The Iceberg Lounge

Tim: Yesterday was a pretty terrible day in the life of being a Hero. Not just in Gotham, but everywhere. My friends have had it rough of late. Damien’s mother is being held hostage by the Clown Prince of Crime. Dinah’s ex was actually arrested and taken to a Black Site somewhere. Cassie and my super friends were off battling for their lives with Isis, the Egyptian Goddess. While some things played out in to happier endings that they began with? Not everything went well. Damien had killed again. Only this time it wasn’t going to be so easy for him to wash the blood off of his hands. This time, he needs help. Real help.

Which brings me here. So on the list of things in my life that I never thought I’d get to do? This is one of them. Taking an expensive luxury yacht out on to the Bay? I’ve done that before, but tonight’s company is a little different. Guys, let me tell you something. Black Canary might kick your ass in under three seconds. She might break your bones. Grind them in to dust. Snuff it up and spit you out again. But she sure cleans up well. Hot Damn. When I’d told Alfred to find her something appropriate to wear. Something that she’d still have a lot of free movement? Well, I just hadn’t thought he’d put her in something right out of a James Bond movie. The entire boat-ride out, I’d had nothing but trouble focusing on my computers. I’ve never seen a dress with the cut in the legs going up so high.

Are those stilettos? Gulp! It had taken at least three attempts to put the little micro-ear piece in place, because Canary’s boobs are at least six inches higher than normal. Which puts them right about… Hominahominahomina. One can only be so grateful for Alfred’s bone ass elbows and their precision strikes to kidneys at just the right time to stop a fellow from drooling. Because. Wow. I decided not to even try to helping her find a place from the telescoping quarter staff. I felt it was better for my ego not to even make that attempt and trip on my own feet, because I can’t excuse that with ‘the ears’ being too tall or the cape being too long.

By the time we arrive at the Iceberg lounge, they’re expecting us. No. That’s not quite right. They’re expecting me. Son of Bruce Wayne. Who’s being escorted by a veritable flock of birds. Each one as beautiful as Dinah Lance. I don’t even know where Alfred found them, but he muttered something about the being ‘Lucky’ that the ‘Royal Family’ had a showing in the area. I’m not even sure who that is, but I’m sure happy that Alfred seems to know everything, because they complete the ensemble. Getting the Wealthiest Son of the Wealthiest Family in the door. Giving Dinah a cover to getting past the first and arguably best part of the Iceberg’s defense.

Once we’re past the checkpoints, with the guards who are too busy oogling the girls to worry about the rich kid who brought them? It’s on to the actual Casino. Where I can deploy my cufflink drones and with a tap upon the corner of my needless reading glasses? I’m going to have eyes in the sky, everywhere. As with any Casino, once you’re inside if you’re going to gamble? You need a line of credit. Luckily for the Rich People, we don’t have to wait in line. We get taken on tours. We get shown around and all the leg work is done for us. You guessed it. I’m the distraction.

Penny-One’s calm, melodious voice is ever reassuring in their ears. ::Drones are in place, Ms. Lance. Interfacing with the security system now. Wait for Master Timothy to make a show of his checkbook. And… now. You’re free to break away from the group.::

Dinah: I’ve had a whole day to get over being nearly blown up/crashed into by a Batplane and past a whole lot of drinking. It’s much more than I need. If anything, a good near death experience has a tendency to get me all fired up for another one in rapid order. I suppose depending upon how this goes it may qualify. If you want a measuring stick of exactly how seriously I’m taking tonight’s task, however? Point A. I’d not only allowed someone else to pick out clothes for me, but agreed to wear a dress in the first place. Point B. There’d been minimal grousing (and what there was, was good natured) about being shipped off to be primped. Point C. I’m only moderately making this awkward for Tim on purpose.

It’s not that I don’t know how to ‘girl.’ I just don’t bother most of the time. Frankly I don’t need to, and I know I don’t need to. Nor is it really my taste, personally. I’m also the kind of girl that would normally get a little outraged about a Wane-tourage groupie having to look a certain way, because damn the man and then physically correct him of those false notions. This isn’t a normally kind of situation though. I get in the door, by not being noticed, by getting in the door looking like all I want is to be noticed by a very specific sort of very rich man. And I’ve got a whole gaggle of other ‘like-minded’ ladies to compete with.

I have to hand it to Alfred, though. He knows his slinky black dresses, and that they should come equipped with thigh holsters. The trip to the salon had left me buffed, polished, and shined until blonde hair almost competes with the metal on the staff that went into said thigh holster. I’m not new to stilettos or this might have made for an entirely awkward experience. You know. For someone other than Timothy Wayne, who I could practically use for an armrest right now. So maybe the heels were a little overkill. I suppose it plays into making him look like someone to be underestimated, when his date’s legs are about as long as he is tall. Slight over-exaggeration. Emphasis on the slight.

Getting inside is no trouble at all. They’re looking at me, oh are they looking, but they’re not looking at me. This may be the only night this month that is exactly what I want.

“By that I assume you mean Black Amex, because I’m fairly sure no one uses an actual checkbook anymore.”

Purring at Alfred isn’t my normal kind of gig, I mean. I’ll flirt with him about food, but otherwise there’s a line. But it keeps my voice low, as I do exactly that. Break away from the group. Take a slow, slinky meander around the casino. I’m not here to talk to just anybody though. And that particular waddling someone, who is even shorter than my own date, isn’t likely to be down here on the main floor with the shmucks. Fortunately, said Date’s tour of the place is going to get us into a better location. This place may have plenty of rich people, through work, inheritance or corruption, but it only has one Wayne right now.

There’s no sign of the misadventures that had clearly happened here. I’m sure that was cleaned up and wiped away within hours of it going down. Doesn’t do good business for the Penguin if people have reminders of what can, and does, happen in Gotham when the crazies get a bug up their ass. So I blend with the other hopeful eye candy. Staying in any place only long enough to flirt, make eyes, and move on, clearly not satisfied with my selection at any one place.

Tim: The easy part was getting in, the hard part is finding what we’re after. This place is actually pretty huge. We’d looked at the official blueprints, but that only lists three floors. The central floor, which is as large as any civic center you’ve ever seen. Room enough to be broken in to four sections, each large enough to contain hundreds of people. There’s the Casino itself, which dominates the center of the Iceberg itself. All along the outer edge of the Iceberg is something for everyone. A show room, where there was a small cadre of Dancers or Singers performing. Tonight seems to be some sort of famous Burlesque ensemble dance with men and women doing some rather unseemly things with their outlandish props. A restaurant and bar that could easy sit a dinner party for the social elite to dine or allow for some ornery curmudgeons to get a drink, somehow all within the confines of the same place.

Overseeing it all is the second story. Considered a V.I.P. area, one doesn’t simply meander up there without being important. Enter the reason for this particular version of a costume tonight. That is where, after seeing what the lower level has to offer, the entourage is eventually escorted too. The tour is being given by a young woman, named Lark, who could have easily given Dinah a run for her money as one of the prettiest of the bunch. She shows them about with the flare of an experienced sales person. Hitting the high points, while downplaying the lows. Up to the second level where we get to see how the ‘Other Side’ of life actually lives.

In the V.I.P. area there is a bar that positively dominates the entirety of a single wall. Once more the floor is divided, but this time it is clear that this is far more about the High Rollers. With the tables being occupied by fewer people, with almost no onlookers. It’s quieter up here for that. Allowing those few who can afford it to play in peace. Or play with one another, in games that host larger bets than Dinah has ever seen at one time in her whole life. On the other side there is not merely the show of Dancers, but the opportunity for a much more private showing in and of itself. Each dancer has a partner. A well paying partner that is taking them to perfectly lighted booths that allow for anonymity, in spite of being in public.

::Alright, Ms. Lance show time. The drones have located Cobblepot. He’s on level three. There’s a small door leading to a stairwell. You can find the door near the southern most stage. Where a young ‘Candy’ is currently engaged in dancing. With a pole. My word. They sure grow them limber in Lithuania.::

“I’ll create a distraction. You’ll know it when you see.”

My voice is as low as it goes without trying to do my Batman impression. A soft whisper between ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ahh’ of being shown around such an immaculate place. This is really no place for a Kid my age, I can’t even drink legally, but they don’t seem to worried about that. I guess money talks, in a place like this one. Why not? A couple years ago most of the people who work here were getting punched in the face by the Batman for one criminal enterprise of another. If you really think about it, this is a big step up for the Penguin and his lot.

Distractions come in many forms. Mine happens to come in the form of adjusting my tie. Which allows a momentary sleight of hand. Touching a wrist mounted controller, that keys the drones in to a new protocol. Which I’ve oh-so-helpfully named ‘Jackpot.’ Three of the four drones, each one formerly a cuff-link to my suit, immediately go in to action. One finds a slot machine. The player of whom is quickly rewarded with a jackpot. Another takes a momentary position needed to deploy a dart. Which strikes a burlesque dancer in the backside. Moments later she tumbles face first off the stage, in to a group of slobbering men who’d been only to happy to catch her. A third does the same, to a passing waitress. Causing her a misstep that sends her directly in to the path of Lark and her tour. As she stumbles, Lark bumps in to her. Sending her drinks all over the two of us.

Leaving me to cut of the quick round of apologies, “No no. It’s alright. Is there somewhere can ‘clean up?'” The way in which my brow quirks, is just so that I’m suggesting this Lark might be interested in helping me detox my suit.

::Very good Master Timothy. He’s only been trying to use this protocol he wrote for five years. Merciful heavens, that we’ve never had to endure this before.::

Dinah: All of this seems a little unnecessary to me. The sales pitch, when we’re already here, but I suppose one has to know all the possible delights before they can really know what they’re going to enjoy. Or not. And then avoid the ones that might make for a poor experience that would prevent a return of them, and more importantly, their wallets. The eye candy job is the same either way. Less potential distractions up in the VIP area, just higher caliber distractions. Must be positively panic inducing for everyone. Except me. I’m sure working with the benefit of knowing I’m in no danger of being passed over, because I’m here on a mission and not because I’m trying to move it on up in the world.

Higher value client, means higher value entertainment. It also means less beautiful faces and leggy dresses to blend in with. Good thing this isn’t the BatCo’s first rodeo.

“The Eastern Europeans don’t exactly have a corner on that market you know, Penny-One.”

Spoken behind a hand that’s ostensibly covering a giggle that would make me want to gag if I had to listen to much of it being done by someone else. Clearly, ‘Young Master Wayne’ has just said something terribly cheeky. That I had to bend down to hear. Tim? Doesn’t do things in half measures. Because distraction is putting it very lightly. More like a mini-disaster. One of these mishaps would have been sufficient. Two might be overdoing. The rest is definitely overkill. I’d say the set of Tim’s brow means he’d been hanging out with his friend Conner too much, except that I doubt that influence was needed. He had the rest of his family to teach him Playboy long before he left for Metropolis. And it makes for my cue to conveniently wander off. Not wasting time, which means perfecting a certain kind of gait. You rush? You get attention. You dawdle? Too long an amount of time for someone to not notice where you’re off to.

It’s only once I’m through the door by the pole dancer’s stage that I allow myself a snigger as I start up the stairs on the balls of my feet to avoid the clatter of heels. It’s only a slight tip forward in these, since they more or less already have me on my toes.

“Making plans for strip clubs at a rather tender age, weren’t you? Maybe if you’re a good boy I’ll take you to a real one when we’re done here.”

One flight of stairs is no problem, I make quick work of it without breaking a sweat and messing up my hair and/or makeup.

“Where to once I’m through this door?”

I never like going blind, if I can help it. That’s how you get surprised. I need a direction and quickly, because one has to assume that since I came from VIP? This is the staff floor, and no guests allowed. There’ll be no blending. Only getting where I need to be, with as little interference as possible.

Tim: To my credit? I don’t answer Dinah right away. Instead I manage to keep up the ruse, by virtue of focus. Playing it through to being shown to a small side room. Where Lark is able to help me take off my coat, in order to assist with cleaning the spilled drink off of the suit. She seems supremely confident about her ability to convince me not to leave, immediately, after being accosted in a such manner. Promising to demote or even fire the inattentive waitress. Both things I’ve got carefully worded declines for. Since I wouldn’t want someone being fired for no other reason than being a witless dupe in our scheme.

At the point of Lark offering to pour us proper drinks? Another little sleight of hand is all it takes to spike her drink with a little something that’s going to take her out of the equation. All I have to do is make an honest gentlemanly offer of doing that for us, while suggestively mentioning that she should get ‘more comfortable.’

“I think I’d rather like that,” is the answer to Dinah, but at the same time a very smarmy little suggestion to Lark as I pass her the spiked drink. Strip Club with Dinah sounds like a bucket list item.

Once up the staircase Dinah finds herself in a small hallway with only four doors. Two on the right side. One on the left side. One at the end. Only the singular door to the left is marked, ‘Private Elevator.’ However the one at the end of the Hall has an obvious security system to it, with a visible keypad needed for starters.

::Drone-3 has determined that Cobblepot is in the office on the right. First door. There are six heat signatures inside. One of which is Cobblepot. Two of which are … eh… Penguins. Emperor Penguins to be precise. The other three appear to be one male, two females. Average height, weight and over all build. Everyone in the room has a weapon, Ms. Lance. And I do mean everyone. Including the Penguins.::

Dinah: “I’m sure you would. We’ll have to pick you up a stack of grubby ones, though. Don’t know that your plastic is going to sing quite the same way.”

Also potentially less going to want to bandy about the ‘Wayne’ part of his name, but that’s not really the point. Or the matter at hand. I just like carrying on a conversation while I’m ‘working,’ and I’m about to hit the point of the night where I probably won’t be doing an awful lot of it. At least, not to Alfred and Tim. Now, the kind of talking that’s coming up very quickly here could go one or two ways.

“Do we know what the door at the end of the hall is? I’d like a secondary exit, ideally. It’s got a keypad though, and would need disabling. Or a code. So I’m betting goods, shinies, and illegal things.”

Option One. Guns blazing. Them, not me. In which case, this is going to the action route and fists doing the talking really quickly. The staff whipped out literally and physically. I’d actually prefer to avoid Option One. It complicates matters, and I’m not here alone. If I were, I’d be less worried about it but I have a whole bevy of other souls to get off this ‘berg with me. Still. Less desirable doesn’t mean planned for. A doorway gives me a point to originate a wide cone of of sonic force, with zero innocents in the line of fire. No. The Penguins aren’t innocents. Obviously. They have guns.

“Going in.”

Option Two. There’s a chat. Maybe friendly. Maybe not. Depends how persuasive I am, and how persuaded my opponent wants to be. Not actually my preferred method of talking to people like are waiting for me on the other side here. Less likely to potentially get me shot. Unless they open fire anyway. Which is why I’m not just going to throw this door open, no matter how much I might like to. Situating myself in front of the door, I take a moment to adjust myself. The dress, tugged into proper order, holster checked just in case, and blonde hair given a little bit of fluffing, and then arranging, before I give a delicate rap on the door.

“Mr. Cobblepot? My name’s Di. I have a business proposition for you.”

That tone of voice has probably only ever been used to say those words in adult films. Or maybe for a pizza delivery but this isn’t exactly the time or place for that.

Penguin: ::Drones are unable to scan the interior of that door, Ms. Lance. The second door however is interesting. It would seem to be something of a private media room. Perhaps where the Penguin watches his Red Box rentals? However, as secondary exits go you’re not lacking for choices. Back down the stairs. Down the elevator. There is also, of course, former Master Wayne’s exit of choice. The windows.::

By Windows Alfred means the large ones lining the entire wall of the Penguin’s office. Two of the walls in fact. One overlooks the interior of the Casino. While the other looks out in to Gotham Harbor, where the Iceberg Lounge sets as an island unto itself. True to Alfred’s words the Drones were correct. Within the room are six people. Oswald Cobblepot being the one who dominates the entire Office, despite being only a bit less diminutive than the Emperor Penguins at either side of his desk. Oh and they’re not sporting guns. One looks as though it’s out-fitted with a Flame-thrower. The other sure seems to be wearing an actual rocket. Along with those three are Raven and Jay, whom Dinah is likely to recognize immediately. As they happen to be the other two parts of triplets. Identical triplets, the third of which is Lark. Whom has been showing Timothy around all evening.

As Dinah enters there’s a legitimate squawk! of excitement out of Penguin. Though the two literal penguins barely move at all. Settled as he is behind a desk there’s no way to miss the ‘startling’ of Osward, as he seems just a little on edge with surprises given what happened so recently. He’s already up, before she even speaks, gun in hand and pointed suspiciously steady at Dinah’s chest.

“… who the bloody hell are you? Di? It better be a hell of a proposition to interrupt my meeting… is this one of the new girls Lark hired to replace the…”

The answer to all of that doesn’t come from Cobblepot. It doesn’t come from Dinah Lance. Nor Raven and Jay. Not even the penguins get an opportunity to tweedle their disappointment. The answer comes in the form of the man reclined on the sofa, along with the two women. His smooth white hair and eye-patch seem perfectly in tune with the accent that rolls off of his tongue.

“My. Word. Dinah? Dinah Lance. My word. Cobblepot. You’ve arranged for far more excitement tonight than I’d hoped for. This is an old friend of mine. She and Mr. Queen are old acquaintances, right Sweet Heart?”

Dinah: Of course Bruce would choose the windows. Bruce was probably, usually, in either the Bat suit, or a full suit. Knowing him, the latter had some degree of armor in its lining. I’m wearing a dress that exposes pretty much just as much as my Canary suit. Going through a window is going to be a last ditch effort because it’s got the potential to hurt just as much as whatever I was trying to run away from. Bullets at least have a high chance of going through. Glass? I don’t love glass.

Huh. Well. Undersold the weapons situation on this side of the door a little, Penny-One. I just can’t tell him as much right now. Flamethrowers and rocket launchers are a lot more worrisome than just guns. Which would make them a lot more terrifying than the Penguin. Unless you consider how someone who looks like a walking punchline has managed to get a toe-hold in a place like Gotham, where the rich and terrible come to him. I’ve got my hands up, palms out at chest height before the gun is actually even raised, though I’ve got my eyes on it. I’m a whole lot less concerned about it than Cobblepot seems to be about life at the moment, however. So what’s got a man so jumpy in his own highly secured office, in the middle of his iceberg playland/fortress?

My head cocks to the side as the ‘other’ man I’d been told was present speaks, blue eyes roving from Oswald and his gun to the rest of the coterie on the sofa. Well. Fuck. I’m changing my mind about which option I should have opened with. The sound I make in my throat is a whole lot more amused than I’m feeling. I can thank the veritable cavalcade of ‘weird and awful shit’ I’ve seen and done in my lifetime for the fact that I just don’t go out the window right now.

“Oh, Slade. I think we all know that only one of us fits that description.”

Old. I’d normally have called him ‘honey’ in response, but it’s a little more important that I deviate from my usual banter lingo to alert everyone else listening and present to exactly who else is in the room up here. Besides Raven and Jay anyway, who are approximately ranked fifth and sixth on my ‘concern’ list right now. Not because they’re women, but because flame thrower, rocket launcher, itchy trigger finger and motherfucker over there are a lot bigger problems for me right this second. Demonstrating a lot less concern than I’m feeling, I tilt my head in the opposite direction, turning my attention back to Cobblepot as if I hadn’t been interrupted in the first place.

“But yes. I thought it would be a pretty good deal for you, personally. I thought I might do you a rather large favor, in exchange for a little bit of information. Frankly, you’re probably getting the higher value end of the deal. I had heard you had a little bit of a Joker problem the other night. I’d like to make sure that doesn’t snowball into a problem with Capes and Assassins invading this lovely establishment.”

What the fuck is Wilson doing here? Clearly no one is happy about it. Well. Maybe Raven and Jay. They’re probably paid to look happy about everything.

Penguin: Squawk!

Apparently that is his version of a snort. It seems to only rankle Wilson when it happens. Though Copplepot isn’t wavering in hold on the gun. There’s something about the introduction that seems to ring bells with him, but the way he’s looking at Dinah Lance suggests that he doesn’t know her. At all. Which might be good for her, might be bad for him. With a group like this, there’s only so much that can be said for the element of surprise.

“Funny. Slade made a similar proposal about sixty seconds ago. Only his offer included a lot less to look at.”

On the sofa, Slade Wilson sits about as worry free as you could possibly get without sipping jin and juice with your feet kicked back on a porch somewhere. He’s surrounded by Penguin’s lovely girls. Paying very little obvious attention to the two armed penguins, not the armed Penguin. It would seem that he only has eye for Dinah, at least for the moment. Whether that be because he considers her a threat of he’s interested in this proposal she makes? Well that’s any one’s guess at the moment.

He just chuckles at her, “Let me guess. Earbud? Accomplices. Go on sweet heart, show ’em the weapons. Everyone here is wonderin where you’re keepin ’em. Might as well cut through the suspense.”

Quiet, Slade. What the hell is wrong with this town? For Ten Years, I kept this place ‘neutral.’ Doing just enough legitimate business to keep the Batman off my arse and just enough illegitimate business to turn a keep the gangs of this City under my thumb. It was a good deal. A sweet arrangement. Even the Batman saw the profit in the Devil he Knew. Now look. All because of one damned Clown.”

When the gun moves it’s sudden. Slamming it down with such irresponsible force that only the Gods of Fate keep it from registering a shot off at Dinah. The Penguin throws his hands in the air. Leaving the two girls and both penguins gaping at him. “The Batman is gone and suddenly everyone loses their goddamned minds. It’s like everyone forgot one very important fact…”

“I’m the mother fuckin Penguin! I own this Town. I was born here. Raised here. When everyone else was being beaten to death by the Batman? I was carving a piece of the city out for myself. When the rest of them were locked up in the loony bin? I brought the crime families to their knees. Everyone comes to Penguin. The Mayor, the Governor. Even the Batman. Now he’s gone and… everyone forgot the pecking order.”

“The two of you came here for a deal? Fine. Here’s the deal. I’ve got answers for one of you. Last one standing gets them.”

Dinah: “Similar, but not the same? And I at least had the courtesy to not bring a gun into your office. It’s shocking the lack of manners. Really.”

I’m paying about as much attention to Wilson as he seems to be tallying up concerns. At least obviously, though I’m staying very aware of any peripheral movement. With a more complete read on the situation, I’m assuming Penguin already had the gun in hand before I’d even knocked in the first place on account of his current visitor. The question would be if he just dropped in, too, or if this was a pre-arranged sort of affair. The answer isn’t actually all that important right this second. I’d be a lot more interested in knowing why Deathstroke was after the information, or rather who was and paid him to get it. I don’t have any illusions of getting both sets of intel out of this one little gathering, though. I’m more interested in what I want to know, without getting shot, stabbed, blown up or singed.

That gun slamming down on the desk leaves me sucking in a deep, loud breath. That move could have startled anyone and made them gasp, clearly everyone else was. Except probably Slade. I was just preparing to defend myself from a stray gunshot with a pop of concussive force. It fortunately doesn’t come, leaving me to not tip my hand. One person in this room knows exactly who I am, but there’s five others including penguins-actual that at least I’ve got that card on. Penguin-not actual is going on about the Batman being gone which means either he hasn’t been paying attention to the one that’s been turning up again, or that he didn’t believe Tim was actually Batman. And now Dick, though that’s new to tonight. The latter seems more likely, and more concerning.

“In the middle of your office, Mr. Cobblepot? Forgive me, honey, but that seems likely to permanently ruffle an awful lot of feathers and I’d really hate to damage such lovely creatures.”

Through all of it, I’ve maintained the same saccharine sweet tone of voice, sometimes bordering on a coo. Who exactly I don’t want to ruffle is iffy. Mostly it’s anyone except Slade Wilson. I’d actually really enjoying wailing him right through that glass. I’m ready for Slade to make that move though, with the challenge in the air. Shrugging my shoulders as if I’m indifferent either way to how this plays out. Easy way or hard way. Or harder way, apparently.

“If that’s the way you want to play it. Your house, your rules. I’m not promising to keep the Hood out of your hair if I’m going to have to go to that much trouble, though.”

Penguin: “Oh, no. You see, I threw in offering to kill the Clown,” Slade says with a smile and a shrug that is far more impish than you’d normally think possible with him. “Maybe even bonus, for killing the Hood too.”

There’s nothing about Wilson that suggests he is perturbed by this development. If anything he seems highly amused by the whole affair. Dinah’s presence had certainly turned this in to a show for Wilson, who is soaking it up like one of the guys down watching the Burlesque Dancers. He only even seems to take offence to Dinah’s insinuation. “Gun. Singular. Always one for jokes, Sweetheart.”

Penguin is actually the least amused one in the room. Because at this point he’s waiting for the two of them to leap at the demand. Lips curling up in frustration. But it’s Slade once again that cuts in to the silence, with a gentle guffaw, “Fight to the Death, then? With her? But I’m wearing my suit and the ladies are very comfortable. Are you amenable to a counter proposal, Goldilocks?”

“Because I would much rather watch you beat the tar out of the Penguin. I’m here for answers. Doesn’t matter to me how I come by them. Whether it be from a fair trade with the Fat Bird or by letting the Pretty Bird beat the Fat? Answers is all I want.”

“Now. Wait. Just a minute…” Penguin says as he’s making a move toward the desk again and the gun. “…gah! No honor among thieves, girls you know what to do…”

::Ms. Lance. Sorry to bother you, but the Drone has been running through Red Robin’s decryption keys on the the security for that locked door. It is going to need roughly three minutes to achieve access. Master Drake is running interference on the Penguin’s security. Do be careful. We’re reading high yield explosives in the room with you.::

DInah: “And Batman, too? That seems highly unlike you to trade that much work for information that sharing is really only going to be in Penguin here’s better interest. Awful hard to be neutral ground with the League, Red Hood and everyone else knocking and sure that you’re going to be able to point them in the proper direction. And bad for business. But. Again. What do I know. I’m just the pretty one.”

Spreading my hands, both for the dissembling words and because I said he only had one gun. I know. Seems really unlikely, knowing him. I’m definitely not interested in beating the squawks out of Penguin for Wilson Slade’s entertainment, though my urge to do it for my own is rapidly mounting. See. This is what happens when you try to gather information responsibly and without your fists. Oh, what’s that? No bother at all, Penny-One. Just more bad news. Three minutes. Sounds short, but is actually a really, really long time when there’s flamethrowers, guns, knives, rocket launchers oh. And more explosives. That seems unlikely to be used while Penguin’s in the room, or in his club at all except as a last resort. Neutral ground. All that.

“Ladies, ladies, I don’t actually have any interest in beating the tar, or anything else, out of anyone.” There’s a pregnant pause before I make an ‘eh’ gesture with one of my still lifted hands. “Or I would have opened with that.”

How do you use up three minutes? You stall as long as you possibly can with some more verbal sparring, or at the very least swaying the majority to not be shooting at you in this situation particular situation. Or blowing up the room. While shifting your weight back on one foot, ostensibly to step back from the ‘threat’ of Cobblepot and his gun, which takes me that much closer to being able to simply sidestep the door and away from all of the rest of them in here. They could always go out the windows I suppose but…I only see Slade taking that option.

Penguin: “Batmans already dead, sweetheart, I assumed you knew.” How the grief in Slade’s voice conveys the sorrow for her loss, is by not exactly twisting in a chuckle, until after he’s managed to say the whole thing. “You’re running a little short on boyfriends aren’t you, Pretty Bird?”

Though the next thing Dinah says has everyone. Even the real penguins. Looking from one another, to Dinah and back again. You know you’re in trouble when absolutely every bad guy in a room laughs at the same time. Penguin hoots like he’s heard the funniest joke in years. Slade’s chortle is more restrained but just as offensive, given the chiming of the girls on either side of him.

Penguin’s constant stream of ‘Wah wah wah wah…’ is broken only when he lifts the gun back up in her direction a second time. There’s a turn of his nose that says something is far different than mere moments ago. “You think telling you my business with the League of Shadows is in my best interests? You’re either as delusional as the Clown or just plain stupid.”

How many people have actually called Dinah Lance stupid? The answer to that question is, ‘Not a lot that can answer you without putting in false teeth first.’ But he isn’t even teasing or taunting. For a murderous mobster, this is about as singularly direct and honest as the Penguin has ever been with someone. Leaving Slade Wilson chuckling in his seat, between the two girls again.

“She’s stalling, Penguin. Look at her positioning. She’s got someone inside…”

Slade Wilson, the Deathstroke, is actually in the midst of talking when one of the girls follows the Penguin’s cue. It just isn’t one of the girls he was expecting. It’s the Penguin with the Rocket. Tilting his head, squawking a chittering little ‘Wah wah wah’ of his own. Then FWOOSH! off goes the rocket, right at Black Canary.

Dinah: “Awwwww, Sladebaby that’s cute how behind and off you are on your information. On all counts.”

I was trying to be nice. Charming even. Accommodating. Even with the surprising and definitely unwelcome guest star of this little sit down. Well. Everyone else is sitting. Except me and the Penguins-Actual. There’s an abrupt one-eighty from that simpering, sweet tone I’d been using to the one that practically oozes mean girl condescension. Slade’s laughing at me. Raven and Jay are giggling at me, the kind of idiotic laugh that makes me want to slap people upside the back of the head. And Penguin-Not Actual I want to throat punch and then slap upside the face. This could have been so much easier. Yes. Something did change.

Just when I needed it to, in fact. He asks me a question. Calls me stupid. And like I didn’t understand what he said, my head abruptly cocks to the side again. A pale eyebrow hikes up about an inch, and the corner of my mouth follows suit. Telling me his business with the League. Bingo.

“Thanks so much, Ozzie. Was that so hard?”

She is stalling, yes thank you Slade. Another step backwards while he’s making that obvious statement of the year takes me completely into the hallway. Gunfire, sure, that I could probably have gotten some shielding from out here. I think none us expected Rocket Launcher Penguin-Actual to open fire though. I may not be the planning master genius that Tim is, but you don’t live long in this particular ‘job’ without having a whole lot of situational awareness and ability to make knee-jerk reactions that are intelligent. Deflecting the rocket down the hall? Too far, too unpredictable, high likelihood to detonate before blasting that locked door and even if it did, could damage anything valuable inside. Ducking to the side? I don’t know what these walls are made of. High probability of blasting me and my sexy dress.

Which leaves me with just one option. Short of taking it like a champ which is no option. This is all their fault. And clearly I should have just opened with this.


