Matthew Durn, known as Bril to much of the multi-verse, stood behind the pilot of the Quantum Security Alliance cruiser. He was tense. After all, his greatest enemy had just been unleashed, and she was going to murder him when he was still an infant. Behind him were a group of meta-humans from several different realities. Superboy, from the one of the first two realities that gave birth to heroes. Chamber, from the other such reality.
Rainmaker, from one of the most recent. And NRG, who had no idea what her place was in the multi-verse. The five had been banded together less than a week ago and had since become the Quantum Enforcers, the best team Bril had ever worked with.
"What are we waiting for?!?" Superboy exclaimed, jumping to his feet. The Kid of Steel was probably the most impatient and brash of the group.
"Chill amigo," NRG said, raising and placing her hand on Superboy's arm. Ayala definitely was the calmest of the group, although she had a hot temper when it was unleashed. Superboy sat down.
<SB's right.> From Chamber. The mutant was the most sullen of the group, but had the most leadership potential. <We're taking too long to get there,> Jono continued. <I know we have all the time in the world, but we need to get down there. We don't know what the others with the Scrath queen plan to do.>
"I agree as well," declared Sarah Rainmaker. Rainmaker was the quietest of the group, and a bit of a prima donna, but could step up when needed to do so. "We need to get to New York and stop whatever they plan to do."
"We're exiting the timestream... now." Bril slipped his green mask over his face as Earth came into view, at the end of the twentieth century. The chronometer on the cruiser's display showed the date as January 31, 1999, 10 O'clock PM, Eastern Standard Time.
Bril turned to the assembled group. "We're splitting up team. Girls, you go to this hospital--" Bril threw Ayala a mini-'puter with a map on its display. "--and watch for my parents. They're in Delivery Room 4C. Guys, you're searching the city for Scraths. You find them and you restrain them. Tag them with one of these--" He threw Chamber a small bronze disk. "--and the cruiser will transport them up. I'm going after the queen herself. We meet in Times Square at midnight." Bril smiled slightly at his team. "Let's rock and roll!!!"
Chamber and Superboy moved quickly through the streets of New York. They didn't have much time before midnight, and the city was huge. Superboy stayed close to Jono, since he was the one with the telepathic powers. Superboy knew that he himself had vast psychic potential, and Ayala's channeled energy had helped him use some of that, but now, he was drawing blanks.
Abruptly Jono froze. Superboy exhaled heavily, his breath visible. "What is it, man?" he whispered.
<Scrath,> Jono growled telepathically. <A familiar one. It's Taera.> Sure enough, the Blink impersonator walked out in front of them. She wore next to nothing, just enough to maintain modesty in human standards.
Superboy saw that the markings on her face weren't limited to just her face. He dismissed the sudden attraction and thought back to Ayala. Now that was a real woman.
"How astute, Jonothon," Taera said in a half coo, half snarl. "You found me." She noticed Superboy had been eyeing her, smiled wickedly and approached him. "You humans take the climate of your world for granted. On my home-world, it never got close to this cold." She got closer to Superboy, walking very seductively. "We hated the heat, and got off. Now, whenever we are on a world with a climate such as this, we bask in the cold. We do the same thing you Terrans do in warm climates: wear as little clothing as possible, and spend time near water. And we enjoy it." She was inches away from Superboy now. He was transfixed. Jono saw what she was doing, but was too late. Taera slipped her arms underneath Superboy's jacket and kissed him full on the lips. Jono mentally gagged at the physicality of it, and would have puked if it were possible for him to do so.
Superboy felt Taera's tongue slip into his mouth and choked in surprise. Despite that, Taera held him for several more seconds and then released him, walking a short distance away. Superboy started spitting and gagging. "An alien stuck her tongue in my mouth!" he screamed.
"That's not all I'm going to stick into you," Taera growled, and drew a dagger from behind her. Jono thought about where she had hidden it, but shook his head. That's what Taera wanted him to think about. She was trying her best to seduce Chamber and Superboy, and then she would kill them.
Taera lunged at Superboy. The Kid was taken unawares, and if Jono hadn't stepped in, he would have skewered. Taera slashed through the bandages that covered Jono's bio-kinetic chamber.
<Bad move,> he projected. His chamber erupted with power, and Taera was flung backwards several hundred feet.
