Chapter 21: The Follow-Up

Central City

Mr. Smoothy

July 12, 08:45 EDT

Ben was busy behind the counter, wearing a green apron. Alongside him, Harley sported a red-and-black themed apron that matched her usual color scheme. The store was bustling, with customers eagerly waiting for their drinks.

Ben was mixing a smoothie when he called out, "Okay, Harley, the next order is a Tropical Tornado with an extra shot of protein. Can you grab the protein powder?"

Harley, more cheerful after a well-deserved vacation, nodded. "Sure thing, Benji-boy!" She opened a nearby cabinet and playfully tossed the protein powder.

As Ben added the protein, an impatient customer said, "Excuse me, I ordered a Strawberry Slam 10 minutes ago!"

Ben smiled apologetically and said, "Sorry about the wait, ma'am. Coming right up!" After completing another order, he started blending the Strawberry Slam.

Harley sighed. "Relax, hun. It's the morning rush. You aren't the only one." The customer rolled their eyes and asked them to hurry.

The next customer approached nervously and ordered a Green Machine with a double shot of wheatgrass.

Harley enthusiastically started tossing ingredients into the blender, saying, "One Green Machine comin' right up!"

Turning to Ben, she continued their earlier conversation. "As I suggested, I have some new flavors on the menu. Have you given any thought to Hot Sauce Havoc? It's got a kick like a hyena on caffeine."

Ben chuckled and replied, "It can work, but I'll probably reserve that for a morning-after hangover drink. My grandpa had something like that for himself."

Harley grinned and handed the Green Machine to the nervous customer, who quickly walked away after thanking her.

Ben finished the Strawberry Slam and handed it to the impatient customer, who finally softened after taking a sip and said, "This is good."

Ben smiled, "Glad you like it!"

Harley leaned on the counter. "Let me whip up something wild for us. We could use the energy boost."

Ben grinned. "Maybe later, since we still have the breakfast line to get through."

Harley pouted playfully, then turned to the next customer with a big smile, "Hey there, whatcha havin'?"

The excited customer ordered a Banana Blast with extra peanut butter.

Harley smiled, "Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Extra peanut butter, comin' right up!" She started picking up bananas by juggling them toward the blender. "Hey, you think this banana's ripe enough to become a boomerang?"

Ben rolled his eyes in amusement. "Careful, the last time you threw fruit around, you had to clean the ceiling."

As Ben and Harley continued working, their contrasting personalities created a lively and entertaining atmosphere, much to the delight of the casual customers.

Central City

July 13, 13:12 EDT

Wildvine swung from one building to another, his vine-like limbs propelling him through the air. Below, the Flash zipped through Central City at lightning speed, a red blur against the cityscape. Heat Wave and Captain Boomerang were robbing an armored treasury convoy downtown.

"Looks like they're up ahead, Ark!" Barry Allen shouted, his voice carrying over the wind.

Wildvine extended a vine to catch a streetlamp, flipping to the ground. "It's Wildvine. Let's cut these guys down a peg," Wildvine quipped, his leafy form rustling.

Brandishing his flamethrower, Heat Wave turned to face the heroes, duffle bags over his shoulders. "Flash and some kind of plant? This should be easy."

Wildvine grinned at the handicap. "That's the challenge."

Captain Boomerang tossed his duffles into a car trunk, twirling a deadly boomerang in his hand. He sneered. "Let's see how fast you can dodge, Flash."

The Flash wasted no time, sprinting towards Heat Wave. In a blur of red, Barry dodged a stream of fire, then circled back to land a punch. But Heat Wave was prepared, unleashing a wall of flame that forced Barry to retreat.

Wildvine's eyes narrowed. "I'll take care of the firebug."

Heat Wave aimed his flamethrower at the green hero. "Come here, you walking weed." He squeezed the trigger, sending a jet of fire toward Wildvine.

Wildvine reacted swiftly, his vine-like limbs wrapping around a nearby lamppost. He swung himself out of the path of the flames, landing gracefully a few meters away. "You'll have to do better than that," he taunted.

With a flick of his wrist, Wildvine sent several vines snaking toward Heat Wave. They twisted and writhed through the air, aiming to disarm the villain. Heat Wave, however, was quick to counter, turning the flamethrower towards the approaching vines and incinerating them.

