Chapter 3: This is Holy Terra?

For how long he and Batman just stood there in silence, staring down at a planet that Batman claimed was the cradle of mankind, Keled had absolutely no idea. His face remained frozen in his usual look of indifference, but his mind was reeling from the mental blow it had just been struck. What Batman said could not possibly be true, could it? The idea was preposterous. Humanity ruled the stars, not just this mere little backwater planet. The more Keled thought of it, the clearer it became to him.

"You lie," he calmly pointed out to Batman, who for his part looked untouched by the accusation.

"I can assure you, I'm telling the truth here. This is your Terra, but there is neither an Imperium nor an Emperor," he retorted with just as much calmness as Keled. Finally, he turned fully to face the bat-themed man, an air of unshakable confidence around.

"Your lies can't fool me, heretic. The Imperium of Man is the dominant power in the galaxy, with a military force on a scale never before seen. And the Emperor is a god among men, a beacon that guides humanity towards our birthright as the rulers of the entire galaxy. You can hide in your webs of deceit for how long you want, it won't change the truth."

Many in the Justice League found themselves shocked that such a young boy could stand up to Batman with such a cold and unbreakable resolve, but Batman himself was unaffected. (Why? 'Cause he's Batman!)

"What reason could I have to lie about this?" he easily countered Keled's accusation as they both stared each other down, neither one so much as flinching.

"You're collaborating with xenos, have psykers among you and are talking about attacking Krieg. You're probably seeking to hide like cowards from a superior foe, waiting for the right moment to strike," Keled reasoned, sounding like he was simply making a report to his commander instead of arguing with a possible enemy. Batman narrowed his eyes on the young boy.

"We're not seeking to attack. We're seeking to protect Earth from a possible threat," he stated with that infamously dark voice of his that put the fear into uncountable criminals. Keled was completely unaffected as he spared a quick glance over the non-human members of the League before turning his attention back to Batman.

"Xenos protecting humans? That sounds highly unlikely, given their deceitful and treacherous nature," he said monotonously. Now, had he had a better grasp on emotions, he would have realized that his little statement would be considered an insult. One that the Justice League did not appreciate.

"Hey! Don't start pulling everyone over the same edge! Just because you've maybe had bad run-ins with aliens before, doesn't mean they're all alike!" Captain Marvel defended as he rose from his seat in anger. A restraining hand on his shoulder from Zatara made him sit back down. While no one else voiced their dislike towards the comment, the looks they sent Keled's way spoke more than words could. He was not troubled by it. After all, the enlightened one should not be concerned about the opinions of the ignorant one.

"That's where you're wrong. Betrayal is but a natural part of all xenos. And by the words of the Emperor of Man, all they will ever be are vile and untrustworthy creatures, who always seek to enslave and destroy humanity to stop us from claiming what rightfully belongs to us. Extermination is all they will ever deserve and destroying them is the only way to silence their lies," Keled calmly reveled, without an ounce of hesitation. This was the truth that he and his fellow soldiers had been learned to embrace. This was the truth that guided all of humanity. But naturally, the Justice League was abhorred by what he was saying.

"And what gives your so called Emperor the right to make such a claim?" Aquaman questioned hotly, seeking to challenge the young boy's ideals. The answer he received was not what anyone had expected.

"He is the divine power, the one true deity that guides all of humanity. To question His words is the path to heresy and damnation," that simple answer was spoken with such an air of finality to it. The Emperor was always right, anyone who said differently was wrong and must die for his heresy. It was that simple in Keled's mind. Batman narrowed his eyes on the boy. 'Just what kind of society had he come from?'

"Regardless of your religious views and political beliefs, that doesn't change the fact that we're not lying. This is Earth, and there exists no Emperor of Man," he pressed on, determined to make the boy see reason. It would all be so much easier if he could just accept the truth. A cold look was what he received for his troubles.

"And as I've said before, your lies won't work on me. In the 41:st millennium, there can be no peace between humans and xenos." But once again, Keled's statement only drew looks of confusion from most of the Justice League, while some suddenly had looks of understanding. Keled turned his eyes back to Batman, silently asking the question he would have loved to ask out loud: what did I say? Batman suddenly placed a hand on Keled's shoulder, an action that caused him to tense up.

"Keled, you're currently in the 21:st century," he revealed. Any other person might have panicked, but all Keled did was raise a skeptical eyebrow.

"You really expect me to believe such nonsense?" he asked condescendingly. No verbal answer was given to his question, instead he was guided back to the front of their conference table. While he was wondering what they were planning now, Keled kept quiet as Batman went back to his seat. No words were exchanged, but Batman seemed to utilize some manner of control panel, as a holographic image of the planet below appeared. Keled still refused to even think of it as Earth, no matter what these heretics said.

"If you don't believe our words, then we'll just have to show you the truth," Batman stated. What followed was an hour long lecture, covering human history, the geographic and political situation across the galaxy, technological advancements, chronological accounts and whatever else they could come up with. And with each new piece of information, Keled's spirits were slowly crushed and grinded to dust. He tried to vehemently deny it, but the amount of proof stacked against him was simply too much. This was not his time, this was not his world, this was not his home.

"You have to face the facts here. The Imperium you speak of, the Emperor you praise, neither of them exists here," Aquaman stated to Keled, seeing no reason to sugarcoat the horrible truth to the boy.

