Batman: Lately I can count the number of things going right in my world on one hand. It has seemed like a never ending streak of the worst luck possible. League of Assassins come to Gotham. Joker goes on an even more insane spree than normal. Bruce died. Don’t forget that the entire mess with the Cave, between it turning against us and being infiltrated while that happened. At this point keeping track of the things going right in my world are a lot easier than things going wrong. At least Barbara is back. I’m going to hang my cowl on that for the time being.

It’s almost reassuring to know that I’m not the only one having that sort of time of life lately.

Shiera thought she was alone, but ‘Batman’ has a way of sneaking up on people. The apartment is in only slightly better shape than her House is. Though I think that has more to do with the lack of a full scale war happening on the front lawn. Damien and I being there tipped the scales in the girl’s favor, whether she likes to acknowledge that or not. She wouldn’t have known they were coming, for one. Nor been able to take them all, by herself, for another. Clearly Carter hadn’t, which is plain to see even for an untrained eye. Yes, he put up a fight, but the numbers game was simply too much of a factor.

“Same squad that attacked you,” I’m just confirming what she already knows of course, but I’m trying to establish something here. “They’re called several things, but the moniker they use most is the Suicide Squad. Officially speaking they’re a rogue group of mercenaries that work off the books for whatever government pays them. Unofficially they’re a select number of meta-humans that the U.S. Government employs to look like Mercenaries. Most of their number are criminals, plucked from society and sentenced to long term imprisonment for their crimes. They’re given years off their sentences for work in this black books group.”

“As I was trying to tell you before. They’re not necessarily after you. They want your weapons. The business on the news. This War in Kahndaq, that’s ground to a stalemate? It started because they raided Kahndaq for the metal you and Carter are using for your weapons. I was approaching you, because you seemed like the reasonable one.”

Shiera: Better or worse is subjective, as far as the apartment is concerned. No, there’s no current war on the lawn, or lack thereof, but it looks like the site of a battle that’s happened, and then moved on. Neither one of us actually lives here, but it serves as a crash pad on occasion and storage if nothing else. More or less the summary of all the property that belongs to one or the other of us, or to one of our prior incarnations that we can lay claim to through a line of inheritance. They also function as alternate identities.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have simply bailed on someone that was trying to help me, as I realized the two not actively trying to stuff me into a van had been, but Carter needed me or else he would have probably already been home. By the time I’d arrived at the downtown apartment there was no sign of him. Except maybe the blood splatter that I had my fingertips hovering millimeters over when I’m interrupted. Maybe it’s not his, but I have to assume at least some of the carnage across the front room had to have been.

The wings weren’t out when he came in, but the moment I hear a noise, or a voice in this case they appear. Not quite instantaneous, but still very quickly and in a much less defensive posture than I’d arched them in the house.

“Ordinarily, you’d be right.”

Carter’s many things, but chief among them is hot headed. He would have taken someone walking in unannounced as a threat. Or even announced, depending on posture and discussion. I just don’t know how reasonable I feel right now. I’d listened though, instead of attacking, though the wings are still folded down my back as I leave the smear of blood and stoop to shuffle around torn and littered papers on the floor. The desk is still mostly intact, if they were looking for something as he says, I guess it makes sense that they’d turn the place upside down. Sloppily, there couldn’t have been much time.

“There’s no getting them without getting us, I don’t think. At least not these. Why now?”

Maybe someone is more informed than I am, though at the mention of Khandaq a look of surprise and recognition had flown across my face. I’ll never be a person at this point who can insist there’s not a reason and a timing behind everything.

Batman: The ‘crime scene’ is such that I’m pretty sure even Damien could tell what had happened here. They were here first and were searching through Carter’s apartment, turned storage flat, for the loot they were after. Carter Hall was either alerted to it or happened upon it. The damage to this place is extensive, but not nearly as wide-spread as what was done to the home these two ‘Live In.’ Confined as it, I’d deduce that the Squad here simply overcame Carter through an extreme use of tranquilizers. Which is what they’d been aiming at Shiera, until Damien went kam-fuckin-kaza on them.

