seem to like it.”<br /><br />“No accounting for taste. Okay, go get some rest. You just graduated; tomorrow morning the Guardians will brief you on problems in your sector, it’s time to start earning your keep.”<br /><br />“That would imply that the Corps was actually paying me. Have I missed something?”<br /><br />“The work being its own reward?” suggested Kilowogg.<br /><br />“I was afraid of that.”<br /><br />“Okay, the pay may not be great, but the free travel is excellent…”<br /><br /><b>Las Vegas – Monday</b><br /><br />“…as I was flying over the city I heard shots; when I flew down I saw three men with guns running from a jewellery store, and the body of a police officer on the ground. So I used my ring to put them into force field bubbles until the police arrived. I didn’t arrest or read them their rights, since I don’t yet have official law enforcement status on this planet, but the first officer on the scene did so.”<br /><br />“Are you buying this?” whispered Jim Brass. “Think she’s really an interstellar cop?”<br /><br />“How would I know?” asked Ray Langston. “Ask Superman or Supergirl, maybe they could tell you.”<br /><br />The Green Lantern signed her statement on the robbery with a flourish of her ring; the symbol on her uniform was replicated on the paper as a glowing green seal which faded, leaving the mark seemingly burned into the paper.<br /><br />“That’s innovative,” said Brass, “but your name and address would be more useful.”<br /><br />“I’m sorry; I have family, they might be endangered if I reveal my identity.”<br /><br />“You’re from Earth, then?” asked Langston.<br /><br />“Yes. My predecessor crashed here recently and recruited me before he died. But I’ve spent a year or so in evaluation and training on Oa, where the Corps is based.”<br /><br />“I didn’t hear anything about a spaceship crash,” said Brass; “A year ago, or any other time.”<br /><br />“It was a few days ago in Earth’s time,” she said. “He destroyed his ship to make sure that nothing dangerous fell into human hands, there wouldn’t have been anything left to find.”<br /><br />“The crash was a few days ago, but you’ve spent a year training?” asked Langston.<br /><br />“It’s complicated. Basically, I travelled several thousand light years. When you do that a few months are almost irrelevant; you can tweak the return journey to reduce the locally elapsed time. Provided that you get back after you left, it can’t change history.”<br /><br />“Doesn’t that mess up causality? What if someone else had left Earth a couple of months after you and tipped you off about events after you’d left?”<br /><br />“They wouldn’t have to tell me anything; just being there would mean that I couldn’t return prior to the other person’s departure.”<br /><br />“The Oans would stop you?” asked Langston.<br /><br />“The universe would stop you,” she said. “It really doesn’t like paradoxes. Unless you’re a Time Lord, of course, but the Oans think they wiped themselves out with one so I don’t recommend it.”<br /><br />“That’s fascinating," said Brass, with an obvious lack of conviction, “but until the government says otherwise you’re going to have to be treated like any other witness.”<br /><br />“I have some documents I need to present to Earth’s governments. They identify me as a law enforcement officer and as an ambassador for Oa under the Shadow Proclamation. Some of Earth’s governments are aware of these matters, and I’m sure that Superman and Supergirl will be able to confirm that they are universally-accepted credentials.”<br /><br />There was a knock on the door as she spoke, and a uniform came in and said “Captain Brass? Supergirl just landed outside.”<br /><br />“Oh great… This was always going to be a media circus, now there are going to be three rings. Show her in.”<br /><br /><div>==<br />(O)<br />==</div><br /><br />“There are a lot of reporters outside the precinct,” said Supergirl. “If you don’t mind me making a suggestion, you’ll probably need to talk to them sooner or later.”<br /><br />“Sooner is probably best. Okay, would you mind introducing me?”<br /><br />“As Green Lantern?”<br /><br />“Yes; I want to keep my identity private, at least for now.”<br /><br />“Family?”<br /><br />“I could ask the same question.”<br /><br />“Point taken.”<br /><br />“Any hints on dealing with the press?”<br /><br />“Mostly they’re okay. And Lois Lane can’t have got here yet, so you’ll probably be able to keep a few secrets.”<br /><br />“Thanks.” She smiled at Supergirl, waited while she said a few words, then walked out to join her in a blaze of flashguns and camera lights.<br /><br />One of the reporters shouted “Are you an alien?” <br /><br />“No. I was recruited on Earth.”<br /><br />“So the aliens that recruited you – why are they hiding?”<br /><br />“That’s not the way it happened. An alien spaceship crashed-landed here, the pilot was one of this sector’s Green Lanterns. Before he died he decided that I’d be a suitable replacement, and sent me to Oa for training.”<br /><br />“What’s Oa?”<br /><br />“The planet where the Green Lantern Corps is based. I don’t think its sun is visible from Earth.”<br /><br />“Why did he choose you?” shouted another reporter.<br /><br />“I have some mental attributes that meet the Corps’ selection criteria. Most notably, I have strong willpower and a good imagination, both of which are essential for controlling my powers, and I’m not terrified of aliens. I’ve met about fifty types so far, they don’t bother me.”<br /><br />“If you’re an interstellar cop, why are you fighting crime in Las Vegas?”<br /><br />“I was in the area and was able to help. Would you prefer me to ignore an armed robbery?”<br /><br />Another reporter shouted “What’s with the mask?”<br /><br />“It’s traditional for Green Lanterns to be anonymous on their home worlds; it helps to ensure that they’re unbiased and free to have a normal life when they’re off-duty.”<br /><br />“It’s not much of a disguise.”<br /><br />“It’s worked so far. Next question?”<br /><br /><b>CNN – 10 Days Later</b><br /><br />“And now over to Dan McDonald in New York, where the United Nations Security Council is debating Green Lantern’s accreditation to the governments of Earth. On Wednesday Green Lantern presented details of the Corps, since then they’ve been in closed session discussing details of her offer. Joining Dan in the studio is Green Lantern herself.”<br /><br />“Ms. Lantern, a lot of viewers must be wondering how this would work, and what we’ll be committing to if we sign up with your organisation.”<br /><br />“Since there seems to be some confusion about this, I’d better start by explaining that Green Lantern is my title, not my name, in the same way as someone on Earth might have a title like ‘Special Agent.’ It’s a title symbolic of the source of our powers, the great Power Batteries on the planet Oa where the Corps is based.” Behind her a screen began to show images of Oa, projected by her will.