SHE GRUNTED slightly as she pried her eyes open, moving the sheets aside as she sat up and looked around. Stretching, the blonde looked at the clock and gasped, running up to her wardrobe at speeds that blurred her body. Hastily, she took a shower and got dressed, black skirt and a brown shirt, and left the room.
She ran through the hall and into the elevator, oblivious to her surroundings yet cautious enough to control her speed. Reaching the lobby, she left the building and entered the street, nearly forgetting to put on her glasses.
She stood at a sidewalk, tapping her foot as she looked left and right to see an opening in the presumed busy traffic. With a frown, she stopped and paid close attention to her environment, shaking herself out of her ingrained morning routine. Most of the cars were unoccupied and the traffic lights were off.
She walked down the sidewalk, taking in the scene as she saw the number of empty cars fill the road. A loud bang came from the next street and she ran toward it, turning at an intersection to see a riot happening. Stores were being looted and policemen were outnumbered by the criminals, being killed off one by one.
Looking around apprehensively, she snuck into an alley where she ripped her clothes off, revealing a blue leotard underneath. Tapping the ‘S’ symbol adorning her chest, the suit spread out into pants, fashioning red boots and a cape stretching to her knees.
She flew out of the alley, punching out a thug who’d kicked a policeman over, knocking him off his feet. The other thugs turned to her, ready to attack when they saw the ‘S’ on her chest and jerked back. Gripped with fear, they quickly dispersed, leaving her with the wounded policemen.
“Thanks, Supergirl.” An officer struggled to his feet.
“What’s going on here?” Supergirl frowned.
“We dunno.” Another officer adjusted his cap. “Been reports all over of rampant crime and something …” He huffed. “Something strange, really.”
“How strange?” She turned to him.
DESCENDING TO a skyscraper’s roof, she frowned and shook her head, disbelief evident on her face as she moved up to its edge. The street stopped abruptly at one point, the road and sidewalk cut off cleanly as if a knife carved it. As far as the eye could see as she rose to the sky, only a quarter of the city stood at a seacoast.
“What the hell ...?” She squinted.
“Kara!” A voice called.
Kara turned and grinned as she saw a green-skinned girl clad in black tights and a blue cape fly towards her. “M’gann!”
“Oh, thank God!” M’gann hugged her. “I thought I was the only one here!”
“What’s going on?” Kara gestured to the edge of the city.
“I don’t know.” M’gann frowned then hovered around, folding her arms. “It’s like the city’s cut in half or something.”
“Have you found anyone else?” Kara moved up to her.
“No. I’ve been trying a neural link, but I can’t find anyone, not even Uncle J’onn.”
“This doesn’t make sense.” Kara frowned and looked around. “C’mon, we’ve gotta keep looking; there’s gotta be someone else around here.”
“Yeah.” M’gann nodded and flew off with her.
“MAN, YOU’VE gotta be kidding me!” Kid Flash growled as he slammed the fridge shut. “An apocalypse and no yoghurt?”
“Wally, we should be asking people for answers, not looting stores.” Nightwing frowned.
“Well, then lead the way.” Kid Flash walked around the dishevelled store. “You should’ve had a lead by now.”
“It’s kinda hard to come up with anything meaningful when half the city’s gone and no one remembers anything.” Nightwing folded his arms.
“Speaking of which, isn’t Washington supposed to be bigger? Cuz last time I checked, America was larger than four football fields.” Blue Beetle shook a can of coke, tossing it aside.
“I just said that something’s wrong; were you even listening?” Nightwing frowned.
“Yeah, what’s going on here?” Kid Flash opened another fridge, drawing a growl from Nightwing.
A man fell over outside, an arrow stabbed into his chest, soon followed by a car that flung past him. Two thugs ran away in a panic as Super Boy and Artemis walked down the sidewalk, the blonde fixing another arrow on her bow.
“Apocalypse?” She entered the store. “Thought we already cleared that up.”
“Lil much, don’t ya think?” Blue Beetle pointed at the man’s corpse.
“Got what he was coming to him.” Artemis pulled the strap of her bag. “Too bad his love arrow was too literal or he’d have forced that girl into third base.”
“You guys seen M’gann?” Super Boy entered the store.
“No, still trying to figure out what’s going on.” Nightwing frowned.
