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Countdown to Crisis

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Chapter 1: A Pest




I'm a pest. That's what I've always been told. My mother loved me, but she never had the time to tell me. I was always pestering her she said. My dad was much the same, except for the love part. I didn't have trouble making friends, but I did have a lot of trouble keeping them. It's only recently that I've become good at keeping my friends.

Kara taught me that. Everybody loves Kara, whether they want to admit it or not. I was in love with her for a very long time, part of me still is. But after the whole Cadmus debacle, she started going out with Mon-El and I can't compete with that even if I really wanted to. And I don't. That's what I keep telling myself at least. If I'm being really honest with myself I don't like Mon-El. And it's not just jealousy I swear. He's started to call me a pest, because I keep telling him that he has to protect his identity, for Kara's sake more than his. But you see, here's the thing about pests, we tend to uncover things we weren't supposed to. Like this, the largest computer monitor I've ever seen, with files from the D.E.O., as well as the FBI, some organization called A.R.G.U.S. and something called Checkmate.

Which makes we wonder, why does this computer have files on people Kara's told me about from other Earths?





"Winn, what did I say?" She was always nice to me, until she wasn't. That's the way Special Agent Alex Danvers was to everybody. Even her sister. It infuriated a lot of people. I've try to tell myself that I only put up with her because of Kara, but that would be a lie. The truth is that I respect the living hell out of her. Coming out of the closet is hard, especially when your sister is a nigh-all powerful alien. Granted Kara is the most loving, accepting person on any planet, but it's still difficult.

"That you didn't have time to deal with my "nonsense," I replied as we walked along a corridor of the DEO headquarters in National City, "which I find quite offensive by the way-"

"Look, Winn," she cuts me off, right then and there, "I'm sure what you're saying is important in its own special way, but I have to give the House oversight committee a tour of the base," she checks her watch, "right about now."

She turns around but keeps walking, looking at me. I stop and watch her leave. After a moment or two, she turns around. I may respect the hell out of her, but she doesn't always return the favor.

"Winn!" A kind yet stern voice shouted from behind me. I turned around to see the man who had probably become my best friend, James Olsen, "How you been man?" As he walked towards me I noticed he was carrying a black duffel bag.

"I'm fine." I said, raising an eyebrow and pointing at the bag, "What are you doing here?"

James winced noticeably at the question.

"I'm just dropping the gear back off," he said lifting the bag a little, neglecting to make eye-contact.

"You're really going through with this?" I asked, "You're really giving it up?"

"Yeah." James said.

On some level I was offended he was doing this without asking me. I felt like I was as much a part of the team as he was. I had helped him from inside a van, doing the tech stuff that he didn't have time to do, let alone have time to learn.

"Do you really think that's the right thing to do?" I said, "I think now more than ever, the world needs heroes."

"I'm sorry, Winn," James said, "But after what happened with Cadmus, and Lena, I just can't do this anymore. I think going back to just being Editor in Chief of CatCo Magizine is enough for me right now."

He kept walking, I tried to call after him, but I couldn't find my voice in time. I just couldn't do it.





Oliver Queen. I've met him a few times, he's cold and reserved, but somehow his presence demands your respect. Exact opposite of Kara, ironically enough. I scroll through the monitor, looking at all the information these people have on him. His age, height, weight and even some shirtless pics that make me wish I had gone to the gym more. As if that wasn't creepy enough, I moved onto the next column. The Green Arrow.

How the hell do these people know about vigilantes from other Earths? Or let alone care? It had a list of associates: John Diggle, Felicity Smoak, Sara Lance, Roy Harper (MIA), Thea Queen, Dinah Lance (Deceased), Barry Allen (Deceased), Kara Danvers (Earth-38). The list went on but I stopped reading there. I knew that the DEO didn't keep record of Kara's identity as Supergirl, so these people knowing who Kara is scares me. Kara. Oh god, Kara.





