Title

The morning after, a meeting on the Watchtower is called.

by Solarsearcher
Storyline The Masterplan
Characters Aquaman Batman Wonder Woman Superman Flash Martian Manhunter Lex Luthor Poison Ivy Lois Lane Cyborg
Category Mind Control
Previous Chapter Superman and Lex deal with the aftermath of the interview.

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Main Story Eighteen

He woke up, looked to his side, and instantly knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

It was morning now, and he had no recollection of anything after 10:00 P.M. the previous night. All he could remember was a rampant session in bed for what felt like hours on end. There had been no end, just a… fade into nothingness. Then, he had faded back into reality, finding her smiling in her sleep.

Lex smiled himself, refraining from reaching out to cup Lois’s cheek. Best to let her sleep. Besides, he had work to do. Careful to be soundless, he slipped out of her slumbering embrace, found his way to his wardrobe, and dressed himself in his best business suit.

----

He woke up, looked to his side, and instantly knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

It was morning now, and he had no recollection of anything after 6:00 P.M. the previous afternoon. All he could remember was a rampant session in bed for what felt like hours on end. There had been a definitive explosion, a pleasure-fueled rocket out of existence and into oblivion. Then, he had faded back into reality, finding her smiling in her sleep.

Clark smiled himself, refraining from reaching out to cup Siren’s cheek. Best to let her sleep. Besides, he had work to do. Careful to be soundless, he slipped out of her slumbering embrace, found his clothes out in her living room, and flew off of her balcony for the Watchtower.

It was time to tell his friends of his decision.

----

It wasn’t odd for Batman to stride purposefully about the halls of the Watchtower, and most people knew better than to get in his way when he had business to be about. Unfortunately, Clark wasn’t one of them.

Superman stopped him just as Batman was about to step onto the elevator. “Bruce,” he greeted. “I’m glad to see you escaped so soon. I was beginning to doubt you.”

Don’t tip him off, Ivy warned. She was watching through his cowl’s camera from back in the Batcave. She could hear everything he was saying, but he could not think back his response.

“I don’t suppose you know anything about what happened at Blackgate after you left, do you?” Superman asked.

“I’m still putting the pieces together,” Bruce answered gruffly. “It’s not a priority.”

“Not a priority?” Clark echoed in surprise. He stepped out of the way, letting Bruce glide past him into the elevator. “Is the disappearance of hundreds of criminals really just another day in Gotham?”

“There are other things I have to focus on now,” he said vaguely.

Clark stepped onto the elevator beside him, pressing the button to take them all to the top floor. Bruce was going to the same place as he, but not for the same reason. As Clark was turned away, Bruce quietly dropped the seed in his palm into the vented grate in the floor of the elevator. It didn’t audibly clang, but with Clark’s enhanced hearing, Bruce had been forced to time the drop with the pressing of the button. It didn’t appear that he had noticed.

He had one seed left in his belt. One last place where he needed to put it.

“I figured as much,” Clark said. “I’m glad you’re alright, Bruce. I was worried.”

“I’m fine,” he said.

“Right.” Clark looked at him. “Bruce, we’re friends, right?”

Stay focused, Ivy cautioned.

“What is it?” Batman asked.

“I… I wanted to know what it’s like,” Superman said, looking down as if ashamed.

“What?”

“Bruce… what was it like when you were fighting Poison Ivy a couple weeks ago?”

He felt a slight stab of panic, but he kept his gaze measured. What could he possibly want here? “It was tough, but I kept my focus and managed to defeat her.”

“No, I meant-” Clark cut off, then sighed. “What was it like when you lost control?”

Impossible, Ivy transmitted. How does he- or does he? Play along for now, but be ready in case he knows what you’re doing.

Bruce nodded affirmatively, ostensibly in understanding of Clark’s question. “You mean when I kissed her before the explosion?”

“Yes, that,” Clark answered loudly, eagerly.

Bruce suppressed a smile. Clark didn’t know the truth. No one did.