Penguin: Well. To be truthful. Slade is less of a guest star and more of a scene stealer, but that probably depends on who you ask. Dinah was certainly not pleased with his presence. Penguin was actually a lot more pleased to see the Deathstroke than you might believe, because he was seeing an answer to all of his prayers. Right before ‘Di’ broke in and made the whole thing go up in smoke.

Okay. Maybe not smoke. That’s not fire coming out of the Black Canary’s mouth. It’s the concussive blast of a sonic pulses that have a lot more effect than a good speaker. She had to act fast and sure enough she’s up to the task. It takes mere milliseconds for that Rocket to fire off the back of the actual penguin. Blasting through the air might seem like slow motion, but it is actually nothing of the sort. In the time that Dinah has to take that next step backward, it’s closed more than half the gap between them. She really only had one choice and she makes it just in the nick of time.

Hitting the rocket with enough power to send it off it’s trajectory. Not to mention sending everyone else in the office scrambling. It slams in to the ceiling of Cobblepot’s office. Where it blasts a hole half way up to the roof, before it’s stuck there, sputtering out. In time with Penny-One chiming in to Dinah’s ear.

::Good Play, Ms. Lance. Master Drake has managed to jam the arming sequence on the rocket, it shouldn’t explode unless someone triggers it manually.::

Even as Alfred is cluing in Dinah to why the Rocket didn’t explode when she diverted, even damaged it with the pure concussion shock of her voice? The people on the inside? Are neither aware of why it hasn’t exploded. Each of them has sought the safety of cover by this point. Penguin beneath his desk. The two penguins moved back, if only to avoid the blast radius and then Dinah’s scream. Slade kicked back the table before him, pulling a shade of heroism, by bringing the two girls with him when he up-ended the sofa to dig in behind it. Now, with it relatively safe from certain disaster? All of them are sneaking glances out from behind whatever they deemed was safety.

“Atta girl, Dinah. Now you’re playing for keeps.”
Whaaah! My ears are ringing! What did you say Slade?”

::Two minutes more, Canary. A silent alarm was also triggered, but Red Robin was already working to divert it too.:: You know the shit has hit the fan, if Alfred has gone to code names instead of titles for the purpose of brevity. ::Slade Wilson. He is not affiliated with the League of Shadows. Totally free lance. I strongly advise that we abort this mission.::

If anyone, other than the Canary, can actually hear a damn thing being said? Someone might actually hear the sounds of a skirmish starting on the other side of the upturned sofa.

Dinah: There was shockingly little ‘boom’ in the middle of my screaming. It’s actually a little disappointing. Not that I was especially out to kill anyone inside of the office, I don’t do that sort of thing as a general rule, but I have no doubt that no one in this room has that aversion. Slade would probably do it. So would the rest of them. Rocket Launcher Penguin-Actual already tried once. The reason for the lack of explosions, which may or may not have led to more explosions, is supplied in my ear though. Which I can, actually, hear unlike the state of basically everyone else in the room. It’s nice to be immune to your own abilities.

Unless someone triggers it manually. I don’t know how you accomplish that. The Penguins Actual and Otherwise look to be a hair too short to do so at least. I’d try to take the opportunity to now beat the squawk out of Cobblepot, except chances are? He’s not going to actually be able to hear any questions that I might have for him. Which is going to lead to a lot of repeating myself, and then frustration, and probably some retaliatory yelling. I almost feel like I ought to call up Superman and tell him ‘Guy. Listen. I totally know how you feel right now. Tried to do the ‘right’ thing. Almost literally blew up in my face.’

I can hear the skirmish behind the couch. I’m not going in there to help. Not a one of those jerks is on my side, and whoever I liberate has a high chance to turn on me. Plus there’s still flamethrower Penguin to contend with if I were to get close. I at least got something to go on. It may not have been a lot, but what little there was? Pretty telling. Also makes me think that Penguin is the stupid one, because if Talia was here because of a deal with the League? They’re probably really going to be looking into Penguin now.

“Unless dollar signs have made him affiliated. Seems slim, though.”

Two minutes. How long is it going to take Slade to dispatch the two thirds of a set of triplets? I’m betting not terribly long. Definitely not two minutes long, plus the amount of time it would take me to rifle around, when I don’t even know what I’m looking for, and then still be able to get out. Probably with the same two available exits as before. No. I don’t need Penny-One to tell me it’s probably a good time to bail. I just needed that countdown. Besides. Maybe the drone can go and do…whatever they do… next time someone actually goes in the room. I take a step into the room again, but only long enough to grab hold of the door and yank it shut again. Reaching under my dress to produce the the collapsing staff. It doesn’t just collapse though. Positioning it in the door frame, my thumb finds the button that will make the weapon expand, hydraulically, rapidly and hard.

It’s probably not going to slow Slade or the girls coming this way, but it will definitely at this height and angle, make it really hard for any type of Penguin to just walk out. Not without the effort of moving it first.

“Headed back for the stairs. We all clear to rendezvous and blow this joint?” Not literally. “Or do I need to detour to help anyone?”

Wilson: The inner office is in a bit of turmoil. What with the penguin twins, protecting their Master. Dinah is rearing back to slam that door in to position, just in time. Because the FWOOSH! she hears, as much as feels the heat splash against the door? Tells her what would have happened if she went in any further. As does the sound of Slade Wilson cursing the Penguin over just that sort of move.

“How the Farkin Hell, you run Gotham is beyond me,” he actually seems quite a bit offended to even be in the same room as someone with misfiring rockets and flame-throwing wild animals, that nearly light the whole place up.

Oh and Party Favors for all. Cue in the Fire Suppression system. Sprinkling Water down atop everyone. Not just the Penguin, Slade and goons, but also the entirety of the Casino. Which sends people in to a flurry of movement. Not exactly a clandestine outing for the likes of Black Canary and her would-be sidekick the Red Robin (Yum!). Because it almost perfectly coincides with…

::Read you loud and clear, Canary. Unfortunately, Red Robin has… encountered a problem. A very large problem. Several members of the League of Shadows have arrived. Red Robin was attempting to see to the safe exit of the Ladies he brought in as cover, when the Assassins began to cut their way in to the club. They’re heedless of the casualties as they cut through Penguin’s roughians.::

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. It gets a whole lot worse. People are fleeing, due to the fire alarms. In the room behind her, there’s a crazed Mobster with a penguin motif and a psychotic killer that she has History with. Capital H. Down below, a floor beneath her, is apparently her partner. Timothy Wayne-Drake, otherwise known as Red Robin and more recently the Batman. Is engaged with members of the League of Shadows.

What more could possibly go wrong? Well, since you asked. It happens just as Canary clears that little side door, out in to the V.I.P. room’s former arena for Lap-Dancing. That’s all gone now. Bystanders are doing what any reasonable civilian does when the Fire Alarms are tripped. They head for the door. Leaving no one there to really see Slade Wilson crashing through the windows of the Penguin’s office. Launching himself out through the glass, in to the very heart of the Casino. There’s no tuxedo now. Nor is there any mistaking Slade Wilson as anyone but the Terminator, Deathstroke that he is. Apparently the scorch marks suggest the tuxedo was burned away as he plunged through the fire, out the windows in to a controlled fall in the middle of a craps table.

“You didn’t think it’d be that easy did ya? C’mon. Whatya say, Sweetheart? Do you wanna dance with me or help me kill Ninja?”

Dinah: I’m a professional, so there’s no facepalming going on as I hear and understand Penny-One’s latest message. But I don’t need both eyes to be able to see my way down the stairs at a fast clip, so one of them squints down in an expression that would have been priceless for this moment. Were anyone around to see it.

“Let him know I’m en route.”

The fire suppression system? Is just perfect. No, really. Perfect. Nothing like a little rain on my parade, to raise the spirits, plaster my hair to my face and neck and make everything overall a little more slippery, difficult, and cold. Except, unless of course… you’re Slade Wilson. Who was apparently wearing his goddamn suit under his suit and has emerged from the ashes in a shower of glass and general jack-assery. Seriously. I’m not usually the one with luck like this, and I would very much like to know who I can blame for it so they can be hand and foot delivered a piece of my mind.

“Deathstroke’s on me. I’ll try to head off the problem, then find my own exit.”

I’m not leading him back to Tim. Not directly. Damn people and their armor that get to make dramatic entrances/exits. Well. At least he’s good for something. I know he’s not working for the League to try and get some sort of revenge on Cobblepot for whatever his part may have been in Talia’s situation. Chances are he probably wouldn’t be turning on his clients to do some ninja murdering. Who are doing mafia murdering. There’s an awful lot of murdering going on in the Iceberg Lounge right now, attempted and otherwise, and stopping all of it from happening? Not a proposition I’m actually very excited about right now.

“Tch. Tempting, but they’re not really playing my kind of music right now. Rain check?”

Pointing a finger up at the sprinklers overhead. Hah. No. Not the middle one. That would have been a good play, though.

“Besides. Last I checked you were a big boy that could kill Ninja all on your own.”

He’s also much closer to ‘between’ me and the way I want to go than I really like. Which means I get to start a wary skirting trajectory, not exactly trying to head him off so much as waiting to see if he’s going to go find his other kind of fun, or if Slade’s going to be ungentlemanly and impose himself on a ‘lady.’ As much as I’d actually like to scream him down, the more time I take here, the less time I’ve got to try and hem in the other member of my team’s problem.

Wilson: Sigh.

“Playing hard t’ get isn’t really yer style, Birdy,” that one eye of his seems to narrow, but for the most part he makes no effort of heading her off right away. “Funny, just remember. That’s twice I’ve offered t’ help ya. Now yer gonna have ta ask me nicely, when you realize ya need it.”

Whatever that means? Slade is actually still not progressing on Black Canary. If anything, he’s just watching. Which is almost worse than attacking. This isn’t the sort of stalker creepy type of stare, but the sort that says he knows something that she doesn’t. Something that might force her hand, eventually. So he’s willing to play along, for no other reason than being all too willing to wait now. For her to ask for his help.

How long he’s going to have to wait? Might not actually be that long. Not once Black Canary makes around the corner and sees what Penny-One had been talking about. Down on the Casino floor was a virtual black masse of hooded assassins making their way inside. Cutting people down indiscriminately. Life long Criminal? Stabbed. Completely innocent Grandma spending her life savings on the slot machine? Shruiken to the throat. Penguin’s men are fairing only slightly better, due to being armed and seemingly prepared for a fight. Though they lack the combat prowess needed to fight off the League of Shadows? They’re slowing them down just enough to turn the whole thing in to a blood bath. Once more you can thank the penguin for that added bit of carnage.

Be that as it may be, the Ninja are hobbled only so much as they don’t wield guns of their own. So they have to make smarter plays. Like taking cover, long enough to fire arrows with unwavering precision in to mobster throats. Or by taking a hostage, that they use as a meatshield in order to get in close enough to give a go with sword. Last but not least? Are those few who came equipped with grappling hooks that seek to evade the gunfire entirely and come up to the second floor by way of the balcony overhang.

In the very middle of all this? Timothy Drake and the Royal Family dance troupe. Hobbled by his own Secret Identity, that they had used to seek entry. Tim was caught in a position of defending the Girls, while not giving himself away. That had left him struggling at first, but it would seem that at this point he’s started to care less about his identity and more about saving those lives he feels more directly responsible for. Even now he’s erected a small defensive position behind one of the High Roller tables. Which would probably be fine. Were it not for the fact that it was quickly taken by members of the Penguin’s security force. Since Tim had been trying to ‘run interference’ for Dinah. They started shooting at Ninja. Who now see the whole area as one that needs neutralized.

So what, if anything, is the Good News in all of this? Penny-One’s voice. ::On the bright side. Less than a minute until the final door is unlocked. On the not-so-bright side. Cobblepot is taking the Private Elevator to a previously unknown Fourth Floor. A sub-terra basement, that wasn’t on the blue prints. At this rate he’s going to be the only one to make a clean getaway.::

The moment that Tim sees Dinah? There’s a sign of relief that only momentarily passes his features. Then he’s right back to business. “Alright girls. You have to be brave.” They’re not brave. Not a one of them. Each one of them is taking a turn crying and being otherwise useless in a crisis. But then with this sort of carnage going on who can blame them? So he’s left giving Dinah the only information he’s got left. “Fire Escape is blocked. They’re fighting in there too. There is fighting everywhere. How the hell did the League get so many people in Gotham this quickly?”

Dinah: “Well, you see Slade. I was trying this new thing today. I hear it’s called being polite and asking nicely. But clearly it’s not working great for me, and I’m basically giving it up. And what you’ve offered hasn’t been help. You wanted me to beat the shit out of Penguin while you dandled floozies, and then you wanted me to help you kill League Assassins.”

I don’t like the look on his face though, or what he seems to be hinting at. Which I don’t think is a potential assist with however many ninjas there actually are here. I’m assuming it’s not ‘a few’ members of the League, however, for Tim to have gotten pinned down. Even with victims to protect. Once I get to the door, satisfied with my positioning to be willing, if not excited about, turning my back on Deathstroke I can actually get a view of…Jesus Christ. Time to play whack-a-mole, or more correctly a little game I like to call Target Triage. The goal’s getting Tim and the innocent’s out. The only ones really targeting them seem to be the ninjas, which means the mafia are spared my wrath for the time being.

“I think we can forget about the locked door for the time being, Penny-One. Unless there’s a potential of there being an escape jet inside it that we can use to get people out of here.”

Of course he’d have an escape. Goddamn Penguin. I’m not even actually shocked or surprised by that particular turn of events. It’s probably not the first time, or the last, that he’s fled carnage that erupted here.

“They didn’t. They were already here and working with Penguin. Until they got the impression that he turned on them. Still going to be less in the fire escape. Can you clear the bottleneck?”

At least the last part is my assumption, but I think it’s a pretty safe one. There’s too many in here for me to take on solo, not that I couldn’t make a dent the old fashioned way, there’s just not time. For every small group I could take down, more would be jeopardizing everyone else. Asking Slade for help? Isn’t actually that much of a temptation either. Sure. He’d help. Still a similar problem though. I’m trying to pick civilians out of the crowd, but most are probably not fleeing towards the ninjas. Even with fighting in the fire exit, I imagine it’s going to be less. The League knows tactics as well as I do. You don’t need many to take, or hold, something like that and they’re trying to come in, en masse from the looks.
Squaring myself in that direction, there’s a mutter before I suck in another breath.

“Hands on ears, guys.”

Though, the truth is hands over your ears does absolutely nothing if you’re in the way of the blast of force. Just dampens the volume if you’re out of it. I’m not aiming at Tim and his little foxhole though, so much as the area in front of it. Trying to clear them a path, only this time it’s not a short burst to knock a projectile away. It’s long, it’s wide and it’s of course, loud.


Tim: Timothy Drake is a man of many flavors. He was ready for a fight from the moment they stepped in here. Even if he had to play the part of a hapless, youthful, playboy. He’s still the son of Bruce Wayne, who never got taken by surprise or was never unwilling to put himself in harms way for a damsel. Much less a gaggle of them. By the time Canary makes it clear what she’s about to do? Tim’s giving her a quick thumbs up, followed by a short gesture to his ears. She’ll see the girls all covering their ears (and their heads entirely) on account of the gunfire, but more so than that? She’ll see that they’ve each been given a small ball of cotton. That Mr. Wayne has helpfully suggested would mute the ringing in their ears from the Gunshots. True, but also helpful for certain blasts of sonic annihilation from the Canary Cry too.

As soon as Dinah lets go with it, Tim’s quickly checking something on his wrist mounted computer, before hustling the girls to follow him. Brave Mr. Wayne that he is, it would seem that he’ll have no trouble leading them through the now mostly open space to the door of the Fire Escape. The moment they’re at the door, Tim pauses only long enough to peek inside, before pushing the door open. It doesn’t take the Canary being observant to see him moving at a slower than normal speed, playing at being scared just like he should be. But in doing so it frees the door open, before anyone else goes in to the Fire Escape, for the remaining drones to enter ahead of them. Dart-Gun Drones. Go!

Ahead of them is the rapid fire sound of Pfft. Pfft. Pfft. Down goes a Mobster, then another. Followed by a Ninja that came up the stairs as soon as the shooting stopped. Tim himself has just stepped out, intending to lead the girls down with Canary taking up the rear when he bounces back, narrowly avoiding a series of shruiken that stick in the door was holding.

Through all of this? Slade Wilson stands a top that same table he landed upon. Not taking part. Not assisting the Penguin’s men. Nor taking down any of the would-be assassins. He just watches. As if he were waiting for something. His mask stops anyone from knowing that there’s a smirk hidden beneath it, but Canary knows it’s there all the same. “All. Ya gotta do. Is say pretty please, Birdy. Won’t even bill you for the spent bullets.”

::At the risk of sounding rather flippant about your last comment, Canary, the drone has opened the door to that locked room. I’m not quite sure what I’m even seeing here, but this looks like … I believe we’ve broken in to Cobblepot’s private uh … whirlpool? Bath House? Jacuzzi, I believe Master Bruce would have called it. He had one in the late nineties. Mrs. Vale and he used to… well, nevermind all that. I suppose you’re all much too busy for reminiscing. Cobblepot must not have paid the bill on his though. It’s exceedingly green. Glowingly, so.::

Dinah: If we’re being 100% honest here? I’m about 110% done with Tim and his act. Yeah, yeah. I know it’s necessary. I don’t want to blow his cover, not on any day let alone here in the middle of a fire/shuriken fight. It’s not in any of our interest and especially not his. He’s got a big enough target on his back right now just for being Timothy Drake-Wayne, let alone all the other things he may or may not be tonight. I just want him to get out of here, so that I can stop worrying about him and his Waynetourage. Any other time, I’d trust him to handle himself. But right now? He’s as much pretending to be something he’s not as he was the first night in the Batsuit.

I can’t see what’s going on inside the fire escape. I’d have to turn my head that way to do so, and that would mean turning what’s coming out of my mouth at the same time. What I do know? Is he’s still not through that door. And I’ve got this smug motherfucker standing on the craps table teasing me, and Alfred with his commentary that normally I would find really amusing but right now I’m dripping wet, and overall just not really enjoying my night. Men. When I stop screaming, I find something to duck behind. Mostly to avoid an unfortunate weapon headed my way as I respond to both the voices speaking to me.

“What the hell, Penny-One. Glowing Green? Get a drone in there to…I don’t know. Collect a sample!”

Slade’s answer is the middle finger I didn’t give him when asking for the raincheck earlier. There doesn’t appear to be anymore civilians on this floor at the very least, and that narrows the number of people that need direct protection. And would it really be so much to ask for one of the League to fling something at Slade and his perch? But the truth is? Tim’s got about five seconds to get that door cleared and his ass out the door before I’m going to swallow my pride and make sure the job gets done. With a little hop, I draw my knees up, hooking my fingers into the backs of my heels and getting them off my feet. They’re not called stilettos for nothing, and while they may not be bladed weapons they can inflict some damage, especially when hurled end over end at any exposed soft spots. Eyes. Throats.

I’m not headed for the fire escape, so much as advancing and moving to intercept anyone that tries to follow them. Closer to the balcony edge so that I can try to get a view of what kind of additional problems may be downstairs, working their way up here.

Wilson: Downstairs is a mess. Penguin is going to be out millions repairing the place. Not to mention the losses from the financial side of what’s being ruined in pure money alone. There’s a legitimate body count piling up. Between the Penguin’s men who are fighting a stalling tactic and the Assassins who are relentless, while being unafraid to give their lives for the Will of the Demon’s Head? It’s probably difficult to even count the dead. Although there are far fewer men in black masks, than there are in black armani suits that much is for sure.

The irony? Is that the moment, the very moment, that Penguin makes it to the underground submersible? Those mobsters get the call that all is clear and that means they stop trying to hold their ground. In a way this is equally good and bad for the Good Guys. As it means that the Penguin’s men start to flock to the escapes themselves. It also means that there’s far few things to dodge once the gunfire stops.

In the middle of all of this? Stands Timothy Wayne-Drake and the cadre of Dance Troupe performers. Who have still not made it down the Fire Escape, despite Dinah’s best efforts at covering them. Not for a lack of trying, but surely for a lack of Red Robin, due to being trapped in the guise of Philanthropist Teen Wonder. Though, much like Dinah, they are getting to the sure fire point of his being ready to throw caution to the wind. Another quick glance in to the Hallway, then Tim opens the door again. As he does? Two of the black hooded men from downstairs meet the door. Fighting with the young man to pull it completely open. With a sudden shove, he drives one back in the entry way. Then with a short charge, he takes the other down the staircase. Disappearing from sight entirely. Leaving the huddled girls behind, unable to overcome their own fear of what’s going on in order to follow their Hero. Leaving the door to clatter shut and Timothy Wayne disappearing from sight.

Dinah’s shoe weapons are going to find a sure-fire challenge in the making. As the Penguin’s men pull back. Seemingly heading to that same elevator, as much as they can. The Assassins begin to push forward. Giving her little in the way of an escape route herself. Unless she too makes for the elevator, fighting her way through gun-toting idiots. Or down the fire escape, in to close quarter combat with a bunch of assassins, while trying to keep a bunch of girls and one Boy Wonder from being mauled.

Dinah -does- finally get her wish though. Because the League of Shadows are now beginning to ascend the stairs on either side of the second floor. Along with coming up over the balcony as they had originally. With the Penguin’s men in full retreat? There are only two people left who aren’t retreating. A stilletto armed Black Canary and a man in armor toting a sword and guns. Guess who they take a first shot at? A no longer teasing Deathstroke. Who actually bats away a hailstorm of throwing stars with his sword, before being struck by a single shruiken. He barely even acknowledges it sinking in to the mesh weave of his Ikon suit before a single shot of that gun rings out. Dropping the one assassin that managed to strike him.

If there’s only one person in all of this that understands what has just happened? It is no doubt the Black Canary. Because there is a sudden, almost palpable lack of teasing now. Deathstroke hops down from the shruiken filled craps table in a deceptively nonchalant way. Giving the League about three seconds to continue mounting that second story. At which point a symphony of destruction begins, that Black Canary has undoubtedly seen before. Not a bullet wasted, not a slice of his sword out of synch with the rest of his body. Slade Wilson commits, entirely, to the total eradication… the termination of absolutely every single man, woman and child wearing one of those black masks. He goes about it with such merciless silence that it’s stark contrast to the way he’d been toying with Dinah.

Of course, that isn’t to say that Dinah’s out of the fire. There’s an awful lot of Ninja between her and any of the three exits from this place she’s got in her reach. But there is a distinctly a new level of distraction on the hands of the League. One that, should she play her cards right, might actually allow her to save the Boy Wonder and beat feet with a troupe of dancing ninnies. Whom are cringing away from the door that opens, until they see Tim Drake. Slightly battle-torn, but still standing, as he gives a two thumbs up sign in true Spoiler fashion. Once out of sight, the young man hadn’t been constrained by dual identity needing to be kept secret, but that hadn’t stopped him from tackling a Ninja down a stairwell, to get that privacy in the first place. He’s sure showing the ill-effects of it too.

“Stairwell clear… I may have broken my… everything.”

::Sample taken. Preliminary analysis suggests that the Penguin’s jacuzzi, was filled with … oh-dear… water from the Lazarus Pit. I suppose that tells us what Talia’s business with the Penguin was.::

Dinah: On the plus side? There’s a lot less bullets flying through the air, but on the downside… pretty much the same thing. There’s also a whole lot less targets for them to be aiming at, and about 80% of those I’d like to keep in one piece. At best. Still alive at worst. This time I can see from my vantage point the sheer insanity that is Tim’s attempts to get down that flight of emergency stairs. Unable to go rush to his immediate aid mostly thanks to the not so timely arrival of apparently the entire remainder of the League of Shadows. We’d already wondered at the numbers. Guessed that they were already here. Now I’ve concluded where they’ve been, and the more specific why. The ‘what’ had been something of a mystery, though.

This is even more than we guessed were here in the first place I think. We’ve dealt with them before, but this…?

I have to admit, as a practiced combatant in a dozen plus fighting forms? Watching Slade Wilson work is a thing of beauty when you’re not on the other side of him. I just usually am. It does my ego no harm to say that when it boils down to it, he’s one of the very few fighters who are better than me. Some of that may boil down to the lethality factor, it definitely doesn’t hurt. I don’t even stop to see what’s about to happen. The throwing stars sail through the air at him? And I turn and skirt/backpedal my way towards the fire escape. It’s the only feasible exit for me now, having Tim gone that way is only really secondary at this point.

The League has just instigated what I was about to open my mouth and do. It would have been a lot less bloody, since I was going to ask him to get this group out while I tried to take the stairs. Dodged a proverbial bullet there, I guess. Which the assassin? Does not. Slade’s getting down off the table, and I’m bolting for the fire escape. Kicking, short burst shrieking, and jabbing my way through anyone that gets between me, those girls, the door and Tim. Who’s now reappeared at the top of the stairs, and gets to see the squinty eyed look that everyone had missed as I descended from the third floor.

“Everyone, down. Lets go. Follow me. Tim, watch the rear.”

Which should ideally have a lot less potential trouble at this point. Or at least we’ll hear anyone coming through the door I slam shut behind the ladies, and boy, that I wave through the door. The cotton in their ears stopping them from hearing the stream of curses that come out of my lips as I hop past the rest of them to take point for our escape. Not at them, or Tim, but at Alfred.

“Well. There’s the why. Now we have to find the Demon’s Daughter.”

Not. That we wouldn’t have for Damien’s sake but. There’s really only one conclusion to jump to that would account for what we’ve been discovering lately, the League, Talia, and a Lazarus Pit jacuzzi hidden away here in Penguin’s place. And she’s likely the only one who who knows where that ‘why’ is hidden away.

Tim: Getting from the V.I.P. lounge, to the High Rollers room isn’t really a challenge. Not for Dinah. She may have inwardly accepted that Slade Wilson is better than her, but that doesn’t leave out the beauty of her own technique. A crunched nose for a goon that seeks to use her as meat-shield. A stilletto to the eye for an Assassin seeking to cut down one more infidel on their way towards Penguin’s secret lair. A mini-skree that shatters nearly every bone in another’s body, who was making a kamikaze run at the Troupe and awaiting Timothy Wayne. By the time she’s made it to the group, in order to take charge, she’s battled through enough of the jerks that all eyes have fallen upon her in slack jawed appreciation. All except Tim’s, who while appreciative? Is giving her a quick set of signals to tell her the numbers awaiting them at the bottom of the stairs. Two men at the bottom, guarding the staircase. They’re far too easy prey for her though, given that their real focus is no longer upon taking the stairwell, but upon what is happening up above them.

When Dinah and her band of merry makers get to the ground floor? There is a genuine twist of fate happening. In that there is no longer a surge of League of Shadows going in to the building, but the opposite. How many times in Dinah’s life has she seen the League of Shadows retreat? Most likely they give their lives to a man in order to die for the honor of having served the Demon’s will. Rarely is that will for them to spare their own lives. Leaving one to wonder whether someone signaled for a retreat or…

It’s almost a cacophony of death in the Iceberg Lounge. With the screams of the dying, clashing with the silence of the dead. Occasionally a shot rings out, but there are few of those. Fewer stragglers making their way out, by the time Dinah is leading Tim and the Troupe to the awaiting Yacht. Those she does see, do not require a scream to be dealt with. Not at the point which they’re the ones running for their lives.

Once they’re on the boat and safely heading back towards Gotham proper, Alfred’s voice greets her one more time. ::Do you think Ra’s brought the Pit to Gotham… or do you think Talia did so on her own accord? Does it even matter? With the men they just threw at the Lounge, the only way you commit to such losses, is if you have superior numbers in reserve. The whole League must be here in Gotham.::

“That means Damien and Dick aren’t going to have to go far, To have that talk with his Grandfather, after all.” Tim’s voice is a lot more somber than normal, for once, as he steps in closer to Dinah, pointedly turning off his com in a way that she can see. “Dinah. We’re going to need to go back to the Berg sooner than later. We have to figure out if that makeshift pit actually got used or not.”

Night at the Museum Pt2

Cassie: As much as I’d like to stay here with my Mom for a minute or two longer, we can’t afford it. I know that. So I go through the doorway without another word, and set straight to clearing the path for everyone else. Moving what little debris is blocking the area that we’re exiting into. I don’t stay on the ground for long, though. Leaving the rubble behind, if only for a dozen feet or so, in order to get a better view.

“…seeing this in pictures and seeing it in person is…”

This kind of thing can’t happen again. The sheer amount of area that had been destroyed. All the lives, human and otherwise. My forehead wrinkles, distressed, and then angry, but I can’t let this be the focus either. I have an all too clear of that coming storm after all. Weather patterns don’t naturally move that fast, so that leaves us to assume who is coming. Which is good. Mission accomplished, right? Now we just have to deal with her.

“Incoming at three o’clock, gentlemen.”

Freddy: I thought about what Ms. Sandsmark said and knew that he had been putting a lot of thought into things lately. Sometimes you had to lead with your heart. The head was there to help balance it out. When we stepped out into the wasteland that was once Coast City he glanced around watching as Wonder Woman took to the sky.

I took this brief and I do mean brief moment to calm my mind. I needed it to settle and my heart it needed to be steady. They couldn’t afford them to pull me in opposite directions. Instead I needed to be focused, because when Cassie spotted the approaching storm that was Isis I knew that she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Wally: Wally really hadn’t a clue what was going on between … well, all of this. And he wasn’t talking about what happened to Coast City and the lead up that made Luthor President. It only happening three years ago meant Wally didn’t understand most of what was going on in the political climate, and school mostly just gleamed over the facts as they couldn’t really go into too much detail about. But, that was fine. Wally … well, he didn’t even bother to look it up outside of school, even though his mentor, his Uncle was directly affected by this.

So, once they stepped through the doorway and Wonder Woman took to the sky, he looked to Freddy, then back to the oncoming storm. What was he doing here? He had no idea. But, he sure as hell wasn’t about Isis win. Because it sounded like she was bad news and bad news needed to be taken down. To bad they couldn’t search the Vault more. Surly one of the many things that Wally saw in there could be used. Though, he got the feeling they were all ‘Off-Limits’

“So, what’s the game plan?”

ST: Stepping through that set of double vault doors, opens in to what was likely once upon a time the sub-basement of Coast City’s Museum of Science and Industry. MOSI, was once filled with children laughing, playing and learning. It is now little more than a husk, a shell of remains that have only recently begun to be cleared away. Leaving the bulk of that work for Wonder Woman to do right now with brute force. The assistance of the Flash and Shazam’s would-be Champion will certainly help, but the effort to get through to the surface are going to take a little bit of time.

