JSA (3): Hourman, Flash, Green Lantern, Stargirl, SHAZAM

New Mutants (14): Cannonball, Magik, Wolfsbane, Karma, Douglock

“Magic,” Doug Ramsey tells his friend and body-mate Warlock, “is just another code, another language. And that flying guy in the white cape just gave us a heck of a clue.”

“Self-friend is correct, Doug. Query: is that why we are allowing him to fly above the battleground unopposed?”

“Mostly. Also he’s very big and strong.”

Douglock pauses to sidestep a furry missile as Hourman hurls Wolfsbane off his back and into the wall behind them.

“Oofta! Wee bitta help, boyos? We’re gettin’ hammered out here, an’ nae in the fun way!” Rahne growls as she shifts into full wolf form and races back to Stargirl, biting into her cosmic staff.

“Jeez! Somebody help me out with Team Jacob here!” Courtney shouts as two human-sized streaks of light shoot past her. She hears an echo of “Istilldon’tgetthatreferencebutI’malittletiedup!” as she and the wolf begin to float towards the ceiling of the cavern, where two backlit figures, one green, one gold, duel in the sky.

“What reference?!” Sam Guthrie yells as he chases the old guy in the helmet. “How can you hear anything when you run this fast?!” He had to be doing at least Mach 2 and didn’t show any signs of slowing down. They must be lapping the arena ten times a second! “C’mon, old timer! What’s your secret? Should I get head-wings like you and Cap?”

We’re only lapping the arena ten times a second and the rocket kid’s already slowing down! He’s wasting a lot of energy trying to talk at me, Jay Garrick thinks to himself. Wish I’d thought to wear goggles like him, though. Got him caught in my windstream, though– time to aim him at his friend who’s tying up GL!

Suddenly the scenery in Sam’s tunnel vision changes and before he can react, he realizes he’s hurtling straight towards Magik and the glowing green guy.

Aw, hell, Illyana’s gonna be pissed–

“Sam’s heading your way,” Karma says conversationally inside of Magik’s mind. “I’ve got my hands full keeping this Hourman guy off my and Doug’s backs for another… 48 minutes?! Merde! We need a new plan!”

“Kind of busy up here myself, Xian!” Illyana mutters to herself. Thankfully, the guy who looks like her brother in a white cape was still stuck between two teleportation portals, and the old glowing green guy was starting to wear down. Her Soulsword was starting to chip away at his weird forcefield. How can something be half magical and half… not? she thought. But Cannonball was soaring straight towards her! With no time to think, she yanks the big guy in the red pajamas out of Limbo, opens up one portal in front of Sam and another at an angle that should put him right above Wolfsbane, the floating American girl and this “Hourman”. An orange streak shoots through one portal and out the other, clobbering Stars, Rahne (regrettably), and the guy in the black hood. They all fall to the ground in a heap. “Rick!” exclaims… Green Lamp? What strange names these people have! “Courtney!” cries the flying guy in red with a lightning bolt– not to be confused with the running guy in red with a lightning bolt. Names *and* uniforms. If they weren’t yelling each others’ names I’d wonder if they even knew each other. “Rick and… Courtney, was it? They’ll be alright, Mister Green Lamp. My teammates aren’t killers.” Her Soulsword clashes against the blade of green flames the old man wields. “Myself, on the other hand…”

Alan can tell the Russian girl isn’t fooling around. Her technique with that magic sword is no joke, and those portals she could open smell like hellfire, which didn’t feel like a coincidence to Alan, what with those horns she was wearing– but she’d made a mistake, letting Shazam go to take out Courtney and Rick… “Sha– Billy! I could use some help!”

Too late, Alan observes. He thinks the rocket kid did it on purpose.

