11:45 pm, January 1st 2026
Upper East Side, Gotham City NJ
The white-faced guards at the perimeter had been pretty amenable all things considered, Jason mused. They were under orders not to let anybody out, but had no problem letting people in
, assuming they weren’t cops. At least, that’s what the last one had said before Turn Back had knocked his lights out. Though they did have a point, Turn Back was a pretty stupid name… Maybe he’d change it in this new world. But, in the here and now, he had business to attend to.
A patrol of gang goons coming down the alley towards a larger street. Turn Back knew there was a large group of survivors in that direction, he had just pointed them towards the hole he’d opened in the perimeter. He’d have to stop this patrol before they got much further, or they’d likely gun down the innocent folks for not ‘playing by the Angels rules’. This Angel gang was kind of fucked up.
Stepping out from behind a burning dumpster, Turn Back swung his cane lazily in a circle. “Come out to play, boys?” He asked the oncoming group of gang members, who slowed to a stop and leveled their weapons at him. Jason crouched slightly and pointed his cane at the leader. “We can do this Anime style where you come at me one at a time, or I can take you all on at once. Whatever you guys want.” He said with a grin in his voice. He already had a small charge of power built up, enough to quickly knock a few of these guys out, but he could also use their rush to build up a bigger charge as well.
Fortunately, the lot of them chose to bull-rush him. Like a wave crashing against a rock, each blow that fell on Turn Back simply stopped the moment it connected, the strength being sapped from their hits and added to a growing pool of energy inside the masked vigilante. With a snap of his wrist, Turn Back lashed out with his cane, a flash of purple energy being expelled at it connected with the nearest foe, sending him flying back down the alley. A few moments later, the process had been repeated a half-dozen times, each time ending with a gang member lying bruised and beaten on the dirty floor of the dingy alley. That would buy the survivors time to escape.
“Looks like this bitch has got some kind of meta-power,” said a graveled voice from the back of the group. Lounging against his bike was a man that looked to at least be in his fifties—an old roadhog in leathers with a long, white beard to match. The rest of the gang had halted in their tracks the moment he had first spoken, all turning to regard him with a sense of both fear and respect.
Pushing himself up off the ground, the old man rolled the kinks out of his shoulders while regarding the boy in front of him. Turn Back could clearly hear the name “Mammon” being muttered under their breath.
“This is the Angel’s turf, bitch,” he said calmly, raising his hand in the direction of his fellow bikers. What had at first appeared to simple tattoos were now glowing with a strange power along the length of his arm. “And it’ll be your fuckin’ grave—viribus.”
When that last word was spoken, it echoed unnaturally throughout the street, the other bikers immediately grasping their heads in what at first appeared to be pain. As they began to scream in an unholy chorus, however, Turn Back saw that their muscle-mass had greatly expanded, with their fists now glowing with a strange orchid light.
“Show that bitch what happens when you go up against the power of Mammon,”
he said quietly.
Charging Turn Back again, the gang moved with a strange power behind their gait, closing the distance between them in but a second. As they struck at him with fist and chain, the orchid fire would lash out to further enhance their already superhuman blows with arcane fire.
“Huh.” Turn Back said, watching the strange glowing energies surround the previously defeated gang members. “That’s weird and cheating. I don’t like it.” He planted himself in a firm stance as the group advanced on him again, ready to teach them their second lesson of the night. “Come on again boys, I can do more than just punches and hits, I can—”
The quip was cut off by the first of the arcane-enhanced fists slamming into his gut. Though his power siphoned off the normal force of the blow, the heat and enhanced strength caught him off guard, the magical energy being completely unfamiliar to Turn Back. The vigilante staggered back, swinging his cane around quickly in an effort to ward off the rest of the attackers. He managed to connect with only the closest one, pushing him away only for another to step up and fill his space.
Turn Back backed away from the advancing crowd of goons, looking around at his surroundings to try and come up with a plan. “Well, this is unfortunate.” He said to himself, musing out loud. “It’s been awhile since I actually felt pain, so… You know, fuck you for that, asshole. Man, it would be super nice if I had some backup to count on or something…”
Mammon had once again returned to relaxing against his bike, though he now remained standing. As if possessed, the seemingly still unconscious bikers continued to swarm Turn Back without hesitation or any sort of visible emotion.