During which time, all the way across the country in that terrible farm town of Metropolis, Isis has been punishing the Museum there. Her agent had been downed, felled and perhaps captured. Yet that hadn’t stopped the spell he cast, which animated the museum’s undead exhibits. They were simply running amok. Attacking anything and anyone in their path. Which included Isis, for about a half-second, it took for them to be shattered to dust beneath her terrible power.

Once the Trio of Heroes emerged from the Vault though, her assault on Metropolis came to a very abrupt end. That single-minded pursuit of the Amulet that Freddy had gotten away from Fawcett City with, driving her to abandon the attack on the Vault-door in Metropolis. If only Cassie had her Cellphone, she would receive the phone calls telling her all about the excitement she’s missing by her boyfriend. Or the concerned requests for updates from Timothy Drake.

Those few moments the Trio have to breathe? Are just about -all- the time they get. No sooner do they dig themselves out from beneath the rubble of Coast City’s Museum than Cassie begins getting that eerie feel down her spine again. Freddy gets something even more. That same sense he got when he first opened the door to the Wizard’s sanctum, from that basement in Fawcett City. When he first put eyes upon…

Adam: Shazam!

“Ignorant Child! Do you even know what you’re doing?”

His words begin before their eyes even clear of the brilliant flash of light, explosive lightning that seemingly brought him to this place instantly. It was merely hours ago that Freddy saw him, at the Wizard’s Sanctum. Then beneath the school tearing in to the mostly helpless Crocodile Men.

He sure seems a lot more angry now than then, and he wasn’t exactly level headed then either. Was he?

“She is coming, boy and if she takes the Gods from you, she will raise this entire world.”

Cassie: Throwing an arm up over my eyes is not nearly enough to protect them from the sudden, unexpected flash of lightning. You’d think I should be getting used to that sort of thing. It’s been happening an awful lot lately. I’m still seeing spots, dancing across the dark and my vision, as I lower it and focus on who or what’s just appeared in front of me. I don’t need to be able to see though. That’s a voice that’s been burned into my brain, even if I know now it wasn’t really him. Teth Adam. Black Adam.

Part of me wants to say that no, we probably don’t know what we’re doing. And yet, here we are doing it anyway.

“She already came for it once. Better here than all of Metropolis going with it.”

I’m not sure we need to justify ourselves to him. I’m still not sure he’s entirely blameless in this situation, but I drop abruptly out of the sky, landing with a soft whump in front of Adam. Not close in front of him though, with narrowed blue eyes.

“Raze it? Or raise it?”

Wally: There’s a flash of lightning and Wally is surprised just how bright it is, and then the voice that comes from behind when his vision gets caught up to his brain. Rubbing his eyes.

“Insolent child? Who speaks like that today? Aren’t there better words? If you need a thesaurus for Christmas, you can count on me…Mr… Shazam?” asking as he finished rubbing his eyes seeing the big guy in black with a white lightening bolt across his chest.

“Buddy of yours? You guys could be twins. Though, I think he’d look better in red.”

Obviously Wally didn’t know really what was going on.

Freddy: I’m pretty sure we know what’s headed our way. I don’t answer Wally just yet, because I have a feeling. “Well, if things go as well as they have been for like the last several hours of so.” You know terrible. “Isis is going to be just one half of the problem, because I’m pretty sure Murphy’s Law is about to kick…” Before I can get it out there he is ready to punish me with insults and threatening glares…again. I shield my eyes for a moment before turning back towards everyone’s favorite Kahndaqian.

Can’t we put a pin him for like I don’t know at least a week?

“Homonyms gotta love them and Wonder Woman makes a fair point. Communication is key.” Yeah I know stir him up. “I mean you are the unmitigated ruler of Kahndaq and such and the US isn’t on great terms with the country. Wouldn’t you being here be considered an Act of War or something” I can’t help myself I should stop.

“But seriously if you’re here to tell me I’m a foolish child, threaten me and shake me until I give you the blessings. It’s not going to happen. Just like I told your possessed wife it’s not going to happen. Honestly, this is your fault, her fault and anyone that decide to play fast and loose with the rules. Now we have to clean it up. I have to clean it up. If anything, you’re really pissing me off because you couldn’t for a moment think, “Oh that might be a bad idea.” Even more the fact that you accepted something you knew wasn’t right. So, I don’t know who’s the more foolish here. Me because I want to fix this or you because you won’t take yourself of repeat. Sad fact is that the same choices keep being made and things just go from bad to worse.”

That said. “I’ll take us both out before I let any of the powers of Shazam be twisted into something they weren’t meant to be so huff and puff and blow me down, get out of my way or do something that could be considered I don’t know. Useful for once since you woke up and decided to start this vicious cycle over again.”

Adam: Cassie receives little more than silence. At first. Because the hooded figure of Black Adam is utterly zero’d in on Freddy Freeman. There is a sort of stone cold look in his eyes as he beholds the Challenger for the power of Shazam. “The Fate of the World dangles in the balance and you speak to me of meaningless politics, Challenger? Has the Wizard fallen so far, that he must recruit challengers from the ilk of Cowards now? The politics of this country are meaningless to me, when the entire world is at stake.”

When Freddy speaks. And speaks. And speaks some more. It merits a reaction. In that Black Adam slowly, especially for people like Wally West, raises his hands in order to pull the hood back. There is a long, measuring look from Freddy, to Wally, then Cassie. It doesn’t take Batman to realize he is considering them for threat levels. So then, what does it actually mean when he tilts his head in the direction of the Flash?

“Isis is even now riding the winds here. She chases that Amulet, in order to restore the soul it holds to life. She is seeks to use the power of the Gods to tame Death itself. You have brought her to one of the largest masse graves in the world. Since it is clear to me that the would be Champion and this Demigoddess are insane. Surely at least you, Speedster, have the ability to process this quickly. She is going to raise this City, to get that Amulet. Think quickly. How many Meta-Humans died here? How many can the three of you fight, before she takes his power -and- the Amulet?”

Cassie: I would probably find Wally’s running dialogue actually really funny at virtually any other moment, but right now I’m a little concerned with what’s going on around us.

“I wouldn’t call him that, Flash.”

Freddy himself says a lot of what I couldn’t help thinking myself. Black Adam is probably more powerful than any of the rest of us, maybe all of us, put together at the moment. I’m not sure I appreciate the way we’re being looked at either. I don’t wince at what he says, but my mouth does pull sharply to the side in displeasure. How was I supposed to know that? How would any of us know that and where else were we supposed to take this? I suppose the answer becomes nowhere, really, so much as a matter of speed for finishing it.

“And what if the Amulet’s no longer there to be taken? What happens if it’s destroyed?”

Something no one else has wanted to give me a straight answer, or any answer on. Third time’s a charm. It’s clear Isis will follow the thing anywhere. It wasn’t even safe in my Mother’s magic vault. Leaving us two options. Well. Three I suppose. Running with it forever. Letting her have it, or…

Wally: Listening to Freddy, and then Black Adam, Wally stroked his chin for a moment. Then looked to Wonder Girl, and turned to look at Freddy.

“We keep running, and she finds it. Like Wonder Woman said. ”

“Or, we destroy it. Or.. I don’t know… throw it into orbit. If I angle it right, and really push myself… I think I can launch it into sub-orbital around the planet. Let her chase it. Or maybe we can get someone like Superman to take it into orbit and launch it into the Sun. Unless you can?” asking as he glanced to Cass.

“I don’t really know what’s going on. But it seems that amulet is her homing beacon. And if she needs to be stopped..” trailing off as he gestures to the amulet that Freddy holds.

“If he” gesturing to Adam “Iis right. We’re nowhere near strong enough to take on a city full of dead people.”

Freddy: “Raise then” Adam isn’t the one to make a mistake, but you know sometimes you have to know, because really razing a wasteland doesn’t do much to help it. Raising the dead. Different story.

“I’m going to need that amulet.” That’s been running through my mind all day.” Two thoughts that I’ve tossed around. I didn’t get an answer from the question that I asked. I didn’t ask about destroying the amulet, because when you think about it what happens to what’s contained within. Cassie asked point blank if the essence of Osiris float away or something else. There was no answer, no real acknowledgement.

Here we are again.

“I have an idea.” Choice it’s always been about choice. Push it all away. The threats. The comparisons. Wondering whether or not you were the right person. If you can do it. I’ll do what I need to do, but I can’t ask anyone else to do it.

“She won’t listen. She won’t stop. She has a one track mind.” So why not? “I need you to trust me.” He said with nod before turning towards Adam.

“I need you all to trust me.”

Adam:  For the first time Cassie has said something that merits Black Adam’s attention. It’s as if she said the strangest thing too, because he looks at her like she has grown a third eye. “Others have tried to destroy it. It contains the entirety of a God’s essence. The Wizard himself, the one that this Challenger seeks the approval of, created it to house the essence of a mad God. It is strong enough to do so for thousands of years. It’s destruction is nearly impossible, but only nearly.”

“My question to you, Child, would be whether you’d actually kill one of your own in order to destroy it. And what happens to the one who does so? Surely it would not be further ‘Blessings’ from the Gods, if you were a God-Killer.”

Now Freddy is done with insults and asking for trust? There’s little of that in the air. Zehuti isn’t needed to know that the three of them do not trust him. Nor does he trust a Challenger, who’s so clearly failed in his duty to be a Champion. Admittedly, Freddy isn’t the only failed Champion in attendance, but you won’t hear Black Adam make that statement out loud.

“I could kill the three of you and take the Amulet, but that would take time we no longer have,” pointing past Cassandra in to the distance, at the storm that now spans the entire line of sight in the distance. “Since it is clear you will no do as I say, nor do I have the time now to force your hands. I will give you, the three of you, this opportunity.”

Two massive arms cross over barrel chest, in acceptance. “Let it be known, if you fail. That it is on your conscience.”

Cassie: “No. We’re not enough for that. Not to mention the… wound that would probably rip open.”

Not just from the inevitable weirdness that’s going to come from more risen dead, but the world itself. If the media were to roll up and show us fighting people’s departed loved ones, no matter the actual reason. I actually rather like Wally’s plan about orbit, I mean. That might work, or at least take her off world to find it. It doesn’t really eliminate the problem, but maybe at least delays it a little. Delaying the problem won’t help Freddy finish his trials, such as they are, however. I shake my head at his question, though.

“I’m not sure that I could. I’ve never flown that high, and I still have to breathe… I could still try though.”

I’m willing to try despite that, but Freddy apparently has a plan. Trust him? That I already do. He’s already proven far more insightful than anyone else I know, the things he picks up and the knowledge he has of all this that I don’t means I’m down to continuing to trust him, or trusting… Black Adam who likes to point out he can kill people apparently.

“I think if you were going to do that, you would have opened with it, Adam.”

He gets an almost withering look for saying that failure would be on anyone’s conscience. It already would have been. But that’s the key difference between the three of us and him, I think. Producing the amulet, it’s offered out to Freddy without me taking my eyes away from Adam, or the storm. Once he takes it, unless Freddy’s plan requires my presence right here, I’m taking to the air again. Maybe I can make a distraction of myself enough to slow her down, though I doubt it’ll be terribly effective. She’s here for the Amulet.

Wally: “Nearly, not impossible. If this were at the heart of the sun. She won’t survive.”

Pausing a moment, then looking at Cass and Freddy

“…Right? I mean, the pressure and heat alone…” sighing, he didn’t want to know if she would live or not. She probably would, knowing the way this was going.

“Right. Well, you do you, Freddy. We’ll hold her back as best we can.” what was he going to do? Well, he was going to do what he did best, and that was going to be run.

Wally could only think of one thing right now, and maybe that a little wind resistance would stop her. If anything slow her down. So, when he feels that he’s ahead of Wonder Girl, and infont of Isis, he’d start running in a circle. Trying to create a tornado vortex, pushing himself harder and faster. Wanting to push himself to that edge, wanting to keep his new found friends alive.

Hopefully Wonder Woman remembered this last tactic, except they weren’t on a roof top and he was going a whole hell of a lot faster.

Freddy: “What are you talking about. Anything’s possible when we put our minds to it. I believe in you Cassie. I believe you can do anything you put your mind to. ” I take the amulet from her hand gripping it tightly. “Were the line that stands between Order and Chaos. The Fellowship stands upon the edge.” Right here. Right now. “You didn’t make a bad choice. You made the right now. The one that protected Metropolis.”

He glanced towards Flash. “Believe in yourself, Flash. Believe the impossible is possible. Believe you swifter than the wind itself. You can catch light and hold in your hand. Believe that see it. Make it happen. Never stop running. We can do this. ” I might be leaning on Achilles with this. To bolster them. Cassie doesn’t need it really, but every bit helps.

“Remember who you are. I know what you did Adam. Thank you. You know, you never told me your wife’s name. Then again, I never asked. I know who you are, Adam.” He pushed off the ground floating into air. “We always have a choice. Don’t forget that. No one ever forget that. Keep them safe. Contender to Champion. Be the Champion one more time. The true one, not the false one. I may get one shot maybe two. I don’t know. Too much death. Too many bending to wills. Whether you want my trust or my obedience I don’t know Adam. One is earned, the second gets us known where. But let me try to save your wife” I look towards the approaching storm.

Isis was locked away in an amulet. Destroying an amulet. Destroys the god. I’m not giving anyone anything to feast upon. No more death. Do the right thing. Why can’t people talk to one another without talking down to one another? I said I would rather lose the powers of Shazam rather than have them fall into the hands of another, but she won’t stop until she gets what she wants, until she raises her husband.

I continue moving higher into the air remembering what Isis said if I die she will come for the power. The power of gods can be used for more than championing. She told me. She’ll burn them down like a candle he told me. Once extinguish they’l be gone.

“I can’t do it alone.” I say almost in a silent prayer. “I know you’re there watching waiting to see what I’ll do. What hand I’ll play. Everything has been about force about power destroying or trying to be a wall, but I’m a gnat. I’m in this. I’m not trying to prove myself to anyone. I’m trying to protect worlds. If it means I fail. I fail. I won’t let her take one more life or bend one more to her will. All I ask is a chance to try to end this. I am a contender not a champion, but I will not give up and don’t think I’m giving up now. Solomon. Mercury. Achilles. I need you now. You trusted me with your blessings. I need you to help me keep balance.

“Isis is the goddess of Life and Magic, elements sway to her, but dead…the afterlife. She reaches further than she should, because that belongs to someone else. I wish to end to talk to your wife to end this never ending storm. I need your aid.” If I become a Godkiller to protect them all i will, but I have to try. Holding onto the amulet I take a deep breath and lean on the three blessings to help me. Solomon I can’t flee not any more. I have to stand my ground. Achilles will help us. I need to be me. My strength of will to guide me through.


Adam: “Hold her back?” Sigh. “This isn’t something that can…”

There goes the Flash. Even Black Adam is a little surprised at the man’s speed. It isn’t the first time that he’s seen someone be so fast, but it might be the first time it was someone that didn’t have the blessings of a God doing so. A pity, Adam thinks, that he left so quickly that he won’t hear the warning.

“…you can hold back.”

Because it simply isn’t. There is no stopping Isis. Not empowered as she is. Black Adam himself stands there, cape flapping in the wind, as silent witness to what he has to assume is going to be the death of these children. The sole thing that impresses him? Is their friendship. Perhaps even a slight bit the bravery, though ill-placed as it seems to be. It is enough, on it’s own, to move him. Bring himself in to the air near Wonder Woman.

“The woman beneath the power of Isis is a good person. This is not her, that does this. The Gods are not always there to aide us.”

For now he watches. Seeing the way the Flash moves. The wind he kicks up. That tornado effect that he brings in to motion. There is a wince on Black Adam’s face though. Clearly he does not believe this will work. He says as much to Wonder Woman. “The Speedster creates a tornado, to slow down a being who commands the very air he’s whipping in to a frenzy. Did someone forget to tell him who he was fighting?”

Adam falls silent though as Freeman ascends in to the air. His silence allows the rest of them to hear Freeman’s words. Word, actually. For the first time Black Adam smiles.

ST: Adam smiles because he knows what Freeman has done. He’s said the God’s name, while holding the Amulet in his hands. The clues were always there. Right in front of them. Isis had taken a second hostage. Minerva had been her host, to try sneaking beyond the sorcery of the Wizard in Fawcett City’s Bank. The other Hostage, the forgotten one? Had been intended to House the spirit of the God, Osiris. Isis, the Goddess, needed a Host for her Husband.

Freddy connected the dots finally. In the vault. Perhaps realizing why Black Adam had demanded the Amulet and his powers. He needed them if he was to restore his wife. Unlike Cassandra or Freddy, destroying a life, even that of a God was not unthinkable to him if it brought his wife back to him. Whether that be through killing Osiris, bannishing Isis back to her Amulet. Or becoming Osiris himself? He was clearly willing to accept those outcomes.

Freddy made the choice for him. For all of them. Though little does he realize, he needed far less power to free to Osiris than he thought. Osiris wants to be free, after all. What he does with it now that he has it? That is the question.

The storm front has reached them. True to Adam’s words the Cityscape of Coast City is changing. Each drop of water from the rain, blooms a flower. Life is emerging from the rain. Which the flash only helps by whipping the water far and wide with his tornado. With life comes rebirth… and with that….

Comes the raising of the formerly dead Citizens of the Husk of Coast City. At the eye of storm is Isis.

Cassie: “I guess I have to be Legolas. Closest to a female character I’ve got.”

I’m not actually certain how much an issue most of what Isis might raise from Coast City would be for any of us. Two of us are in the air. Wally is faster than.. everything. I really have nothing else to compare it to. I don’t have the senses necessary to pick up exactly how fast he’s going, outside of ‘faster than I can believe.’ The effects are immediate. Much like the ones that comes with Isis’ arrival. The metas though, that may be another story and what we will really have to worry about and contain if she manages to get to any of them. Or at the very least to keep them off of Freddy.

“And yet, here we are. Just the same.”

I only spare a glance at Adam himself as he rises near me. I still don’t understand his game entirely. Maybe a little, down at the core, but what’s boiled out from there. What would I do, or wouldn’t I do, for Conner?

“What did you put in Minerva’s pocket. In Fawcett. Because I’m thinking this is as much your fault as anyone else’s. So is there a good reason you’re not putting a stop to it? If, like you said, this isn’t her? Then maybe she needs a jolt. Again. Who’s she going to take that better from? I’d sure want someone who loved me to stop me from doing something I couldn’t take back.”

Wally’s doing what he knows how to do. So I’m not going to answer that criticism. I am however, moving a hand to my belt, the loops uncoiling like I bid them, glowing and glimmering with the threads that made it. And energy. It’s not the only thing crackling though. The thick gold bracelet around my wrist, last bangle from my return trip to the Subway that I hadn’t taken off. I’ve got my own power, and I”ve got tools that I’ve been given. It had been a matter of will, and mentally entitled bossiness to get it to take that shape in the first place. It should work the same way in reverse again but for now, I’ll settle for the lasso. Wally may not slow her, but he can distract from my flyby that seeks to snare her in its loops.

Freddy: I spoke the name. I turned the key and I returned him to the land of the living yet he was within me. I could feel him, coursing through my veins. I tell myself that I must remain as I am. Frederick Christopher Freeman. I stand here between worlds. I can lose myself to this, but I choose not to, because I know who I am. I think of my parents. Gramps. I share with the god of the afterlife all that there is to know of me and the world I seek to protect. I hover in the air and share with Osiris all that has happened, all that I know.

“Peace. I wish to bring her peace, bring them all peace.” I whisper. “Help me.” I know gods are not kind and benevolent, but how much longer can this go on.

I focus on everything that is within my grasp as I come down to see the storm before me. He fights for control, to reach the surface, but it is not that I want to keep him at bay. I want to keep in control. I want to remain who I am. Freddy Freeman. I cannot lose this fight.

I feel my lungs with air so he can feel it. He lives again, but this. Look at this. I need him to see his wife, to see what she has become. How, far her madness has taken her.

I need to distract her. I reach out with the power of that I hold. I am the lord of the dead right now and they will not attack my friends. They will not hurt them. I will hold them at bay while using one of them or many of them to whisper to the Flash as he zips by. Amulet. They must retrieve her amulet. Take it. Release Adam’s wife from the prison she’s in.

I come into view for Isis to see. She needs to see and sense that Osiris is among them again. Draw her attention so she will not see what comes for her. Focus. No more fighting this city has seen enough death. Isis will not allow herself to be reasoned with.

“Isis…” I call to her to draw her attention away from my allies, my friends and Adam. Maybe if we make it through this I’ll get him a copy of Gran Torino. Seems like something he’d like. “Enough death.” I tell her. There has been enough death. Let them believe again. “Live again.” She wants death, but Osiris is not only the god of the dead, but of resurrection. Take this chance. I hope they got the message. Isis will be distracted on several levels. Cassie knows if we fight her head on she will burn through the powers she’s gathered. If I distracted it may be what we need.

ST: “Eh? What are you talking about, Woman. I wasn’t in Fawcett City, until Freeman released me from the Wizard’s Sanctum. Ask him yourself, he unlocked the door. I’d been there long enough to read most the Wizard’s Library. By the time I escaped, she had already come and gone from that retched place.”

Black Adam might be someone that Cassie loathes, but he doesn’t sound like the sort to be such an open liar. What would he have to gain by lying about it, especially right this second? There’s no doubt that he might lie, but why would he do so for such a trivial thing. By all views he seems to be literally crackling with energy, ready to do battle with the woman he calls Wife. There’s this low grumbling noise from him though as Cassie speaks of jolting Isis, bringing out Adrianna from the haze of Isis’ powers.

As Black Adam watches The Flash simply runs in circles. While his airflow is not encumbering Isis in her approach, is it is doing something impressive. At first it was sending the rain in all directions, but as he has gotten control of it (dice!) the vortex he is forming has begun to whirlpool the rain in to the funnel. Keeping it from going everywhere. Though some might think the life-giving rain of Isis would be something good for Coast City, those first few wretched hands that raise from the ground? Suggest something different entirely. Though, Cassie is correct for now. There is really no one around for those few Zombies that rose to get at. Yet.

Of course, Kyle Rayner might think differently a few blocks from the Battle. Born on Monday. Christened on Tuesday. Married on Wednesday….

The efforts of Shazam‘s hopeful Champion are having an effect as well. Though perhaps not immediately the one that he was hoping for. As he gives Osiris breathe, the old God struggles for freedom that much harder. Freddy can feel it. The confinement has done much the same to Osiris that it did to Isis. Seemingly it has made the old God almost mad in it’s thirst for Life. Though even as Freddy struggles with keeping himself from losing control to the God of Death, he can also feel how the words take hold on him. Osiris does look upon Isis. Takes stock of her. Sees what she is become, how she is behaving.

Unfortunately for Freddy Freeman? Osiris does not care that Isis is perverting her power for him. Or rather he cares more about his freedom than he does for Isis. It is undoubtedly a strange recognition for Freddy. He thought to use the Old God’s love to stir something. To kindle some feeling that would have Osiris join in the effort to soothe Isis. But what he finds? Is that Osiris cares not if Isis is burnt out entirely in this endeavor. Whatever it takes, he will be free.

It is only Wonder Woman that takes a more direct physical approach. Her lasso, made from a literal weave of the Golden Fleece, is put to work. Thrown out, guided and commanded by the divinity inside of her. It rarely misses it’s target, unless she is thrown off by something struggling against her control. This is no different. As he lasso finds itself at home around Isis? Cassie might well recognize immediately the problem with her plan. The lasso responds to Divinity and while she, Cassie, is descended from Zeus? She is but half the Goddess that Isis is. Even as it encloses on Isis, true lightning channels up the rope from Isis and in to Cassie. A distinct opposite reaction from what normally happens.

Of course. Freddy was trying to reach someone. It just so happens, that it isn’t Osiris that sees what he’s doing. The angle he’s going for. It’s Black Adam. Hovering there. Ready to fight for the world, even as he’s seemingly accepted the fate of his loved one. His Adrianna Tomaz. Unmoved by Cassie’s arguments at first, he sees what Freddy is doing. Who he’s trying to reach. Freddy pleads with an unhearing God for aid, but it isn’t a God who answers him. It’s the hands of Black Adam. Moving in as Wonder Woman distracts Isis. With Freeman holding one Amulet, Adam seizes the one dangling from Isis’ throat.

He’s no sooner touched it, than he says a single word: “Shazam!

More lightning. Only this is not a bolt from Cassandra’s father. It springs from the Rock of Eternity. Striking down upon Adam, upon Freddy and Isis. Both amulets. Filling the sky with a hint of Ozone. It also leaves the all-too human forms of Teth-Adam, Adrianna Tomaz and Freddy Freeman plummeting out of the sky. With no powers to save them.

Cassie: But I saw you, is of course the immediate thought. Tim had shown me the traffic camera footage, and especially seeing him now in person? I’d say there was no mistaking what I saw. I’ve had a whole lot of lessons lately, though, in how things aren’t exactly what they look like, sound like, or walk like. And I don’t think he was lying. He seems confused that I would have even asked. Which means someone else put that Amulet in Minerva’s pocket? While looking like Adam. Then there’d been the Adam in my dreams which I already know was not really him. Not a hard conclusion to jump to right there.

What Wally does? Is really impressive. Adam might have scorned him for what he was doing, but it wasn’t just an attempt to slow her. He’s sparing us a lot of the zombies, just by redirecting the rain. Saving us an awful lot of additional trouble. We’ve all got different strengths. Weaknesses that are offset by each other. Maybe this really can work… all in all? He’s a whole lot more successful than I am.

I wasn’t trying to take Isis down. Even out. I just wanted to do my attempt, useless or not, to slow her. Make her listen at best, the way I’d been able to command Grunge. Turns out it doesn’t work nearly so well. Quite the opposite in fact. Muscles tense as I’m the one that gets that jolt instead. Normally your hand recoils from heat, or pain, but when you’re electrocuted it’s the opposite. Fortunately, controlling the lariat is in large part a mental exercise. Which means that I don’t continue to get those god-volts on…and on… I’m tumbling out of the sky, body still not any more obedient to what I want it to do.

If I were thinking clearly, it probably wouldn’t have worried me as much. Hitting the ground doesn’t do a whole lot to me anymore. Especially not a normal falling speed. I make a decent crater but that’s about it. In a way, it might have been a bit of a blessing, because I’m face down and groaning when lightning fills the sky again, if my hair weren’t already on end it probably would be now. There’s still a bright, blinding after image though. And I’m barely making out the falling shapes in the sky.

“Oh, no.”

Forcing myself up fortunately doesn’t really require getting my limbs working. It’s not my most graceful, or enjoyable, flight upwards to try to snag them all, tempting as it honestly is to only save Freddy and I’m immediately ashamed tha tthe thought actually occurs to me. That’s not like me.

Wally: Wally has a unique view of the world. When he’s running, everything slows down around him. Nearly coming to a standstill. So when he finally gets the rain in a giant twister and holds it there. He’s stunned by the sheer brilliance of the lightning. But he see’s it traveling down. Yes. Down. Not up. This wasn’t normal lighting, obviously. He watches it strike Adam, then Isis, and finally Freddy Freeman. It was an incredible sight. But, then they were no longer their superhuman selves. Breaking away from the vortex, he speeds towards where everyone is falling. Through all this, he can see Wonder Woman, second by second try and catch the three.

So, Wally decides to make a vortex *here* to try and bring them all down safely. Or at least slow their descent enough for Wonder Woman to catch them. Hopefully there’s enough time for him to do this.

Also, that rain? Hopefully it’s not magiked anymore or Wally’s running isn’t going to be done any time soon.

Because Zombies are bad, Mmmkay?

Freddy: I could feel it. I could sense it. It seemed that Isis’s made desire to resurrect Osiris was matched by Osiris desire to live again. He did not care. Perhaps afterwards he would, but in this moment he could give a damn. How would she feel about that? It didn’t matter, because it all came to an abrupt end the moment Adam was able to undo what he had done. He brought down the lighting and it was broken the cycle of the moment was disrupted and Freddy found himself falling.

ST: The three of them begin to tumble. As if someone had flipped off a light switch, Black Adam & Shazam were no more. So too was Osiris gone, Isis as well. All three beings now completely human, utterly normal and frail. The two amulets literally thrum with power. All of these things drop out of the sky. Plucked from the heavens with a single word. Spoken with equal parts love for his wife and anger at what had become of her. In doing so, Black Adam made use of Freeman’s gamble. Perhaps not exactly what Freddy and Solomon had planned, but how could they have counted upon Teth-Adam doing something such as this? Him being moved by Cassandra’s words of love and what she would hope for from those she cares about.

On the ground, the Flash is ever in movement. His efforts had stopped most of the rain. Keeping it bound to a single area of the city. Then keeping the Zombies it created bound with the air flows of the vortex he created. With Isis once more restrained within the Amulet, he moves yet more. Taking his tornado with him in an effort to offer a buffet of air that would blunt the fall of the three humans. Giving Wonder Woman a chance to ‘make the save.’ With the only choice she has left, being who or what she’ll rescue. She simply lacks the appendages needed to grab all three people and both amulets.

Ah, but that is not all that has changed. Though it is unseen? As the three fall to the ground? Freddy Freeman is quite more than just unconscious. He’s there. In the Rock of Eternity. Where the Wizard awaits him. Though it is perhaps not the Wizard he knew. The young man, a boy really, awaits. His eyes still full of life and wonder. With a voice that sounds as if he were about to ask Freddy to come outside and play.

“You have many questions, Freddy, but now is not the time for you to have all of the answers. There is something greater at work here than just your Trial. This world is ‘Broken,’ so too are the Trials. They are broken, because we must have a Champion that understands not everything is as it seems. Hercules has given you his Blessing, because now you understand that Strength is not always the power to punch through walls. There is no greater strength than love, Freddy.”

“The Old Wizard is gone, for now. The way to the Sanctum, along with the door to the Rock of Eternity are closed. So they must remain for now. You’ll understand why soon enough. For now, Freddy Freeman. Awaken and say your name.”