<br /><br />“So Oa runs the Corps?”<br /><br />“Not exactly – Oa set up the technology, but the Oans themselves mostly stay out of things. They’re primarily concerned with keeping the Corps honest and preventing abuses of power. Beyond that the Corps mostly operates to provide support and information to the individual Green Lanterns.”<br /><br />“So what do the Green Lanterns do, and what part would Earth play in it?”<br /><br />“Basically, Lanterns are travelling law enforcement officers, a little like US Marshals.  Earth’s been asked to agree that we have jurisdiction over crimes in space, or involving aliens.”<br /><br />“What sort of crimes do you look out for?”<br /><br />“Anything that disrupts interstellar travel or endangers planetary populations. Piracy is the most common, but not usually very dangerous to planetary populations; apart from that we’re talking about things like aggressive terraforming and destruction of inhabited biospheres, most forms of colonialism, use of various weapons of mass destruction, that sort of thing. And some crimes I can’t really describe in any human language, but none of them are likely to affect Earth. We also help out with natural disasters where possible.”<br /><br />“What happens if we don’t agree to join.”<br /><br />“Numerous alien races know that Earth exists, and some of them consider us ripe for the plucking. We have a little protection under the Shadow Proclamation and the Protected Planets Treaty, but those basically define Earth as a reservation for primitives who aren’t advanced enough to take care of themselves. That restricts trade so much that the only aliens you’re likely to see are criminals and would-be conquerors. It’s why Superman and Supergirl can’t do much to help advance Earth’s technology, Krypton was a signatory and it still applies to them.”<br /><br />“So if Earth signs up we’ll get advanced technology?”<br /><br />“Eventually. Any importer would still have to jump through a few hoops, basically ensuring that they don’t bring in anything that would wreck the planet or destroy society.”<br /><br />“Is that possible?”<br /><br />“Yes. I think Lex Luthor’s use of Kryptonian technology is an obvious example, there are many others. I'd rather not get too specific.”<br /><br />“What else would you do?”<br /><br />“My main job is to help enforce the law in a volume of space containing about seventy-five thousand solar systems. A large majority lack intelligent life, of the remainder most are less advanced than Earth, but there are a few that are more advanced. Apart from that the Corps tries to stay as hands-off as possible; we’re allowed to help local law enforcement, but we don’t try to tell planets how to govern themselves.”<br /><br />“And if Earth doesn’t sign up?”<br /><br />“I’ll have to base myself in another system, which might cause delays if Earth runs into problems.”<br /><br />“If Earth does sign up, what will it cost us?”<br /><br />“Nothing. If anything Earth’s economies will be stimulated to the tune of several million dollars a year, eventually much more, because I’ll be opening a Corps office and hiring civilian employees.”<br /><br />“What sort of employees?”<br /><br />“General office staff, a forensics team for cases that need it, eventually educational staff when I’m allowed to release new technology. Sooner or later we’ll probably want medical facilities for aliens, holding facilities for prisoners, maybe a spaceport and hotel set up for alien visitors. It’ll be an ongoing development program for years to come.”<br /><br />“How will you pay for that?”<br /><br />“Initially I’ll be bringing in a few hundred tons of rare earth ores from the asteroids. They’re badly needed by the electronics industry, especially for making things like LEDs and widescreen TVs, and mining them on Earth is very bad for the environment.”<br /><br />“What else is out there? Gold?”<br /><br />“I haven’t looked for it. If I found any I’d leave it alone, I don’t want to upset anyone’s economy unnecessarily.”<br /><br />“Thank you. Now, we’re just hearing that the Security Council will be making an announcement at six this evening. How do you think it’s going to go?”<br /><br />“I hope that they’ll sign up but I’m not a politician, I couldn’t begin to guess what they’ll decide.” <br /><br /><b>Sunnydale Crater Lake, California</b><br /><br />Unseen, something dark drifted across the night sky and silently descended into the water at the deepest part of the crater, directly over the site of the old High School. It manoeuvred for several hours then dug itself into the bottom ooze and went quiet.<br /><br /><b>The Sorbonne, Paris</b><br /><br />“Doctor Grissom?”<br /><br />Gil Grissom looked up from his desk, suddenly realising that he wasn’t alone. The woman in his office was a surprise.<br /><br />“Green Lantern? What can I do for you?”<br /><br />“If you’ve been watching the news you’ll know that the UN has agreed to recognise the Green Lantern Corps’ authority, and I’ve set the wheels in motion to build a permanent base near Las Vegas. As part of that I’ll be recruiting personnel and setting up facilities including a specialist forensics laboratory. I’d like you to run it.” She handed him a thick envelope. “This is a contract for your consideration. I also have some briefing material if we can reach an agreement.”<br /><br />“Why me?”<br /><br />“You’re the best forensic scientist I can find who isn’t already working for a government or a police force, and a significant proportion of the more intelligent alien species in this sector are similar to Earth’s arthropods. Forensic entomology would probably be extremely useful.”<br /><br />“Take a seat and tell me more.”<br /><br />They talked for a few minutes, and eventually he said “I’m flattered… Lady Heather.”<br /><br /><b><i>TBC</i></b><br /><br />Chapter 1 crossovers: DC movies (Supergirl), CSI (Lady Heather, Jim Brass, Ray Langston, Gil Grissom), Buffy (Sunnydale), Doctor Who (the Shadow Proclamation), Stargate SG-1 (the Protected Planets Treaty).<br /><br />One of the sources that inspired this story was the story Probationary Member by Adrian Tullberg, on fanfiction.net, which suggested the identity of my Green Lantern. Adult rating, but well worth a look.<br /><br />Soon after I started writing this I learned that Al Plastino, the creator of Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes and much more, died in 2013. He’ll be missed. Fanfic - Supergirl https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1471671712/5#5 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1471671712/5#5 Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:08:32 GMT OK - it will probably be a good while before I post anything else, when I do we'll see how it goes. Fanfic - Supergirl Returns outtakes 5/?? - Down Mexico Way https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1432751141/0#0 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1432751141/0#0 Wed, 27 May 2015 18:25:41 GMT This is a bit difficult to explain without spoiling it - see the end notes instead. Bad language towards the end. Sorry, this is another one without any Kryptonians.