“By trying to steal from a busted vending machine?” Super Boy growled. “We need to get moving; we don’t have time to mess around.”
“He’s right.” Nightwing headed for the door. “Let’s get moving, we should split up and try to find the others.” The others followed him out.
ADJUSTING HER binoculars, Barbara crouched as she studied the end of the street, seeing the clear edge between the asphalt and sand. Raven frowned as she looked around, purple energy exuding from her eyes as she squinted.
“There’s no way this’s real.” Barbara stood up. “How’d the city get cut up? It’s not like it’s a giant cake or something. And if it did, how’d it happen silently? The whole town would’ve heard that.”
“There’s no magic involved, so I’ve got no explanation.” Raven folded her arms. “I wonder what happened to the rest of the city … and everyone else.”
“You think they’re all dead?” Barbara’s brows furrowed.
“It’s a possibility.”
“No, it can’t be.” Barbara sighed. “M-maybe it’s another simulation, like what happened to the Team before we joined.”
“We haven’t even joined yet.” Raven’s lip quivered. “Today’s supposed to have been the day we were announced and the day when some would ascend to the Justice League.”
“… And no one remembers it at all.” Barbara rubbed her arm. “Is everyone else okay? Are we the only members of the Team left?”
Raven closed her eyes, breathing deeply and frowned. “I can’t sense them.”
“Wouldn’t you be able to if they’re in the city?”
“Yeah. It could mean –,”
M’gann’s voice came, squealing as she descended toward them. “You’re alive!”
“Kara, M’gann.” Batgirl grinned. “You’re still alive.”
“Glad we found you.” Supergirl landed and embraced her. “Any word from the boys?”
Supergirl groaned. “What do we do now?”
Wind swept past them as a large aircraft descended, swerving to a landing position. Super Boy crashed nearby, followed by Blue Beetle and Kid Flash who dashed into the area. The jet’s doors opened and a woman in a green jacket ran out of it, squealing.
“Oh my God, it’s the Team!” She held her cheeks.
“Who are you?” Supergirl walked up to her.
The woman gasped. “Kara-El! The daughter of Zor-El, cousin of Superman and secretly fights extra-terrestrials under the DEO!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, how do you know all this?” Supergirl frowned.
“Who are you?” Superboy raised his brow.
The woman gasped. “Kent Connor!”
His eyes darted around. “Who’s that?”
“Mah, it’s just me; I like saying it backwards.” The woman snorted. “You’re the son of Superman – well, you think of yourself as one –, who’s really a clone of him and Lex Luthor – pretty weird, but I’ll roll with it – who has most of his powers. You were created in Cadmus –,”
Kid Flash chuckled. “This is insane.”
The woman gasped. “Wally West! Kid Flash! One of the founding members of the Team! Living a normal life as a –,”
“Back up; who are you, how do you know who we are and do you know what’s going on?” Nightwing frowned.
The woman bit her lip, excitement coursing in the bright pink that filled her face as her eyes roamed. “I don’t know who to talk about next.” She gasped. “Raven! One of the members of the Teen Titans! I loved you by the way when you were just starting out back in the day. It was funny how you were so distant from everyone, but secretly had a crush on Beast B –,”
“Okay, you need to stop and explain how you know all this about us.” Supergirl frowned.
The woman snickered with a wide smirk. “Oh, I know everything about each of you.” She laughed. “Hours and hours of footage, thousands of articles, I know all your secrets. Your names, your families, the colour of your hair, eyes –,”
“Okay, that’s enough Cher; we don’t scare the kids.” Phil disembarked from the Bus.
“Hey, we’re not kids!” Kid Flash frowned.
“Said the guy named ‘Kid Flash’?” Cher chuckled.
Supergirl laughed uneasily and moved behind M’gann. “Uh, who are you people?”
“Phil Coulson, Director of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, we –,”
“Well, that’s a mouthful.” Barbara chuckled.
“SHIELD? Really?” Kid Flash folded his arms.
“I didn’t name it.” Phil shrugged. “We detected a spike in YEAST energy in this location around 2am –,”
“YEAST? Who names stuff in your company?” Kid Flash chuckled.