Cassie; Fortunately I don’t really need extra appendages to catch all of them, though I could probably have done this a lot more neatly with them. Without Wally’s help, it likely still wouldn’t have been possible because I’m definitely not at my best in this moment. My muscles are slow to respond, and the result is something more like a bull rush than the gentle scooping out of the air I would have normally tried otherwise. Using my momentum to move bodies forward, rather than down, an arm snatched here that’s probably going to result in a pulled shoulder joint for Black Adam, a very sore knee and hip for Isis’ shell when I grab an ankle and maybe a bruise from my own shoulder for Freddy’s abdomen. I’m sure they’ll forgive me when they’re not crushed instead from impact with the ground.

I don’t even try to grab the Amulets as they tumble to the ground. People first. Things later. Even impossibly powerful things. Trusting to Wally’s continued currents to help get me and the rest of them to the ground a little more gently than I might otherwise manage right now. Panting for air, more thanks to the electrocuting that’s left me short of breath than any real exertion, I struggle back up again once I’ve put them down. To look for more threats whether it’s in the form of still risen zombies or…

I’m not discounting anything right now, honest.

Freddy: My eyes opened and I found myself no longer in the company of friends. “Eternity.” I had been brought here once to begin the Trials. To be deemed worthy. Worthy to begin, to be blessed by the six gods. Looking around I expect something anything perhaps a lecture, but instead I get a bright eyed kid who feels familiar, but I’m pretty sure I don’t know him. Or did I? My lips part to say something anything, but instead he’s talking like the Wizard if the Wizard was one fur coat shy of sounding like a Care Bear.

“Hercules.” This was his trial. Shutting my eyes I make a soft sound. Never stop trusting your gut. I did have questions and I wanted answers, but it’s not the first time that I heard that there was something greater at work than just my trial. For the first time in a long time I listen. I don’t say anything meaning I don’t ask questions or start letting my mind go. Instead I absorb what was shared including the fact that the Old Wizard is gone…for now. Does this mean he’s the new Wizard? The substitute Wizard?

The way to the Sanctum and the Rock of Eternity have been closed. The must remain close. Must. I focus on that, but I also focus on what he says next and I do just that opening my eyes. “SHAZAM!”

Adam: The word from Freddy’s lips is enough to rouse not just the power of Shazam, but also Adam. Though not the man that either of the two of them have seen before. Standing, albeit not as steady as he otherwise might, is not Black Adam. Nor Teth-Adam. Even like this, he still dwarfs Freddy Freeman. Theo Adam has been a worker, a soldier and a slave. He’s no mere twig of a man. Nor does he share the face of the man in the Video from the Bank. He is someone else, someone different.

With a grunt, that becomes a sickening crunch, the man forces his own shoulder back in to joint. Even as he is doing this, it’s quite clear that his eyes have begun to dart around to look at the placement of the amulets. Though the reason for that, too, might surprise the two of them. “…my thanks, for finding a way to undo what you believed that I did. Know this, though. Adam sought the Wizard’s Blessing for giving her the power of Isis.”

“With your permission, I shall take Adrianna back to our homeland. I know that you will not trust me to take both her and the amulets back to Kahndaq, so I offer you this. When you realize that you cannot keep them, but you cannot destroy them? Bring them to Kahndaq. I know how to insure they’re never misused again.”

Cassie: Freddy’s once again sudden transformation makes me stiffen in alarm, a reaction I can’t help and that makes my whole body groan at the sudden movements. It isn’t just him that’s changed, though. Adam has as well. I actually look apologetic over his shoulder, even with who he is. So it would seem the strange impulse to just let him fall hasn’t continued on to being okay with hurting him, even accidentally.

“I think that’s probably best.”

I don’t think we can really even detain him. And I don’t mean physically, either. Whether or not I trust him to make sure they’re not used poorly is up for debate, but the fact that he’s willing to not fight us for them currently? Says something.

“When we discover who has been posing as you, I will let you know as well.”

My own bit of goodwill. Mostly, though, I would want the same courtesy if someone was masquerading as me.

Freddy: Gone was the familiar and now there was…the desolate. At least that was one way of looking at it. There was promise here in Coast City. In the distance you could see the structure that was being built not to far away, but if that was a startling sight then there was who was Black Adam, but no more. He was quite different, still taller and bigger, but there was something less Adam about him. The arrogance and threatening demeanor was gone. When he spoke he sounded very different from the man who threatened my life on more than one occasion.

Not everything is as it seems. It rung in the back of my mind. Glancing towards Wonder Woman when he spoke of the amulets. I rather be rid of them, but for the moment I think we should do as he says. Something tells me that we need to just take it a step at a time. I know I needed to regroup. With our permission?

“The let this be the end of it for now. Return home. See to Adrianna. She’s been through a lot. You both have. When the time comes we will come to Kahndaq.” The amulets were still a danger. Right now I rather not tempt fate if I could manage it. “Safe journey.” Masquerading as him, that was different, but it does track with a few things. Right now I could go for a burger.

Adam: “He was not lying when said they can be destroyed, with great effort. Should they be? The Gods are important. Even if people in this age don’t understand the way they once did. Though those two may be broken, they are ageless. Who is to say they cannot be healed?”

There is no more to be said about though. While he could surely transform and renew the battle for the Amulets, there is little to be gained in doing so. He no longer seeks them for their power, no longer believes they would be what is best for Adrianna or her brother. At least, not right now. Not yet. Perhaps in the future, when the Gods within are more… sane. Which means that there is nothing to be gained, when time can be given to these two in order to earn their trust perhaps. Or at least their respect.

Even with the injured shoulder and lacking the power of the Gods, Theo is able to scoop the limp form of Adrianna up off the ground as if she weighed no more than a child. As he does, he takes a moment to acknowledge what Cassie has said. “I would appreciate that. Strange powers are at work. This Country’s problems have begun a domino effect all over the world. This clandestine group, that killed the former Champion. They left the world of Magic unprotected.”

“Some might think that merely happenstance, but neither I, nor Black Adam believe in coincidence. Be on your Guard and know that all three of you are equally welcome in Kahndaq. You will find sanctuary there, should you need it.”

A final nod of the head to the would be Champion and the Demigoddess. Much like before, he takes only a moment more to look over the Speedster, almost as if he wants to say something more to him specifically. Then with a whispered ‘Shazam’, the more feeble Theo is gone once more. Replaced by a figure that doesn’t even deign to look at them, before taking to the air and heading away at a speed that isn’t much slower than the Flash.

Cassie: I don’t know that they should be destroyed. It was only really even a question I’d posed because there had seemed to be limited options at the time, and I was fishing for an answer. Destroying a God is… not something you’d think you should be able to do. Not to mention that power has to go somewhere. The resulting potential for disaster? World destroying when you’re talking two of them. And for the moment, it’s no longer needed. I’m not a destroyer. I’m a hero.

“I’m starting to feel much the same way. Thank you for the offer.”

Once Black Adam’s out of sight? I let my knees go. Which drops me rather unceremoniously on my spangly ass in the rubble around us. Everything still feels like not fully solidified jell-o right now. They say you should experience a taser, before you attempt to apply it to anyone else. Well. Now I know, I suppose. Finally catching my breath, or at least making an attempt at it.

“Your face… looks like what I’m thinking. I need a milkshake. Before we do that, I think we should make a trip back to Metropolis. All of us.”

Because people will want to know what happened. And the answers are going to not just come from Wonder Woman this time.

Freddy: I meant what I said and what I thought. I did not want to see them destroyed. I rather try to find a way to help,. Right now as they are I think they’re driven by instinct more than anything. Osiris could care less if Isis survived or not. He wanted freedom more than anything just as Isis wanted him back more than anything.

I don’t know what’s more scary the fact that this guy is likable more so than Black Adam or the fact that I said almost the same thing to Conner and Cassie in the library. That when Billy Batson died that threw everything out of order. I had so many questions, but I knew answers weren’t coming not by a long shot, but it was obvious someone was taking advantage of the fact that there was no Champion and that magic was broken. It almost made me wonder if they didn’t have a hand in setting it all in motion.

“Will do and you do the same.” I’m sure he will, but it still needed to be said. “Thank you for the invitation.” Khandaq. That would be different.

Returning the nod I watch as Theo transforms to everyone’s “lovable” ready to murder you superhuman. I didn’t expect anything from him, but the fact that he didn’t call me a foolish child, shake me like a rag doll or threaten to murder me…..let’s call that progress for about five minutes.

“Milkshake and burger, but you’re right. We need to let everyone know we’re ok. See how bad the damage is and compare notes.” I know always with the comparing of notes.

Cassie: “More than that. I mean. Yes, we need to let them know we’re okay, but we need to let everyone know what we did tonight. Together. So, gentlemen, you have until we get back to Metropolis, because I’m nicer than Superman. And I’m not going to put you on the spot, on camera, and make you pick your name in three seconds.”

I think Flash has his picked, but I don’t know for sure what Freddy wants to be called. And I have until we all get there to decide what, and how, I’m going to say it.

Good thing I’m the slow one, here.

Freddy: “Oh..” That part. I thought we were supposed to be doing this together. Helping each other out. Arching my brow I nodded. “Alright. Until we get back to Metropolis.” Though I was pretty sure I had name. At least that’s what the substitute Wizard said. Yes, that’s what I was going to call him. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t all in my head and even if it was I’m still going with that.

“You wanted to be called something other than Wonder Woman?” I glance over at Cassie considering that. “What would you have picked?” Oh yeah she was probably going to get peppered with questions from both me and Wally.

Batman: “Alternatively. You can take the Invisible Jet.”

When did Batman get here? It’s best if you don’t ask that question. Or even think about it. Just accept the cellphones that are being offered and load in to the plane that you can’t really see. Other than the open-door and Alfred Pennyworth waving everyone up the marginally visible ramp.

Cassie: “…I dunno. Actually. My choice started with things that I didn’t want to be called, and then went from there. It’s. Kind of grown on me now, though.”

“…Batman. Thanks for bring th…my jet.”

When did Batman get here? I’m not going to ask that, I know better. Also I’m actually incredibly happy for both the phone, and the ride. And the time that’s going to allow for speech prep. He’s still getting some side-eye as I go up the ramp though.

Night at the Museum

There is an age old saying, ‘Bad things happen in threes.’ One of the many aspects of Murphy’s Law. Anything and everything that can go wrong, probably will. Today has been a pretty rough day for our Heroine. She woke up this morning and went to school. About half-way through the school day she received a call from Freddy Freeman. Racing to the Metro Public Library, she’d found her friend seeking safe harbor after a tremendous disaster in Fawcett City. He had brought with him an amulet, that he turned over to Superboy for safe-keeping. Cassie and Conner took that Amulet to her Mother. Helena Sandsmark, whom Cassie had only recently discovered, was far more than meets the eye. She was someone that the Kids believed would be able to sage-guard the Amulet, allowing them to continue moving about their average day. While Conner and Helena were securing the Amulet? Cassie snuck away. Looking in to clues she’d discovered that took her deep in to the bowels of Metropolis. There she found a sealed battleground, protected from the elements and left almost perfectly in tact. A single lightening bolt was discovered. The remnants of some battle she knew had happened between Agents of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and the man she also knows as Black Adam. She road the lightning to Olympus, where she met her father for the first time. Not just any Father, but the God of Gods. Zeus. Only to return home where she had a very lengthy, touching, and dramatic confrontation with her boyfriend. Following the Wisdom of Solomon, the two were able to work out their differences just in time for Cassie to get a strange call. Off she went to a meeting with Wally West, aka the Flash. All of this is a day in the life of Cassandra Sandsmark, but it’s not quite over yet.

Helena was due home after work. Even accounting for being the normal amount of late, she was starting to out strip even that. Of course, it’s difficult for Cassie to even know that. Given that she isn’t at home like she should be. Nor is she carrying her Cell Phone, to be called remotely. Alas this means that it isn’t until Cassie returns to Casa Del Sandsmark, that she’ll see the blinking lights on the old fashioned answering machine.

BEEP: Hi, baby. I’m going to be late coming home. Finishing up that project for Conner. Your boy said he was handling Dinner. Love you.
BEEP: Hey, sweetheart. I’m still at the museum. Have you noticed anything strange with Krypto? He’s been acting weird for the last half hour. Can.. uh … we even take him to the Vet? Call me when you get this.
BEEP: Cassandra. It’s nearly 9 o’clock on a school night. Why aren’t you picking up your cell phone? Why aren’t you at home to pick that one up? Call me as soon as you get this. Something is really bothering Krypto. Did Conner let him eat the neighbor’s cat again?
BEEP: ….(glass breaks)… Cass… where are you… something.. something is wrong. I thought Krypto was sick but… (growling)… he’s really angry. I think something is really wrong… He won’t let me leave the office… please baby, send Conner as soon as you can.
BEEP: … what the hell was that? Stay with me, boy… we’ve got to get to the vault… Cassie. Someone is here. Krypto… he’s very angry… did you know your dog gets angry? I think they’re here for the vault… I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to know you’re okay… (loud barking, growling, growing more and more savage)…

The phone line abruptly goes dead. There are no other messages. The last one was almost ten minutes ago.

Cassie: I can’t help but wonder if this is how my life is going to be from now on. This busy. I’m not always going to have things like cropped up today. Am I? I mean, there’s only going to be one first meeting with your father, and he’s not exactly someone I have to drop in and visit now and again. It’s going to take some doing to get back there ever. Until, I guess, I’m ready to decide that’s where I want to be or something drastically changes in the Earth/GodLand relationship. I didn’t even do half of the things that Cassie Sandsmark was supposed to do today. Like most of my classes, or cheerleading.

Coming back home, there’s a few things noticeably different than what I actually expected. For one, my Mother’s car isn’t in the garage. Second, there’s no Conner, or Superman, waiting for and there’s absolutely no way it’s taken him this long to go to France and then come back. That means he got sidetracked by something, and since I haven’t noticed him shooting around the Metropolis skyline that means it’s not around here. In a way, that’s good and bad all at once. I don’t have to explain why I didn’t call him, though this time it really isn’t my fault, but now I’m left wondering what’s going on.

I never realized how dependent I was on my cell phone, especially since I’m not really a play games on it kind of gal, until tonight. Even though I hadn’t actually missedit for the first four hours or so that it was gone and destroyed . I should probably call Tim the old fashioned way and let him know I’m going to need a replacement. And apologize. I may not have noticed the flashing of the answer machine if I hadn’t been going to do that in the first place. Everyone just uses their cells. I don’t even know when the last time this thing had any pertinent calls on it…

The first message isn’t alarming. She’s late, she’s securing the amulet. Conner had indeed handled dinner, which he and I had already eaten and cleaned up by now. Leftovers for her in the fridge, though. The second one? Well. Yes. I’ve noticed a lot of things strange with Krypto, he’s not a normal dog. The third is much the same, but I start to get worried. Alien dog he may be, but usually he hides it. If something is bothering him that much, something must be wrong. And I can’t send Conner because he’s not here. I don’t actually make it all the way through the fifth message before I’m back out the garage’s side door and rocketing up into the sky.

I’m very aware of the whipcrack of noise my path makes in the air, but I don’t actually care. I’ve not really had reason to push myself to move this quickly before, and push it I do. I’m sure they’ll forgive me my complete lack of a subtle entrance, because unless there’s an immediately accessible and open door, which is highly unlikely at this time of night when the place is closed to guests, I’m going in through a window with a crash of broken glass. Down to the basement, where I know that vault is located. At least roughly.

ST: It doesn’t take Cassie long in the air to notice some none-to-subtle differences from only a few moments ago. The air is thick. A roll of thunder crackles the night sky. Clouds are rolling in over Metropolis. Though they’re all too strangely concentrated around the Metropolis Museum of Science and History. In a city like Metropolis with it’s Sky-Rail and it’s towering SkyScrapers, the Museum actually stands apart as a thing of genuine History. Three dual pillars that extend from floor to roof mark it as old, but it’s the large stain glass windows that truly mark it as a marvel of History.

It isn’t overly hard to find an entrance as Wonder Woman arrives on the scene. A large whole is already torn through one of the enormous double doors in the very front of the Museum. From the air she can see flickers of red light, washing through the windows here and there. Along with the terrible sounds of screaming, that accompanies equally loud roars so savage she might not even associate them with Conner’s pet. Once she makes her way through the melted front window? Cassie is bound to see, instantly, that the Museum she has considered a second home is in shambles. Claw marks litter the walls. Scorch marks score exhibits. Splashes of blood line the floor.

Curiously there appears to be no damage from the outside. No visible signs that someone broke -in- to the Museum.

It won’t take long for Cassie to understand why either. Orienting herself toward one of four different stair cases or two different elevators (one of which is a freight elevator). All of those signs of battle begin at the Khandaq Exhibit. She’s been here before. Not so long ago in fact. When Tim Drake took her on a holographic tour of this very place. Showing her the sights, sounds and wonders of a land she’s never been too. Now though it takes her little time noticing the difference. The Holographic displays, showing all of the cultural information is left undisturbed, but the actual physical exhibits? Every single one of them is trashed. Sarcophagus overturned. Urns upended. A perfectly outlined form of a body, forever burned in to the wall as if something flash-fired a body out of existence.

There’s far more signs of this very thing littered through out the museum, but Cassie seems to be in a hurry. Nothing stops her from quickly descending the first flight of stairs down in to the “Science” portion of the museum. The damage there is more the same, but far less spread out. More of a path, spreading from a ruined civilian elevator down towards a stairwell. She won’t encounter any resistance down those stairs either, though she’s going to see signs of battle growing more congested as she goes. A shattered skeleton, who’s limbs still reach for her. What looks like a host of carrion beetles all scorched in to dust that crumbles when the breezes past in flight.

It isn’t until she reaches the next level that she even encounters what might be considered resistance. As she clears the stairs leading beyond the Historical Archive, where books, texts and tomes are kept? She flies right in to what can only be compared to a scene from the Walking Dead or the Mummy. As every undead corpse in the Museum has congregated in the stairwells. All forcing their way down to where Cassie seeks to get too.

She might try another way down. Perhaps the last functional elevator. She could. That is. If it were not for the fact that she has apparently picked the one staircase with a reincarnated trio of Velociraptors. We’ve all seen the movies. The way the wicked little menaces catch a scent. Their nearly feathered carcasses turning in her direction…. and then like a pack of wolves rushing her. They sure don’t move like Zombie Dinosaurs. Chomp Chomp.

Cassie: That’s the entrance, right through the double doors and their gaping hole. Collateral damage may be about the least of my concerns right now, but most of the time I do at least stop to think about it. This is clearly a disaster already in progress, which is exactly the sort of thing Wonder Woman is supposed to move in and stop. Or Superman. Equal opportunity city. But they’re blown out. Not in. So was it something already inside, or something that got in another way? Questions that only barely scratch my awareness, because there’s other things to focus on.

The blood. The claws. Where things were clearly melted or roasted. So was that Krypto’s doing, or someone or something else? What is he fighting? It’s not hard to figure out where the carnage spreads out from though. Khandaq. Damnit The newest exhibit, arranged by my friend through an intermediary, where I’d been getting my personal history lessons on the foes I might have to face. I don’t hang around long to agonize over the what and why, again, because there’s still screaming. The roars. That means there’s still people to save, and that they’re also still in danger.

“What the ….?!”

We’ve all seen night at the museum. It’s a funny little thing, that couldn’t possibly be true but what if, right? Well. It seems to have managed it. For whatever reason. On the night that the Amulet from Fawcett was brought in for safe keeping. Not a fact I glaze over in my rush. I ‘skid’ to a halt, if you can really skid in mid-air when your feet have nothing to stop and skid upon, just in time to see the zombie raptors turn and face me. There’s a moment of wide eyed concern, before it turns into narrow-eyed anger and annoyance. There’s no herky-jerky motions like you would expect from something that shouldn’t have had any proper sinews or connective tissues. No. They’re moving like I’d imagine a real predator like that might. But that still doesn’t make them as fast as me.

I give them a second to begin to rush, but I’ve learned from my recent encounters with giant, sentient reptile men. Then I’m rocketing away, a punch of air in my wake as I zip towards the freight elevator. It requires a keycard, if I remember correctly. I don’t have one of those. I do have super strength though, and it’s highly unlikely that an elevator door is going to stop me. With any luck, it won’t even be on this floor, because I’m not looking for the car. I’m just going to fly down the shaft.

St: There’s simply nothing for the Raptors to pounce upon. Cassie is gone so quickly that they can’t catch up. Though they move with the speed they would have had in life, despite obviously not being alive, they don’t move with any sort of preternatural super-speed. Leaving them in the dust isn’t difficult. Though the skittering, whistling cries of the Raptors suggest that they haven’t given up the hunt just because she outran them.

Cassie knows her way about the Museum. She’s been there a multitude of times. She even interned with her Mom their first year in Metropolis. Getting around is not a problem. Doing so quickly isn’t a problem. At the Freight Elevator there’s only a handful of shambling Mummies awaiting her. Almost stationed like sentries, there is very little difficulty avoiding them all together if she wished. Though, let’s face it. Those elevator doors that she rips off their hinges have to go somewhere right?

Then she ‘steps’ in to the elevator. It’s just her luck that the freight elevator is not on this floor. Allowing her to hover right in to the shaft, then drop down past the archival floor and the restoration floor. At the lowest level of the Museum is a sub-basement, which is where they normally store specific antiquities that are rare but no longer on display. Sometimes those are being stored to be sent elsewhere, other times they’re interred for storing until they can be put back on display. As Cassie just learned this morning, there’s another floor beneath that. One that isn’t on any map and it isn’t on the elevator’s selector for floors. You ordinarily would have to have a special key, as she saw in the hands of her mother earlier. Which overrides the normal controls and allows you to take the car down that last floor.

Cassie’s trek down the shaft comes to an end there. One floor up from where she wishes to be. The floor beneath her feels solid. During her trip to the vault with Conner and her Mom earlier, her Mom told her all about the layered defenses the vault had. Someone has triggered those. An enormous bulkhead has come in to play. Strong. Durable. Heavy. She could pound her way through it, given time. But that is all too suddenly in short supply.

Because the freight elevator car is now on it’s way down. This isn’t a controlled descend. Someone or something. Has cut the cables. Those twitter whistles suggest perhaps the Raptors did it.

Freddy: What sucks about not being able to get back into the Sanctum? Freddy actually have to leave the library. Can’t hide away in the archives they actually do sweeps when the library starts to close down. Good thing about the library it stays open later than most cities, but it simply means he was going to have to book a motel room for the night. That was going to be the plan until he stepped outside. There was something in the air, literally.

There were a few people that were gathering at the corner of the street pointing in the direction that wasn’t too far off. Being the curious person he was Freddy walked in that direction only to see something that looked all too familiar.
“Crap on a cracker.” This was not happening. That’s what was going through Freddy’s mind as he stared in the direction of the of the museum.

It was all that he said as he pulled himself towards the nearest alley because there was only one thing to do right now. It wasn’t that Freddy was unsure, he was curious as to how things might change now that he had three of the six. Either way he needed to get there fast, faster than his feet would carry. “SHAZHAM!”….

And just like that Freddy Freeman is…well not quite Shazam, but not quite Freddy. He was a touch taller and why in the world was his hair black? He didn’t even know where to begin with that, but there was definitely something there was a little bit of different. He felt different. He didn’t have the strength of Hercules that might he knew but there was an aura, Achilles. Chief Callahan. Whatever needed to be done he knew he was needed and he knew where he had to go.

Thankfully Solomon was there to balance it all, but there was something else. His clothing changed. He had a suit. Didn’t have a mask to cover his face, but his face well it wasn’t exactly his face. He looked in the reflection of the glass and paused for a moment his lips parting, but there was no time. Instead there was unnatural storm to see about and just like that Freddy was gone his feet carrying him quickly down the street as he poured it on moving in and around people and cars that might make people think he was the Central City streak or whatever they were calling him the days. He doubted he was that fast, but he was fast enough to get him from point A to B while keeping his eyes on those clouds as he arrived at his destination.

The museum. Wait.

Cassie’s mom works at one. She’s an archaeology brat. Crap on a cracker squared.

Freddy takes a moment to scan the entire area to look for anything that looks out of the place beyond the obvious clouds. Anyone or anything that could be responsible or associated with the current gathering micro storm that’s centered around this area. Remember how things were at the bank. Things went sideways inside, but right now he had to use the precious moment his speed could by him to do a quick run of the perimeter to find the easiest way because something told him.

Museum of antiquities + amulet arrival in the city + unnatural looking storm = trouble.

Cassie: That definitely seems like a suitable place to send the elevator doors, doesn’t it? There’s no real room for a good wind up and Frisbee sort of maneuver, but I don’t need a lot of speed or accuracy. Brute force and the weight of the metal will make up for that. I don’t actually stick around long enough to see how successful I am, because they’re a secondary concern to my getting where I needed to be. Down. Down and down. Which is precisely where I go. Keeping track of the openings in the shaft alongside me so that I know exactly how far down I am. It should be three…but I come up short at two. There’s a brief moment of confusion until I remember what my mother had said.

About the time I’m rearing back to start trying to punch my way through the barrier? I hear the sound. It’s not something that my ears immediately would have recognized, how many people know what a plummeting elevator car sounds like when you’re below it? I didn’t until right now. With a hiss of surprise and annoyance, blue eyes whirl around me, falling on the currently closed door panels that would have allowed for entry, or exit, from the elevator. I don’t really want to see if it will hurt at that speed, and while I could rise up to meet it and then slow its decent?

A considering look is spared for the barrier again, before I throw myself through the doors leading out, instead of down. Maybe the crash will net me a two birds, one elevator result.

ST: Cassie gets nadda. Unless what she was hoping for was an elevator crashing down upon a sealed bulkhead. Completely littering it with debris that she would now have to clear, just to start punching her way through. On the good side of things, plowing through those double doors created a compressed expulsion of them. Sending them careening through the little vault area. Leaving her, ultimately, free to move along. Where ever it is that she might be headed. The flip-side to this is that Mr. Freeman now has -no- clear way to follow. Leaving him three zombie filled stairways and two remaining elevator doors. Neither of which actually go down in to the subbasements without key-cards.

While this may seem to be a moment to take a breathe? Another scream rings out for Cassie. This one is much closer. It won’t take her long to find the cause of it. Members of the Night Staff, Curators, Janitors…etc. have barricaded themselves in to the commodities cages and air-tight vacuum sealed rooms. Even now they’re being harassed by yet more undead creatures that have risen from their various states of eternal slumber. Not all of these creatures are entirely whole. A hand recovered from the Tar Pits, tries to attack the curator that had been attempting to carbon date it. A pair of enormous teeth, that look as though they came from a meglodon shark, snap at a pair of curators who had been trying to store it away. A pair of janitors duel with two skeleton armored up in what looks like armor from the crusade’s period.

All around them. History has risen up to fight back.

None of which, likely, matters one tenth as much as the flash of red light in the staff-only stairwell. A rolling growl, that sounds the part of a lion until it ends in an ear-shattering bark, signals that Cassie has found Krypto. Though getting to him is another story. While she circumvented that stairwell for two stories? She now is faced with a veritable horde of Zombie creatures. All fighting not just Krypto, but themselves, to get down in to that final area. And this is a fight that audibly, Krypto is actually losing if only by weight of the sheer numbers at work here.

Outside, Freddy is in place to see the change as it begins to happen. The clouds which were centralized upon the Museum begin to crackle with lightening and roll with thunder more by the moment. Someone up there is angry. Very angry. With a crackle of electricity. A strike of lightning hits the ground outside of the Library. Melting the pavement. Setting off car alarms for blocks. Dampening the electricity for more than a mile in all directions. From the crater of melted asphalt steps a single being.

A woman. The Goddess; Isis has come to Metropolis and she isn’t a little old lady anymore.

Cassie: It was worth a shot. On the upside, I’ve not been smashed in, but clearly neither has the opening that I would have liked to get through. I don’t stick around to mope over the lack of success however. Who knows how long anyone can afford for me to do so. And who knows how many people were still here when this started. The after hours crew varied, depending upon what was going on. With a new exhibit? I’m better there was a lot more than usual here. And soon enough I find them. They seem terrified, obviously, but…managing. Breaking in to ‘rescue’ them might only result in my allowing even more of the risen exhibits to join them.

And someone else looks like he needs my help.

“Krypto! I’m here! Coming in!”

A warning, mostly because I’d like to avoid getting eye-lasered for a moment. Which. Yes. Our family ‘pet’ is capable of doing. This time, I don’t try to avoid the zombies in order to get to him, though I still move at much the same speed I did before. This time, however, it’s with a lowered shoulder as I plow my way through the horde, knocking over or splattering as many as I can on the way.

Freddy: All Freddy could think of was those times when people said that the clouds look angry. That was an angry storm. No that wasn’t an angry storm that was descending upon the area, it was a furious storm. Summoning all the presence that he could at the moment he watched as the leader line came down. that faint flash that occurred before lightning traveled down along it branching out but this one didn’t terminate before it touched the ground it hit and it hit hard.

The wrath of a god has been felt by everyone within the immediate area. Still Freddy did what he needed to do. “Clear the area people. Let’s go!” He said. “Nothing to be afraid of. Just back away from the area. He moves out in front of the people to get their attention. “We have a dangerous storm in the area. Get inside and stay inside until it passes.”

He saw who emerged out of the lightning. Hopefully he could draw by standers attention away from that and get them headed where they neeaded to, because he could only focus on that for a moment, because the kind of sort question that he and Cassie wanted and answer too had just answered itself.

Isis had arrive in quite the fit of rage. Freddy didn’t rush in, he kept his distance. As much as he could while making sure any and ,everyone, that might be lingering were plucked away with the speed he possessed. He needed to clear the area, because, honestly, he didn’t know what was about to happen, but he was going to need everything he had to try and slow Isis down it was a matter of how, but first thing all the innocents needed to be removed and taken at out of the area.

Compartmentalize, Freddy. Theorize.
One. I saw Sobek. Sobek saw me. He may have seen what Callaghan did.
Two. He told Isis.

Three. Isis may have tracked the amulet or me to Metropolis. More than likely the amulet.
Four. Isis is super pissed and I’m the last person she wants to see. Another brick in the wall to be ripped out and shattered.


Plan A. Death. No. No not death. She’s in there somewhere. Damn it. He wanted to know where she was. She’s here so fallen champion I need you to run interference. Follow the lightning. Fight for her.

If he could pinch the bridge of his nose Solomon probably would, but hey there are no handbooks on this and it’s definitely not something you can punch your way through.

St: It doesn’t take a -lot- of speed, added to strength, to hit the skeletons from behind and plow through them. These aren’t full mass bodies here. What she’s seeing aren’t even really Zombies, but more like truly animated skeletons. Just in time for halloween. Whoever has clean up duty at the Museum is going to hate her though. Because when she hits the group with blunt force the majority of the faster skeletons, had managed to get to the front of the line. Those who got too close to the entry had met with a disastrous mauling at the paws of Krypto the Wonder Dog.

