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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Arrowverse 'Other World' Chapter 13 - Supergirl

Disclaimer: This is the first chapter in a story about an "other world" based on the Arrowverse, the CW shows that focus on DC superheroes. I am writing this as my way of paying homage to my fandom for the Arrowverse. The character names Supergirl, Green Arrow, The Flash, Canary and Brainiac are trademarks of DC Comics. These chapters are free to read, they will not be published in book format, nor will any revenue be generated from the chapters. If there are legal issues involved with the usage of these characters, please email me at bwmorris at mail dot com and I will cease with the writing. Critiquing of my writing is welcomed and may be left in the comments.

When I arrived on this planet three years ago, I never imagined that I'd come into contact with a part of my home world. I thought every trace of Krypton was gone, lost to an explosion that wiped out the planet.

Yet here, before me, sits pieces of Kryptonian technology -- pieces of Brainiac, the artificial intelligence developed on my home world to monitor everything on the planet. Between what I remember about the Brainiac system and Cissie's expertise on the basics of computer systems, we have been able to open this black box and examine what's inside.

Cissie has used a pair of tweezers to pull back pieces of a thin, metallic substance inside the box, and to push aside the small pieces of circuitry connected with thin wires. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as Kryptonian technology goes. But it's clear from the look in Cissie's eyes that this technology is unlike anything on Earth.

She uses the tweezers to pull out a thin, metallic sliver. Rolling the tweezers, she examines the alloy. "Never seen a metal like this. Do you have a name for it?"

I scratch my chin. "I'm not sure if there's a direct comparison to what exists on your planet."

Carl sits before a nearby computer, his fingers moving rapidly about the keyboard. "Or could it be that there's no translation from your language to English for it?" He glances over his shoulder and casts a smirk. Though we had a brief conversation before we started, Carl hasn't said much since he sat in front of the flatscreen monitor. And when he doe speak, he seems more interested in throwing out jokes than providing helpful information.

Cissie keeps staring at the sliver. "Aren't you supposed to be figuring out where Intergang is going to strike next?"

He doesn't lose that smirk. "You never heard of multitasking?" He glances down at the smartphone that rests on the counter. "Besides, I've got an inside source working on that."

I cock my head. "Who is this inside source?"

"He's a guy who knows a guy who knows somebody linked to Intergang."

I take a couple steps toward where he is seated. "Can you share a little more about him than that?"

He loses the smirk. "Look, he's risking his neck passing this stuff on. I haven't even told my partner about him."

The smartphone makes a small noise and vibrates. Carl swipes his finger across the screen and stares at it.

"That your source?" I ask.

He shakes his head. "Nah, that's my partner. He worries about me."

"Oh, so you're what they call gay on your planet?"

He glances up. "Bisexual, actually. Means I like women and men."

I nod. "Understood." But while I may understand that, I'm not sure what else I can figure out this guy who calls himself Canary. His attempts at humor aren't that bad, but I still don't understand why he only does he want to work at night. Plus he's keeping this source of his a secret, and that bothers me. Along with Flash intimidating people for information and Green Arrow wanting me to keep a secret identity, I can't help but have second thoughts about whether or not I am working with the right people.

Though I spent three years in hiding, I wanted to introduce myself to Earth and find a way to inspire the populace. Bring these beings hope, just as everyone in the House of El tried to do on Krypton. Not sure how I can do that when, aside from a couple of instances, I spend more time hiding my true self from everyone.

Cissie has placed the sliver aside on the counter and reaches back inside the black box with the tweezers. "Doesn't seem to be a motherboard in here -- or at least, anything that resembles one."

Her remarks draw my attention. "A motherboard?"

"It's the main circuit board in an Earth computer." She gestures toward the box. "Really, this doesn't resemble anything I've seen in our technology. Do you mind taking a look at it, Tara?"

"Sure." I walk toward the counter where the box sits. "I don't have the greatest understanding of Kryptonian technology, but I have a general idea." That's when I peek inside the box and notice the small, blue orb toward the center. It appears to be floating over the rest of the circuitry.

I gesture toward the orb. "I recognize that. Again, how we describe it, there's not a direct comparison to what you have here on Earth, but it's able to run different programs to monitor systems on the planet."

"So it's like a processor?" Cissie asks.

"A what now?"

She flips her hands about. "A processor is the core unit of an Earth computer. It's more or less the brains of the machine and carries out commands." She peeks inside the box again. "It's part of the motherboard in an Earth computer."

I study the box's interior some more. "What else is part of this motherboard?"