“What was it like, deciding to give in like that?” Clark asked again. “What happened to you?”

“It wasn’t a decision, Clark,” Bruce responded in a guarded tone. “I didn’t choose to give in, but I had no other option.”

“But what was it like, though?” Superman pressed. “How did it feel?”

Does the elevator always move this slow? Ivy asked casually.

Batman nodded again. “It was blissful, Clark. She promised me the depths of happiness and pleasure that I had never known.”

Bruce cut himself off, noticing Clark’s expression. He seemed… aroused. His fingers were itching, hands slowly folding inwards to fists.

Narrowing his eyes, he continued. “But I knew that she was a criminal, and that was that. I fought her off and managed to… Clark?”

Superman’s eyes were closed, his head swaying from side-to-side. Was he even listening? “Clark!” Bruce repeated.

He shook suddenly, opening his eyes with a start. Guilty eyes looked back at his as Superman recovered his ashamed posture. “Sorry. I just wanted to hear what it was like.”

“Why?” Bruce asked, trying to read his thoughts.

The elevator finally arrived at the top floor, coming to a graceful halt. “Because,” Clark said simply. Shrugging, he turned around to step off of the platform.

Ignore him, Ivy ordered. Just keep going.

Bruce nodded again, stepping out of the elevator into the top floor meeting room. Noticing that J’onn was present at the window and that Clark was still turned away, he quickly stepped forward to take his chance while he still-

A whoosh of red and yellow blew past him from the front, unsettling Superman’s cape as the colors roved past him. Bruce quickly stepped back, hiding himself within his own cloak.

The Flash stopped near J’onn, who was standing in silence at the window. He gave no reaction to his sudden arrival, as Barry was known for sudden arrivals, and most of each of the core Justice League members were mostly accustomed to them.

“Hey, J’onn,” Barry called out loudly, despite being barely a few feet from him. “Did you know that Bruce got locked up in Gotham? I always knew that he was going to get himself caught sooner or later, pretending to be invisible and all.” The Flash turned to look at Bruce, his jaw dropping in mock surprise. “Bruce! How was Blackgate? Did you make any friends?”

Batman scowled. “You look happy to see me,” he observed.

“I’m just happy in general, man,” Barry returned. He then suddenly wasn’t by J’onn any longer.

Unimpressed, Bruce turned to look over his right shoulder, noting the presence of the Flash lounging against the wall, watching him with a casual smile to meet the masked grimace. “Not getting caught is quite… liberating,” Barry finished delicately. He breathed out, then vanished again.

Are they all this annoying? Ivy asked.

Bruce nodded. He looked out at the room at the top of the Watchtower, noting its very uniform whiteness and cleanliness. It was well maintained and had the appearance of a five-star hotel conference room, though it wasn’t just money that had kept this room so pristine. J’onn, with his robotic mantra of preserving the integrity of his home, had made sure to upgrade and refurbish every couple of weeks.

Ignoring the state of the teleportation unit at the far corner from the elevator, the room J’onn had made was largely utilitarian, with only a table of eleven seats occupying the room’s center. Two of those seats were occupied by Barry, idly reclining with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. J’onn and Clark were still turned away at opposite ends of the room, one watching determinedly out a window and the other beginning a somber staring contest with the white wall.

Bruce stepped forward again, sensing his opportunity at hand. He had to move quick before-

The teleporter flared up in a bright, spastic light before immediately dissipating to a cooler light. Wonder Woman became visible as the glare degraded, leaving the teleporter pad to join them all. Superman gave her a curt nod in recognition of her arrival, but nobody else seemed too bothered by her sudden appearance (a complete opposite to Barry’s entrances). Strangely, Superman’s nod was followed by a quick, distasteful shake of his head.

“Is that you, Diana?” Flash asked. He waved behind himself. “I thought you would be here before me.”

Bruce noticed that Diana was staring at him, and she didn’t look away when he caught her. Her lips were quivering.

