When she woke up, the room was dark, and only two people occupied the room. She yawned wide enough to split her face in half. Then, she smiled softly. "I know what you're probably here about." She could practically hear the eyebrow being raised.
"Oh?" Yep. Tall dark and handsome.
"You're wondering about a few things." She shrugged and continued to stare at the ceiling. It was a little too dark to do anything else at the moment. "It's what I would do, and how I would think. First is how I knew them, even if you've already figured that out from what I've said. Second is why I fainted. Third is the main reason you wanted to get to me alone. 'How do I know Russian?' Well, I'll tell ya. For the fainting, I think it's because my body might be preemptively adapting, or somesuch bullshit. That's my only real and explainable guess, really. However, I can explain why I'm so tired right now. In physics, for the acceleration, both positive and negative, of a vehicle, momentum has to be taken account of. When you need to stop because of signals telling you to stop, then the situations of coming to a full stop or continuing at the same speed are better than the situation of having to slow down, but not stop, before accelerating again. When you have to slow down, but not stop before speeding back up, then you have a directional momentum that keeps you from gaining speed as efficiently as you could. When you're at a full stop, there is no directional momentum to slow you down, and when you're still going, then you have a directional momentum that assists in gaining speed. You can then apply the principle to sleep. Not enough sleep can be more detrimental than having no sleep because you don't have the reserves stored properly to start up as efficiently."
"Do you always talk this much?" She could hear the smile in his voice.
She smiled back. "Only when I know what the hellmouth I'm talking about, of course." She paused to let him add it to his list of things to investigate, or to ask another question, and then continued. "As to how I know those creatures? I raised them."
"You raised them?" He sounded incredulous. Understandable, given her stature.
"I may not look it, but I'm far older than them." She tried to keep the superior note out of her voice. "In fact, I may have a guess as to how much older. Do you know who the man in the red cape reminds me of?"
He probably shook his head before remembering that she couldn't see him. "No, I don't."
"Well, he reminds me of two people. One is one of the many versions of the Man of Steel that I've seen. The other is a young man I met. I don't have a very accurate accounting of time at the best of times, but what I know is simple enough even for me to keep track of. A number of solar cycles ago of certain planets that I occasionally get to patrol for uprising or outside dangers that I never report unless I can't handle them myself, I was doing one such patrol when something came down through the atmosphere and crashed. The way it moved while in the air told me it was a ship. A pod, more accurately. And the jagged, awkward way that it moved, coupled with the large plume of smoke coming from it, told me that it was severely damaged, but more than capable of being survivable in a crash. So I went to investigate. What I came upon were two youngsters, faces filled with fear and dirt. When they saw me, they asked for help in running from whatever creature was chasing them, and I only too readily obliged. I couldn't simply leave them there.
"When we were in a safe place, I situated them to be comfortable, if not exactly the luxury they were obviously accustomed to, being technologically advanced Kryptonians. Then I told them that I couldn't play the gracious host without their names and they couldn't play the thankful guests without my name. They told me that they were newlyweds, Jor and Lara of the house of El. Or, more accurately, they told me that they were newlyweds, loved each other very much, were afraid for their lives, and have not really gotten accustomed to being married after being Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van for so long, but are enjoying one of the convenient side-effects of being married to one you love."
She smiled. "In Kryptonian culture, you don't mate before marriage. I told them exactly what I thought of that. A smile and the words 'Smart move.' Now, since it wasn't exactly hard for someone incapable of sight to see how nervous and frightened they were, I changed my smirk to a gentle smile and told them about myself. How I don't have a name (not really anyways), about the young men and women I've trained and raised in the past and their little quirks (like Dax'l's need for a nightlight, or Ri'ana's love for singing when under a waterfall, or one-eyed Gu'uld's outrage at being called Snake and his strategist younger brother Gua'uld's absolute hatred of being called Snakehead), and of the many situations we have all seen and fought through the years. Then, when I thought they were settled enough to broach the topic, I asked what had brought them to my doorstep. They froze. Then they looked at each other guiltily and Jor fessed up.
"'It's my uncle.' he said. 'He doesn't exactly like Lara.'" she was using a different, deeper tone of voice for Jor's voice. "I told him that it was stupid, but understandable. I also said that I couldn't see anything wrong with her in any way possible, including romantically with him, but that even the most logical people could be beyond reason at times. Then they told me something that I didn't like. 'Unfortunately, it's not like that.' Jor said. 'He's had a say in all marriages in the House of El for years, maybe even for longer than my grandpa's lifespan, and he was alive for a long time.' Just from that, I saw and heard the respect the kid had for his relatives. They were men to be respected and followed without question. Not just for their authority, but also for their wisdom. Then he continued with the part that I didn't like. Not one bit. 'When he found out I was going to marry a non-Kryptonian, he was angry, but he held his tongue, usually.' we both semi-ignored Lara darkly muttering 'Not when I was around.' as he continued. 'But on our wedding night, after our...' he paused, not knowing how to say it. I supplied him with a good term, if crude, that described what I've been told it felt like to do it with someone you truly love and trust for the first time and he agreed with both sentiments before continuing. 'After that he went on a rampage. I'd had my brother, Zor, pack some things for surviving into a waiting transport. Just as a precautionary measure you understand.' I'd nodded before he continued. 'Well, when we woke up he was speckled with red and held a weapon in his hands, ready to kill us. Then something happened and the lights cut out, allowing us to escape.' My personal suspicion, my friend, is that Lara's family helped that happen, though it's only because of a feeling and the way her face moved. It's usually enough for me these days. Anyway. 'After we'd safely made it to a neighboring planet, it was like bliss. Our wedding night continued, if slightly strained by the fear of my uncle showing up still enraged.'