Karma staggers back as unconsciousness jolts her out of Hourman’s mind. It was much like losing at a video game where you could feel Mario hit the bottom of the chasm. “Great plan, Illyana…” she mutters as she surveys the crater. Sam lies in the epicenter, with Star-Spangled Girl (I think that’s what Rick called her?), Rahne and Rick– Hourman– littered around him. The red guy in the metal helmet (that’s Jay, the Flash, Hourman’s memories told her) is trying to wake Rick up, while the red guy in the cape (Billy? Captain Marvel? Shazam? Is that all one guy?) tends to the Stargirl. Douglock remains standing beside her, but techno-organic tendrils shoot out of his shoulders and drag Rahne away from Sam’s blast radius, all while turning his attention back and forth between Magik’s battle with Green Lantern and the big red guy. “So Illyana took out two of ours and two of theirs,” she says to Doug. “And Big Red looks upset. What’s the play, boys?” He’s got that look in his eyes– Doug and ‘lock are trying to work something out.

“Yes, the big red one is in love with the Stargirl– distract him. For at least a minute. Oh, and keep psionically shielding yourself. I don’t think anyone besides the Hourman has noticed you yet.”

“Gee, thanks.”

She closed her eyes and when she opened them again she was looking out through Rick’s. She could feel the– Miracle-Gro? No, Miraclo, that was it– coursing through his veins. She allowed the smaller red-lightning guy– Jay, Flash– Rick’s brain kept telling her– to help them up out of the crater.

“That rocket kid packed a hell of a wallop, didn’t he?”

“Sam. Or Cannonball,” she said with Rick’s voice.

She wanted to wait for the look of realization on the old man’s face, but she knew superspeed wouldn’t allow for it. Rick’s fist was just barely quick enough and strong enough to connect, knocking Jay out for what she knew, thanks to Rick, would be a two-minute concussion at most. She went to pick a fight with Big Red.

Billy had had about enough of this. The devil-girl had tried to trap him in some kind of pocket dimension full of demons, and then freed him so that her teammate could build up enough momentum to knock out Courtney and Hourman, along with one of their own! Once I knock out the robot guy and make sure that hotshot with the goggles is down, I’m coming for you, devil-girl. 

The blonde guy with the goggles and his friend the wolf-girl stirred, semi-conscious, in their black-and-gold uniforms. They looked more like an Olympic team than proper superheroes.

“Wha… did we win?” Goggles slurred as Billy approached. The Wisdom of Solomon told him to be calm, they’d all been summoned to the Rock against their will… but the Power, and fury and jealousy, of Zeus overruled him– they hurt Courtney!

“Not yet,” Billy said through gritted teeth. “Now stay down, Goggles, or I’ll knock you down again myself.”

“His name’s Cannonball. I’m Karma,” said a familiar voice behind him. He turned, and Hourman was there, with a weird glint in his eye.

“You’re Billy, right? I’ll say it like my old teacher said it to me… what’s your real name, Billy?”

Imperative: self must work quickly before LargeRedFlier sees us!

Yes, but quietly too. Reduce to 5% integrity. We may be able to get Flash and Stargirl out of the way while Karma has him distracted!

Douglock used his shapeshifting powers to turn into a techno-organic puddle, easily overlooked by the two super-strong men duking it out in the center of the arena. Karma’s thrall in the black hood wasn’t going to last much longer, from the look of things.

Analysis complete: staff fires plasma bolts and channels cosmic energy. Belt allows for reduction of gravitic forces on wearer. Neither can be assimilated as both are creations of foreign multiverse.

Damn, Doug thought. That would’ve been useful. He took it off her waist, tied it around her and the Flash’s feet, and turned it on. They immediately began to float into the air. With that done, he grabbed Cannonball and dragged him over to Wolfsbane, beside Karma, still shielded from their opponents’ sight and struggling to maintain control of Hourman.

“He’s fighting me, Doug! And Billy’s no slouch, either! Can I let go yet?”

“Yes. Goad him into knocking you out, then drop your shield. I want him to see us.”

“Easy for you to say, you’re not enduring other people’s concussions… here goes…”

Whatever had a hold of Rick wasn’t letting him go, and Billy was trying to pull his punches, but Hourman definitely wasn’t pulling his. “C’mon Rick, fight it!”

