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Still Defiant! SI-OC [Marvel/DC]

What does it mean to be a hero? Daniel Evans Tries to answer this question as he embarks on a self-imposed mission in a familiar, yet unfamiliar world. Being a hero has never been easy, but even if the world tries to crumble around him, he will stand firm, because no matter how difficult or dangerous it is, he will remain Defiant. SI-OC, MC-hero, MC-viltrumite, MCU-AU, DC Comics AU. Marvel AU. Patreon Early Access Chapters! patreon.com/EmmaCruzader Now you can find illustrations of this and other stories on my twitter (@Emma_pressure) where I will start uploading them some time after being published in advance on my patreon (patreon/EmmaCruzader) there you can also find advance chapters, exclusive votes and previews (like sketches) as well as the final illustration in the best possible quality.

EmmaCruzader · Anime & Comics
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28 Chs

23: Smart Atoms

23: Smart Atoms

"This is the living area; each fortress can house hundreds of Kryptonians at the same time, so its space is quite large. Even so, thanks to the advanced technology it possesses, its structure can change according to your desires. If you think having so many rooms is useless, you can make them turn into something else," Lara said as she demonstrated an example of what she meant.

The numerous "rooms" began to disappear until there was a huge but empty space.

"I've been wondering, this place seems much larger than it is from the outside. Is it some kind of spatial technology?" Daniel couldn't help but ask as he looked at the space, which was at least a kilometer in diameter. While the fortress was immense from the outside, its interior was simply beyond comprehension at first glance.

Lara nodded and began to explain, "Although we Kryptonians don't specialize in it, we certainly have some significant advances in its use. This is just one of its most basic applications."

Manipulating space was difficult and had some limitations, yet enlarging a place "artificially" was still something they could do, although not in an unlimited way.

"Of course, don't expect infinite space. There are certain limits related to the number of objects and the 'real' size of the fortress."

The tour was informative but, as she had said before, there wasn't much to observe. The place was mostly empty, a blank canvas waiting for someone to start painting on it.

For the most part, Lara focused on explaining various functions that could be useful, many with scientific and research applications. After all, the fortresses were created with the goal of exploring and studying other worlds.

For Carol, much of that information was useless. Although she was by no means stupid, the truth was she hadn't bothered to study beyond what she needed to get good grades in school.

It wasn't that she wasn't interested; she simply didn't feel it was necessary to learn... well, not until she saw how her mother and Daniel chatted for what seemed like hours about many of those functions and their practical uses, without her being able to say or contribute anything.

When did he become so smart? No, he probably always was, but she never realized it.

That was... worrisome. How could she walk beside him if she couldn't even have a proper conversation like her mother seemed to do so effortlessly?

Before Carol realized it, the tour ended right where it had started, at the large pillar in the center of the fortress.

"And this is the central command pillar. From here, you can direct and monitor everything happening both inside and outside the fortress," Lara said, looking at Carol.

The crystalline pillar was certainly different, with lines of light in various colors occasionally running through its structure and unknown characters appearing as if they were text.

Lara waved her hand, and the structure began to change. Soon, a part of the pillar transformed to resemble a central command computer positioned on a crystalline desk.

"I suppose this might look more familiar," Daniel looked at the computer with a raised eyebrow.

"I thought you didn't know much about Earth," he said curiously, noting the three large screens that looked like monitors projected in front of them, the keyboard and mouse, and the semi-transparent chair. Everything was "human" or at least very similar to their aesthetic.

Lara looked at him and smiled. "The fortress has a pretty good quantum connection network. Since it was installed and my consciousness awakened here, I've been able to easily access every electronic signal this planet has. I've certainly learned some... interesting things." She hadn't delved deeply into the network yet but had done some basic research to understand the environment in which her daughter lived.

She looked at the symbol on Daniel's chest, the same symbol her daughter wore. She hadn't asked about it initially, thinking it was a form of human dress, but now realized it was more than that.

Carol approached the computer, watching as lines of text in another language formed on the monitors. She didn't even bother trying to understand it and just looked at her mother, who stopped looking at Daniel and nodded towards her. Then the text began to translate automatically into English.