“Should’ve never come here, bitch,” said Mammon, lighting a cigarette. “Don’t even know how to deal with magic—ain’t much of a double-A, are you? These guys don’t feel pain right now, and they don’t know fear. You’re fucked.”
Indeed, even the man he had struck with his cane seemed to barely even notice outside of briefly being knocked back. None of the injuries he had inflicted on them earlier seemed to be slowing them down now, either.Hssssss.
A small black projectile pierced the air, a straight line from the dark pollution hovering over the city. Just behind the line of attackers what appeared to be a cylinder bounced off the concrete with only the smallest of thumps, beginning to spin wildly with a low hiss. It took only seconds for the ones closest to the cylinder to stagger, then collapse. The ones in front of Turn Back soon succumbed as well, their command encompassing their sense to look for trouble.CRASH.
And with the projectile came its owner. A comet of dark metal and glowing red eyes straightened out behind Mammon, the twisted metal remains of the biker’s precious ride stomped beneath the armored suit, the wolf’s visage in the helmet and stamped on the shoulders.
With little more than a glance to the hefty biker a glove hand slammed into his face, hissing emerging from the palm as the thick fingers dug in like steel clamps to lift him directly into the air. Even when magic sparked across Mammon’s fingers it seemed to skid across the armor, only earning a slight cock of its owner’s head before Grim looked forward once more. The free arm of the Iron Fang armor rose, another projectile shooting forward, that familiar hissing emerging to stop the back of the hoard from crushing their companions in a mad scramble to reach Turn Back.
When Mammon’s struggling kicks slowed and ultimately his grip around Grim’s wrist loosened, he dropped the biker carelessly to the ground without a second glance.
Turn Back had dived to the side as soon as the cylinder had begun to spin, rolling towards the dumpster as the hissing canister took out the apparently magically-enhanced goon. He stood up just in time to hear the crash of the armored figure dropping onto the bike and a second hiss from another canister. Turn Back pumped an arm into the air as he saw the armored wolf-like figure effortlessly neutralize Mammon.
“Alright, that’s some good backup!” He called before turning and jumping into the flaming dumpster fire. Upon contact, the flames died down and the dumpster cooled, all the energy from the heat transferring to Turn Back’s bank. He turned back towards the few remaining goons and pulled out a handful of rubber bands from his pocket. Charging each one up and firing them in turn, small fireballs blossomed on the chests of each thug as they advanced, pushing them back towards the hissing cylinders
Climbing back out of the dumpster, Turn Back slowly skirted the edge of the battlefield towards Grim and Mammon, keeping a charged rubber band trained on the nearest goons before turning his attention to the armored figure. “Right, thanks for the assist. So I guess magic is gonna be a problem for me here, that’s good to know. So, uh… We gonna stick around here or are you gonna whisk me away to the mansion?” He asked, dropping a subtle guess as to the identity of the armored figure in front of him. He couldn’t be quite sure yet, but there had been something familiar about the almost brutal efficiency with which Grim had dealt with the situation.
For his part, Grim merely tilted his head slightly once more. He studied Turn Back, taking in the young man - then abruptly jerked his gaze to the side as more screams rang out. Despite their brief interlude the city blocks were still being picked over by the Angels, a fact that the distant noises covering this side of the city could attest to.
A low rumble sounded out from Grim’s mask before he raised a hand, first tapping against his opposite arm before reaching out to grab onto Turn Back’s shoulder. For a moment the Gotham Hero could only study him, mask expressionless.“Survivors first,”
Was the simple, though seemingly reluctant answer that was finally given. Overhead a dark jet blazed passed, stopping to hover over them. Grim withdrew his hand from Turn Back’s shoulder -
Only to clamp those cold fingers over his mouth, that familiar hissing coming from the palm.”You will survive, this time.”
