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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ordinarily, you’d be right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nth metal. Yes.”

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

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

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

Another reason to hurry.

“Lets go.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“And clearly pretty effective, too.”

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

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

“I can carry you both…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Roch: Home Invasion

St. Roch: Home Invasion

Damien: Being transported to St Roch was .. interesting. It was a sensation he’d never felt before and something he didn’t wish to experience again. The feeling of not having control was a big one. Adjusting his jacket, he looks around a moment. The city was small, but just as dark and gloomy as Gotham was. It’s architecture a mix of spanish gothic and early english gothic. Two very different cultures that once held. Pulling his phone out, he finds the address that he was looking for. Where one Kendra lived. A part of a duo named Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The tricky part is to wait when Hawkman was away as he could be a bit … temperamental when anyone but him talked to Kendra.

Though, she’s been working on him.

Damien didn’t know what to expect. But if anything he gained from his conversation with Superboy, er, man, was that Nth metal was being used. If that was the case, then Damien needed information right from one the sources. Kendra and Carter. Though, once again, it was easier to approach Kendra about this, rather than Carter. What he didn’t expect was to find another lurking figure as he approached the Hall Residence where the pair lived. The house wasn’t big, but with it being just a couple blocks from the Stonechant museum, it was perfect for the pair.

Right now, Damien was tracking a figure that was using the shadows of the night to skulk around the dwelling. This couldn’t be a coincidence. Nothing that the Son of the Bat couldn’t take care of. Using his training, Damien followed the other figure, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Then suddenly, the young man sprung into action, going to tackle the figure from behind. Except, this person wasn’t just anybody. The figure twisted his body while in the air, to then flip Damien off of him. The figure hits the ground in a roll as Damien also turns, landing on his feet about ten yards away. Now facing the other man.

Pausing, Damien scrunches his face slightly in confusion and thought.


Dick : You wouldn’t think that tracking down two people with enormous wings on their back would be a problem for just about anyone. Much less two people with the deductive tracking ability and resources of the Wayne Family. Apparently no one gave these Hawk-People the memo. Because Dick Grayson has been all over the globe in search of them. From San Luca, to Cairo, to Athens… one jet ride to the next has taken him around the globe and away from Gotham at a time when it was most inconvenient. As it turns out though, the pair seem to be able to completely hide their wings. Otherwise they’d found some other manner of travel, because they weren’t showing up on any sort of Airport Security. It might be a bit on the nose to jump to the conclusion that the pair would use those same fancy wings for travel, but by all accounts and scientific extrapolation those wings didn’t provide them with the speed needed to manage some of the Museum Robberies they’d pulled. At least not in the time they had managed it.

Finding out that one of those Dick had needed to be on the ground in Gotham, keeping the city safe in his absence, was actually following much the same trail? Surprising, but not nearly as much as you might think. Damien has always had a habit of showing up where he’s least expected. Or wanted. Depending on your view point. Being attacked by your kid-brother, from out of nowhere? That’s where the surprise levels kick up.

It might be one of the rare times in Damien’s life that he too gets surprised, because Dick doesn’t just get tackled. No sooner has he rolled through the attack from behind, but he comes up ready to attack. The last few months wearing Bruce Wayne’s costume, being the Batman in a City that has been teeming with a new level of violence, had left Grayson more than a little on edge. Damien is sure to notice that his ‘Brother’ wasn’t just ready to try to disarm, but was clearly about to go on the offense with razor-bats in each knuckle.

The coat doesn’t conceal much of the Nightwing costume and it surely doesn’t prevent movement. Dick was ready for a fight, but didn’t come dressed as the Bat. “…Jesus! What the hell are you doing here…? You have the worst timing… get down.”

Even as Dick is barking instructions he’s moving. It happens so fast you might liken it to a professional quarterback’s throw, the way his arm cocks and unleashes those razor bats. Not at Damien, but above him. Three of them thrown, but the sound of only one of them making metallic contact is the reward. Until the next sound is a razor-sharp Boomerang implanting itself in the solid stone near Damien tells the guy what Dick was doing.

All of this, just seconds before “Kendra’s” front door explodes and the squad of armored insurgents start to pile in through every entrance.

Shiera: There could be some argument of semantics when it comes to categorizing what’s been going on lately as ‘robberies.’ My own solo ‘expedition’ had been more along the lines of grave robbing, or as Carter would maybe call it ‘liberating the past and bringing it to light.’ I don’t know that I entirely see the difference, because the only line seems to be whether or not the grave in question is clearly marked, and perhaps different layers of dirt over the top of it. My trip to London, cracking the mausoleum, and walking out with what I’d thought was an amulet could maybe have been dubbed either. I don’t consider it stealing, if only because what I took from those damp stone walls was mine.

Or it had been mine, in 1943. The end date stamped on that life, and that crypt. It wasn’t a point I was going to argue with anyone when it came to going in ‘legally’ though. Which brings us back to robbery. Something that we’ve been planning to do again, more liberation, more reclamation of things rightfully ours. Not because of greed, or pride, or heritage. But because somehow, everything gets less crazy the more of our pasts we find.

Actually. It gets more crazy by the same measure. This is Carter’s home. Since we found each other again, I stay here. Most of the time. The truth is, I hadn’t had much to leave behind. This time I had been born as Kendra Saunders. This time, there wasn’t anything especially heroic, or daring about me. Cello isn’t exactly an exciting pastime to devote oneself to, and it was the way I’d set up to spend what I’d hoped was a relaxing, quiet part of my day to, since Carter’s out of the house. He probably would have noticed something coming. I’m not exactly the hair trigger that he is however, and so the detonation of the downstairs entry, along with what sounds to be the back door as well certainly takes me by surprise.

The instrument is rather unceremoniously dumped over as I jerk to my feet, I have no idea who or what is coming, but it sounds like a lot more people than I would have thought I’d made angry. Probably can blame Carter for that. The closest thing I can lay claim to as a weapon is the baseball bat in the bedroom, and that’s two doors down the hallway. An easy enough sprint to make, as well as the closest one with an ‘exit’ in the form of a window if I have to take it.

Damien: Damien was about to counter Dick’s comment about him being here. But decided to drop it. Instead, pulling out a domino mask and applying it after the explosions rocked the front and back doors of this home. Looking over his shoulder, he lifts a brow at his brother. “We have much to discuss. But, clearly it looks like our friend inside may need assistance first.” It seemed NOWHERE was here first, at least it’s who he could only assume whom it was. Moving around to the front of the house. Damien didn’t have any of his normal things on him. That didn’t make him any less dangerous though.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

Once all the men are in the house that were at the front door, Damien goes in behind one of them, keeping his stance low. The art of surprise doesn’t last long as one of the men coming from the otherside of the house and spot Damien about to bring down one of the men. Usually Damien is equipped for whatever the situation is, but this time he was completely unequipped. No armor, no sensors. Just him.