Krypto happens to look anything but wonderful right now. His features are drawn back, revealing a savage beast beneath the normally playful creature. He actually seems to be looming, making him look visually larger. Though he hasn’t come through all of this unscathed. Normally pure white fur actually has scores of cuts and lines of missing fur. Something had managed to actually puncture his skin and strip away entire gouges of fur. Though it doesn’t take much to see that the alien canine is positively slobbering with the taste of battle. Eyes glowing and venting heat. There’s a quite little ‘muur’ of acknowledgement when Cassie bursts through the doorway.

That is when Cassie gets to see what had actually damaged her Dog. At first it might seem like one of the Crocodile Men, but a second look will tell her that something -in- here. In the ‘Super Secret Vault Room’ had actually attacked them upon arrival. Leading her to realize that while her Mother had come here to protect the Vault, the Vault itself had then attacked them. And Cassie, no sooner beyond the doorway than Krypto launches back in to the fray. His eyes lancing the downed Skeletons with full fury heat-vision that turns them to little more than fire and ashes. Just fire and ashes that are none-the-less still animated and coming. As Cassie has seen even dismembered bits of the dead animate in to motion.

Outside young Freddy Freeman has seen the arrival of Isis. In all of her Glory. Gone are the trappings of Minerva, the elderly woman from Fawcett City. In it’s place are the shapely curves of an Khandaqian Princess. Adrianna Tomaz is a striking figure all on her own, but when empowered by the Goddess she is quite literally difficult to look away from. Her beauty is quite literally the thing of myth and mystery. Only the courageousness of Achillies allows Freddy to not fall under her spell. More importantly, his Presence in the field mutes the effect she has upon the average person. Emergency Workers, Onlookers. All take heed from him and move to give the Hero some distance to face off against this unknown threat.

It takes only a split-second for Isis to take notice of Shazam. Though Freddie had sought to slow her, he perhaps did not think to do so quite as literally as it happens. Her firsts crackle with electricity. A gesture at Freddy with one hand sends a gust of wind at his back. Like the actual air around him begins to solidify in an effort take hold of him and carry him to her.

“… when last we spoke, I gave you a choice … now I will make that choice for you.”

Cassie: Knowing what Krypto was supposedly capable of, and seeing it in action are two totally different things. Conner and I are usually in the city, and he’s pretty on top of keeping track of the people who are important to him with x-ray vision, but the family ‘pet’ was a contingency. He follows my Mother to work. Tails her wherever she goes more or less. And now we get to see what would have happened to anyone stupid enough to try and mess with Helena Sandsmark. My snuggly white shepherd doesn’t look nearly so snuggly right now. I want to help him, but after that moment of watching him slag them and…still have them get back up again?

That tells me that nothing is going to stop them, until whatever is causing this is stopped. They’re all plainly trying to get down here.

There’s a set of slagged doors, and then… something beyond them. Whatever had attacked Krypto and done this damage. I still haven’t seen my mother, and that’s worrisome on its own, but Krypto is clearly still holding them off the doorway as best he can. Hopefully because she’s still in, and whatever got the giant dog? Hasn’t gotten my Mother, as well. Picking up speed once more, I kick into flight through the first set of already opened doors, and plow into the second set. Trying to force my way into one of the only places in the museum that I’ve never set foot, and frankly didn’t know existed until today.

I’m ready for a fight. I may not know what kind or what against, but anything that moves that isn’t Helena Sandsmark is going to get punched.

Freddy: Freddy meant to draw her attention away from what she was going to do, but he also hoped that it wouldn’t come to something like this. You know him being pushed towards her like he was about to be served up like a Christmas ham. This is definitely not what he wanted. Plan A wasn’t looking good right about now. He needed a little guidance on this. He needed to figure this out. There were ways that this that this could end, ways this could go.

She was going to suck him dry which would only serve to make a bad situation worse. Rather than propel himself forward instead he chose to go up. He was pushed towards her, but unless that was strapping him down up was always an option as he moved to the air, because well, it was something he was capable off. He flew as high as it took to keep his distance. He wasn’t about to give her what she wanted.

“You don’t understand Isis. You got it wrong. I’m giving you a choice. I’m giving you a chance to show not just me, but the world around you that you’re capable of so much more than this. That you are still the goddess magic and life. That you are an honorable being. You have a choice. To be who you were and abandon this before you lose everything.”

Wally: Well. When, you see flashes, and hear screaming coming from a museum. Things can’t be going well. This so wasn’t Wally’s deal. But, while he was in Metropolis, figure he’d check it out and see if he could help. Zooming towards the museum, he figured it was probably some villain trying to make a name for himself. Because that’s what newbie… villains….do….? This is new. Is she the bad guy? Or the good guy? Who’s the dude in red? And there’s screaming inside…which he… should take care of? He had no idea. But it looked like the dude in red had it.

(Great color choice, by the way).

The dude was talking with her, so he’d run in only to be met by a Velociraptor skeleton. Wait. Why was it running at him?!!? WHY WAS IT ATTACKING HIM!!?!?! He needed to talk to Wonder Woman and her choice of villains. But first, he needed to make sure he wasn’t going to become a skeletal snack first.

ST: This is one of those moments that is very surreal. The first set of doors would normally be a simple security check. Those doors are actually melted slags, puddling on the floor in to molten metal heaps. Followed by a second set that don’t actually yield immediately beneath the brute force approach that has gotten Cassie this far. In fact, the moment she comes in to contact with them? Their hue changes to a golden glow and it feels as though they actually grow warmer to the touch instantly. As she applies more and more force, they hold steady. Even though they too have taken the brunt of something powerful, they manage to hold against her might.

It isn’t until Cassie truly exerts herself, that she gets even the slightest give in the doors. But even then it is not Brute Force that sees her through. Much like she recently discovered with her suit and the Lasso of Fleece, the doors only begin to give way because Cassie’s divine right is employed to make her Worthy of Entrance. Even still the doors seem to -fight- her. Because she is seeking entry for the wrong reasons. Those doors are damaged. Their structural integrity challenged. They can’t actually hold against her. Not when she is so motivated to get to what lays beyond. As they crumple inward, she’ll begin to see through the opening crease to what lays beyond. Then she has to re-think everything she ever knew about the word surreal.

Beyond the doors is a sprawling cavern. Bigger on the inside, that it is on the outside. It might well be taken from the pages of Warehouse Thirteen. With it’s sweeping isle upon isle of items thought lost to the Ages. Not your average trifles. These are the thing of LEGEND. The Ark of Covenant. Excalibur. The actual, legitimate, Dead Sea Scrolls. And one Helena Sandsmark. Adorned in full Roman Legionaire’s armor, sword and shield. Bouncing from floor, to shelves. Perhaps lacking in the strength her daughter has, but moving with a quickness that seems entirely out of place. Hacking, slashing with sword and bashing with shield. Within the vault itself were many a great thing. Some of them now animated themselves. Helena does not appear to be retreating at this point. If anything she seems to be steadily advancing, cutting her way through animated creatures and corpses. Towards a being that stands just inside those doors, nearer to Cassie than her mother. Swathed in white robes, with a long bearded face and balding head. His hands gesturing like a puppeteer.

All the while outside things have gone from surreal to horrific. Though Freddy’s gambit works. Carrying him up, up and away. It does not take him to safety. Because his foe is not playing nicely. No longer bound to the form of an elder old hag, Isis is actually unbound. Untethered and apparently uncaring for Freddy’s attempts at negotiation. What’s even worse is that she doesn’t seem to be playing at all.

You dare tell a Goddess what she does not understand? You are not even a Champion yet… feel what it means to bring upon you the wrath of a God, Child.

Up, up and Away. Does not take you out of Isis’ grasp. Not when you’re her sole focus. Though he has begun to gain the blessings of his Gods, Freddy still requires air to breathe. Air which fills his lungs and gives the breathe with which to speak in such an insolent tongue to Isis. Air which she was commanding to bring him close, but now… with a wrenching of her talon like nails… she calls all the air from around Freddy back to her. Creating a vacuum, not just around him but inside of him.

Perhaps Poseidon blessed you with gills, Pretender?

The Flash, much like Cassie, is going to have a series of choices. Three sets of ‘Zombie Chow’ filled stairways. One still functioning elevator. He’s already seen the three Velociraptor-skeletons. Oh and their pal. The enormous skeletal Tyrannosaurus Rex. Good thing he’s fast. That might help him not get eaten.

Cassie: They have to know who or what they’re supposed to let in. That doesn’t happen to be me, right now. I assume it’s only a matter of permission, maybe some enchantment or other, and not because of my motivation to get into the room. I only really want two things. To help my Mom, and also the other people inside, and to stop all of the rest of this. The latter should, in theory, lead to the former.

If I weren’t gritting my teeth as I try to get my way through the first door that’s been able to stop me since my powers kicked in? I’d probably be whistling a swear word or two right now. This would be maybe a little more unbelievable to me if the rest of my day had gone differently. If I hadn’t been to Olympus, from the bowels of the subway. If I didn’t know first hand that gods and magic, and imbuements and blessings were… well. Things.

I’ve always known my mother was a badass. I knew it when I was five years old and the opinion didn’t change as I got old older. What I see through that widening crack as I push, and push with a building desperation? Tells me that I had no idea. I should probably be oogling the Ark. Which is clearly real. Excalibur. All of these things that shouldn’t be real but are… or even the fact that there’s a whole cavern underneath the museum. Or not actually underneath the museum and this is just another door that leads somewhere else. For the moment I’m not sure that distinction matters.

She’s trying to fight towards me. No, not towards me, towards the man in front of me. I’m coming, Mom. Digging in with my shoulder, I try to wedge myself between the two sides of the opening, so that I can use my feet to push opposite my back and free up a hand. Fingertips brushing the tendrils of my belt, which is really the Fleece born lasso. It answers my wants, like always, uncoiling so that I can snap it towards the man, aiming to take his feet out from under him. Or give him a buzz. Both would be great.

Freddy: Up and away was good, but now she was pretty much trying to suck the air out of his lungs which was starting to burn. He could definitely use Solomon’s aid in this, but at the moment he was the focus, he was the one that she was intent on ripping to pieces not heading towards anyone else, but how long could he keep it up that was a difficult one to say. He didn’t have the strength, but he had the speed, but he also had Achilles.

Courage. Yes he was known for his courage and his martial prowess, but direct combat? That was something Freddy didn’t want to lean into not yet. But Achilles was the fabled to be son of Zeus depending on who’s account you followed but he was invulnerable except the tell tale spot if you believe it, but different accounts son of Zeus, dipped in the River of Styx. It didn’t make him immortal or allow him to heal, but it could work in his face, but at the moment he needed something right now, because he dared.

“I DARE!” He said as he began to rotate his body in opposition to her. Slowly but hoping to gain enough speed to draw the air in direction the faster he spun. “I DARE!” He stated again. One does not tell themselves they are the champion they either are or they aren’t and it’s not for Freddy to state it’s for Freddy to show.

“Not another life. Not another god. Your prize is denied.” He would do whatever it took whatever was in his power. “I swore before them to protect this world from danger whether it be mundane or not. You’re a danger so here I am. Standing in your way. ” Spin, Freddy spin. He needed to get his breath back. Anything Solomon wanted to share he could at this time. What was he missing? He wanted a peaceful resolution, but sometimes sacrifices are necessary. Sometimes they had to be done, but had it come to that? No way back?

Wally: Great. Juuuust great.

Wally LOVES museums and the one in Metropolis is one of best in the country. The amount of history on hand is amazing. But, generally…history doesn’t come back to try and eat, or kill you. While he’s able to plow through them easily, it doesn’t mean a few get some lucky strikes in. The Roman Legionnaires are some of the most accomplished soldiers in history, and when they set their mind… or whatever they have now, to it? They’re damn near impossible. Wally’s able to avoid most of their blows and steal their skulls at the same time.

Their short swords slice him on the arm, and along his side. It hurts like a son of a bitch. But luckily they’re not able to stab him in time. He’s just too fast for them to keep up. Once he’s done with his stairway of horrors, he looks himself over with an armfull of skulls. If they can’t see, they can’t attack…right?

Why couldn’t history be just a little less violent?

ST: Alas poor Cassie. You hath been denied. Because while you do not realize that your motivation matters? It actually does. though saving your mother might seem noble, it comes at the price of intent to do violence. Which is what Cassie acts upon at the first chance she has. Utilizing an item that no doubt actually belongs in this vault, to lash out towards the man her mother so valiantly fights to approach as well. In every other case, her Lasso has obeyed her demands. Perhaps it does this time too, but she she all not know of the results as the moment she lashes out? The doors -push- back. Turning her struggle from one she was winning, to one she is losing all too quickly. Who would have thought, that in a fight with animated skeletons, the real struggle would be with a door?

Beyond which she can perhaps make out that she had succeeded. At least in part. Her lasso had managed to entangle the sorcerer. Though it hadn’t wrenched him off his feet. The doorway denying Cassie also seemed to be denying her the ability to control her Lasso. It loops around the man, but is more inconvenience than actually stopping him. It does one thing though. It interrupts his control of the things that attack her Mother. Leaving Helena free to toss a shield careening through the terracotta warriors she’s been harassing for gods know how long.

If Cassie listens, she can hear her Mother questioning ‘Amentep,’ as to why he would side with Isis. She could probably make out that the older man’s answer was something akin to ‘Having no choice.’ Because he motions with that little scepter in his hand towards Cassie’s mother and entire Museum seems to gain new furor in it’s attempt get to Helena Sandsmark.

Hey. Flash. Meet Krypto. The wonder dog. He’s the giant Wolf-like dog with the flamey eyes that pounces you. Right before the skulls in your hands tear you to pieces with their teeth. What’s a couple bites between Roman Friends, right? At least you’ve come to the right place.

Outside is not getting any better for Freddy. Who’s right not getting what amounts to Solomon’s version of Gandolf’s vaunted, ‘Run you fool.’ Because Isis is only getting angrier by the second. If something can be said for Freddy’s stance? It’s that he’s definitely keeping Isis from making it to the Vault where Cassie, Wally and Helena are fighting Ibis the Invincible.

Isis does not just control air. Not electicity. She has dominion over each of the elements and it would seem her intent is to try using each one until she finds one that Shazam isn’t apt at foiling. Next is heat. Which Freddy is helping with by spinning. Friction creates it. Which then brings forth sweat, moisture. Water, another thing at her bidding. And bid she does. Commanding it to leave Freddy, to evaporate away. Clearly she understands that Freddy has been blessed with Speed, with Courage and Will, to go with Wisdom. None of it matters to her, as she works to break his down element by element.

You are a fool. If you die here, now, I can still harvest the essence from your corpse and use it to bring back my beloved Osris.

Cassie: “Nnngh!”

What changed? I didn’t get weaker, but all the sudden the door started fighting me that much harder. It can’t just be a matter of permission, because I have to assume the man in front of me wasn’t just allowed in. Unless he was a traitor of some sort. I could feel it though. The way it was responding to me, not a whole lot differently than the trident had. The way the lariat that’s even now hanging like a noodle over/roughly around this Amentap. Blowing out a frustrated breath that ruffles the hair in my face, I close my eyes and focus on what I’m doing. Why I’m actually here. With everything that happened today. Everything my Mother had told me this week, or that my Father had today.

“There is always a choice.”

Maybe I shouldn’t know that so well as I do at seventeen, but I do know it. Sometimes it’s a choice between two crummy choices, but it’s still there just the same. I focus on my need to get in there. The urge to protect. But more than that? I focus up my right to be in there. That’s my Mother. These are the things she protects. And while she hasn’t exactly been able to be totally forthcoming (…like about how she’s even more of a badass than I thought, for example), I think they’re mine, too. Hadn’t Zeus more or less said as much? Twice?

Wally: Giant…Dog?

Really? Well, thankfully for the giant dog because when he pounces onto Wally, the skulls go clattering onto the ground. Their jaws snapping to try and bite something. But to no avail. So, now his problem is a giant dog that was currently keeping him pinned to the ground.

“…Oh, hey…” check “…Boy. Don’t suppose you know what’s going on?” asking as he looked up into the giant face of a big white dog. First. Dinosaur Skeletons. Second. Roman Legionaries Skeletons. And now? A Giant dog. “Good..boy?” Wally wasn’t going to move an inch while this giant dog was on top of him.

Freddy: Freddy felt that he was retreating each time he encounter Isis. He had a thought, but given the previous encounter that was not the route to go. Instead he pulled back he put distance between the two of them. He withdrew pulling himself back as quickly as he flight and speed could. He considered what would happen if he did die she would take more and everything would be loss and she would be triumphant. Would it be a bad thing if he failed? If he died?

If it all ended perhaps…perhaps because he would have did what was required of him to protect the world and people in but, this right now, no. If there was no way to ensure that Isis would not continue to move forward that was not an option. It was not a choice to make. There was always a choice. She would not listen to reason and it seemed that the woman within was not strong enough to take action. She was not blessed she was cursed and possessed.

The potential of losing Hercules and Atlas….but would it stop Isis? She wished to restore herself and Osiris, but could they truly be restored or would this be their new life sucking power from other divine beings. The gods weren’t batteries for them to use. There had to be a way. Instead of rushing towards her Freddy fled, he fled into the museum with only a question Freddy could ask.

Would he be strong enough to hold the spirit of Osiris at bay? He had the blessing of three gods. Would he be overwhelmed. Did he possess the strength of will to take on Osiris to bargain to perhaps put an end to this. He didn’t know, but he knew that the museum was going to e ripped apart, because Isis would only be here for one reason and one reason alone.

Destroying the amulet was a possibility, but was it the right choice? If that could have been done it would have, but you know wrath of a goddess, but was there a potential in that possibility. Would she risk that if it could be done?

Crazy Freddy idea 265.

ST: There it is. It takes a moment. More than just one. Cassie is getting it. Starting to understand. Working her way through the problem, to the solution. The door is not a puzzle to be riddled out. Nor is it some impediment that she can simply push past. To go within, to the chamber beyond, Cassie must accept that which she is even now recognizing. The Vault was her’s. She has every right to it. Divine Right, in fact. As she comes to think this the resistance slackens. In fully accepting it, the door begins to give way.

In the time it takes Cassie to come to that, no more than a handful of seconds tick past. It might seem like a short span, but ask Wally what can happen in those seconds. Cassie is unable to participate, forced instead to give witness through the ever widening crease between the double doors. The moment she bought Helena, when the animated warriors hesitated because their master was shrugging off the lasso, was enough for the elder Sandsmark to gain headway. No longer forced to hedge between trying to make headway, while not being overwhelmed, Helena was able to take the complete offensive. Leaping over Warriors, slicing through others. The shield that she was using to keep them at bay only heart beats before, is now being throw with such force and accuracy that terracotta warriors are broken to pieces in it’s assault.

Cassie might notice, as Helena draws close, she had freed up her hand by using the shield as a discus. Then she takes up one of the long staves from a fallen warrior. It takes Helena a mere step to unleash the stave as well. The accuracy with which she throws it is miraculous. Truly Olympian, given the way it strikes firm in to the hand of Amentap. Forcing him to lose his grip on the scepter he’d been using to animate all of the skeletons with.

Giant Dog?! Krypto the Wonder Dog is more than merely giant. He’s actually an intelligent alien species of canine, hailing from Krypton! Though Cassie might call him Conner’s, the Pup actually belonged to the original Superman. When Kal-El left, the pup took up residence with the only Kryptonian it could find to protect. He only has one job! And he does it very well! Such as the way he licks Wally’s face graciously for all the bone presents the speedster brought him. Which… Wally gets a very close view of the Dog eye-lasering them to cinders one at a time. Until there is nothing left to bite the Crimson Speedster. Krypto pats Wally, when it’s safe to get up.

Freddy’s ‘escape’ from Isis is terribly easy in comparison to what had awaited Wally and Cassie before him. By the time Freddy finally enters the Museum, Helena Sandsmark has disrupted the control of the animated skeletons. Leaving the workers within faced with the uneviable position of having to clean up this titanic mess. Freddy is as fast as greased lightening. Allowing him to skim down the stairs and find himself before the door to the vault, that Cassie is even now just finally pushing open.

He and Wally might both get a moment to see the withering husk of Amentap as it withers upon the pike that dislodged him from the Ibis-stick. Freddy knows what is coming. Who is coming. Between the Wisdom of Solomon -and- his own intuition, he knows exactly what the Goddess is there for as well. But before he has time to actually tell any of them?

Bring your friends in, quickly, Cassandra. Then shut the door.

Freddy has felt something like this before. Wally has probably never seen or heard of anything like this at all, but is he really going to argue with Cassie’s hot mother in Roman Legionnaire’s armor? Once the door shuts, the Vault seals. Locking them in. Not exactly the best solution one might think.

She’s not worthy. So she can’t come in, but she’ll probably destroy everything trying to. Helena takes charge -quickly-, like she was born to it. Let me explain to you all quickly. Keep up, don’t dawdle. One vault. Many doors. Each exits in a different place. That creature calling herself Isis isn’t going to stop. As long as she’s in Metropolis, she’s going to put everyone there in Danger. Take the Amulet. Pick a door. Lead her away from the City.

Cassie: We’re safe, here in this Vault, which is all well and good but no one else is. Metropolis is my home, at least for now it is, the most permanent place I’ve ever had in my life that I can remember. Technically I lived in Gateway City longer than I have here, but I was a toddler at the time and I’m not sure it technically counts. I don’t want her to have any excuse to wreak further havoc on it, nor do I want anymore of the museum’s collection to be destroyed. That’s secondary to the risk to lives. We have to lead her away from here, to somewhere that she’s not going to cause an equal amount of damage just to a different set of the population.

Freddy’s got questions for my Mother, though I haven’t actually introduced her as such to Wally. I suppose it’s not exactly hard to pick up on my very obvious relief that she’s okay though. I really only have one question for her, and that’s a matter of the doors. There’s so many of them. I don’t want to pick one that’s going to be just as bad as the others.

“Show me where the Coast City door is.”

The place is already destroyed. There’s no one there to hurt. It will give us a battleground with no civilians. My friends have no ‘right’ to any of the treasures inside here. I do, but I’m not going to exercise that right now. Not only would it potentially be telling, but I don’t want to push too far into the side of ‘doing it for him,’ either. Tilting my blonde head slightly to the side, I look at my two companions. Two… Krypto… my mouth purses in a bit of a frown but I can’t go back out for him. All the more reason to give Isis a better reason to vacate the city.

“Unless either of you has a better idea. I think it’s the best option though. If all the doors open to museums, those are almost all connected to cultural meccas and that means…people.”

Flash: “….I have no idea what the hell is happening, who the Roman Legionaire is” gesturing to Helena “Or who this guy is.” gesturing to Freddy “Or where we are!” gesturing all around in a bit of a flailing moment, Pulling his mask down, he looks around at Wonder Woman, then to Helena, and then finally to Freddy, again.

“Why am I the only one FREAKING OUT!?!”

Putting his hands onto his knee, he bends over slightly as if to catch his breath.

“And what was that massive dog?!” flailing once again. It was completely clear this was out of his element. “Did I miss something on the contract signing to be a superhero? Because i’m starting I missed like, an entire chapter.”

Freddy: Holding the Amulet in my hand I shake my head. “Not at present. Getting her away from a populated area is best. At the moment she’s still leaning on the power gained from Atlas and Hercules. If she burns through it it’s gone.” That much Solomon has told me. There’s a choice there to be made one, several actually, but it also makes me me consider another thought. The power of gods themselves. It can be used more than just blessing. If she runs out of the power then she will seek out more.

Looking at the amulet for a moment I still consider the thought I had. I consider everything I’ve been ruminating over lately. I wish there was a to reason with Isis to get through.

“She’s not going to stop until she gets what she wants. She’ll do her best to go through everyone until she gets what she wants and when she gets what she wants she’ll need more power to restore Osiris.” Freddy was listening to everything that was happening around him.

“Her name is Helena Sandsmark. She’s Cassie’s mother, archaeologist, sage, and a quite capable warrior. My name is Freddy Freeman. The Contender to some. Pretender to others. Either way the one of the ones standing in the way of goddess who’s determined to get what she wants, break the rules and up end the status quo. I can either give in and give her or Adam what they want or I can continued to keep it out of their reaches, deny them.” Or….I look at the amulet. Put the final pieces of the puzzle together.

What if they are the trial? It’s a question. It was not a statement, but a question to make me think. “However, Cassie’s right. We need to get Isis out of the area. She’s going to continued to try and rip her way in her and when she can’t get in she’s going to try and draw us out. Either way people are danger.

“Unpopulated is best.” He considered it for a second. ” I consider the possibility of Khandaq itself. Would she threaten it? Would it give her pause? would it wake up the woman within to bring in end to the single minded impulse. What if there was nothing to gain? No Osris. No Shazam. Nothing for her to gain. It crosses my mind as a possibility. Both she and Adam demanded that I give up my blessings to them.

ST: “Coast City? This way.”

No argument from the armor clad Archaeologist. Suggesting that Cassie’s suggestion makes sense and her mother agrees. It doesn’t take a lot to do the Math here. Coast City is mostly abandoned. There aren’t many metropolitan areas where you could go that wouldn’t just be another place with a huge population. Coast City is the home of a fairly recent major disaster. Abandoned until recently. The tie to it’s museum still exists, although it’s little more than rubble at this point.

The trek through the Reliquary isn’t a quick one. Not even for Wally. They have to traverse the interior which looks more like a Warehouse than an Ancient structure built by the Greek Gods. Especially not the portions of it that the group is going to get to see. Essentially making their way from one Modern City to another, even if the secondary one was slightly less modernized when it existed. No real opportunity to take in the true spectacle of the Reliquary’s age. It’s during this trek from the point they enter, to the point they’ll exit that Helena Sandsmark makes an effort to answer any question she can or will.

“No, not gone. She’s not burning through the power of the actual God, Freddy. Just the power the people before you were blessed with. The only way the power is gone for good, is if she kills the actual God associated with it.” Helena’s correction is soft, but firm, as if this is something that she knows for absolute certain. “The Blessings given to the Wizard to create a champion is but a fraction of the actual God’s Divinity. That’s most likely why you Foe needs more of it.”

“I’m the Curator of the Metropolis Museum,” she fills in for the Flash, though she seems to understand his plight. “Don’t worry, Flash. You don’t need to understand everything you’re seeing right now. Just follow your heart. You’re a good man.”

The doorway they’re looking for isn’t anything like the one from Metropolis. Obviously it’s linked to a City that no longer exists. As such the door itself has been blocked off. Literally. Bricked up. Though that’s unlikely to be a problem for these particular individuals. While they worry about the door, Helena continues to speak to the three of them.

“You’re right about the Amulet, she can feel it. She’s connected to it. Isis herself was contained in an Amulet like this once upon a time. The man you spoke of, Black Adam, discovered the Amulet in the Vault of Abu Simbel. He gifted the Amulet of Isis to a woman. We have almost no information on the woman, because she was nothing. A slave of no note or name, until she got the Amulet of Isis. After that, we know that she was consumed by the same desires that got Isis locked away, by the Wizard. She longs for the restoration of her Brother, just as Isis longs for the restoration of Osiris.”

“Before you ask, I only even know this much because the theft of the Vault in Abu Simbel. So I’m not going to be much help in telling you how to deal with this woman, other than to caution you that dark forces are at work here, Mr. Freeman. You’re being tested differently than any Champion before you.”

Cassie: Part of me really wants to reassure Wally, because I sure don’t feel like I know what’s going on either lately, and I’m a whole lot more in the know than he is. And Wonder Woman probably should know what’s going on, and act like she does, in order to inspire some confidence in those around her. So I’m trying to put on a rather stoic face, despite the fact that the last few minutes of my life have been a frantic mish-mash of trying to get to my mother, and fighting off reanimated museum props. Finding a pocket dimension beneath the place. It’s been a day. At this point? I’m just rolling with it. What other choice do I have?

Flash. Calm down. We are safe for the moment, but we have to go. The woman attacking Metropolis will continue to do so, until we lead her away. We hid something that she wants here today, and she clearly knows that we did. And the dog was Krypto. He’s Superman’s…well. Dog is underselling what Krypto is, but will have to work for now. If you don’t want to stay, you’re free to leave from there, though I appreciate your help so far.”

I leave the introductions to be made by Freddy, because while I know who he is I don’t know if he wants to share. Turns out he does. And shares a bit more than just hisname in the process. Oh well. It’s easy enough to let slide and move on, especially because my Mother’s said something interesting when she corrected Freddy about what happens to the power itself if Isis uses it up. In essence, it would be like destroying what I’m packing around with me even now. Or that divine spark I was born with, maybe. Portions of power that the Gods themselves were willing to part with, even if they’re not handing it out like popcorn.

And the bricked off doorway? Well. I guess that falls to me. Freddy’s gifts don’t currently involve strength, and I don’t want Wally to break his hand again. Brute force is apparently the lady in this group’s forte. With a little input between battering through the bricks.

“So the things that were bad in her, were made even worse in the process. And if the amulet were to be destroyed, that means Osiris’ release, I assume? To…what.. float into the ether until he finds someone he wants to inhabit, to just be back or is this just a portion?”

Flash: “Sorry.” apologizing to Wonder Woman, and then to Helena, nodding to Freddy “I’m Flash. Fastest Man Alive.” offering back, taking a deep breath, he lets it out of his nose slowly. Apparently his life was easy compared to the insanity that was going on here. But seeing Wonder Woman being stoic, he straightens his shoulders and smiles at Helena. “Thank you.” saying as he pulled his mask back on.
“No. I’m not leaving you, Wonder Woman. Besides, we’re friends and teammates now.” offering as he finishes pulling the mask on. “What are friends for, After all?” smiling

“Wait. All we need to do is swipe the amulet?” asking looking at all of them. “I’m fast. I can probably grab the amulet and be halfway across the country before she even realizes it. Then you two can just give her the thuggy beatdown.” offering his own advice. “Does she have any kinds of shields or anything? I’m a little late to the magic party, so forgive me for sounding unknowlegeable.

I guess the question Is…. Is it even possible?” Judging from Wonder Woman’s face the other day when he was running around, he assumed she’d never seen anyone so fast. “Because I have a feeling a Infinite Mass Punch won’t work on her, no matter how hard I hit her.”