“It’s a long story.” Phil sighed. “Before we get more acquainted, we need to get you up to speed on what’s going on. Around November last year, a villain known as Yokai opened an unstable portal over the city of San Fransokyo –,”
“San Fransokyo? Seriously, what world are we in?!” Kid Flash shook his head.
“Mr West, will you please let me finish?” Phil frowned. “That portal opened a rift in an inter-dimensional plane called the Sparrow Dimension that caused several worlds to merge. It seems the merging has not ended yet and earth keeps enlarging as the number of rifts increase.”
“Shouldn’t that have some sorta mass effect or something? That should cause a black hole to open, right?” Kid Flash raised his brow.
“We’re not clear on all of that.” Phil frowned. “We’re still trying to piece everything together cuz a portal that small shouldn’t have caused this much chaos, but that’s the theory we’re running with.”
“So, where are we?” Raven walked up to him.
“Changed Earth, a world most likely parallel to yours with combined continents and new ones popping up because of the rifts we mentioned. This’s Amersia; the combination of America and Asia and you’re in Los Seoul, the combination of Seoul and Los Angeles.”
“Ugh, this is giving me a migraine.” Artemis shook her head.
“Since you know so much about us, where’s the rest of our city?” Nightwing folded his arms.
“I dunno. Like I’ve said, there’s a lot we’re yet to understand.” Phil turned to him.
“How do you know us already? We’ve never even met before?” Superboy frowned.
“Look, we can stay here and ask questions all day, or you can come with us and we can help you find some answers.” Daisy walked up to him.
“We can’t come with you, we haven’t found one of our friends yet.” Raven frowned.
“Yeah, where’s Kaldur?” Kara looked around. “You guys seen him?”
“Well, we have satellites around the world, we can help you find your friend.” Daisy walked up to her.
Nightwing turned to the others, seeing their confused expressions. “Fine, we’ll come with you.”
“Okay, but can you keep her away from me?” Supergirl pointed at Cher.
“C’mon, I just wanna see what it’s actually made of.” Cher laughed evilly as she pulled on her cape.
“C’mon, Cher, let’s get moving.” Phil walked toward the ship.
Sharing uneasy looks, the Team followed Phil, Daisy and Cher into the Bus; the large aircraft that landed nearby. Entering the ship, they moved along the main concourse, greeted by the confused expressions of the SHIELD agents moving around in a frenzy.
“Welcome to the Bus.” Phil gestured around, making Wally slap his forehead.
NIGHTWING FROWNED as he processed what he’d heard. “So, you’re saying that we were comic book characters in this world until 2am this morning?”
“It appears so.” Phil stood at the other end of the table, folding his arms. “It’s as if there’s some sorta system in play that changes memories of people after every addition to earth. Just like when our world merged with this one, most people failed to notice the difference. I’m even having a hard time remembering the fact that you were all fictional until this morning.”
“Hey, why don’t I get the money I made as a comic book character?” Kid Flash raised his brow.
“My memory is fading as well.” Raven closed her eyes, massaging her temples. “I’m slowly believing that nothing happened to Washington DC, but … I know it’s not true.”
“There just has to be some kinda magic involved.” Kara folded her arms. “There’s no way this’s all just happening. What science can do something this massive?”
“Well, we’re not sure.” Phil shrugged.
“So, what now? What’re you gonna do about all this?” Blue Beetle leaned on the table.
“The same with every other city or country that pops up; keep its existence a secret from the public.”
“How can you do that?” Artemis raised her brow.
“Trust us, we’re professionals.” Daisy chuckled. “When earth had six billion people, we kept an alien invasion in New York under wraps.”
“Earth had six billion people?” Batgirl frowned.
“How many are there now?” Nightwing frowned.
“Thirteen billion estimate. We’ve not had the chance to send ops around to do a proper census, but it’s a safe bet given our calculations. The great thing’s that with our control over the internet, we can regulate what info other countries see. Luckily enough, every country that pops up seems closed off from every other in terms of economy and communication.” Phil turned to her.
“So, ours is the first casualty?” Kid Flash lowered his head.
“I’m afraid so.” Phil sighed. “It’s safe to assume the civilians of your Washington are all dead or marooned between dimensions.”
“Someone very powerful has to be behind this.” Raven frowned. “This cannot all be accidental.”
“I just pray that everyone else’s still alive, especially the League.” M’gann lowered her head.