When their little lecture came to an end, Keled was as silent as a grave. No emotion was reflected across his face, no sound slipped past his lips, not a single twitch in his muscles gave away what he was thinking. On the outside, he was the prime example of serene calm. But on the inside, he was almost drowning in despair. His home, it did not exist here. His Emperor, he did not exist. His reason for living did not exist anymore.

"Keled?" Black Canary asked in concern, as she and the others watched the literal void that was their unfortunate guest. No answer came, his eyes never left the holographic image of Earth, this Earth. But finally, it seemed like Keled had reached his breaking point as his eyes lowered to the floor while his whole body slumped together like a punctured tire.

"How… how can this be possible?" he eventually asked. Zatara was the one who spoke up on the matter.

"We are not completely sure yet. This can either be a case of time travel or alternate dimension. We won't be sure until we have deciphered the symbol carved on the amulet and…"

"Wait, symbol?" Keled interrupted as his head shot back up again, a foreboding feeling bubbling up in his stomach.

"Yes, an eight-pointed star, carved on the amulet that transported you here," Zatara answered, puzzled by the boy's sudden reaction. Hearing the answer, Keled's mind instantly went into search and destroy mode. These morons were keeping a blasphemous artifact of the Warp instead of destroying it? They were even more ignorant than he had first given them credit for.

"You must destroy that amulet, as soon as possible," he ordered the assembled adults. Looks of confusion were sent his way as Superman tried to placate the boy.

"Don't you think you're overreacting here? It was what brought you here, and it may be the only way to…"

"Such things are irrelevant here. That symbol represents the Ruinous powers, destroyers of order and civilization and Chaos personified. Such power will only corrupt all that it touches, and must be destroyed before it can cause too much damage," Keled's short outburst caught the Justice League by surprise, and many shared looks of uncertainty with each other.

"I think you're being a little hasty here. That amulet may be your only way of ever going home, it would be foolish to destroy it," Zatara reasoned. Keled said nothing more on the matter. Instead, he muttered something inaudible to himself. Unfortunately, he had not taken into consideration that Superman had super hearing, and could hear every word he spoke. And what he said caused Superman to fly up from his seat.

"No! We would never do such a thing!" he burst out, drawing several looks. An elaboration on Superman's part followed.

"He wants us to kill him," he clarified. Keled gave Superman a look that blended anger and confusion together. Confusion over how he could have heard him, anger over how he seemed to be set in denying Keled's final wish.

"Okay, wishing to destroy your only ticket back home was one thing. But wanting us to kill you?" Green Arrow spoke up. Keled just folded his arms over his chest.

"I have no reason to exist anymore. My sole purpose in the Death Korps was to die on the battlefield, to atone for the sins of my ancestors. That purpose is gone now that there's no Emperor in whose name I can go to my death with my head held high. The least you can do is put an end to it all," he reasoned, still with not a single hint of even the tiniest sliver of emotions. He was even starting to unnerve Batman with how emotionless he appeared to be.

"We use our power to protect the world, not to become executioners," Wonder Woman stated. A single eyebrow was raised by Keled.

"Soldiers in your world do not kill?" he asked in confusion.

"We're not soldiers! We're heroes, we protect the innocents, but never go so far as to kill people!" Captain Marvel exclaimed. The subject concerning killing has always been a touchy one for the Justice League.

"Green Arrow. Take Keled back to his cell," Batman ordered. No objections were given and Keled was quickly led out of the conference room.

Jumping from rooftop to rooftop, Robin let his signature cackle echo through the night sky. First time in weeks that he got the chance to patrol all on his own, and this was exhilarating to him. He had been nagging Batman for months about giving him more freedom, more responsibility, instead of being constantly depended on his mentor. Not that he hated working with Batman. On the contrary, he loved it. But Robin felt like he deserved a little bit more, at the very least to be recognized as something more than just "Batman's sidekick". And for a while, he had been so close too. He had actually managed to keep the discussion going, instead of Batman just ignoring it altogether. That was an improvement in his eyes.

But then that weird kid in the military getup had popped out of nowhere, looking like he was fresh out of Stalingrad. Thinking about that mysterious kid brought forth a multitude of emotions in Robin. First on the list was anger that the kid had gotten the drop on him, and come close to killing him. Batman would still not stop fussing over him about it. Not that he could really blame the man, his throat had been sore for two days straight. Of course, next on the list was curiosity. Following the kid's arrest, Batman had taken him away and he had not been seen since. And every time Robin tried to pry information out of Batman, all he would get was silence. And being the energetic little sidekick of the greatest detective in the world, his curiosity on the matter only grew with each unanswered question!

And of course, there was that heroic part of him that felt a slight concern for the kid. As stated before, he looked like hell. Robin did not even know if he had been an enemy or not, he had just reacted on instincts and attacked. For all he knew, he could have been just as confused as Robin had been and only acted to defend himself. Small chance for that, but still a chance. Because of that, Robin felt the need to talk with that kid, to get the whole story. That way, he could apologize if he had done wrong, or sleep better at night knowing he had done right.

He suddenly shook his head as he leaped over yet another alley. He was getting way too sentimental here. Besides, he had a job to do at this moment. Batman had trusted him enough to be on his own for one night while he dealt with some kind of League business. Not that it really had mattered so far anyways, seeing as it had been quiet as a grave for several hours. A bored sigh slipped out of his mouth. First time in God knows how long that he was allowed to patrol alone, and not a single crook to beat up. Okay, had he been drugged and secretly moved to Metropolis while he was not looking? Because this was seriously not the norm of Gotham City.