"That's when I took the narrative from him. 'I'm guessing that the first planet had a yellow star, and your uncle landed a ways away by foot. Then you started having to run from planet to planet as your uncle left swathes of destruction anywhere you'd been.' At his nod, I continued, 'Well, that's the thing about Kryptonians. Put them under a yellow star when they're not in their right mind for long enough, and you get the sort of creature that I am used to killing.' Then I told them of my oh-so-illustrious (if fairly dusky) history after gaining LDS's approval to start acting on my own authority, some numerous solar cycles before. When I got the permission, my first few trips netted me a few wonderful artifacts. A centuries dead starship with many technologies for me to discover, a number of ancient and arcane artifacts, and three major threats. When I'm out on my own authority, I'm allowed to choose my victims of death as I will, which means that I rarely kill. It was once a great way to relieve stress or frustration, but I lost my source of creatures that I could kill in good conscience long ago. Those threats that I killed those first few times I left Apok, I would have been rewarded for killing, had I stayed long enough to be identified. I didn't want to be identified. I wanted to be a legend, an inspiration, and allowed to leave with few mourners if I died or found Paradise.
"After a few more trips, I saw a pattern. With this pattern, I found threats much more easily. Sometimes I stayed for the celebrations. And every so often, I stayed for the ghost stories told around the fire. The first time I did that, I found that I had been given a name. Killer of Ghosts, Killer of Stars, Killer of Killers. It varied from planet to planet, but my most memorable names that were gifted to my legend were The Starkiller of Praxxis and The Angel of Lorr. I'll tell you about them later, because they aren't important to this story.
"After telling Jor and Lara about my life as a living legend hiding in plain sight, I didn't look up at them. I wasn't sure what I was expecting on their faces, fear most likely, because I was one of the few creatures that knew how to kill an insane Kryptonian in yellow sunlight. Then I was sent from my little stool and onto the hard floor, knocking my head pretty hard. The two refugees from Krypton had tackled me and were crying in sympathy for me. They had known a few executioners who'd lived lives similar to mine, and how bad such a life could be. They didn't know how bad it could be with LDS looking over my shoulder, but what they knew was enough.
"Then I heard the screams. They were the screams of the 'peasants' that resided close by." She didn't like using the word peasants, but it was currently the best descriptor close at hand. "Jor and Lara froze, probably unused to hearing such sounds at all, let alone from such distance and with such clarity. I carefully moved them to a small cot I had on hand and told them to stay put. Then, I ran out, staying as silent as I could, and managed to jump on his back. He wasn't used to having to pay attention to his senses to such a degree, being only newly 'upgraded'. He shook me off within microts, but I managed to shove a weapon into his pectoral muscle. Knowing the magical poison would soon kill the shell that stood before me rather than the man it had once been, I simply dodged his attacks to help him on his way to exhaustion and death. When he was dead, I weeped. He'd killed so many, and I knew many of the dead.
"It took us a few solar days, but eventually the combined griefs of the three different peoples (Jor and Lara, my boys and girls that I have personally trained and often saved from the proprietess of the orphanages of Apok, and those that lived on that planet) had run their course. The grief and loss of losing people so near and dear was still there, but the worst was over. I told Jor and Lara to apologize for me to their family, and to tell them that I am in their debt for having been forced to kill a great man. I would do as they asked in penance, should they ever think they needed it. They collected on that debt a few cycles later, and after that we kept in touch as well as we could. Many cycles later, they called me. I arrived at Krypton, and not a moment too soon. They needed me to deal with a creature terrorizing a few local towns. It was a quick kill, but the trip was not. Lara had gone into labour, and I talked her through it as we went to the hospital. We were there just in time for her to give birth to a beautiful baby boy. For the longest of times he didn't open his eyes, and we were afraid he'd been stillborn. And then he opened his beautiful blue-gray eyes and smiled at me. I fell in love with him just as solidly as they did and at the same time. I broke the silence a long time later. 'His name is Kal. Kal of the House of El, and he will do great things.' Jor and Lara teased me for using my 'pretentious voice', as they called it, because of how serious I was. I didn't even know what in the hellmouth made me decide to make it so grandiose. All I knew was that the second I saw him, I saw a great man named Kal. The fact that I'd used the name of a great man from a fictional universe didn't connect until after I'd started mourning the loss of their lives when Krypton died."
With that, she fell silent, feeling the sadness and the solemnity of those moments so clearly after so long of not sharing them. It wasn't that she felt that it left less of those memories and those good friends to cherish, it's that it'd never come up in conversation, and her subconscious had never seen fit to deem it appropriate to share. She could feel the poison of her grief lessening in an almost physical way in this silence.
When they felt that they'd been solemn for long enough, she decided to answer the first question he'd had that she'd brought up. "As for my speaking Russian, well, we all have our secrets. And our reasons for keeping them. I don't have any plausible reason to know Russian, so I don't use it. On Apok, there was enough plausible deniability with so many planets visited by me that no other Apokoliptian has for me to use it for personal stuff. I know many things that I have no reason to know, and no right to know. For instance, I know who you are underneath that mask, even though I've never been to Earth. Officially."
He'd probably tensed once he'd heard that she knew. "And unofficially?"