“Same here, but moping around won’t do us any good and we unfortunately don’t have any time on our hands.” Phil took a seat. “SHIELD’s stretched pretty thin due to the Changed Earth and the Avengers, our Justice League if you will, also has its hands tied. This may’ve been a disaster, but some good can come out of it.”
“What do you mean?” Superboy raised his brow.
“We have a facility on the coast of Los Seoul that’s dedicated to studying the physical changes to our earth. It has room to house all nine of you and has full-range surveillance and access to satellites around the world, so it can be a place where you can stay for a while.”
“So, you want us to work for you?”
“You had any better ideas?” Phil interlocked his fingers. “You’re obviously superheroes and with the right assessment of your skills, you can work as our new and advanced STRIKE team that can aid us in our … problems.”
“What problems?” Nightwing frowned.
“That’s classified, unless you wanna join our little project.”
Kid Flash looked around the room and smirked. “Okay, but we already have a name for our team.”
“What is it?” Phil turned to him.
“The Team.” Kid Flash grinned.
Phil’s eyes drooped, glancing at Daisy who folded her arms. “Seriously?”
THE BUS descended on a large complex’s parking lot situated near the coast, far away from a city in the afternoon. The ground opened, revealing a metallic floor that descended into the earth, cement covering the ground again.
“WELCOME TO The Door.” Daisy led them into a large wooden floored room with back walls, beige furniture, a bar and a large TV in the middle of it.
“Okay, I’m outta here.” Wally headed for the door.
“Come back, Wally.” Artemis pulled him by his collar.
“I thought you said this was a science facility.” Nightwing looked around.
“It is, but the owner of this place, Dr Stephen Cello – the man who discovered YEAST energy and inter-dimensional travel – named this place in remembrance of his time machine/portal, Project YELLOW.” Daisy turned to him.
Kid Flash raised his brow and folded his arms, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Okay, let’s just step back here; you do hear yourself, right?”
“This universe is weird.” Daisy shrugged.
“Oh, no, no, no, no, no!” A man’s voice came. “I can’t have people barging in here without permission!”
A half Asian, half Caucasian, brunette-haired man clad in a 2/4 black leather jacket, jeans and boots walked down the stairs at the corner of the room angrily. Breathing heavily, he gave each of them a tennis racket and stood before them, folding his arms.
“Uh …” M’gann’s brows stitched. “Why’d you give us tennis rackets?”
“They are highly nutritious.” Dr Cello bit a guava.
“Why’d you –,”
“This is Dr Cello.” Daisy gestured to him. “Dr Cello, this is Supergirl, Superboy, M’gann, Batgirl, Nightwing, Blue Beetle, Kid Flash, Artemis and Raven. They’re the superheroes who came from the Severed City.”
“It already has a name now, huh?” Superboy leaned to M’gann.
“Oh, I know who are.” Dr Cello munched.
“Then why’d you act like we’re intruders?” Kid Flash placed his racket on the counter.
“Monaco is a country – a state! – filled with wonder and unsalted pyjamas.” Dr Cello nodded repeatedly.
“Uh, what?” Artemis raised her brow.
“Don’t try to understand him.” Daisy whispered to them. “The Door will be your new home and base of operations. Mac, Dr Cello, me and Cher –,”
“Hi.” Cher waved as she walked down the stairs.
“Will be watching over you. Mac’s a lil busy today, but I’ll be your Den Mother and they’ll be … they’ll be them.” Daisy smiled uneasily as she gestured to Dr Cello and Cher.
“An isosceles triangle does not play baseball.” Dr Cello shook his head.
Kid Flash raised his brow. “Okay, but are you sure you don’t all need a psychiatrist cuz anyone crazy enough to pick that guy …” He pointed at Dr Cello.
Dr Cello stared at a wall. “This wall …” He stroked his chin. “Congo has a very big chance of winning the Award for Best Actress.”
“… To be a scientist leading their research in thermonuclear astrophysics is not all the way up there.” Kid Flash shook his head.
“Trust me, he’s a brilliant scientist.” Daisy stood in front of them. “… I have been told.” She laughed uneasily. “Well, you can freshen up upstairs and we’ll begin combat assessment in a couple days. We’ve got SHIELD agents running a peacekeeping op in the Severed City and they managed to retrieve your belongings which you’ll find in your rooms.”