As he saw her, he instantly recalled how no woman could compare to Poison Ivy, and it was easy to see why. Her breasts, while much the talk of legend and myth and deservedly so, had nothing on Ivy’s after the changes that her ring had caused. Wonder Woman’s body became slender as you looked further down, whereas Ivy was the curvaceous hourglass with the wider hips and the greater ass. Plus, Ivy had the more beautiful parts to reinforce the more sexy parts.

Remember your commands, Ivy reminded. As if she even had to tell him.

Diana was still staring as he turned away. Clark finally ended his long staring contest with the wall, turning to go find one of the nine empty seats for himself.

“Diana?” Barry called again. “Don’t pull a Bruce on me.”“Not on you,” she replied slyly, still keeping her eyes on Batman.

Ignoring her, Bruce moved to take a seat himself. He wasn’t going to get an opportunity to complete his mission while being watched so closely. He needed to avoid drawing suspicion, though he couldn’t imagine why she was watching him so closely.

He sat beside Clark at the opposite end of the circular table from Barry, absolutely on purpose. Diana took her seat at a different edge of the table, finding a one that allowed her to keep her eyes on him as she sat and an easy view of him without having to strain.

He was beginning to guess why she was so fixated on him. It probably didn’t have to do with Ivy’s plans.

“So, uh, can we get started?” Barry asked. “I’ve got a hot date waiting for me back home.”

“You do?” Clark questioned. “Did you meet online and use a blurry photo?”

“Actually, I tried that with someone named Martha Kent a week ago,” Barry joked. “I think I’ve got her in my clutches as we speak. So, if that’s all…” he began to remove himself from the chairs he occupied.

“We are still two short,” J’onn reported, not turning from the window.

“I could stand on my tippy-toes if that would help speed this along.” Flash curled his toes and made his feet vibrate rapidly for effect. “If that’s not tall enough, I’m sure I could stand on your shoulders.”

“You will not stand on me,” the Martian replied. “As far as I can tell, you would still be too small.”

He chuckled. “Well, I suppose we can’t solve this problem.” He stood, politely gesturing his farewell to the audience at the table. “Goodbye, everybody.”

The teleporter flared again, admitting someone else to the room before Barry could leave. It resolved to be Arthur Curry, Atlantean royalty. He was the second royal to arrive in the room after Diana, though he was dressed far more conservatively than his Amazonian counterpart. His green and orange outfit left only his hair and face exposed. However, the scales of his armor would not be prepared for later.

“Oh, Arthur!” Barry exclaimed. “I forgot to have a joke ready for you.”

“That’s perfectly alright,” Aquaman returned, eagerly taking his seat at the table. “I don’t really care.”

“It’s just so hard to remember,” he continued apologetically. “I forget, sometimes, that you exist. I never see you around, after all.”

“I am here,” Arthur cut off, “because the Offworlder said that this was important. I did not come to chat, fool.”

Bruce regarded the Atlantean king with skepticism. Unlike Diana, Arthur was a haughty, arrogant ruler that had little time for anything not involving the sanctity of his domain. Of course, Diana was not actually a ruler, so perhaps there was no true comparison between them.

“This is important, I assure you,” the Martian announced. “We are just waiting for one more.”

“Can we, like, wait less?” Barry requested. “I really like this girl?”

“This… girl?” Aquaman echoed confusedly.

“Sounds like someone took pity on poor Barry,” Superman explained.

“Whoa, Clark,” Flash said. “Don’t think you were paying attention when I said that I had her in my clutches. Remember, I know where she sleeps.”

“This is a waste of time,” the king muttered.

At long last, the teleporter flared once again, admitting the incoming final member invited to the gathering. As the light disappeared, Batman saw Cyborg standing still on the teleporter pad. He was talking to himself about the transportation speed or something similar that he could not parse.

“Victor,” J’onn greeted from the window, finally turning to face the room. In his alien eyes, Bruce saw something he did not normally see: hurt.