8:30 am, January 2nd
Kasimir Castle Guest Room, Gotham City NJ
Jason awoke with a start on an unfamiliar mattress in an unfamiliar room. Rolling off the covers and landing in a crouching position on the floor, Jason fumbled in his pockets for his cane. Empty. Eyes darting around the room, Jason saw his stick, still extended, sitting on a nearby dresser. As he grabbed for it, Jason winced at a sudden stabbing pain in his left arm. Looking down, he saw the reason: His prosthetic arm hadn’t been removed before he’d been dumped here, he must have slept on it funny. That was going to be a bitch later on.
it Zoey…” He growled, folding his cane and slipping it into his pocket. Where did she get off, gassing and abducting him? He’d been there to help, damn it! So he didn’t know about this magic shit, hadn’t been expecting it, but he’d have been able to take care of it!
Grumbling as he stepped into his ratty shoes, Jason threw open the door of the outdated bedroom into a too-bright hallway. Raising a hand to shield his eyes, Jason grimaced as he approached what he assumed was part of the serving staff vacuuming a rug.
“Hey, uh… Hi. Dunno if Zoey let you guys know I was here or anything, but… I’m gonna need to talk to her. And if she doesn’t want to talk to me, I’m going to start wandering around yelling for her. … Sorry.”
With a confused and startled nod, the young man hurried down the hallway and disappeared around a corner as Jason began to pace the hall.”Jason!”
It didn’t take long for the woman to appear, turning a corner down the hall. The smile curving her painted lips was bright, relieved and excited. ”You’re - you’re up! And you’re really…”
Zoey trailed off, only to offer a slight laugh and run a hand through her hair. She stepped forward, marveling at the man before her.”Jaina… Jaina explained what she could. Uhm, your lizard - Emily? - is here. Since Jaina is still dealing with that awful business with the Angels.”
Jason had turned towards the voice, intending to launch into a tirade of expletives and demands for answers, but the words caught in his throat when he saw the face of his oldest frenemy. He hadn’t seen Zoey, really seen her in… Years. And this… Well, she wasn’t quite his
Zoey, she was a little older for starters, but… It was her. Jason couldn’t keep a smile from creeping onto his face as he crossed his arms and shook his head.
“So close Zo’. Ellie is her name, but I don’t blame you for forgetting. I mean after all, I’ve been dead for what? Fifteen years? She… Well, I don’t really want to think about that, come to think of it.” He said, cutting himself off from the thought of what may have happened to the beloved pet of this universes version of himself.
“And yeah, I’m alive. Well, a version of me anyway. I dunno how much Jaina told you, but I’m not from here
. Where I come from there’s no Gotham, no magic, no Atlantis or aliens. But there are superheros… Zoey, can we talk somewhere a little more secure than a freakin’ hallway? We’ve… Got some things to discuss about those Angels, I think.””My hallways are secure!”
The billionaire immediately protested, but nonetheless she glanced around before finally sighing. ”But yes. I have a meeting room on the first floor that’s built for privacy. I can get someone to bring us food, fetch your Eliza…”
She trailed off, but still gestured for Jason to follow. Zoey began to lead him through the large castle, retrieving her phone to tap away at it.
She kept glancing over her shoulder as though to make sure he was still really there.
It took a few minutes of navigating the expansive interior of Kasimir Castle, but soon Zoey was showing Jason into a room draped in dark slate, a meeting table occupying most of the space - though there was a bar of prominence to one side. Laid out on the table was already a tray of food, and beside it, Ellie - with a small bowl of mealworm, surprisingly.
Once inside, Zoey touched the flat panel to the side of the doorway which beeped once. The door seemed to shift and made a hollow noise as it sealed itself.”This must be … so confusing for you. I mean, it’s confusing for me! You’ve been - you’ve been dead - and…”
Zoey trailed off as she turned to look to her friend. Or … another version of her friend.
Jason raised an eyebrow at the impressive security, but seeing it really only helped to solidify his theory. Smiling at the sight of his fat and happy lizard, Jason made a beeline for the bar, stepping behind it to check the selection. Fully stocked, but who expected less of Zoey Kasimir? Grabbing a bottle of whiskey, Jason poured two shots and slid one towards Zoey.