<br /><br /><b>Down Mexico Way</b><br /><br />They'd known going in that the deal was risky, but the FBI and Federales were strangling the cross-border arms trade, and the goods on offer - fully automatic weapons, sniper rifles with armour-piercing rounds, and some shoulder-launched missiles and C4 plastic explosive - were essential if they were to have any chance of success. What they hadn't expected was the gang that attacked as they were collecting the shipment, and the masked lunatic who led them. Now they were pinned down miles from anywhere, their truck jammed between two boulders, with armed paramilitaries of some sort firing at anything that moved.<br /><br />"Come out now," said the muffled, vaguely German-accented voice of their leader. "We caught your daughter trying to escape; I will give her to my men if you do not surrender, and your deaths will be slow and painful."<br /><br />"What do you want?"<br /><br />"Your son has skills I can use. Give him to me."<br /><br />"Go to hell!" shouted John.<br /><br />Sarah shouted "Prove to me my daughter's still alive. Show her to me."<br /><br />There was a pause then the leader appeared dragging the bound girl, one huge hand clasped around her neck, the other holding a gun to her head.<br /><br />"Kill them all," shouted Sarah.<br /><br />The mercenary laughed then grunted as the girl head-butted him. There was ripping noise as the ropes around her wrists snapped, and she spun round and ripped the gun from his hand before he had time to react, firing at him then apparently randomly into the surrounding trees. There were screams and more shots, and the leader staggered back towards her, grabbed a shoulder, and tried to pin her in a wrestling hold.<br /><br />"Crap," said John, trying to get a clear shot at the masked giant. "I think he's another terminator."<br /><br />"He's bleeding too much. Wait."<br /><br />Cameron shot the leader again then emptied the remainder of the clip into the trees. Although she couldn't see it, Sarah Connor was sure that there were now a lot less mercenaries. Cameron rarely missed.<br /><br />Sarah spotted one of the gunmen trying to sneak around to get a shot at them, and shot him; he dropped, but she couldn't tell if he was wounded, dead, or faking it, so put another bullet into his head to be sure.<br /><br />There were still occasional shots, but they mostly seemed to be aimed at Cameron, who was watching the leader as he staggered towards her. As he started to run she side-stepped him, caught his arm, and swung him around so that his head hit a tree, then jumped on his back and put her arm around his neck. He staggered but didn't go down, and tried to head-butt her back, only stopping when Cameron ripped the mask from his face. He screamed and began to convulse, then died as Cameron finally snapped his neck.<br /><br />Once Cameron reached one of the bodies and got an assault rifle the rest was soon over; the remaining mercenaries died as fast as she could pull the trigger. After a minute or so she turned back towards Sarah and John. There were several bullet holes in her torso, seeping a little synthetic blood. It didn't look like any of them had done much harm. "That's the last of them."<br /><br />"What the hell was that about?" said John. "Who was that guy?"<br /><br />"He would have been a resistance leader if he had lived," said Cameron. "I didn't recognize him until I removed the mask. He was killed before I was captured by your forces."<br /><br />"What was his name?" asked Sarah.<br /><br />"He was called Bane. He led the resistance in the Gotham City area. Somehow he managed to get hundreds of police underground before Skynet attacked, without him most of them would have been killed."<br /><br />"Damn... Okay, tell Derek when we get back to LA, he might know if there's someone who can take his place. Now, let's get the truck fixed and get out of here before we have more company& 26"<br /><br /><b>end</b><br /><br /><i>Batman: The Dark Knight Rises / Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles</i><br /><br />This is a fairly old fragment - I wanted to explain why the events of <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i> didn't happen in the <i>Supergirl Returns</i> universe, and remembered that I'd mentioned Cyberdyne and Zeiratech in <i>The Return</i>, which meant that Sarah, John, and Cameron were around somewhere. For various reasons I've decided not to follow up on this idea as it is, but it works reasonably well as a stand-alone piece. Fanfic - Supergirl returns outtakes 4 - Cat Chaser Epilogue https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1432750858/0#0 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1432750858/0#0 Wed, 27 May 2015 18:20:58 GMT <b> <i>(You need to <a href="https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=login;sesredir=action~RSSrecent"><b><i>Login</i></b></a></i><i> or <a href="https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=register"><b><i>Register</i></b></a></i><i> to view media files and links)</i></b> part 2 has several epilogues, one of them set in Avengers Tower in New York, where Tony Stark receives a small present from another universe sent by Dick Grayson and Kara Zor-El (Supergirl). The first three paragraphs were in the original story, the rest was cut because it wasn't really essential to the story; I'm posting it now because it highlights a technological problem that doesn't seem to turn up as often as it should in parallel world stories.<br /><br /><b>Epilogue 3</b><br /><br />"Okay," said Tony Stark. "This stuff is gold. We need to make deals with all of the actors, writers and production companies. At least half of the Firefly episodes are completely new, about a third of Galactica, and I've never even heard of Wormhole X-Treme. We're sitting on a fortune."<br /><br />"Methinks," said Thor, "they were intended as a gift for us, recompense for the trouble caused by the cat. They were meant for us to enjoy. To think only in terms of profit is..."<br /><br />"Good business sense," Tony interrupted. "Don't worry, we'll get to watch them first. Can't wait to see how this version of Firefly handled the time travel and alien contact story arcs..."<br /><br />He put the disk into a DVD player. It whirred for several seconds, then rejected the disc. Tony picked it up and looked at it more carefully, but it didn't seem to be damaged or defective. He had a sudden thought, and got out one of his own discs and compared them, then got out a laser pointer and shone it at the surface of one disc, then the other. Both of them reflected the laser light into a series of dots. "Notice anything different, Thor?"<br /><br />"There were more dots for Kara's disc."