Before the first time jump, in Final Horizon.
"The Scraths are parasites, plain and simple," Bril was saying. "They are after me, the details of which I shall explain later. As for the Scraths: They have the ability to mimic the DNA of any organism they have touched, morphing into the organism." Matt paused to remove his mask, rubbed his forehead and went on. "They invaded Earth in 2015, one year ago to me. They killed my father because he was an engineer designing fighters for the U.S. government. I witnessed the whole thing. That is how evil they are," he added softly.
He heard gasps of horror and sympathy, and ignored Chamber, Superboy, NRG and Rainmaker.
Matt continued. "They tried to exploit my powers before they manifested, because I was of an alien race the Scraths called 'Them.' They thought if I could be corrupted, they could win their war against 'Them.'" Bril halted, banished the memory and kept his mind on business. "Scrath is short for the Scrathatos Aliens. As it is, they totally wrecked Earth, and in order to survive, I moved to a separate reality that was identical to my original universe, except for the fact the alternate version of me in that reality had disappeared the night before I arrived." Matt stopped again, overwhelmed at the memory.
Superboy looked at him in contemplation. The time traveler seemed to have some secrets he was going to keep hidden from them. The Kid was determined to find out what they were.
He just wasn't sure how to do it yet.
Bril put his mask back on and faced the chosen team. "We move at 0900 tomorrow morning," he said briskly. "Get some sleep. Trust me: You'll need it."
Greece, 1537 BC.
Superboy shook off the effects of another jump with a grunt. He had to admit: Bril's powers were pretty impressive. He could probably even take Superman in a fair fight.
But right now, Matt was reading information on the viewscreen on a hand-held computer, looking puzzled. "Greece," he muttered thoughtfully. His eyes suddenly widened in realization. "The gods! The Scraths going after the Greek gods!"
"What?" SB inquired.
<I thought the Greek gods were just myth,> Jonothon stated. NRG and Rainmaker nodded in agreement.
"No, they're just overexaggerated metas," Matt replied simply. "You know how fact can become distorted over the eras. Hey, take Superman for example. If he had crash-landed here instead of however long ago in the future, the people would've worshiped him as a god. Am I right?"
Superboy reflected on the example for a moment. Bril was right, not at all surprisingly.
"And the Gods are my ancestors," Bril added.
That comment got a rather startled response out of everyone! Without answering a single question thrown at him, Bril keyed something into his computer; the air around it shimmered and manifested into clothing suitable for that period as hairstyles changed to blend in with the times. Matt handed the clothes out, and the team got varied items such as tunics, chitons and armor.
Rainmaker stared in disgust at the armor Bril had given her. "Do I really have to-" she started to say.
"Well," Bril interrupted thoughtfully, "the style these days for peasants is topless...."
"On the other hand, the armor could be quite useful," Rainmaker piped up, quickly accepting the protective clothing.
"I don't know what I'd rather see," Superboy joked. Rainmaker sent him a nasty glare that could wilt a cactus. NRG and Chamber laughed.
Abruptly, NRG noticed something: Her Power Band would stick out like a white soap bar against a puddle of tar with the clothing Bril had given her.
Apparently, Bril noticed the same thing, and handed her a scrap of fabric to wrap the Band with. Ayala smiled at him. "Muchas gracias, Bril," she stated gratefully, wrapping up her hand and wrist.
"Why don't you just take that band off?" Sarah wanted to know.
Ayala arched an eyebrow and held her hand up. "You try takin' it off, chica. You're welcome to try. It's fused to my arm," she answered bluntly.
Bril stopped more questions by handing each of the Quantum Enforcers --as he had started to call them-- a disk made of bronze.
"These are communicators," he said in explanation as he 'morphed into period clothes. "They all contain small tracers and Chamber's can translate telepathy into speech. They are all different so we can tell them apart."
Sure enough, Superboy saw his Comm had the "s-shield" engraved in it, while Chamber's had a stylized "X" in a circle; Rainmaker's had a thunderhead and NRG had energy waves embossed into hers.
"Nice touch," Ayala commented
"After you change into your new clothes, we're splitting up," Bril informed them, tuning Ayala out this time. "NRG and Superboy are together. You other two are with me. Be careful using your powers around these people or you might become a 'god.' And trust me, these metas don't like others calling themselves gods. Try to locate the Scraths, and hurry!"
"How can we find them if they copy DNA and become what they wish to be?" Sarah protested.
"Watch for anything out of the ordinary," Bril answered.
"Peasants talking with nobles, soldiers treating beggars like human beings, women acting like an equal to their husbands.... er, not to be sexist or anything. I'm sorry to say these people are very much so. Try to start acting like that. Sorry Ayala, Sarah, but we need to blend as much as possible."