But, lo and behold, a crime seemed to go down in the alley that Robin had been in the midst of leaping over. A trio of thugs had cornered a young man, who was shaking in fear as they brandished their pocket knives as a way to intimidate. The only reason it worked for these amateurs was because they outnumbered their prey and he was unarmed.

"P-please, just l-let me go!" the man pleaded with them, hoping to find some manner of mercy in his attackers. He definitively picked the wrong city for that, exemplified here by the thugs laughing at him.

"Now why would we do such a thing? Letting you run away and leave us empty-handed?" one of them mockingly asked while stepping closer. Robin had meanwhile seen quite enough and leaped into action. The trio had no time whatsoever to react before Robin landed feet first on the middle one, knocking him off his feet, before striking out with a kick that sent the second one flying into the wall. The third one had enough time to blink in confusion before an uppercut sent him off to la-la land. The one Robin had landed was in the midst of crawling back up again, so Robin gave him a lazy chop to the neck, knocking him out.

Yet another sigh came out of Robin, this time from disappointment. These guys were hardly enough to be called a light warm-up exercise. Still, he had saved an innocent man, so that should count for something.

"You okay?" he asked kindly as he turned to face the man he had just saved.

"Yes. I am now," He answered with a grateful smile. Well, at least someone was happy about this. The man wasted no more time around and hurried away, most likely heading home. With that dealt with, Robin finished it up by handcuffing the thugs, planning to leave them to the police to pick up. It was as he finished with two of them that he realized the third one was missing. The noise of a trashcan getting knocked over alerted Robin that his quarry had already fled the alley and was making his escape.

"Oh no you don't," he called out in irritation as he set off after him. No way was he going to let this sorry excuse of a robber get away that easily. Exiting the alley, he found his prey making a beeline towards a rather infamous alley: Crime Alley. Robin was hot on his heels as the thug disappeared down the alley. Instead of running on the ground, Robin fired his grapple gun and swung up on the rooftops again. But as he began tracking his prey again, Robin found to his dismay that he had lost track of him. Unacceptable in Robin's eyes, he was supposed to be better than this. So with an aggravated grumble, he continued looking for his quarry, determined to not let him slip away that easily.

"Where could he have possibly run?" Robin asked himself in wonder. No amateur like that guy should be able to give him the slip that easily. The answer to his question came in the form of a bloodcurdling scream from inside one of the rundown apartment buildings that was silenced as swiftly as it had come. Eyes wide in shock, Robin did not hesitate in letting his heroic instinct to take over and guide him to the edge of the rooftop from which he dived down from and smashed through a window. Executing a roll down the stairwell he had landed in, he came face to face with a frightened old woman who had been in the midst of climbing up the stairs when the scream had caused her to freeze up.

Without even asking what Robin even wanted, she pointed a trembling finger at the door right between them. He gave a small nod before he inched his way closer towards the door. At first gripping the door handle with the slow delicateness of someone disarming a bomb, he then threw it wide open with a trio of batarangs clutched in his free hand. The hallway he found inside was empty of any threats, so he slowly moved inside. He checked the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom, all were empty of any threats. Confusion came over Robin. Had he somehow gone into the wrong apartment?

It was as he was about to leave when he noticed a small factor, the window in the bedroom was open. Cautiously approaching it, expecting a trap to be sprung at any second, he peered out once he stood in front of the window. Al he found was a note taped to the fire escape. He gently picked it up and unfolded it, finding a message that at first might appear strange but had a deadly meaning behind it: It red 'Kaboom!'. Years of experience kicked in and Robin instantly dived out of the open window, seconds before a concealed bomb was triggered and the apartment went up in flames.

Fiery debris peppered Robin's back as he plummeted towards the ground. In desperation, he twisted around in the air and fired his grapple gun. It slowed him down enough from getting squashed against the pavement, but his arm felt like it got pulled out of its socket and he still got heavily bruised as he impacted the ground. At first, pain was all he felt in his battered body, screaming at him to just lie still and do nothing.

But he ignored it and started pushing himself back up. As expected, every battered muscle loudly protested against such an action and a painful moan came out of his throat. Still, he would not go down that easily and bit back the pain as he staggered back up to his feet. Barely had he managed to gather his bearing again when the sound of footsteps began drawing closer to him. On instinct, he twirled around with a roundhouse kick. That kick ended up being caught in a steel-like grip before a fist smashed right into his face with enough force behind it to send Robin back to the ground with a vision that suddenly refused to stay still.

However, seconds before he departed the conscious world, he caught sight of one blurry image of his attacker. It was not much, just a hokey mask concealing his face. Then there was nothing but darkness.

Hours later, back at the Watchtower, most of the members had left the conference room, either roaming around on the space station or having returned to Earth. The only ones left in the conference room were Batman, J'onn J'onzz and Superman. And as expected, the subject of their discussion was Keled. While it seemed to have been agreed upon to send him back home, they were still debating on what to do with him until he was sent back.

"No, he can't leave the Watchtower," Batman firmly stated, to the growing frustration of Superman.

"Come on, we can't keep him locked up here forever. He needs to get out a bit, see more than just the inside of his cell," he protested. But Batman was unmoved on his decision.