Taera stood where she had landed, wiped the blood from her lip and laughed. "Human adrenaline. Like I told you Chamber, you Terrans take everything for granted, especially your hormones."
<Oh for God's sake, get stuffed!> Jono exclaimed furiously, and fired another bio-blast on the lecherous alien.
NRG and Rainmaker stood in the lobby of the hospital that Matt was being delivered at within the next several hours. Ayala quickly checked on where exactly the maternity ward was, relayed the info to Sarah and they headed towards it.
The lady at the desk frowned at them. "Are you ladies here to see a doctor?" she asked.
"No ma'am," Sarah spoke up. "Neither my cousin or I are pregnant. We're here to see a patient. A Mrs. Durn."
The lady's frown deepened into a scowl. "Mrs. Durn just rushed by here. There's no way that she or her husband-who wasn't with her!- could have called anyone before she got here!"
"Lady, welcome to the Nineties!" Sarah retorted hotly. "There is such a thing as a cellular phone, which can be used while driving, or in labor!"
The woman looked shocked and angry, but told them where Matt's mother was in labor anyway, and pointed them in the correct direction.
"Cousin?" Ayala questioned once they were out of earshot.
"I didn't want the woman to think we were lovers," Rainmaker replied.
"A-puh?!" Ayala spluttered.
Sarah nodded. "The way she addressed us just made me wanna-"
"Sarah," NRG interrupted, "before you start ranting, I want you to know the receptionist seemed weird to me."
"I didn't sense anything."
Ayala ran her hand through her hair distractedly. The Power Band on her left hand tingled with the feel of alien energy. A Scrath's energy signature was like a bitter desert wind, in comparison to a human's, which felt like a soft breeze. Ayala looked around and saw a doctor headed for the same destination she and Rainmaker had in mind: Delivery Room 4C.
"Sarah, that's guy's a Scrath!" NRG whispered harshly. Rainmaker jumped towards him, but it was too late. The Scrath was in the delivery room.
Rainmaker and NRG tried to follow, but were stopped by a nurse. "Sorry ladies, but you can't come in here," she said. "Mrs. Durn requested only her husband and the hospital staff come in." The nurse turned around back into the delivery room.
"Dammit!" Sarah cursed.
Ayala echoed the sentiment.
Matt tracked the queen alone. She wouldn't lower herself to something like killing an infant, even if it would grow to be her most hated enemy. She considered that grunt work. No, the queen would go where she could cause the most damage. Matt's eyes fell to where the brightest lights were coming from, the loudest noise, the biggest crowds.
Times Square. She was going to murder thousands in Times Square. He knew it. Matt checked his chronometer: Eleven o'clock. An hour until Y2K. An hour until he was born. An hour until the Scraths' final victory. That third thought chilled Matt to the bone.
Bril was there to stop the Scraths from winning. He had to: He was the instrument that would save humanity, both now and fifteen years from now. Bril flew into the air, heading for Times Square. There he used his telepathic powers to scan for the Queen. He found her on the rooftop nearest the great ball that was slowly dropping.
"It's through!" Matt shouted, landing behind her. Unfazed, the Queen kept her back to him. Matt noticed she was in human form. He knew who was the being who had supplied the DNA for that form. The queen turned. In front of Matt stood Julie Bach, the only girl he had ever truly loved.
No one paid attention to the energies spent in the battle between three beings. Chamber, Superboy and Taera were locked in mortal combat. Jono had been cut numerous times, and his jacket was getting ragged. Superboy's jacket was the first casualty of the battle, but he was otherwise unscathed.
Taera on the other hand, didn't have tactile-telekinesis to protect her, or bio-kinesis which provided a sort of weak healing factor. Blood dripped from numerous wounds and her already scant clothes were reduced to even less. Taera was losing, and her human body was telling her that. But her Scrathatos mind was telling her that they were merely scratches, and not wounds that would become fatal without medical treatment.
Chamber stood back and pummeled her with blast after blast of bio-kinetics, while Superboy took to close range, punching and kicking at her from the air. Finally, the Scrath wised up after one of Jono's blasts loosened some rock shards that took out one of her eyes. She started to shift form, something neither Jonothon or Superboy had expected. First her height skyrocketed, tearing what was left of her clothes to shreds. Taera was maybe twelve feet tall and still in human form before she started to become the creature she intended to. The nude female shape started to become lithe and deadly. A tail sprouted from between her legs. All traces of gender disappeared. The marks on her skin slowly became hair. Her human face dissolved into something more feline. Other tails sprouted all over her body. Small mouths opened on the ends of all the tails except the one between her legs. The twelve foot tall beast would have scared anyone else, but Jono had seen Sentinels before, and Superboy lived in the Cadmus Project, home of many creepy crawlies.