"For one thing, the memory." Cissie motions to the box. "It allows a computer to perform tasks. Anything you create with a program gets saved to a hard drive." She peers back inside. "Some of these circuits might be the memory, though I can't see anything that resembles a hard drive."

I study the box's interior, not sure what I'm looking at, but willing to take a guess. "I understand memory and I think those circuits are it. But what's a hard drive?"

"It's a place where you store information after you create it."

I scratch my chin. "Not sure where it would be."

Cissie glances back at the counter, where the metallic sliver rests. She picks it up with the tweezers. "You know, we've found ways to store information onto smaller drives over time. The miracles of miniaturization."

I cock my head again. "What, you aren't thinking that metal is the hard drive?"

She shrugs. "Unless there's something else you used on Krypton to do that. Something like a flash drive."

"What's that?"

Cissie reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small, black object with one end in silver. "This is a flash drive, on which people store files they create on a computer or other device."

I nod. "Oh, I see. We had something like that for taking information from one device and transferring it to another."

"But do you know what a hard drive might look like?"

I glance at the box again. "That I don't remember." I lean closer, trying to figure out what might resemble what Cissie is talking about. That's when I notice something strange. "Wait a minute -- you pulled out of a piece of that metallic alloy, right?"

"Yeah, I did." Now Cissie leans toward the box. "What about it?"

I point inside the box. "Because it looks like it's been restored."

She puts her face closer, raises the tweezers and runs it alongside the interior. "You're right. That's odd."

We stare at the interior and something else draws my attention. Though it's hard to know for sure, it seems like the metallic alloy is trickling and weaving at a methodical pace, restoring itself to its previous form. Little by little, it hides the blue orb from view.

Cissie stands up straight. "It's restoring itself, isn't it?"

I lock eyes with hers and nod. "You're right."

She takes the tweezers and grabs the sliver that sits on the counter. Examining the piece, she says, "It doesn't look this has changed, though. I'm guessing once it's removed, it can't grow or regenerate." She stares at the box again. "Still, computers on our planet can't restore anything that's been removed. Did your people figure a way to make that possible?"

My eyes switch back to the box. Supposedly the Brainiac system was designed to adapt and evolve. But how could it find a way to replace something that was taken out? Even though the technology on Krypton was more advanced than what I've experienced on Earth, I don't see how it's possible for an artifical intelligence to regain what was lost.

I shake my head. "Not that I'm aware of." I peek inside once more. The blue orb is no longer visible, though I wonder what other secrets it might hold.

At this point, another voice catches my attention. "We're back." George and Destiny walk into the room. George has that pleasant smile on his face while Destiny remains somber and stares at the floor.

Cissie walks toward them. "You find anything out from Warren Hosills?"

"No, but we have a way to get in and find out what he's up to if necessary." George motions over to the box. "What did you find out about this?"

Cissie explains to him what we learned. George raises his eyebrows. "A computer that can restore a piece that was lost? I'd be amazed if Warren could develop something like that."

"Does it matter?" Destiny asks. "If he's working on any sort of artificial intelligence to control people, we have to stop him."

"Agreed." I clasp my hands. "Think we should all pay a visit to Frontier Labs?"

Cissie holds up her hand. "It might help if we know more about what we are dealing with here. And I don't think any of the technology we have here is advanced enough to find out more about this Brainiac. Or how Hosills came to possess it and what information he might have gained."

I press the issue. "But you don't think he figured out how? How much you do know about the technology he's developed?"

George folds his arms. "Let's just say I'm hesitant to engage in any dealings with Warren Hosills. So I don't know much about his technological advancements, other than what's available to the public. And he isn't making this AI available to just anyone."

I want to find out more, but Carl speaks up before I do. "Hey, guys, you might be interested in this." He holds up his smartphone. "Heard back from my insider. He says Intergang is planning a delivery to Frontier Labs tonight."

Destiny's head perks up. "Then this might be our chance to find out what he's doing working with Intergang." I notice her left hand curl. "I'm going there tonight."

George holds up his hand. "Not alone you aren't. I'll come with you."

I step forward. "We'll all come with you." It sounds like Warren came into possession of Kryptonian technology -- perhaps Brainaic itself -- and figured out how it worked. How he did that, I'm not sure, but I want to know more. Nobody so far has had anything good to say about Warren, which makes me suspect that, if he has gained knowledge of how Brainiac works, he won't be using it for the right reasons. It's imperative that I know more about what he learned and how.

George casts a glance at me. "Tara, we have an issue. This Brainiac technology is too advanced for the equipment we have. Do you have any way we might be able to learn more about it?"