She smiled. He'd picked up on her clue. "Unofficially, I was born on Earth, raised in the worst place for a family on the entire planet, which this Earth only has one example of such known to me, and then when I was 16, I died and was shoved into this body when it was a baby. Without me, this body would have died. Stillborn." she let a smile grace her face. "Now, I have a 'twin' brother, and a woman I wish to be my sister-in-law who's so completely stubborn. Neither of them realize how much they love each other, and my machinations just, never work. They're completely oblivious!"
After a pause, he said, "Family is like that, isn't it?" He'd probably nodded.
"Yep. Family is like that. So frustrating, so willing to run you ragged and kill you with your effort, but given the right actions, they are worth all the frustrating effort and more. Because they love you. They're a pain in the ass! But they're worth it."
He nodded again. When it seemed like he would be leaving her alone, she spoke up. "I have something more to say."
"If someone knew about our conversation just now and asked me about everything I knew, and about you especially, then I'd do this. I'd use what I could find easily, like how strong the bunch of you are, and how close to a family you are. About you specifically, I'd tell them a little more. I'd tell them that you are just like me: a creature who fights because it's the right thing. And sometimes, the right things are only obvious after you see something no man or woman of any species should ever see. You watched helplessly as your parents died in front of you, while I had my innocence shattered as I watched human brutality being used on it's own kind. We are of a type of kin that shouldn't exist, and yet it does, so we can lean on each other when it gets tough and no one understands what we feel. It helps when the insanity tries to take over."
"...Speaking from experience?"
"Nope. I lost my sanity with that sight, which was technically mostly restored when I was shoved into this body. But I watched as a good friend fell prey to a friendly fire incident that was never handled properly. She spiraled out of control, seeming to kill for the joy of it, even when she was nothing more than a child, hurt one too many times when it could create the worst and most damaging attack it could ever have." She shook her head. "When she came back from that brink, she was still broken. It took another year of solid effort in conjunction with her self-imprisonment for her crimes, along with the redemption road she took in LA, to finally fix her."
After a long moment, he said, "I'm sorry for having such a hard life."
She snorted. "Well, two things about that. One, you don't know the half of it, and two, it's all in the past, where you couldn't have had any way of helping it, so don't bother apologizing. But, I appreciate the sympathy." She suddenly gave a huge face-splitting yawn. "Next time," She said sleepily. "I'll kick your butt for trying to apologize for something that wasn't your fault."
When she didn't continue, he came up close to her and saw that she was asleep. He let a small, gentle smile grace his face as he watched her for a moment. "Good night, Angel." He bent over to kiss her forehead and left.
The next time she woke up, she was a lot more lively. It was 'daytime' in the satellite, and the League were all excited to learn about their tenant. In between stories she'd tell of her friends and family, in training and all other times, she'd talk to them and learn about them. Hawkgirl was one of her favorites among the newer people to meet, but her all-time favorites that she favored more than the others by the slightest margin were Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. After a few days in each others' presence, the girl started to tease J'onn, and he started to soften up a little towards her. Eventually, they could get to bickering like only best friends or siblings could.
However, before they got that chummy, she had a job for Hal.
One day, she came right up to him, a small device in hand. "I want you to bring this to the Guardians of Oa." She said, handing it to him. "I want them to bring it as a message to Apokolips. They won't want to, simply because of where it will go, so you need to tell them this: 'A traitor to the apocalyptic cause wishes the Corpse to bring her message of peace to her family. The traitor does not wish for her newfound Paradise to be corrupted so soon, if ever, by the cause she never loved. Her family, though blind, can be brought to the light.' Now repeat it back to me what I want you to do so that I know that you'll get it right the first time. They won't give me a second chance."
After a slightly confused second, he sighed. "I don't have much choice, do I?" He asked of the girl becoming like a sister to him. The message made no sense to him.
She smiled brightly and said, "Nope! Now repeat it back to me."
When she was satisfied with his repetition, she sent him off. A few days later, he came back, looking just as confused as he'd been when she'd given it to him. "The Guardians said to tell you that the corpse will do so, but at great expense. Now, could you tell me what that means?"
She smiled widely and said, "Sure. It means that I owe them a big-ass favor sometime in the future."
And from there, she furthered her efforts into such foreign territory as the friendship of a group of superheroes.
An explosion rocked the station, startling me out of bed and onto the floor. I moaned a little and stood, mostly just complaining about being woken up. I made my sleepy way through the station, wearing an oversized t-shirt saying "I know the voices in my head aren't real, but they make really good suggestions!" and a white pair of fleece pajama pants spritzed up with black stars. I made my way to the source of the greatest amount of excitement out of habit.
At first when I saw the crazed female in more roman regalia, I thought that it was my friend, Big Barda. And then I froze when I saw that the figure held more resemblance to the Amazon princess she was charging at rather than BB.
In this state, I observed a great many things. Superman had several deep cuts, though none were life-threatening, scattered over his body. Batman had hit her sword with little effect (other than cutting a batarang to oblivion). Princess was confused, suffering from slightly massive bruises and the like, and most of all scared.