Undeterred, Wildvine sprouted new vines, these thicker and more resilient. He charged forward, using the momentum to launch himself at Heat Wave. He dodged another blast of fire, rolling to the side and coming up in a crouch, his eyes locked on his opponent.

"You're persistent. I'll give you that," Heat Wave growled, frustration creeping into his voice. He adjusted the setting on his flamethrower, and the flames intensified.

He launched his vines towards Heat Wave, wrapping them around the flamethrower. With a powerful yank, he disarmed the villain, the flamethrower clattering to the ground.

Wildvine seized the moment. He shot a cluster of seeds from his palm, each landing at Heat Wave's feet and instantly sprouting into thick, entangling roots.

Heat Wave cursed as he found himself suddenly immobilized, the roots tightening around his legs. Heat Wave struggled against the roots, managing to free one arm. He reached for a hidden weapon, but Wildvine was faster.

He closed the distance between them with a powerful leap, delivering a swift, vine-encased punch to Heat Wave's jaw.

The villain staggered, his eyes wide with shock.

"You're finished," Wildvine declared, tightening the roots around Heat Wave's body until he could barely move. The fire-wielding villain slumped in defeat. His resistance snuffed out like a candle.

Ben lifted Heat Wave off the ground using his vines and slammed him into a nearby wall. "Stay put, hothead."

Meanwhile

Captain Boomerang grinned as he twirled a deadly boomerang between his fingers. "You're too slow, Flash!" Captain Boomerang taunted, launching the weapon with a flick of his wrist. The boomerang arced through the air, slicing towards the scarlet speedster with lethal precision.

Barry Allen smirked under his mask, watching the trajectory of the boomerang. In a split second, he dashed to the side, the projectile missing him by mere inches. But he knew Captain Boomerang too well to think it was over. The boomerang doubled back, aiming for his back.

Anticipating the move, Flash ran in a tight circle, generating a vortex of wind. The swirling air caught the boomerang, sending it spiraling off course.

Captain Boomerang gritted his teeth, pulling out another weapon. "Nice trick, Flash. Try dodging this!" He threw a boomerang that split into multiple smaller ones in mid-air.

Barry dodged and weaved through the swarm, but one nicked his arm, drawing blood. "You're starting to annoy me," he said, gritting his teeth.

"You never learn, do you, Digger?" Flash called out, his voice carrying over the sound of the whirling wind.

Captain Boomerang snarled, hurling a trio of boomerangs in rapid succession. Flash zigzagged through the air, dodging each one with millisecond precision. He quickly closed the distance between them, aiming a punch at Captain Boomerang's jaw.

But Boomerang was ready. He sidestepped at the last second, swinging his leg in a sweeping kick that caught Flash off guard. Barry stumbled, recovering his balance just in time to dodge another attack.

"You think you're so fast," Boomerang jeered, pulling out a specialized boomerang with a glowing, electrified edge. "Let's see you dodge this!" He flung it with all his strength, the electrified boomerang crackling through the air.

Flash felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up as the weapon approached. He moved, but the boomerang adjusted its course, tracking his movements. Realizing he couldn't outrun it, Barry changed tactics. He sped towards a nearby car, grabbing its metal hubcap in one fluid motion.

In the blink of an eye, he threw the hubcap like a frisbee, intercepting the boomerang mid-flight. The two projectiles collided, sparks flying as the electrified boomerang short-circuited and fell to the ground, inert.

Captain Boomerang's eyes widened in disbelief. "Impossible…"

Barry took the opportunity, charging forward and delivering a rapid series of punches, each landing with pinpoint accuracy. Captain Boomerang reeled, his defenses crumbling under the onslaught. With a final, powerful uppercut, Flash sent him sprawling to the ground, unconscious.

Using his speed, Barry tied Captain Boomerang with a heavy-duty cable.

"Looks like we make a good team," smirked Wildvine.

"Being fast doesn't mean I can do everything all at once." Barry smiled, his breathing steadying as he looked at their handiwork. "Not bad for a plant. Let's get these guys to Iron Heights before they cause more trouble."

Suddenly, Flash's communicator beeped, so he answered. "Yeah? I'm sorry. They fought a what? We'll be there." After hanging up, he turned to Wildvine. "Seems like the kids stumbled onto something troubling."

The alien raised a non-existent brow. "It couldn't be that bad. right?"

