This is being crossposted from Spacebattles and Sufficient Velocity. To preserve time, complete arcs are being placed as individual chapters, normal chapter posting resuming after things have been caught up.

Gonna be upfront, this was born from a combination of Writer's Block and boredom, plus me rereading With This Ring and A Subtle Knife. I consider it taking inspiration from both, though the latter more than the former hopefully. Gonna update irregularly as plot bunnies happen. Will probably follow canon for a while, not planning to upend things like some fics for quite some time.

Basic premise is that the SI arrives at the worst possible moment, when the original team drops Cadmus's ceiling on Blockbuster. The Worm half is where the powers come from. Fair warning, I'm writing by the seat of my pants here so it's going to be...interesting.

I honestly debated handing him Kaneki's powerset from Tokyo Ghoul but decided that would be too angsty.

It should go without saying that the SI's knowledge of the YJ timeline is removed. Considering a large portion of the SI's knowledge of DC came from YJ...yup, fun times.

Anyway, onward!

(Note: Highlighted sections were, in the Spacebattles version, invisible text)

You should not be here. What is your purpose? Where is your master, agent of the Anathema?
...I see. And this mortal?
Very well. You have no quarrel with ours, it seems. An accord, then?
Then we shall let you do your work while we do ours, and see what comes.
Let us begin.

12:38 AM, Monday, July 5th 2011


What had happened?

Last I remember...what the hell? Concrete? OHSHITFALLINGPAINAGH

I can't… I?

Where am I?

I can't see, just...nothingness, all around. Black. I need to-

And suddenly I can. Thousands of angles, thousands of eyes, greater than the whole. Bugs, squirming and moving. I should be shocked, but...they're just bugs, right? RIght?

Shit. Where am I?

A flash of darkness, crumpled...concrete? grey-hard-dust-cold

Blood. Sticky-wet-warm-feed. Cooling flesh, an arm with a bracelet threaded with blue beads poking from a pile of rubble. My bracelet. My arm.

Am I dead?

No, I can still feel. I can...all these eyes. I'm...seeing through the bugs? The hell? my body dead? Maybe? What do, then?

Wait, do I have superpowers? Or am I just hallucinating? No. I can feel through...everything. Each of the bugs. I've never done that before, I have no way of faking that experience, right?

But still, my body-

Reform. Repurpose.

The body disintegrates, and I feel...something new. More bugs, scuttling to join my swarm, join me.


Part of my swarm draws together, and- ohgodfuckwhat-

I blink, staring down at myself, at the bugs swarming around me. I can still feel them, but now...I'm me, my body…

Okay, how the hell did bugs turn into my clothes? I'm dressed normally, jeans and a t-shirt, but if…


...if my body turned into bugs, and then back into my body...nope, fuck it, apparently I have superpowers now. Logic has driven itself off the cliff in an elaborate murder-suicide with the laws of physics and utilitarianism.

Okay. Think. I'm a freaky bug-human who can still feel thousands upon thousands of bugs within a huge radius. Now where the hell am I?

A green glow answers my question, and I look up.

Oh fuck me, it's the Justice League. Why-

Rubble shifts to my right, dislodging part of me, and a group of teenagers clamber out of the rubble, battered and tattered. Heh. That rhymes.

I might still be in shock.

Okay, that's definitely Robin, and I'm guessing the guy currently presenting the S-shield on his fucked-up pajamas is Superboy. Kid Flash and some black guy with bleach-blond hair and- I send a few gnats to check, and yep, those are gills, are farther back. Only their mentors (Aquaman is gill-dude's? That make him Aqualad?) are looking at them.

The rest are looking at me, and-

Away, evade.

I feel my me-body dissolve back into the rest of the swarm. It doesn't hurt, only tingles a little bit.

They're still looking, now shocked, a few of them.

The rest of me starts to buzz, and I force myself to be calm.

I feel something press into my mind, something alien and strange, and I push back. Nope. Whoever you are, mystery telepath, you can fuck right off. The presence doesn't go away, though, even as Batman- holy shit that's Batman, why am I not freaking out more about this- gives all of me a look. He doesn't look happy. Duh, it's Batman.

++Can you understand us?++

Wah. Batman in my head. Not good. Do not let the angry detective who beats criminals to a pulp with his bare hands into my brain.

++If you can, release control of your insects. You are endangering lives.++

Wait, what?

I look over the rest of me. Thousands of bugs. It's night, I think, but...people huddling in alleyways and sidewalks, terrified, I can see/sense/feel them. Cars trapped under a sea of chitin.



There. Gone, go away, me.

I feel parts of me, the edges, the worst concentrations, skitter away, conceal themselves back in their nooks and crannies. Good. Not mine anymore, not me, but good. Not hurting anyone, yes.

The alien presence is back. Voice in my head is even flatter than Batman's. ++What is your name?++

My name? It's-



Why can't I remember my name? I-

I can feel the swarm, circling, agitated, and I force it to quiet as the Leaguers tense.

++It is alright. Remain calm. Could you reform your body?++

Can I do that? I can do that. Yes.


Same body, same clothes, same five senses, better sight but so It's just me. The swarm sees everything else.

Oh, there's the alien. Martian Manhunter, obviously. Was kinda hard to distinguish him when I was the swarm. Lots of green.

And there's Batman again, and now the teenagers are giving me odd looks.

I let out a breath, pushing down the urge to run.

I just need to talk, right? Couldn't be all that hard.

12:59 AM, Monday, July 5th 2011

So! Minutes after the League- and why the entire flipping Justice League decided to stop by, I still don't know- cordoned off the area, I found myself sitting on the back of an ambulance. Well, my human-body anyway, the rest of me was still being bored, scuttling about semi-randomly. Some of the bugs were eating each other. Meh.

Oh, someone draped a shock blanket around me. Wonderful.

I realize I'm not wearing my glasses, but my vision's fine. My one fucked-up eye has apparently been unfucked. So, yay? Benefits. Pectus excavatum is gone too. Huh. Guess that's a good thing, if I've got powers. This seems to be the DC comics verse, so...yeah, either heroism or supervillainy, and considering the League is a thing my life expectancy as the latter would be pretty short. Would probably be a disadvantage if I died from getting punched in the chest like an extra in a bad Wuxia movie.

