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Chapter 8

EPILOGUE:

Watchtower Personal Log
J'onn J'onnz
(Cont.)

They were mad at me and for quite a while. But they did get over it. Mostly. Surprisingly, the one who was the most upset with me wasn’t Kyle but Wally. I think that all jokes and pranks aside, he and Kyle really are closer than any of us ever imagined and the attack on Kyle really pissed Wally off in ways none of us will ever know. He has mostly managed to put the whole thing behind him, but I've noticed those sideways glances in the field, those glances he normally reserved for Batman. I suppose it was to be expected. I knew it would happen and I knew that some would be more affected than others. And I knew that the majority of their anger and pain would be directed at me, but that’s just something I have to accept. I hurt them… and while I believe I was doing the right thing, I also know that I have to take responsibility for the pain I caused them.

I took a month hiatus from the League once all of it was over - for many reasons. Mainly, I wanted to give the rest of the League time to accept and deal with what had happened without me always around as a constant reminder. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also admit that my reasons for leaving were partly personal. The truth is: I needed time to deal with it myself - time to come to grips with what I had actually done to all of these people that I have considered my friends. The decision to adopt the persona of Leon McKinley and purposefully promote the animosity against the League and Superheroes in general was not made lightly. It took many months of consideration and planning, of introspection and debating with myself if it was really the best course. To be truthful, I’m still not sure it was.

It appears that during my month away, Webster continued his normal routine of spin and misdirection. His ego boosted by what he considers a major victory over the Anti-Metahuman movement - something that he’s been taking far too much personal credit for - he shifted into high gear, coming up with all sorts of ridiculous publicity stunts and insane stories to try and keep the League’s public image high. Though we never told Webster the whole truth, he obviously picked up on enough of the animosity the rest of the League was feeling toward me… my extended absence from the League was somehow "mysteriously explained" in a few tabloid articles revealing that I had turned into some evil fire-beast and attacked the League. We've all pretty much decided that this whole "experiment" of having an official PR Agent for the League has been a complete and total failure, but we're waiting for the right time to break the news to Webster.

Despite Webster’s continued involvement in the League, Arthur has in fact returned to Active Duty - which has honestly been a blessing in disguise. His reinvigorated attitude has brought new life to the League and his ability to joke away the harder facts has been a relief to many. It’s funny, during my hiatus he offered one of his "uncharted islands" as a retreat, telling me it would do me wonders. After seeing the dramatic change in him since his vacation, I actually tried it for a couple of days. I probably would have stayed longer but for Mother Nature and her Monsoon Season. It was probably just as well…

In the few months since my return, I've taken the chance to sit down with each of the other Leaguers and discuss what happened. I tried with each of them to offer them solace, to provide them with answers, but it feels like all I really did was apologize. A lot. The truth is, I don’t have all the answers myself… and "it seemed like a good idea at the time" just won’t suffice…

Bruce has been remarkably supportive of me, not just in his conversations with the others, but with me directly. I think the strategist in Bruce could see what I had accomplished and could respect the fundamental idea behind it, if not the method. But then, Bruce has always been more of a "ends justifying the means" kind of guy - much more so than any of the rest of us. It might be easy to accept that credo, but if my time as Leon McKinley has taught me anything, it’s the inherent dangers of exceeding all limits simply for a desired outcome.

It’s funny, Bruce is the one who actually suggested that I write this all down - that I write this log. Now that I’m at the end, I have to say he was right - it was amazingly cathartic just to put all of this down somewhere, to put into words everything we went through… everything I put us through. It’s helped me to gain a little better perspective on the whole thing, though I don’t think I’m any closer answering the one question that has been on everyone’s lips: "Why?"

Why did I do it? I can’t really say. I can say that as far as the original intention of the… mission, I succeeded in my goals. The Anti-Metahuman hysteria that had been slowly building for the last few years was dealt a major blow thanks to the rise and fall of Leon McKinley, though I don’t think it will ever truly disappear. Nor should it, quite frankly. Having that voice of dissent does a lot to keep us all humble - to remind us that no matter how great we think we are, there are always people out there who will resent us for what we do. But that voice is much more effective as a gentle reminder than as a shouted demand. It reminds me of something I read about many years ago - back when I was absorbing as much information on the history of the Planet Earth as I could. Back in the days of Ancient Rome, before the time of the Emperors when Rome was a true democracy and the Senate represented the voice of the people, they would periodically hold great ceremonies to honor the military commander of a notably successful foreign war or military campaign. These ceremonies, called Triumphs, included a spectacular parade where they marched wagons of gold and other valuables captured during the campaign and concluded with the commander (or Dux) riding through the city on a spectacular chariot. But riding on the chariot with him, standing behind him and holding a laurel crown over his head, was a meager slave whose sole responsibility was to chant over and over in the commander’s ear: "Memento homo" - "Remember, you are mortal". Sometimes, that is a voice we desperately need.