Central City

Harley's Room

July 13, 14:24 EDT

Pamela Isley, better known as Poison Ivy, reclined in her seat. The room had additions exotic plants, each thriving under her care. Ivy's fingers gently caressed the leaves of a nearby fern as she listened to the evening news, her eyes half-closed in contentment.

"...and in Central City today, the Flash, along with an unknown ally, successfully thwarted a robbery by Heat Wave and Captain Boomerang," the newscaster announced, drawing Ivy's attention. The screen displayed footage of the battle: a green, vine-covered figure swinging through the air, battling the villains alongside the Flash.

Ivy sat up, her interest piqued. "What?" she murmured, leaning closer to the screen. The camera zoomed in on Wildvine, showing him ensnaring Heat Wave with his vines.

"Amazing," the newscaster continued, "this mysterious hero, who appears to have control over plants, has yet to be identified. His abilities are similar to the infamous Poison Ivy of Gotham City."

Pamela's eyes widened in shock. "A living plant?" she whispered. Her mind raced with possibilities. She heard rumors of one living in the swamplands near the city, but she never took the time to confirm them. Was this Wildvine the rumored creature?

She watched Wildvine subdue the Heat Wave and help the Flash secure Captain Boomerang. This unknown hero's control over plant life was intriguing.

She felt an unexpected kinship. The appearance of another with similar powers was both thrilling and unsettling. As the news segment ended, Ivy glanced around her sanctuary. Perhaps they could learn from each other or join her environmental crusade.

Mount Justice

July 18, 18:16 EDT

After Mister Twister had been defeated, Flash and Red Tornado arrived to assess the situation, the former bringing Ark along. The teens gathered the android's remains and shipped them to the cave in the bioship.

It was then brought to a table, where Tornado dissected the Mister Twister armor and the android.

Wally blinked at the scene. "Well, this is disturbing."

Barry nodded with his nephew.

"It would seem that this armor was not only based on my design but also contained several methods of overriding another android's programming. Fortunately, you were able to stop my would-be saboteur; the damage that I could have done would have been considerable," remarked Tornado.

"It was clearly created to sabotage or destroy you." Kaldur told the Leaguer.

"Agreed." Red Tornado said, looking over the Android pieces and computer readouts.

After several moments of silence, M'gaan said, "Is that why you wouldn't help us?" she asked.

"No," He stated firmly and without remorse, "This was your battle. I do not believe it is my role to solve your problems for you. Nor should you solve mine for me." Red Tornado's tone was of cold logic.

In any case, having the level of trust to stop Twister alone was refreshing.

Barry held up a hand. "That's great and all, but why are you saying as if we won't help you with your evil cousin?"

Robin, Wally, and Superboy all paused.

"You'll be in danger…" M'gann objected.

"Consider this matter closed." Red Tornado turned to leave, dismissing them all with a stoic stare.

Flash facepalmed at his fellow league member.

Ark deadpanned. "Kinda defeats the purpose of being a League of Heroes, no?"

"Yup..."

"I consider this a private matter," answered the android.

"I'm guessing this was made by the same guy who made you, no?" Ark asked.

"I guess if we're gonna have a babysitter, a heartless machine is exactly what we need?" Dick pointed out.

"Dude! Harsh." Wally hissed but didn't object to it in any other way.

"And inaccurate," cut in Tornado

Both boys stopped dead. The others raised brows.

Red Tornado turned around again and tapped his right metallic pectoral. "I have a heart; it is composed of a carbon-steel alloy," he said, turning his head for just a second. I also have excellent hearing."

Kid Flash's eyes clenched closed, and he frowned, just opening one eye to look at the Boy Wonder. A silent "Help me!" gesture that he doesn't want Tornado to see.

Robin forced out a nervous chuckle and rubbed the back of his neck. "Right. I'll strive to be... more accurate."

Kaldur grabs Robin's shoulder and brings the Boy Wonder's attention to him. "And more respectful."

Going back to the console, Tornado ran a diagnostic. "I doubt I can retrieve any remaining information from its systems. The custom hardware needs to be replaced, and it is very damaged.

Megan laughed nervously. "Sorry..."

Tornado waved it off. "It is fine."

"Better broken than a danger," offered Flash.