<br /><br />"Correct! Give the god a Kewpie doll!  The surface of a DVD is a diffraction grating, the number of dots should be the same for any disk. If it's different, it means they probably use a different laser frequency to play the discs."<br /><br />"And?"<br /><br />"And that means their technology is different enough that they're probably using different disc rotation speeds, maybe a different algorithm to compress the data, probably a different encryption scheme."<br /><br />"It is unfortunate, but I am sure that the gift was meant well."<br /><br />"JARVIS can probably crack it." Tony put the disk into a workstation. "JARVIS, analyze this and try to figure out how to read it. Check the history of DVD development, any DVD patents that mention different frequencies, that sort of thing."<br /><br />"Of course, sir." The drive light began to blink.<br /><br />"We won't be watching it tonight, but give JARVIS a day or two and we'll be in business."<br /><br />"You sound very sure."<br /><br />"DVD is old technology here, probably is in Kara's world too. The fact that they even call it DVD probably means they followed a similar path to develop it, probably some of the same corporations and engineers worked on it. They couldn't make it too complicated because they couldn't build a powerful computer into a DVD player back then, it had to be slow and stupid, which means that we can probably crack it. Eventually, anyway."<br /><br />"Very well," said Thor. "Let me know when it is done." He went off in search of Jane and Darcy.<br /><br />Tony turned back to JARVIS. "Okay, let's see if we can get this cracked before the weekend, I feel like watching some TV..."<br /><br /><b>end</b><br /><br />Prompted by too many stories where someone from a parallel world has DVDs and other electronic records that instantly work with another universe's electronics. Big Apricot Productions - Media test https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1379208834/5#5 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Big Apricot Productions https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1379208834/5#5 Sun, 19 Jan 2014 06:43:52 GMT This media player was a test and I'll be removing it. What it boils down to is that the forum software's security protocols don't allow a lot of media to be placed 'inline' and some browsers don't play some media. Fanfic - Supergirl Returns - Red Chief Protocol https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1382178999/0#0 Big Apricot - a Fanfiction Forum/Fanfic https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1382178999/0#0 Sat, 19 Oct 2013 10:36:39 GMT This is a DC Movieverse / Person of Interest crossover set in the <i>Supergirl Returns </i>universe, combining elements from the most recent Batman movies, <i>Superman Returns, Supergirl</i>, and various other fandoms. Supergirl doesn't actually make an appearance, but she's around... The setting is present day, e.g. 3rd season for <i>Person of Interest</i>, several years after <i>Superman Returns</i>, after <i>The Dark Knight</i> (but with a happier outcome) for Batman. All of these sources belong to megacorporations of doom etc. which aren't me - there is no intent to infringe on copyright in the characters or settings.<br /><br />Minor bad language warning.<br /><br /><div><b>Red Chief Protocol</b><br /><br /><i>Marcus L. Rowland</i></div><br /><br /><br />Harold Finch looked up from the computer screens as John Reese came into the old library. "We have a new number, Mister Reese."<br /><br />Reese helped himself to coffee. "Anyone we know?" <br /><br />"I doubt it. Jason Kent, thirteen years old, no criminal record I can find, a native of Metropolis."<br /><br />"I hate it when it's kids. You want me to go to Metropolis?"<br /><br />"No need; he's on his way to us, travelling from Kansas City on United Airlines flight 2318. It arrives at Newark at two-thirty this afternoon, that gives us three hours to prepare. He's supposed to take one of the private buses from the airport direct to Grand Central Station, then the hourly commuter service to Metropolis."<br /><br />"Do you think he's the victim or the killer?"<br /><br />"It's too early to tell, but there is no hint of any criminal tendencies that I can find. He's in the top percentile of his year at school, a Boy Scout, and a member of the Glee Club and Debating Society."<br /><br />"What do we know about the parents?" asked Reese.<br /><br />"Lois Lane and Clark Kent, both reporters for the Metropolis Daily Planet. Lane is widely credited as having named Superman, and obtained most of the Planet's stories on him until he left Earth in 2000. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006, for an editorial entitled 'Why the World Doesn't Need Superman.' He returned to Earth and saved her life at least twice in the period between her nomination and the award ceremony."<br /><br />"Ironic." Reese finished his coffee and began to check his weapons. "What about Kent?"<br /><br />"Clark Kent was born in Smallville, Kansas& 26 correction, he was adopted by residents of Smallville, Kansas, his parents are unknown. He worked for the Daily Planet from the mid-nineties to 2000 then left the paper to travel and work on a trilogy of novels, The Janus Contract and two sequels, all well-received. Jason was born seven months after Kent left, at which time Lane was living with Richard White, an editor at the Planet, but was not married to him. Kent returned to the Planet in 2006. Lane and White separated a few months later, and she married Kent in 2007. They have one other child, Jonathan, aged eighteen months."<br /><br />"Is Kent the boy's father?"<br /><br />"It seems probable. White is shown as the father on his birth certificate, but blood groups prove otherwise. White has type A blood, Kent and the boy are both B, and Lane is O. The father may or may not be Kent, but it certainly isn't White."<br /><br />"I wonder if White knows; where is he, anyway?"<br /><br />"London. The Planet's London bureau chief was implicated in their phone-tapping scandal last year; he's acting chief while they clear house, pending a permanent appointment, and probably won't be back in the US for several months. Incidentally, Metropolis school records still have him listed as a fallback emergency contact if neither Lane nor Kent is available, so it would appear that they are still on good terms."<br /><br />"That sounds reasonably amicable. Okay, why is the kid travelling alone?"<br /><br />"He's been visiting Kent's mother in Smallville," said Finch, "Now this is interesting, both parents are currently giving evidence in the RICO case against the Costmart chain; presumably they couldn't travel with him."<br /><br />"Maybe someone plans to snatch the boy to pressure them into changing their testimony."<br /><br />"Plausible. The directors of Costmart seem to have their fingers in a lot of dirty pies. There are even rumours that Costmart is an Intergang front."