“Despite my many … misgivings… about Kahndaq’s dictator slash champion, Black Adam has been very adept at keeping the secrets of his homeland exactly that; a secret. I suspect that someone has been aware of the Metal’s existence for a long time. Personally, I can tell you that elements of the United States have been aware of it since the nineteen forties. However believe in the mystical side of our world was looked upon with a scant eye, even with people faster than speeding bullets or leaping small buildings and whatnot. Recently that has changed in America, I would propose the same could be said for elsewhere in the world.”

“Regardless of whether the knowledge of and interest in things of a mystical bent, I believe that the answer of ‘Why now’ is actually tied to the Alien origins, rather their mystical properties. It is my current hypothesis that Nth metal is being targeted currently because of what it can do, more so than what it is or where it comes from. If you’re after specifics? I’m talking about killing people like Black Adam, for good.”

“Which brings me to right now and something you just said,” the Batman doesn’t need to move or use gestures to make a point, so when I actually do it’s to simply highlight something. Right now, I’m reaching out from beneath the cape of mine to point at her Wings very pointedly. “You said they don’t get those without you, that may be true but once they have you do they need to keep you to keep them?”

“Personally, having seen you fight. I’d remove the you part from the Metal. If you want to find Carter Hall, we need to move very quickly. The tracker that I put on those men who attacked your House, won’t stay undetected for ever.”

Shiera: Of the two of us, Carter and myself, I am infinitely less impulsive but at the moment I’m finding it very hard to stay still. Agitation could probably be excused given the circumstances, however, if I actually felt the need to explain myself. Which I do not. As I listen to Batman’s explanation, I’m moving through the apartment, picking up a fringed and beaded dress with a little more reverence and care than I’d shown the papers I was rifling through, and trying to find the remnants of the garment bag it had been preserved in before the intruders had arrived.

“Nth metal. Yes.”

The word’s right, and falls into place in my head like a weight, or maybe more correctly the last tumbler on a lock and I look a little far away before gritting my teeth and turning from the dismantled closet to face him again.

“If they were just after the base material… no. I suppose not.”

We’ve never been sure if the metal. The Nth metal. Functioned as it did for us, because it is us or if that’s what it could do for anyone. If maybe our minds made the shapes, rather than just controlling their actions. But the salient and immediate point is that the harnesses, which make up the wings and armor, aren’t exactly removable like a coat, and I rather doubt anyone would live through the experience once it’s been fused.

Another reason to hurry.

“Lets go.”

There’s really not much more to it than that, is there? Yes, I have more questions but priorities say they can wait.

Batman: “They’re definitely after the base metal,” this is another point that I really don’t have to argue with her about, one of the few points I happen to know for certain. “Put frankly, they wouldn’t have even known about the wings, if you’d have come with me originally. They just knew about Carter’s theft from the Museum in Cairo. The Mace. Maybe some other trinkets. The moment you brought those out…”

No, I’m not actually placing blame. Not on Carter or Shiera at least. Had Damien not shown up, had things gone differently, perhaps we could have lead the Squad astray with some bauble of metal. That is now how the cards were played though and now this is what we have to deal with. Clean up, in fact. Which is why I’m equally accepting of Shiera’s transition to accepting my help this time around. Bruce was always right about this, he’d taught me long ago that if you present people with the proper case -and- demonstrate it’s veracity through your own actions, the truth wins out. I fought to help her, I’ve presented a case that is free of my own opinions (as much as I can) and allows her to draw her own. Now she believes me, at least enough to take the next step.

Not a word is spoken to Shiera, just a touch of my cowl at about ear-level. Then a swirling blue-white glimmer appeared in the open space behind me in the shadows. How had I gotten here? How had I snuck up on her during a state of heightened anxiety? The answer appears in one of Zatanna’s magical portals. Through which we step directly in to more shadows. Only these are in a much bigger place. A hangar to be precise. One that is currently filled with men and women in uniform that work towards one purpose: Loading Carter on to a private cargo plane. Hard to miss the carter-sized stasis pod being loaded in the giant bay doors by soldiers. Even harder to miss the problem between us and them: Suicide Squad members, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot and a caldre of soldiers that are all being directed by a very large, scary looking guy in soldier garb of his own.

The portal put us in the shadows, behind cargo containers and near the furthest reach of the hangar. “We need to disable the plane, release Carter and get then evac. The longer we stay the more out numbered we’re going to get. I’ve arranged for a distraction, but it’s not going to buy us much, if any, time once they see you again.”