After what happened with Cadmus and L-Corp, the Superhero community is on edge, so it meant a lot to me that Flash, Green Arrow and the so-called Legends had come when I asked them. Of course, I had to ask Kara to contact them, but still, it was nice that they came for me.

One of my father's old warehouses had been broken into. My father was a super villain by the name of the Toy Man. Kara fought him once but he's fought Superman a few times. He routinely called me his greatest invention. It's enough to screw up anyone's life, but I've powered through it. The reason I was concerned about it was because my father dealt in destruction. He could have stored anything there.

Curtis (AKA Mister Terrific I was told), did a sweep of the area for any technological tampering. A man Oliver knew by the name of John Constantine does a "mystical autopsy" on the location and also finds nothing. Kara said Oliver vouched for him, but I don't like the way he keeps looking at her, or anyone for that matter. He gives me the creeps. It's like he's already figured out ten ways to destroy your spirit.

He doesn't find anything. I see him glare at me. I hear Oliver apologize to him for wasting his time. I hate it. The constant need people have to apologize for me. They treat me like a child. Like I don't know what I'm doing. Kara and the new Flash walk over to me.

"I'm sorry Winn," Kara said to me, "But both Curtis and John couldn't find anything. Even Canary's detective skills couldn't pick anything up."

"Canary said there was no sign of forced entry," the New Flash, I think his name is Walter or something, "and both Curtis and Felicity said there's no electronic chase of anyone coming in or out."

"Thanks. I'm sorry I dragged you out here," I said, "I'm just worried that this warehouse was a target because someone is going to break him out of prison. Or even worse he had something dangerous in here."

"Supergirl!" J'onn shouts from inside the warehouse. Everybody looks over at him. His presence constantly demands attention and respect in a way I can't quite define. He definitely scares me, but I do trust him. "I think you need to look at this."

Supergirl, Flash and Superman converge at Green Arrow and J'onn's point, I trot behind them, wanting to keep my distance, but I still feel as if I have a right to know what they've found.

"Curtis did a third sweep and found traces of Kryptonite," Oliver says and all four of them stare at me.

"What? You can't be that surprised!" I can't believe I'm defending this, "I mean he fought both of you, how unlikely was it that he didn't have any?"

"He's not wrong." Oliver said. I can't believe he's defending my defense.

"I thought you and Alex destroyed all the kryptonite, J'onn." Clark looks at J'onn, his eyes narrowing.

J'onn didn't respond, which was a telling response of its own.

"J'onn?" Kara said, begging for her cousin to be wrong.

"Alex doesn't know about it," J'onn said, "But three years ago we tried to move some kryptonite but the shipment was hijacked. We never knew what happened to it."

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Mr. Schott," Clark said, "This has been quite enlightening."

After that everybody began to leave. Flash, Green Arrow and their crews left through the portals, while Superman and Martian Manhunter flew off in opposite directions. Leaving only myself and Kara. Kara stayed a few more minutes, asking me if I needed a ride. But I declined. I told her I needed some time to clear my head. Which wasn't an entire lie, but something didn't seem right about this. Which meant that I needed to talk to someone I had hoped I would never see again.





Oliver launched himself up again and reached the highest ledge of the Salmon Ladder. Then he jumped down and breathed a sigh of relief. Star City had died down since Prometheus' attack. Even his political career was settling down, as much as it ever would.

"Oliver!" Quentin charged in, out of the elevator towards the mayor, "we have a problem."

Oliver slipped on a shirt and met his deputy mayor at the monitor, who brought up a local news recording.

"Authorities aren't saying anything about the attack," Bethany Snow said from behind her anchor's desk, "but sources from within the SCPD say that the victims were killed with arrows. Arrows that had black on the end."

Oliver shut it off and turned to face Quentin.

"Could this be Merlyn?" Quentin asked.

"No I have it on good authority that he's locked up somewhere safe." Oliver said, stroking the beginnings of a goatee.

"How safe?"


"So you're saying that...," Quentin trailed off.