Freddy: “Please call me, Freddy,” Freddy offers. No need to rest on formality with him. It just may be her way which he understood, but he could offer.

“She was someone to him. I do not know her name, but I know who she is, this woman that Isis has taken possession of. She is the reincarnated wife of Teth-Adahm. That is why he gave her the amulet that held Isis. Agreed about the things that were bad in her were made worse. There was some kind of intense synergy between her and Isis. Their obsession and grief have been magnified. Isis may have overwhelmed her. It appears that way given Black Adam’s behavior. “ I consider that obsession and what they were after.

“Restoring Osiris has been a thred that links them both and if there’s a possibility that he’s the reincarnated son of Teth-Adahm and his wife who was named Isis then there’s another connection that compounds the need. It sounds complicated I know but it’s what drives and motivates them.” Among other things which makes me think back to our encounter in Fawcett City.
“Aw geez..” I almost want to slap my forehead.

“When Wonder Woman and I encountered Isis as Aunt Minerva in Fawcett City she spoke of there being two hostages taken.” I hadn’t thought about until now stopping in my movements briefly.

“We never saw the second person. If Isis as Aunty Minerva had succeeded she would have simply let Osiris take hold of the second person, but who was that second person? I didn’t see him.” He also thought about the books that he had saw in the Sanctum. It was about resurrection. Could have been Adam or had she been there already. I consider it for a moment.

“The supposed second hostage was never identified. There was an assumption that the crocmaggia and hostages were going to get away. Either she had the body she wanted or she wanted to temporarily stash Osiris in the body until she acquired the body that she really wanted him to reside in. The woman’s brother who if dead would need to be restored, resurrected.” If he hadn’t been already.

There was a question that no one could answer because we didn’t have the information, but it was something to consider.

“Thank you.” For all that she could share, because I know that there are rules that there are thing that I can be aided with and things I can’t. Darker forces. “Like the ones that made Adam fall?” Not truly a direct question, but something to consider. A champion has fallen before and as Ms. Sandsmark stated before I am a Contender. Adam possessed all the abilities of the Champion and he fell. It starts with a choice and that choice slowly or quickly ripples across every aspect of your life consuming you if you allow it. I can’t allow that to consume me, I can remind myself of that often, but I can’t start second guessing myself.

“At one point I wasn’t close enough to see, but then I was a little to close which would have been bad, but I didn’t spot an amulet. She didn’t give me a lot time to look her over. Isis has sway of the elements and she is the Egyptian goddess of life and magic. I’ll say anything is possible at the moment, but with the strength of Hercules and stamina of Atlas she’s upped her game. This is my trial. I have to figure out a way to stop her. Solomon’s been quiet about the amulet.” I had to prove myself worthy of the responsibility and the power.

“Also we need to know what we’re up against. She recruited Sobek and others to aid her not always willingly from what we saw of the crocmaggia. Who was leading the assault in the museum?”

ST: “Okay, let me give you a crash course in Kahndaq’s History. Long ago, before the ‘Kingdoms’ of Egypt united, they were mostly little fiefdoms controlled by Warlords that styled themselves as Kings. Just like every other major culture’s beginnings. One of those was ruled by a Pharaoh of some note, Ramses the second. He was a believer in the Occult, this Ramses, except in that Age it was less occult and more reality than it is now. Ramses employed a High Priest, by the name of Shazam. Shazam was a somewhat ageless Wizard, Sorcerer or Warlock. He’d been imbued as a boy with the Blessings of six Gods, from the Greek Pantheon. As the Shazam got older, he sought to pass his powers along to a worthy successor. He picked the Pharaoh’s son, Teth.”

“The problem is that Shazam’s daughter wished to be the successor and as such she took umbridge with the selection. So she sought to interfere in the transfer of Power,” Helena’s recounting of History is given while she stands aside and allows Cassie to work on the doorway. It’s more for Wally than anything, anyway. “Shazam’s daughter, along with a young woman Teth was in love with, somehow managed to stop Shazam from imbuing Teth with his powers. Instead he received similar powers from the Egyptian Pantheon.”

“Teth served as a successful Champion for decades, but at some point he was drawn away from his Homeland. During that time away his wife, Shiruta, and his two sons were killed. Teth went on a bit of murderous spree of Revenge, which drew notice of the now advanced aged Shazam. He believed that his own daughter had perhaps corrupted Teth with her actions. So he banished Teth, to a scarab just like the Freddy holds now. Teth-Adam was buried and lost for years, until the parents of Mr. Freeman’s successor uncovered him in the tomb of Ramseses.”

“Being a Champion is not the same as being an actual God or even a demi-God. You garner a single aspect of the God you’re imbued with. It then augments that portion of yourself,” Helena actually makes gesture to Freddy then. “As he gains the blessings of the Gods, his own natural charisma, courage, athleticism is enhanced. The same is said for this woman, that Adam gifted the power of Isis. She is now consumed with Loss and is seeking to restore her Family.”

“His name was Ibis, the Invincible. He’s also a reincarnated Egyptian Prince, Amentep. The staff he was using is called the Ibistick. It’s an ancient Totem, of nearly limitless power. Amentep isn’t actually a bad being normally, but his wife’s soul belongs to Osiris. Which I’ve got to assume, Isis promised to free if he assisted in getting her the Amulet you’re holding, Freddy.”

Once Cassie has finished uncovering the doorway, Helena is moving aside. “Beyond this door is the ruins of Coast City. There’s no longer a museum on the other side of this. Once you’re out there, I can’t keep this door open. It’ll have to be shut once more and barricaded again. Worse. Now that people know about this door and the one in Metropolis, we’ll have to sever the connections permanently.”

Cassie: “You don’t need to apologize. It is a lot.”

Wally’s given a warm smile, and a grateful one at that, before I continue with doing what I do best. Smash. Another momentary interruption as I shake brick dust off my knuckles, and look with wide blue eyes at Freddy. I hadn’t made that connection, because I thought either the hostage had been eaten, or maybe someone had misspoken. It would of course make sense that she’d need to have someone there to give that power to, if she wasn’t intending to have it for herself. So who was the person? There hadn’t been anyone else that I could see there in the bank.

“No one else was down there, other than the Crocodile that took off like his tail was on fire before the lightning. I don’t know that anyone would have survived down there. Adam was in Fawcett, too.”

That couldn’t be what she intended, was it? I still can’t quite understand their interplay and the angles they’re working. Why do whatever he’d done to Minerva, when he’d put something in her pocket… but then, people do really stupid things for the ones they love sometimes. With the door cleared again, I nod simply, pausing for a moment before…finally giving in to the urge I’ve been having since I got here. Yanking Helena in for a hug.

“I understand. We can get back from there. I’ll hold the Amulet.”

I wonder if they’ll have to sever all of them, too. Or move them. It’s not that hard to make the connection, though now I’m definitely glad I chose somewhere in this time. It’s a rough enough day without some decade displacement going on. Then I’m going through, without much more said or done on the matter.

Freddy: “Right. I suspect she was going to take a hostage and give them the amulet. If you had been separated from the most important person in your life you wouldn’t want to wait another moment. However, I don’t think that was the person’s final resting spot. I think it was a temporary body. It’s a guess at this point, but one that makes sense given the shared grief and longing that both Isis and the woman feels also there were books on resurrection, Osiris and Hades that had been gathered and consulted in the Wizard’s sanctum. I don’t know if it was Adam or Isis.”

I keep walking, but pause for a moment before we start to step through understanding everything Helena said. The same thing happened with the Wizard’s sanctum and being able to return to Fawcett City. It’s no longer possible. It’s closed off. Sealed away. I stop upon hearing Cassie’s remark.

“I have one last question, Ms. Sandsmark. Not sure if you can or are able to answer it and it’s going to sound weird which is hard to imagine given everything we’ve seen. However, with these amulets. The Amulet of Isis…” That’s what i was going to call it. “…was given to the reincarnated wife of Adam and they began their actions. If that’s true can that be passed to another person like it was to Aunty Minerva? I mean can it be shared between two people?” Because that was something I hadn’t quite figured it yet how that happened. I ask, because the woman outside the library was not Minerva. Maybe it was something to lean on Solomon about.

It was odd that she ended up in Minerva started out in the woman Adam called his wife, but then he was searching for her and he fought the crocs. The way someone would think it would add up isn’t adding up. I set that aside to gather what information I can mentally about Ibis, Prince Amentep.

ST: “I’m not sure, Freddy, but it would make sense that she could. I’ve read that previous Champions have done as much. Shared their power with their loved ones. The Gods themselves ‘share’ their power with their family, children… and champions like you seek to be.” She makes a little gesture of her hand towards ‘Wonder Woman.’ “According to the Legends, Isis is not merely a portion of a Goddess but the whole thing. It would therefor make sense that Isis could do the same. Imbue fragments of her power in to others.”

“Freddy, I can’t help you directly, but I can give you some advice. Being blessed with the Wisdom of Solomon doesn’t mean you have to over-think everything. Take a page from your friend, Flash here. Follow your heart. Isn’t that what these Trials are really measuring in the end?”

The hug she’d shared with Cassie felt a little more like ‘Goodbye’ than ‘See you Later.’ Though it passes without any further comment, for now. Once Cassie is through the door in to Coast City? Helena’s gaze affixes first upon the Flash and then Freeman. Clearly expecting the two of them to follow.

That doorway? ‘Magically’ opened in to the former basement of the Museum of Science and Industry, in Coast City. Cassie had to push some rubble out of their way to get out. But for the most part the Wayne Foundation has excavated this area a little more than most, in recent days. Leaving the three of them standing in the center of a Ghost City. Not that far away from where Kyle Rayner and Conner Luthor are having their first meeting.

In the distance a storm is already taking shape. Though it doesn’t quite move with the speed of the Flash, it is coming. Quickly.

Not in Kansas Anymore

ST: Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow. That is how people see it all across the world. While other Cities might be the Hub of Commerce or Sport. Metropolis is the City that Lex Luthor built. Luthor Corp was founded here by the Luthor family over two hundred years ago. Lionel Luthor’s grand pappy put the first stones in to the foundation of what would one day be Luthor Tower. The shining beacon of the City. Center stage, right in the middle of New Troy. The island epicenter of the City of Tomorrow. Named for the Past.

You see Metropolis may be the City of Tomorrow, but it has never forgotten it’s past. Never forgotten it’s heritage. It’s creators had a very specific vision for it when they sewed those founder’s stone in to the bedrock. That tiny Island was, like it’s namesake, meant to be the center of the world. The modern Greek Empire. From which the font of all things should spring. Technology. Science. Literature. Culture. This was the plan from the beginning, yet it didn’t get there solely on the back of it’s founders. Nor the Luthor money. Metropolis was carried in to the Tomorrow, by it’s bastion. The Superman. Fashioned, even now, at the Peak, in the same honor of the Gods of old. With a statue that rises up and points to the Heavens.

New Troy isn’t the only place in the ‘Modern World’ that remembers it’s heritage though. As young Cassandra Sandsmark just discovered the seeds of Greece have been planted elsewhere. Fawcett City. It made no sense, why there? For all the questions, there could be no doubt as to the veracity of it. The little city that Time Forgot is shrouded in magic and mystery. So to then, is it difficult to deny the clues she has been given. As if the name itself did not give it away, it was easy to search the internet for Daily Planet news.

….seven years ago….

The United States was rocked by the news that a small portion of Gotham City had been rendered uninhabitable. Across the Globe, the Headlines ranged from muted to hysterical. As people raced to put blame on someone, something. Eventually they found their scapegoat. Not the deranged men who poisoned the water, but the man who sought to stop them. Many would herald it as the Batman’s fault, by sheer right of existence. His presence caused an irreversible escalation.

Later that year a similar situation brought the unassailable Superman in to question. Would there have been an Alien invasion, if they hadn’t come here looking for the Kryptonian in the first place? It all boiled down to that age-old question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Was Batman or Superman the cause or the effect? That year would serve as a catalyst to changing the landscape of the world for ever. The History books say so.

Conveniently they say very little, Cassandra finds, about the incident that year. An otherwise quiet night, a swath of the Subway in New Troy erupted in chaos. The reports were never clear. The internet was still in it’s infancy. Lois Lane had called it a terrible tragedy. She spoke of the damage that was caused by two colliding subway cars as ‘inexplicable.’ There were little explanations. Even fewer that made sense. Until she looked deeper. Until Cassandra caught upon a clue that the authorities and Miss Lane lacked.

Teth Adam.

A stray photo caught the eye. He was a man she would never forget. But even recognizing him in a single photo only confirmed what Conner said. He had been there. It didn’t answer the question about why? That would require a trip. Excuses made to Mom, that only got accepted without scrutiny because Helena Sandsmark was distracted by the Amulet being put in to her hands. In to the air. Out of the burbs. Over to the middle of the Island. Down two flights of stares, down in to the interior of the world’s fastest subway system.

It takes but a casual search to realize that the Subway of today, replaced the Subways of before. The accident had only given opportunity to Upgrade, but isn’t that the way of this City? While plain clothing might be less conspicuous in the moment of getting to the Subways unnoticed. No one is going to overlook a young woman like Cassie, slipping off the guarded rails. Down in to the tracks, where she could get deeper. Down in to the cavernous underbelly of the Subway system. What does Cassie have to fear in the Dark?

Once she has found her way beyond. Managed not to be run down by an on-coming Rail. Carefully avoided stepping on the electrified third rail herself. She’ll eventually find herself far enough down, to see the closed off access hatches. Sealed off now, because they lead to the old station. The one that was at the center of whatever happened with Teth-Adam nearly ten years ago.

Cassie: I like to believe that I’m an open, earnest kind of person. For fifteen years of my life I had no reason for secrets. Not one. I spent all of those years traveling the world with my Mother, moving from one location to another, dig after dig, repositories of ancient lore and objects that I was allowed to see and experience first hand. It never occurred to me, not once, that everything wasn’t exactly what it looked like on the outside. That things wouldn’t always be like that. It was pretty naive, honestly. Then I got not so much uprooted, as rooted. Plunked down in St. Mary’s. In Metropolis.

The first secret I ever kept was from my Mother was when I was fifteen. I didn’t tell her how much I hated the place, because I promised I’d try. I didn’t tell her how cruel the other girls were, or how boring the classes got. No place teaches you what insecurity looks and feels like better than a school where the girls don’t have any boys to behave for. Whoever thought that was a good idea was…well. Stupid. When I was sixteen, my secrets got bigger and scarier. Until I had someone to share them with and that wasn’t my Mom. Eventually, Conner talked me in to spilling it.

It was then that I first learned that my Mother had been the one keeping secrets. A whole lot bigger than mine. And that my big one she already knew. Things have been…strained since then. Still mostly good, don’t get me wrong, but definitely not like our Wanderlust glory days had been. Secrets started to be more of a necessary thing. Secrets also lend themselves to lies, and I tell myself I’m not good at them but… it gets easier. Which is really crappy. Once you start keeping one or the other, you can’t stop. They lead to more. And more. Then you realize you’re not being open to anyone. Or talking with the people you ought to be.

This week? Apparently the week for changing that. For talking. Some of those conversations have gone a lot better than others if I”m being totally honest. The burning questions for my Mom, that didn’t entirely get answered how I wanted but… I could accept why. The talk with Conner, which turned into another talk with Freddy and Conner and… that is going to lead to even more talking. There were just other things first. Delivering the Amulet to Helena Sansmark for safe keeping for one. Excusing myself to slip off for another long, long overdue conversation. With someone that I”ve never talked to in my life.

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone. I’d talked to Conner about trying. Talked to Mom about how it would even be done. It’s time to stop talking about it and just. Do it. No time like the present, before something else goes catastrophically wrong with my week and it’s too late, right? New Troy isn’t far, not when you’re already in Metropolis. Ferry is usually the best way. It’s what I would have been told to do because someone’s mother doesn’t exactly appreciate flying like she does. I just don’t take the time. Up, up and over more than away. To the site that stuck out in my mind. I could have gone back to Fawcett but it seemed like a bad idea just now. New Troy was a name I’d been given. Easy to understand, with a little research why it might be a ‘special.’ Place. A site for Gods. New and old. Then there’d been the information my boyfriend had let slip at the library. About Black Adam, what he’d done and where.

Chances are he was after something. Did he get it? Would the place still hold power? Pulling the hood of the sweatshirt I’d grabbed at home, when I’d changed clothes while Con was talking to Mom, over my golden hair I’d slipped in. Moving quick enough that if anyone tries to stop me that I wouldn’t be caught. Through the tunnel before guards could be summoned to stop that darn teenager. Running, instead of flying, because I don’t know that there’s not cameras down here. They sure seem to be everywhere. What do I have to fear in the dark? Not much it turns out. If you think the flashlight function on your average iPhone is bright?

You should try Waynetech 9000. Serves me pretty well, as does not being electrocuted on accident, until I get to where I really shouldn’t be. No one should be, judging by the meant to be permanence of the seals on these hatches. Well. What are superpowers for if not getting where schoolgirls shouldn’t go? Reaching up, I wrap fingers around the old, unusable latch. Pulling with steadily increasing pressure until I can get it to come loose. A yank would be quicker. But it also might pull more free than I’m ready for.

ST: When this area was sealed, it was done so with the foresight that one day the City might need to re-open this area. It isn’t unheard of for the city to need to rebuild itself after a catastrophe. Nor is it unheard of for people of lesser scruples to make use of places just like this for some nefarious purpose. The result is that Cassandra finds herself without the proper tools needed to make this work easily. When all else fails there’s always brute force and she’s in luck, because apparently the real Superman didn’t help seal all of this off. The large duracrete seals eventually begin to give and she’ll be able to pry and lever them out of the way. Of course she could have just ripped them away, but she’s smart enough to avoid the collateral damage.

Speaking of Damage? The moment she is beyond the sealed off entrance, she’ll see -why- it was sealed in the first place. The Tram-Station has been preserved in the same state it was nearly ten years. The City repaired just enough to make the area stable, but otherwise they seem content to have simply insured this area never saw a visitor. It is a mess. The Dust and Spider-Webs are an actual improvement upon the debris that litters everywhere you can see with an iPhone camera’s flash-light.

At first it might seem like a busy. There’s very little here in obvious sight other than your standard Tram-Station that had been through a horrible fight with yet another Super-Villain. Cassie isn’t a Detective. She can follow a trail, but she isn’t trained to see the clues. That leaves her to rely upon something else. Her brains. Surely. Her strength. Obviously. But just before she’s ready to give up and go? Her eyes catch upon a years old newspaper. Preserved, in spite of the mangled bench it sets near too. The headline reads, ‘Freak Lightning Storm Hits Metropolis!’

That is when she feels it. For the second time today. That sense of the willies. Almost a sensation of deja vu. Though it’s impossible that she would have ever been there before. It beckons her. Calls to her. Just as it did during her lab class earlier when that sanctum door opened and Freddy stepped out. Only this time there is no immediate, obvious pay off. Not until she closes her. Not until she follows that feeling. That sixth sense that tingles as she nears it.

The world seems to tingle as she nears it. A small breach in the wall. To the naked eye it looks like an impact pocket.It looks that way, right up until Cassie’s hand nearly touches the cement. Perhaps she’ll recoil from the way the crater reacts to her presence. The way electricity crawls across the surface. Calling to her. Asking her to help. All she must do is reach in and pull it from …


The difference between abandoned subway platform and great Mount is stark. The transition instant. Gone is the Hoodie, in it’s place flowing robe and sandles. Gone is the iPhone, but instead there is gold and jewels. So too is gone pretense of being alone. Because for the first time in her life, Cassie is among the Gods. A sprawling city ranges in front of her, just past the altar she stands before. In the distance she can see people, multiple, fluttering through the sky upon winged feet. Children playing with their tridents in the streets. Fountains of gravity defying water. Everything glows. As if someone took the world and turned up the contrast.

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Cassie: The silence is eerie. Creepy. Enveloping. Nothing, and no one, seems to have been here since it was sealed up in the first place. As I step through the opening I’ve forced, I can hear the crunch of my shoes play the sound back to me, the little bits of rubble grinding under the soul of my sneaker. It’s like an accusation, or a recording of what I’m doing. It’s also like something out of a book, or a movie. The space itself. Swinging my phone this way and that to take in the room with the powerful spotlight. No one here but me and the spiders. And the remnants of what happens when something gets in the way of someone of power, and something that they want.

So what was he after? Did Raven stop him in time? How do we stop this from being a thing all the time? Not Black Adam. The destruction. Sure, Metropolis had made sparkling lemonade prosecco punch when given this particular lemon, like it was their intention all along to make something so much better and they were just waiting for the reason. That’s kind of what Luthor does, too. The whole this was my idea all along, thing. I go deeper, and deeper into the terminal, but there’s not much to find. Nothing really. Nothing to jump out at me until I see that newspaper. Lightning storms happen all the time. World over. They just aren’t called ‘freak.’ Three’s just some things I’m on high alert for right now. That’s one of them.


There it is again. That feeling. I pull up short as the hairs on my arms, the back of my neck, stand up at attention and I catch myself shivering in my sweatshirt, despite the fact that it’s not really cold. A little chilly down here, underground, but not cold. Not to me at least. I’m built a bit more….sturdy than most people. Twice in one day though. Did another door just open somewhere? Did Freddy get back into the sanctum? It lingers though. Exhaling, a sound that had been soft but the room makes it echo much louder than it was in the first place, I close my eyes and pay attention to what I’m feeling. That’s what I’m good at. Not clues and facts like Tim. Batman, jeez I’m never going to get used to that… mine’s a different sort of intuition. But I still follow it.

Hah. There. There it is. Unlike earlier, when the feeling had come and gone, this is getting stronger or at least more noticeable. Someone crashed here, but that can’t be the cause. Leaning in, I gingerly reach out to feel for a door, or some illusion and then pull back when it sparks and shifts. It’s not a warning though, it feels like an invitation. And you know what? I’m taking it.


I just about drop my phone in surprise. Shock really. Except it’s not there to drop anymore, and the peripheral edge of my hoodie vanishes from my view. I’m left blinking into the sudden light and it’s rather like in Wizard of Oz when they go from black and white to incredible technicolor. I don’t know where to look first. At the fact that my clothes are different and I’m dripping in more jewelry than I’ve worn in my entire life all at the same time. Usually it’s just a chain necklace, with a pendant and a ring dangling from it. Or to the people. No. Gods. Because that’s surely what they are. What catches my interest most are the children though. Obviously Gods have children. There’s me, for example though I’m half. Are these full? Is that why they get to be here? You don’t hear about them much in myths. Maybe for protection.

The voice’s, statement, accusation? makes me spin on a sandaled heel of my foot to face the source. Eyes getting even wider still, but there’s no apology in them for the intrusion, and definitely no guilt, either.

You, as in no one should be here that doesn’t live here or you, Cassie Sandsmark specifically?”

ST: The world around Cassandra is buzzing with so many things. Sounds of the children playing. The tones of music in the distance. Wind whispering through the grass and trees. Not only does everything glow with vibrant life, but the hills are alive with the sound of music. Focus will tell her that there is nothing really different about any of the things she sees. Grass is still grass. Trees are still trees. The Wind still pushes at you. Scents still permeate the nose. Everything is just richer than the world she knows, from living in it her whole life.

The figure behind her is at the same time larger than life and withered with age. His stature is that of someone who, at one time, stood a head taller than most anyone Cassie has ever met. Age has left him with the slightest stoop, that is in itself offset by the presence of the enamored trident. That too is a mish-mash of your standard fair, but topped with a Lightning Bolt crescent. What truly sets this man apart though? Is the eyes. They are lacking the white you would normally associate with an eyeball. Where the white should be is the stars, orbiting the electric Sunstone in the middle. Added to the sweeping beard that sways in the gusts of wind and factored along with the crown atop his head and you can of course take a leap of logic or faith to whom she has appeared before.


Ask a dumb question, get the shortest answer in the world, right? If she was expecting more she isn’t likely to get it. He seems willing, and able, to stand there for a fortnight looking upon her with expectant patient. She is trespassing here, while this is his land and the set of his jaw all but demands upon her to ‘Explain herself.’ He doesn’t have to say it. He just wills it to be so and Cassie is going to find herself hard pressed to fight that compulsion.

Cassie: Oh, so that’s how we’re going to play it, huh? Apparently close-lipped behavior runs in my family. On both sides. And they seem to have cancelled one another out in order to produce me. Zeus hasn’t said so much as ‘boo’ to me my entire life, so I would have had to be dumb to expect any kind of effusive, long awaited reunion. That sounds kind of dour and woe is me but the truth? I spent sixteen years of my life not even considering who it might be. I’m not one of those kids who, missing a parent, dreams of who and what they might be. Why they might have left. I knew the story, from when it was told to me when I asked but I’d never missed his presence. I had my Mom. Ask anyone I know. She’s all that and a bag of chips. I didn’t need anyone else.

Fast forward to present day, and hey. Guess what? Turns out my Dad’s Zeus. The Zeus. Who isn’t, apparently like people think, just the Head God of the Greek Pantheon, but God of the Gods. All of them. I’m actually a little offended that I now have to care. Because of who he is. Because of what that makes me, and apparently what that also has landed me in. I may be Helena Sandsmark’s daughter… but I’m Zeus’ too. That’s not something that goes away.

“Sure, right. Both.”

This is so much more awkward than it probably ought to be. Or maybe it’s just the right level. If anything, I’m probably under awed but…don’t get me wrong. Still awed, because look at him. And being told who your father is. Coming to grips with that. That’s one thing. Seeing him live, in person, this figure of stories that you grew up on. About the only thing that actually surprises me? The stoop. The age. That doesn’t seem right. Sure, he’s unknowable years old I’d bet but… I was kind of led to understand that I’m probably, in all likelihood, immortal. I’m going to hit a point where I stop aging. I can pretty much feel the power coming off of him, it’s the power that I’m housing right now, too. I wonder though, if the stoop is because he’s diminished.

There’s no question. No demands, just declaration that I shouldn’t be here. The end. And a look that Mom gave me the few times I’d done something wrong, and she was going to make me squirm until I confessed of my own ‘free will.’ I can feel the urge to squirm right now, too. The urge to talk getting stronger, and stronger…and… that actually makes me narrow blue eyes slightly. But I came here for answers. I should get to the questions and…get out. Though a big part of me wants to see how long I can go without caving under that gaze.

Right to the point then. Points.

“If I help Freddy Freeman, does that count as cheating? I want to help him. I don’t want to screw up the whole…thing, though.”

That’s a yes or no question, too. Which I’m probably going to get a yes or no answer to and that’s fine. But. Part of me wants more than that. Jeez. I don’t actually want an explanation do I? I find myself pursing my lips, and absently rubbing my elbow. I’m here. For all I know it may be the only time I’m here, or the only time I ever speak to him. I better make it count. For the questions I need, and the ones I don’t think I do.

“Did… you love my Mom? Or is my existence more along the lines of a calculated ‘overseas’ investment for you?”

ST: “Yes.”

His single word answer is far more than just that though. It may seem a single word, just as she expected, but there is more to it than that. She merely needs to open her mind to what just happened. She was told, in no uncertain terms by the God of the Gods that she was not supposed to be here. Then he answered her first question. Then here second. What isn’t being said is as important as what is. She hasn’t been evicted, sent back to where ever she is. She hasn’t been asked how she got here, when she apparently shouldn’t be. Nor has she been told not to ask her questions. Point in fact, she’s not been told anything. What to ask. What not to ask. Here’s merely stood there, looking at her, expecting information, but not shutting down her efforts to get some in return.

However. The very moment that he answered a second question? His level of expectation rises. So too then does that compulsion. Like the rising of a tide, that will eventually overtake the beach. Cassie is strong willed. She stands in defiance of her boyfriend, who is a superman in his own right. A Luthor on top of it. He is not the Godking. The eye of the stars, ruler of the heavens. He is not the one whom made his father vomit up his siblings, so that they could overthrow him and take all of creation in their name. Twice.

“I love all of my subjects,” it seems like a hedged answer, but there is a certain, if faint, smile that touches his lips in saying it. “She is a strong Woman. The mind of a scholar, the strength of ox and she’s as stubborn as one too. Admittedly, you did enhance my portfolio.”

By the time Zeus has finished speaking there is a really nothing left for Cassandra to do but explain why and how she came to be here. One might think that the All-Father of the Heaven and Earth would be omniscient, but the way his presence comes to bear upon her? Is born from a lack of knowledge. The All-Father is apparently not All-Seeing. Perhaps the myths and legends are wrong. Or perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye.

Cassie: It just keeps building. That feeling. Why should I need to explain myself? It ought to be pretty self-explanatory… the answer I get is…brief but I expected it to be. Helping Freddy however, is not the same as hindering Isis. You don’t have to be some verbal mastermind at wordplay to figure that one out. Especially not when you were already present to watch him smite the heck out of her once. Even he can step in if she’s the one doing the cheating.

Of course he loves all his subjects… and the things he says about my Mom are all true. She’s incredible. I happen to think he’s underselling it but you know. Can never talk too glowingly about your exes. I guess. I wouldn’t actually know, I’ve never had one. The comment about the portfolio makes my lips purse in a bit of a scowl. That stings a bit more than I think it should have, especially since I framed my presence in those terms in the first place.

“You don’t make babies with all your subjects, though.”

By the time I’m done muttering that, I’m practically squirming with the urge to blab. I don’t owe him an explanation, he owes me one if anything, but lately I’ve learned you don’t just get those kind of things. You apparently get tossed into the deep end without your water wings, and get encouraged to sink or swim. The truth, again which kind of stings and really shouldn’t, is that he’s a bazillion years old. All those years of ‘ignoring’ me were basically an eyeblink to him in all likelihood. Half an eyeblink. The compulsion makes the words come out in a rush though. More of one than I’d like.

“…I have more questions that I have answers, and I don’t understand what’s going on around me and it feels like I should have some idea and I was just fine with the way my life was going until it changed, and now everyone’s looking at me like I’m supposed to do something great, and I want to. Not the doing something great really but the helping, and I spent the last sixteen years not even being a little curious about who you are and now I have to know, because I need to know what I came from, but I can’t know because you’re up…here and I’m down there and so I figured I should just cut out the middleman and….”

Yiiiiiiiiie shut up, Cassie. Clearing my throat with a little bit of a flush to my face, I try to slow down what was a steadily increasing speech pace until I was just about babbling.