“Since he’s your asset, we can do this your way if you’ve got an idea. Alternatively… I can call in my distraction, and I’ll cover for you, either way, you’ll need to get back to this exact point to catch the portal out of here.”

Shiera: There’s no small amount of my head that wants to explore that point further. What do they want to do with it? Something just as simple as killing the equivalent of a god on this Earth? There’s more to the metal than that, and possibly even more than we know still beyond. The connection that’s driven us to find these pieces, and the blanks that have been filled in when we have. Carter’s experienced that more than I have, but the piece that’s currently attached to my body had been a part of me before. The missing time that had slid into place like putting on a glove. We knew there was more of them. We’d actually been preparing another little ‘excursion’ before the attacks today, it’s why Carter had been in this apartment at all. Preparing. I’d done the grave robbing in London solo, but this time we’d intended to go together.

There’s nothing that I need from this apartment, not now at least, and there’s almost a sort of recognition beneath my skin as the portal springs up. I don’t think he’s the one that made it, the man doesn’t exactly scream ‘magic’ so much as skulking unholy terror if you’re on the wrong side of him. Which I suppose is its own different kind of magic. No chatter, just purposeful steps, which shift onto my toes into something more akin to sneaking as we slide into the shadows. I don’t hiss, so much as bare teeth and make myself breathe slowly as I watch what’s going on in front of us.

“I’m going to tell him you said that, after. He’ll love it.”

The dry sarcasm doesn’t last long, mostly because there’s something a lot more important at hand. Like not simply doing the equivalent of handing over more of exactly what they were after in the first place. There’s a shake of my red head, as I ease back on my heels.

“Once upon a time, battle tactics was my thing, but I’m probably a little rusty.”

The plane would seem like a priority to me. Otherwise they just take off with half the prize, and then deal with the rest of the problem. So the order he’s already listed should work. I have no idea what shape Carter’s in, but if he’s even have conscious he’ll probably become a very aggressive problem for them once he’s freed. Probably would like this plan, too. Smash. Grab. Bolt.

“Do it. I’m ready as I’m likely to be. I should be able to shred the plane’s engines on the way in.”

The wings don’t just work wonders on skin, after all.

Batman: A very direct nod of the cowled head is her response, I’m already keying the microphone, “Penny-One, bring the thunder.”

Very good, Sir. I must say, flying a drone is simply not as fun as the real McCoy, but I do quite enjoy the thrill of the hunt so-to-speak.

“We really need to get you our more, Penny-One,” the shake of my head in response to the voice in my ear is quite different than the one Shiera had gotten only moments before. A small ear-plug is offered to Shiera, as I’m stepping past her once more. “Wait for it. You’ll know what you’re waiting for.”

She won’t need to wait long actually. I’m dipping in to those shadows with a flutter of that cape she’d been admiring. Concealing myself in those shadows is something I do very well. Being Batman isn’t exactly what I wanted to do my whole life, but I definitely learned to love being able to blend in as Nightwing. It’s something that the Robins never get to do. Ever wonder why very few people are ever shooting directly at Batman? Your answer is the little Boys next to him in Bright Red and Yellow. Targets. Moving, Talking, Sassing, Smart Alleck, Targets. Look no one that knows Bruce would call him a saint, but he is right more often than not.

Que the Distraction. It comes in very simple terms. Taking the form of a Bat-Drone. Piloted by none other than Sir Alfred Pennyworth. It comes in hot and loaded. The attack is without warning and you betcha it makes for a brilliant distraction. With the air fire coming at the mouth of the open hangar, it pins the soldiers in with them naturally thinking that they are fighting this surprise battle on a single front. In front of them, since there was no natural way for someone to be attacking them from behind.

As Shiera does whatever it is she has in mind to ‘deal with the plane,’ she’ll no doubt have a good vantage point from above. Allowing her to see several little glimmers as I launch numerous batarangs out of the shadows. One specifically aimed at Deadshot‘s back. Hey, a fight has a winner and a loser. Hitting someone in the back, while they’re distracted? Assures us of not being drug in to a protracted battle with the deadliest man in the room immediately. The second hits the floor right next to the flashy Captain Boomerang. The two batarangs explode the second they make impact and Shiera will see a spray of taser wire envelope the two jerks.