<br /><br />"Why in hell didn't his parents take better precautions? Letting him travel alone is stupid."<br /><br />"I'd imagine they thought it would go unnoticed."<br /><br />"I'll get to the airport well before he arrives, then I can shadow him on the bus and train. But some backup would be good."<br /><br />"You'd better carry Sky Marshal ID, all the documents you'll need are filed under the name Reed. That will explain the gun if you have to go through metal detectors. I'll look for any other contacts or threats that might be relevant. Keep me informed." Finch turned back to the monitors, and Reese checked and holstered his SIG-Sauer and selected appropriate documents. "I'll try to get hold of Miss Shaw," he added. "She can drive you to the airport and shadow you on the return journey."<br /><br />"If you can't reach her I'll head for the airport in about an hour," said Reese, "might as well get there a little early and check things out."<br /><br /><div>*</div><br /><br />"The boy is just clearing security, Mister Reese; coming through the doors& 26 now."<br /><br />Reese rubbed his finger against the tiny transceiver in his ear, and murmured "On it." He was long past being surprised by Finch's ability to access cameras on networks that should have been completely secure. A moment later he spotted Jason Kent, wearing a back-pack and carrying a small carry-on bag, talking to a flight attendant who was obviously escorting him to the bus pick-up point. He waited for them to pass, then began to trail them at a discreet distance. He wished that Finch had been able to locate Samantha Shaw; this was really a job for two people.<br /><br />"Why Newark?" muttered Reese.<br /><br />"I beg your pardon?"<br /><br />"Aren't there direct services to Metropolis from Kansas? Why come through New York?"<br /><br />"Good question, Mister Reese. Let me see& 26There are direct flights from Wichita but not from Kansas City. The Kent farm is somewhat closer to Kansas City, but overall the journey would have been considerably faster and somewhat cheaper by the Wichita route. I'll see if I can find out why he didn't travel that way." <br /><br />"Okay. Meanwhile, is there anything odd about anyone waiting for the bus?" He looked around at a random selection of travellers, none of them especially odd-looking. There was a woman with a baby buggy and two toddlers, several college students who seemed to be travelling together, a young marine carrying a kit-bag, some conservatively dressed businessmen, two nuns, and five Asian-looking men wearing what appeared to be Japanese naval uniforms. A man in a cheap-looking plaid suit leaned against a pillar, reading a newspaper. Reese had an instinctive feeling that he was up to no good.<br /><br />"I have five unknowns; the nuns, the man in the plaid suit with the paisley tie and tinted glasses, and two of the Japanese sailors."<br /><br />"My guess would be the man in the plaid suit. Let's see& 26 cheap suit, can't see anything to indicate concealed weapons. He's reading the Kansas City Star, probably came in on the same flight as the kid."<br /><br />"Try to get him to look toward the vehicle entrance, that's the nearest camera. Oh, and force a pair with his phone if you can."<br /><br />"Okay." Reese wandered over to look at a bus timetable on the wall, reached into a pocket, and "accidentally" fumbled the most innocuous item he was carrying, a pair of sunglasses, so that they catapulted from his hand and hit the stranger in the stomach, then pretended to look around for them, phone in hand. <br /><br />The man in the plaid suit looked up from his paper, spat out something too small to be a cigarette, and said "Hey, what's the big idea?" He had a Jersey accent and wore glasses with lightly-tinted brown lenses.<br /><br />"Sorry, pal," said Reese. "They slipped from my hand."<br /><br />"Asshole." The stranger returned to his paper, leaving the sunglasses on the ground. Reese retrieved them, and spotted a matchstick on the ground where he had spat.<br /><br />"Positive identification," said Finch. "He's Joseph 'Matches' Malone, a minor-league hoodlum from New Jersey, most recently active in Gotham City. Suspect in several cases of arson and insurance fraud, never convicted. He's worked for several crime families, usually as a driver or gopher& 26 hmm, interesting& 26 he has a history of working for criminals who were subsequently arrested. It seems likely that he is a police informant, but there is nothing on record to confirm it."<br /><br />"There wouldn't be if they wanted to keep him alive. Is there any association with Costmart or Intergang?" <br /><br />"Not that I can see."<br /><br />"What about his phone?"<br /><br />"It's a burn phone, purchased in Gotham City three weeks ago. The call log shows fourteen short calls to a phone sex line, and nothing else. Which is odd; it's a prepaid phone with no credit card on record, he would not be able to pay for the service. The last call was four hours ago."<br /><br />"What about the others?"<br /><br />"I've identified everyone now apart from the nuns; I can't see enough of their faces for a positive match. Are they doing anything odd?"<br /><br />"Not so far. Which flight were they on?"<br /><br />"They didn't arrive on any flight in the last three hours."<br /><br />"Maybe they saw someone off. No, they've both got bags." Both nuns had large shoulder bags.<br /><br />"I'm endeavouring to trace them back& 26 hmm, that's odd, they came out of one of the washrooms, but& 26 ah, they weren't dressed as nuns when they went in. And going back from that, they arrived at the airport in a van which is still in the parking lot."<br /><br />The bus for Grand Central Station finally arrived, and passengers began to board. Reese murmured "Any ID on the van?" and followed Jason Kent aboard, seating himself where he could see the boy and the nuns. Malone boarded last, and sat across the aisle and a row back from Reese, near the back of the bus. It was about half-full.<br /><br />"The van was reported stolen this morning," said Finch. "At the moment the police are unaware of its location."<br /><br />"Okay. Could be coincidence, we'll see."<br /><br />"I have positive identification. The shorter woman is one Michelle O'Hara, the taller her sister Erika. Both are known felons, allegedly guns for hire."<br /><br />"I'll keep an eye on them."<br /><br />"Definitely, but be ready for trouble from other sources, they may not be the only threat, and their presence might even be entirely coincidental. One moment& 26 Mister Reese, there was just an attempt to force a pair with your phone."<br /><br />"What did they get?"<br /><br />"The usual cover contacts and call history. At the moment, for example, you are talking to your broker."<br /><br />Out of the corner of his eye Reese saw Malone putting a battered suitcase into the overhead luggage rack. He was easily close enough to have paired the phone. Reese said "Don't give me a hard time about this, just sell the damn shares before the price tanks."