"He's too dangerous to be allowed to roam free. By his own admission, he's a soldier with no sense of remorse," he calmly countered. His mind was made up, Keled's upbringing made him far too volatile to be set free. For safety reasons, he would have to stay locked up until he could be sent home.

"Bruce, he's committed no crime here, and we attacked him first. We can't just lock him up like a common criminal. I'm not saying we should just let him walk around free without supervision, just that he doesn't stay in his cell all the time," Superman argued. The fact that he used Batman's true name so openly showed that he was fully committed to his point of view. After all, Batman was notoriously paranoid and was strongly against anyone ever using his true name when in costume.

While Superman was not going to argue that the boy was dangerous, he still felt that he deserved a bit more freedom than what he had. Yet Batman remained unmoved on the subject, though his glare became more threatening at being called by his real name. He was about to once again deliver his unchanged verdict when Flash came rushing in, a look of distress on his face directed specifically at Batman.

"What has happened?" Batman asked harshly, not even bothering wait to hear if it even was good or bad news. When a comrade came rushing in like that, it was never good news. And he was proven right once again.

"You need to come to the zeta tubes. It's Robin. Something's happened to him," Flash answered. Batman had already swept out of the room by the time he had finished. All other thoughts and concerns vanished from his mind as he rushed down the corridor, all his thoughts were on the boy he had trained, raised and come to regard as his son. In record time, he swept into the zeta tube station, were Black Canary waited alongside Green Arrow and, to Batman's surprise, Keled. A sharp glare was directed at the boy, who of course had the same look of apathy, before that glare was directed at Green Arrow.

"What's he doing outside his cell?" he questioned harshly, not being in the mood to be diplomatic about it. Then again, when was Batman ever diplomatic? Green arrow raised his hands in a placating gesture.

"Take it easy. I thought I could just show him a bit around the place. Nothing wrong with that, right?" he tried to explain in his defense. But while Batman felt that there was plenty more to say on the matter, he dropped it in favour of the reason he came here in the first place. Turning his steely eyes to Black Canary, she handed him an opened envelope.

"This was sent to the Hall of Justice," she said, anger coloring her voice. Batman instantly snatched it and took out its content. What he found set his blood boiling with rage. The first item was a picture of Robin, his Robin, tied to a chair all bloodied and beaten. The next item was a piece of paper with an address and a text written on it.

You want the kid back? Bring the amulet Deathstroke tried to steal to this address. No Batman, no super powered freaks, or the kid dies. You got two hours. And don't make me wait.

For several heartbeats, Batman did not utter so much as a single word, just continued to stare at the picture of his partner and adopted son. Then, slowly, his hands balled into fists, crushing the message. Cold fury swept through him, cooling his burning rage with a simple promise. Whoever was behind this was going to pay dearly, that he swore to himself. But what should he do? Do as they requested and hand over the amulet, with no knowledge of what they planned to use it for? But if he did not hand it over, Robin would surely die.

"Batman?" Black Canary suddenly asked in concern, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had settled between them. That seemed to snap Batman out of whatever trance he had entered as he turned his full attention to Green Arrow.

"Take Keled back to his cell," he simply ordered before returning his focus to Black Canary. "Call up Zatara and inform him of the situation," she said nothing in return, simply nodded and rushed to do as asked. Keled meanwhile observed everything with a critical eye before a hand was placed on his shoulder.

"Come on, kid. Let's not provoke Batman more than necessary," Green Arrow said as he led Keled away. He never even registered his words, his mind being far too preoccupied. He had managed to read the message over Batman's shoulder, and it had set him on edge. It would seem that someone else was after that amulet as well. Ever stoic on the outside, he prayed fervently that it was not Chaos cultists. Emperor knows the mayhem they could potentially cause. But what truly troubled him was the Justice League. Any sane person would have destroyed the amulet a long time ago, and would have most certainly not even considered handing it over to someone else, no matter what.

But these weaklings seemed to plan just that. Their enemy had captured one of their own, and they were stupid enough to trade the amulet for his life. Madness was what it was. Full-fledged insanity, brought upon by the useless notion that was called affection. At least he assumed that was the correct term. They had become attached to that boy, cared for him, and for that reason they were willing to jeopardize everything to save him. He had to struggle not to sneer as he was led down the corridor. Attachments such as those only got in the way of the mission in his eyes. The logical course of action would have been to sacrifice the boy, let him die, thereby denying the enemy their prize.

The more Keled thought about it, the more he came to realize that he could not allow it to happen. He could not allow the heathens to put humanity at risk just to save one of their own. A purpose was finally granted to Keled in that moment. The Emperor may not exist here, but humanity did. And as long as humanity still persevered, he would fight and die for it. It was his only purpose. The Emperor had spared his life, thrown him into this foreign world, and he would not bring shame to him by simply throwing in the towel. He had come dangerously close to doing just that when he asked the Justice League to kill him, something he had been reprimanding himself for ever since.

"Green Arrow," Keled suddenly spoke up, gaining aforementioned man's attention. "I need to use the bathroom," thankfully, Green Arrow seemed not to question him in the slightest and with a simple shrug of his shoulders deviated from their current course and led him down a different corridor. Arriving at their destination Keled opened the door and was about to walk in. but he stopped when he noticed that Green Arrow was about to follow. Like usual, he said nothing, bit the deadpan look he sent at Green Arrow spoke far better than his mouth ever would. He seemed to get the message as he backed off.