This is no simple meeting, Bruce thought. As a precaution, he had long ago taught himself to shield his thoughts against J’onn’s psychic abilities. He had trusted him, but he was never comfortable sharing with others everything that he had in his head. Batman could put up a front to speak while Bruce kept the thoughts hidden, or sometimes they would switch responsibilities.  Now, Bruce would keep Ivy a secret and Batman would tell his truths.

But J’onn’s eyes said that he had something to share. Wary of a trap, Bruce gave the silent signal to Ivy through the cowl camera to prepare for the worst. This could go wrong in many ways.

“Cybie!” Flash called. “Nice work with those-”

“The teleporters, I know,” Cyborg cut off, stepping off of the platform and into the room. “I promise I’ll make one that gets me here earlier next time.”

Barry raised an eyebrow, then sat down. “Way to take the fun out of it.”

“Friends,” the Martian said, coming up to the table and presiding over the meeting as per usual. Victor took his seat beside J’onn, who himself took a chair and quietly scanned the faces that looked back at him. Even Diana had broken her gaze upon Bruce and was focused on him. He commanded all of their respect. “Thank you for coming.”

Where’s Hal?” Superman inquired.

“Mandatory vacation,” he answered. “Though I will speak with him after he is fit to return to the Watchtower.”

“I thought I saw him up here the other day,” Superman said. “Right before I went to the sun.”

“Yes, he was here two days ago.” J’onn cocked his head. “Why did you go to the sun that day?”

“I… had to make a decision.”

J’onn nodded in understanding. Unlike Bruce, Clark had no specific training to prevent the Martian from reading his mind. The only thing preventing that from happening was J’onn’s choice not to pry into his head.

“Would you like to speak first before we begin, Superman?”

“I probably should,” Clark said slowly. He rose to his feet, looking over everyone in attendance. “I know that most of you have already seen this, but yesterday… well, that was hardly my finest moment.” He leaned forward onto the table, tapping it gently. “I have made up my mind, and I have decided that I will no longer be Clark Kent going forward.”

Bruce sat back, contemplative, while both Diana and Barry seemed outright stunned. Victor and J’onn both seemed to understand this decision. Aquaman appeared as if he couldn't care less.  

“Hey, I wasn’t serious about me and your mom, if that’s what this is about,” Flash said quietly.

“I’m not just doing this because of yesterday’s events,” he continued, ignoring the others’ comments by default. “I have told most of you separately of my marriage troubles, and after losing my job, there is not much purpose in Clark Kent being there anymore.” He shrugged. “Besides, it’s only a matter of time before an international laughingstock like me gets connected to Superman; I haven’t been on TV out of uniform before that. Someone will see this.”

Diana looked uncomfortable. “Is Lois… okay with this?”

The two of them seemed to be avoiding eye contact at all costs. “We’ve been growing apart for quite some time, now,” Clark said. Or Superman. Whoever he wanted to be now. “I don’t plan on seeing her or any of my old friends ever again. I don’t hate them, but I cannot be their friend anymore.”

Flash squirmed for a bit. “And your mom?” he asked quietly.

Superman eyed him cautiously. “I trust I’ll find you nowhere near her when I visit her next. I’m not cutting her out of my life, but I can’t support her financially anymore.”

“Victor told me about the interview,” J’onn said. “I know that you have been taking all factors into consideration, but I hope that one embarrassment is not enough to make you give up being Superman.”

“I won’t,” Superman determined. “I made a vow to defend this planet, and I won’t break it now. I swear it.”

“About that,” Cyborg said. “What was up with you asking the President a question like that?”

Superman raised his hands in surrender. “I owed Lex a favor. I had to do it.”

“You owed a favor like that?”

“This is all well and good,” Arthur interjected. “I was told that this was important, and I am a busy man. If we could get back to the matter at hand, I would appreciate it.”

Say something, Ivy told him.

“I agree,” Bruce said. “We all have matters to be about. Let’s get back to business.”

Superman looked hurt that Bruce had not commented on his decision to end Clark Kent’s life, but he raised no objections. He sat back down, a relieved expression on his face.