<br /><br />"Someone listening?"<br /><br />"Well, that's the interesting question, isn't it?"<br /><br />"It is, Mister Reese."<br /><br />Malone sat again as the doors shut and the bus lurched into motion, circled around to the nearest exit, and onto the freeway, drove steadily for a couple of miles, then slowed to walking pace as it hit a long tailback of traffic. The driver spoke to someone on his radio, then switched on the PA system and said "Sorry, folks, there's a truck rolled over about half a mile ahead of us. Hancock's gonna move it, shouldn't be long before he gets here."<br /><br />There was an excited murmur from out-of-town passengers who hadn't seen a superhero before, and a general move to get out cameras and phones. Maintaining the stockbroker cover, Reese said "It looks like I may be late for the meeting, there's a truck broken down ahead. Hancock's going to move it."<br /><br />"Well, let's hope he doesn't drop it this time," said Finch. "Hmm... Just a moment& 26. There are no police reports of any incidents on that route."<br /><br />"Odd."<br /><br />The bus started moving again, and ahead Reese could see someone in a hard hat and fluorescent orange jacket waving the bus onto an off ramp.<br /><br />"Mister Reese," said the earpiece, "that road will take the bus several miles off the optimum route. I'd imagine that it's a trap."<br /><br />"I know." <br /><br />Out of the rear window Reese saw a large grey moving van turn onto the road behind the bus and stop. Men in orange jackets got out and moved sawhorse barriers to block the road. There were loud bangs, at the front of the bus then the rear, and Reese guessed it had just driven over a spike strip. It slewed from side to side as the driver hit the brakes then rolled to a halt.<br /><br />"That's interesting& 26 Mister Reese, the boy arrived at the airport in a hired car driven by Malone. They are travelling together. I have not been able to ascertain why they travelled via Kansas City."<br /><br />"Later, I'm a little busy."<br /><br />The so-called nuns stood, and one of them produced a sawed-off shotgun from under her robe and fired into the ceiling, and pumped it for the next shot. The other held up a 9mm Glock and shouted "Nobody move! Stay in your seats and nobody gets hurt!" Someone screamed, and the toddlers and the baby started to cry. There was a flash as someone took a photo, followed by another shot into the roof of the bus. "Drop the cameras, assholes!"<br /><br />"I've got a wife and kids," said the driver.<br /><br />"Shut up or they'll be a widow and orphans!"<br /><br />"You!" said the other nun, "Jason Kent! Yes you, kid. Keep your hands where I can see them and come here. Everyone else, stay in your seats."<br /><br />Reese put his hand to his gun and watched for an opportunity for a clear shot, realising that in the confined space there was no way to be sure nobody else would be hurt. Malone leaned forward and murmured "Stay cool. You wave that gun around, innocent people are gonna get killed. You a cop?"<br /><br />"Sky Marshal."<br /><br />"Wait until they're off the bus."<br /><br />Jason stood and the taller 'nun,' Erika O'Hara, put the Glock under his chin and dragged him towards the exit, shouting "Open the goddamned doors!" Outside the moving van screeched to a halt alongside the bus. "Open the doors!"<br /><br />The driver nervously touched a switch and the doors opened. Erika dragged Jason out, Michelle backing out behind them, covering the passengers with her shotgun. As they got out she shouted "Shut the doors!" The driver did as he was told. Reese crouched and moved forward as fast as he could, gun in hand. Outside the 'nuns' dragged Jason to the back of the van. Someone pulled him in, and they climbed in after him, the doors slamming closed as the van roared off.<br /><br />Reese reached over the driver's shoulder and pulled the door switch, ran out, and fired at the van's tyres. He thought he hit them, but it didn't slow down. In moments it was out of sight.<br /><br />"Situation, Mister Reese?" said the earphone.<br /><br />"They got the kid."<br /><br />"Who took him? Malone or the nuns?"<br /><br />"The nuns."<br /><br />"What about Malone?"<br /><br />"I'll check." He got back aboard the bus, held up his fake badge and said "Anyone call for help?" He looked back towards the rear of the bus but didn't see Malone.<br /><br />"I called 911," said the marine. "I should have tried to stop them. It happened so fast& 26"<br /><br />"You armed?"<br /><br />"No."<br /><br />"Getting yourself killed wouldn't have helped."<br /><br />He turned to the driver, and said "Who told you Hancock was clearing the road?"<br /><br />"My dispatcher."<br /><br />"Got a name?"<br /><br />"Uh& 26 No, didn't recognise the voice."<br /><br />"Someone probably hacked your signal," said Reese, mostly for Finch's benefit.<br /><br />He walked towards the back of the bus, pretending to look for clues, fending off questions from the anxious passengers. As he neared Malone's seat he realised that he'd been sitting by one of the emergency exits, an extra-large window that could be popped out to let passengers out. Malone must have used it while everyone else was watching Reese chase the van. He was gone.<br /><br />"The police will be there in approximately five minutes," said Finch. "I finally found Miss Shaw, fortunately on the right side of town, but it will take her at least fifteen minutes to reach you."<br /><br />Reese looked out, and realised that Malone's seat had given him a good view of the area below the road. Beyond the crash barrier was a steep slope down to another road; if his guess was right, it was a continuation of the ramp they were on, which curved round and down to circle under the highway. He climbed out and walked to the railing for a closer look. There was a camera down there watching the underpass. He described the location to Finch.<br /><br />"Let's see& 26 yes, I have it. The truck you describe drove under there three minutes ago& 26 that's interesting& 26 someone appeared to be clinging on to its side."<br /><br />"Malone?"<br /><br />"I can't see his face, but the build and clothing seems correct."<br /><br />"I'm going after them." He vaulted the crash barrier and slid down, noticing marks on the concrete where someone else had preceded him. "See if you can track his phone."<br /><br />"Not at the moment, it's turned off. Miss Shaw is making good progress; she should be with you in ten minutes or so."<br /><br />Reese waved at the camera and ran down the road at a fast jog; he didn't know how far he'd have to run, and a sprint would soon tire him out.<br /><br />"Left at the first junction," said Finch. "They appear to be headed for the industrial area west of the airport."<br /><br />"Is that good or bad?"