Ark glanced at the disassembled armor, already calculating his next move. "Let me try something. I have just the guy for the job." Ark transformed into a diminutive, red-skinned alien with boundless energy in a flash of green light. "Jurryrig!" Jurryrig bounced on his heels, rubbing his hands with glee at seeing the mechanical carnage before him.

"Alright, let's see what we have here," Jurryrig said, high-pitched and rapid. He darted towards the largest piece of Mister Twister, eyes scanning the intricate machinery with laser focus.

Superboy, still skeptical, crossed his arms. "Can he fix this?"

Jurryrig shot him a quick look, grinning widely. "Just watch!"

He moved with lightning speed, his hands a blur as he reconnected wires, welded broken metal, and realigned circuits precisely. His fingers seemed to know exactly where everything belonged, driven by an instinctual understanding of technology.

As he worked, he muttered, " The Circuit board's fried. We need to bypass the auxiliary power and adjust the gyroscopic stabilizers. There we go!"

"FIX, FIX, FIX, FIX, FIX!" The rest of the team watched in amazement as, piece by piece, Mister Twister began to take shape once more. Sparks flew, and the hum of reactivating systems filled the air. Jurryrig reassembled the mainframe within minutes, leaving the android looking brand new and with interesting modifications.

Jurryrig stepped back, wiping his brow with exaggerated relief. "And... done! That should do it."

Red Tornado stepped forward, tapping a few commands into the console to interface with Mister Twister. The armor's eyes flickered to life, the systems booting up smoothly. "Almost everything is operational."

Jurryrig looked at everyone with a satisfied smile. "I know. Sadly, the external transmitter and receiver were fried. We won't be able to triangulate anything." He changed back to normal. "By the way, I call dibs on the first test run."

Barry grinned. "Woah!"

Aqualad placed a hand on Ark's shoulder. "Thank you, Ark. This will greatly help us find the creator."

Ark nodded, glancing at the now-functional Mister Twister. "Anytime. Let me know when you need a helping hand, claw, or whatever."

Kid Flash zipped over to Ark. "Dude, that was awesome! You fixed that bucket of bolts like it was nothing!"

Ark chuckled and nodded. "Jurryrig's pretty handy with tech. I'm glad I could help out." He crossed his arms. "For what it's worth, you guys did great out there."

Flash chuckled. "Yup, you guys handled Mister Twister pretty well," he said, his voice filled with pride and a hint of teasing. "Not bad at all."

Aqualad, standing with his teammates, smiled appreciatively. "Thank you, Flash. It was a team effort."

Robin stepped forward. "As much as I hate to admit it, we couldn't have done it without everyone."

Superboy, ever stoic, gave a rare nod of agreement. "Yeah."

Miss Martian floated down beside them, her eyes reflecting her admiration for her teammates. "There were some hurdles, but we managed to make it work."

Flash looked over the group. "No kidding. Mister Twister should have been as strong as Tornado, and you guys handled him."

Robin chuckled, "Nice to have the recognition."

Aqualad nodded in agreement. "Indeed."

"Alright, heroes," Flash said. "I've got to review the debriefing with the rest of the league. You guys go on and celebrate. You've earned it."

The teens shared a grin, but Superboy shook his head. "We only fought Twister," the clone said.

M'gann beamed at the praise.

Flash nodded at Superboy's words. "Maybe, but I'm sure Bats will send you on an official mission soon."

"Sweet!"

"Our team's first mission!"

"Speedy was so wrong," Wally said happily. "This Team thing…"

"Might just work out." Kaldur agreed.

The teens headed to the teleporters to head home—save for Superboy, who was staying at the cave for the conceivable future. Superboy stopped as he caught M'gann looking at him. He looked down before he looked back at her. "About before…" he said, not looking her in the eye, "I'm sorry." He turned and left.

M'gann ended the day with a huge smile on her face.

Mount Justice

July 21, 10:05 EDT

Superboy stood in the main hall of Mount Justice, gazing at the holographic globe that displayed the world he was created to protect. He looked down at his hands. He was supposed to replace Superman if he ever turned. He had dreams of destroying Superman. Both didn't sit right. It didn't feel like himself. The soft hum of the base's equipment was a constant background noise.

Superboy then heard footsteps approaching. He turned his head, and his stomach sank. It was Superman.

"Superboy," Superman began, his voice gentle. I see that you're still awake. Is everything okay?"

Superboy decided it was best not to mention the dreams. "It's different from what I'm used to."