I would rather not spend more of time researching -- at least not at this moment. "George, I really want some answers about how Warren Hosills came to possess a piece of Brainiac. It might explain this AI he's trying to develop."

"I understand that, but we need to know for sure what we are deaing with here." George's eyes suggest I don't need to come along with him.

Before I can respond, Carl speaks up. "Tara, what about that fortress you were telling me and Cissie about? Isn't it run by Kryptonian technology? Maybe you can get answers there."

I sigh. In an earlier conversation, Carl asked me about where I had been all these years and I told him about the fortress. Now I'm regretting that decision. "Yes, it is, but can't it wait? If Warren Hosills and Intergang are working together, shouldn't we have strength in numbers and all go together?"

George walks up to me. "Tara, I understand you want to help, but you can do the best job of helping by getting to your fortress and seeing what else you can learn about Brainiac."

"So you don't want your strongest player out there helping you out?" My tone is sharp and I bite my lip. I don't want to come off as uncooperative, but I can't understand why George wouldn't want me along. My presence in Hub City ensured that we saved everyone and I don't like the idea of what might be waiting at Frontier Labs.

Before George speaks, Carl chimes in. "Look, I've dealt with Intergang before. You just have to know how to handle them. No big deal."

George glances at him. "I'm glad to hear you say that. Because I want you to go with Tara."

Carl's face suggests he didn't expect to hear that. "What, I figured I'd be going out there and doing what I do best -- that's beat up the bad guys."

"There will be plenty of time for that," George says. "You could help more by working with Tara. I think Flash and I can cover Frontier Labs."

Carl shrugs. "Fair enough." He cast his eyes at me and smiles. "But, hey, I get to see that fortress for the first time. That's cool."

I don't understand why he's so quick to concede the point to George. "What, you suddenly don't care about going after Intergang, after all the times you've fought them?"

"Yeah, but I'm trying to get along here. Nothing wrong with that, right?" He spins around in his chair and nods toward Destiny. "Besides, she's done a good job dealing with Intergang before."

I cast a finger in Destiny's direction. "Did anybody consider that Flash should be the last person going back to Frontier Labs? She's said several times how she just wants to get her hands on Warren Hosills. It's clear she has a grudge against him."

Destiny takes a few steps toward me, her gaze narrowed. "My business with Hosills isn't your concern."

George steps in front of her. "That's enough, Destiny." He turns his gaze to me. "Could I talk to you in private?"

I sigh, but relent as he guides me away from the others. Why won't he trust me to be out there? If anybody could ensure that Intergang is taken down for good, it would be me. And I'm not too keen on the idea of bringing Carl to my fortress. He won't tell me anything about this source of his, so why would I want to let him into my world more?

George keeps his voice lowered. "I understand you want to help, but you can be of the greatest help by taking that tech Flash uncovered and seeing what you can find out about it. The sooner we learn more, the better position we will be to determine what Warren wants with it. Meanwhile, Flash and I can uncover why he is working with Intergang."

I shake my head. "George, I don't understand why I can't be out there. I want to help."

"And you will be of the biggest help by getting more answers about Brainiac." He puts a hand on my shoulder. "Look, I know the things you can do are amazing, but you can't just use brute strength or power to solve everything. You need to use your head as well, and that means finding more answers about Brainiac."

How I want to tell him I don't want to stick to research. That I would rather go out where my abilities can be put to the best use. But he's giving me a look that's similar to the one my husband gave me whenever he wanted something from me. I want to object, but I feel resigned to my position. "All right. But you better stay safe."

He nods. "We will." He glances over to Destiny. "Flash, let's suit up." He walks off.

Destiny casts a quick glance at me. "Leave Hosills to me." She heads off after George.

I don't appreciate that remark and wants to go after her, but Carl rises to his feet and approaches me. "Better let my parter know where we're going." He grabs the smartphone and runs his thumbs over it. "Something tells me we won't have cell service in Antarctica." Then he glances at me for a moment. "You don't mind me carrying me, do you?"

Though I want to tell him to stop trying to be funny, I take a deep breath. "Not at all." That's when I notice Cissie, who has a reassuring smile.

"They'll be all right." She taps her ear. "We all have the communicators. I promise to stay in contact with them. And I'll be in touch with you two as well if necessary."

Her words give me a little comfort. "Thank you," I say. But I suspect that staying in contact won't be enough. I'm worried that if I don't come along to Frontier Labs, something terrible could happen.

To be continued in Chapter 14.

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