"I'll just wait outside," he said sheepishly. Keled paid him no further heed and closed the door. Inside he found the standard public bathroom that apparently existed in most public buildings, though this one was much cleaner. But instead of going to one of the booths to relieve himself, Keled made a straight line towards a vent. He had not been idle since he had been escorted out of the conference room. Green Arrow had stuck around with him ever since, probably acting as both guard and guide. But the man was extremely talkative and friendly, something that Keled had taken advantage of.

Through extensive questioning, Keled had gotten a rough picture of how this Watchtower looked. At the very least, he now knew where his equipment was stored, where the so called zeta tubes were located, and most importantly, where the amulet was being kept. Wasting no time, he climbed inside the vent and made his way deeper into the station. Finally, after crawling around for several minutes, he exited in a hallway a good distance away from where he left Green Arrow. He cautiously glanced down each direction before heading out. From what he had gathered, the items he was looking for were being kept one level below him, so he needed to find a staircase or something similar.

He moved as fast as he dared, eyes and ears constantly peeled for any leaguers. No one luckily came and he soon found a staircase and was moving down it with speed. He would be the first to admit that stealth was not his forte in the slightest. He, like all other Death Korps, were more suited for direct conflict, bludgeoning their enemies to death with brute strength and sheer force of numbers. Moving around on the next floor he came out on, Keled had to admit that he was a bit lost. But through a bit of luck, he stumbled upon the room he was searching for, labeled "storage".

Thankfully the door was not locked, and after having a short battle with how the control panel worked, Keled was able to enter. Inside he found the confiscated gear of all the major villains that the Justice League had defeated throughout the years. He ignored all of those in favour of one special collection neatly folded on a table; his Death Korps uniform. As he came to a stop in front of it, he ran a hand reverently over the last remnant of his homeworld he had left. With no hesitation, he stripped out of his civilian garbs, feeling a sense of relief over finally getting rid of those useless rags, and donned his uniform.

A sense of nostalgia washed over him as he felt the rough and heavy material on his body. It was a wonderful relief for him to finally be back in uniform. And as a finishing touch, he put on his gasmask and helmet. The metallic taste of recycled air was such a stark contrast to the clean air on the Watchtower, but Keled would happily trade all the fresh air in the world for his beloved gasmask. It was more than a tool to survive in polluted or oxygen-low environments, it was his identity, his real face. Whenever he had looked at himself in the mirror back in his cell, it had always felt like looking at a complete stranger. It may have been the face he was born with, but it was not him. The mask was him; it defined him, made him who he was.

Finally, with his uniform back on, Keled made his way deeper into the storage room until he found the next object he was after; the amulet. Merely by looking at the blasphemous symbol carved on it, Keled felt revulsion build up inside him. Internally, he was disgusted by the notion that he would need to even touch that infernal thing. Nevertheless, he would endure it to the end. No matter the cost, that was how the Death Korps worked. No sacrifice was too great, no prize was too high, just as long as victory was achieved. Even so, as he grasped the foul amulet, Keled could feel a chill travel up his spine. He had already gotten a taste of the Immaterium, and he was not eager to experience it again.

He held it in his hand as his eyes roamed across the storage room for something to destroy the amulet with. But suddenly, a thought struck him. What about that boy? The one being held hostage? Keled had not even considered his life up until now, but something made him. Of course, the cold and logical side of him was telling him to forget about the boy, let him die so that this amulet would not fall into evil hands. Yet something made him hesitate, made him wonder if he could be saved. Back and forth went the internal debate in Keled, as he struggled with what to do.

At last, a decision was made and Keled placed the amulet inside his greatcoat. He turned around and headed out of the storage room, when suddenly something caught his eye. Slowly, as his mind formulated a new plan, a feral grin formed underneath his gasmask as he strode over to the objects he had spotted. 'These will definitively work to my advantage.'

Stocking up on his new find, Keled made a swift exit and headed back the way he came. Going by his photographic memory, he backtracked through the Watchtower to where his only escape route lay. Absentmindedly, he wondered whether Green Arrow had noticed yet that he had given him the slip or not. Given the high level of trust, or as Keled saw it, stupidity that they showed him, he suspected not. Finally, he reached his destination, the zeta tubes. Thankfully, no one was present at the moment, which suited his goal just fine. Wasting no time, Keled rushed over to the controls.

A fierce intellectual battle erupted as Keled put all his efforts into figuring out how the damned thing worked. Sure, he had been able to pry out some general facts on the subject from Green Arrow, but the blonde archer seemed to have had at least some sense of discretion as he never went into details. That at least left Keled with the basics, but it was still a challenge. Minutes ticked by as Keled fumbled with the infernal system, knowing full well that each second wasted here increased the chances of him being discovered. 'Where are the Tech Priests of Mars when you need them?'

At last, with a satisfying hum, the machine started up and Keled hurriedly stepped inside the tube, awaiting transport. It was at that moment that someone came rushing in, obviously alerted of something happening by the sounds of the zeta tubes powering up. Keled only caught sight of long blonde hair before his vision was engulfed by a blinding light. For a short moment, Keled wondered if the Emperor had at last come to claim his soul, it sure as hell felt like he was floating away from his physical form. That feeling only lasted for a few seconds before he was thrust back together inside a phone booth.