And there's Batman, looking me over. Can't really tell what he's thinking, probably the point of the mask. A few flies try to hitch a ride on his cowl and are immediately fried by electricity. I stop any others from trying.


The Caped Crusader nods to himself before approaching me, and I resist the urge to flinch. This one obviously has more in common with Bale than Adam West, and it's pretty intimidating up close and in the dark.

"What's the last thing you remember?" he asks flatly.

I rack my brains. Nothing important. Finals coming up, some studying, going to sleep...wait. "Have no idea. Went to bed, then…" I motion to the collapsed building. Still no idea what that was. "Woke up, there was...some kind of monster, and the ceiling was coming down. On me, apparently."

I'm a lot calmer than I should be, the human part of me at least, but the swarm is starting to coalesce. A will of effort, and it goes back to avoiding the workers and remaining League members.

"I can't remember anything else. Just some of my past, going to sleep, and then…boom, here you go, you almost die and get the ability to be a bug-man."

I'm babbling. I take a deep breath, check my pockets. Wallet and keys are still there. No phone, no USB, still have my pen, though. I pull out the wallet, flip through it. No ID, nothing that had my name on it, only about thirty bucks cash. I fiddle with the little flap that used to hold my driver's license as I stare at it. "And apparently I have no ID," I say morosely. "You got any ideas, bat-guy? Because I'm pretty sure I can't hold down a job with no documents or proof of anything, and I really don't want to spend my life getting beat up by whatever superhero team you lot represent."

I can practically hear the raised eyebrow.

"Look, I have no idea who you people are, or who I am, really. I...think I used to read a lot of superhero comics, wherever I came from, and one thing there is that you can do just about anything with memories. Heck, I could be a clone, or an experiment, or just mentally programmed to go on a rampage whenever someone says the word spinach. I don't know. I can't even remember my own name. So...fuck, I don't know."

"The League will make arrangements. In the meantime...STAR Labs has an open offer."

"And spend my time there being cut open? No thanks."

He actually looks offended. Shit did I just piss off Batman?

"They typically offer paid work for superpowered individuals. Trying to figure out the ways powers function. Most superhumans…"

"Are either insane, criminals, insane criminals, or busy punching the other three categories in the face." Bugs-me starts buzzing again. It's loud.

Batman just nods. "Exactly. And it's non-invasive. Using your powers under controlled conditions."

I sigh.

"Not like I've got any choice."


1:23 PM, Thursday, July 29th, 2011

STAR Labs Philadelphia Branch

One thing I'm already loving about the labs here- the fact they let me use the gym. Having no access to my Steam library or my actual library leaves me with plenty of free time between researchers breaking their brains trying to figure out what the fuck is going on with me. With that time between tests, I've actually figured out a workout routine for the first time in my life. A couple of the grad students working here have been helping. It's not much different from the warm-up and conditioning exercises I did for when I was working on my black belt, but it seems to have a much more interesting effect- in the past month I've lost all of the freshman fifteen and put it back on in muscle, and it only seems to be increasing. Not quite back up to fighting shape yet, but I have actual abs for the first time I can recall since well, ever. Even at my best I still tended toward being built like a brick outhouse rather than a bodybuilder...

"Hey, Grant!"

It takes me a moment to remember that's the name I picked. Grant Alvear. The first part my uncle's name, the second bad Latin for 'hive'. Hey, if the Riddler can be named E. Nigma, I can keep my dog Latin. I look up from my position on the floor, holding plank easily. Kid's quieter than you'd think, and since the staff asked me not to keep tabs on people with my bugs, it's easy for me to get snuck up on. "Yeah?" I manage to grunt out.

"Doctor Creer sent me, he says your MRI just came back, and he wants to talk to you."

I flip over and sit up on the exercise mat, looking down at the sweat-soaked tank top I wore. Alright.


A ripple of crawling motion, and I'm back in my normal clothing, clean and refreshed. Ronnie doesn't react, but I see one of the other students using the gym nearly fall off her treadmill. I'm pretty sure at this point I've given half the faculty exposure therapy for arachnophobia, but these powers have their benefits. Like the ability to read Braille from across campus, half a dozen textbooks at once. My multitasking is apparently infinite. Yay me.

STAR Labs also has a university campus nearby, which provides a lot of work for a variety of students, including Ronnie, who is a physics major and a couple years older than I am despite looking the other way 'round. Still no idea why he and Creer are taking an interest in me, though thankfully the good doctor isn't one of the mad scientist types. I think it's something about isolating the wavelength telepathy works on? I don't know, I was a bio major and only managed a year and a half before all this happened.

I can still feel my swarm, still feel me, in the back of my head, most of them in my temporary quarters, others (mostly spiders) working on another project for one of the other doctors. I can also feel all the insects that aren't me, within a range of about four city blocks. They had a grad student test it with a cage full of mealworms and it tops out at about half a mile, a few dozen feet varying on some days.

It's a quick walk to Creer's office, and Ronnie says his goodbyes before vanishing. The good doctor is a thin, intense-looking man, balding early and scowling pretty much permanently. My own abilities haven't helped much with that, it seems, just adding another wrinkle. He ordered the MRI tests last week, probably because most telepaths and 'kinetics have neural abnormalities, and he wanted to see if there was a common pattern. Not many of either type stop by to get their brains scanned, so finding me must have been a coup.

Creer isn't glaring, for once. He holds up a file. "I believe, Mr. Alvear, that we've isolated at least partially the source of your abilities. Your control, at the very least." He opens the file, and slides out a pair of photographs. My brain, with sections at the top highlighted in red pen. "These two sections here are new growth, with some scarring at their edges. We believe they are the source of your control."

Two sections of brain, scarring at the edges, related to powers. I know what these are. And I know who they belong to.

"Mr. Alvear?"

I blink, and look back up, meeting Creer's eyes. "Sorry," I say with a nervous smile. "Was woolgathering."

In my quarters, the section of me that is the swarm is buzzing up a storm, and a few insects posted to keep watch notice those in the hallways giving the door odd looks. My mind is racing. So, Queen Administration? But Taylor couldn't turn into bugs. So...a bud? Did that mean the Entities existed in DC? Oh damn, if they are everything is fucked.