Zeus: “Is living a Good life not enough for you? Are you disappointed in the life your Mother provided that you? Do you find it unworthy? Or is the opinion of others what defines you?”

There is a sigh that comes. It bespeaks of how trying this is for a man of such advanced years. Not that Zeus is old and feeble, but that there is need to have this talk with her. As if he, actually, expected more or better from her than that particular explanation. Though his immediate resignation is also plain, because for the first time he takes a step towards her and the altar to his Name that she arrived at. Ambling up, Zeus puts his posterior right upon the edge of the altar and sprawls across it lazily. The massive trident is put in to her hands, for safe keeping, while he settles himself upon the one place that anyone should probably be sitting.

“The Trial was Broken, Cassandra. Two of the Avatars of the Gods have been slain, by one not anointed by Shazam to take part in the Trials. He cannot garner the Blessings of those Gods, the Avatar for their trial has been destroyed. So moving against Isis is not cheating. The question you should ask, not to me but to yourself, is whether the remaining Avatars would find Freddy Freeman worthy of their Blessing, if you right this wrong for him.”

“No. Not with all my subjects, but you see Cassandra. I will speak to your mother, I cannot believe she has not had this talk with you. Oh, very well. When a Mommy and a Daddy love one another. When they find themselves voraciously attracted to one another. When their loins ache for that single moment of inseperable contact to one another. When the sky weeps from their longing to suckle upon one another’s Nectar… a baby Godling is born of their yearnings.”

Cassie: “…yeah sorry, it wasn’t really meant that way. Okay. It was maybe in part meant that way but I’ve had kind of a rough week. Passive aggressive isn’t usually my thing.”

The word presume is getting thrown around a lot right now. I suppose that’s fitting, because I have to do a lot of that. Presume, or assume, there’s a subtle but distinct difference. Mostly in the tone. And I do actually look embarrassed by my little outburst, or at least the method that I did it. I’m not sorry for how I feel, but my delivery could have been a bit more…well. Better.

“I can do what I want, until you don’t like what I’m doing. You’re the boss, I get that. But the only rule I really have been told is that Gods aren’t supposed to be directly intervening in the world, except I live in the world. I intervene by existing.”

Especially if I’m out doing superheroics. And boy…I really know how Conner feels now, but maybe that only applies to the full-blooded, and not a demi-god like myself. It’d make sense, the distinction, except Tim had said it was a bunch of demigods that had triggered the edict in the first place. Either he misunderstood (unlikely) or there’s something to that.

“Are you telling me that the Trials this time were made to be broken? Ugh. Talk about a headache… okay. Fine.”

What a thing to wrap your head around. Maybe that’s something someone else could parse better than me, but I’m pretty sharp most of the time and this is mostly making me feel like my head’s wanting to spin. It’d be easier to just take what he said as fact. Not try to sort out the truth or reality of it. I’ve learned lately, though, that nothing really is what it seems like on the surface.

“..that’s a lot of presuming but I followed. I think that’s… also one of the nicest things I’ve heard said about me.”

And Freddy laid out some pretty good compliments earlier today. It also makes me, in a little corner of my mind, suspicious. A feeling that I try to immediately squash down because it’s not going to serve anyone much good right now. Sucking in a deep breath, I puff it out again, ruffling blonde hair as I do.

“So. You can’t directly interfere or influence. Not just with the Trials, but with the world. What if it were… an exchange? Like. A favor for services rendered.”

Zeus: “I know that it isn’t your normal way, but you are under an awful lot of stress lately and you’ve under some pressure to be more assertive. Dreams will do that to a person. Drive them to be something that they aren’t necessarily. It’s why they are dreams. We must, at times, decide whether they are driving us to be the best or the worst version of who we want to be. But, it sure sounds like you were quite happy to be who you are. Until, suddenly. You weren’t happy with it anymore. I wonder what changed. Was it your mother’s decision to make you experience the life of an Average Teen Human? Was it that her Deal with me, meant you gaining access to your birthright at the age of Awakening? Was it the nightmares that your Brother gave you? Or the dreams you sleep with now? What was the catalyst that brought about your unhappiness. That is perhaps the only thing about you that I don’t know.”

“Who told you that rule? Certainly not I. If I were to have told you of such a rule, then I would have phrased it slightly different. The Gods are forbidden from Directlyintervening in the Mortal World. To use your words there are Loopholes to ever decree. Even ones from mine own lips. Strictly speaking, Cassandra, you are not truly a Goddess. You are born of a Mortal. One of your many Birthrights, is the right to take part in the world you choose to live in. Should you ever choose to ascend, to take your place here in the Heavens or descend to the fiery abyss of Hell. You would then be subject to the rule. As I said. You should not be here. You have not chosen nor are you ready to choose.”

“I did not say that the Trials themselves were made to be broken. I asked you, what would make you believe that one of the Gods that offer their Blessing had not chosen -this- as Freddy Freeman’s Trial? Your ability to presume is outstripped by your inability to listen. Look at what has occurred. Look closely. Freddy has gained three of the Blessings he needs. His rival has at least two. Thus there is but one blessing yet to be discovered. Who’s is left?”

Once again, the hand lifts from and then returns to Cassie’s shoulder, where it lightly squeezes for the effect of reasserting her focus. “Cassandra, I am Zeus. I can do as I wish. None can question me. I make the rules. I can break the rules. But having the power to do as one wishes, do not entitle them to do so. I play by the rules that I put in place, simply because it is right for me to do so. There is also something to be said about leading by example. My people see the sacrifices that I make, it emboldens many of them to do the same. As it also serves as warning to those who might seek to do otherwise. Would you not fear the Wrath of a God, if you knew he that his fury would be that much more keen for you having trespassed where he himself has not?”

When he chuckles it is a thing of full-bodied enjoyment. Almost as if she were watching a slim version of St. Nicholas chuckling over cookies. “You are a Godly little thing, aren’t you? Seeking another loophole. Having the Chutzpah to ask the Rule-Maker how to circumvent his own Rules. Very well, Cassandra. A barter such as you speak is not unheard of. There are manners in which such business could be conducted, that would not raise my ire. ”

“I should warn you, however, little Godling. It is less the Act and more the Meaning that might merit my notice in such things. Intentions make all the difference.

Cassie: I’m not sure what it was myself, either. Growing up is going to be filled with moments of unfairness or confusion. That’s life. I’m pretty sure normal people experience that kind of thing, too. Look at Tim Drake. He didn’t need a superpower, or any kind of higher power influence to make his life a total mess. Or to be a hero, but that’s a different matter. The things Zeus is saying tell me that yes, he was paying attention. Especially the part about my dreams. So what made the change? Was it the powers, the unleashing of them so I started to be what I’d actually been born to be? Was it all the things that had been kept from me? Or a sense of betrayal that nothing was how I thought it was. Not just from my mother, but the world. Life was simple before that. It’s easy to be happy when things are simple.

“You’re not kidding. Or wrong. It’s definitely been a rocky couple… wait. Wait, wait back up.”

Dreams will make a person more assertive? Maybe I’m still over thinking things here, as he’d already said, but I’m definitely listening. If you’re pursuing a dream, you have to push yourself to get there and achieve it. That means being more assertive. He mentioned it twice though. The second time, in tandem with referencing the horrors that Ares had been visiting on my unconscious mind. Most of the time? My dreams aren’t really remarkable. They’re pretty damn normal, in fact. Nothing that should really drive me to much of anything. My cheeks color slightly as I run through a mental list of them.

“What about my dreams? What pressure? And when you say Age of Awakening is that meaning my physical age when they kicked in, or the state of the world as a whole?”

No, Zeus hadn’t told me that rule because we’ve never spoken before. Not something I need to throw out there, because…like I said. I really am not that passive aggressive and we both already know that point. I’m also still listening, stopping the whirring of my brain to focus and absorb. Some of it I knew, or… presumed, and some? Talk about a heavy, larger than life kind of thought. I get to choose? I didn’t want to assume a Disney cartoon got any sort of important details right but… Birthrights. Choices. My place?

“Um. Yours.”

That would be an educated guess, even if I hadn’t spoken with my new friend about his Trials and gotten the explanations from him and Red Ro…er. Batman. Just from the way he phrased it. I guess I’d thought there would still be gaining gifts from the other Avatars but…as Zeus said. They’re destroyed. No longer able to bestow anything. The broken nature of the trial now, the cheating of Freddy’s rival. I guess it fits. And it also means that now that I know? I need to be extra careful. There’s no pleading ignorance, but the fact is I was never really ignorant of that notion in the first place. You can’t take someone’s driver’s license test for them. And I can’t overcome Freddy’s obstacles.

“It’d be an escalation of proverbial arms. And epic scale Monkey See, Monkey do. I. Understand. I do.”

It sucks, but I get it. Just like I hadn’t been happy with Mom’s explanations but…once she’d given them I understood. Why she wanted me to be a ‘real girl’ before I learned there was anything else to be. How would my perceptions be skewed if like Conner, I just came out into the world with all that power, knowing I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted? That means I’m probably an entirely different Cassie. On the flip side, having lived the last …entire…part of my life without wanting anything from a Father I didn’t know, or want to know, means that finding out he could choose to act, or see me, but just doesn’t isn’t really quite the blow it could be. There’s a reason. It’s not just a platitude to say it’s one I understand.

Zeus’ laughter makes me blink, and then cock my head once more and watch his amusement. Well. It’s not smiting for being uppity. I’m not sure how I feel about being laughed at, but I don’t think that’s actually what he’s doing. He said it. I can do whatever I want. Until I make him mad by doing it.

“I just mean… I’m a big girl. I’m going to try to fight my own battles. But if I’m putting myself out there, and I let the world see me for who I really am. What I really am. I presume that may lead in a pretty dramatic uptick in belief. And so it might not be completely unreasonable in that case, if someday down the road I’ve got an epic emergency to…ask for a little help. Whatever that might be.”

I realize I’ve just kind of put myself out there like some kind of NASCAR racing vehicle, prime to have sponsor’s stickers slapped on me. An analogy I find instantly humorous in my head, and absurd enough that I let out a little giggle before I smother it down again just as quickly. It also might have come out like I’m trying to coerce the God of the Gods by saying I don’t have to claim him, or glorify him by proxy with my actions. That wasn’t my intention. Seems like a good way to get smote. Well. Maybe it was. At least a little. Maybe I should clarify.

“I’m going to keep helping people regardless. I don’t need some favor cookie dangling on a stick to make me do it. Just. Thought I’d ask since. I’m here and all.”

Zeus: For a lot of the next couple moments he sits there in silence. Watching Cassie. Seeing the wheels turning as she works through the things that she had asked and how the answers were given. Not just the words offered, but how they were offered. She’s examining everything said. Re-thinking them all. Over-thinking some. Under-thinking others. Most of all though, she searches for hidden meanings. Which once more drives a chuckle of mirth from the man before her.

“Your Mother does that all the time. She thinks about the double meanings of everything I say to her. I have learned that often times your Mother uses the adage about Gods and Riddles to convince herself that she has heard that which she wishes to hear.” White haired head canting off to one side, like a wizened old owl peering at a slow-moving worm it might pluck from the ground as a morsel. “If a Nightmare can scare you, then why can’t a Dream embolden you? Is the Nightmare all the worse, simply because it terrifies you? If a Nightmare gives you a fright, scaring you from doing the wrong thing. Is it not good? Then wouldn’t a Dream that emboldens you to the wrong ends, be equally foul?”

“Think, little one. Think this through. Would help from me, knowing it was given because you empowered me through the belief of others. Would that be Help you would truly want? Or would that make me just some genetic donor, who was seeking to enhance his overseas portfolio? If then I refused to help, would it mean that I was simply refusing or that I never saw you as an investment that might pay a dividend? Your question has painted me in to a pickle of situation, from which there is no way in which I can ever win.”

“Instead. Perhaps you should take a different path of thought. What if I have already helped you? What would you say to the certain knowledge that I have put all the tools you should ever need in place, well within your grasp? That I have done this, before you asked for help. Without any promise of payment what so ever.”

Once more there is a roll of the shoulders. Not so much a shrugging to suggest that I do not care for the topic, but to hint at the fact that this is not supposition. “Your life is your own. Your choices are your own. Fate has no hold upon my children, ‘cept that greatness follow them closely. When the time is nigh and the stakes are high, you will find what you seek, Daughter. This be no riddle to be figured out. I say it plainly. My help was given long before your birth. It lays in wait, in your world waiting to be taken. Some of it will find you, others will need to be found. Your Mother has been teaching you how to look for it your whole life. She has been preparing you, Cassandra. Guiding you, Shaping you. Molding you like Clay, in to the woman you are. You came here for answers, but in reality you already had them.”

“Most. Of them anyway,” lightly reaching out then to tap the Trident she holds, the touch gives it life and it begins to thrum in her hands. “You are not supposed to be here. But there is no punishment to be given. An Avatar must confer with their Patron, if they are to conduct the Trial as their Patron demands it. I told you, Cassandra, I chose you.”

“You must test him. You must judge him. In the end, you must choose whether Freddy Freeman is worthy of the Blessing that only you may bestow. Thus, it is not cheating for you to aide such a man in the Trials. For you are one of them. But you must remember, that he must pass a trial of your creation. He must prove himself worthy of the Blessing from the King of the Gods.”

Cassie: “Analyze twice, dig once. Sounds like Mom.”

Or more correctly, four times, get more sources, hunt down some locals, then measure twice and cut once. Not the locals, obviously. The site of whatever it was she was after. A passion that I now know isn’t purely an academic pursuit. Yes, it satisfies that itch but there’s more driving her than just simple discovery. As for my Mother thinking about the double meanings of everything he says to her, present tense, I want to seize on that and ask. The tiny part of me that feels so out of control of my own life shrieking over how unfair that is. And the talk of my dreams? I wouldn’t say Ares’ little love notes had been about scaring me away from doing something so much as trying to terrify me until I caved into doing what he wanted. Don’t get me wrong, what Zeus just said makes sense, but the application to my circumstances doesn’t entirely.

My lips purse and pull to the side and this time, it’s my turn to look amused at what he’s said. Right after looking a little chagrined about the ‘genetic donor’ portion, which tells me he does know my mind because that’s often how I thought of the other half of my biological makeup. Not a father. Just a necessary part of creation, whomever he’d been.

“It’d be more like two folks helping each other out, but your way does make you sound much more magnanimous and kindly.”

And if he really is all power, all knowing, it’s possible he did that. That he knew what I’d need, and arranged it all before I’d ever need it. Or he could be interjecting those things in the present. Who would ever actually know, besides him? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I’m firming myself up to not dwell on that puzzle. Mom probably would. I’m just going to take him at the words that he says are exactly what he means. Especially because I’m very aware that he doesn’t actually have to tell me anything. It’s not like I’m in a position to compel the guy…God… Buying in to what he says isn’t really hard. Or a matter of buying in. I did know some of these things. Knowing and suspecting are different, but stories of Zeus’ children lingered through the ages. I’m already kicking at the edges of greatness. I don’t know if I could have helped it.

“Most of them?”

I don’t get to have an ‘aha!’ moment especially, because I’m distracted by the feel of the trident in my fingers, the other hand coming up to take hold of it as well like I’m concerned it’s going to wriggle its way out of my grasp, or I might drop it. The energy vibrates my palms, and fingertips. Like putting your hand on the casing of some giant turbine. Not so distracting as to keep me from hearing Zeus’ words, though. Blonde head rears back in surprise. When he said he Chose me, I didn’t think he’d meant for this. I had been thinking of it more along the lines of a representative in the world of…oh. Yeah. Nope. That makes, actually, perfect sense.

“I think I know a couple people that would probably agree I’m a bit of a Trial right now. Heh. I. I can do that.”

And now we’re back to heavy things. I’m a teenage girl, who barely has a handle on her own life and problems right now, I think most of the world might think was kind of a last resort sort of option for this sort of thing. I’ve also learned over the last few years, though, that my best and most important quality isn’t really the fact that I can bench a tank or fly, or put my teachers to shame in their own classrooms. It’s something else, that I think I’d probably have even if I didn’t have the muscle, the book smarts, or the looks from my Mother. Something special. And I think I already have seen hints of that in my new friend.

It takes guts, if nothing else, to do what he did earlier. Offering the trident back to Zeus, I actually smile at him, before letting my eyes wander over the scenery around me once again. Drinking it in because who knows when, if ever, I’ll be back here. I probably won’t get away with stumbling in half on accident, half on purpose again. And I don’t have to put deep thought into it to know that I’m not ready, or willing, to leave Earth right now, and leave behind the people I care about. Neither did he. I’d imagined I would come away from this like I had the talk with my Mother. More questions than answers, though I did get answers I needed. More frustrations to dig in. There’s a sort of sense of…ease… that probably is out of place with discussion that’s settled into my shoulders.

I’m not going to overthink that, either.

“Thank you. Really. Already having the answers or not, I feel a lot better about. Well. Everything. And I appreciate the explanations. I’ll get out of your hair now.”

Zeus: “Your Mother isn’t just an amazing Scientist, Cassandra. She is an amazing person. A wonder of a woman. That has raised one of her own.” Once she offers the Trident, Zeus simply touches it a second, before drawing back his hand. “What good would it do for me to tell you not to be too hard on her? You don’t need to hear that from your absentee Father and even if he said it what merit would it hold? So I won’t tell you to not be too hard on her. Instead I would tell you to look inward. Think about your situation. How hard is it to navigate this world you were thrust in to? Have you stumbled? Of course. But you’re doing the best you can, given the circumstances. You’re playing this game, without a handbook. No training. Blind, deaf, but thankfully never dumb. How much of that do you have to thank Helena for?” 

“You have your Mother for support. She had no one. Think about your life and what would you do, if you were alone with all of this?” 

With that Zeus rises from the Dais. His hand does not go to the Trident, but something begins to happen. The feeling of touching a live battery. That tingling sensation as the current surges through your topical flesh. The once lengthy, golden and ornate trident shifts. Losing it’s cohesion as it slowly becomes a single bolt of lightning. One that is not take away from her, but is left in her hands. 

“Your blessing, bestow it upon the Champion if you believe him worthy. Though his trials are broken, I caution you, Daughter. Be very mindful not to give your blessing unearned. Power unearned is often times abused. Even if you believe this boy to be different, your heart and your head should be of one mind on this Trial. You will knowwhen or if he is worthy.” 

“Most of them. You surprise me by not simply asking what Isis is up to or how to stop her. You didn’t ask me about the new dreams you’ve been having. Nor did you ask, even once, if you can contact me again.” Snorting softly, as he takes that first step to move around her. “I think I would be most insulted, if a child of mine wasn’t something of a Trial. Consider it this way. You’re the equivalent of a Godling Toddler. You only have one and three quarters more centuries before you’re out of your terrible twos.” 

Still chortling even as his hand lightly clasps her shoulder. The squeeze is gentle, supportive and safe. After all she’s a known hugger. “This discussion was long overdue. It is to my regret that I could not allow myself to initiate it sooner. You won’t be able to return the same again, but there are other means. Similar methods.A creative young woman such as yourself, can surely think her way back to Olympus if you put your mind to it.” 

“Cassandra. One final piece of advice. Other children were told stories of three pigs, wolves and riding hoods. You were told the sagas of the ages. Stories of Golden Bows, Fleece. Nemean Lions. Magical harps. My Aegis. The difference between the fairy tales other children were told and those you were given? Is that all of the ones Helena spoke of. Are true. They are the roadmap to all the help you might ever need. She even taught you how to seek them out.”

Cassie: I expect him to take the Trident away from me again, for him to instead switch courses and tell me, without telling me, not to be too hard on my Mother? Blue eyes narrow slightly, but it’s hardly a shocking thing to hear. He’s not even the first person to do it this month. I do have my mother for support. And while there was only so much support I could give her, I like to think that we were there for each other. I may be frustrated, but that’s a very normal sort of growing pains even when you’re not a demi-god. Hell, judging by the interactions I’ve seen between friends and their completely normal parents? Even when we’re fighting, we’re still on pretty good terms. And even if we’re not getting along as great as we once did, I can promise that if anyone messed with her? They’d get front row seats to seeing mild-mannered girl next door morph into raging Godpowered lioness. 

“I’d go crazy. But I’m not alone, and neither is she. Not anymore.” 

I felt something like this once before, a little bit of a science experiment though I forget where we were living at the time, where a bunch of other children and myself joined hands and made a circuit with the exposed battery of a men’s shaver. You could feel it go into your body, from one linked hand to the next, and the urge was there to drop hands and make it stop until you got used to it. That’s like this, and hang onto it, watching in wonder as the weapon shifts to a weapon of a different sort. 

“Like you said. Broken world. Broken trials. I’ll figure out how to make it work.” 

It’s a semi-flippant answer I suppose, but I do take it seriously. The charge, and what I’m being asked to do. I’m in love with a prime example of what power with no filter, and no effort to acquire can do to a person. I’ve also already met a few other examples of people who have power that I don’t agree with how they use it. It’s not something to let go into the world lightly, even for someone I like. I came up here in part to make sure I wouldn’t cheat Freddy of his experience, and his Trials. Being part of it now won’t change that. 

“Frankly? I didn’t think you’d really answer, or it’d fall under the ‘you have the answers already’ clause. Isis, what she’s up to, and what to do about it? That’s something that can be figured out. And. You already warned me about the dreams.” 

Biting the corner of my lip almost impishly, I turn to watch him move around me. One hundred and seventy-fve more years and I’ll still be a toddler? I wasn’t kidding about the eyeblink part. Waiting sixteen years for me to be allowed to have my powers by my Mother really was no hardship. 

“Um. Well. There’s a saying about easier to ask forgiveness than permission. So if I haven’t been told that I can’t…” 

Then I’m also not knowingly breaking the rules. I’ve had a lot of experience lately in things unsaid, or unasked, for someone else’s protection, or my own use. I could ask now about the things I hadn’t asked, but I realize now that I’m here…that I really wasn’t actually looking for someone to tell me what to do. It’s my world. I can figure out what to do with it, I think I’m actually supposed to. After a moment of hesitation, I bring a hand away from the lighting bolt to lay it on top of the one on my shoulder. The contact is… nice. A little weird how nice actually. 

“Will anyone else? I’ll make sure to seal the hatches back up if they could. Thank you. For the advice. I won’t forget.” 

I’m pretty sure no one would, it’s kind of been one of those ‘days you’ll always remember’ kind of deals. Honest to Goodness Olympus. And Zeus. My Father. I really won’t forget. And I’d like to think I won’t let him down, but more importantly, I’m not going to let myself down. 

“Goodbye, your…” 

Holiness? Godliness? Cripes, what do I even call him. Zeusness? So I settle for what I guess, coming from me, is going to be more respectful than the others, and certainly not something I thought I’d ever say. 


Zeus: “Oh. I would certainly have answered, but I would have thought less of you for needing a man, even a man such as me, to tell you what to do.” When his hand lifts from her shoulder, there is just enough hesitation that for a brief moment he is squeezing her hand. “Ahh, so you truly are my daughter, aren’t you? I find it always better to ask forgiveness, than permission.” 

Once the contact of hands is broken, there is a feeling left behind. Not unlike touching the lightning, Zeus’ touch leaves the skin tingling. “While it is not the case for all manner of transport to Olympus, the door you used this day? Will never open again. You road a conduit of my power here. It was that conduit that Black Adam sought when he damaged your Metropolis. At the time he was searching for a means to bring back his deceased wife. Though he failed to garner one of my Bolts at the time, the residual energy left was able to interact with our mutual bloodline. Your divinity springs from my own. It brought you to me. Now that it is used, it is gone.” 

“Or rather. As your scientists would say. Not necessarily gone, but it shall become something else.” 

“Cassandra, there is one last thing you should know before you are on your way. You didn’t ask, but you are entitled to know that I do know you. I have always been there. Look back upon your life. Think about your own trials, though not as formal Freddy Freeman’s, each time you have faced a point of change in your life. How often has the inexplicable happened? Think it through. Your rational mind will tell you that there is a logical explanation. One perhaps. Twice even is luck. How many times have the inexplicable happened, just at the right time. If you look closely, you will see it.” 

“Of course, your logical mind is also going to tell you the same as it did about what I told you about my gifts always having been there too. You can never really know if it’s true. If I was always there or if I am telling you something so ambiguous as to be unbelievable. The question you should ask yourself, is which would you rather believe.” 

One fingertip lightly touches upon the tip of his own nose. Then with a simple snap of the fingers, Cassie is gone. Back to the Alcove beneath the City of Metropolis. In the same place she was before. Her hand still within the crater caused by the lightning. Only now there is a real bit of lightning in her hand. A single bolt. Was she ever really -in- Mount Olympus? Was that bolt really the Trident or was it the electricity that she felt when she put her hand in to the hole in the wall? The answer is not so difficult to come by. As she will realize soon enough that she is still draped in adornments of the Gods. Still clothed in silks, dripping in gold and decidedly lacking in concealing hoodie.

Cassie: I can’t really say this went incredibly better than expected. It’s hard to measure something you were trying to expect nothing from. Something you haven’t spent any amount of time building up thoughts of, because at first you weren’t interested, and then you weren’t sure if it would even be hostile. It could have gone one of a few ways, I suppose. Cool, distant, and GTFO. A warm welcome, worthy of some long lost Disney Princess. Or something in between. I’d say this actually ended up closer to option two, and that’s…pleasing. I wasn’t looking for justification. Or praise. 

I feel like I’m coming away with it regardless. And a feeling that he did actually care. Eyeblink or not. He’s just Zeus. And a mind reader. 

“I’m more of a bright side kind of girl, generally speaking.” 

And that means benefit of the doubt for my ‘long lost’ Father figure. Which is actually the opposite of how I would probably have guessed I came out of meeting him feeling. A literal snap of the fingers and…I’m in what might be the most depressing place I’ve ever seen. It was empty and gloomy before. Coming out of Olympus to a world of concrete just makes it feel like color’s been sucked out of my life. True to his word the conduit is gone, instead I’m left holding the bolt, the feel of the hand on my shoulder still there. Like the thrum in my hands. it takes a minute before I look past the ‘souvenir,’ to realize what I’m still wearing. And not wearing. 

“…that was my favorite sweatshirt…” 

Grunge Match

STNow it’s time to Run.

Wally West has never been more right in his entire young life. It’s time to run. The moment that ‘it’ happened, he was on the run. Whether he knew it or not. The Speed Force isn’t just any form of energy, it has the potential to alter time and space. It has been known, in the past, to be the flow that turns the tide. The United States created Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E to monitor ‘potential.’ At first it was simply potential threats, but eventually it simply became potential. Potential Threat that they could deal with or Raw Potential that they could utilize. Then Lex Luthor became President and the word Potential was once more redefined.

More aptly. Potential Threat was redefined. Rewritten. No one denies that this world has been turned upon it’s head. Bruce Wayne, dead. Clark Kent is gone. Arthur Curry deposed. Hal Jordan disgraced. Lex Luthor lauded as the greatest hero in the world, that the world has ever known. While President Luthor monitors all threats to his life and legacy, there is but one threat he cannot ‘forsee’ because it has already happened. Changing the Past is the greatest threat to Lex Luthor, to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and the world they’ve created.

He doesn’t even know it, but the moment that Wally West started to run? He could never again stop.

His name is Percival Change, but his friends call him well.. nothing, because he doesn’t really have any friends. Mostly he’s called Agent Grunge. Today he has shown up at the Central City Police Department with all the credentials needed cut through the red tape in getting a tour of the Precinct of the Crime Lab. It’s during this tour that Percival is able to stage a meeting with one Wally West. Central City’s ‘best and brightest’ in the field. They Police Chief sends Wally up to the Roof for a ‘Photo Op’ with the DC Guy, while mournfully hoping they don’t lose Wally to that big Task Force….

“Mr. West. It’s a pleasure to meet you, we’ve been looking for a guy just like you for our team….”

Just as he reaches for Wally’s hand, the most incredible thing happens. A batarang from out of nowhere (pun intended) sinks about three inches deep in to Agent Grunge’s hand. Don’t ask how or why the Batman is there. Focus instead on the Woman above him. She’s the scary one.

Cassie: Scary. Honestly. Up until a a few months ago I don’t believe that’s a word that’s ever been used to refer to me. The people that knew I had powers certainly weren’t afraid of me, but then one of them is my Mother, the other’s probably my best friend, and the third and original? The only person that I know that actually outclasses me, and has a moral code or lack thereof that actually does make him scary. Scary also isn’t a word you would normally apply to someone that let out the entirely undignified squeak that I did about fifteen minutes ago on board a private jet when I found myself faced quite suddenly with a looming Batman over my shoulder.

Scary might have been the point where I nearly punched the looming Batman through the side of the jet, but I’d managed to rein that impulse in. It’s not a good idea to interrupt any girl’s watching Pretty Little Liars, let alone to sneak up on her like that. Especially when she’s Wonder Woman. Tempted as I had been to fly myself the rest of the way (and get there faster), I had to change still. Suiting up into the spangly red, with bits of armored gold that right now I suppose might look pretty menacing. No one wants to have a woman glaring down her nose at them with hands on hips. Especially not one who’s hovering in midair and apparently brought Batman with her.

“I would not touch him, Mr. West. Agent Grunge here was about to make you an offer you wouldn’t have the opportunity to refuse.”

Wally: When the batarang seemed to come out of nowhere and strike the hand of one Agent Grunge, it was like time stopped. Wally could see everything. But it was just for an instant. So, when the batarang finally struck and sank into the hand of Agent Grunge, Wally was already on the move. Becoming nothing but a blur of lightning. That lightning would go down the stairs, come back up, circle the Agent a few times before coming to a skidding stop. In that short few seconds, Grunge would be tied up with tactical assault rope and hands cuffed.

Though, now his clothes were slightly singed and smoking. His favorite pair of shoes now much less whole than they were. Turning to face Batman, then to Wonder Woman, he backs up a moment. “What’s going on?” Wally asked, lightning dancing out of his eyes as he stood his ground. “Don’t you two have like, world saving things to do?” Wally was fast. And had the potential to be faster. But, right now. Two costumes just stopped a dude in a suit who was supposedly about this new task force.

The problem with Wally at the moment is that he’s still learning to control his speed. More often than not putting everything into full speed rather than slowing down and learning. It’s caused quite a few spectacular high speed crashes. Wally joined the CCPD to make a difference, to see if he could figure out who drove Barry into the speed force, and control the information that goes out into the public about Flash.