<br /><br />"There are lots of potential hiding places, but there's good camera coverage of the area." In the distance Reese could hear sirens. He glanced back, and saw flashing lights on the road where he'd left the bus, a few hundreds yards away. The police had arrived faster than expected.<br /><br />"I need to get off this road fast, someone's going to come looking for me or the van."<br /><br />"There should be a supermarket coming up on your side of the road; cut across the parking lot and take the far exit. Try to avoid attracting attention."<br /><br />Reese slowed to a brisk walking pace, and spotted an empty shopping cart near some parked cars. There didn't seem to be anyone around so he wheeled it back towards the supermarket and pushed it into the nested trolleys, then walked on towards the exit.<br /><br />"Now turn left, at the pedestrian crossing cross the road and take the first turn that comes up on the right."<br /><br />"Okay." Reese followed instructions, keeping to a walking pace since there were more people around. The turn took him into a narrow street with blank walls to either side.<br /><br />"Just keep walking, Miss Shaw is& 26"<br /><br />"Never mind." A black SUV screeched around the corner ahead of him and did a bootlegger turn, so that it was facing the way it had come. The door opened, and Samantha Shaw waved to him. He ran round to the passenger side and jumped in, saying "What kept you?" She drove off fast, burning rubber on the road.<br /><br />"Take it easy," he added, "we don't know where to go yet, and we really don't need to get stopped for speeding."<br /><br />"I like the sweaty rumpled look," said Shaw, "makes a nice change." She looked cool in black slacks and a t-shirt.<br /><br />"You try sliding down an embankment then jogging a couple of miles in summer heat."<br /><br />"That's a light workout for a Marine."<br /><br />"Not wearing a goddamned suit."<br /><br />"Full pack and battle dress," Shaw said smugly.<br /><br />"And I'll bet you needed a shower afterwards."<br /><br />"I'll grant you that."<br /><br />Finch directed them through several junctions, then said "Malone just called the same number."<br /><br />"The sex line?"<br /><br />"Indeed. He said 'Executing Red Chief Protocol' and disconnected."<br /><br />"Red Chief Protocol?" said Shaw. "What the hell does that mean?"<br /><br />"There is an O'Henry story called 'The Ransom of Red Chief,'" said Finch. "A kidnapped child is so obnoxious that his kidnappers are forced to pay the child's parents to take him back."<br /><br />"Did you get a location?" asked Reese.<br /><br />"Yes; the van is entering a warehouse. Turn left then take the first right, it's on the fourth block. Malone is lying on the van's roof."<br /><br />"We'd better get in there fast. You're armed?"<br /><br />"Seriously?" Shaw sounded offended. "You're asking ME that?"<br /><br />"Never hurts to check. Got something that'll get us through doors quickly?"<br /><br />"SPAS-12 sound okay?"<br /><br />"That'll do, provided nobody's standing too close on the other side."<br /><br />"Good. You take that, I'm going with the Kel-Tec carbine."<br /><br />"Christ, we're going after kidnappers, not the Viet-Cong."<br /><br />"It'll get the job done."<br /><br />"I've gained access to their security camera network," said Finch, "and put the outside cameras on a loop."<br /><br />"What's going on inside?" asked Reese.<br /><br />"They're climbing out of the van," said Finch. "Five kidnappers and the boy. There appears to be something wrong with them; one of the sisters just vomited onto the warehouse floor. They all look distinctly unwell. I'm sending the layout and their locations to your phones."<br /><br />As he was talking Shaw took two successive corners on two wheels, braked to 30 or so, then let the car coast into the parking lot and next to the warehouse with a minimum of noise. "The vests are in the trunk."<br /><br />"Anyone else inside?" asked Reese, opening the trunk and putting on a Kevlar vest. Shaw took another, and opened an inner box that seemed to have weapons for a small army.<br /><br />"Two others have just entered from the rear of the building, a man and a woman," said Finch. "The woman is holding her nose. Nobody else appears to be present. One moment& 26 Malone is now behind the truck, he appears to have knocked out one of the perpetrators. Please try not to shoot him or the boy. And if possible keep the others alive, you will need to question them, so will the police."<br /><br />"You know what Malone looks like?" asked Reese.<br /><br />Shaw nodded and handed him the combat shotgun; he checked it was fully loaded, took a box of shells, and moved to the door. Shaw followed with the carbine, a laser fixed to it instead of her usual sniper telescope. They checked their phones, memorising the locations of the kidnappers, Jason, and Malone, and hoped nothing would change too much before they got inside.<br /><br />"Okay," whispered Reese. He aimed at the lock, and Shaw moved to a position where she wouldn't be hit by any ricochets and switched on the laser. "On three. One... two& 26 three!" He fired at the lock, and Shaw kicked the door open and fired at someone out of his line of sight, and ran in firing again.<br /><br />Reese slung the shotgun and followed, SIG-Sauer in hand, rolled to get clear of the door, and fired at one of the fake workmen. Another went down to one of Shaw's shots; a third was already on the ground. Jason Kent seemed to have rolled under the van. One of the fake nuns turned towards them, clumsily fumbling with the shotgun; Reese took a chance and fired at the gun. The stock splintered and she dropped it. The other fake nun was still vomiting, and Reese suddenly noticed the smell, a combination of skunk, rotten eggs, and rotting fish. He could suddenly understand why they looked so queasy.<br /><br />Malone appeared around the van and threw something at the one man still standing, who'd been in the warehouse before the truck arrived. It hit his head and he went down hard. The last woman raised her hands and said "Don't shoot! Please don't shoot."<br /><br /><div>*</div><br /><br />"So let me get this straight," said Reese. "You agreed to bodyguard Jason as a favour to the Kents, they were worried that Intergang might try to use him to stop them testifying?"<br /><br />"That's right," said Malone, "but I'm pretty sure that these clowns aren't Intergang. They're bottom-feeders, and the Kents finished giving evidence while we were still in the air, it was on the news as we came in to Newark. I think this is something else, I'm just not quite sure what."<br /><br />"Okay," said Reese. "There's just one thing that's puzzling me& 26 who are you, anyway?"<br /><br />"Joe Malone," said Malone, "most people call me Matches."