“Thanks, we really appreciate it.” M’gann smiled as she walked past her.
“Just make sure that Dr Cello guy doesn’t blow us up.” Super Boy frowned.
“I’m sure he won’t.” Daisy winced.
Wally walked up to her and smirked. “Well, hey, baby –,”
“Wally!” Artemis growled and pushed him.
“Hey, I was kidding!”
The Teammates walked up the stairs and headed to their rooms, leaving Daisy and the others on the main concourse. They found their rooms easily, their names displayed above their doors and their belongings placed on their beds.
KARA UNZIPPED her suitcase, seeing her clothes packed inside along with her phone, jewellery and toiletries. Tapping the ‘S’ on her chest, her cape retracted and she sat down, searching for anything that might’ve been left behind.
Pushing her clothes aside, she came across pictures she’d printed out to stick on the walls of her room when she’d join the Team. They were photos of people closest to her: Alex Danvers, her adoptive sister and her adoptive father and mother.
Since she’d discovered that she was in another dimension hours ago, she’d never really sat down to realize what it meant. Her friends and family were all gone, most likely dead and she’d never see them again. It didn’t hit her as hard until now, seeing their pictures; the last evidence of their existence.
Tears ran down her cheeks, blotting the picture of Alex as her pain bled through her tremulously. She’d already suffered the loss of her family once as a child, but a second time was like a dagger to the heart. With the memories of the Teammates slowly altering, she wondered if she’d forget who her family was.
“OKAY, FROM our assessments, I think Nightwing is the most viable candidate for the leader of the Team.” Daisy sat down.
“Yeah, we already decided that before we decided to stop by.” Wally shrugged.
“Okay then, let’s get down to business.” Daisy typed on a holographic keyboard that popped out of the white table that stood at the centre of the dim room, bringing up footage on screens that lined the walls as she addressed the Teammates. “A few days ago, a SHIELD drone was shot down over a Southeast Amersian desert outside Las Dubai – I know, weird name. The footage we salvaged showed images of a military camp set up there and we believe there’s Hydra involvement. We’d have Homeland handle this, but we detected radiation that’s interfering with our scans. Luckily, we’ve determined that it’s nontoxic, but deemed it a potential threat as it might be a nuclear weapon. Your job is recon, figure out what’s going on and report back to us. If attacked, eliminate hostiles with extreme prejudice. How you go about the mission will be decided by Nightwing.” She shut off the screens. “You’ve got twenty minutes before we head out.” She left the room.
“So, guys, here’s what we’re gonna do …” Nightwing stood up.
“THIS IS recon, so we must avoid getting caught at all costs.” Nightwing’s voice came on the Team’s comm. units. “KF, Supergirl, Artemis, Batgirl, M’gann, remember your positions and don’t screw this up.”
“Roger!” The others went off comm.
Supergirl soared through the skies, her eyes roaming the desert landscape when spotted the camp a few kilometres away. It consisted of four buildings with several soldiers patrolling a wire walled compound. Swooping down to a nearby rock, she landed quickly and peeped, seeing militia nearby as she took cover.
“There’re thirteen soldiers, four on the north wall and threes on the south, east and west.” She went on comm.
“Excellent.” Nightwing’s voice came. “M’gann, move in. Everyone else, stand by.”
“Roger.” Supergirl crouched and watched.
M’GANN DESCENDED into the compound in her camouflaged state, lowering her hood as she looked around apprehensively. She moved up to a wall and phased through it, entering a hallway with soldiers patrolling it.
Phasing through several walls, she took in her surroundings, seeing several soldiers walking around in a frenzy. She moved into a large room, hovering close to the ceiling to keep anyone from hearing her. Three men stood before two large grey robots with yellow plated torsos. In the centre of both machines was a glowing orb held within a glass casing.
Turning to the men, she studied them, her eyes dilating in surprise. One of them, a scientist clad in grey stood closest to the robots, talking to them in a language she couldn’t understand. The remaining were highly decorated Amersian generals.
M’gann frowned and spoke to the others telepathically. “You guys linked up?”
“Yeah. You’ve seen something?” Nightwing’s voice came.
“I’ve checked two of the buildings and I’m in the third one. It seems like a deal’s underway, a deal between Hydra and the Amersian military.”