" other ability?" To demonstrate, I turn my left hand into a swarm and back to flesh again. Still tingles like the world's worst set of pins and needles, but I'm getting used to it. Apparently the amount of bugs I can turn into has no basis in my mass or volume, and the kinds of bugs appear to be completely random. That was a fun week, turning body parts into bugs and then reintegrating them from different bugs. Turns out I can't just turn random parts- it only works from the outside in, so the wasp-propelled Fist of Doom is right out.

Creer snorts. "Since that ability affects your body so much, discerning its origins is difficult. Your DNA, however, is entirely human- you don't even carry a metahuman gene, or anything else that could grant powers. So…" He lifts his hands. "It's not my area of research," he says. Then he nods. "Your contributions, however, have been immensely helpful," he says, slightly less frozen. "I believe your commitments close next week?"

Right. Only a month of testing. Apparently the League had something set up, working with the other people that they mentor. Apparently Martian Manhunter, of all people, decided to sponsor me. Guess shapeshifters stick together? I nod to Creer. "That's correct."

"You have something to go back to?"

I blink, and the corner of Creer's mouth ticks up. "Don't look so surprised, boy. I am your doctor, and it's in my interest to ensure you don't wander off onto the streets. A lot of metahumans either don't have parents or the parents are...less than happy, about their child's abilities. So?"

All I can do is nod.

"Good." He hands me the file. "Keep that, I've got another copy. I think we're done, for now."

I hurry out of the office.

1:55 PM, Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I roll my chair back from the library computer before stretching slightly. Alright. That's another thing confirmed- while I can't exactly look up secret identities online, I was able to find that A) there is a Robin, and B) given how Bruce Wayne has adopted him, it's definitely Richard Grayson. No Nightwing, no Tim Drake. That's the last bit of interest I think I'll be able to wriggle out. Everyone else I can think of is either magically or through Hollywood Hacking not too likely to show up on a Google Search. Alright then. I sit back down, and log into my temporary email account. Nothing new.

Part of me wonders if I'm going the right way, here. But it's pretty easy to guess. This is, really, a storyteller's universe. All shall hail the Great God Plot, and all that. If I went the Spiderman route and attempted to go legit, something would happen to either make me a hero or drive me insane and into supervillainy. Thinking about narrative causality like this is the Discworld is...probably not mentally healthy. Fuck it. I've got literally nowhere else to go.

When Batman had said he'd make arrangements...fuck, he wasn't kidding. He'd stressed that I didn't have to join...but with no other real life skills, what exactly would I do? Flip burgers for a living? The economic crisis and subsequent insanity didn't happen in this reality, some butterfly of economics, but that kind of job...okay, no, I honestly don't want to do that. I'm not stupid enough to think that being a superhero would be fun, but I've never held down an actual job in my life and one of my greatest areas of expertise is punching people in the face anyway. That and writing, but that's a far second to the punching. I find myself uniquely qualified for the position of spandex-glad champion of justice, then. Hooray.

At least they let me take my GED when I was here.

The computer beeps, and I look back at the new email. It's from the Manhunter.

Three days? I can do that.

3:29 PM, Saturday, August 1st, 2011

I had not expected the Manhunter to show up in person, but sure enough, 'John Jones' arrives at three-thirty in a silver car. I literally cannot describe it any better than that, as between my own pitiful knowledge and the fact that all the brand names are different means I only really register four doors and an engine. Mr. J'onzz rolls down the window, then motions to the back door. "Get in."

Sharing the back seat with me is a peppy, freckled redhead, who smiles. "Hi! I'm M'gann. You must be Grant, right?"

I nod. "Grant Alvear. M''re his daughter?" I ask, nodding to Mr. J'onzz.

"Niece," the Manhunter corrects. "Her code name is Miss Martian."

Of course it is. What time I spent on the Internet was mostly spent researching the local superhero scene. A lot of my knowledge of DC is spotty, and given some of the differences- Zatara being alive for one- I can't be sure most of it will apply. Still have enough I'm a bit wary of telepaths and things leaking out, but the one time one visited STAR Labs apparently my brain was too 'diffuse' to easily interact with. I blink again, and realise I haven't said a word. "Sorry. I've been thinking over mine. Think I'll pick...Legion."

She blinks. "Um...okay, then."

Mr. J'onzz clears his throat. "Legion. There is a suitcase at your feet. It contains your costume."

I get a costume? Of course I get a costume. God, please don't be spandex, please don't be spandex. I reach down, and pop the latches on the black briefcase.

Huh. Not spandex. Pretty basic, actually, just a grey trench-coat-style garment, a mask that looks to only cover the top half of my face, with green eyepieces, and a very nice wide-brimmed hat, black. Nothing else. I fold it back up carefully and put it back in its case. "No armour?" I ask.

"The Batman thought that an individual who transformed into a swarm of arthopoda would be hindered by solid armor. The coat is bulletproof and fire-resistant, and the mask contains a variety of electronic components. The user manual is at the bottom."

"Wait. Batman made this?"

"As you have no existing family, the Batman has decided League finances will be utilized to provide your room, board, and equipment. The Batman also controls said League finances," Mr. J'onzz explains. That's...whoa. Okay. That's a lot of trust, but I guess my background checks showed I was who I said I was.

"So, we're going to meet the team today?" I asked carefully. M'gann nods.

"Yep! The others already saw you at Cadmus, back before I joined. I think they'll be happy to see you. Superboy was worried about you, actually, and so was Kaldur. They thought it was their fault you got hurt. You know, bringing down the building and all."

Huh. That's why the building was destroyed. Yeah, Superman-lite and an Atlantean going at it would bring down anything. I smile though, and shake my head. "Hey, no harm done. And they didn't know I was even there."

"That reminds me," Mr. J'onzz states. "Lantern Jordan scanned the area using his ring. Apparently you were sent from a parallel world. He mentioned...Bleed particles? Some highly advanced method of interdimensional travel."