<br /><br />"I know who Matches Malone is," said Reese, "and there's no way a two-bit hoodlum like that could have made it onto the truck and fought like that. Who are you really? And why did you let a kid get in the line of fire?" He deliberately didn't mention the other discrepancies, the phone call and 'Red Chief Protocol.'<br /><br />"It was my idea," said Jason, sounding older than his years. "Intergang wouldn't kill me; they'd want me alive to keep my parents quiet. I figured out that if we wanted to catch them we should let them have me, but have someone ready to rescue me fast. Professor Hamilton made the stink bombs, and an antidote that stops us from smelling them. And Mom called Matches."<br /><br />"Except that isn't who you are, is it?" said Reese.<br /><br />"It's all the name you're getting," said Malone. "I figure we're kinda in the same line of work, call it professional courtesy."<br /><br />"Okay," said Reese. "My contacts say the police haven't been called, so we've got a little time. We still don't know what this is about."<br /><br />"I heard one of them say something about my dad," said Jason.<br /><br />"We already know it's about your parents," said Matches.<br /><br />"Not them," said Jason, "my other dad. Richard. When we got here there was a man, I think he was in charge. He said 'get on the phone to London; tell White what he has to do.' That was just before you came in."<br /><br />"Okay," said Reese, "just a minute." He pinched his nose and went outside to where Shaw had the prisoners, kneeling zip-tied with hoods over their heads. "How's it coming?"<br /><br />"None of them are going to bleed to death for a while." She sounded disappointed; also muffled, since she had a large paper clip pinching her nostrils closed.<br /><br />Reese found the man who'd been in the warehouse when the truck arrived and grabbed him by the collar, giving him no chance to get to his feet, and dragged him to the back room. He had to use both hands, and for a moment got the full impact of the smell. The truck was probably going to need to be steam cleaned to get rid of it.<br /><br />He dragged him inside and zip-tied him to the chair and said "Tell me about London, and your plans for Richard White."<br /><br />There was no reply.<br /><br />"Better talk, or I'll put another one of those stink bombs inside that bag."<br /><br />He talked.<br /><br /><div>*</div><br /><br />"I'll be surprised if there's a British newspaper industry left after this," said Reese. "Not when White can prove that one of the biggest owners was involved in the phone-tap scandal, and we've got proof that he was prepared to kidnap Jason or kill White to cover it up. And using that old 'Diana was assassinated' story to divert attention, that was just stupid."<br /><br />"I've found ample evidence in their bank accounts and on line," said Finch. "I'm sending a summary to the office printer in the warehouse; the police should be able to take it from there. And of course copies to Scotland Yard, various newspapers that aren't involved, the FBI, and so forth."<br /><br />On cue the laser whirred and began to print out a long document. Malone looked a little startled; there was nobody near any of the computers.<br /><br />"We'd better get out of here," said Reese. "Can I leave you to take care of things?"<br /><br />"No problem," said Malone. "But you know I'm gonna have to describe you two, don't want them thinking I did all this damage. But don't sweat it; I'll keep it pretty vague."<br /><br />"I'm not worried. We don't exist. You ought to know what that feels like."<br /><br />Malone grinned but didn't reply.<br /><br />"When you're quite ready," said Finch.<br /><br />"Okay," said Reese. "Jason, I think you ought to call the police. Tell them what happened, make it clear that all of the bad guys are tied up, maybe both of you should be outside when they get here, that way there shouldn't be any accidents."<br /><br />"Okay."<br /><br />"Anything else before we go?"<br /><br />"One thing," said Malone. He found a pad on one of the desks, ripped off a page, and wrote a familiar phone number. "If you ever need some help, maybe some info or a contact in Gotham, you call this number, ignore anything that you hear, and say 'Matches sent me.' Don't say what it's about, but give a contact number. Someone ought to get back to you pretty quickly. May not be me, but whoever it is will probably be able to help."<br /><br />Reese took the paper. "Okay, I'll remember that. Time for us to go."<br /><br /><div>*</div><br /><br />"I'll continue to monitor the situation," said Finch, "but I think the threat is over. The kidnapping was certainly a threat to his life; they let him see their faces, they would have probably killed him eventually."<br /><br />As they drove back to Manhattan Shaw said "So& 26 who was that masked man?"<br /><br />"Masked man?"<br /><br />"Malone. Pretty sure he was using some sort of prosthetic to change the shape of his face, and his vocabulary wasn't quite right for the background we've got."<br /><br />"He said he was in the same line of work," Finch said through their earphones. "I'd imagine that he meant a vigilante."<br /><br />"A vigilante from Gotham City?" said Shaw. "You don't think& 26?"<br /><br />"Oh come on," said Reese, "that's an urban myth."<br /><br />"So is the Man in the Suit," said Finch. "And anyone who goes looking for trouble with Intergang must have some rather unusual qualities."<br /><br />"Maybe we could get you one of those spotlights," said Shaw.<br /><br />"Spotlight?" asked Reese.<br /><br />"You've seen the pictures, with the bat painted on the glass. Only for you it'd have to be a picture of a suit."<br /><br />"Very funny."<br /><br />"Hey, it'd be easy, they could just use the sign off a men's room& 26"<br /><br /><b>End.<br /><br />Notes:</b> The Janus Contract is one of three novels written by the comics version of Superman. I've assumed that the Movieverse version wrote them to explain his absence from the Daily Planet. Costmart was a supermarket chain run as a cover for Intergang in <i>Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman</i>. All weapons details come from the Internet Movie Firearms Database:<br /> <i>(You need to <a href="https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=login;sesredir=action~RSSrecent"><b><i>Login</i></b></a></i><i> or <a href="https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=register"><b><i>Register</i></b></a></i><i> to view media files and links)</i><br />John Reese has used a SIG-Sauer P239 as his preferred weapon through all series of <i>Person of Interest</i>, Samantha Shaw has repeatedly used the shotgun and carbine mentioned above.<br /><br />And because I couldn't resist it...<br /><br /> <i>(You need to <a href="https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=login;sesredir=action~RSSrecent"><b><i>Login</i></b></a></i><i> or <a href="https://www.bigapricot.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?action=register"><b><i>Register</i></b></a></i><i> to view media files and links)</i>