Suddenly Rick spoke up again, but in a different voice…

“We have him now, Billy! And we’re not letting him go! And we’ll take over your girlfriend next–” the voice shifted up an octave– “I dunno Doug, do we really need him him to think we’re evil?” But the strength of Hercules and speed of Mercury are faster than the wisdom of Solomon, and his fist was already connecting as he heard “no wait Billy it’s me it’s Rick–”

Douglock fired a warning shot from the cosmic staff to get Shazam’s attention. “You’re sure? His name is the magic word? And it’s the same as the wizard who brought us here?” Karma asked as the hero flew towards them.

“Yep,” he replied. “Query: what kind of corny world do they come from anyway? Be ready, his magic’s pretty powerful. You’ll meet with a lot of resistance, but you just need to get him to say the one word.”

Xian felt like she’d stuck her whole brain into an electrical outlet. This guy was fighting her way harder than any human, almost like–

like he isn’t alone in here.

Illyana’s arm was getting tired. She was keeping Green Lamp occupied, but little more than that, and with Karma working on the Piotr lookalike, she was too far away from the rest of the team to tell what was going on. This old man won’t quit until one of us falls. That gave her an idea. “Oh! You have bested me, Green One!” Magik ended her flying spell and allowed herself to fall towards the floor of the arena. She saw Sam and Rahne unconscious, propped up against a wall beside Douglock, wielding the American girl’s staff, while Xian struggled with the big red man while the strongman in the black hood laid at their feet. She looked up and she saw the old man fly over to Stargirl and the fast one, trying to rescue them from the anti-gravity trap Doug must have made. Five feet above the floor, a portal opened. Five feet below the rock ceiling, a second portal opened. Illyana stretched her legs as she plummeted, and pointed her Soulsword downward. Momentum carried her right into Green Lamp’s unguarded back, knocking him into the other two opponents and sending them all falling through her next portal to the ground, landing on top of the man with the hourglass around his neck. Bozhe moi, she thought, I spent five years of my life in Hell fighting Belasco and I wear these horns. She pried the gaudy green ring off of the old man’s hand and prodded the speedster’s silver helmet with her boot. What’s their excuse?

Xian was at her limit. She felt like she could hear gods talking to her. Every nerve, every muscle was on fire. One word. Two syllables. Just. Make him. Say it.

Her brain was splitscreened, she and Billy could see each other and saw each other seeing each other, there were six other voices screaming in both their ears and the experience was maddening. Even controlling Madrox wasn’t the same, she thought. That was just 20 dudes who all wanted the same basic things. This is… is…

“Divinity?” Magik asked as she landed beside the other opponents. “Didn’t you and I fight Asgardians to a standstill? Aren’t you a child of the atom, trained by Xavier and Magneto? Fight them, Xian! Say the word!”

Slowly, the red titan’s jaw began to move. His eyes (and Karma’s) rolled back in his head. His mouth moved as his entire body thrummed with lightning until…

“Sh… sha… SHAZAM!

Douglock, Magik and Karma squinted as their eyesight and hearing returned. The other heroes laid upon the ground of the arena, insensible but alive. As did a scrawny, black-haired boy in a red t-shirt. Karma staggered toward the boy to make sure he was alive. Suddenly the ancient, white-robed wizard who’d brought them there appeared before her. “My champion… you have bested him. You… you will proceed to the next round. How did you…?”

“You gave away your code–” Douglock began. Karma shushed him, stood and nodded in respect to their fallen opponents. “We’re X-Men,” she announced proudly. “We fight to survive.”

“Magic is not toy for children,” Illyana said disdainfully as they helped Rahne and Sam back to their seats. “I’d like to see Green Lamp or Kazam fight Belasco or Sentinels.”

“Green Lantern,” Karma said, distracted, as they sat back down. “And don’t say that boy’s magic word again. My head still hurts.”

WINNER: New Mutants

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