Rainmaker wrinkled her nose, but Ayala nodded. "Got it, Senor. No big deal," she said. "So whadda we do when we find the 'Scraths? Pulverize 'em?"
Bril smiled at her with a "nice attitude" expression but didn't answer. She grinned back and went off to change. Ayala felt a slight attraction to Bril --very slight, since she barely knew him-- but there was definitely something thing seemed odd about him. His aura was slightly off-kilter, but fully human.
Ayala decided to think about it later and pulled on the clothes over her "hero suit".
Superboy followed her after a moment or so. "Hey, looks like we'll be working with each other," he commented.
"Guess so," Ayala replied, straightening her tunic. "It's an honor," SB said.
Ayala turned to look at him, mildly surprised. "An honor, chico?" she asked curiously.
Superboy nodded and stuck his hand out. Gingerly, Ayala took it. Instead of shaking it, SB kissed it lightly.
"I think it'll be a pleasure too," Ayala responded, carefully withdrawing her hand. "C'mon."
The teams split up, with Bril, Chamber and Rainmaker heading in one direction and the other two deviating away from the path.
Ayala bowed her head and stared at her feet, pretending to be a docile female, and doing something else.
"So what's the story behind that Bandy thing?" SB inquired quietly after a while of walking, gesturing to her wrapped hand.
"Hm? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention," Ayala said sheepishly, looking up for an instant. "I was looking for alien energy."
"'Scuse?" SB returned.
"I'm sensitive to various forms of energy. Humans have energy auras that feel like soft breezes," Ayala told him. "I'm guessing 'Scrath energy would feel different."
"Good thinking," SB praised. "Anyway, what IS the story behind you Band?"
Ayala glanced at her left hand. "I was a martial arts student and a gymnast," she began. "Once, at a gym competition, I was on the uneven bars and really throwing myself into the routine. But I put a lot of punishment on the bars and they crumbled, throwing me to the floor. I shattered my left wrist on impact. The doctors told me the bone would heal, but the nerves suffered a lot of damage. My wrist was paralyzed and so was my hand. Pathetic, really; I'm a southpaw."
"But your hand is fine now," Superboy pointed out.
"Si, It is. I'm getting to that," Ayala said. "I got really depressed when I found out I couldn't do gymnastics. My padre --excuse me, I mean my dad--, being a scientist, made me this Band."
"Why d'you call it a 'Band'? It look more like a glove without fingers," the Kid interjected.
Ayala shrugged. "My little brother called it 'the Band'. It kinda sticks," she answered. "As it is, it stimulates nerve response to signals from the brain. But when I put it on, it glitched, overdid the job and fused to my arm. I can't get it off. Not that I'm griping."
Ayala smacked her right fist into her left palm, then snapped her fingers. A bolt of black energy edged with gold zipped off her fingertips and vanished. "Now I can use my hand, and absorb kinetic energy from impact, then rechannel it. You can hit me as hard as you can or electrocute me and I won't get hurt; I'll just send the energy back. I can siphon energy from sources like electric sockets and the like, and restore it. Also I'm sensitive to the energy auras, like I said."
Ayala dropped her hands to her sides. "That's why I call myself NRG. If you say it fast, it sounds like 'Energy'."
SB was impressed. "Are you a crime fighter?" he questioned.
Ayala laughed. "I'm thinking about it. I mean, a gift is pretty useless if you don't use it, comprende? What else am I supposed to do with my new talent?" Ayala's slanted eyes met SB's bright blue ones. She felt a pang of attraction, and promptly let it go. (Damned if I'm not acting like a hormonal hotshot,) she muttered to herself. (I don't WANT a boyfriend, especially one from another reality!) "What about you, chico? What's your story?" Ayala asked, diverting her mind from her thoughts.
"I'm a clone," Superboy said.
"Seriously. I thought I was a clone of the most powerful hero alive, or, at the time, dead."
"Oh?" Ayala questioned, cocking her head to the side. "Go on."
SB did. "But Superman's DNA was strange and all those scientists couldn't duplicate it, so the Cadmus Project's director --a real slimeball named Westfield--, donated his DNA to myself and the twelve failed clones before me."
Ayala winced at the number mentioned. "Twelve? Failed? That means...." her voice trailed away. "They died, right?"
Yea," SB answered shortly.
"Poor kids," Ayala murmured.
The Kid didn't notice and kept going with his tale. "Originally, I was supposed to be Superman, but the maturation process of the cloning Vat was.... well, interrupted and I was released at.... this age." He paused. "The age I'll be for the rest of my life," he finished quietly.