That leaves a throng of soldiers and that massive one that was directing traffic. “Boomerang is down. Deadshot’s suit is insulated, it will absorb most of that. We’ve got maybe a minute before he joins the action.”

Shiera: Penny-One? Somehow it seems like an incongruous call sign, because I assume he’s speaking to someone and not himself. The sanity of anyone dressing up like a bat and skulking through portals and shadows might be questionable to many people, but I’m simply not one of them. It would be a hair hypocritical, even before you factor in what I still feel to be moments of my own mental instability. It actually got worse after finding the Nth metal that makes up my wings, but I had more memories and more lifetimes to contend with. There’s an almost terse nod of my head, as I take the offered plug and fit it into my ear.

It’s one thing to fight in response, to react to a situation as it rises around you with no other choice. I’m finding it’s another matter entirely to go in like this. To proactively attack. I’m not, in this lifetime, the one that used to be Kendra Saunders, a trained fighter. So what I have to go on is a sort of muscle memory and so far it’s served me fine, but I also know there’s the possibility that it won’t. I haven’t really taken the time to study and practice because there just hasn’t been any. Time. If we can reasonably expect to have people continue to come after us though…

It happens fast, and it happens loudly. The sound of the attack amplified in the enclosed space, bouncing off the walls and drowning it in distracting cacophony of shouts and fire. Everyone seems to be looking towards that, or maybe some stray ones towards the suddenly down members of the Suicide Squad, which hopefully means no one will be looking at me. Or firing on me, as I launch myself into the air. I don’t fly nearly as quickly as some of the costumed superheroes you see on the news seem to, but in an enclosed space like this and over a short distance there’s probably not much discernible difference.

I land on the wing of the plane, it should shield me from view at least in part, while I curve my wings downwards and then twist, driving lethal pinions into the metal beneath me. Testing mundane material against the Nth metal’s magic. I’d briefly thought about going for the engine, but I’d have to likely destroy multiple and I think it might still be capable of motion without one. You cannot fly with a broken wing.

Batman: From Shiera’s vantage point it is not that difficult to see Captain Boomerang. He had taken up station near the loading pylons, where I’d pointed her as soon as we arrived. His colorful suit makes him stand out normally, but right now the volts coursing through him that make him do this weird dance as he jitterbugs across the floor? That’ll probably give Shiera all the real view she needs to know that at least one of the creeps she fought at her Home is out of action. If she scans up near the doorway, where Deadshot took a sniper’s position in order to shoot down the drone Penny-One is piloting? She’ll see that he’s similarly down too, but she didn’t need visual confirmation. I’d already told her these important details. It just depends on if she trusts me enough to not waist that time.

Nothing actually stops her from perching on the plane, because nothing actually noticed her. Most of the soldiers had been focused outside the Hangar. Deadshot‘s choice of vantages took him out of the line of sight from those in front of him. It’s only Captain Boomerang‘s going down like a sack of potatoes that raises any red flags. The men nearest Carter’s little pod react immediately to raise the alarm, but again… not to call out about a bird-lady flying above them.

The reaction to Shiera comes after the sound of metal on metal shrieking gives the Mercenaries somewhere to look other than outside. Nth metal isn’t just naturally stronger than the plane’s aerospace engineered carbon-aluminum. It also happens to get a little bump from being magical too. Shredding through the plane’s wing takes only seconds, creating massive damage that will definitely cause them issues in taking off.

What’s more is that as she’s doing this, Shiera does for me what Alfred had done before. In her destruction of the wing, she’s become a distraction. The men who were working with Captain Boomerang are quick to use Carter’s containment pod as cover. Equally quick are they to start taking aim at her, their training tells them that there is only one reason for a Hawk Lady to be attacking them as they’re loading a Hawk Dude up for incarceration. Let’s be honest, they’re not stupid. She won’t do anything massively destructive, not when they’re putting the object Hawk Lady is there to save.