Carol and Daniel started to play with the device. Its functions were strange yet familiar. Clearly, Lara was modifying the internal software using human technology as a base, but this surpassed any technology on the market by hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.

Even so, the differences were still there. It was complicated to navigate through it, despite everything being in English. They would have to study it more deeply over time.

As Daniel looked at the different data, he couldn't help but click on one labeled "Phantom Zone."

Suddenly, there was a sound similar to a beep and a message appeared on the screen.

[Access denied, insufficient authority]

Daniel blinked with some disappointment. It seemed he wouldn't be able to take a look.

Carol beside him frowned and looked at her mother, clearly seeking answers. Lara quickly explained.

"All the technology in the fortress has an extremely deep biometric lock. You have absolute control over everything in it to do as you wish, but other people can't access certain functions or information without your authorization."

It was simple. Advanced technology needed to be safeguarded; they couldn't let just anyone access it carelessly.

For Lara, her daughter was the most important thing. Even if she was now just a remnant, she would always find a way to look out for her well-being. Therefore, not trusting Daniel was something she did from the start.

Even if all the information she was gathering about his "heroic identity" gave her a new perspective on the boy.

Carol thought about it and quickly smiled, an idea forming in her mind.

"How do I assign someone else an authority similar to mine?" Upon hearing her question, Lara slightly furrowed her eyebrows but answered honestly. She had spoken the truth when she mentioned that Carol had absolute control over this place. Not even she could deny her anything.

"You need to do two things. First, dictate a maximum command to the fortress's central artificial intelligence, the Codex. Second, perform a deep biometric scan on the person to whom you will assign the authority, to register their data as precisely as possible."

At the mention of the scan, Daniel became slightly tense, though he didn't show it too much outwardly. Internally, he had some reservations about this.

It wasn't that he didn't trust Carol, but he wasn't very comfortable with having data about his body stored, even if it was in a theoretically "impenetrable" alien fortress.

Beside him, Carol smiled at her mother's words and placed a hand on Daniel's shoulder.

"We should do it now. I'm sure you'll be able to conduct your investigation more easily here." Somehow, he felt that she was smiling strangely at the mention of his investigation.

Daniel didn't immediately nod but instead asked a question that had been on his mind.

"How deep is this scan? Cellular level?"

Lara chuckled a bit and smiled amusedly.

"A cellular-level scan is too simple to bypass. For greater security, each scan is at the atomic level."

Well, wasn't that even worse? Daniel wanted to sigh. What to do, what should he do?

"Is something wrong?" Carol asked, her smile fading slightly as she looked at him with concern. She had thought he would be more enthusiastic and willing.

Looking into her eyes, he couldn't help but sigh. This girl was too good to him; he would have to talk to her at some point. For now, he needed to explain why he was hesitating.

"Do you remember what I told you when we met? About not knowing where my powers come from?" he said, and she blinked but nodded curiously, so he continued.

"With everything that happened with Greg, I've been studying my own body a bit. On the surface, there's no difference from other humans, so I've tried studying my cells, but I haven't found anything significant. I theorize that it all comes from something deeper—my atoms. I just didn't expect to have the opportunity to find out so soon." This was a half-truth mixed with a lie.

He knew what it was, thanks to his meta-knowledge, but knowing something because you read it in another life and knowing it because you studied it personally were two different things.

He was simply trying to hide his initial distrust, using the excuse of nervousness about discovering "the truth" about his abilities.

"I understand. If you think you're not ready, we can do it later," Carol said sympathetically, believing she understood his feelings.

Lara, for her part, listened with interest. She knew Daniel wasn't normal and had been pondering for a long time why that was. Denying her interest in finding out the reason would be a blatant lie—she was a scientist, after all.

Daniel smiled and patted Carol's head.

"Don't worry, you're right that it's better to do it now. I'll have to find out sooner or later anyway," he said, looking at Lara.

"Do I need to go somewhere?" He didn't know how this scan was carried out, so he asked.

Lara shook her head. "No, as long as you're inside the fortress, the scanners can work without a problem. We just need Carol to start the process."