ST: I’ve seen a Superman fight. I’ve seen the Woman above me throw down in full ultra high definition. I’ve read the notes. I’ve studied the files of my ‘Father.’ Not one of those things prepares me for what I am witnessing. Or rather, the complete lack of what I’m witnessing. Wally West is fast, I knew that coming in. Fast is an understatement. Only the fact that I’m wearing a Wayne Tech enhanced suit allows me to track the after-image of the Flash as he momentarily disappears, only to re-emerge with the trappings needed to secure Grunge.

“We are saving the world. Right now. Agent Grunge works for a secret government agency that catalogs Meta-Human abilities. He’s here to collect your’s. Or collect you. Either way.”

Wonder Woman was completely correct. It was going to be an opportunity that Wally wouldn’t be able to refuse. One way or the other. A fact which begins to become utterly clear as the Agent chuckles over the histrionics. He doesn’t even have the humility of letting the tactical rope hold him. One of his arms begins to shift, to change… literally becoming tactical rope itself. The other arm begins to shift as well, becoming even more dense and bladed. Akin to the metal of the handcuffs, which snap only seconds later.

It only takes the detective in me a glance to know what’s going on from the files. “He can bond with any element he touches. When he does he picks up all of the properties of it.”

But neither the Flash or Wonder Woman need me to tell them that at this point. Not when they can see the guy morphing in to a mish-mash of Tactical Rope and Titanium Alloy. Wally is fast, but what even I’m not seeing? Is the fact that the Grunge is also bonding to the roof. As he does so, he controls it while he’s in contact. Sending it up at Wally’s feet in an effort to slow him down.

Sorry, Kid. Nothing personal. You probably don’t even know how dangerous you are.


Cassie: Holymoley. ‘Batman’ over there is fast. For a normal person. That’s not meant to be condescending but as much of an exemplar of human capabilities as my friend is, he’s that. A normal human. I’m fast, and getting faster as I push and test my limits. Comparing me to to Superman, or to Freddy Freeman is about like comparing myself and my caped friend here in a footrace. They’re super fast. Then there’s what I just witnessed, or partially witnessed. More like didn’t witness. Wally West is like if you take all the degrees of the rest of us, multiply that together and then square it. It’s incredible. Not just the obvious effects on his clothing. It’s like the world around me skipped a beat, and something wasn’t, and then was, in short order.

The Speedster’s question gets a short, almost amused snort of laughter out of me, and Batman answers with what I was about to say while I’m doing so. We are saving the world. I already believed that I was, and that coming out here and talking to this guy would be important to do so. Now? Yikes. As much as I still try to not have some sort of agenda that I’m corralling people into, because I’m not NOWHERE. This is and should be about free will., but… I cannot let them get their hands on him. They get to Wally, convince him, turn him, coerce him or force him? Use this power in some way? No one else is going to have a prayer. No matter how hard I fight.

So I just get to look all… I don’t know. Regal. And incline my head in agreement with Gotham’s hero. An expression which turns into concern as I watch what Grunge is doing. Well. That’s…great. And getting greater by the second as the very roof under us (well, under them) starts to shift and alter. So, a fight it’s going to be. I’m sensing a building trend here.


Punching titanium, even if it is lower density than a lot of things, may not be the best idea. Neither do I want to batter up and hit him with anything else he can absorb (though I think he’s already probably gotten hold of about the worst thing he could up here). It takes no wind up for me to accelerate forward with a whipcrack of air behind me, driving my shoulder into the rope shifted arm, hopefully coming in at an awkward angle for him to take any sort of bladed swipe at me.

Wally: Wally watches with a look of amazement and horror as Grunge takes on the material of the cuffs and rope until he’s fully change. “Amazing!” saying as he speeds out of the way of his grasp. Fighting on a rooftop wasn’t really ideal. “Sorry. I suppose I shouldn’t gush how amazing the bad guy’s power is.” zooming away from Wonder Woman’s “Um. We should probably move this off the top of a roof! Pretty sure the whole CCPD isn’t going to be happy with us fighting a supervillain here.” explaining, as gestured.

“Don’t you have some kind of bat-bad guy-spray, or something?” asking as he looked to Batman while he watched Wonder Woman fight the big bad guy. “Argh!” getting fed up with at the speed this fight is going, Wally starts running circles around Grunge. Every pass Batman would see that his clothes were shredding, but something replaced them. A dark red costume would be seen, even if it’s just an after image. The roof isn’t designed for this kind of speed, and it was clear Wally hadn’t even reached his peak.

The air around Grunge started to shift, slow at first then building until Wonder Woman would start having problems flying against it. Almost like flight right into a headwind, or a tornado. First, rocks and little bits of debris start slowly lifting into the vortex, then parts of the actual concrete starts giving way and going into the vortex. All the while, Wally keeps running in circles, picking up speed.

“The roof is giving way!” shouting to his new allies “Supergirl I need you to move him to the new location! If you hit him at a ninety degree angle, your mass and speed should be enough to knock him into the abandoned building, where Batman can use his Bat powers to do … whatever it is he does!”

ST: Nothing at all stops Wonder Woman from doing exactly what she wants. Nothing. Because it’s exactly what Grunge was hoping for. One of the Heroes to actually come in close to duke it out. Wally gave him such a wonderful weapon to use against such a tactic. That winding tactical rope that works now like an extension of Grunge’s physical self. She lowers her shoulder. He accepts the impact. Grunts. But only part of him ‘gives.’ The part that is now more or less all tactical rope. It encircles and encompasses Wonder Woman.

Heh. I’ve been thinking ’bout all the fun we could have with you tied up for a couple years now. Tell ya what, you stay right there and we’ll play when I’m through talkin to Officer West here.

Whether he’s sporting the Cape and Cowl of Batman or the facemask of Red Robin, he’s no idiot. Putting himself right in to the fray is a quick way to end up dead. So he’s up, quick, on to the air conditioning unit for the building. Covering his movements with that long, flowing cape. It may be perfectly day light, but it affords it’s own concealment. Allowing him to dig in to his veritable bag of tricks.

The Flash is making more than one really good point. Not only is it probably bad to be fighting up on the roof of CCPD, but there’s also the question of what Grunge’s machinations are doing to the structural integrity of the entire roof as he uses it against the Heroes. Well. Less heroes plural and more, just the Flash himself. Neither the Batman -or- Grunge actually realized just how fast Wally is though. Turning the roof in to a tar-pit doesn’t do much. When the guy can run to fast to sink in to it.

To Wally’s credit? Batman isn’t arguing with the plan of action. His only addition to the action? Is the small pellet that he throws out when Flash begins to move. Only this isn’t a smoke bomb for Batman to ninja-vanish with. It’s liquid nitrogen. Which instantly reacts to the fluidity of the roof to temporarily render it frozen at the point where Grunge is in contact with the roof. With Wally’s efforts and Grunge’s connection to the roof brittle… if Wonder Woman actually does what the Flash suggests, it just might work.

Cassie: “If you can talk and fight at the same time, then by all means. Gush away.”

I have a feeling as fast as he’s moving he can do both, and play a game of chess the next state over, stop for a snack and do a few other things that strike his fancy in between. He’s also not wrong about the location of the fight. The rooftop isn’t great. Anywhere with a population or bystanders to get crushed in the fallout is definitely less than ideal, injuring officers looks even worse for the ‘good’ guys. I’m not exactly here to prove NOWHERE right for their tactics, or aims. Quite the opposite.

There’s no satisfying thud, no collision that moves him though in part I expected that, connected to the rooftop as he seems to be.

“As much as I’d love to hang around and beat those inappropriate fantasies out of you again later…”

Eugh. Really. Any other situation and I would probably have been already shuddering in disgust. Somehow I don’t even entirely doubt that it’s something he’s conjured up to throw me in the moment. I have been a known entity that’s equally off limits almost since the moment my powers turned on. But only because it worked for them. Timothy Drake can handle himself, human or not, and Wally has clearly not been actually bogged down by Grunge’s efforts.

“Wonder Woman.”

The gritted teeth is more for what I’m dealing with than Wally getting my name wrong. But really. Supergirl was something I specifically avoided. Sidekick connotations, or even some sort of familiar connection to the Superman something I’d been trying to not call up. Restricted or not, it doesn’t actually stop me from flight, which means that I can still maneuver just with a tether. The pellet, the shouted plan, it all sounds like it’s got a reasonably good chance for success to me. The frozen and brittle structure of the connection, the amount of force I can generate. Whether it counts as shouldering him again, or just going airborn is debatable. Either way I’m moving and taking Grunge along with me, angling for what will probably not be the most graceful of landings on the abandoned structure. Possibly into it.

Wally: When Wonder Woman shoulders into Grunge and goes with him, Wally skids to a stop ontop of the roof as he looks down and sighs. “The Chief is going to kill me!” shaking his head, he turns to Batman. “Sup-er, Wonder Woman can handle Agent Grunge for a minute. You have some explaining to do.” pointing a scarlet clad finger at the man dressed in a bat outfit. “What the HELL is going on?!” asking as he starts zooming around the roof doing his best to put things back where they are while continuing the conversation with Batman.

“Can you super people schedule appointments like regular people?! I’ve got a Meta i’m dealing with here who can infect computers with his brain.” explaining as he continues zooming about the roof. The conversation taking all but a couple minutes. “Alright. Time to go! I’ll fix this later. If I can. I think.” zooming over to Batman, he picks him up with ease and then travels over the side of the building. But they don’t fall, they stay stuck to the roof as he hauls down the roof and onto the street. Paper and garbage whipping behind them, Car Alarms going off as they run past them.

Batman wouldn’t feel anything, except being carried. The world around him would seem like a blur. Just streaks of colors as they arrive at the block in just under a minute. Running into the building, he’s able to open the door, go through it and close it behind them. Seeing a giant hole in the ground, he skids to a stop, smoke coming up from under his feet. Putting Batman down he lifts a brow.

“Wait, This isn’t that weird group that keeps trying to tag me, is it?” asking, curious.

ST: Crouched there on the air conditioning unit, ‘Batman’ listens to the Flash as he holds most of a conversation with himself in the speed with which he’s talking. Good thing the two ‘supers’ came here prepared because otherwise this would be a whirlwind in more ways than one. As it stands the truth is, Tim Drake was prepared for Fast, but this is actually ridiculous. The man’s living in the span of a rabbit’s heart beat, if it was even possible to keep up with him what would even be the point?

“Cliff Notes: Grunge works for a government sanctioned group that ‘tags’ people with extraordinary powers. Those they deem to be a risk to society are dealt with. Those they deem safe are either recruited or monitored.”

Keeping it short and sweet is the only real way to give the guy any sort of information. Trying to give a more complete explanation right now would require him to slow down to a crawl, by his standards. Which is not the goal of this endeavor. Batman doesn’t want the Flash to slow down, he wants him to speed up. So that he won’t get caught. The problem is. How do you explain that in as quickly a manner as possible? You don’t. Not when ‘as quick as possible’ is still a snails pace for this guy.

Could Batman stop himself from being absconded with? There’s a good chance we’ll never know because he actually doesn’t even try. That’s far less important than explaining two other small points. “…. technically… Grunge is not a Super Villain. We. You, Wonder Woman and I, are the ones breaking the law here. And. For the record. She can handle almost anything. But. She can’t handle him.”

All that Batman hopes is that Wally got all that while he was being carried over to the abandoned building. The sheer vertigo of spacial displacement? Results in a very. Very. Un-Batmanly reaction. He’ll rejoin the fray a few moments later, when he’s done barfing and thanking the Ancient Greek Gods that Damien isn’t here to see -that-.

Why can’t Wonder Woman handle Grunge? It’s actually real simple. You see she let him keep hold of her. Tactical rope and titanium hadn’t done a whole lot of good. But that Golden Armor all over her? Well. Part of him is touching that. It’s all wrapped around her. She’s using it as a tether to pull him along. On to, even in to the building. Good plan. Civilians are safe. Cops are safe. Wonder Woman, is not safe. At one point she’s slamming him through walls, duracrete, steel beams, concrete slabs.

Then. Her tether tenses. Well. Actually it changes, getting more dense. Stronger. Heavier. Until he’s more anchor than passenger and her momentum forward is all too suddenly turned against her. Tether becoming fishing hook. With Grunge as the one at the end of the line who pulls her back. She’s been bit before. Bruised. Punched with Brute Force of a Superman. This is different. This is ancient warriors metal, that has helped her blunt those blows before being turned against her. Pulling her in. Releasing her…. just as she’s punched with every ounce of force mustered by the density strength of her own armor. Like lobbing a softball up to hit it with a bat.

Don’t worry, Wonderbabe, we’ll talk about those fantasies later. You ain’t who I’m here for.


Cassie: It’s impossible to keep a firm handle on what everyone else is doing here. Teamwork is something I’ve been trying to work on, but the truth is I don’t have an awful lot of field experience despite my title and public status. My resume is getting better, and I’m still training with Conner but that’s working with someone with similar, just stronger abilities than mine and a few extra on top. Wally’s far faster than me, reaction time better, and Tim’s loaded for bear with all the Batman things that make him a veritable toolbox for any and every situation. I’ve got brute, blunt force, and the ability to take a hit a whole lot better than either of them is going to. Which is important given the state of our opponent just now.

Which just got worse. Blue eyes widen as I get hauled back in towards Agent Grunge, and then sent sailing. Not just sailing. That simplifies things and makes them sound a lot less painful than what actually just happened. Taste of my own medicine I guess you’d call it, and it sends me careening through the parts of the building I hadn’t already crashed through with a ‘oooomph’ of air getting knocked out of me. Tumbling and bouncing end over end until I collect myself enough to do something about it. At the speed I’m going? That’s a fair distance, honestly, and I right myself with another whipcrack of speed and sound up into the sky.

Saying that smarted was an understatement, but adrenaline blunts it to a degree. It’s definitely not enough to stop me from flying back into the fray again. Fine. You want to use my gear against me? Two can play that game. Only one of us can play it a whole lot better than the other.

In theory anyway. NOWHERE had made that weapon in the first place. They had all kinds of theories about what it could be used to do. None of which seemed to actually have been workable for them. I’m assuming because they were lacking one important part of the equation. Divinity, or the blessings of it. I’m like a Grunge seeking missile on the way back in. A touch of my hand all it takes to uncoil my own ‘taser wire’ as Conner had called it. It’s more backup than main plan. Just in case Grunge shifts into something besides the sparkling material that had originally made up the legendary Golden Fleece.

I aim my anger and frustration crackling through it, into him but that’s more distraction in the sparks. I don’t think it’s going to actually hurt him. Not when he’s apparently made up of it. I’m not actually trying to electrocute so much as control.

“Stop. Now.”

Wally: Things were going from bad to worse as Wally see’s Wonder Woman just completely clocked by Grunge and sent sailing. But, then she’s back and with some kind of electrical rope. Wally didn’t believe much in religion, in gods or what have you. He was a man of science, like his Uncle Barry. Science was what made this world go round. It’s what gave Barry his powers and access to the enigmatic speed force.

Wally’s running around making sure the entire building doesn’t just collapse under all of them. He could probably get most of them out, but that wasn’t the point of this. The point is to put Grunge down. “Hold him! I think I have an idea!” yelling out before running out of the building in an instant. Wally isn’t running away, he’s reading an attack. Something he’s only used a few times to beat enemies that normal hitting methods didn’t work. Running out of the city, he circles around and charges back towards the building. There’d be a loud crash as he breaks the sound barrier.

All of Tim’s readings on Wally would start sky rocketing as he continues gaining speed. You see, Newton came up with a series of laws that’s used to govern physics. And so far? Newton hasn’t been wrong at all.

‘The net force on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the acceleration of the object.’

What does that mean in laymans terms? When Wally runs back into the abandoned building, It means when Wally punches Agent Grunge. He’s packing enough force behind the punch that it’s on equivalent of Superman’s (not Conner) punch completely letting go and not holding back. The actual science behind it is amazing…but right now, that’s not the point of all this. The point is to knock Grunge out before getting stronger. Wally wasn’t sure all what he could absorb. But, he was pretty sure pure force wasn’t going to be something he can absorb.

ST: What’s a matter baby, you need a safe word?

Grunge isn’t just a Meta-Human. He’s a prime. One of the few that are considered equally useful, destructive and unstoppable. Not to mention trained to fight. Taught for decades to use his powers in combat. One on one he’d take any of the three. Maybe even if this was the real Batman. In his mind there’s no question. This is something that sets him apart. On the surface his actions are those of a ‘Super-Villain’, but what puts him even further in to a unique space? He doesn’t think that. He’s not out for World Domination. He’s not motivated by Greed. There’s no thirst for Vengeance or desperate Need for overcoming his opposition.

Put simply? Grunge thinks he’s the Hero. He believes that he’s the one doing the Good Work. Saving the world from people just like these three. He’s willing to fight. Even die for his belief. If his unique power set and augmentation didn’t set him above the normal bar, then his beliefs would. He’s willing to put Cassie down to save the world from the Speed Demon and he’s winding up to do just that… when the most peculiar thing happens. He stops. Stops cold in fact. The moment that her taser line makes contact with him.

‘Wonder Woman’ made a bold gamble, but it pays off. Grunge is by far stronger and more durable than most anything in the world right now. This fight was about to go a very bad way. If only he had known, that he was absorbing the strongest material on the planet. Which obeys the will of the Gods. In the absence of a full-blooded one, it would seem that Cassie’s got the divine spirit enough to make him pause. In any other time, any other place, that might not be enough to stop her from being yanked in again and punched out of the state.

But. This time she’s working with someone that just wound up like Babe Ruth and called his shot from the opposite side of Central City. Grunge’s jaw almost swivels off of his face from the unmitigated force of the blow. So much in fact, is the impact, that only Cassie’s command to ‘Stop’ keeps Grunge from sailing in to the air himself.

… and perhaps for the first time in Wally’s life. He’s going to find out how quickly his body can repair shattered bone. Because his knuckles just collided with a mystical metal that had been commanded to a full stop. Agent Grunge is down. Down and out. Left laying. His unconscious form reverting to it’s human state. Just in time for the three darts to hit his bare chest.

“Well done, you two. With Grunge off-line they’ll send a retrieval team. We cannot be here when they arrive and you both need medical attention.” Where -was- the Batman during all of this. Wally brought him along, but he seemed to take little or no part in the entire battle. “Mr. West, we’re here to help you but you’re under no obligation to come with us. If you do I can get your arm treated and she can give you answers.”

“Either way. You’ve got to make a choice quickly. Because the people who come after Grunge? We’re not ready for. Yet.”

Cassie: “Nope, and I’m not giving you one.”

I don’t know if I’m amazed that it actually worked, or if I find the situation just a little bit funny altogether. I mean, it would be comical to the audience if this was a movie. Big bad cocky bad guy, who’s only the bad guy because we, the protagonists of this little hypothetical movie, are acting in opposition to him. Not only is he being a Grade A pain in the butt, he’s sexually harassing our heroine. In a way that I don’t doubt would be followed through given opportunity. But things that had been passed off as myths before clearly actually are more than that. At least where I’m concerned. He tries to move, only his body which is currently made up of Fleece, as well as wrapped in it, obeys me. Not him. It’s likely a very good thing that I’ve got only the best of motivations or that might be a highly dangerous toy to play with. As it is, I think it’s not something that ought to be highly publicized with the other things roaming the world right now or threatening to. It may not only be me that can wield it.

In a way, it all works even better than I might have hoped. Grunge is stopped, and out of literally nowhere comes Wally. I maybe get an instant more warning than Grunge does, and after that? Grunge isn’t seeing stars even, I don’t think he had a chance. He’s just a dead weight crumpling heap in the same instant that I’m cringing from the sound of breaking bones that makes me suck in air.

Oh. There’s Tim. Tranqs I assume, to make sure he stays down now that he’s there. Before Batman even has a chance to issue his warning though, my brain was processing the ‘we need to get the heck out of here asap’ instinct. Because this just isn’t going to fly for any number of reasons. NOWHERE doesn’t like being thwarted, they just haven’t had enough experience with it to get USED to the feeling. I, and Batman, have also just acted in direct and public opposition to one of their agents. I’m not sure how much success my goodwill is going get me in spinning this. There’s a look of concern on my face as I step over Grunge’s form towards Wally, but also urgency.

“This isn’t something either one of us wanted to force you to decide on quickly, but then Grunge beat us here. And he’s right. We’re not ready.”

I actually have a red and rapidly swelling eye, something that the image alteration built into my costume doesn’t actually hide. Not that I’m looking at my reflection to realize it. I just know I’m only really seeing well out of one side of my vision just now. Secondary and really minor concern in the grand scheme of things. I’m also aware of how ominous it probably makes a situation sound to say that Wonder Woman and Batman are ready to get the heck out of dodge because this is bigger than them.

Wally: Bones shatter like glass dropping on the ground. Wally’s never felt it before and happens so that not even his nerves have time to register the pain. Or, if it did, it was so that that even he couldn’t keep up with it. “I can feel the bones coming back into place already.” saying as he zipped around the abandoned building, making a makeshift splint and sling. It’d do, his bones will heal in a few hours. Or, at least, that’s his theory. Most of what he’s doing is based on the laws of physics. No matter how absurd they seem.

But, Wally listens to Tim and gives a nod.

“I’m in. Though, first. I’ve got my own problems to deal with. There’s a man terrorizing the city with some kind of tech based power. He’s able to override and control it. Like, a sort of technopathy.” looking at Grunge for a moment, then back to Batman. “I’m the only thing this city has that can stop him. Help me, and i’ll help you two.” offering a trade. “I can’t let him continue to terrorize my city. Your Batman. I’m sure you have a gadget, or a theory of how to do this.” explaining. Normally, Wally would start nerding out. But, at the moment, he couldn’t go with them.

“If you can find him. I can take him out, or Wonder Woman here.” thumbing over to Cassie. “His name is Kilgore. Take him out, and he’ll be locked away in Iron Heights for the rest of his life.” Kilgore had a vendetta against the city, they hired him to make their infrastructure, but canned him before the project could be finished. And then, he got super powers. “He’s already killed at least two people, and more if we continue, or rather, I, continue to do nothing.”

ST: It must seem like an eternity. The time spent with me looking from Grunge to Wonder Woman and then back finally to the Flash. I always feel about ten steps ahead of everyone else, so I can’t imagine how it feels to actually -be- ten steps ahead of everyone else. The literal physics verses the metaphysical psychology of it taxes my understanding of how the world works. Once more I’m struck by how Bruce prepared me for this moment by introducing me to the world of Meta-Humans by having me meet them outside of their costumes first. That is really the only thing that humanizes them for me as I’m struck once again by how very not-human each new one seems.

“Localized electro-magnetic pulse, in tandem with a synaptic inhibitor,” he’s right, I do know how to handle the power assortment that he’s describing. “I have the components in with me, but you’ve got the order of priority here backwards… we need to go… or you won’t be around to use the tech against Kilgore.”

A finger points in to the direction of the sedated Grunge, to keep Wally focused upon what is actually important here and now. “I won’t hide while innocents are hurt, we’ll help you. But. None of us are going to be here to help anyone if we’re here when Superboy and his team arrive.”

The Flash and Wonder Woman can continue having their discussion if they want, but those are the last words I’m going to speak until I’m out of this building and safely inside the lead-lined Jet, with a cloak. Their last sight of me will be the swish of black cape before I disappear in to the shadows, in order to make my way to a roof where the Invisible Jet can swoop in to pick me up. When we started this endeavor, I knew Cassie could fly but the rest of us? We need a mobile manner of staying off the grid. I also needed a way to keep it off the corporate radar, so I put it in the only name I could think of that has absolutely no sane reason to such a thing.

Cassandra Sandsmark, the Wonder Woman. Owns an invisible Jet.

Cassie: We already knew he’d been out protecting his city. That’s also how NOWHERE knew to come looking, after a sufficient number of blips on their radar. That’s exactly the kind of person that I want to help, too. I mean. That’s kind of the entire point in what I’m doing. Well. The ultimate point. The more immediate one has a lot more to do with why Batman and I want to get this show on the road as quickly as possible, especially with how this has just played out. I know how fast I could have gotten here from Metropolis. Which means I also know exactly how quickly the ‘Advance Guard’ could show up. Wally’s incredibly fast, but you have to know something’s coming to avoid it.

I hadn’t really come here intending to ask for his help, just to make sure Wally West was aware of and protected from NOWHERE. As much as he could be. But since ultimately I would have asked for that help? I’ll take it. I would want to help even without that but now? Just is not the time.

“We will help you.”

Even if it’s just a gadget that Batman’s able to lend or deploy, and me playing the muscle but I’d rather let Wally do the legwork himself. Not because I don’t want to go to the effort but. It’s his city. His people to protect. I’m not trying to be the biggest kid in the sandbox stepping on people’s toes. A flick of a finger points at the cowled man beside me as he supplies the ‘how’ to solve the Flash’s current problem.

“I can’t beat… Superboy.” Yeah, sure we’ll keep that old distinction to separate him from Superman. As if they’re different people entirely, and not admitting openly that Superman is ‘on the payroll’ so to speak. “And it won’t just be Superboy after that. We probably won’t even get to make the attempt before we’re dealt with.”

Yup. As ominous as it sounds. If I weren’t trying to impress the seriousness of the situation on him, I’d probably try to lighten it a little by mimicking a sound and gesture that Tim had made to me once, what feels like a very, very long time ago but was really only just a couple months ago. Fwaaaaaaaash. The sound effect that goes with Conner’s eye lasers.

“Only until they’ve finished sweeping the area and left. Then we can take care of this Kilgore. If we do it now? It’s only that much more likely he’s just going to get added to NOWHERE’s roster to be used against you. And in the meantime, we can make a plan and answer any questions.”

A fact that will probably happen regardless but we can only hope on the timing. Feet leaving the floor, I start to extend a hand to him, only to switch which one to the side of my field of view that hasn’t just finished swelling shut. Great. That’ll be fun to try and explain at school in the morning. Rogue cheerleader’s high kick maybe. Offering him a proverbial ‘lift’ to safety.

Wally: There’s a pause as he considers it.

“Deal.” saying as he listened to the pair.

Wally had already considered all the options, and with the seriousness of what they said? It was probably a good idea to vamoose while ahead. “We’re just leaving him?” asking as he looks over at Grunge. “Maybe once he realizes that he’s working for the bad guys, he’ll turn around.” saying, though he follows the rest up to the top of the abandoned building where… there is nothing.

While Wally didn’t like hiding, it sounded like that was the best option for now. “I expect details.” saying when he looked to Wonder Woman, who was housing a nice looking black eye. “Alright. Let’s go. So long as we stop Kilgore soon. I can wait.” it wasn’t something he *wanted* to do. There was a lot to think about right now, this new organization, Superboy, it was just so much.

“What’s on the agenda next? Just sit and wait with our thumbs twiddling?” asking, lifting a brow. Whatever it was, he knew it wasn’t much of a choice. But it was the right choice to make.

ST: The ‘Invisible Jet’ is actually just what it sounds like. A personal jet, built for luxury. One of the Wayne Corp type with the sleek wing style, forward cabin type. Seating for six in the mid-cabin. With a small facility that was once a bar, that is now outfitted for medical care. Then a bunk-room, which was formerly the ‘Captain’s Cabin.’ Aka the rich owner’s bed room. It’s still a bedroom, but where it was opulent before it is now a little more utilitarian. There are all the comforts of home or rather a small mobile base, without the lavish extravagance. Unless you count the equipment. Like the light refracting system that effectively renders the plane invisible. The lead lined alloy keeps it not just off the radar but out of the line of vision from prying eyes. Let’s not ask what function this was going to serve originally.

Once Wally has joined he’ll meet the Pilot. Because Alfred Pennyworth also doubles his pilot duty with field medic. Despite having the knowledge myself, I’m not even close to Alfred’s skill. “This is Penny-One. He’s part of the ‘team,’ so to speak. He knows more about … well, everything honestly, that all three of us combined.”

Really, sir. You needn’t really buoy my ego.

Draped behind that long cloak allows me to properly ‘loom’ while keeping out of Alfred’s way as he tends to first Wally’s arm, then Cassie’s eye. Though Alfred won’t force assistance upon either of them he has a certain way with the Wayne medical tools. He can at least assist the two of them with pain relief. In the mean time it gives me opportunity to put to work the brief ‘Power Point’ display on holographic displays for the Flash to listen to. He said he wanted information? That’s my half of this discussion.

Agent Grunge, I use the term Agent lightly, is a member of a clandestine government agency that is employed and empowered by President Lex Luthor. Like I said before, they are lawfully charged with the duty of keeping track of Meta-Humans, Aliens and Extraordinary Technological Advancements. They were originally sanctioned shortly after World War II to catalog ‘Mystery Men.’ Over the intervening years their charter has expanded.”

“Following the Parallax Event, they were given the duty of protecting the planet from…” For the first time since meeting Wally there is actually a fractional hesitation, before I actually point at him and Cassie. “… people like you and her. This measure passed through the Congress and Senate, thanks to Luthor’s broad discretionary powers because the world believed that Heroes caused as much collateral damage as the Villains did intentional damage.”

“They’re indiscriminate Mr. West. They’re as likely to imprison you as someone like this Kilgor you spoke of. Simply because of the potential danger you pose. Even if you’ve never committed a crime yourself. What’s more is that they’ll go farther than imprisoning innocent people. As you’ve just seen yourself. People who manage to get themselves deemed a exceptionally potential threat are either recruited for their ranks, cataloged for further study and/or get …. retired.”

This is where I take the moment to gesture for Wally to look at one of the displays. I assume he can read the files I’m displaying there as quickly as he does everything else. Which means he’ll have the opportunity to read Bruce Wayne’s file on Barry Allen. The Fastest Man alive. Until the fallout from the Parallax Event, when Luthor feared Barry might do something stupid. Like go back in time to ‘fix things.’ Suddenly N.O.W.H.E.R.E. was given the green light to recruit or neutralize Barry Allen.

“The original Batman was resourceful. He had contacts and connections everywhere. One of them is inside of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and has been secretly supplying me with information on their targets. That’s why we’re here Mr. West. To save your life and in doing so. I believe if Agent Grunge had actually managed to make contact with you? He would have been able to bond with the Speed Force itself. At which point, if you had declined their offer… you would have been expendable. Just like this man, Barry Allen.”

“There’s your information, you can look through the file and confirm that it’s the truth.” Pointing to Cassie, with what can only be described as a half-smirk. “Let me introduce you officially to … Wonder Woman. She just saved your life. It’s what she does.”