Honestly, he liked it this way. Made the pain feel real.

“Nightwing. I count fourteen. Apparently they have the same idea we did.” commenting as the man Damien was about to take out turned around, swinging his weapon to clock Damien. But, the young heir was better than that. Leaning back enough for the weapon to miss him. Damien’s able to bounce back easily enough to push him back into his compatriots. Then, they decide to open fire.

Carter was not going to be happy.

Dick: The response that Damien gets? Is in the form of a baton going past him through the door. He was following Damien, although keeping his distance in order to not cause exactly what was happening with Damien’s friends. They’ve made the mistake of coming in from two sides and that puts them at cross-fire to one another. They can’t shoot or they’ll take out their own people. That’s the good news, because neither Damien or Dick have to worry about friendly fire from their particular arsenals.

“That Boomrang came from the roof of the building. That makes fifteen accounted for. There was also a suspicious looking van circling the block.” Which, as Dick’s tone says, he only knows about because he was casing the place. Instead of being quite so abrupt as Damien in his approach. “Too late for subtle.”

Even as Dick speaks he’s in motion. Entering the home through the ruined door behind Damien, but where the little brother goes low Dick Grayson goes high. Using his brother’s back to run right up and spring over him, in to the throng of armed men. Nightwing makes a very brilliant target. An armed and armored target, as opposed to Damien who’s running a little light today.

Boomerang: As the Bats are working on the men in the front, Shiera is getting an eye-full of the men from the back. Despite moving like trained professionals they’re not quite so organized as to be S.W.A.T. for the Police. They’re not clearing rooms, which is why she’s able to dart for that baseball bat. Albeit with a trail of ‘Paft-paft-paft’ that follows her along. Those are not bullet holes in the wall behind her as she moves. They’re darts and those men aren’t bothering to clear the rest of the home, she’s presented herself as a target and they’re swarming towards her.

“Wot have we got ‘ere then? Buncha wankas breakin up me barbeque? Listen mates, e’re not takin interviews t’day.”

There’s number fifteen. His voice is booming all around them, even if he’s not yet in sight. It almost sounds like he’s speaking the lot of them through the comm-units of the men breaching the House.

Shiera: I hadn’t really needed encouragement to run quickly in the first place, but the sound of air that doesn’t usually accompany a bullet so much as something else goads me along even more quickly. As well as making me instantly rethink the plan of going out the bedroom window.
It’s no less clear, and much lacking in cover out back. Shouldering open the ajar doorway, and fumbling inside for the aluminum baseball bat. No, it’s not nearly as effective as my other half’s choice of weaponry, but it’s also a great deal more subtle and less questionable to have out in the open. The stairwell makes a decent enough cover for me to lean my head around and confirm what I suspected. There’s far too much noise for this to be one potentially random sort of break in. There’s also a lot more than I might have expected, and to add another element? They appear to be fighting each other. Or at least part of them are. Two groups at the same time? Argument among the same that’s devolved to violence? Either way, I guess it’s as good a time as any.

There’s really nothing about me that screams superhuman of any sort at first glance, other than the fact that all redheads are technically superhumans. No wings, no costume, just a tank top and a pair of yoga pants as I come barreling down the stairs barefooted and improvised weapon raised in hand, in a posture that isn’t exactly batting stance so much as someone who’s ready to attack or defend as necessary.

I wasn’t prepared for this. Or really for the way this is making my pulse surge and blood roar. ‘Kendra Saunders’ might not have been born for this sort of thing, but that hardly seems to matter much anymore. The real me, under this form, takes great offense at the intrusion into my home, and doesn’t hesitate for even a second before cracking the closest head I can reach as I vault over the last bit of bannister.

Damien: Damien feels Dick vault over him and into the other men. It’s funny how well the two men operate together with effortless efficiency. No matter the circumstances. The way Damien takes on the men is more with fast and fluid movements. A different style than what he usually uses. It was meant to be mobile, attack while moving. Disarm and disable. Then he sees Shiera vault over the staircase and join them on the ground floor. A metal bat in her hand. A smirk crosses his lips.

“For as long as you have known me, would you have ever considered me subtle?” asking as one of the men attempts to take him on in a one on one match. Damien is too quick for the man. Instead of clocking him, Damien uses the man’s armor against him. Unbuckling and unstrapping him, then rebuckling so that he couldn’t move. Once he was done with that man, Damien moved in tandem with Nightwing. Then that voice goes over the comms and Damien exhales through his nostrils.

“I like her style.” gesturing to the man who was rolling down unconscious on the stairwell. His helmet nearly cracked in half from the impact of Shiera’s bat. These men didn’t have a chance between the three of them. But, someone like Digger Harkness. He could tip the scale. “This was far too easy.” while the men had the numbers advantage at the moment, their numbers were quickly thinning.

“I apologize about the intrusion, Shiera. Once this encounter is over. We need to have a discussion.” after all, Damien was on a time crunch.

Dick: Subtle? No. But Dick also never imagined Damien as the type of traipse half-way around the world following him either. If that is, as it seems. Saying that to Damien only seems to court even further discussion when they really need to work on getting this situation under control. While they’re on the topic of ‘Having known Damien’ for something, the idea spawns that perhaps the real question is… ‘Since when are you apologetic about anything?’ But that too is going to have to wait for another time.

The herd of men may be thinning in the front, but that’s only half of the man-power they knew for a fact was here. Just as Shiera’s man rolls to a thug at the bottom of the stairs, Dick is evading a series of darts flying all around him by once more vaulting over one man. Turning that same man in to a living shield and a weapon all at once. The captive thug takes the blast of darts in his armor from behind Dick, then becomes a projectile as he is hurled down the hallway in to the path of the men coming from the back of the house.

“What my miniature, unintended, companion means, is that these men are part of a larger group. They’re here for you and/or the items you and your cohort have been procuring. You have a bounty on your head that is large than the gross national product of most small countries right now.”

“You can come with us or…”

Really, Dick Grayson of all people should know better than to ape Arnold in times like this. Nothing good has ever come from it. This is just one more example of it, because as Dick, Damien and Shiera look around at the fallen seven men from the front of the house? A second boomerang of the night makes it’s appearance. This one sails in through the front window, curves through Carter Hall’s living room, before strategically impaling itself with precision on the staircase right next to where Shiera descended.