Daniel nodded and indicated to Carol that she could proceed. She understood, and soon Lara explained what she needed to do, which turned out to be much simpler than they expected.

With a bit of clumsiness, Carol approached the computer and spoke aloud.

"Codex, begin a new authority assignment. Assign shared maximum command capacity to Daniel Warren Evans." There was a strange sound, then the computer glowed, and a synthetic voice emerged.

"Command received. Assigning new shared maximum command authority to designated subject Daniel Warren Evans. Proceeding with biometric scan." When the words ended, Daniel suddenly found himself illuminated by a faint blue light coming from an unknown source.

Daniel thought he would feel something strange, maybe a tingling or something like that. Instead, the light quickly covered him and then disappeared.

Then a projection began to appear in front of him.

It began constructing from his atomic structure to his molecules, cells, nerves, veins, bones, muscles, flesh, and skin.

The projection completed quickly, and Daniel saw his perfectly detailed naked figure in front of him. A holographic screen appeared on one side, displaying various data in real time.

"Biometric scan complete. New maximum command authority assigned. Welcome to the fortress, Daniel," Codex's voice faded, and Daniel blinked, surprised by how fast it had been.

"That's it?" he asked, doubtful, looking at his naked self.

"Yes, you both now share the same level of authority over the fortress," Lara said, observing the projection of Daniel's body with curiosity.

Meanwhile, Carol was left speechless, too shocked to speak. She hadn't expected to see Daniel naked out of nowhere; she had never seen him like that before, so her brain went blank for a moment. She wondered if she should cover her eyes, or maybe her mother's eyes. Not knowing what to do, she looked at the projection, then at Daniel, and despite herself, her eyes briefly glowed a slight blue as her X-ray vision activated. Her face turned even redder.

At least now she could confirm that the projection was one hundred percent accurate.

"It's strange, nothing seems different," Lara said, examining the data. The scan was flawless, analyzing the atomic structure that composed Daniel's being. So why? Why did he seem like just an ordinary person? A normal human?

Daniel thought for a moment and made a suggestion.

"This data is displayed in real-time, right? Then I need you to do something."

Lara looked at him and nodded, curious to see where this was going.

"Increase the gravity gradually until it's one hundred times that of Earth."

Lara didn't understand what he wanted to achieve with this, but she complied. Suddenly, the pressure on their bodies began to change gradually.

Daniel observed the scans closely, focusing on his atoms. The higher the gravity, the more noticeable the strange behavior of his atoms became.

"That's it!" Lara's eyes widened in amazement. Being partly an AI, she could "see" in greater detail the changes in Daniel's atoms as she was connected to the fortress scanners. She could understand how incredible what was happening was.

"What is it?" Carol frowned, still with red cheeks. Maybe she should start studying more.

Lara wanted to explain in depth, but seeing the confused look in her daughter's eyes, she couldn't help but sigh inwardly and speak more simply.

"His atoms, it's like they reactively adapt to the environment and the forces exerted on his body, as if—"

"As if they were smart atoms?" Daniel said, deciding to give it a name straight away. Lara looked at him and nodded in agreement.

"Yes, as if they were smart atoms, capable of changing and adapting actively and on their own, varying their properties at every moment... it's fascinating." She had never seen anything like it. Krypton had explored much of the universe and studied many planets and races, but this was the first time she encountered something like this.

Lara attempted a deeper scan to understand why Daniel's atoms could act the way they did, but it was impossible. These were not normal atoms and couldn't be scanned in the same way. It was difficult to study them and obtain precise data once they started varying their properties.

The more abnormal the environment they faced, the more different they were from ordinary atoms, and Lara couldn't help but want to study them in depth.

Daniel observed the scans for a moment longer until the gravity was one hundred times greater than that of Earth. Then he decided it was enough.

"all right let's stop for now. I've seen enough," he said. Using the information from his memories and the presented data, he knew that everything was "in order" and his Viltrumite body was functioning as it should.

More importantly, his core was not detected by the fortress scanners, which was a great relief.

"Are you sure? If we continue studying this, we might—" Daniel cut Lara off, shaking his head.