They do not, however, know about the Batman. I’ve been doing this a very long time and working with a team mate is literally how I grew up. The moment their attention is stolen, I take advantage of it. Leaping from atop a row of cargo containers, the ‘Batman’ descends upon them like a Hawk himself. Only I don’t have any shiny metal appendages to give myself away. The nearest one is down before his brain puts together the feel of a boot at the back of his head, being the reason for his face suddenly accelerating in the pod itself. It’s actually that man’s rifle that strikes the one to the left, just under the left knee with the sound of a crack that is almost as loud as the gun-fire. Before he’s finished screaming, alerting the others, a grapple shoots from beneath the cape in to the man on the third of the four corners. He’s pulled so suddenly that his rifle sprays bullets harmlessly over Shiera’s head.

It’s the fourth of the mercenaries that has the unfortunate luck of being the last in line. Leaving me the least amount of time to neutralize before raising anymore of an alarm that has already been caused. A swift tug of the grappling hook, jerks Merc #3 around and against the Pod itself. The kinetic force of which is used similarly to a sling shot, allowing me to springboard up, once more over the pod and give Merc #4 a different target. His rifle sounds a number of shots as they spray wildly up at the shadowed visage of the giant bat in the air. His scream is cut short by a a kick driving his teeth together with another resounding crack, that is followed by the cape and bat enveloping him. When I rise from the fourth Merc’s body, he’s clearly not getting back up either.

Unfortunately while satisfying and decisive, the interior gunshots have drawn the attention of the only other Soldier that really stood out. The unknown soldier isn’t someone you’d have seen on the news. He is only someone you recognize if you’ve done something so wrong he’s come to you as a nightmare. The literal boogeyman of the spook world. The moment we have his attention our comm-links go live,

Bloody ‘Ell, get the fook out o’ there, that’s Rick Flag.

Honestly? I shoot Shiera a little look and a shrug. Because I haven’t a clue who Penny-One is going on about myself, but I know better than to doubt Alfred when he’s going on about someone like this. Add in the fact that Deadshot should be rousing any second now. I go right to work on the locking mechanism.

“Shiera, buy me thirty seconds and I’ll get Carter out of this,” because as much as I’d love to have her use those wings on this Pod, something tells me if it was that easy to shred like the plane had been then they wouldn’t think they were safe storing Carter inside of it to begin with.

Rick Flag doesn’t have super powers. Not really. He’s a lot more like me than he is like these Hawk people. The difference is? The man’s a lot more like Bruce, with an actual super-powered gift of somehow getting other soldier-types to buy in to his decision making. Which is to say that moment he caught on to Shiera and I being here? He started to martial the troops away from Alfred’s distraction. So we’re not looking at one simple Soldier. We’re looking at all of them, being commanded by Flag to start focusing on us. He’s going to try to pin us down, neutralize us long enough for Deadshot to get back in the fight.

Shiera: At my home, they’d said they needed me alive. With how little time’s passed, I’d assume that’s still the case and that makes me just that little extra dash of brave in how I proceed. Not so brave that I think there may not be a sliding scale of how much they want/need me compared to how much trouble and destruction I’m causing, particularly since they already have Carter in custody for the moment. A body can also take a great deal of damage and still be technically living, as well. Consequently, I don’t risk standing still and testing how far I can go. I’ve no sooner destroyed one wing, then I’m moving again and rather unnecessarily using my wings to boost me up further onto the top of the fuselage and punching rows of holes in it as I go.

I don’t know who the voice in my ear is, other than the moniker ‘Penny-One’, or know what qualifications he has to need listening to, and the name ‘Rick Flag’ doesn’t mean anything to me. When you’re in the middle of a fight, and someone says something like that, however… there’s an answering shrug of my shoulders before I hop down the other side of the plane, continuing to drag and shred with my wings. Disable the plane. Retrieve Carter. Get back to Point A. And now, buy the Batman 30 seconds so he can accomplish bullet point number two.

We’ve got what I have to assume is an advantage that our opposition is coming from in front, if this weren’t a hanger maybe we could even bottleneck them. But it is, so I need a wider attack to keep an entire group of soldiers from interfering with Batman’s current task. That starts with a spin, pivoting on my feet and flinging out a wing which dislodges a salvo of razor feathers. A twist in the opposite direction does it again. I’m not necessarily trying to hit anyone but after what I’d just done to their plane, I’m hoping the soldiers may have the good sense to try to avoid being skewered.

