It was touch-and-go there for quite a while. The moment Strider managed to teleport Xyla into the ground, my power kicked back on. Even as my flesh flowed to fill the huge wound in my side, I was springing to my feet and launching my skin-threads at my teammates.
All of them were too tough for me to heal normally. I expanded my skin-threads into tendrils and began filling in the holes in their body, generating extra blood from my own body and shifting it to match theirs. Just as I had helped Echo compensate for her wounds in Madagascar, I was able to effectively create “patches” for the missing flesh, bone, and blood. I couldn’t do much for the pain but try to pump some painkiller chemicals into their bloodstreams and hope it at least did a little bit. I didn’t seem to do anything for Echo, but it seemed to work a little bit for Strider.
Hitchhiker was much trickier. She was just barely within my ability to affect, and I could already detect she had sustained brain damage, internal bleeding, and a fractured skull from the impact to her temple. I had to improvise quickly. I sent threads to Ojau’s body, forcibly reviving his flesh. Having perished, his powers were gone, making his body humanly durable again. I was able to reconstruct the skull and brain, getting it functioning just enough that the body would be able to operate on the basest level. I made it crawl over to her and grab her arm.
As before, I jolted Hitchhiker awake, forcing her conscious enough to comprehend my orders to possess Ojau’s body. She was almost too out of it; I didn’t think she was going to make it. But I managed to slow her injury’s progression and force enough awareness that she finally was able to do the possession.
She popped back out after only a second, but that’s all she needed. It still strained her, though, as she dropped back on the ground, gasping in exhaustion. She muttered something in Spanish, and I let her catch her breath. I let Ojau’s body die, having served its purpose.
By this time, Strider and Echo were able to get back up and were fully conscious, if still in great pain. Once she was able to compose herself, Strider got us the hell out of there, and I used a cocktail of chemicals to keep her awake and focused as she teleported us all the way back to America.
Finally, it was over, at least our part in it. There was going to be follow up, as the rest of the world now had to figure out what to do with New Gondwana being open to the world, but that was now the government’s problem. Obviously, there was no way to put the continents back were they were, now that Xyla and Yrba were gone. Frankly, I felt that was probably a good thing. Given the savage culture the supercontinent had been forcibly devolved into, the next few years were going to be a shit storm of chaos coming from there.
At the very least, though, the people of the two continents now had a second chance to rebuild civilization. I had a feeling more superhumans than not might be willing to change their tune and help in the restoration, now that they weren’t forced to abide by the system Xyla and Yrba had so ruthlessly imposed upon them.
I wish them all luck, whoever ends up with that job. Me, though, I’ll stick to in the lab. My field work days are over.
The trip back was utter hell. I was afraid the whole time that Strider was going to pass out halfway through, leaving us trapped beneath the ocean floor in a collapsing cave. But she held in there, long enough to get us all the way the Department of Superhuman Affairs office. The facility was practically in a panic, trying to figure out what the hell had happened overseas, and when we appeared right in the middle of their facility, half the people practically jumped out of their skin.
As soon as they saw the condition we were in, though, they immediately got to work. They rushed Echo’s power-suppressing friend in to tamp down her and Strider’s durability long enough for Shoggoth to recover them. I wondered how exactly that worked, but apparently they just stood at the edge of the woman’s field, and held their hands outside of it. Shoggoth could still touch them and work his power over them to recover. It was pretty handy.
They grilled us for hours over what had happened. Most of them couldn’t believe we’d achieved success so thoroughly and so quickly. I told them they owed us a save-the-world bonus. They didn’t think that was funny, especially when I told them I was being dead serious.
I talked with Shoggoth about his plans, and he doesn’t want to do the superhero bit anymore. That crazy ass professor’s convinced him to help out in the DSA’s research department, though, so at least he’s doing something productive with himself again.
I’m still going through with the bounty hunter thing. It’ll be good to get back to my usual business, cleaning scumbags off the streets.
Echo is considering forming a new Super Fem Force. She said there was a spot for me if I wanted it. I told her to go fuck herself. She laughed it off.
I stood in front of James’ statue again, gazing at the familiar face. I wished he’d been able to see this through to the end with us. I didn’t really believe in the soul, even with all the strange powers that claim such things exist, but if there really is an afterlife, part of me hopes he was watching over us and that he’d be proud.
I was still a little disbelieving at what we did. To think Xyla and Yrba had so much control over the whole continent and the Queens within, and yet, all it took was the right person in the right place at the right time, and we toppled their whole empire in less than an hour. Of all the Queens and other superhumans of New Gondwana, I never imagined I’d be the one to pull that trigger.
Obviously, there was still a ton of work to be done on the continent, and I’d be the DSA’s top resource in dealing with it. I had already confessed to being one of the Queens, and the one to merge the continents. After a tense week during which I’d been kept in an isolated prison, I was put through a private trial to determine what should be done about me. After all, I’d contributed to a disaster almost on par with the Extinction Wave.
It was concluded that, in light of my key roles in the defeat of the Villain Maker and toppling the New Gondwana Empire, I was to be given a second chance. I was a defector and revolutionary and a war hero, even though my status as a former Queen was still being kept from the public for now. Regardless, I would continue to prove my worth as a key resource in dealing with New Gondwana, providing valuable information to aid in rescuing its citizens and dealing with the superhuman threats that remained.
I was confident that we could get things under control in due time. Once we managed to establish some kind of peaceful relations and a solid recovery effort, we could finally seal the remaining Doorways.
From there, we just had to shut down any more that show up, if they ever do. I just prayed that at least some of the other worlds out there could manage to outlast the Masters’ remaining forces. I also hoped no more aliens would be showing up trying to kill us all. As much as I sympathized with their plight, it’s not like we could go back through the Doorways ourselves to try and fix things.
We just have to do the best we can to clean up our own messes, and maybe then, should more trouble with alien forces arrive, we’ll be better equipped to deal with them.
I watched as Strider terraported back home, leaving James’ statue behind. I’d been feeling sentimental enough to visit the memorial myself, but I didn’t want to interrupt Strider’s moment. I know she developed an attachment to him that was tragically cut short. It was a real shame, but then, James’ relationships with super women tended to end that way, in my experience.
I paid my respects to him, to Max, to Lisa, and all my fallen comrades in the Super Fem Force. I was debating if I should restart the team. I didn’t know if I should necessarily be on it this time, but I’d certainly have a hand in the training again, and maybe help coordinate their missions.
Maybe it was just me being sentimental, but I figured the world still needed an active force for good in the world, one that didn’t have to resort to underhanded and questionable tactics. The Supervillain Epidemic might be over, relations with Europe and the Pacific might be slowly mending, but it was still a dangerous world.
There were still hundreds of superhumans out there, and a few of them might still decide of their own accord to break the law. There were still criminal networks to be dismantled, natural disasters and emergencies to help out with, outreach programs. There were still recovery efforts to make throughout Eurasia, and of course, the still-active warlords of New Gondwana to deal with.
And, of course, there was always a chance that the Masters’ war on the universe might once more spill back over onto Earth. Any further superhumans returning to Earth were going to have to be thoroughly evaluated, and if they proved a threat, we were going to need a team powerful enough to handle them.
Life is still a never ending battle. There will always be some new threat that needs heroes to handle it. I can, if nothing else, give those heroes the edge they need to keep saving the world.