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Doctor Who Crossover Internet Adventure #05 - "Fear Itself"


Chapter 3
"Supposition"
by Paul Andinach


---


Nyssa leaned toward the Doctor and murmured, "'Superman'?"


       "Superman isn't his name," he explained. "It's just what the inhabitants of Earth call him because he can fly, lift heavy objects, and see through walls."


       "He's not from this planet, then?"


       "No. His own home planet was destroyed many years ago; something you and he have in common, perhaps."


       "Actually," said Superman, "I've always considered Earth to be my home planet." He smiled reassuringly, realising that neither Nyssa nor the Doctor had noticed he was listening. "You forgot to mention 'super hearing'."


       "And 'invulnerability'," said Batman, "to just about everything except Kryptonite. Which brings us back to the question of what those two wanted that Kryptonite for."


       "The usual thing, I imagine," said the Doctor. "Trying to kill Superman."


       "No. They only took a small fragment. Enough to inconvenience Superman slightly, but not enough to kill him without prolonged exposure. They had something specific in mind."


       Superman nodded in agreement. "I'm not sure I like the idea of Darkseid having something specific in mind."


       "Darkseid?" the Doctor queried.


       Batman suddenly remembered that he didn't know anything about these two people in their strange outfits. "Why exactly are you here, 'Doctor'?"


       "Oh, we just happened to be in the area, and we thought we'd drop in and see how the old place was doing...."


       Batman's frown didn't alter by so much as a single muscle.


       "Actually, we were following a transdimensional corridor. You haven't seen one around, have you? I thought I heard it around here a couple of minutes ago."


       "Why?"


       "Because whoever was using it stole the body of the Mara."


       "What is a Mara, and why does its theft concern you?"


       "Large, scaly, and dangerous. It's a long story."


       "Tell it."


       The Doctor sighed. "Once upon a time, an advanced civilisation created a special crystal that could be used to amplify the power of the mind...."


* * *


Ra's al Ghul examined the syringe, taking care not to touch the faintly glowing green point. He had no intention of coming into contact with the liquid it contained. After a moment, he nodded, and carefully placed the syringe in a padded wooden box, where little clasps held it in place. He closed the lid of the box, locked it, and removed the key.


       "As far as sight alone can tell, it is what I was promised," he said to the messenger who had brought the syringe. "You may assure Lord Darkseid that, for my part, all is in readiness and will be carried out as planned."


       The messenger's face formed itself into an expression that, had the face been human, Ra's al Ghul would have assumed was a smile. "My master will be happy to hear that, I am sure." He left.


       Ra's al Ghul looked at the key in his hand, then at the box, as if he could still see the syringe through the exquisitely carved wood and the layer of lead within. He was still in the same position when his daughter cautiously entered the room a few minutes later.


       "Father, the messenger has departed."


       Ra's al Ghul nodded, but did not look up.


       "I expected him to remain. Had *you* relied on some other to fulfil part of a plan, you would have had him watched to make sure nothing went wrong."


       Her father smiled. "Our... associate... has no need of such measures. Nobody *ever* fails him." He looked up. "Nobody, at least, who remains in this world."


       His daughter shivered.


       "And, in any case, there are certain advantages to not being in evidence in the rare event of something going wrong."


       She nodded her understanding.


       He returned to staring at the box. "I considered a similar plan to this, once. The opportunities in the random havoc created if the Last Son of Krypton suddenly became less than his usual benevolent self... But creating a formula that would work the required changes is a difficult task without the resources at our associate's disposal, and in the end I concluded that the result would not be worth the effort. However, circumstances change, and I find that certain portions of that plan are useful after all." He smiled slightly. "Life is strange, sometimes." He looked at the key he still held in his hand, then inserted in the lock and turned it. The mechanism clicked.


       "Time to go," he said. He picked up the box, and left.


* * *


"Speaking from experience with the dark side of a single city," said Batman, "a being created from the dark side of an entire planetary population sounds like something I wouldn't want to tangle with."


       "It sounds like the kind of thing that would interest Darkseid, though," said Superman. "Although I don't know what use it is to him dead."


       "Or what connection it has with a nearly-insignificant quantity of Kryptonite," added the Doctor. "But I expect we'll find out."


       "We?"


       "Nyssa and I are certainly not leaving until we know what has become of the Mara," the Doctor said. "Will you be staying here in Gotham, or returning to Metropolis?"


       "I'll be here for the next few days," said Superman. "I haven't finished my... business here, yet."


       Batman considered the possibility of objecting, but quickly decided that he wanted to know what was going on as well, and he'd never find out if he told Superman to leave his city.


       The Doctor produced a small device from one of his pockets. "This," he explained, "is a temporal path tracker, which I've set up to detect the energy signature of the... what did you call it? The 'boom tube'. As soon as they arrive, I'll know."


       Batman reminded himself to ask Oracle what she could find out about the Doctor.


       "The tricky bit," the Doctor went on, "is letting you know that I know."


       "That's not difficult," said Batman. "What we do is this."


* * *


The next arrival, however, would not be by any means that the Doctor's tracker would register. Somewhere in the Middle East an aeroplane was taking flight. Its occupants had been entrusted with their task by Ra's al Ghul, and their destination was America. They carried with them two boxes.


       The larger of the two boxes was built mainly of lead and contained mainly Kryptonite. It wasn't much Kryptonite, but it would weaken the Man of Steel enough that he would be unable to resist a sudden and brief attack. (Ra's al Ghul had kept the Kryptonite, even though he had abandoned the plan for which he had gathered it; Kryptonite is valuable stuff. Had Darkseid only thought to ask, the raid on the shopping centre would have been unnecessary, and the shape of events may have been very different.)


       The smaller of the two boxes was made of wood, intricately carved and firmly locked. Its contents were far more dangerous than mere Kryptonite.


---
To be continued...



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