“If there are no other announcements to be made, then I will begin,” J’onn stated. “We have two matters to discuss today. The first concerns the planetary shield. Cyborg and I have worked closely with Lex Luthor and we have made some progress.”

“It appears that his shield could be ready to deploy in just a couple of months, possibly even sooner.” Cyborg tapped a few buttons on his gauntlet, uploading a holographic display of the Earth. It was a deep blue, in theme with the armor plating Cyborg’s chest.

A second holographic image phased into the current model of the planet, acting as a large, hollow sphere surrounding the Earth. “This shield, at its current state, would likely not prevent another invasion from Brainiac or an attack from some other alien threat, but it would certainly be enough to keep satellites from launching from the Earth. Effectively, it would make Lex master of all space travel from down there, but he wouldn’t be protecting anyone from anything other than a meteor strike.”

“I, for one, would appreciate that,” Arthur stated. “It is difficult to manage the rocks that land in the seas.”

“Would the shield interfere with the weather?” Batman asked, thinking that Ivy would want to know if this would affect her plants.

“As far as we can guess, the shield won’t get in the way of sunlight. I can’t promise anything about the tides, though.”

You need to figure that out, Machine,” Arthur warned. “I will not abide by man-made change to my kingdom.”

“Settle down, my friend,” J’onn said. “If anything, this shield could expand your kingdom. Or it could do nothing at all to the oceans.”

“But we won’t know until it’s finished,” Cyborg said. “Until then, I wouldn’t worry about the sudden disappearance of the sun.”

“Great,” Flash said. “Is that everything?”

“Based on what the President said, it doesn’t seem like he’s inclined to try to take control of Lex’s shield.” Cyborg eyed each one of them in turn. “Understand that we will be handing him a lot of power once this shield is ready for deployment. We will be the only ones that can ask him to deactivate it. If he doesn’t do it and we need him to do it, we will have to do it ourselves.”

“I trust him,” Diana said.

“As do I,” Superman said, placing a hand atop the table and resting it there. “I truly believe he is trying to help us all.”

“Why aren’t we keeping control of the shield?” Arthur asked. “Or at least an emergency off-switch?”

“We do have an emergency off-switch,” Cyborg responded. “But that won’t stop him from turning the shield on again if he wants to. It would just be a race to hit the button to turn it on and off over and over again until one of us stops the other.”

“And why is that?” Arthur pressed.

“Because the shield can only be activated from one place,” Batman answered for him. “And there is popular support behind Lex being the one to have it over us.”

“Excuse me?” Barry said. “Since when is Lex more popular than us?”

“As much as the people like us, a lot of them would rather live in a world where they don’t need us.” Batman nodded to J’onn and Victor. “Most of them would rather not even see us.”

“And therein lies the problem,” J’onn said. “We can agree that the planetary shield is a good idea, but perhaps we are not all in agreement over this matter of ownership. Lex cannot continue his work with the shield without us, and we cannot continue without him.” He nodded to Cyborg, who deactivated the holographic images.

“So what are you saying?” Diana asked.

“Perhaps it is fortunate that Hal is not here, for we have an odd number of us here today. I propose that we vote on whether to continue to work on the shield or end production on it.”

“Lex is a good man,” Superman said. “I support him.”

“Yeah?” Victor asked sarcastically. “You owe him any other favors?”

“Gentlemen, settle down,” J’onn implored. “If we can put a vote to it, we can resolve our disagreements that way. Shall we?”

“I will vote,” Arthur stated. “And I will not support this shield if I cannot control it. I say we put a stop to this shield.”

“We don’t need to control it,” Superman assured. “Lex works for the best interests of the people of Earth, and we do the same. This planetary shield will help us immensely.” He looked to J’onn. “I vote to continue with the shield.”

“What if this shield does more damage than good?” Aquaman demanded. “What then?”

“Then I will trust Lex to do the right thing,” the Kryptonian returned.

“And if he doesn’t?”

J’onn raised his hand. “We have heard from you two already. Let’s move on. Diana?”