Unlike the first, that Dick had deflected away from Damien’s back, this one is beeping. Beep. Beep. Beepbeep beepbeep. Beepbeepbeepbeep. Beeeeeeee….


Shiera: Intrusion? That seems to be putting it very, very mildly. Comically so. Also, words that come loaded with so many additional questions. Does that mean that they’re on my side? Are they trying to play this good cop, bad cop? Is it just a swerve to get me to stop fighting them, and then allow for an easier fight? All in all, I’m not entirely inclined to discuss much of anything. Unintended companion. More words, that paint more contextual blanks for me to fill in. It makes me grateful for the things that my body seems to know how to do on its own now, without requiring a whole lot of thought from me. While the motions I make may be those of someone who seems accustomed to a level of violence that nothing in my own personal ‘biography’ might suggest, it’s more savage accuracy than practiced finesse.

“That sounds like the beginning of an ulti-…”

The crash of breaking glass is much softer than the other explosions that have rocked the house in the last minutes, but still present. Maybe if only because of the momentary lull in the room, like the eye of a storm, and my head whips around to where the boomerang has sunk into the wall. I’d moved some small distance from it naturally, but not nearly far enough. Especially once it starts beeping. Faster, and faster, and there’s really only one thing that can ever mean. Most people would probably run. I don’t think I’ve got enough time to get far enough for it to be any better than my alternative.

“Get down!”

Dropping to a knee, in the shattered remnants of my front door and entryway, I turn a shoulder into the direction that explosion is surely about to come from and press a hand to my chest. Metal exploding, with more grace than violence, out of my back. Up and out, curving around me in a pair of enormous wings that change color, fading from silver to glossy hues of brown until they look for all the world like ordinary feathers. They’re a great deal sturdier than what they appear, though.

Damien: Damien doesn’t have the luck of having armor to absorb most of the blast. Instead, Damien attempts to clear distance between himself and the bomb. While, he escapes the initial blast, the shockwave does enough to propel him through the house and into a wooden bookshelf. With the shelf then creaking over and falling onto him. His ears are ringing, pain is shooting through his body as he attempts to crawl out from under. It’s hard at first, Damien can feel blood trickling from his nose.

Is this why they couldn’t have nice things?

He was having trouble thinking clearly. When this is all over, he’s going to have strong words with Conner and his Suicide Squad. Right now, he had to ignore the pain and get up. Thankfully the blast, while strong, wasn’t enough to break any bones. “Ri….Night…Nightwing. Are you well?” asking as he finally gets out from under the bookcase. This needs to end now. Before the house before the supports of the house. Captain Boomerang. The man might be a laugh because he throws Boomerangs, but just like Green Arrow and his arrows. Digger has a boomerang for every occasion.

The one occasion he can’t rely on is Damien needing to take things into his own hands and end this now. Instead of relying on mental preparation, he fights through the pain and switches to instincts as he swoops up a large shard of glass, wielding it like a dagger as he charges towards the window… or rather what’s left of it. Leaping through it, he lands with a roll. If Digger is out there, Damien is intending on charging him and stabbing him with the shard of glass. No matter the cost.

Dick: Much like Damien, there is nothing to really protect you from a bomb in the old Nightwing kit. The one damned time that he would have truly used that damn cape and he left it on the plane. Leaving him with a terrible choice of standing his ground or doing something stupid. Since standing his ground is only helpful if he’s taking the brunt of the blast to protect one of the other people in the room? It’s really just a series of stupid choices, leaving you to pick between the worst ones. As Damien is being thrown one way, Shiera is covering herself with… ah… there are those wings. Leaving Dick to be propelled, because he’s turned to hurdle down the hallway as the bomb goes off.

Stupid choices? Damien is going for the band leader. Dick is smashing through Carter Hall’s surprisingly solid dining room table. At least the maneuver has a touch of grace to it, because of throwing himself in that direction it was much more of a controlled fall than what Damien took. The landing was still bone-jarring and leaves him momentarily propping himself up to look at the pool of blood escaping his lips.

Hey! But he doesn’t have Damien’s ringing ears and the Nightwing armor mostly took the lethality of that fall. It’s the little things that lift you up, especially when the Backdoor Thugs opt to press their advantage. Right then. Pumping the Boy Wonder full of darts right then and there.

Shiera is the least bothered of the three and she’s the target. Funny how life works, huh? She’s in far better shape than Damien who’s charging out on the the lawn to confront…. The man who Dick told him was on the roof. Don’t worry though. The next Boomerang doesn’t hit Damien as soon as he’s in sight. It hits the grass in front of him. This time he can’t hear the beeping as it winds up to shoot electrical taser wire at the other Boy Wonder’s chest. Zzaaaap!

“…Multiplex. Get cher arse up and finish this Mate. We need the bird alive.”

Oh. Right. Those thugs? No one really took the time to notice they’re all identical copies of each other did they? The not so useless thugs are showing exactly none of the effects of the bomb. Unless you count the fact that the concussive force of the explosion just created about a whole new set of 14 more of them.

Shiera: Maybe later I’ll marvel about how well that actually worked. I’d spent so much of the last few years overthinking it all of this, convinced that I was crazy. When I managed to embrace what I was thinking, and feeling, those foreign things that I hadn’t thought were mine floating around my mind, it had all gotten better. Maybe that’s something a crazy person would say. Or maybe I can simply chalk it up to following Carter’s… impetuous is the kind way to put it… example. Either way, there’d been danger, and I’d let myself react. Everyone else runs from the blast, and the only real damage I suffer is the way my ears are ringing in the aftermath. Maybe worse than the others would have been, had they stayed so close, proving the only real downside of having hearing as sharp as I do. One hand rubbing at the side of my head, while the other discards the bat that I was only half holding anyway. End over end like a blunted tomahawk at one of the men in the room with me, who.. I hadn’t heard come in and I’m fairly sure were not there a moment ago.

I don’t need it anymore, because it’s unlikely I’m going to be fighting off the whole pack of them with just a bat. The wings serve as weapon enough for my needs. Part of me thinks the best move here is out that destroyed front entryway and up into the sky. The garbled words of ‘arse’ and ‘alive’ are enough to put more pieces together. I’d been hearing darts, which means they’re not just here to take what I have. We have, I suppose. Maybe that also means that they know it won’t be so simple to take it from me. If I’d realized what a target that Amulet would have made me, perhaps I would simply have hidden it again. Left it stashed in what protection the walls of the Museum had seemed to offer the rest of the pieces for so long.