Superman rubbed the back of his neck. "The others told me you felt more comfortable resting in the tub."

"Yeah..."

"..."

"Did you need something?"

Clark's heart was heavy with the words he needed to say. "Yes. That's the real reason I came tonight. There's something I've meant to talk to you about."

Superboy, arms crossed defensively, nodded. "Yeah? What's that?"

Superman took a deep breath, searching for the right words. "When we first met, I didn't handle it well. I was... shocked. Finding out I had a clone—someone created without my knowledge or consent—was overwhelming."

Superboy's eyes softened, but he remained silent, allowing Superman to continue.

"I didn't take the time to understand what you were going through," Superman said, his tone full of regret. "From what the other kids said, you looked up to me."

Superboy looked away. "You could say that."

"I came off the wrong foot." Superman pinched the bridge of his nose. He was kind of an ass, brushing the boy off at the time. "It must have been incredibly confusing for you. I should have been more understanding."

Superboy's posture relaxed slightly, the tension easing from his shoulders. "It was confusing," he admitted quietly. "I didn't know who I was supposed to be or where I fit in. And I wanted your approval so badly."

This time, Superman's stomach dropped. He was so used to cheering up other kids around the globe, but he failed in this regard. Superman stepped closer, placing a reassuring hand on Superboy's shoulder. "It's normal to feel that way. It took a few days to process, but you're like my younger brother. I've never had siblings before, so the feeling was new. What I do know is that I let you down. You needed help. Family shouldn't ignore you like that." Clark looked down in a bit of shame. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry."

Superboy felt the swirl of emotions in his gut. He was elated, of course, but there was still the lingering resentment from their first meeting. 'Still, he came... He's trying.' Superboy looked up, meeting Superman's earnest gaze. "You mean that?"

"I do," Superman affirmed, a small smile breaking through. "We're family, Superboy. And family looks out for each other. I want to be there for you, help you find your path, and understand who you are. Not just as Superboy, but as yourself."

Superboy composed himself as best he could and gestured to the mountain. "I appreciate you saying that, but I need time to think about all this."

Superman smiled softly. He slowly reached out and pulled him into a brief, heartfelt embrace. "Take all the time you need."

For the first time in a while, Superboy thought, 'Maybe things would turn out okay.'

Omnitrix DNA Entry:

Name: Wildvine

Species: Florauna

Home World: Flors Verdance

Powers and Abilities:

Florauna possess chlorokinesis, which allows them to telepathically interface with plant life. Florauna can alter parts of their bodies, growing and extending their arms, legs, and fingers into prehensile vine-like tendrils to grab and restrain others. They can also enlarge their flytraps to a size that can fit an entire person. Florauna can swing around with great agility and quickly tunnel underground. Florauna can grow black spore pods on their backs that contain a whole host of substances, allowing them to use the spore pods as explosives or smoke bombs. Their pods can also grow vines. Florauna also can tame Gracklflints using their spore. Florauna can regenerate their bodies if any part of it gets damaged. Florauna can grow sharp thorns on their bodies and launch them at their foes. Florauna are immune to the effects of a flame retardant. If they exert enough willpower, Florauna may be immune to a Vladat's Corrupturas. Florauna can trap people by closing their flytraps. Florauna can communicate with sentient plants, make whips by extruding tendrils out of the palms of their hands, and fuse themselves to any terrestrial plant, such as Earth trees.

Name: Juryrigg

Species: Planchaküle

Home World: Aul-Turrhen

Powers and Abilities:

Planchaküle have the ability to completely disassemble any kind of machinery in mere seconds, fitting to their Gremlin appearance. In contrast, they can also construct complex machinery from scratch at a similar rate. Despite their small size, they have enhanced strength and durability compared to humans. As in accordance with his break it/fix it attributes, Juryrigg boasts an impressive intellect, describing himself as "smart and stubborn." The Planchaküle's small size makes him unsuitable for hand-to-hand combat against larger opponents, unless they happen to be machines, in which case, he can dismantle them in seconds. Planchaküles tend to have a habit of breaking and assembling machinery. Most of the devices Planchaküle creates are basically on-the-fly or 'jury-rigged.' They are not normally meant to last and will eventually fail. A Planchaküle's creations can also be unstable and hard to control.

#

AN: Special thanks to Jebest4781, Charles, vividlearner744, and Seana!

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