The woman who looked like Princess wasn't who you'd think she was. Well, she was and she wasn't. It technically was
her mother, Hippolyta, but most of the resemblance is only skin deep here. While Diana was usually calm and collected, usually in control (and therefore her mother, who taught her, would probably be the same), this 'Hippolyta' was crazed, wild, and wanting to kill. There was a darkness around her as well, which confused me until I figured it out. There was a very specific difference between 'Hippolyta' and Wonder Woman. It wasn't very noticeable to the untrained eye, but when you see and react to things that are generally faster than a human body can ever get, you get a real appreciation for how inadequate the human body can be, and it's exact limitations. See, there's this little thing called 'twitch time'. It's how long it takes electricity in your neural synapses and the nerves in your appendages to talk to each other, giving you that wonderful little sensation called 'feel', and allowing you to move at all. Being human has it's variations. Some humans have a twitch time the relative speed of snails. Others have it so good that when you try that actually fairly accurate test of reaction time by dropping a ruler from barely above their fingers that they close their fingers before the ruler drops far enough to be touched, but after it begins to fall. People like me, Diana, Flash, and Superman all have it so much faster than those fast humans. But if this is 'Hippolyta', then she'd have a reaction time just as fast as Diana. Instead, it's slower, like she underwent an imperfect cloning procedure or is actually a simulacrum being controlled like a deadly toy car. Which meant that this was not Hippolyta at all. Or else it was, and it is a pitiful thing that should be put out of its misery.
Then the fact of exactly how Princess was in danger my her brain and I reacted as time resumed it's normal flow.
I sniffed the air, then exclaimed in my best Valley Girl voice, "EWWWW!! What is that smell?! A hippo?!" Not noticing the fact that every single being there paused while I sniffed, I continued my assault. "Eugh! An ugly hippo with a bad perm!"
Then I watched Hippolyta for her reaction. She stopped, rotated her stance to aim at her new target. "Didn't anyone tell you not to shower within 30 minutes of getting your perm?" And it was true in my opinion. This 'Hippolyta' had an exceptionally bad perm.
I observed my progress with satisfaction. 'Okay, good news, insulting her hair worked like a charm and Princess will survive. Bad news, you don't have a plan of how to stay alive and kill the bitch. And she's about to charge you.'
"Oh, crap." I turned and ran down the hall blindly, only really aware of the raging Amazon queen shouting her mutilative plans behind me.
The voice in my head spoke up again. 'Alright, since you forgot to plan ahead, it looks like I'm going to have to save you. Again. So turn left, pass three halls and turn right, then take a u-turn left. Got it?'
Since I didn't really have a choice, I just did what it said. I turned left, passed three hallways, turned right at the fourth, took the next branch (left), and then took the next left turn after that. When I realized it was a dead end, I started panicking. The Amazon wasn't far behind me. Damn she was fast.
'Open the door.'
I glanced right and saw a door. I wrenched it open and slammed it shut behind me. Hoping the door would hold, I glanced through the room and stopped. I had a glimmer of hope now.
My suit was there, right in the middle of the room, helmet off to the side.
The door clanged, and I glanced back long enough to see the huge dent caused by the clone's fist. I'd decided on calling her a clone. After that, I wasted no time in wriggling into the suit. It welcomed me like an old friend.
The door clanged again, the comparison between it and a gong coming right out of left field as I checked my suit over. Her third clang told me that even if I tried, I wouldn't be able to bring out any appropriate weapons in time, meaning that I would have to run.
There, in the corner, and air vent big enough to crawl through! I jumped at the chance, literally, and set my suit to 'stealth'. Soft, sound-reducing, and a complete secret I've kept from the family. I like the way I have it set up, especially since it acts like proper clothing like this. If proper clothing could change color, that is. My helmet was currently set up like a hood with eyeholes in it, and is lying on my back.
I crawled through the duct, glad that I made it out before she made it in, and set the armor to gray, matching my surroundings.
About a minute later, I fell through and slammed into the ground, hard. I groaned, resisted the urge to cough, and thanked my lucky stars that I'd made my armor of a sturdier material than most while I was asleep. Then I looked up and saw a black boot connected to a grey leg. Further up, I saw a yellow belt with a small black object hanging off of it. I got to my knees, grabbed it, and sped off, shouting, "Sorry, but I need this!"
I tested the edges as I ran, and decided that I approved. Only one edge was sharp, so it was good for knocking out, and also good for cutting when you throw it right. I put it in a pocket compartment in my armor and pulled a sword out of it's hiding place as I ran. It was one of two swords that I loved and always had on my suit at all times, though it usually looks like a part of the graphics. This one was my short sword, which was good for close-quarters fighting, and excellent for fighting indoors or when you're on a stealth mission and a bigger sword would be too bulky, obvious, or just too much of a hassle, and a knife just doesn't make the cut for the job.
Then I saw the clone's reflection in the wall as I came up to a turn, and time slowed. I ducked into a rolling crouch, barely missing her sword in the process. Then I turned around, pulled my stolen batarang from my pocket, aimed, and threw. The batarang flew, then connected, bouncing off of the front of her left big toe and into her right knee on the inside. The blunt force trauma was just enough to put her off balance, making her unable to make the turn and sending her into the wall, making a satisfactory Whump! She turned from the wall and towards me, completely unhurt, and completely livid beyond all vocal reason. She charged me and I swung my sword from my right side up and into her sword, then completed the circle by forcing the sword in her arm down. In the same motion, I had been preparing a spring to send the very hard heel into her temple, no matter how much taller she was. My foot connected right where I wanted and she stumbled off into the corner where I'd nearly lost my head. I wasn't the best fighter on Apok for nothing after all!
With her lying on the floor in a daze, struggling to get up, I decided to help out her state of consciousness a little by stomping on her wrist. Incidentally, once I put enough force into it, she let go of the frickin' sword, which was right before I slammed her head against the floor to knock her out. I scoffed, picked up the sword, and left, putting my sword back into it's place.