A gentle hand placed itself on his arm. Superboy looked over at Ayala in surprise and saw her eyes filled with compassion. "Lo siento," She declared. "I'm sorry." She squeezed his arm and released it, kept walking alongside him.
He smiled and considered kissing her as thanks. He stopped her and drew closer to her for an instant. "'Yala?" he said in a slightly hesitant voice.
Superboy got closer and started to bring his lips down to hers- The few moments of silence was interrupted rather loudly by an explosion. Superboy and NRG jumped back from each other.
"I think we just found the Scraths!" Ayala called over the panic.
"No, really?" Superboy bit out sarcastically, and tapped his com, hoping that was how it was activated. "Bril, man, I think we just found the Scraths!"
"Didn't I just say that?" Ayala complained, trying to locate the aliens.
Suddenly, from the other side of the link, Ayala and Superboy could hear the sounds of a battle.
"We're a little busy at the moment!" Matt answered.
"With what?" Ayala asked.
"Apollo and Ares!"
"Oh crap!" Superboy exclaimed and jumped towards a demolished building, ready to fight.
"Kid! Wait!" NRG yelled. "You can't just charge off.... Too late, he already did," she grumbled, picking up the pace and running after him. "Wait up!"
Chamber fired off an energy blast at Apollo. The so-called sun god attempted to dodge the well-placed blast, but the attempt was in vain as the bio-blast sent him sprawling. Rainmaker generated a bolt of lightning to compliment Chamber's blast. Apollo was knocked back off his feet. For the briefest of instants, Chamber reflected on the fact that these metas looked exactly like the actors who played them in his time on "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." Not that it mattered now: He really had to watch it or he'd be fried worse than Emma Frost's version of toast.
Bril ducked the punch Ares threw, backhanded Ares and dodged an energy blast from Apollo in the same instant. As luck would have it, Bril's powers gave him hyper-speed, super-strength, and enhanced senses --as Chamber noticed-- as well as his time travel abilities and Quantum energy control.
Apollo turned his attention back to Rainmaker. In his hand, a board of energy appeared; He jumped on and sped towards Rainmaker. The Apache looked shocked for a second and froze.
Apollo came closer, a devilish smirk on his face.
Chamber was about to act when he abruptly realized Rainmaker had a grin across her face. Chamber knew she had something planned.
Sure enough, just before Apollo would have hit her, Rainmaker struck Apollo with a hurricane force gust of wind. It knocked Apollo off balance horribly. The skyboard veered away from the battle and Apollo flew in the opposite direction, screaming.
Bril leapt back towards Ares as Chamber braced for another encounter from Apollo, but it never came. Jono saw the skyboard take off from the ground vertically with Apollo on it! Rainmaker created a wind current and took off after Apollo, intent on bringing him down.
Chamber turned back to Ares and Bril, knowing --or hoping-- Sarah could take care of Apollo herself.
Ares had summoned his war sword. "You stupid kids are gonna pay for scarin' my little brother off," he said with his gravelly to Bril and Chamber.
"You and what army?" Bril said defiantly.
Ares sneered. "You're pretty cocky for a mere mortal," he snarled, and thrust at Bril. Matt frantically dodged. "Don't worry, you're next," Ares said to Chamber.
(We'll see about that,) Jono thought, and suddenly looked down to see a soldier Apollo had killed with a stray blast at his advisaries. He felt extremely guilty over the innocent's death, but Chamber drew the sword from the soldier's scabbard anyway, thinking it could help. As he looked back to the battle, Bril generated a lightning bolt from his fingers and sent it flying. Ares jumped around it.
Although impressed at the ability he hadn't seen Bril use yet, Chamber didn't pause. <Bril, catch! > He called, and threw the sword to Matt. Bril caught it cleanly and stared at the blade. Chamber was amazed to see the blade lengthen.
Ares was surprised by the trick too. "Hey," he said swinging at Bril, "how'd you do that?"
"Magnetism," Bril said in reply. "It rocks." He swung his newly lengthened sword at Ares. It sliced through Ares's upper chest, creating a clean slice across his pectorals. Ares yowled in pain.
"HOW'D YOU DO THAT?" he bellowed at Bril.
"Magic," Bril said sarcastically. Ares glared at the youth.
"This ain't over!" Ares snarled as he disappeared in a burst of flame.
"Yes it is," Bril said calmly.
Rainmaker landed near her teammates a moment later. "The freak I chased got away!" she cried.
"S'okay," Bril assured her, "we gotta get across town to help NRG and Superboy. They found a 'Scrath!"
Bril took off at a dead run while Rainmaker generated a wind-current to pick up both herself and Chamber.
Even though he wasn't the religious type, Chamber fervently prayed they'd reach their companions in time, before anything horrible happened.
"Heracles!" the Scrath roared.