“What!?” Supergirl’s voice came.
“I think the Amersian military’s trying to buy robots from Hydra.” M’gann frowned.
The scientist smiled and gestured to a robot. “Activate, 1216.”
A robot’s eyes came alight and it looked at the men before it, scanning them then quickly turned to M’gann who hovered near the ceiling. It shot an energy beam from its palm at her, hurling her through the wall, drawing a scream from her.
“M’gann!” Nightwing’s voice came on comm.
M’gann struggled to her feet and looked around, seeing soldiers gathering around her with guns trained on her. She went on comm. “Ugh, I got spotted.” She gasped in pain. She tried to phase through the floor but failed, receiving a volley of bullets that bounced off her skin. “I can’t phase outta here.” She shielded her face.
“Everyone, move in!” Nightwing’s voice came on comm. “We’ve gotta get M’gann outta there!”
BATGIRL SHOT a grapple gun at the top of the west fence, launching over it and into the compound where two soldiers ran toward her. She tossed a smoke ball before her and tossed Batarangs into their chests that electrocuted them and knocked them out, running through the cloud that spread.
Kid Flash ran up to the gate of the compound, rushing right through it as he swerved around a guard and punched him out. He dashed up to the second soldier and dropkicked him, landing on his face as he darted off.
Nightwing climbed over the east fence, landing on a soldier with a kick and rolled to his feet. Drawing out his electric batons, he ran up to a militiaman and struck his side, smacking his head and knocking him out. Flipping away from gunfire, he shot a grapple gun onto a wall behind him, pulling himself above a soldier and landed with a knee to the nape.
Artemis struck a soldier’s gut with her bow and punched him, spinning him around and using his body as a shield as a guard shot at her. Tossing the corpse aside, she fired an arrow through his chest, pulling out another one and sending it at two militiamen that ran toward her, coating them in concrete.
She ran up to the building’s entrance, opening it for Kid Flash who ran in. “KF and I are entering the building.” She went on comm.
“Great, now find M’gann.” Nightwing’s voice came on comm.
Supergirl landed with a loud thud, drawing the attention of four soldiers that opened fire on her. Shielding her face from the onslaught, she shot lasers at two of them, flying up to the remaining militiamen with swift punches to the face. A soldier trained a gun at her and she jerked back in shock, scrambling to her feet as she backtracked fearfully.
“No, no.” Her eyes dilated.
“Kara, what’s wrong?” Nightwing came on comm.
“It’s a soldier. H-he’s –,”
“A soldier? What’s scary about that?” Kid Flash’s voice came, chuckling.
“Oh my God, no!”
Kara clutched her head and fell on her knees, whimpering as the soldier moved up to her. With a wide grin, he shot at her repeatedly, bullets bouncing off her skin and impaling his forehead as she shivered on the ground and bowed over in fear. Sweat beaded down her face as she breathed shakily.
“No, it can’t be.” Her lip quivered.
KALDUR’S BROWS stitched as he pried his eyes open, his grunts muffled as he realized he was underwater. Taking in his surroundings, he breathed heavily as he took in the undersea flora around him. He swam onward.
Moving past several rocks and coral reefs, he frowned as he couldn’t see Atlantis anywhere, his last memory being him going to sleep in his room. Moving over a large rock, he saw a city on the seabed domed by a force field. With a smile, he approached it, seeking to ask Aquaman how he’d ended up in the ocean.
As he drew closer, a frown crossed his face, his speed diminishing as he approached and realized that the city was completely different from his. Touching the field, he phased through it and stepped on the ceramic tiled floor, entering a small street.
Looking at the buildings whose architecture he couldn’t recognise, he trod on, receiving glances from the citizens who looked at him with confusion. Like him they had gills on their necks, but their skin tones weren’t human, having an underlying bluish tint. Sounds of commotion came from another street and he ran toward it, nearly bumping into a large seahorse that rode past him, its rider frowning at him.
A crowd occupied the street, controlled by guards that rode horse-sized seahorses with hind legs. The sounds of music came and he squinted at the end of the road, seeing a large palace which stood at the centre of the city. A man walked up to the balcony, smiling contentedly as a man announced him.
“We present our Lord Atuma!” The man’s voice came.