"We're dealings with another Dark Archer."





Van Kull Penitentiary was a dark, uninviting place. Not that it should be inviting, it is a maximum security prison after all, not a kindergarten playground. But that's not why it's my least favorite place on earth. My father lives here. After he battled Superman, Supergirl and killed so many people. He's a monster. But he keeps telling me I'm supposed to be the heir to his legacy. That I'm his greatest creation. So as he stares at me with those hollow eyes, I know that he realizes how important it is that I'm here.

"After a year and a half you've finally come to see me, Winslow," he said, sitting across from me in the visitor’s center, a pane of plate glass separating us, "I assume you're not here just to see your father."

"I don't want to be here," I said, "but I need to ask you some questions."

"What kind of questions?" He asked.

"One of your old warehouses was broken into," I told him, "and things were taken. Including your stash of Kryptonite."

"Which warehouse was this?" He asked.

"The Metropolis one."

He shifts his head to the side. I can tell he's thinking something over.

"Is there something else in there I should be aware of?" I asked, knowing what the answer will be.

"No. I don't think there is."





Dr. Julian Albert had become content to live in his two bedroom apartment with his girlfriend, Dr. Caitlin Snow. Ever since the battle with Savitar, since Barry's passing, life had begun to settle down for him, and despite his grief for the death of his former rival, and friend, for the first time in a long while, he's happy.


The apartment is darkly lit, an old rotary phone, which Julian insisted on having, sits atop a small wooden table.

Julian rushes over and picks up the phone.

"Hey, Cisco," Julian had taken to calling him Cisco as well, the custom had worn off on him, "No she's not home yet. She's on her way. Yeah I'll tell her when she arrives."

Julian puts the receiver down and begins to walk away.


"Oh come on!" Julian turns around picks up the phone. "Hello? Who's there?" He paused for a second, and then toppled over, his expression blank.





I decide to go to Wally West's file first instead. I tell myself it's because he's only recently become the new Flash and I'm curious to see how much information they have already but it's really because I don't want to face the reality of them knowing Kara's identity.

Wally West. The Flash. Oh no. He just started a few weeks ago, it hasn't even been two months since Barry died, and they already know! I look at his list of associates. Barry Allen (Deceased), HR Wells, Jesse Wells (Earth-2), Iris West-Allen, Joe West, Cisco Ramon, Dr. Caitlin Snow, Oliver Queen,... Kara Danvers (Earth-38)

I have to face this now. I hover over the name Kara Danvers and finally gain the courage to press it.





I walk out of the prison. The sky above me is cloudy, trying to rain, but it can't quite break through. I know my dad is hiding something, but I don't know what it is. I just wish somebody trusted me. I'm such a joke to them, it's really my own fault. I was tricked by Lyra. I was stupid enough to believe Lena was innocent. I was right about Jeremiah though. That should count for something. And even the one person I thought I could always trust to have my back, James Olson has forsaken me.


I hear it before I register it.


The Creepers. It's a gang that Maggie had warned me about before she left.


They're wearing masks, green hair flowing out. They leap around, a flurry of yellow, green and red. I see one their hands claw at my face. They hit my left cheek, leaving a scar. I feel the warm salt of the blood drip into my mouth. I back away slowly. I hear someone's feet touch the ground behind.

"Stop right there!" I recognize James' voice through the voice obscured I outfited him with, "It's time for you to leave."

Guardian leaps over me and slams the lead Creeper in the face with his shield. He hits the ground as the others leave. After a second he skitters away. I wait till they're out of earshot.

"James," I hugged him, "You came back. And in uniform! Thank you."

"No," James took his helmet off, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said I retired. I should have helped you."

"You're here now. That's what's important." I said. He noticed that I was bleeding.

"You're bleeding," he said, "Let's go to the DEO and get you patched up. We can work there and get some help."

"No. I can't go back there," I told him. "Let’s go to my apartment."