The legendary Greek hero gaped at the giant rocky creature and then the two new arrivals, Superboy and NRG.
"Dang, Ayala," Superboy whispered to NRG, "the Hera-whatsit guy looks like Kevin Sorbo."
"Well," NRG mused, "Heracles is the original name of Hercules. It's entirely possible this is Hercules." Superboy gave at her with a puzzled look. "Hey, I'm good at myths," Ayala said defensively.
Superboy decided to let it slide. He flew at the Scrath's face and attacked, hoping to help Hercules --or Heracles, whatever-- fight off the alien for whatever reason it was attacking him. "Hey, Hero!" he yelled at Heracules. "Hit it low!"
Heracles chose to listen and drove his fist into the 'Scrath's stomach as Superboy clobbered its head.
NRG stood back, seeking an opening, wondering if her powers would be any good against the behemoth.
All at once, Heracles was kicked and sent soaring through a few huts and shrubs. "Yow!" SB yelped. "That's-"
The 'Scrath grabbed him in a huge fist and started squeezing. It hissed, a guttural, triumphant sound. The rocky giant pulled Superboy in close with a sneer. The Kid recoiled from the creature's awful breath. "Gug! Ever hear of a breath mint?" he gasped.
"Very funny," the alien sarcastically retorted. "I squeeze the heads off heroes, kiddo," it said threateningly. "Do you want yours still attached?"
SB struggled madly against the iron grip of the monster, even tried to use his tactile-telekinesis to break the hand open, but it was no use. He was well and truly caught, and suffocating from lack of air. "N.... NRG.... Help!" Superboy croaked as the Scrath started to crush his body.
NRG reacted instantly. She took a running start, executed a flawless front flip and landed feet first on the Scrath's face. Stony skin cracked and the creature bellowed, stumbling back. NRG hit the ground, absorbed the impact, pressed her advantage and front-snap-kicked its knee, half-breaking it with her precision. "Take that, ya sinverguenza!" she shouted.
The Scrath shrilled a rage-filled noise and brought an arm around; NRG ducked, but it got her anyway, bowling her to the soil. "Owwwww!" she yowled. "All right, that's it!"
When the alien tried to attack her again, still keeping Superboy in a death hold, NRG snared its arm, sinking the nails of her left hand deep. A strange, crackling glow surrounded the Scrath as Ayala activated her powers and methodically drained its energy aura away. The 'Scrath fell to the ground, screaming in pain as it twitched and passed away.
Superboy fell out of the Scrath's lifeless hand, looking very dead himself. "Ay por Dios! Supes! Nooooo!" NRG screamed, rushing to his side and landing on her knees. In desperation, she slammed a fist into his solar plexus, releasing the energy her body had stored.
Superboy cried loudly then started hacking and groaning as he sat up, sucking air into his lungs. "Kid! You're.... okay," Ayala panted, feeling a wave of dizziness.
Bril, Rainmaker and Chamber abruptly arrived on the scene a split second later. "What- (cough) took- (haaaack) you- (choke) so long?" SB accused. "We needed you!"
<Sorry. We kinda had a date with the Gods, > Jonothon explained sheepishly, kneeling beside him. <You all right? >
"No! (Cough) The 'Scrath almost killed me!" SB yelled.
"Please! Stop shouting!" Ayala begged. "We're fine now. I think.... I don'.... the alien energy.... too much," she moaned, and collapsed on the ground.
"'Yala!" SB yowled. His hands flew to her wrists as he sought a pulse. "Please be okay!"
"Relax, Kid," Bril cut in with as soothing a tone as he could manage. "She's just tired. I think channeling all that energy wore her out."
Superboy experienced relief, and stood. Once he regained his equilibrium, he scooped Ayala into his arms and cuddled her close, feeling very protective. (She did this to herself to save me,) he thought. (I owe her. Big time.)
Bril did a quick scan of the area. "The threat has passed. It's time to jump again," he declared. "Next stop.... who knows when?"
The Quantum Enforcers vanished in a blaze of brilliant green flame. Heracules watched them go, and voiced a whistle of admiration.
"Some heroes," he murmured. "I didn't even get to tell them 'thanks'."
Just then, with a glow and a small BANG, Ares appeared nearby. Heracles glared at his half-brother. "I should have known you were involved, brother," he snarled, preparing to knock Ares' lights out.
Ares smiled a surprisingly guilty smile. "Hey, it's not my fault if Dad sent me after those kids," he muttered. "He thought they were those.... Whatever they were."
Heracules snorted in disbelief. "Uh huh."
As the team shot forward into the next designated era, Bril grinned. (Perfect,) he thought. (That time is fixed. Looks like I don't have to worry about vanishing.)