Anyway, I did what I set out to do, but as I said before, the results don’t necessarily justify the method. Am I proud of what I've done?… … … Certainly not, but I know now what I knew back when I first made this decision - that this problem wasn’t going to correct itself and sometimes, we all have to do things we're not really proud of for the sake of those around us. Someone had to step up and do the dirty work necessary to resolve this problem and I made a conscious decision to be the bad guy this time around. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, but it had to be done… because in the end, popular or not, it was the right thing to do. And knowing that makes taking the heat for it a little easier.

I really don’t know how Bruce does it all the time…

For better or for worse, it’s over and for better or for worse, the League has persevered through one of the most trying times in its history and come out the other side… a little battered, a lot wiser and a with renewed dedication to the people we fight for. After all that happened, the outpouring of support in our direction has been incredible. It’s as if the entire world felt sorry for being misguided by McKinley and decided to make it up to us. In the end, we know that the real heroes aren’t the eight of us, but those who believed in us, those that supported us and those that loved us, regardless of what their neighbors were saying. And I did what I did as much for them as I did it for us.

So now, I guess there’s only one last piece of business for us to take care of…

 

"It’s time."

The low, growling voice filled the small room. J'onn looked up from the workstation computer he was typing on, glanced at Batman and nodded. Batman lingered in the doorway a moment, then moved away. J'onn stood up and stretched, his muscles aching from sitting still for so long. He'd been typing for too many hours to count but he felt that it was all worth it.

After he finished stretching, he stared down at the words on the screen for a long moment. Then, he leaned down and pressed a few command keys. A small message popped up on the screen:

Delete file: "WTPersLog-JJ'onzz"?
Y/N

His finger hovered back and forth over the keyboard, his eyes locked on the screen. He took a deep breath, nodded lightly to himself and gently pressed the "Y" key.

 

Webster Hoyt marveled at the Watchtower Viewing Room - so called because of the large clear window that constituted one wall, allowing a spectacular view of the planet Earth below. It was the first time in all of his many visits to the Watchtower that he’d actually seen the room and it was truly a breathtaking sight.

Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman all stood at that window, looking at the blue planet in quiet contemplation. Green Lantern, Flash, Plastic Man and Aquaman stood off to the side, trading quiet glances back and forth, but none of them saying a word. Webster, in fact, was the only one speaking.

"So what’s the big occasion, guys and gals? Why are we meeting here?" He glanced around to each of them, the trio at the window turning to look at him. But still, no one spoke. "Guys?"

"Webster Hoyt!"

Webster froze. He knew that voice. He knew that voice all too well. That heavy, booming voice with a deep Mississippi drawl. He spun toward the door to see Leon McKinley - his arch-nemesis - standing in the doorway of the Watchtower Viewing Room with a snarl on his lips. Webster frantically looked around at the League members, looking for an explanation, a reason… some indication that they were seeing what he was. All he got in response was stone-faced stares.

The sound of footsteps on the hard marble floor drew his attention back to the doorway as Leon started slowly walking straight toward him. Webster blinked his eyes several times in disbelief as McKinley began to change - his body seemed to shrink, his facial features becoming lighter, more feminine. His hair darkened and grew considerably longer. Within the space of three steps, Leon McKinley had suddenly somehow… morphed into his intern, Julie Merriwether! Confusion flooded his mind as Julie continued forward, suddenly changing again. The figure was still female, but she'd grown a bit taller again, her face broadening slightly and her clothes changing from the smart business suit to a white and purple spandex outfit - it was Faith, the last member of his failed "Obsidian League". Webster’s mouth jerked open in confusion as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. In the last three steps leading up to Webster, the figure morphed again, growing taller and broader, its skin turning a dark green. Webster’s eyes popped out in shock as he suddenly found himself face to face with none other that the Martian Manhunter.

Manhunter held the same stony gaze as the rest of the League as he stared eye to eye with the Justice League’s Public Relations Agent.

"Webster… you're fired."

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