Digger Harkness and Slade Wilson were the only two prisoners on A.R.G.U.S.'s secret black site prison on the deserted island of Lian Yu. There were two cells, and as such they were forced to keep each other company. Nobody else lived on the island, but what the U.S. government deemed enough food for both of them was flown in each week and dropped off.

Digger had trained under Slade Wilson many years ago, but he had gone rogue and become a mercenary. Years later they both crossed paths with Oliver Queen at different times and had ended up in this specially designed prison because of it. Slade's vendetta against Oliver drove him into the prison, a vendetta he hadn't given up, but Digger had a much more optimistic view of the situation. One of the guards had given him one of those small pink balls that you throw against the wall as a reward for good behavior. This was a couple of months ago. He hadn't stopped playing with it since. The plink-plink-plop of the ball was getting to Slade.

"I swear to God, I will gut you like a fish if you don't stop playing with that thing!" Slade yelled in his gruff voice.

"You're just jealous I got this for good behavior," Digger said as he continued to play with the ball.

"Oh you little-," Slade lunged at his fellow prisoner but was cut off by the bars.

"My, my," A woman in with jet black hair, an infectious smile and piercing green eyes walks down into the prison, "Aren't we having fun?"

"I know I am." Digger answered.

"Who the hell are you?" Slade asked, his one eye narrowed.

"My name is Lena Luthor," she said, kneeling down to look at Slade's lock, "and I'm about to become your new best friend."

"What do you want?" Slade asked. Digger got off the floor and looked at Lena through the bars of his cell.

"If I let you two out of the prison," Lena says, fumbling with the lock, "I want you to gather the strongest and most dangerous "super villains" on this planet and be prepared for to take out Green Arrow, the Flash and every other failed hero in existence. All I ask is that you wait for my word before you attack."

"Why would we do that?" Slade inquired, as much as he wanted freedom, and as much as he wanted to kill Oliver, he was wary of this woman.

"Because money is no object to me," Lena said, "And I'll let you personally drive an arrow through Oliver Queen's eye," there was a pause as she let Digger and Slade digest this information. "So what will it be? Will Deathstroke and Captain Boomerang ride again? Or will I have to find someone else?"

"Well I'm sure as hell in," Boomerang said.

"And you?" Lena made one final adjustment on Slade's lock.

"As long as I get to keep Queen's rotting corpse."





My apartment was small. After all it was hard to afford almost anything in National City. The rent was exorbitant and even on a DEO salary, which wasn't great, the pickings were slim. I had settled on a small one bedroom in the Highland Neighborhood. It's close to Kara's place, and at the time I had bought it I was madly in love with her.

I sat at a small brown wooden table, looking at the computer, while James, still in costume, patched up my face. The blinds were drawn and the only lighting was a small standing lamp that stood beside the computer, James' helmet on the other side. After James finished he packed up the First Aid kit and turned back to me. Holding something metal.

"What is this?" James asked.

"Huh?" I swiveled back to look at the thing James was holding. "Oh I had forgotten about that." I swiped it from James' hand, "It's a piece of the Kryptonian pod that Mon-El landed in. Kara had asked me investigate it back before he had woken up. I never got around to it."

"Hm." James set it aside and looked at turned back to me, "Now why didn't you want to go to the DEO about this new stuff?"

"They treat me like a joke," I told him, not meeting his eyes, "I just don't have the energy to deal with that right now."

"Kara trusts you," he said, "We could go to her, we wouldn't have to deal with the DEO if we asked her not to."

"But then I have to deal with her condescension towards me and our activities as Guardian," I said.

"Yeah...," James trailed off, "but what do you have?"

"Well, it started when I was going over L-Corp's and Cadmus' bank records a few days ago, this was what I've been trying to tell Alex and J'onn, but they don't listen to me anymore," I told him, "I thought it might be a good idea to go over them, see if we could catch anyone else who was involved in Cadmus. But I noticed something. A few weeks before we busted Lena and Lillian, money started to be withdrawn from both accounts, it was small amounts, kind of randomly, but all to the same three accounts."