While he would never admit it out loud to anyone, Keled felt more than a bit queasy from the experience, and his legs suddenly felt like they had more in common with jelly than with flesh and bone. Still, even when alone, Keled refused to openly show such weakness pulled himself together before exiting the phone booth. The moment his feet made contact with the solid concrete, Keled was struck with the incredible realization that billions of people could only dream about back home; he was on Earth, the cradle of mankind. Even though he knew that this was technically not his Earth, it was still such a breathtaking experience, to tread upon the most holy of all planets in the galaxy.

The fact that he was standing in a filthy and rundown alley in the brooding city of Gotham did not deter his awe in the slightest. If he had been a more open person, this would have been the point where he fell to his knees and started kissing the ground.

"What's this? A cosplayer who got lost?" and just like that, Keled's moment of awe was rudely interrupted. With dispassionate, and more than a bit annoyed, eyes, he observed as a group of four guys advanced on him. While he was no expert on human behavior, he could clearly discern their intentions with the way they kept grinning at him and the fact that the one in front was brandishing a pocket knife at him.

"Isn't it a little early for Halloween?" the one in front mocked while stepping closer. If these amateurs sought to agitate or intimidate him, they were just wasting both time and effort. Keled had faced far worse than these weaklings in his life. Without saying so much as a word back at them, Keled began to steadily advance at the leading guy. He only smirked wider, thinking he had the upper hand. Suddenly, the guy lunged forward with his knife, but Keled merely sidestepped and grabbed his arm. And with one devastating punch, he broke the arm by the elbow. Even as the guy howled in pain, Keled slammed his head into the concrete wall before letting him glide unmoving to the ground. Dead or just unconscious, he neither knew nor cared.

The three that remained temporarily froze up in shock, not expecting their leader getting taken down that easily. Keled was not about to let them get a chance to recover as he rushed forward and brought a fist straight into the guts of the second guy, followed by an uppercut that sent him flat on his back. The third one had enough sense to attack with a punch, but Keled blocked it with his forearm before he knocked his attacker's arms aside, grabbed hold of his head and head-butted him twice. He fell to the ground in a daze, nose crushed beyond recognition.

The last one was full on shaking in fear now. He, like the rest of his friends, had expected this guy to be easy picking. Instead they had all been brutally beaten up by the "victim". And now he had all his attention focused on the last guy. As Keled advanced upon him, he snatched a metal pole lying around and tried to make a last stand. Keled was anything but impressed. As he stepped within striking distance, the guy yelled a battle cry before swinging his weapon at him. It was child's play for Keled to catch the pole with his hands before smashing it right back into his face. He was about to fall over from the blow, but Keled grabbed hold of the front of his jacket and slammed him up against the wall.

"Would you be kind enough to tell me where the docks are located?" Keled asked the hapless guy. Though confused by the request, he was not about to provoke this maniac further by keeping quiet. So he gave him the directions.

"Thank you. Your cooperation is much appreciated," Keled commented before he knocked him unconscious.

Down by the docks, we find Robin tied up in the same position as on the photo inside a dry dock. While he was conscious, there was not much he could do. All his equipment had been taken while he had been knocked out and he was securely tied to the chair. As much as he hated to admit it, he was going nowhere until back-up arrived. A heavy hand on his shoulder reminded Robin that he was not alone as well. He had the wonderful fortune of having Sportsmaster keeping him company.

"Just got word that someone's coming over for a visit," he said smugly, no doubt smiling behind that hokey mask of his as he brought out a knife and hell it close to the boy's throat. "Seems like you'll be reunited with your mentor soon enough, and I'll get that amulet."

If Robin had been able to, he would have given a comeback to that. Alas, that would not happen anytime soon, not with that infernal gag in his mouth. So he just had to settle with glaring murderously at him, prompting a dark chuckle from the man. But both their attention landed on the door leading inside as someone entered. And the moment Robin saw just who it was, he could practically feel his heart leaping up into his throat from shock. It was that gasmask wearing kid he faced last week! Just what the hell was he doing here? Sportsmaster merely observed this stranger with a clinical look while raising an inquisitive eyebrow.

"Never seen you before. Are you new in the hero business?" he asked in curiosity. The blank expression of the gasmask was all he received in answer. Keled meanwhile was also taking the moment to analyze the masked man facing him. He looked imposing enough, but Keled had not come here for a fight. Silent as the grave, Keled reached inside his greatcoat, an action that caused Sportsmaster to tense up, and brought out the amulet. He held it up in plain view, and Sportsmaster loosened up with another dark chuckle.

"You heroes can be painfully predictable. Threaten an innocent or someone you care about, and you start dancing to my tune," naturally, he just had to gloat a bit before he held out an expectant hand. "Now hand over the amulet and the kid goes free," but Keled made no move to comply, he just stood and stared and Sportsmaster. An action that irritated Sportsmaster quite a bit. He was about to demand the amulet again, with a bit more force behind it, but he never got that far before Keled did the unexpected; he threw the amulet down on the ground before stomping on it with his boot, crushing it to bits. He even grinded his boot quite a bit, just to be on the safe side.