As I walked over to where Batman and the others were presumably waiting, I did a mental checklist of what I had on me. The boots still felt like they had more grip than a black hole on the ground. My armor was still solid, though the airtight seals could be questionable. The swords felt like they were there, as were my two holdout pistols and my emergency guns. The Maser was sitting there, trying to be unobtrusive in it's broken-down state. Poor thing. It's probably dead weight right now, but I'm still holding onto the hope that I can fix it, eventually.
... Nah, I'll probably just blow it up in the process. *shrug* Too bad, so sad.
I wonder how my helmet works at the moment? It's been cycles
since I've been able to try it out in 'stealth mode', and I could have messed with it in the meanwhile, or it could have broken spontaneously. Neither would surprise me. In fact, both have happened.
My musing was cut off when I bumped into the rather solid form of Superman. I shook my head to clear it and looked up at him. I tried to smile innocently. "I brought you a souvenir." I said brightly. He definitely wasn't buying my act.
"And how, exactly, did you get the souvenir in question?" He asked, one eyebrow raised.
I handed it to him (unless it was Batman that got it) as I thought. "It, wasn't that hard, actually. It was practically textbook in it's simplicity. I made her stumble into a wall to get her off balance and then when she tried an overhead slash to cleave me in two, I shoved her sword out of the way with my own one, which is currently strapped to my back and unusable by anyone else in this state, and snapped a kick to her temple by the time her sword-point hit the ground." I shrugged. "Textbook." I thought it a little further. "Okay, I may
have gone a little further than that to make sure she dropped it."
"How much further?" Suddenly, an image of Buffalo and her best male friend bearing down on Buffalo's sister after doing something she's not exactly supposed to do popped into my head. Wow, eerily similar.
I made a slight face. "Oh, not much really. Just stomped on her wrist to make it reflexively open, after a fashion, and then slammed her head into the floor to make sure that A) she'd stop screaming, B) she'd be unconscious for you, and harder to try to kill us that much faster, and C) to stop her pain while I went to get you guys." I shrugged. "Like I said, not much."
He raised his eyebrow, and I got the message loud and clear. 'We'll talk about this later, in detail.'
I gulped at the attention, and decided to make myself useful. "I'm going to go check on her and bring back the batarang I borrowed." I then left before he could comment. Wow, I really needed to get away from them. Any more of this and I'm going to go crazy! I'm even thinking
differently! Well, diction-wise anyway. Ah, well, it's been tough blending in to pre-set notions like this, but maybe Bats will help me stay out of the limelight.
I froze. Right intersection, wrong line. (Eh, well you take what you can get when you can't remember the real phrase.) The wrongness of it all had me freaked out.
'J'onn!' I thought very loudly in his direction. 'Yes?
' his thoughts in my head were startling at times, and we both knew just how rare for Martians to be able to connect on such a level as to be able to mindspeak like this, but I manage it easily with him, even to the extent I'm about to go. 'Put me through to the others!'
'What is it?
' Diana asked me as I picked up the Batarang.
'She's gone! I don't know how she got up so fast, but she's gone!'
'Are you sure it's the same intersection?
' Same ol' J'onn. Sniping at me without her being able to defend herself in a more physical way.
'Of course I'm sure!!! The Batarang was here but she wasn't!! Be on the lookout!'
I decided to pull up my hood to check it out. Better to know what you have ahead of time, even when the gear status checks are usually wrong anyway.
Only thing is, I hear Hal's cry of pain in my head before I can reach it.
'Lantern! Stay away from her!' Knowing how futile that slightly late piece of info was, I added to it. 'Run from her if you can, but try to lure her to the gym if you can't!'
After hearing his affirmation I broke into a flat out run, so glad that I'd had the opportunity (and want) to see the station from top to bottom, with the exception of the dangerous item vault rooms (which I gave my rather heated opinion of on being the bottom
ten floors! I mean, someone could sneak up on you, rip off those ten floors from the station, and take it with them, gaining access to all the most dangerous (and sometimes indestructible) items they wanted! I've seen it done before!). Knowing the layout gave me an advantage. I could fight the right way.
When I got to the gym, I grabbed a few weights from the rack, knowing Hal would be far too stubborn to simply run away from the Amazon. The weights were for when the Leaguers who didn't have super-strength wanted to work out (like Green Arrow and Black Canary). Then I made my way over to the door and listened. Soon after, I winced at a snapping sound. Lantern Boy's really getting a beating! I threw the first weight at the clone's head (and then used the corner as cover), smirking grimly when I heard the resounding thump. Then I leaned around the corner to send the second, heavier weight at the slightly stumbling clone-thing's head. It stumbled, then focused on me again, rage clear in the face marred by a slightly broken nose and, incidentally, about to charge. It was acting like an animal, like it didn't have any brains at all! More like a ring-less version of a Red Lantern than a person! Being the vicious little girl I am, I charged her a split-second before her and slightly faster.
And while she was good, I was better.
My tackle slammed her to the ground, but I guess someone forgot to tell her that I was heavy. This resulted in me being glad once again for the intense level of padding in this section of the sparring part of the gym. I rose quickly to my feet and glared at her. I think I might've growled at her, but the jury's still out on that one. She ran at me, more cautious this time, but I still made sure she got her hat handed to her. I ducked under her unimaginative haymaker and slammed an equally unimaginative uppercut into her jaw. After shaking the stars away, her next tactic was a kick usually reserved for breaking into someone's house through the front door. Sadly, it connected. I brought myself back to a crouch from where I'd slumped as she charged me again, and I used the extra power in moving from crouch to standing to launch myself into a front flip, kicking her in the face. I landed on my back and rolled into a crouch. I smiled. "Cat got your tongue?" I asked sweetly. Not sure why it came to me, but hey, why waste a perfect moment to gloat?