I let out a sigh of relief. "That's one less thing to worry about." Anyone could fake memories, but science didn't lie. That at least meant I- and that was a lot more, these days- was still me. "Alright. Nobody really has wanted to tell me much over STAR Labs connections, so I know basically nothing about the team," I said to M'gann. "Mind filling me in?"

The rest of the ride was spent with M'gann filling the air with chatter and descriptions, and me simply nodding along, filing away the useful info. I'll be the second-oldest, after M'gann, and she quickly explains that for Martians forty-eight is developmentally close to sixteen. So I'll be the sole legal adult. Huh.

Note to self: if I start acting full of it due to two years difference in age, jump into Happy Harbor's harbor.


4:01 PM EDT, Saturday, August 1st, 2010

Mount Justice, Happy Harbor

So, apparently Mount Justice is ward central. The Hall of Justice is the public League HQ, but something tells me that isn't the real case. You don't let tourists stroll through your base of operations, unless you intend to use them as bait or human shields, and since this isn't the Injustice League, that ain't likely.

No straight-up teleportation here- the League uses point-to-point direct transmission, zeta tubes. No idea where those are from. Maybe they're something new? No point worrying. Since they're not free-point teleporters I'm pretty sure the Star Trek problem doesn't apply, and if it did? I turn into bugs. Actually, I am bugs. Pretty sure my sense of self would send psychologists running.

"Hey, everyone, we're back!" M'gann says happily as the light fades.

I didn't bother with the costume. It's too warm right now for casual wear and I don't exactly have a secret identity. So I carry it's case in one hand and roll my own suitcase along with the other.

Look's like the whole team's here. Kaldur, Wally, Connor, and Richard. I'm shit with names but I think I can remember these four pretty well. Just have to keep their codenames in mind. Kaldur's got a turtleneck on, probably to hide his gills, Wally and Richard are in street clothes, and Connor's got on a shirt with an S-shield. Real subtle, buddy. I'm in my usual casual clothing, so I'm not out of place for once. I smile, and wave slightly.

Meanwhile, I can feel the rest of the Mountain. It's been cleaned on the lower levels, but with not enough people in the upper ones…

Colonies of ants, termites, cockroaches, and spiders stop as they become me, and begin to troop downwards, using...ventilation ducts? Oh, and they're Hollywood-sized, interesting. Could come in handy.

Meanwhile, human-me smiles and shakes hands with Kaldur. Some webbing on his hands, cool. Names start to be exchanged.

"Hey, so how long have you been doing this? We didn't even know you worked with Manhhunter!" Wally says. Great, hyperactive teenager- no, said I wasn't going to be an ass, follow through dammit.

Most of the bugs (and arachnids) have made their way to this cavern's ceiling, wriggling through unseen. There's plenty of nooks and crannies.

"Alright, you've got me, I'm completely new to this superhero thing," I say with a shrug. "All power, no skill. That's...kinda why I'm here. But I know a lot about bugs, and even if I'm a bit weak in body, well…"

My swarm pours through nooks and crannies and cracks, a tornado of falling chitin, the winged ones carrying smaller and wingless insects, and all of them reach me and as I stretch out hand they-


-become one.

I grin as the last cockroach vanishes into thin air upon touching my skin. Nobody in STAR Labs was able to figure out where they went, but they found I was able to spit them back out just like they went in, unlike the bugs my body turns into. "You really should have fumigated this place," I say. My heart's pounding, my hands sweating. Did I fuck up? "I'll go head up and unpack. Where's the barracks?"

"There...are individual rooms," Kaldur says, obviously recovering. Okay, didn't fuck up too badly if they're still capable of speech. Right? "You should be able to find one still unoccupied."

"You have my thanks." I bow slightly, and then get the hell out of there before I make things worse.

I really need to put those bugs elsewhere- couldn't keep them compacted like this for long. I'd put them back into the world, set up the spiders in one room and let the less useful ones become food. I wasn't sure about the armor situation of my teammates, but spider silk should help. And even if it didn't, mass-producing them would get me money that didn't depend on the good will of the man dressed like a bat.

I barely make it into one of the empty rooms before my stomach roils and I fall to my knees.


Most of the insects burst free as human-me collapses into part of the swarm, and I send them scurrying upward once more, forming elaborate chains out of sight and climbing back up. I scrub my mouth with the back of my hand. There. Better.

Now I just needed to unpack.

6:36 PM EDT, Saturday, August 1st, 2010

Another unexpected benefit that I have no idea what to attribute to- apparently all my long-standing food neuroses got fixed along with the rest of me. For the first time in my life I can actually enjoy green beans. Mmm. Cellulose.

The rest of the team has apparently forgotten my little display or is repressing it, but with Wally and Richard elsewhere the table's kinda...quiet. Superboy (NOT Conner, apparently. The universe will probably correct that though) is the grumpy type, Kaldur's the type to not say more than is necessary, and I hate being the first to speak. Finally M'gann breaks the silence. "So, Grant, what's it like where you're from?"

I give her a look, then shrug. "You guys know I'm from a parallel Earth, right?" Nods all around. Encouraging. "Uh...well, obviously, no superhumans, no magic. We had stories about them, but it was all fictional, you know. Same with magic. Most of the religions here are the same as back home, but they've got...proof, I guess. If you get interested in wanting empirical evidence just draw the right kind of circle on the ground with the right stuff and you can talk to whatever you like, infernal, divine, or in between." I let out a breath. "Most of it's the same...though we're about seven years ahead of you, time-wise, you've still got more advanced technology. I mean, stuff like Doctor Fries and his cryo-suit...that kind of thing just isn't possible on my home parallel. Oh, Barrack Obama, the senator from Illinois, got the nomination and won the 2008 election instead of Martin Suarez. Not sure about the differences behind that."

"You say there is no magic, then...what of Atlantis?" Kaldur asks quietly.

I sigh. "Far as we know, it doesn't exist, except as a particularly crazy conspiracy theory," I say reluctantly. "Sorry, Kaldur. And before you ask, no, no aliens either. Mars is empty, and if there's Kryptonians, Guardians of the Universe, or anything else out there, they've decided to pass us by," I add. "We're...alone."

There's a long moment of silence, then Kaldur breaks it again. "If you have no you still have a soul?"