"Were you able to find who the accounts belonged to or where they were based?" James asked, his eyebrow raised.

"Not yet." I spun the chair around to face him, "I was almost there, when Mon-El told J'onn that I was "wasting DEO equipment," and he told me to stop."

"So that's why really you don't want to go back." James said.


"How does the stolen warehouse fit into this?" James asked.

"Have you ever solved puzzles? Like as a regular hobby?" I asked him. James shook his head. "Well my dad used to make me do it a ton as a kid. I was really good it, but I hated it. He told me that most people, when they solve puzzles, they try to solve the whole thing at once, but I do it differently. He said that I focus on one small area and then build out from there. He also did this really annoying thing. He would never let me see the picture of the puzzle, and he never told me how big the puzzle was, so I had to visualize the picture on my own. It was cruel, but it gave a great way to look at the bigger picture."

"What are you saying?" He asked me.

"I'm saying that I'm getting the same feeling now about this, that I got when I realized the puzzle was bigger than I originally thought," I explained, "I'm saying that we need to be looking at the bigger picture."

Something started to buzz behind James, we both turned and noticed piece of the pod getting an electrical current through it. Both of our eyes widened as it flashed yellow, in a split second, James, ever the hero, pushed me out of the way, right before it exploded.





Hawkman and Hawkgirl floated down the balcony that Sardath, a native of the planet Rann had left open for them to land.

"Thank you for meeting with us, Councilor Sardath," Hawkman said, lending his hand for a handshake, "I understand that with the destruction of Thanagar, these have become difficult times for both races, but myself, my wife, hope that with the help of your son in law, Adam, we can come to an agreement that will be mutually beneficial."

"I'm sure." Sardath was a tall balding man, wearing traditional Rannian Science Council robes, "I know that Thanagar is a very prideful culture and I'm glad that they sent you to us instead of simply attacking us like you usually do."

Carter grimaces, but Kendra pulls him back.

"We thank you for meeting with us," she said. Sardath motioned for them to come into his large round living room and to sit at the couch. As Carter and Kendra sat down and removed their helmets, a young Rannian woman ran in.

"Father!" She said as she entered.

"Alanna what is it?" Sardath asked.

"We're under attack," she pointed at Hawkman and Hawkgirl, "This has all been a ruse to get our guard down. They're invading!"





The consistent beep of the heart monitor that James was hooked up to didn't do anything to calm my nerves. James was lying in a hospital bed, unconscious with first degree burns because of what I had asked him to do. I sat beside him, the hospital room was nearly empty, I had texted Lucy, but she said that she was out of the country and I should give him her love. I'm honestly not entirely sure how to do that. I'm not sure how to do anything anymore. All my friends are Super-Heroes or secret agents, and I'm just a nerd with several broken hearts. I was resigned to reading old Daily Planet articles that Clark and Lois wrote, and describing the photos that Jimmy had taken for the articles.

"This one is of Superman punching the flame off of Atomic Skull's head," I told him, turning the tablet towards him, as if he were asking to see the photo, "I've always wondered how that worked. I mean I was never a chemistry whiz, I liked physics and comp-sci more, but that definitely seems impossible."

"JAMES!" Kara barged into the room, Mon-El close behind. She ran over to his bed and gripped his hand, completely ignoring me.

"What happened?" Mon-El asked me.

"A piece of your pod exploded in my apartment. James shielded me from the blast," I told him.

"Why did you have a piece of my pod in your apartment?" Mon-El said, accusing me of something I wasn't going to dwell on.

"Kara asked me to examine it," I explained, "It was before you woke up, she wanted me to figure out where you came from. I had honestly forgot I still had it. I haven't exactly been spending a lot of time in my apartment between the bar, DEO and Lyra."

Mon-El opened his mouth to say something, but Kara spoke first.