Batman: If only we had someone that was an expert in Hacker-work. This would be an opportune time for that person to be tasked with doing this work for us. If only. Instead what we’ve got is the fourth best computer in the Bat Family at this stuff, having to do it on site. While having eleven different soldiers taking aim and one of those happens to be someone that scared the piss out of Alfred from long-distance. Score one for improvisational battle-planning, Dick. I’m so good at this.

Truth be told, I’d actually be impressed. Genuinely. If I were even looking up to give witness to Shiera’s awesomeness. Whether it’s some sort of inner mechanic of a past life coming out in the heat of battle or what, when I do look up it’s only because of Alfred once again making a noise over the comm-link. This one sounds a lot like a gasp-guffaw, that I’d only heard when someone managed to get Damien to do something kind and generous. The kid just isn’t wired that way.

There was eleven hostiles at the Hangar doors. One of which was Rick Flag himself. Not counting either of the two temporarily downed members of the Suicide Squad. When I look up from my work using my costume’s fiber-optic connections to wire in to the containment pod? I see a litany of them being drug back in to cover by their squad-mates. The front of the Hangar looks like a bomb went off. Silvery shrapnel is literally everywhere the eye can see.


The compliment comes in concert, as Alfred chimes in at the same time. She essentially did exactly what I asked, by buying me time and sending the entire squad floundering for cover. The -problem- with that, is that they were already behind cover. It just happened to be facing out, while the attack was from within. Shiera’s aim might have benefited from Alfred’s earlier distraction, but the attack she made was just short of impossible. Half of Rick Flag‘s squad is down and Flag himself is caught right across the left eye with one of those feathers.

Flag is absolutely not an idiot like a good number of confetti bad guys. He might just be the deadliest person in the room on any given day. Despite half of his troops being taken out in a single swoop of her wings, he’s already moving on to a new plan. His men aren’t going to be an easy target like that again. They’re busy pulling themselves inside the doors, so that Alfred’s drone can’t attack them, while also using their own men to cover against Shiera too. From their vantage points they bunker down and start spraying bullets everywhere.

Seems rather silly. Unless you consider the one thing I said about a minute ago. Something that Flag has already did the math on too. He only needs to delay us long enough for Deadshot to get on his feet. Which happens to be something that the man is working on right now.

Luckily for Shiera and Carter? I don’t have to hack anything trickier than a door, because this would all be going sideways fast. A click, followed by a hisssssss of pressurized air being released is the sound you only want to hear when you’re talking about a door unlocking. Once the pod unseals, it’s time to go and by go? I mean…one hand is literally grabbing Carter Hall a shoulder and the other is dispersing gas pellets out all around me. They’re shooting indescriminately, but Deadshot won’t be once he’s in the fight. So I need him to not have me or the large Hawk Man as potential targets.

“Don’t inhale the pellets. It’s mercantile gas. Throws off heat tracking. Get to the evac point. We’re leaving.”

Shiera: From an emotional point of view, it should perhaps bother me exactly how effective that actually was. It doesn’t, because it needed to be done, and this is a them or us situation. With the way the bullets have started to spray they wouldn’t probably have shed a tear, because I’ve very likely now pushed into the ‘forget alive’ category. Logically, though, I don’t need to add a heaping death tally on top of the reason they already want us. That’s why the first two flurries aren’t followed up by even more, despite my having plenty more Nth metal crafted feathers where that came from.

“And clearly pretty effective, too.”

The explosion of deadly metal doesn’t simply stay in place, either. I’m not about to give them any of what they came here for, if I can help it. It’s magic, and for whatever reason it’s linked to, and almost behaves like, an extension of my soul. As the soldiers retreat from the next attack that should be coming from flared metal wings, instead the quills that had been flung at them before fly through the air once more. Reversed, and back into place. I could do it all again, but now they’re firing indiscriminately and I don’t want to test how many I can deflect or avoid. It isn’t just me here being shot at.

I may not hear the hiss of the door releasing over everything else that’s going on in the hanger right now, but it’s an easy assumption to make that he’s completed that particular task. Otherwise I assume we wouldn’t be going yet. How long has it been? He said we had a minute. It must be near to that by now. I take to the air again, just not moving as quickly this time because I don’t want to leave them behind. In the air, bullets sprayed towards me won’t also be sprayed at Batman, and Carter.