Both young heroes laughed. "That's it, Taera?" Superboy exclaimed. "I've seen scarier!"
<Yeah,> Jono agreed, <and I've beaten scarier.> And with that, he let loose a massive bio-blast and Superboy came at her with a massive uppercut.
They repeated the pattern several times before Taera fell for good, reverting to her natural scorpion-like form.
"All right!" Superboy whooped and Jono stomped on the bug. "Justice to the Xth!"
Sarah Rainmaker paced outside the delivery room. There had to be some way to stop the Scrath posing as a doctor, but how? It was nearing midnight now, and Matt would be killed any second. From her viewpoint against the wall, NRG saw the fake doctor now had a syringe in his hand, ready to inject the baby with some sort of poison as soon as he was born. They had to stop him before-
"There they are officers!" cried a voice. "They are the ones who are stalking Mrs. Durn!" It was the receptionist. She had called the police.
NRG hurriedly pushed away from the wall as she realized something. "Dios, she's synthetic!" Ayala whispered to Rainmaker. "Her energy source is synthetic. She's an android!"
"Crap," Sarah muttered. "What can you do?"
"Uh... I can siphon enough energy from the cops to knock them out, and then we rush the android before she can do anything else."
NRG's solution seemed simple enough. Sarah went with it. "We surrender, officers," she said, raising her hands. "Ayala, love, get your hands up."
Ayala raised her left hand above her head slowly with a smirk. A spark passed in the air between her and the NYPD officers. Then, two bolts of energy flew from the cops to Ayala's Power Band. They collapsed. Rainmaker made her move on the android. A gust of wind carried her to the synthetic being's side. Sarah started to summon a bolt of lightning, but it never got beyond a raised hand. The android grabbed Sarah by the throat and lifted her off her feet. Sarah struggled, and succeeded in ripping some of the android's synthentic skin off. Then Ayala shook herself out of her stupor and extended her hand. She couldn't ever remember using this aspect of her powers since she joined up with the Quantum Enforcers several days earlier. But now, she was going to use it. She was going to rechannel the energy. A glowing gold aura surrounded her left hand. "Hey robo-bitch!" NRG called. The android turned and stared at Ayala with her glowing synthetic eye. NRG laughed. "Adios."
A blast of plasma tore down the hall and struck the android, flinging it to the end of the hall and throwing Sarah away from her grasp.
"Yes!" Ayala exclaimed. "NRG uno, Scraths zippo!"
"But it might just go into overtime, Ayala!" Rainmaker gasped from down the hall as the clock struck midnight.
"It's over!" Bril yelled to the Scrath Queen. "You've lost. All of my people are stopping your soldiers as we speak. And now that I'm here, you can't slaughter those innocents down there!"
"You are so naïve, Bril," the queen retorted. Her plan to throw him for a loop by using Julie Bach's form hadn't worked. Oh well, she liked this form better that any other she had. "I have backup plans. If your females stop my agent at the hospital, I have explosives set up in every power plant within thirty miles, and I can disable the hospital's backup generators. Taera can tear the males in pieces. They don't stand a chance. And you. You are vulnerable when I'm in this form. You don't dare hurt it. Even if it is your mortal enemy controlling it, and not your true love."
"I can do a lot without hurting you," Matt snapped, "at least physically." With that, Matt unleashed a psi blast. The queen's head whipped back. She got over the first effects of the blast and looked back at Bril. Blood poured from her nose. "That blast would have liquified a normal human's brain," she said, stunned. "All it does to me is give me nosebleeds. I thought you didn't want to hurt this form physically."
"Really," the Queen laughed. "Well, let me give you a form you have no scruples against harming." Then she started shifting. Her new form was a large humanoid, with male and female characteristics and massive claws, fangs and horns. It also had a tail and a frill up its back. It looked like the love child of a human and dinosaur, which wasn't far off. During the Scrath Invasion, the Queen created many supersoldiers using the DNA of dinosaurs, and spliced it into a normal human's DNA, along with the DNA for the opposite sex. In essence, they created the ultimate Earth creature, human and dinosaur, male and female.