"Honestly hadn't considered that," I finally say. "Should probably ask one of the League who knows magic to look into that. But if I don't, hey, I've been here a month and haven't died, so probably not that big a deal."

Kaldur's eyes widen slightly. "If you believe so," he says. "But, on to more pleasant topics. I know you say you are not extensively trained…"

"Been practicing with my powers, but actual human-me is, I'll probably win a fight with any baseline human just because I can't really be hurt by that, but if I couldn't use my abilities for some reason I'd be in a tight spot," I say. "Why?"

"We do take part in regularly scheduled sparring sessions. You may not possess enhanced strength yourself, but many of our opponents will. Learning how to fight them would be beneficial, and as for any are nearly impossible to damage in a permanent fashion."

"Wait, time out. How?" Superboy asks. He motions to me. "Wouldn't it still hurt if your body got damaged?"

I shake my head. "Not as much as you might think, El," I say. "Anything anyone does that actually hurts human me can be fixed in an instant. And you'd need to level...oh, about sixteen city blocks, square, before you could kill me. Otherwise I'll just pop back up from my swarm somewhere else." I pause. "And I just volunteered for training dummy duty for the next several weeks as you lot learn how to fight squishy people without breaking bits, didn't I?"

Kaldur nods, the poker-faced bastard. Superboy just grins.

7:02 AM EDT, Tuesday, August 3rd, 2011


"So, what did he say?" Superboy asks as I step out of the zeta tube.

I smile. "Yup, I'm a real boy," I drawl, putting on the exaggerated accent I never developed in real life despite living in the Carolinas. "Mr. Zatara was happy enough to perform a checkup, and there's nothing wrong with me."

He couldn't find the shard. I didn't ask him to look all that hard, but still. I can't tell what the source of my powers actually is, whether it's telepathy or space whale bullshit, and that worries me.

Superboy's eyes narrow slightly as I reach out and make the insects


mine within a two-block radius. Could reach farther, but...

"There's something else, isn't there?" he asks. "What?"

I shrug. "He was a bit concerned about my psyche being diffused, thinks it might not be healthy long-term. And apparently I have a very, very tiny-" I make a circle with thumb and forefinger "-affinity for magic."

"You can do magic?"

"Might be able to do magic. He said he'd talk to Manhunter, see if a tutor was a good idea. It's not exactly fireballs and demon-summoning, more hedge-wizard level, at most. But it's there."

I really should see if I can get in touch with John Constantine. He'd be far more powerful than me, but he knows all about doing a lot with minimal power. Of course, I can't exactly call the man up, and if I turned up on his doorstep he'd probably mistake me for a demon of some sort. I have no desire to find out if a shotgun to the face still hurts in my current state.

"Still, that's...good."

We walk for a bit longer. I can guess why Superboy's decided to go walkabout here. This is Metropolis, after all, and-

Oh, seriously?

"One sec," I tell him, before human-me dissolves into the swarm.

Two blocks away, in an alleyway that would do Gotham proud, a man holding a comically oversized knife stops dead as I


reform myself from a cloud of insects. The woman currently behind me makes a break for it, clutching her purse. I give the would-be mugger a grin. "Really? Really? Of all the cities to mug someone in, you pick this one?" The rest of me begins to bleed out through nooks and crannies, surrounding human-me, and the mugger goes pale. I'm in costume now, trench coat open as insects crawl into and out of it, eye pieces glinting green in the eyes of the rest of my swarm.

Okay, apparently I'm going for the Batman Method of fighting criminals.

Aaaaand he just pissed himself. The knife falls to the concrete with a clatter. I sigh, and the swarm sighs with me. "Alright. Go to the nearest police station, turn yourself in. If you don't…"

"...I'll know," the rest of me buzzes.

The mugger nods fervently, and I step my human body back into the rest of me, dissolving away and then reforming at Superboy's side. He gives me a judging kind of look. "Did you really have to scare him that badly?"

Whu- "How did you-"

"Super hearing," he says with a grin, tapping his ear. "Couldn't quite pick up what was going on, but I can track you."

"Oh." I pause. " answer your question, it's... complicated. I...guess I could have just swarmed him, tied him in spiderwebs and left him for the cops, but that'd probably mean covering him in enough spider bites to put him down hard. This way, he'll probably have some nightmares, but he's not hurt. It's the Batman Method."

He blinks, then shrugs. "I get it. If people think you're scary, they won't try to fight," he says. "Makes sense." He pauses as we keep patrolling. "Hey, I've been meaning to ask…"


"Why'd you call me El?"

Did they...of course not. Judging from mission reports and footage it seems Superman isn't exactly enthusiastic about his...son? Half-brother?...and Cadmus was too full of the assholes who give genetic engineers a bad name to bother giving him an actual name.

"Superman's actual name is Kal-El. First name Kal, last name El," I explain. "Since you're a clone, you're an El too. Didn't know what name you'd pick for your first one, and don't want to give you one when I'd just met yeah, El."

"Huh." He thinks it over, then shakes his head as his eyes harden. "He never told me."

"He wears his underwear outside his clothing. I'm not certain he's all that bright."

"He can probably hear you, you know." But he smiles thinly. Progress. "I'll have to talk to him."

8:01 PM EDT, Tuesday, August 3rd, 2011

Mount Justice

Okay, seriously? Fuck Superman and his deadbeat-dad act. Bastard flew off after giving El the cold shoulder. Now El's pissed, and I kinda am too. Black Canary had a point about his anger issues, though. Not like I'm exactly qualified help, but maybe just being there, helping, is enough?

Still, mission time. Escort job, apparently. At least the Big Blue Cheese actually had a reason to fly off- Amazo isn't a lightweight, though thankfully this isn't the one that turned into a Physical God and proceeded to power through the entire Green Lantern Corps, the JLU version of the League, and Lex fucking Luthor's giant doom cannon-thing. This one seems more like the comics, which meant the League was able to beat it down due to it only getting one power at a time. Now we're escorting android parts.

"What, the holdup, Legion?" Robin asks, and I sigh.

"I barely know how to drive a car, and you're expecting me to know how to use that," I say, motioning to the tan-colored bike. "Plus, my power is bugs. We don't do well at 60-plus mph out in the open."