A green cage with a green cat standing guard materialized around her. I whipped my head to him and shouted. "Stay out of this Hal!"
Suddenly, a crash sounded as a large drip of blood came from his nose. I whipped my head over to the cage, and saw the cracks running through both the constructs from her strike.
I turned back to Hal. "RUN!!" I knew he wouldn't do it, but that didn't stop me from trying. Instead, I started running at the cage, ready to tackle her when the constructs failed.
I jumped, the constructs failed, and I slammed her into the ground. Then I grabbed her head and gave it a short twist. A bad taste formed in my mouth at the sickening snap, and I grimaced, but the taste didn't last for long. I paused, then put my head to her chest.
She was still breathing.
I ran over to the intercom. "Flash, get up here!"
A blur of red later, Flash was standing in front of me. "Yeah?" He asked.
"Get Hal down to the infirmary and then stay out of the way." I informed him coldly. "No one, and I mean no one
, gets to try to send an unkillable shell to kill my friends and win."
Flash looked confused at that, so I explained. "Once, during my travels, I encountered a violent humanoid species that tended to snap each others' necks. After 5 minutes there, I saw 10 different people get their necks snapped, and half of them get up 2 minutes later. I just snapped her" I pointed at where the clone should be, if she hasn't gotten up yet "neck, but she's still breathing, as if she were simply asleep or unconscious. So get Hal out of here before his death lies on my conscience!"
He gulped, unused to my more cold and commanding side, and did exactly as he was told. I turned around, and got slammed into the wall outside the gym by the clone. She grinned wickedly as she had me pinned and dazed.
"Well, looks like we have the little dark light." Her voice sounded like she was insane, kinda like that evil priest who took the eye of The One Who Sees. "Well, I guess she won't get to meet the white light, now will she?" She drew back a fist, ready to smash my head in, when I got my ducks in a row (and back in my head). I slammed my knee right between her legs, putting as much power as I had into the strike, and smirked as her fingers let go of my throat.
Well, for the split second until our heads knocked anyway.
We wobbled off away from each other, trying to get the world to stop spinning before the other one did.
I hit the ground, the world still making an excellent 'Stormy Seas' impression, and saw it. One of my magical shivs had left their compartment. I made my shaky crawling way over to it and gripped it. I slid it into my sleeve, handle first, and shook my head to clear it (useless and counterproductive because it just made my growing headache worse).
A second or two later, the world stopped spinning. I stood up, pushing aside the vertigo and dizziness I was dealing with, and ran at her clumsily. My head got a bit clearer when I was punched across the room. When I stopped sliding, I rolled, barely missing her foot trying to stomp me, moved into a crouch, and jumped back when she tried to hit me again. With me standing, I was ready for her next attack, consisting of a small flurry of punches that would've made Muhammed Ali cry with envy. I crouched and stuck out a leg as I turned around, sweeping her feet out from under her. When she tried to roll as I had, I pounced on her, wrapping my legs around her legs to keep her from getting up properly, and then pinned her on her next turn (after squashing me for a bit) so that her face was against the floor. I slid the shiv out from my sleeve, raised my hand, and slammed it into her body at an angle, slicing through the top of her spine at the bottom of her neck and straight into her heart. That oughta keep her dead. My smile of grim satisfaction was more like a grimace as I left her limp body to try to find the others.
As the adrenaline left my body, I started feeling the pain. I think I actually found an enemy that can bruise one of my bones! Only took me, like, a thousand years or something like that. I know it's been over a hundred.
As dazed as I was, I didn't know I had company until I bumped into something slightly less solid than a wall, but still damn solid. I backed up, blinked in confusion until it focused, and then hugged it. 'It' being Wonder Woman, she hugged me back as I started to cry.
If you're gonna yell at me for being so soft, so weak
, then I DON'T CARE! It's been a tough day, I actually had to kill someone after entering a 'No Kill Zone', and I'm just a kid! I know I'm not, technically, a kid, but I'm allowed to act my age, dammit! And besides, they've been treating me like a younger sister, and having people willing to treat me like this, it's, well, it's helped me heal in a way I just can't describe.
She held me close, rubbing my back. Then she gasped. "Is this blood?"
I tried to calm down enough to answer. I sniffled and said, "Did Flash tell you what I told him?" She shook her head. "I'd just snapped her neck to stop her from killing GL, because the mats were no better for knocking her out than the ceiling, and right after they left for the infirmary, she pinned me to the wall. I don't want to lose you guys." My crying picked right back up. I could always blame it on hormones later if I wanted to, but I loved the feeling of being held like this, Princess holding me like an older sister.
"Awww, so sweet. I'm almost touched to tears."
I turned around, rage filling my being at the mocking voice of the woman in front of me. I pressed myself against Princess as I yelled, "Well I guess no one told you that you're supposed to die when someone shoves a magical knife
through your neck and into your heart!"
'Where on the neck?
' J'onn telepathically asked in morbid curiosity as she looked thoughtful.
'Eighth vertebrae, bottom of the spine in the neck.' I thought back tersely.
"Is that what that was?" 'Hippolyta' asked the ceiling. She reached behind her, grabbed, and slowly slid it out. Attention Whore! I crouched down, preparing to leap as she shrugged and said, "Mmm, doesn't matter."
Then she, almost carelessly, threw the shiv straight at me. I unleashed the power I'd put into my legs, sending me and Princess backwards, avoiding the shiv by so close a margin that it actually slid across a vein right next to the tip of my nose.