Moving once more, I bolt through the front door. Wings curved around front both to make it through the opening and to protect me from any more darts. Then it’s up into the air, a leap to send me skyward as I look for the source of that booming voice. My eyes still function, even if my ears are a little iffy. And if I can spot the one that seems to be giving the orders here, I’m intent on taking him for a little ride.

Damien: Normally, Damien would be more than prepared for something like this. But, when he was abducted by Conner. He couldn’t be prepared. So, he was currently fighting a concussion and now the ringing in his ears had stopped…. Just in time to feel the electricity from the taser coarse through his body. Falling to the ground again, he’s not quite down. Smoke rising off his body as he struggles for control over his body. “..Sh..On..Roof.” he could barely speak, but he hoped the girl with wings could hear him.

This just wasn’t Damien’s day, or even Dick’s as he watches him get pumped full of darts. The Son of the Bat collapses to the ground in a feint attempt to draw attention off himself. The guy said Multiplex. Usually a Flash villain, it was clear, that Flash wasn’t here to assist with this. From what Damien knew was that there’s one guy that controls all his dupes. Find him, and you find the source.

Damien focuses on his breath. Pushing air out, pulling air in. Concentrating on pushing out all the pain. Techniques used by the monks he was trained and raised by. Control your heart, control your blood. He could still feel the metal prongs connected to his shirt. The heir of the demon would look into the house. Letting his eyes study his targets, look for that one. That one that stood out from the rest in a sea of identical twins. While twins looked like each other, they were near carbon copies of themselves.

Except for little things here and there. One could be just a inch taller, so on and so forth. Damien needed to find that one to help Dick. but running in and taking care of fourteen dups didn’t sound all that delightful.

Boomerang: It isn’t difficult to see Digger Harkness once you’re above him. The trouble Shiera has with that is getting out that front door. While those original insurgents are still down, the ones born of the kinetic energy of that bomb are all looking to be in pretty tip-top physical health. The way she wields the wings though, is enough to keep her from any true harm. They’re all between her and the door, so none of them get a real chance to shoot her in the back. Not when they’re too busy being bowled over so effectively.

That doesn’t stop them from trying though and take-off is going to prove difficult when all seven of the newly made duploids pile on to her. Seven fully armed, fully capable, men who take to any means of stopping her. Close quarters darts meant specifically to pierce thick skin. Electric batons meant to stun people just like her. Hands that seek to choke. Feet that last out with kicks. No, Multiplex is not in himself stronger than your top-level Olympian, but when you start dealing with the strength, speed and effectiveness of seven men the numbers game does have some advantages.

Oh and let’s not forget that the man she was looking for? Is standing up there on the adjacent roof taking his time to line up every throw. As if it couldn’t get any worse for Damien and Shiera. Another set of boomerangs is raining down on them. As the rangs near both targets they spring open, propelling large nets at the two of them, clearly not caring if he catches the duploids in the process.

Shiera: There’s been an awful lot of upsides to this Amulet and what it had done to my body. The notable and large downside being this particular situation that I’ve found myself in just now, but I’m stronger, tougher, with keen senses. The whole flying thing is my obvious favorite, and the wings that go with it as well. All usually packaged into a neat, glittering adornment that I have to keep hidden because it’s fused itself to my body. Not hidden well enough, clearly, but all it takes is a thought to call it up. Like I had to shield myself. The metal is mine to command, and when it becomes clear that no matter how strong I might be compared to these men individually, their pack methodology is proving to be a bit too much for me.

Hands clawing at my throat, glances with those stun batons that don’t hit home well enough to put me down, but do offer up more than a comfortable level of electric jolt. It’s become very clear, very fast, that a little more forceful defense of my life might be necessary. Even if they do, seemingly, want me alive. As my fighting and wriggling becomes more desperate, and flying elbows, fists and gouging fingers aren’t enough anymore, the edges of my feathered wings grow sharper and sharper. No longer buffeting and blocking alone so much as slicing and shredding, a whirling dervish splattered with blood that’s not mine, and that I don’t spare an instant to feel badly over. The rising feeling of a victory cut short with a high pitched, angry shriek as the net tangles me. Leaving me frantically trying to cut with more purpose and shred the material so that I can get free.

Damien: Damien’s feeling a little better. But the net is a problem. Then he sees Sheira plummet to the ground as she thrashes, working on cutting the net. Meanwhile, Damien stays calm. Batman put all the boys through various kinds of net training. This one was a poly-mesh kind. So, his glass shard wasn’t going to cut through it. Grabbing the boomerang wasn’t going to help, it was the only thing not killing Damien. Slowly, he uses the glass shard to cut the taser lines to the boomerang. Once those were cut, he’d work on finding the edge of the net and tug it off. Doing this was going to expose him to the tranq darts.

The bat that Sheira used was laying on the front steps. If he could just reach it, there might be a chance of him using it to find the one Mutliplex. From what Damien could tell, he didn’t see a unique figure amongst the fourteen dupes that were in the house. So, that must mean either he was somewhere else. Or he was ontop of the roof. Where Digger was. Damien would run towards the bat to pick it up mid stride as he kept close to the house. Wanting to use it for cover. To keep himself from being potentially shot at by the tranq darts. It’d also buy him time for the dupes to get out of the house. If Damien’s ever out of sight, he’d use this opportunity to “vanish” in plain sight. Much like how Batman would do.

Neither of the men had any kind of jumping ability, and if you were going to get ontop of a house. You needed a ladder. Assuming the van was too far for them to use to jump from one to the other. So, this is what Damien is doing. Searching for a way to get onto the roof as quietly as he could. Learning the ways of stealth was beat into him shortly after he learned to walk.

Boomerang: “This lil’ bugger just won’ quit, will ‘e mate?”

Digger’s a little boggled by the manner in which Damien struggles. But there’s a very key aspect to this that Damien isn’t accounting for, for once he isn’t the target. Hell, as far as Digger is concerned he’s worth exactly nothing. Dead or Alive. So once Shiera is actually netted, Damien’s where abouts are only a cursory problem for Boomerang. For once it has absolutely nothing to do with under-estimating his opponents and everything to do with getting out while the getting is good.

“Bird’s down. Wrap ‘er up boys. Let’s get a move on.”