"The Sauroids were nothing to me," Bril stated cruelly, using the slang name human had given the dino-humans. "They had no way to take me." "Well Bril," the queen hissed, "this is a type of 'Sauroid' we never used. We combined every dinosaur's DNA into one being. It killed the stock, but gave many Scraths a powerful form. The form that will mean your doom."
<How melodramatic!> yelled a psychic voice. Chamber. He had just climbed to the top of the building.
"But how?!?" screeched the queen. "Taera had forms that should have bested you!"
"If he were alone, she would have," Superboy piped cheerily, flying up from the opposite side of building that Jono just came from. "But when you get two heavyweights like me and Chamber together, anything we face has a snowball's chance in hell."
"The same chances you have now," Bril said menacingly.
NRG looked into the delivery room. The Scrath had the infant Matt in his hands. He raised the hypodermic needle to the infant's rear, and NRG thought of something properly distracting: Power outage. She touched her left hand to the wall and found the power conduit. She then sucked every bit of energy she possibly could into her body. Electricity was a bland energy source, but it worked miracles at the moment. The delivery room's lights flickered and died, distracting the Scrath long enough for a nurse to take the bawling infant from the Scrath's arms and give it to Mrs. Durn.
One danger averted, another in sight.
The Scrath saw Ayala, her Power Band glowing with energy, and started to shift forms, leaving the delivery room. His clothes ripped to shreds, revealing a reptillian form underneath. NRG felt the power in her band starting to try to break free. The lights came back on in the hospital to reveal the Scrath as a giant snake. It started to strike, but a gale force wind struck it, sending it sailing down the hallway.
"Thanks Sarah!" Ayala called to her still-winded teammate. She then held her hand towards the Scrath. The electricity started to spark from the Power Band in small arcs. "Adios," Ayala deadpanned, repeating what she said to the android seconds ago. The electricity shot from her band in a blinding bolt and struck the Scrath. The alien shapeshifter was blown apart, leaving bits of snake all over the hallway.
"Oh gross," Sarah muttered, joining Ayala, "I'd hate to be the janitor who has to clean this up."
"Oh yeah," Ayala agreed. With that, the two sprinted out of the hospital.
Once outside, Sarah picked them both up with a strong wind and carried them to Times Square.
The ball dropped, and New York started into its New Years celebration full tilt.
The queen looked from Bril, to Superboy, to Chamber, knowing it was hopeless. She had lost, but she could live to fight another day. She reverted back to the form she was in seconds ago, that of Julie Bach. "Goodbye boys," she sneered, and leapt into the air. A small tunnel of light appeared and carried her through the sky.
Superboy's eyes followed the nude form flying away. "She's definitely hot," he whistled.
"She's taken," Bril said shortly. Superboy's jaw dropped. "She's my girlfriend. Just so happens it's also the queen's favorite form."
<Ouch,> Jono muttered.
"Ouch what?" NRG and Rainmaker had joined them on the roof.
"Matt just saw his girlfriend nude, but it wasn't her," Superboy blurted. "Ouch," Rainmaker agreed.
<You are really hung up on that nude thing, aren't you?> Jono teased, and went to the edge of the roof with Bril and Rainmaker to watch the festivities below.
Ayala stepped up next to Superboy with a grin. "Were you looking at her, lovey?" she coyly inquired.
Superboy blushed a deep red. "Uh, well," he stammered, "you know, uh..."
"Oh, shut up and kiss me you idiota," Ayala chuckled, grabbing him around the waist and pressing close. Somehow, someway, during the mission, she'd fallen for the guy. It was a good feeling.
"Okay," Kon-El said breathlessly, put his hand behind her neck and kissed her deeply. They held the embrace for several long moments until a psychic voice interrupted.
<All right lovers, get a room,> Chamber laughed. <The rest of us are going home.>
"Oh yeah," Superboy whispered in sudden gloom. "Home."
La Jolla, California, April 1999
Sarah was the first to get back home and bid her farewells to her comrades. Bril came up to her last. "Thank you Sarah," he said softly, "for everything, especially those few minutes on the Titanic." He pulled something from a duffel he was carrying. It was a jacket. The QSA emblem was embroidered across the back, and the right sleeve had a patch with the Gen13 emblem. "QSA flight jacket," he explained, handing it to her. "A momento."