"Are you okay, Winn?" Here's a little secret about Kara, we all love her. We can't help it, she's just that type of person. It's not even just that she's beautiful, she is, but it's more about her personality, she's nice to you, no matter who you are. The second Livewire incident proved that, even though they hated each other, Kara still let her go because she cared. But there's another side to it, we all kind of hate her too. She has this way of making everyone around her feel loved but inadequate at the same time. She's stronger than us, physically at least, and that means she has to be careful, but she puts that into her friendships too. I realized it when she told me she didn't love me. Which was fine, some people just aren't meant to be, I'm not angry at her for that, but she did it in a way that made me feel like I was a kid. She was supposed to be the one person who didn't treat me like that, and then she just did it. I noticed it with James too, not just with their break up but the way she yelled at him when she found it he was Guardian. I love her, and I would do anything to protect her, but, I had just about reached my breaking point. "Winn? You okay?"

"Yeah." I said, too curtly for my intentions. There was a beep and Mon-El checked his phone.

"J'onn wants us back at the DEO, Kara," He told her, conveniently not mentioning me.

"You go ahead," Kara said, not taking her eyes off mine, "I'll meet you there."

"Kara-," Mon-El started.

"Just go," she shot him a glance, and he left, closing the door behind him. "Winn, what's going on? You've been off the last couple of days."

"I told you, I'm fine." I said, lowering my head to the ground.

Kara sighed, and sat down in the chair beside me.

"What happened to us?" Kara asked after a moment, "You, me and James used to hangout all the time, now we barely see each other."

"You want me to be honest?" I turned my head and looked at her incredulously.

"Yes, always," she answered earnestly.

"A certain alien came to earth." I told her.

"Why do you and James hate him?" Kara asked.

"We don't hate him...," that was a lie, "we just don't, we don't understand what you see in him." The words came tumbling out of my mouth without permission, but that didn't make them false.

"That's not your call to make. It's mine." She told me defiantly, "you don't get to tell me who I fall in love with."

"Do you love him?" I asked, and before she had a chance to respond, I course corrected, "No, that's not even the point. The point is that ever since you got together with him, you barely give anyone else the time of day. Even Alex mentioned something about it!"

"Fine, maybe James is a little lonelier," she relented, "but Alex had Maggie and you have Lyra."

I was silent for a moment.

"Lyra and I broke up." I told her.

"When was this?" She asked.

"About a week ago." I said. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything about Mon-El. It's not my place. You're an adult, you can make your own decisions. You should probably get to the DEO anyway. But I can't go back. Tell J'onn I'm quitting."

I grabbed my coat and left the room, leaving Kara to deal with my ill-conceived.





"What is it J'onn?" Kara flew into the meeting room and landed between J'onn and Mon-El.

"It's Lena." J'onn said, "she wants to talk to you, and you alone."

"I'll go," Kara said.

"I'll go with you," Mon-El said, "I can protect you from that woman."

"I can protect myself," Kara said, Winn's words rang throughout her head, "Who does she want, Kara or Supergirl?"

"Supergirl." J'onn stated firmly and Kara nodded, beginning her long solitary walk to the cell block of the DEO.

They were keeping both Lena and Lillian on sight because of how smart they both were and how many times Lillian had escaped from her other cells. Each of them were on a separate floor, so as they wouldn't be able to plan together. As Kara walked in, Lena's green eyes lit up with happiness to see her.

"Ms. Luthor," Kara crossed her arms across her chest, letting the S shield show through, "you wanted to speak with me."

"Please, I'm innocent, you have to believe me!" Lena pleaded, "Kara," a flash of fear flitted across Kara's face, "Yes I know who you are. I'm not stupid. And I never told anyone. Please, you have to believe me."

"Alex saw you there." Kara said, "Saw you giving Henshaw orders. There's no getting out of that."

"Oh come on, Kara!" Lena shouted, "You're friends with a shapeshifter! You know these things can be faked! And besides, I would never hurt you, Kara, you're the only person who ever really believed in me, I loved you. I still do."