"Diana, as soon as I get off of you, run. Don't argue, just run. She just wants me."
She smirked at me, like she was amused by me trying to keep her safe. "Well, since I'm feeling generous today, I thought I'd give you a little tip." Her smirk got a little bigger as she said, "When from beneath you it devours, The night will soon come. Dawn's light will find a way, and the apocalyptic slayer will return home."
I barked a laugh, trying to keep the hysterical edge from leaking out into my voice. "I guess you haven't heard then!"
She looked puzzled. "Heard what?"
"That Buffy killed, or at least majorly crippled, The First!" I really hope that some of it doesn't mean what I think it means.
Her confusion turned to amusement. "Who said I was talking about the first of anything?"
Oh, shit. Now I don't have any clue what the hell it meant. I fucking hate prophecies!
I did a half-front flip and charged 'Hippolyta', tackling her just like before. Unlike before, this time her feet were in the perfect spot to shove me by my butt into the hallway she'd just entered through. I'd only seen that particular move in one other place. It's called "Repulse the Monkey". I wonder how she knew that one, seeing as it was a piece of fiction.
By the time I'd gotten back to my feet, she was right next to me again. And, yes, it did take her that long to get to me because I'd actually flown that far. Given my unpreparedness, all I could do was defend. I hardened my armor from 'stealth' to 'Combat' and raised an arm to block her straight jab as if there was a shield on my arm. I cried out when it actually hurt, then focused on her hook. I dodged, and she slowly pressed her advantage until I was backed up against a wall. Then I slammed her with a body check, pushing off the wall like I was swimming to make it happen, and got ready for her to attack again. I put my hand on a reassuring grip and moved away from the wall, towards her. I checked my mental map of the section.
We were at a hairpin right if you go straight at it from the place where she'd mocked my crying. That reminds me. I still have the tear tracks on my face, and-
The shiv had embedded into the window. Judging from the burning feeling in my nose, it has a slight acid enchantment to it, which means that even if it somehow didn't crack the window on impact, it would be cracking now under the corrosive influences of the knife.
I put another shiv in my off hand, hoping to use it as a parrying dagger, though that's probably a useless gesture at the moment.
Of course, that depends on how we react to the pause in battle that has occurred over the past few seconds. Well, I'd say she got cranky, 'cause she's charging me again, and this time it will not be pretty if I don't manage to stop her.
I pulled the small hand cannon from it's holster and pulled the trigger. It went off with a boom, sending the two of us apart. when I hit the wall, I looked at it, annoyed, surprised, and feeling whiny. "This was my favorite- Ohcrap!" I ducked out of the way of the clone's punch. Something about the dent in the wall gave me a sneaking suspicion that I would've lost my head's cohesion if I hadn't ducked. (Translation: My head would be a red and pink smear on the wall if I hadn't ducked. Of course, I don't know what color my brains are, so it could've been green and tasted like Apokoliptian hen for all I knew!)
Then I was on the defensive again, trying to block her attacks, dodging when necessary, until she landed one on my face. Then all the emotions I'd ever had or held back came crashing through whatever bottle they'd been stored in, making me just a few steps away from being more enraged than a member of the Red Lantern Corps. If a Red Lantern ring showed up right then and there, saying I had capacity for great rage, I would not have been surprised.
I rammed a fist into her face hard enough to slam her into a wall. (I'm using slam a lot today, huh?) While she was disoriented, I put my helmet on and set it to airtight, slightly delayed.
"If you won't simply die, THEN I'LL MAKE YOU DIE!!" I grabbed her as my helmet slid shut with a bang, and then ran straight at the window with all the growing cracks in it. I jumped, sending us straight through, and somehow managed to grab the shiv and put it away before I reoriented us towards the spinning little mudball beneath us. I pushed the little thrusters on the bottom of my feet to push us at it until they sputtered out, along with every other bit of power. All I had left was a few minutes of air left. I shrugged, okay with it.
At least the bitch will finally die.
Hours later, Batman knocked on Wonder Woman's door. When she didn't respond, he came in anyway. She was crying. He turned and shut the door. Then he went over to her bed and sat next to her.
"Go 'way." She said weakly.
He shook his head. "There's something you need to know." He said softly. "It's nothing about any sort of message she'd want me to tell you in case of her death, so you actually have to pay attention."
After a few minutes, she sniffled and sighed. "Fine." She ground out sullenly. "I'll let you talk to me. But then you're gone, got it?"
He smiled and nodded. Then he pulled a small device from his utility belt. He put it in the center of the room on the floor, pressed the small button in the middle, and retreated back to the bed, making sure that she'd moved to watch.
A small hologram started playing. At first, nothing was seen. Then a door that hadn't been there opened and in came Diana wearing a plain red t-shirt and blue jeans. Then she stopped, looked back, and laughed, like there was nothing wrong with her at all. "Oh, come on Abby, don't be such a baby!"
"I'm not being a baby!" The voice of the Angel of Lorr came through clearly. She wasn't scared, but her voice was a clear whine. "But I don't want to!"
"Like I said, being a baby!" The Themiscyran said. "Now, come on! It's perfectly safe!"
The Angel's head popped into view, though she was hiding behind the door. She looked very worried. "Are you sure your courier service will actually work?"
Despite having her back to him, Bruce knew the hologram of Diana had her eyebrows raised. Ignoring the fact that he'd already seen it, he knew because he knew the Amazon that was laying on the bed next to him. "Of course I'm sure! Besides, I have a recording of what we're going to do right here." She held up a device identical to the one on the floor, but older. "I got it right after that stupid jump of yours."