While Damien has been through more than his fair share of training in how to escape all manner of traps? Shiera’s multi-lifetimes are not preparing her for a group that are hunting her very specifically. Slashing at the net is accomplishing nothing. The blood (and gore) from the duploids she slices and dices only makes it that much more slippery. Even if the netting wasn’t specifically designed to bring her down, it’d lose a lot of traction with the lack of friction it can generate to slice anything.

That doesn’t mean she makes it easy for anyone. Duploids are having a terrible time getting to her, even from outside of the net. Forcing them to wait for backup, in the form of the Squad that was coming in the rear of the House. Just as they’re rounding to the front, toting a near unconscious Nightwing, the Van that Dick pointed out before rolls up to the curb. As Damien is working his way around the building? Digger and the previously unseen Multiplex are starting to leave their perch. It’s all done but the wrap-up.

“…put cher backs in ta it, lads. Hawk-One is putting up an even better fight downtown.”

Dick’s one and only contribution to the fight at this point? That shifting his finger to the small, hidden, little link-up on his gauntlet. “Z, pleh rouy deen eW.

Zatanna: Dick had an ace up his sleeve, a little trick to pull him out of a really awful situation. She always said she was a whisper away and she only gave such a favor to good friends that she could trust. There was no hesitation in the flurry of speech and movements it took to get into ‘work clothes’ and transport herself right into the scene in a plume of white smoke that radiated out. She arrived right beside Dick, expecting to see him standing there but was immediately concerned when she looked over her shoulder and then had to look downwards to find him face down on the ground.

Yekaw yekaw, Yob Rednow. Tell me where the bad men are.”

He said ‘we’. Her pale eyes were already searching through the cloud that gave them a slight amount of cover and a distraction. Who were the others? She’d rather have a good idea of where her allies were before she began waving the wand without a thought to any bystanders.

Shiera: Boomerang isn’t the only one not paying much attention to what Damien Wayne is up to. In my defense, however, I’m a lot more preoccupied with my immediate plight. The more I struggle, the more clear it becomes that the razor sharp edges of my feathers are a lot more likely to shred me than they are the net that’s pinning me down. A fact that is both boggling and infuriating, and leads to no small amount of my continuing to try regardless because… why on earth would it not cut? Because they’re prepared for you, or I suppose for anyone who might have a bladed weapon on them.

At this point, the incidental carnage I’m causing with my thrashing? Becomes a lot more intentional. I hadn’t been trying to kill anyone. I may not have the rage fueled tendencies of Carter, but I’m also not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. They started this, not me, and if I inflict a lot of damage in the process of defending myself, that’s just simply my right. So I switch tactics. I may not be able to fly, but I can still jump. Flexing the wings, I send them out against the confines of the netting. Forcing the razor sharp pinions out, jabbing no differently than someone would with a spear as I gather my legs beneath me and try to launch myself upwards. Worst case, I give them hell when it comes to actually getting a handle on me, and taking me anywhere.

Damien: Damien is quiet as he finds a way onto the roof via a ladder on the backside. Once he’s on the roof, he pushes the ladder away. No need for them to get down. Using whatever stealth advantage he can get, he finally sees his targets. Digger and Multiplex. When he crests over the middle of roof, where it peaks together, Damien smirks as he starts down the roof, and towards this. Now he wasn’t being completely stealthy, because by the time he reaches Multiplex, Damien’s going to use that bat and strike it as hard as he can against his back. Not caring what damage he’s inflicting to the man.

“Give up, Digger.” Damien says, twirling the aluminum bat with one hand as if it was an extension of his hand. His ears are still ringing, but nowhere near what they were before. If Digger tries anything, he’s going to get met with a bat on forearms followed up with a hard job to his stomach with the top of the bat. They had their fun, and it seemed Sheira was having a hell of a time. Hopefully with his attack on Mutliplex and Digger, it’ll sever the connection to his dupes and make them vanish.

This was the only thing Damien really could do. If he’s too late, then he’ll have to figure something else out. Maybe hurl the bat like a spear at one of them. Right now, he was looking to end this fight before any of them can get away. And maybe help Carter wherever he is. They mentioned Hawk-One, he could only assume that Carter was putting up a hell of a fight against a couple other members of the Suicide Squad. There were a lot of questions, but it’s not like they could just throw them all into jail and let courts settle it.

Dick: With those words a gasp sounds from Nightwing, who was until that incantation barely lucid. Knowing only what was going on, but being out of his ability to do anything to influence it. Such was the state of a normal person being pumped full of narcotics meant to bring down one of the Hawks. As quickly as the words spill from beautiful lips though, Zatanna cleanses the body. Magic, who would have thought that would be saving the Boy Wonder’s butt?

She did not, however, heal him of all that ailed him, leaving him to recover the physical injuries that come with the pummeling of seven duploids. That may mean he’s not ready to charge off, to save the world on his own, but he can put his eyes, ears and mouth to use. “Suicide Squad. Captain Boomerang is the house across the street. Robin,…. the other Robin… is working his way to them.”

“Those soldiers aren’t real people. They’re digitized copies of one another and they seem to be able to replicate at will, I’m not sure how their power works.” Lastly he points at the Hawk-Girl, who’s struggling with the net but seems to be making quite the mess of Digger’s efforts to have the duplicants put her in a Van. “They’re here for her. Well. Her wings. They’re made of the metal we talked about before, Z.”

Boomerang : “Aww y’ got me Mate. No tricks now.. I’ ain’ gonn’ move a muscle…”

Any time a man like Digger says that, you know something is wrong. For once though, it’s not because -he- is the one pulling a fast one. Captain Boomerang kinda gestures with his chin for Damien to look at Multiplex. Oh, sure. He did a number on the one that was controlling the rest. Took him out like a right proper ninja, he did. And sure enough, all the duploids that Multiplex was controlling disperse.

Except that Damien hit Multiplex with so much force that kinetic energy sends more duplicants in every direction. It’s like Damien was playing whack-a-mole and when he hit the first Mole, it splintered in to five more. The difference now? Is that -these- duplicants were created without someone controlling them. And boy are the mad at Damien.

Harkness simply backs away, until he can leap off the roof.

Zatanna: She nods quickly. Injuries she could work with later but she knew even injured, he was capable of taking care of himself as long as he wasn’t in the drugged state he was in before. She was already taking little notes as she strode to exit the building in the direction that Nightwing had directed. More mental notes quickly taken with every step. Ultimately, the mission was very clear. They were not to get the woman or her wings.

The quickest way to the where all the action was up. Not up the stairs and through whatever bodies may be waiting along the way. Up, bending the laws of reality around mystic energy and sheer force of will. The words were whispered and she floated right to the top. Perhaps it was poor luck, or great luck that she would come to that edge right where Boomerang was attempting to make his exit.