"I'm sorry, Lena," Kara began to turn around, "but I can't trust you, and I never should have."

"Wait!" Lena shouted and Kara stopped, "There's something else. I've been having dreams, nightmares really," she paused, making sure that Kara's listening, "and in them, somebody's... somebody is killing Superman. I watch Superman die, I just... I thought you should know." Tears begin to stream down Lena's face.

Kara leaves the room and Lena sits back down in her cell, sobbing into her arms.





I was able to finally trace the money transfers back to the three original locations, which all happened to be in an abandoned castle in the Swiss Alps. Rumor has it that the castle had been the one place in Eastern Europe that the Nazis had never been able to take control of. Legends said that there was some primordial force that kept the Hitler from taking the castle. I didn't believe it, I chose to take one of the CatCo private jets there to the castle. With James in a coma, I didn't have anyone else who trusted me, let alone gave me the time of day, I had burned all my bridges. I landed the jet at the base of the mountain and began to climb.

I stole of James' Guardian suits and used his gear to scale the cliff. One on the mountain I found a number of guards patrolling the castle. Each one of them wore a black uniform with a yellow mask. They patrolled in pairs, each holding a large gun. I waited at the base of one the walls, timing the guards shifts. Once I had the time, I used a grappling hook to scale the wall.  Thank god for the mandatory DEO strength training.

It took me awhile to get through the castle, I was almost caught many times, I even thought I saw Maggie once. But once I got to the center I found a large square room with a large monitor and files from many different organizations, most of which I hadn't heard of.





After clicking on Kara Danvers name I was shocked, I shouldn't have been but I was. They had all of her information. I looked through it before getting to her list of associates. Clark Kent, Alex Danvers, J'onn J'onzz, Mon-El(?). Why was there a question mark next to Mon-El's name? I couldn't answer it so I continued down. James Olsen, Winslow Schott Jr. (Deceased)... That's when I heard it, a slow clap behind me.

"Good job, Mr. Schott, I'm impressed." I'd recognize that icy-smug voice anywhere. Maxwell Lord. I turned around to face him. The same Evil smile playing on his lips. "I knew it either be you or Agent Danvers. But personally, my money was always on you. Nobody sees your potential, nobody understands what you're really capable of. They all just see a geeky man-child in constant need of validation."

"What are you doing, Max," I asked, stalling as I planned my escape, "What is this?"

"This?" Max asked, raising his arms, motioning to the room, "This is Checkmate. Here we monitor potential problems and eliminate them before they get there."

"Supergirl is a problem?" I asked.

"Of course," Max said, "both her and her cousin are problems. You saw what happened when she was exposed to the Ruby K!"

"Which was created by you," I pointed out, "so you're just another Cadmus, huh?"

"No. Not at all," Max sounded almost offended, "We are nothing like those hate mongers. We seek to create harmony between all beings of the earth. But I know that to achieve harmony, some things need to be excised from the earth. The world changed 30 years ago when Kal-El's rocket fell to earth. Everything was thrown out of balance."

"So you blame Superman, too." I said.

"He was a baby, it wasn't fault," Max said, "it was the age that he unintentionally ushered in. After he appeared and declared his intentions to protect us, he made nations and corporate interests scramble to create something to destroy him, just "in case" he went bad. This is where things like Cadmus come from. But here's the real truth. There is no good and bad, there is only creation and destruction. And I seek to create a better world. That's what Checkmate really is. We are creators, but sometimes, things need to be destroyed so we can create."

"You're a mad man." I said.

"And you're incredibly self-destructive." He wasn't wrong, and that was when I realized that I had destroyed everything that I cared about, "Your life is destroyed, but I know that you are an astonishing creator. Come join me and together we can build a truly perfect world."

"You're bat$&#* insane," I slowly began to back away, "even if everybody in the world hated me, I would never work for you."

"Well that's too bad."