When he finally lifted his boot off the amulet, all that was left were crushed bits of it. Silence descended over the dry dock, as both Sportsmaster and Robin stared wide eyed at first Keled, then at the amulet, then back at Keled. And during that time, Keled never so much as twitched, he just stood as still as a statue. Finally, Sportsmaster made the next move by narrowing his eyes and pressing the knife hard enough against Robin's throat to draw blood.

"Bad move there, now the kid has no value to me anymore. So I suppose I'll just kill him." he growled out in anger. He never liked it when someone messed up his mission, and this new face had the balls to destroy his objective right in front of his eyes. That could only be interpreted as a taunt in Sportsmaster's eyes, and no one taunted him.

"Do that, and none of us will walk away from here alive." Keled stated monotonously. While at first looking confused underneath his hokey mask, Sportsmaster eventually snorted at his claim. However, he was forced to seriously rethink his humor when Keled opened up his greatcoat, revealing that it was packed full of explosives. And as a finishing touch, he brought out a trigger from one of his pockets and held it up in plain view.

"This is how we're going to do it; I'm going to count to three, and you will drop the knife and walk away. If you haven't done so by the time I count to three, or if you kill the boy, I'll press the trigger and we'll all die together," Keled explained in that same dull voice. He truly sounded untroubled by his actions. Robin's eyes widened in both shock and terror. Was that guy seriously threatening to blow them all up?! But Sportsmaster was not about to fold just yet.

"You're bluffing," he countered heatedly. Keled answered that claim with one single word.

"One," tension grew as Robin's eyes darted nervously between Sportsmaster and Keled, wondering who would blink first. While he had always known the inherent risks in the hero business, and was prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the innocents, he was in no absolute hurry to do so. Besides, getting blown to bits by his "savior" did not sound all that appealing.

"Two," even Sportsmaster was feeling the tension now. Sweat began to gather on his brow as he eyed the guy in the gasmask. He was bluffing, he had to be. There was no way the guy was serious about blowing himself to kingdom come. But he could not help but feel doubt. He had always been good at reading a person's thoughts by observing their body language, and this guy's calm posterior all but screamed deadly seriousness.

"Three," with that last word, Keled let his thumb descend towards the trigger. One thought went through two minds simultaneous. 'Holy shit, he was going to do it!'

"Wait!" Sportsmaster called out, cursing both Keled and himself over how desperate he sounded. "Alright, you win here," he punctuated this by dropping his knife and began stepping away towards a small boat. But even as he admitted defeat, he glared hatefully at the gasmask. This punk had made him look weak, and that could not stand. As he climbed on board his boat, being constantly observed by Keled, he swore to himself that he would make him pay. Nobody disrespected Sportsmaster and lived to tell about it. Nobody.

"This ain't over, pal," those were his parting words before he speeded away. And with the threat gone, Keled put away the trigger and strode over to the still bound Robin. And even though Keled just saved him, Robin could not help but feel a sliver of unease travel through him as Keled approached. Who was to say that he had not come here simply to finish what he started back at the museum. But he had nothing to fear, as Keled picked up Sportsmaster's discarded knife and began cutting through the ropes binding Robin. The moment his hands were free, Robin tore off the gag in his mouth while Keled began working on cutting his legs loose.

"Thanks for the save, man," Robin said gratefully as he stood on his own two feet again, feeling his stiff joints after being bound to that chair for hours. "Not that I'm ungrateful or anything, but why did you do it?" he really was curious on that point, seeing as last time they met they fought each other. Keled just shrugged his shoulders.

"To be honest, it was more of a spur of the moment more than anything else," he admitted as he sheathed his new combat knife in his belt, a fact that did not sit well with Robin. Though he did not say anything on the matter, not wanting to provoke him. Changing the subject, Robin let a grin split his face.

"Gotta admit though, that bluff with the bombs that you pulled off was good. For a moment, I was actually convinced you were going to do it," he complimented. Obviously he was thinking now that Keled had just been trying to trick Sportsmaster. For as he reasoned, who would be crazy enough to blow themselves up for no reason? Not counting the Joker, mind you! Keled turned his full attention to Robin at the compliment, making Robin feel a little nervous under that cold and unchanging visage of the gasmask.

"I wasn't bluffing," Keled simply said before walking away. It took a moment for his words to be processed by Robin, at which point he just stood were Keled left him, eyes wide in disbelief. 'That guy has some serious issues,' he thought before he hurried to catch up with him.

Once again, Keled found himself facing Batman and a good number of leaguers. There was Black Canary, looking very much like a stern mother who just caught her kids sneaking out after curfew, Green Arrow, obviously still irritated and a bit embarrassed over how a kid gave him the slip, Superman, who was mimicking Black Canary's stern expression, and the one known as Zatara. Keled was a bit off put by the sorcerer, his ways were far too reminiscent with Chaos sorcery for his taste. At least now he could face them with the comfort of being in full uniform again. They had tried to make him surrender it with little success.

"Care to explain your actions?" Batman growled out. Any other person would have been cowering in fear at that point, but Keled was unmoved.

"You're not my commanding officer, Batman. Therefore, I do not require to explain my actions to you," he calmly countered. Batman narrowed his eyes in irritation, obviously not used to being so blatantly defied. Zatar was the one who spoke up next.

"You do realize that with the amulet destroyed, there's very little chance for us to ever return you home," if that was meant to make Keled feel sorry, it sure as hell did not work one bit.