“I can carry you both…”

I don’t though, I’m used to one man with a very prickly sort of prideful disposition. Gods know I don’t need to alienate another one, but the offer’s still out there in case something happens. I can retreat to where we came from at the same time either way.

Batman: This isn’t actually your standard type of retreat, but then nothing about this has been standard has it? Normally a retreat involves simply making a rush for your evacuation point, but we don’t want to do anything in a straight line. All we need is to give Deadshot something to lock in on and he’ll have a shot. What actually happens is more of a zig-zag pattern. One that doesn’t give Shiera an answer right away.

Not until we’re behind the cargo containers like before. Despite the gunshots I can hear (thank you sensory enhancement tech in the suit) Flag barking orders. The men that weren’t injured are being pooled in to three teams. Two teams of two are sent searching for us, with the third team being put on rescue duty for the men that are down. So far I’m not hearing anything about fatalities but I’m not exactly sure how much Shiera cared about that, having seen what she did with those wings.

If our method of escape was anything but the instantaneous pull of a magic portal? I don’t think this would end as well as it’s gone up to this point. I’m also not sure what pandora’s box we’ve opened by utilizing magic like this. But I’m rationalizing now, as I had before, this Nth metal is considered magic by most of our world. These people who involved normal non-magic faring people like myself in this, opened the door. I’m merely making use of the tools at my disposal. Yeah, it sounds like bullshit in my head too.

The very moment that we’re through the portal, this time, Shiera is getting the chance to meet someone new. “Shiera, this is Alfred Pennyworth and Helena Sandsmark. They’re going to take Carter and put him back together again. You’re welcome to stay with him. You’re safe for the time being. Flag is going to put my presence in that skirmish together with the one at your home. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is very logically going to make me their biggest clue to finding you. They’ll start with Gotham.”

“Which is why I brought you here. To Coast City. Welcome to Titan Tower, Shiera you’re our first visitor. Please do me a favor and once Carter is awake, keep him from breaking anything. We’ve not yet even had an opportunity to christen the place.”

You might actually call the look on my face a little bit smug. It just has nothing to do with the lavish Titan Tower, because really the place is only half-built and partially functional. This look? Is directly in response to the look on Shiera’s face when Helena Sandsmark scoops Carter Hall up with one arm and maneuvers him toward the half-functional medical facility. While Alfred Pennyworth starts working field medic magic on Carter. Neither of them seem the least bit phased by any of this.

“Oh, don’t worry. She can carry you both, if you’re feeling faint.” Yeah and -that- look on Shiera’s face is the same one I had when she made the same offer in the Hangar. Smirk.

Shiera: No small part of me had wanted to simply grab hold of both men and get us where we were going faster, but I’m fortunately capable of letting other people do for themselves. As it turns out, there was no need for me to hurry us along regardless, and I’d spent the very brief time getting myself back to the entrance, while keeping a hawk’s eye out for any pressing danger to my impromptu companion or Carter. It’s a distraction I actually appreciate more than maybe I should, given the situation.

As abruptly as we arrived, we’re gone. I’ll marvel at the amount of destruction and chaos caused in a very short time later. Wherever we are now has my immediate attention, the people more than the setting.

“Ah. Penny-One. A pleasure. Thank you for your help.”

In advance, and maybe a little terse but its still a thanks. Seemingly out of immediate danger, I have more focus available, and less adrenaline, to see me through actually looking over Carter. It’s never a pleasant thing to see someone you care about so still, but I’m finding it even harder right now. Tamping down my panic, I tear green eyes away from them and back to Batman. I’ve seen him die far too many times to want to experience it again so soon after we’d found each other once more. Or at all.

I let out a tired wuff of air that could be a laugh, or maybe a resigned sigh.

“I’ll do my best, but smashing is terribly second nature for him.”

My head tilts to one side and my answer had become almost absentminded as I watch Helena move the bulk that is my other half.

“Mmn. I should hope so. I don’t weigh that much.”

It’s been months and months since I felt like I wasn’t the strangest character in a room. There’s a sort of… ease of tension I hadn’t been aware of in finding I’m not the most interesting anymore. Or maybe it’s just the lethargy following what feels like days of violence and stress.