She cringed. "You're never going to let me live that down, are you?"
Diana shook her head, clearly happy about her friend's predicament. "Nope. Now come on Abigail, you have to do this."
Annoyance and a long-suffering sigh plastered itself on her face along with defeat. "Fine, but I've told you before, it's Aberration. It says so on all of my papers. Except the ones saying Toni Stark."
Abby walked in, and Diana, the non-hologram version, gasped. The Angel of Lorr was taller, more muscled, and looking much more at home with herself (not to mention older) than what they'd seen only a few hours ago. She looked like she'd tried for sex appeal, and ended up with bad-ass but extremely cute. Black leather pants that looked like they'd been painted on almost, her large black leather duster half-covering a white t-shirt with bloody vampire fangs saying "BITE ME!"
"Take off the duster." Diana said.
Abby gave her a look. "No. I like my duster. It's comfy. Which is part of the reason Spike wore his no matter what the weather."
"Doesn't mean that you can get away with it." She held up the little piece of technology.
Abby narrowed her eyes at the hologram. "You're using a predestination paradox just so that I'll stop wearing my duster for five minutes."
Diana pretended to think, and then said, "Yeah."
"... I hate you right now, you know that right?" Abby said as she took off the duster. Then she paused, and a slow smile crossed her face. She glanced (presumably) at the camera, and then yelled "Think fast!" as she threw the duster at Diana, who toppled trying to adjust to suddenly having to catch something from five feet away. Abby laughed at her, a glow coming from her that could only come from a gentle sibling rivalry. When she'd calmed down a bit (which came a fair bit after Diana's good-natured grumblings of little girls with good aim), she asked, "So, what exactly are we here for again?"
"Well, after you took your little jump into space, Batman got a package. He showed it to the rest of the League, and then noticed that I wasn't there, so he came to my room and pressed play on it."
"And the package was this recording?" Abby asked skeptically.
Diana nodded. "Yep. It told me exactly what happened to you."
Abby looked around. "So, why are we doing this in S.T.A.R.R. Labs again?"
"Because it's close enough to your workplace to let you have some time off, and it's the closest place I could think of that would have that door." She pointed at the door.
Abby raised an eyebrow skeptically, but didn't comment on the door. "So, what should I say?"
"Just tell them what happened after you gave me the signal to run."
She nodded. "Well, after that we fought, then I pulled out my favorite handcannon, which exploded, and I haven't been able to replace it yet-"
"Off topic!" Diana stopped the babbling before it began in earnest.
"Right. After it exploded, she fought me back down the hall, and then all my rage and frustration exploded. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if a Red Lantern ring had shown up right there and then. I told her that if she wouldn't just simply die, I'd make her die, and that's what I did. I shoved us out into space, and sent us hurtling down through the atmosphere of Earth. I felt her disintegrate in my arms, giving me the grim satisfaction of knowing she'd died first. And then I freefell for awhile. It was fun to jump through the atmosphere, and I'd never done it before, but right at that second, maybe partly because I knew I didn't have anything resembling a parachute, I was bored. Nothing to do, nothing to see, and I didn't think I could make my armor change into anything that would let me glide, so I couldn't chose my location, not really. So I just fell. I hit the soggy ground of a riverbank and blacked out. A week later someone was nudging me awake, so I lifted the hat from my face and played the part of Bandit from the beginning of Smokey and the Bandit. Then I laughed at the faces the kids had on looking at me. Later that day, I found out that I was in Blüdhaven, that I had left a trail of destruction and chaos that had left my wallet mighty happy, once I'd bought it anyway, and that I'd left a legend in my wake. A mugger that only mugged muggers. Can you believe it?"
Diana shrugged. "By the way, have you remembered it yet?"
Abby gave a very long-suffering sigh. "I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'lltell
you, as in you'll be the first to know, exactly
when I remember killing a hydra!" She looked thoughtful. "When was I supposed to have killed it, again?"
"About 300 years ago."
"And I wouldn't have simply blacked out for an entire 4 month visit to Themiscyra, right?"
She shook her head. "Nope. I think your current record is blacking out for an entire week, which was directly after you hit the ground of Earth for the first time."
A midget-sized figure suddenly popped into existence. "Is it done yet?" He asked, slightly aggrieved.
Abby looked right at him, eyebrows raised. "That's
your courier service? Mr. Mxyzptlk?"
He looked surprised as he looked at her. "I don't believe we've been introduced, young lady. Would you mind telling me how you know of me?"
She gave him an annoyed smirk. "Oh, I mind it about as much as you trying to read my mind without permission. So just take the recording and buzz off before I feel like slapping you. And besides, your wife is probably waiting." The threat was clear in her voice.
He gulped. "Okay."
The holographic message ended.
They sat in a stunned silence. Bruce was still stunned Abby had managed to intimidate Mr. Mxyzptlk that quickly after being introduced, and Diana was doubly stunned from that fresh bit of news, and the news that she'd survived.
Then the amazement and the joy broke through her shock, and Bruce was pinned with a hug that threatened to crush his bones.
Wow, really long, I know! And, written and posted within 7 days! It may have been a scene I've been working over in my mind a lot, but WOW! It's amazing that I managed two chapters this fast!
So then, my faithful readers (however few or many you may be), please tell me what you think. I worked really hard to get this right, and I love the way it's turned out. A few bits were hard, but it wasn't nearly Writer's Block after Writer's Block after Writer's Block like most of my chapters end up being.
Here's hoping I can get my next chapter out soon!