She reached to the brim of her hat, tilting it downwards as she scowled. She was not happy with this situation. The fact Dick was in such a state that he needed to call her was more than enough to piss her off. And anger sometimes led to unpleasant thoughts on how to twist his spell, how to render him incapable of causing any harm ever again. All things that she sought to work against but there was always that taste of darkness at the tip of her tongue.

“S’hes ton eht tegart. llac meht ffo

She knew the consequences of getting involved in this. There would be ripples. They would come back. It didn’t appear like anyone was up for a longer fight and she wasn’t about to hold them all off on her own. As easy as it would have been to tell him to just fall, it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.

Shiera: This time, when I come down, I find myself without any suitable targets to try and land on. As abruptly as they’d appeared in the house in the first place, in the wake of the explosion, they have now disappeared. I’d question the way they went about it, but I have giant wings, which look like feathers but are really made out of mind-controlled metal. There’s a great degree of just accepting the weird and inexplicable, rolling with, and then coping with it to my life right now. I may not be able to take off truly, but my wings slow my descent at least a degree. Allowing me to land with slightly more grace than a sack of wet towels.

Apparently whatever, or whomever, had been driving that van was now no longer there either. I’d scarcely hit blood splattered lawn, and begun to try to find the bottom edge of this net, before I realize the exact trajectory of the now rogue vehicle. Battlefields are treacherous and require sure footing on the best of days, and this? Is not me at my best. I’ve managed to foul myself even more and a foot slipping out from beneath me stops another skyward jump from going quite as smoothly. Instead, I end up doing my best bird into a car windshield impression, wings destroying the glass more than the impact. It wasn’t going nearly fast enough to really do any threatening amount of harm to me. It’s more insulting, scratches from shattered glass the worst injury. Except maybe my pride as I roll over the top of the windshield, a terrible screech of metal on metal.

Damien: Damien had his own host of problems. Watching Digger get away, he muttered to himself. Falling from a two story house wasn’t an issue. It was the five dupes that were now glaring at him. Taking a couple steps back. They were too spread apart for him to take them off all at once. But, Damien didn’t mind these odds. Nothing new, really. Only problem was that he couldn’t hit them with any kind of force. So, improvisation was the only thing he had. Dodging and weaving their attacks, Damien would then unbuckle his belt capture one dupes hands between then, cinched it closed.

One down. Four to go. Using the bad to deflect punches, he needed to maneuver himself so he could backflip off the roof. That meant dodging, jumping over and sliding out of the way. It was hard, but once he got to the roof, Damien would do a perfect launch. Arms out, feet straight as his back arched slightly as he then tucked into a roll once he hit the ground. If he had his sword, he wouldn’t feel so bad taking these things down.

Hopefully they won’t follow him, Damien landed a little weird on his feet. But, nothing a day or so could fix. Moving over to Sheira, he starts helping her with the netting as fast he could. Maybe later he’ll train her how to successfully get out of a net. Though, more on Damien’s death wish, later. “Are you okay, Sheira?” asking, wanting and hoping she was.

Boomerang: You just know the level of person you’re dealing with when they’re faced with a levitating woman, speaking magical words and the only thing their eyes meet are the breasts that costume puts on display. Hell, that trumps just about any amount of fear you might otherwise merit from one Digger Harkness when he’s spun around in the midst of making his escape. Zatanna’s actually getting a smirk from the old Australian. He never does actually make eye-contact though. Sizing her up and down, then up and down again.

“…blimey, look at ‘t’e norks on this’un…”

His face screws up for a moment as he finally realizes that she’s speaking to him. Or is she? The expression on his face says that he is registering that Zatanna has spoken to him, but hasn’t a bloody clue what she’s said. Whatever magic it is that weaves itself all around the brain waves of one Digger Harkness, they just don’t manage to take root anywhere. Other than that look of momentary confusion, which followed that look of appreciation, Digger just simply continues on his merry way. Dropping off the side of the building.

The difference is that he knows Zatanna said something. She was clearly waiting for those words to mean something to him, even if he hasn’t a clue what foreign language she was speaking at the time. Doesn’t matter, she wasn’t helping with the procurement of the package. That’s why the moment his feet touch the ground and he’s done rolling through the two-story drop, those hands of his are each tossing a boomerang. One in each direction.

Each boomerang has a different target. The first goes in through the open window of Carter Hall’s home. The second goes through the front window of the house Damien and the duploids are fighting. Remember the beeping? Those who can actually hear the noise probably remember what the hell that sound is for sure. With that Captain Boomerang makes off in the direction that Carter Hall had gone earlier in the morning. Not even bothering to call of Multiplex.

Beep beep beep. Beepbeep beepbeep. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeep…

Shiera: Among all the possibilities for ways my day could have gone? This was not really one I could have picked out. Sprawled on a van, having to stop the gut reaction to skewer someone who’s trying to untangle me from a giant net. It’s only the obvious fact that he’s not trying to hurt me, and is clearly trying to get me out that stops more blood from being added to what’s made a rather horrific splatter painting of my face and arms and… well. All of me.

“I’m fine.”

It’s a rather terse response, and one I might feel badly about in any other situation. But I don’t know these two. No, three now from the view I had during my first jump. They turned up just as unexpectedly, and uninvited as the other group, with words like ‘come with us or…’ Anything else I might have wanted to say is cut off by the escalating sound of beeping coming from far, far too close. The van had glided/crashed to a halt into what remained of the front entry to Carter’s house, and that put us once again all too near to the exploding boomerang. This time I don’t just cover myself, though. Wings losing their razor edges as I come up out of the loosened netting, bowling Damien over and shielding him at the same time.

Only there’s no explosion. I’m braced for the detonation, for the way the boom will surely disorient my senses for a few moments and instead there’s… the smell of cotton candy overwhelming even the metallic tang of blood in my nose. I don’t even question it. Not out loud anyway, in my head there’s a litany of confused curse words, as I unfurl my wings from around the prone man, gather my legs under me and launch skyward. A different kind of adrenaline mixing with the other that was already fueling me, and this time I actually manage to get up into the sky. Downtown, the Australian had said…

Maybe I should have offered a thank you. I wasn’t going to stick around for the ‘or else’ I heard in the opening conversation, even if it wasn’t said out loud. Not when Carter might need help.