“Confusing? Yeah, a fair bit, I guess.” Jason admitted, before tipping the shot glass back and slamming the booze inside. Grimacing at the sharp taste, he continued on. “Relieved to find you, Jaina, and, uh… ‘Tank’ here at least. He was not hard to find, let me tell you. Same alias here as it was back home. Oh, which reminds me!” He lied, the thought having not left his head since he woke up.
“What the hell was that last night? Like, backup is nice and all, but I don’t appreciate the gassing. And whoever put me to bed forgot to take off my arm, so I’ll be feeling that for a couple days now.””Girard was a hero in your world, too?”
Zoey paused here, shot glass already empty. Her brows came together as she thought before shaking her head, looking up to meet Jason’s eyes. ”Well… Grim didn’t exactly say much when he dropped you off. Quiet, that one. Jaina gave me most of the information about you - erm, sorry about your arm. I didn’t think - well, I’m sure I can pay for a better replacement, anyway, so you can sleep with it.”
She offered an apologetic smile.
Jason glared at Zoey, unconvinced. He poured another pair of shots and slid down a second shot glass to the redhead. “Yes, Girard is Tank in my world. Younger there, but we all are. You included. I’m assuming you don’t have the shadow powers though, so the armor is a nice touch. Also the wanton destruction of property when someone threatens something valuable to you, that was a refreshingly familiar sight. As for the arm…” Jason paused, glancing down at the prosthetic before taking his second shot. “I kind of doubt I was in the habit of accepting handouts in this world either, so thanks, but I’ll pass. I just want in, Zoey. Behind the curtain. No smokescreen.”
Zoey’s eyebrow began twitching.”Okay, ignoring what you’re implying for two seconds - I had powers in your world? Are you fucking shitting me?”
Zoey huffed, and abruptly stepped up close to Jason - only to snag the bottle of vodka to drink directly. ”That’s such fucking bullshit, in one world I’m a hero and the other I’m the god damned bank…”
Another swig, a roll of her shoulders, and another involuntary twitch.”Moving on... Yeah, I don’t have powers. And where the fuck would I get a set of power armor?! I think Grim straight up built his and there’s no way I can do that shit. Okay, look, yeah I’ve been providing the funds for superheroes for years but that’s pretty much all I can do!”
Jason vaulted the bar and closed the distance between himself and Zoey, his brow furrowing in frustration. “Don’t give me that bull, Kasimir! Of course you’ve been bankrolling the Justice Buddies, or whatever, someone would have to be blind not to know that, but there’s no way you’re not in on it! You were a hero in my universe and you couldn’t make a fire by rubbing your two brain cells together; and even I can see that you’re not a complete ditz in this one!””First of all, rude--”
“And another thing about that, quit playing dumb! You’re bad at it when you’re not actually
a moron! I fought side by side with you and Girard and Emma for years! We were the only people left to fight! I know
you, Zoey! I know how you move, how you fight, how you talk and stand and intimidate and I know that underneath that badass helmet there was a mess of red hair and a girl who wanted to save her friend from dying again!”
“And you’re not going to stop me by playing dumb! I’m not helpless, Zoey! I can fight, I’ve been doing it most of my life! I was stupid here, and that’s what got me killed, but now I’m not! Now I have powers! Now I know how to defend myself! So you can either let me in and keep an eye on me that way, or you can cut me loose. Your choice. Make it.”
A small flicker of movement, a flash of something dark
in Zoey’s gaze as they were so close together was Jason’s only warning before there was suddenly a small, sharp blade skirting along his jaw - not aiming to kill, not even to maim, but it didn’t matter anyway. For a moment Zoey’s steel blue eyes merely studied the intact skin, the knife that had been up her sleeve resting in her palm.
Finally she heaved a heavy sigh and stepped back, using her free hand to rub her temple.”For the record, you’re still stupid.”
“And you’re not. And I’ll be honest, that is very refreshing.”