Diana nodded. “We should continue. The shield is a good defense, and as long as it works, we should use it.”

“Even if it does work, it might do other damages,” Arthur pointed out. “We need a guaranteed way to stop it, and we can’t do that if Lex keeps the shield controls.”

“The emergency switch will be enough, but we won’t need it,” Diana said.

“We don’t know if the off-switch will be enough,” Cyborg said. “Lex has proven crafty in the past.”

“All the more reason that we don’t let him have the controls,” Arthur argued.

“I agree.” Cyborg looked to J’onn. “If the majority votes to continue, I will agree to continue work on the shield, but I vote to stop working on it unless Lex agrees to let us have full control. Let him prove he has changed by letting us have the power.”

“He has changed,” Superman said. “But he still believes that we aren’t needed to protect the Earth.”

Victor shook his head in derision. “Then let him work on the shield by himself. I just work here.”

“This is getting more heated than I would like,” J’onn declared. “Please, try to keep your heads.”

“What do you say, J’onn?” Diana asked. “Do you also think Lex can be trusted?”

“I do not believe he has done enough to prove he has changed,” J’onn said. “But I am willing to give him another chance.”

“Willing enough to give him this kind of power?” Cyborg questioned. “Willing enough to give him total control over a project that affects the entire world?”

J’onn was silent a moment. He looked back and forth between Diana and Arthur slowly. “I believe that he deserves this chance. I vote to continue the shield project.”

Arthur stood from his chair, indignant. “I do not accept this, Offworlder. No one person should have the power to change so much and not be kept in check.”

“You agreed to vote, Art,” Superman said. “You must respect the majority decision, or it’s not a vote.”

“This is not a majority, Kryptonian,” the king seethed. “We are not done yet.”

“Please… settle down,” J’onn said quietly, subdued. He looked to his right, seeing Cyborg eyeing him. “I do believe that we must be careful- yes, Arthur, we will be careful- but the shield’s benefits outweigh the costs. I will support the shield.”

“Fine,” Arthur derided curtly. He sat with a pronounced thump. “I will accept your caution, but I warn you that he is planning something.”

“I agree with Art,” Barry stated. “I can’t honestly believe that Lex is going to just let our past go and become a billionaire playboy philanthropist. Lord knows that those people are annoying.”

“Barry, your vote,” Cyborg pressed.

“Yeah, yeah,” he returned. “If it will get me out of here faster, I vote to stop the shield before Lex can get his hands on it.” Flash stood, smacking his hands against his hips. “Can I go? She’s waiting for me.”

“Not yet,” J’onn said, waving for him to take a seat. “By my count, we are three votes for, three votes against, and we have one vote left to count.”

All eyes fell on Batman.

Bruce didn’t squirm beneath their gazes. He knew what they needed to hear. Of course he didn’t trust Luthor, but the shield was a separate matter. It was an easy statement, but the choice could have long-standing ramifications.

The decision wasn’t his, however. It was hers.


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Evva - 12/14/2018 8:08 AM
Just to remember https://discord.gg/R4dWYDv it is our discord server address
chinky_natasha - 12/12/2018 7:11 PM
well... joined discord..
Gorel - 12/9/2018 12:15 AM
Curious if anyone wanted to brainstorm old chapters or new stories, meet me in message board.
misbegotten2 - 12/7/2018 5:02 PM
Discussing things on Discord sounds good; if you don't mind my general flaky lurker-ness.
colleem - 12/7/2018 3:26 PM
yeahh :) Second in Line :) you may call me.. NUMBER 2!
extreme1 - 12/7/2018 3:07 PM
https://discord.gg/R4dWYDv Alright here we go!
Evva - 12/7/2018 2:47 PM
so extreme1 create our channel and let's talk about stories and share weird ideas and weirder stories!
ESchorcho - 12/7/2018 1:48 PM
I'll test it out too.
colleem - 12/7/2018 12:23 PM
why not :) i would join.. mostly writing on chyoa now but some stories and writers here are cool :) so count me in
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