The Smallest Things

Shiera: Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. A well known line, from a well worn children’s book, gathering dust in the home that I haven’t been back to in weeks. Not because of that book about a boy, and a bear and a wood. That book isn’t the cause of, or reason for, anything at all and yet it still nags at the back of my mind. Needling, distracting, and refusing to go away like the snippet of something heard on the radio or a jingle off the television. There’s no reason why it caught, or why it insists on such a demanding and incessant loop and yet there it is. Over and over. The smallest things… I know where it is, even though I haven’t handled it or thought of it in years. Jumbled in with the veritable treasure trove of flea market finds from around the world.

There’s always been a magic in them. Something I couldn’t resist, and pretty quickly found I shouldn’t. Like the line, and that book, they would nag and nudge to the point of obsession until they’d been acquired. A manic feeling that would build and boil until I’d acquired the source of my infatuation. I used to think that I was crazy. The vivid, irrational images that would come whether I was awake or asleep. The thoughts that weren’t mine, and memories that couldn’t have been. Now I know I’m crazy, but crazy doesn’t always mean mistaken. There’s a rhyme and a reason to the madness and it had been pushing me towards an end point for as long as I can remember. My teachers, no matter what the medium, had always said that I had an old soul behind my eyes, and in my tastes. They just didn’t know how literal that saying might have been. There’s wonders in the world, but no matter how people might fantasize about them, rational thought never allows for them to be present in their reality. Like something intangible guards that line, lets you see over the other side, but view it as nothing more than some… movie. A show that you see, and know, but also can’t know.

Each time you do something, it ought to get easier. You know the ropes, the moves of your dance, you find your partner and then you work through the patterns together. My life, my lives, have all had a pattern. It’s an unfortunate and tragically simple one. Like cosmic magnets that can’t help but be pulled to one another, because that’s where they belong, even though at the end of that journey will be catastrophe. That’s why I know I’m insane. The very definition of it is repeating the same actions over and over, expecting a different result. And I’ve apparently done this an unthinkable number of times already, but there’s a sense of urgency that says that I may not have to again. For good, or ill.

Two months ago, it had been a feeling much like now and the hand-me-down copy of Winnie the Pooh. The nagging, insistent feeling. Glimpses of thoughts and memories that were mine, and yet weren’t mine, that had led to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I’d picked up my well worn passport and gone, even though the more important pull was south, and west. In St. Roch. A pull that promised everything I was looking for, and our Doom. He’s always been the passionate, hot headed one. Every time. He’d want to fight, bull through, and scream into the face of anything that was going to come. I know the face my other half wears this time. He knows mine. And yet I’d left anyway, because I’d felt like I had to. He thinks we have everything we need there. That the museum houses our answers, but I felt there were more questions. Why did I feel like there were holes? Why had finding him filled in blanks, and at the same time revealed even more parts of my soul? Redacted and lost to my mind.

I’d found my answer eventually, or at least one of them. It had taken a jaunt into the London Necropolis, and some light grave robbing of a mausoleum labeled Anne St. Claire. She’d been a nurse, and a hero, during the horrors of the last Great War, lost her life like so many others in the region had at the time. As had her soulmate. My soulmate. As the years spun on, the world’s evolved and the weapons of it are greater in scale, less personal in their annihilation. That particular bomb had been loosed with a purpose, though. Anne St. Claire had been a target, and once more the soul and its’ magic had been loosed to…wherever it is that it goes. But not all of it. Some portion of it was still here, I knew I had to find it. The closer I got, the more I could feel it like a vibration in my bones.

Because it turns out, all those knickknacks really were magic. Or had some magic to them. Some are just a great deal more potent than others. And this one, metallic pendant dulled with dust and grime, has more than most. There should probably have been some guilt for disturbing her sleep, shame for stealing from a corpse, but it’s mine. The only regret really had come when I wound the chain around my neck. Then the screaming had begun. Not just for the pain of the jewelry burrowing itself into my skin, wrapping tendrils of itself around my spine, settling into my flesh like the fragments of memories that come with it. Flashes of other heroes, of the battles with beings of great power, and the face of my immortal foe and the satisfaction he had of winning yet again, bittersweet and awful.

When I’d come back to the world, I’d been curled up in a fetal position, still in that tomb, head clutched in my hands and the necklace was gone. My frantic impulse to hunt for it stopped only because I could hear people coming, guards hunting for the source of the screams most likely, and because the sense of emptiness and missing was less. The pull that I’d felt here gone. I’d found in my hotel that night that the pendant might have vanished, but it had been replaced with glittering, silvery marks across my shoulders and back, vanishing up under my hair. I’d chased more shadows. Ghosts of lives past, but with details infuriatingly missing it had grown more difficult. I think I was also testing myself. My resolve.

Until today, I’d followed that back to St. Roch. Back to where I don’t even need to call to try to find out if Carter’s present or not. If anything, I feel it more strongly. The Nth metal that’s burrowed into me, resonating with what is housed inside this building, and with the soul that resides in Carter Hall. Whatever it is that drives us ever through this cycle of life and death.

“When do you last remember flying, Carter?”

No hello, no sorry I walked out and haven’t said a word to you in weeks, it’s there in my eyes that won’t quite meet his, though.

Carter: The love that Carter and Shiera held was a tale that spun across centuries, a saga of life, death and resurrection. They have been everything, from Wild West heroes to Pinkerton Detectives. Carter was fully aware when Shiera left, he remembered the feeling of her warm body sliding out of their bed and not returning. Instead of wallowing and worrying, Cater buried himself in his work at Stonechant, setting up the exhibitions, he figured Shiera had her reasons for leave. But it’d been nearly two months since she left and Carter didn’t bother go looking for her.

If Shiera wanted him to go, she would have wanted him to go. But she didn’t, so here he was. Working. When she finally came home, she’d find him at the dining room table working on the laptop. Cater wasn’t one to be emotional, though, he often wore his emotions on his sleeve. He didn’t acknowledge her for a long moment. But when she spoke, he looked above the monitor of the computer, his eyes searching hers though they didn’t meet his.

“Sometime during the sixth century. You were Lady Cecilia, and I was Brian Kent, The Silent Knight. You helped me with my wounds when I would come home” offering. Carter missed flying, though, it was only recently he remembered that. Maybe it was the connection he shared with Shiera that made him remember. Slowly coming to a stand, he comes over to her, his steps easy and confident as he stepped up to Shiera. Raising his hand, he cradles her cheek in his palm as he stares down at her.