"Thank you Bril," Sarah murmured. "If you ever need any more help-"
Malibu, California, April 1999
Superboy held Ayala's hand tightly. He didn't want to leave her. He had fallen in love with her. He wanted to be with her forever. That couldn't happen, though. They lived in totally separate realities. Bril could see that. So he did something for them.
They'd see each other again very soon.
Superboy still thought they were going to be separated forever, so he let them be.
"Ayala," Superboy said as he stood with her on her doorstep, "I really suck at goodbyes. I just hope we'll meet again. And maybe we could spend our lives together."
"Is that a proposal, Kon-El?" NRG queried, wrapping her arms around his neck.
Superboy ran his hand through her hair. "Yes. No. Well, I don't know," he admitted. "Just remember I love you," he finished, and kissed her.
"Te amo, mi amor," Ayala whispered against his lips.
"Sorry to break in," Bril interjected, grinning widely, "but I'd like to give Ayala something." He handed her a flight jacket. "A momento," he added, repeating what he said to Sarah minutes ago.
Ayala traced the energy bolt on the right sleeve and the QSA logo on the back. "Gracias, amigo," she said softly, and ran inside before she started crying.
As she passed her father, the headline of the newspaper he had in his hands caught her attention. It read: SUPERMAN SAVES WORLD AGAIN.
Superman? Ayala thought. What the f- Then she realized what Bril had done, and cried tears of joy.
Metropolis, Cadmus Project, April 1999
"Your jacket," Bril said, handing Superboy his flight jacket. A patch with the S-shield was sewn to the right sleeve. Kon-El liked the jacket. Something ached inside him, though. Ayala. He would miss her. "Oh, I almost forgot," Bril piped, pulling a card from one of the pouches on his belt and handing it to Superboy. It had a phone number written on it.
"What is this?" the Kid asked. "The Galactic Emergency Hotline?"
"No," Bril smiled, "it's Ayala's phone number."
"What?!" Superboy sat down hard on his bed, staring at the number in shock.
<You relocated Ayala's family, didn't you?> Chamber crowed.
"Yep," Bril said proudly. "They're in Malibu right now. Call her."
Numbly, Superboy picked up the phone receiver and dialed the number.
"Hello?" greeted an anxious voice.
"Kid? Dios, I was right. What took you so long? Tell Bril muchas gracias from the depths of my heart." Ayala's voice was welcome in Superboy's ears.
"I will, but first...." Superboy picked up a little black book from his nightstand. "Are you doing anything Friday night?"
"Si, I am," Ayala replied readily.
"What?!" Superboy's heart broke again.
"Yea! I'm going on a date with you."
Snow Valley, Massachusetts, April 1999
Chamber and Bril materialized in the clearing that Jono had been chopping wood in when they first met. <The exact second we left?> Jono asked, just to be sure.
"The exact second we left," Bril echoed. "Thank you Jono. You get a jacket too."
<Figured that out by now,> Jono cracked, and took the jacket with the "X" emblem on the right sleeve.
"Listen," Bril continued, "I know there will be a time when I'll need to get the Enforcers back together. I don't know when, but it will happen. Can I count on you?"
<Oh yeah,> Jono said enthusiastically. <I'm in, Matt, and you know it.>
"Thank you, Jonothon," Bril stated sincerely as he disappeared in a flash of green light.
"Jono?" called a voice: Paige's voice. "What was that?"
<Nothing, Paige,> Jono answered. <It's just me out here.>
The Scrathatos ship still hung in orbit around Earth. The queen was recuperating. The form of Julie Bach was suffering from frostbite, and the queen was too weak to just morph out of that form.
"Head into the multiverse," she ordered. "I will destroy Bril. I just need the right tool."
Soon she found it, ironically in the same reality the clone and Hispanic inhabited.
"Find me this Avator," she commanded. "I want a word with him."
"Matt, we have a situation here!" Teion radioed suddenly.
A week of Earth-time had passed since Matt had gone time tripping, and he was working out in Final Horizon's gym. "What is it, Teion?" he asked.
"We have a meta called Avator tearing holes in reality, centering around QR-S5436," Teion replied. "Superboy's reality!"
"February 2000," Teion replied.
"It's time to reorganize the Enforcers...."
To be continued in "Time Trippin' 2: Takin' The Trip Again", Spring 2000