"It's interesting, and I can understand why you want to keep studying it, but not now. I still have some issues to resolve, and finding an explanation will take more than just a day. There's no rush," Daniel decided he needed to postpone this "investigation." He didn't need to discover things he theoretically already knew.

Lara could only furrow her brow and reluctantly nod. The projection disappeared, and the gravity returned to normal.

Daniel then used the central computer to check something he had been ignoring for too long: the news.

"...it's still unknown why Defiant decided to intervene in the conflict—"

"Governments are alarmed while the public wonders if this was just a fleeting act or a message—"

"This clearly violates international norms—"

"He doesn't respect the laws! It's not his duty to intervene in—"

"The military has issued a ceasefire, the war has entered an unexpected pause—"

Carol looked displeased at the various news broadcasts. With everything that had happened, she had forgotten that Daniel had caused a great commotion recently.

"I know there's much more to do, but I need to resolve this before it becomes too troublesome," He needed to calm the public. It seemed it was time to talk to the people of this world, and thanks to Carol, he already had an idea of how to do it. He just needed a journalist.

"Do you need help?" Carol couldn't help but ask. Daniel shook his head and replied.

"I'll handle it."

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Carol watched Daniel leave the fortress, feeling a bit concerned, but he was right—he could handle it. For now, she would finish exploring the fortress before heading home. She still had to help her parents with the farm, and school would be starting again soon.

It was annoying, but she consoled herself with the fact that she would soon graduate, giving her much more free time.

"Come with me," her mother's voice pulled her out of her thoughts, causing her to turn and raise an eyebrow.

Lara gestured towards a direction where a long hallway suddenly opened up.

Carol followed her, curious to know what she wanted.

They walked in silence for a few moments before Lara broke it by asking a question.

"Tell me, daughter, what do you seek to do in this world?" Taken by surprise, Carol paused for a moment before responding and continuing to walk.

"I guess help, save people," and to use her powers freely.

"Like that boy? Do you want to be a symbol? To guide them?" Lara asked, looking at the symbol on her chest.

Carol frowned and quickly shook her head.

"No, I'm not a guide. I'll help when I can, but nothing more." She was not like Daniel in that sense.

She wasn't interested in people remembering who she was or admiring her. She had simple goals: help people, use her powers, live happily and freely, simple and direct.

She might not be human and might not be ordinary, but deep down, Carol knew she was still, in part, just a farm girl.

No matter how many extraordinary powers she had or how strange her origin was, none of that changed how or where she grew up, nor who her parents were who raised and taught her.

Carol knew and understood that a large part of her was still that girl who helped harvest the crops, feed the animals, and clean the stables.

Her ambitions were never grand, nor did she believe she had any duty beyond helping when she could.

Maybe that was the biggest difference between her and Daniel.

Lara frowned slightly at her daughter's clear refusal, this could complicate some things.

"You could do much more if you were more proactive. If you truly want to help them, you need to think bigger. They will need someone to guide them, a beacon to show them the right direction in the darkest moments. Primitive species often tend towards self-destruction if left alone. Very few manage to go beyond that, and humanity is no different..."

Carol raised an eyebrow but said nothing in response. What she thought of humanity was still a gray area in her mind. She couldn't contradict or agree with her mother, but what she did know was that she had no interest whatsoever in the position her mother mentioned.

"With the technology and knowledge of Krypton, you could make the greatest difference this world has ever seen, be a pillar, a beacon, a one of hope." As if in response to her mother's words, the corridor they were walking through suddenly expanded, and a part of the wall opened, revealing a full-body mannequin dressed in a dark blue suit with red accents, was a suit somewhat similar to the one she now wore, one that hugged the mannequin's body accentuating every part of it.

A bright red cape fluttered behind the suit as if caught by the wind, and on the chest, a large symbol resembling an S was displayed, a very familiar one.

Her mother approached and placed her hand on it, with clear nostalgia in her gaze, then turned to look at her.

"That's what this symbol means, the emblem of House of El, Hope," Carol looked at the suit and the symbol for a brief moment, then looked away and continued walking down the hallway.

Lara watched her daughter walk away and sighed; the wall returned to normal, and the suit disappeared. She followed after Carol; she still had much to say.