"I'd rather rot away on this backwater Earth than to place my life in the hands of Chaos again," he stated with conviction. It was no question in his mind, trying to use that amulet for anything at all was out of the question. It was Chaos, and as such should never be used. Only destroyed before it brought ruin to others. The tension seemed to mount, so Black Canary once again stepped in to try a more diplomatic way.

"We're just surprised. Given your reaction back in the conference room, we thought you'd given up. So why would you go to such lengths to save Robin and destroy the amulet?" Keled could not really explain it, but something about Black Canary made him want to trust her, for whatever stupid reason. If he had to guess, he would say it was some trick on their part. But, as he thought about it, he decided he might as well humor them this time. He had something that needed to be voiced anyway.

"My reaction back in the conference room was a temporary lapse in judgment and will not be repeated. As for my actions concerning the amulet; it was a relic of Chaos and had to be destroyed, no matter the cost, lest its powers fell into the wrong hands," he explained evenly, sounding every bit like the soldier that he was.

"That still doesn't explain why you went through the trouble of saving Robin, when you could have just as easily just smashed the amulet right away and been done with it," Black Canary pointed out. An uncomfortable silence fell over the gathering, as the leaguers waited for Keled's answer, while Keled himself was wondering what his answer really was.

"As I said to Robin when he questioned me, it was a spur of the moment. I cannot truly explain my reason other than it was on a whim, nothing more," he admitted without shame. Why deny the truth, anyway? "However, I do now know what my purpose is. So long as I breathe, I will do the duty I was trained to do; fight and die for humanity, no matter what I have to face," he never said it out loud, but the challenge in his declaration was clear as daylight; just try to stop me.

By this point, most present were giving him looks of disbelief over his announcement. The only one who still seemed to be in control was Batman, which was kind of expected given who he was. Still, even he did not like the idea of Keled becoming a vigilante. For one, he was not familiar with this Earth and how things worked around here. But more importantly was the fact that Batman knew that he would just turn into a murderer, slaughtering anyone he deemed deserved it. And given his narrow-minded view on the world, that sounded like quite a few in his crosshair.

"What if we decide to stop you?" he challenged. Keled said nothing, instead merely cracking his knuckles. The message was clear, he would fight the entire Justice League if he had to. But Batman had suspected such a reaction from this soldier. And he was already considering another alternative. If they could not stop Keled, perhaps they could restrain him.

"Then I have a deal for you," he announced, gaining everyone's attention. "You'll be allowed to fight crime, and we'll supply you with the necessary funds and equipment to do so. But you'll be under Justice League jurisdiction. You follow our rules, you do as we say and you don't go running off on your own without our permission," even though they could not see Keled's face, none of them doubted that there was a deep frown on his face at that moment.

"And if I refuse?" he challenged with his arms folded across his chest. Batman had already anticipated such a question and had an answer formulated.

"We send you back to your cell," that was the cold verdict. It may have seen a bit harsh to place such an ultimatum on the boy, but Batman knew what kind of person he was dealing with. He had been raised on discipline and force, and so those were the only things he would respond to. Black Canary's more gentle ways were good to make him talk. But to make him listen, Batman knew they had to be harsh on him. This way, they minimized the damage that Keled could possibly make. And, there was that small hope that they could change him for the better.

The boy was lost, with nothing but his merciless training and fanatical devotion to his Emperor to drive him on. Perhaps, with the right guidance, he could be shown a greater purpose, could be taught to appreciate a life beyond servitude and fighting. It was a small hope, but hope nonetheless, and Batman was sure that many in the League would be willing to help. At the very least, he hoped that Keled would learn to see beyond the beliefs that had been hammered into his brain, see that killing was not the best alternative.

Keled himself was in deep thought. The thought of working with these xeno loving heretics did not sit well with him, even if these imbeciles were from a time or world that had never been blessed with the Emperor's wisdom. And from what he had gathered, their method of fighting their enemies was highly ineffective and only provided very short term victories. But on the other hand, if he refused to comply on this one, they would lock him up again, this time for good no doubt. He may have been fully ready to take on the Justice League, but he knew from the start that it would be a lost battle. At least with the deal, he would be allowed to do his duty to humanity, albeit in a restrained manner.

So, as much as it pained him to do so, Keled saw no other alternative than to submit to Batman's wishes. Choosing the lesser of two evils. Sacrificing his pride as a child of mankind by fighting alongside xenos, so that others could live in peace. 'Oh Father of Mankind, give me the strength to endure this,'

"Very well, Batman. I accept your deal," Keled finally announced. The addressed man gave a short nod of his head and extended a hand. And after a brief moment of hesitation, Keled extended his own and shook hands with the dark knight.

"If you're going to work with us, you'll need a codename to use on the field," Batman added. While finding the request odd, Keled did not question it. For as much as he was loath to admit it, Batman was now his superior officer. And you never questioned a superior officer.

"In that case, I have a name in mind," Keled said, with a hint of reverence. "In honor of the home that shaped me into the weapon I am today, and which I will never see again, I shall be known as Krieg,"

Here it is at last, chapter 3. It took so damn long to write because I have been struggling for weeks with how to incorporate Keled into the DC 'verse while still making him stay true to the coldblooded and xeno-hating ways of the 40k 'verse. Though I have to admit that there are some parts which I'm not that content with, but I could not come up with anything better.

Thoughts and opinions on whether I did a good job or not here would be greatly appreciated.