"You got a better idea?"

"Yuuup. Might want to warn the drivers."

Kaldur gives me a look before his eyes widen slightly in understanding and he heads up front to talk to the driver of the New York truck. We're being split in half, me, Robin, and Superboy going to New York, the others to Boston.

Meanwhile, I crouch down, placing my hand on the ground. Theatrics, but useful.


The forest pulses as every insect in a half mile becomes me and begins to crawl out of the undergrowth, swarming up into the open cargo door and filling the space in the truck easily. I step into the back of the truck. The light cuts off as Superboy closes the door.

Alone. Nice.



let go of human-me, and it falls apart, mixing into and becoming the swarm alone. It's oddly relaxing. Also happens when I/we sleep, apparently, though nobody has managed to walk in on that particular pile of terror yet. Should probably get a lock on the door.

I/we feel the metal of the truck- cold-hard-inedible- shift as noise reverberates through me/us. The truck is moving. Good.

I drift into a semi-waking state, just...lying there. All that is me shifts and shivers and rustles as individual components move along, but the whole is quiescent.

Naturally, this is all ruined by fire.


8:42 PM EDT, Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

The first warning I/we get is sudden burning and death as the top of the truck begins to melt. No pain, I/we can't feel it in this state, but annoyance as some of my swarm dies from the heat.

I/we are under attack. Our cargo is under attack. Our team is under attack.

Defend the colony.

I reform my human self in an instant and send the hardiest of the insects upwards as a circular chunk of metal clangs to the floor of the truck. A small, monkey-like robot tries to fly in and is immediately buried in insects, gumming up it's workings and shorting out its circuits as I find every nook and cranny. Wind whips the top of the swarm that I try to extend outside off the truck, scattering bits of me to the wind. No matter, I have far more. A second monkeybot and a third try their luck from the edge of the hole, eyes launching bits of light that burn away the swarm covering the Amazo-box. A fourth and fifth fly at me, jetpacks frying yet more bugs before they're clogged into uselessness and the twitching remnants crash to the floor. The truck screeches to a halt, throwing the monkey-lasers off track for a moment before both of the remaining robots are bodily ripped off the roof. Superboy.

It's quiet now, save for my swarm. I tap my comm link. "What did I miss?"

"You were asleep?" Robin asks. Urgh. Hearing through the hole and in my ear at the same time is kinda weird.

"Turned into a swarm. Kinda hard to hear over the buzzing. So, Ivo wants his murderbot back?"

"Yep. The other team...the monkeys ran off with their half of it. Even half of it is probably enough for Ivo to rebuild it."

"How'd they find us?" I hear Superboy ask as I pop open the back hatch. "And the driver?"

"I'm alright, kid," I here the man say from up front. "Damn, that was too close."

I climb up the side of the truck using an attached ladder. I think this thing was an APC at some point. If it kept the armor, it didn't stop the robot's plasma cutters, though. Superboy's pacing, while Robin has plugged wires from his wrist computer into the head of one of the robots and is messing about with the haptic hologram interface. Right. Talk to Superboy. "Not a fan of monkeys?" I ask, and he turns sharply, glaring. I step back, raising my hands. He visibly controls himself.

"No," he finally says. "I'm not."

They probably remind him of G-Gnomes or something. Nice going.

"GPS!" Robin shouts suddenly. I motion for him to elaborate.

"The parts have GPS beacons. That's why none of the other trucks got attacked."

"Then we should endeavor to recover the stolen cargo," I hear Aqualad say calmly. "Where are they taking the parts?"

"Give me a second...looks like it's headed for...Gotham City? The outskirts at least."

"That is too far for the three of us to travel," Aqualad states. "Not in a timely fashion. And if Ivo is able to reactivate the android…"

"Right, you guys were guarding the torso. Wonderful," I mutter. "So, legless murderbot? Not quite a disaster yet."

"Hey, guess we don't have to be all feeling the aster," Robin says with a grin. Superboy makes a noise that isn't quite a snarl.

"Ivo's rebuilding a robot that took on the whole League, and you're cracking jokes?"

"The three of you should be able to pursue. Robin, guard the cargo. Kid Flash will rendezvous with you as soon as possible. Superboy, Legion, once Robin has the location, pursue Ivo. Do not engage unless you have to."

Superboy grins and slams a fist into an open palm. "All right!"

"Got it! They're heading south on the rail line," Robin says. "A cargo train. That must be how he plans to evade pursuit."

"The great professor Ivo, living the hobo life," I quip. "So, which way?"

"Your systems, I could just-"

I rejoin the swarm, and Robin sighs. "Right," he says, voice distorted in my current state. Both too high and too low, oh so many ears listening. "Head south. Follow Superboy, if he doesn't...actually, how are you going to keep up?"

"I have my ways," I/we buzz. South. Sun is setting, so warmth should be to our/my...right? Yes. I/we feel a cluster of insects a considerable distance away in the proper direction. A thought, and they join me/us. Another, and I/we becomes I again as the cluster rebuilds into a human form.

I stumble. Whoa. Okay, head rush, wait...breathe. Alright. Still standing. I tap against the side of my mask's lenses, and a HUD pops up. Robin's marked the GPS marker out quite nicely. Alright. Didn't go too off-course. Let's do this again…

9:19 PM, EDT, Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Okay. Trains are bullshit. The damn thing is farther away each time I reform, it seems. Superboy at least is catching up fast, but I'm losing sight of the tracks and a lack of bugs on the past few jumps has made the problem worse, forcing me to wait as enough gather in my range.. Even with the zoom function built into the mask I can barely make out Superboy's shape as he lands on the train. I really hope that Amazo isn't rebuilt yet...

Two hops- the last into a forested area- and a few minutes later, Superboy flies out on a ballistic arc from the train, followed closely by a...floating torso? Oh, Amazo got repaired. Wonderful. With the zoom and bullshit Hollywood night vision I can see clearly as Superboy hits what looks like an extremely fancy private school. Hope they have insurance.

I can also see both Amazo and a redheaded man I recognize as Ivo, the latter under tow by more damn monkey bots, as they float towards the crash.

Flying in my range? Oh hell no.

Defend colony.