Carol glanced at her mother from the corner of her eye and spoke.

"Why show me this?" She had been clear about her goals, yet Lara seemed very insistent.

"I just want you to know that your destiny is much greater than you think; your future is limitless, and what you can do for this world is boundless." There it was again, it seemed her mother had some big expectations for her.

"Perhaps you're right, but I'm not the right person for that. You might need to talk to Daniel; he might be much more enthusiastic," Carol could certainly see that.

Lara furrowed her brows, thinking for a moment before speaking.

"You know, that boy has ambitions, very big ambitions. The people who can walk beside him and follow in his wake will all be equally extraordinary... If you stay as you are, you'll simply be left behind," it was a slight gamble, but when she saw Carol stop, she knew she had hit the mark.

"What are you trying to say?" Carol asked with clear Defiance.

"I'm just saying something you already know. While he's out there saving people and trying to change the world, you're still here, waiting for him to come back and give you some of his time, time that is too valuable and that he will eventually find something more important to spend it on," maybe she pushed a little too hard there, but she needed Carol to have some ambition; she was probably the last of her kind! Even if she and Jor-El had said she could be whatever she wanted... the reality was that a father always hoped his child would be more than just average.

Lara wanted Carol to be something extraordinary.

Maybe she was expecting too much, trying to impose ideals that were too big, but she couldn't help it; Whether it was the mother, the scientist or the Kryptonian that was still inside her, all those parts of her wanted to see Carol's full potential come to the fore, wanted her to be everything she knew she could be and more.

But she didn't seem willing at all...

Carol remained silent for a moment before clicking her tongue and shaking her head.

"Maybe you're right." Carol thought about the recent past; certainly, Daniel seemed much happier spending time with others.

"But I also think you're wrong." In the end, Daniel had returned; maybe he had gone away for a while, but he had always been there when it mattered, and for Carol, that was the only thing that really meant anything, the only thing she needed.

However, she couldn't help but think about Lara's words. Maybe she needed to be more enthusiastic? While she didn't believe she would become something like what her mother expected, it would certainly be better if she could show Daniel that she was still important.

"So, what will you do?" Lara asked with uncertainty, not knowing what was going through Carol's mind.

Carol rubbed her chin; she still had some time before returning home, so...

"I need to study a bit." First, she needed to fix her lack of scientific knowledge.

Lara nodded, figuring this was the best she could get for now, but she wouldn't give up easily. After all, hope always had to be present.

She watched Carol walk towards the central pillar, ready to start learning more about science. Lara admired her figure for a moment; she had grown so much... as a mother, she couldn't have hoped for more.

Even with all the preparations, the truth was that everything happened too quickly. There were no guarantees of anything, as Kal-El was proof of that. Fortunately, thanks to Rao, her daughter had arrived safe and sound and could now be with her, even if it wasn't as soon as she would have wished.

The last daughter of Krypton, the last hope of her people...

Or maybe not. Remembering her husband's brother, her brother-in-law, and his final actions before dying with them, she couldn't help the anticipation that arose within her.

Maybe her daughter wasn't so alone after all, but telling her that now wouldn't serve any purpose.

Their scans on the planet showed that the third ship that left Krypton that day still hadn't reached Earth.

And if it hadn't reached Earth in all these years, the odds were too great that an accident had occurred.

Telling her about this wouldn't serve any purpose.

Not now, at least.

She would have to wait, improve the technology they had access to, and then search to see if there was another hope waiting for them out there.

But it wasn't the time yet; for now, she had to help her daughter.

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Note:

Four thousand words.

Writing this chapter was a bit challenging as I wasn't sure how to simplify the information that needed to be conveyed, but I think it all turned out quite well.

Carol begins to explore her heritage, and Daniel prepares to resolve the lingering issues.

I hope to bring more interesting things and some action to the mix soon.

In the next chapter we delve deeper into the mind of Daniel and finally I will explain the reason why he acts the way he does with respect to Carol.

Lastly, remember that you can find the next chapter of this story on Patreon (patreon.com/EmmaCruzader). If you want to read the next chapter in advance and get some other benefits, you can go and check it out. All the support received helps me a lot ;D