I'm close enough, and they're flying low. And there are countless thousands of flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and yes, my dear imaginary memetic Taylor, bees, in these woods, and they are all me.

Ivo tries to evade, but Amazo keeps on going, low enough for me to surround him utterly. Beetles and roaches carry spiders up, and the arachnids start spinning webs to blind and hinder him as the rest of me goes after Ivo. I bury one of the monkey-bots in flies and gnats and send it tumbling down, engines sputtering. Ivo clings to the remaining bot as it sags under his weight. There. He'll be lowered to the ground, and he can't escape. Now where-

"Access: Captain Atom."

Amazo's falling and ohshit-


What just-


I can smell ozone in the air, burning trees. The air's warm.

I...I just got killed. I can feel other parts of me dying, the bugs that were caught in the blast. There's...a crater, a glassy, glowing crater. Right there.

Holy shit.

Okay. Deep breaths. Calm. Do as Taylor did, push it into the swarm. You can't save anyone if you panic.

"-to Legion. Are you alright?"

Robin. Right. I tap my comm bead. "L...Legion here. Amazo's torso is active." I let out a breath as the rest of me begins to buzz. Calm. Calm. "Fucker just blew me up with Atom's power. He's hitting hard, even if he needs to use a flight power to move, I think."

I can feel cold-shifting-metal rushing along inside my range, the bugs there too few for the moment to relay anything else. The murderbot's getting closer. Still farther away than he was before. "Please tell me someone has EMP grenades."

"Sorry Legion. No luck," Robin says. "What about Superboy? He's not-"

"I'm here," I hear him say suddenly. "Sorry. Got thrown into a school. Next I see that robot I'm going to-"

"Access: Superman."

I don't think, I just rejoin the swarm as a pair of red beams stab out through the dark, lancing through where my torso had been. How the hell is he finding me? Do I smell like android catnip?

Amazo's standing on its hands, completely at ease as it walks around on them, hunting. I can make out that much through my many eyes.

"Access: Black Canary."

The wave of noise stuns some of the bugs, kills more, liquefies the ones caught in it directly. I ignore it. They are inconsequential. I flood the android with insects, hoping to find a weak point, but the metal inside twists and turns and crushes my bugs before spitting them back out. I settle for trying to blind it and muzzle it- it's already stripped off most of the webs already.

Farther away, Ivo has touched down already, the sole monkey-bot perching on his shoulders. He starts running.

Oh no you don't. I rebuild myself in front of him, pulling up more bugs to simply crush the monkey-bot under sheer weight of chitin. The old man stops dead in front of me, but doesn't get a chance to say a word before I punch him in the face and he goes down hard.

Ouch. That actually cut up my knuckles pretty good. No matter, a brief flicker of skittering and it's back to normal. Amazo's still rampaging off in the distance.

Okay. Superboy's down, and I've got nothing that can stop the Torso of Doom. Think, think…

"Hey, you! What the hell's going on with all these bugs? Are they yours?"

Oh, finally. Backup. I look with my swarm.

"Huh. Didn't know Green Arrow had a protege."

9:28 EDT, Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Some fucking forest

"He doesn't," the girl says.

"Riiight. I'm Legion. You are…?"


"Gotcha. One sec." I tap into comms again. "Superboy. You en route? Got backup, some archer named Artemis. Try not to land on her." I get a grunt of affirmation, then several of the swarm are shaken as the Boy of Steel lands inside my range, breaking the ground. I turn human-me to look 'Artemis' in the eyes. "Alright, please tell me you have a way to kill a murderous robotic torso."

Her eyes widen slightly as she shakes her head. Dammit. Aren't Green-Arrow-style heroes supposed to have everything?

Spiders start to web Ivo to the nearest tree as the malign hypercognitive starts stirring. Bastard isn't going anywhere.

Restrain for the colony.

Amazo is still wandering about, still buried in the swarm. It doesn't hinder it in the slightest as it raises one hand to point at-

"Access: Captain Atom."


I rejoin the swarm again and Artemis dives out of the way as golden light scorches through the air, convection burning several of our/my bugs to ash at both the android's location and the impact site. I rebuild myself instantly, ignoring the horrified expression Artemis is giving me behind human-me's back.

"Amazo? Retrieve your creator, priority-" Spiders muzzle Ivo with webbing but apparently the fucking android heard him anyway.

"Access: Flash."

Amazo bursts into motion, hands blurring as it propels itself forward- only to be slammed into the ground as Superboy lands on it. Close enough that human-me feels the impact, actually. How did he- no, focus. Spiders swarm together, spinning lines upon lines of silk as Amazo backhands Superboy off of him. Cockroaches, beetles and bees take the threads, wrapping them around the android before it can recover, hundreds upon hundreds of them. Most snap or are useless, but there's so very many that it can't-

"Martian Manhunter."

And it just floated right on through, leaving the silk cocoon to collapse behind him.. Great. Well, he can't grab Ivo in that state, and with enough bugs...let's see how you like getting telefragged, you hunk of circuits.

"-you even listening? The hell are you?"

Artemis is talking. Right.

"Every insect within a half-mile radius," swarm-me buzzes, and Artemis goes pale as human-me rejoins it again. I/we focus our attention on the android. "Want to be useful? Take Ivo, run."

"I'm not running." I/we think I/we hit a nerve there. "I can help!"

Amazo is still floating along, not at all inconvenienced by our/my swarm.

"I can-"

Superboy practically falls out of the sky again, right on target for the phasing murderbot, only for his fist to pass through-


-and for Amazo's everything to explode violently as it tries to occupy a space already filled with swarming insects.

I rebuild myself from the swarm, and find myself grinning as I walk over to the bound and gagged Ivo. I poke the man in the forehead. "Oh, I'm so smart, I can build a robot that can do anything," I say, spreading my hands wide. "Guess what, genius? It's also too stupid to know two objects can't occupy the same space at the same time! Ha!"

Okay, now I've got Ivo and Artemis glaring at me. Or maybe the latter's just her normal expression.

"You're weird," the archer finally says.

"Yup." I tap my comm bead. "Legion to team. Amazo-bot is scrap metal, Ivo's captured. Superboy, how're you-?"

"I'm fine."

He vanishes from the ground for a second, and it takes me a moment to realize why, which is more than enough time for him to slam into the ground closest to us.

"Aqualad to Legion. Good work. Police have been notified. Keep an eye on Ivo. Aqualad out."

Phew. Okay.

"Not bad for my first mission?" I ask Superboy as he walks up. Artemis stares at him, then at me.

The Boy of Steel gives the gagged Ivo a glare, then shrugs. "Not all that bad." He looks Artemis over. "You're Artemis? Never heard of you."

Artemis glares at him. Okay, maybe it is her default expression for meeting new people. Or we both have horrible social skills. "I just started. Never knew Superman had a kid."

"He doesn't," Superboy, human-me, and the swarm all say at once. Artemis looks around wildly, and Superboy blinks before glaring at me.


"Can you stop with the 'creepy bug controller' vibe?" Artemis asks heatedly.

Oh. I ask the rest of me to settle down and start putting the swarm back where I found it. Well, most of it. Others start gathering up the Amazo-bits and marching them towards human-me. "Alright, sorry," I say. "I just joined a few days ago. Still getting used to...all this." Spiders spin a silk blindfold and makeshift earplugs for Ivo, and beetles carry them, tying the blindfold down by securing his head to the tree. He's not going anywhere. Human-me holds out my hand to Artemis. "So, proper introductions. I'm Legion, that's Superboy, we work for the League."

"Artemis. I'm...I just started. On my own, for now."

"Huh. You know, you could make a Bat-signal or something. Pretty sure Tall Dark and Angry would be more than willing to get you started. Unless you're going for a different vibe…?"

"I'll think about it." Might have pushed to hard on that. She looks around. "So, since I'm clearly not needed here, I'm going to go back to the rest of Gotham." She nods to Superboy. "See you guys later."

"I think that went well," I say quietly as the archer vanishes into the woods. Superboy just shakes his head.

1:02 AM EDT, Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Mount Justice

"-with the android's unique components thoroughly destroyed and Ivo in League custody, the threat posed by Amazo and Ivo is removed completely, for the time being," Batman says. "Legion."

"Yes, sir?" I ask.

"This was your first mission, in fact, your first outing as any kind of superhero. I expect your report to be on Red Tornado's desk by the end of the day. Good work."

Huh. Alright then.

"Now, as for the archer…what did you think of her?"

Alright. Umm…

"She's even newer at this than I am, sir," I say cautiously. "I don't think she had much in the way of gear. No armor or anything beyond basic arrows. Seems to be going for a Green Arrow vibe, though. Might...might have pointed her your way, though, since Gotham's your area. Don't know if she'll accept or try anything. Might just keep on being a vigilante."

"I see. Very well. All of you, dismissed."

"Hey, Kid!" Richard says, tossing a monkey-bot head to Wally. "Souvenir."

El catches up to me as I start heading for my room. "Hey."

"Yea?" I ask, turning to face him. Only polite, even if I can easily keep tabs on the others with the bugs in the cave ceiling watching them.

"Ivo...he said a lot of things, trying to make me angry. He do the same to you?"

I shake my head. "I just punched him in the face. By the time he came to, he was too busy ordering his android to save him to try and mess with me. Seems like the type, though."

"I…" He shakes his head. "You make it seem kinda easy, staying calm. Why?"

I let the portion of me inside my room buzz rapidly as I think up a proper answer. "Alright. I'm in all the bugs at once, right? So I just...shove everything I'm freaking out about into the bugs."

"Huh. So that's why I kept hearing buzzing whenever Batman talked."

Did I just get sassed by Edgelord Supreme here? Apparently I did. "Okay, you know what, Batman freaking terrifies me." I don't even know why, he's just a baseline human with gadgets, but he's fucking scary still. "So, yeah, can't help you in the area of not letting your emotions show. Unless you can, I don't know, control birds or something with your brain."

"Heh. No." He shrugs. "Guess I'll talk to Canary, then."

"She knows more about fighting than me, that's for sure," I say quietly. "Still, whatever Ivo said, look who blew up his android, eh?"

"That was mostly you."

"Nope. He would've just kept fucking around as some weird torso-ghost until you punched him. So, thanks for that, I really didn't want to keep getting blown up."

He smiles slightly. "If you say so."

"I do. Now, I've got to go and look for a bunch of incredibly dangerous insects on the Internet, see if it's legal to buy them, and then maybe break Kaldur's brain when I ask him to get Batman to acquire them."

"Why would you-" He cuts himself off. "Do I even want to know?"

"Hey, if it works, I can make our squishy teammates bulletproof."


"Darwin's Bark Spider. Silk about, oh ten times stronger than Kevlar. Can be spun into basically spandex. Dyeing it might be a problem, but it's better than what Robin and Kid Flash are wearing even if the colors don't work quite right. You and M'gann don't need it and since it retains so much water I'm not sure Kaldur would find it useful." I find myself yawning, and shake my head. "Seriously, though, I need sleep. I'll probably handle that once I pass out for about six hours."

7:36 AM EDT, Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

"Hey Legion it's time to- OH WHAT THE HELL-"

7:48 AM EDT, Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

"So…." Wally starts saying.

"Yep." I answer.

"You turn into bugs when you sleep."


"Okay. Dude, that's really freaking creepy."

I smile from my human self's position on the couch. "Sorry you found out that way. Should probably get a lock on the door."

He shivers. "Yeah. That whole thing really isn't something I wanted to walk in on."

"So, unintentional entomophobia aside, anything you want to ask about?" I ask the rest of the team, who's scattered around the room.

"What is a…" Kaldur checks the printout I gave him, "...poodle moth? And why on Earth are you requesting breeding pairs?"

Turns out that they actually found where the things came from in this parallel, rather than having the only evidence be one Kyrgzstani entomologist's pictures.

"It's a very large moth that is basically a living Pokemon. It's adorable."

"Riiight," Robin says doubtfully. I shrug.

"Don't believe me, look it up, Boy Wonder. In the meantime-" I stand up. "-I'm going to go make and then drink an obscene quantity of coffee. Also, you should be worried more about the rest of the things on the list. Or the villains should. Dunno."