“I remember how you worried about me. I know you wished that you could come with me. But, you had your own actions. Dealing with the English Court. Something I never had the finesse for.” It was true, Carter was a brute, a barbarian. Though, while he had land and showed compassion, politics was something he never dealt with well. Right now though, there was the giant elephant they needed to address. Licking his lips, he trails his hand down to her chin and lifts it just enough so he could look into her eyes.

“I don’t ask much of you, and in turn, you don’t ask much of me. All I ask of you is to tell me what you are doing. What is inside your head.” the room is dark, illuminated only with the bright screen of the laptop. Carter didn’t worry about her, he knew she could take care of herself. “Is that too much to ask of you?” curious as he leans down and gives her a light kiss. “I believe I have a lead on one our past lives. Brian Kent and Lady Cecilia, of all things.”

Shiera: This isn’t how I expected Carter to react. I’d played out the scenario over and over during the last few weeks that I’d been out of the country. While there aren’t any vivid memories of my abandoning him, and that is what this was, I could take what I knew of his character now and then, and apply it to the situation. We may come back as different people each time, different origins and backgrounds, physical make-ups and nationalities but there are some things that hold true across the endless lifetimes. Personality traits, because at the core of it, Carter and I are both still the same people. Altered slightly by what any particular childhood might have provided, but always with the same base proclivities. He’s a fighter. I’m a healer. Dramatic over simplifications, but those aren’t just occupations. They’re markers of our souls.

There’s no yelling. No outward anger. Maybe he’d already worked through that since I saw him last. He’s relating information about our pasts, this time one that I only can marginally remember. It isn’t even remembering. Sometimes, my thoughts feel like Swiss cheese or a sieve. Maybe a half-complete jigsaw puzzle is a better analogy. The border is there. Most of the defining parts, but there’s still damnable blankness that keeps you from entirely making out or understanding the picture. Especially when you don’t have the box to reference. The facts that he gives me, his own memories, serve as an anchor point for me to connect to, however. Assigning a name, and a face, to the snippets of things I can recall that seem to fit. Endless tedium in a dreadfully uncomfortable chair, despite the amount of plush cushions there were underneath me.

“And I would have much rather gone with you.”

Eyes focus again, fixing on the here and now instead of where they’d gone as I spaced out into those thoughts and fragments of my soul. And his. But it was not done. Lady Cecilia couldn’t have gone to war, not the physical kind. Hers was one of words and social graces. He’s closer now, I’d almost missed the approach, and the gentle fingers on my chin bring my face up to face his. My eyes don’t follow for a moment, though after a soft breath I force them to. I think I might have handled yelling better.

“No. It’s not.”

But I’ve got a nagging feeling, and that almost frantic need to get our collective ‘shit’ together. Operating on a timer, when you can’t actually see the clock and have no concept if you’ve got minutes, or only a couple seconds. All I know is what memories have shown me. That the closer we get, the more in danger we actually always are. How do you keep someone at arm’s length, when deep down you know they’re home and you shouldn’t be anywhere else? The answer seems to be so far, that you don’t. Not well. The apology is there in my eyes, as I lift my chin that touch higher to return the soft pressure of the kiss.

I want to tell him what I’ve been doing, but my interest is piqued. Especially because this is a life he’s talking about that I only barely remember.

“I… maybe really should have taken you with me then. I was in London.”

Carter: Sliding his hand down from her chin, down to her hand, he gives it a squeeze and pulls her to around the table to the laptop. “Brian Kent’s shield has been uncovered. Though, It’s not in England.” pointing to the map. “It’s in Egypt. I don’t know why, I can’t find any clues connecting the two.” clicking over to an image of the shield with their crest emblazoned on the front of it. “It’s in the hands of a private collector by now. I believe with the shield, it’ll recover my memories of one of our past lives. The full memory.” saying as he turned to her.

“What did you find in London?”

Asking, it was obvious she didn’t just decide to go on vacation in London. She went there for a very specific reason. The shield was just one of their many items that needed to be recollected, but there seemed to be more to it, all the little trinkets they have found seemed to have awoken ancient memories, and now it was only the bigger items they needed to complete the full puzzle. Their gauntlets, their maces, his shield, her pendant and finally, their helmets which was the final piece of the puzzle they needed to connect everything together.

“The private collector is a man named Curtis Knox. Who knows what else he may have…” trailing off as he opened a picture of a man with long black hair and a beard “As far as I can tell with the information that is available, he had made a name for himself in the last few years uncovering ancient artifacts and keeping them for himself.” looking over the picture, Carter shakes his head.

“We’re going to have to take back what rightfully belongs to us.”

Shiera: It’s as easy as that. So simple. So uncomplicated. Just a larger hand taking mine, and leading me over to demonstrate what he’s uncovered. No fight. No harsh words. The feeling of rightness that slides into place when I’m around him, and makes the last few weeks feel like insane, self-imposed torture. I had told myself I was doing it for us, trying to find more hints and clues to what we’d need to protect ourselves. To protect each other. I think the truth is I was trying to see if I could do it at all. If maybe separating myself from him would save Carter from what memory says is in inevitable fate. It wasn’t any way to live. An empty pit in my chest, mixed with an unscratchable itch. The latter had actually only got worse, stronger, after I’d pilfered the relic from that tomb.

Taking my hand back as Carter shows me the coordinates for where he thinks we need to go, I lean in to read the information but after a moment those fingers return to him, resting on his shoulder to support my posture. But the real truth is I just want to touch him, even lightly.

“I think you’re right. There’s something about the metal. Almost like it’s a trap. Or a box. For that part of your memories. More than just the memories.”

I can see the screen perfectly well, but I bring my face closer to it still. As if simple proximity was going to impart the answers we needed to me better than the text alone ever could, but I keep speaking as I do it.

“I found Anne St. Clair’s tomb. Who I was the last time I remember flying. I found my wings. And as soon as I had them, it wasn’t just…snippets. Infuriating fragments anymore. At least for that little pitstop on this…journey of ours.”

Straightening, I remove my fingers from his strong shoulder but only to shrug out of the thin cotton jacket I was wearing. It’s still too warm in St. Roch for anything else. Especially compared to the weather in England. Turning, and pulling red hair to the side, I expose the metal. An almost alien arrangement of glinting, glittering design that’s visible in part under the straps of the tank top I’m wearing. If it weren’t for the shine they could almost be a set of tattoos, except closer inspection shows that they’re raised ever so slightly.

“I picked up the amulet I found there. Put it on, and it… attached is the word I suppose. It was like this when I woke up. And I could remember so much more. I think we have to. Like you said. I don’t think we’ ve got any other option if we want things to be different this time.”

Even…if that means a little robbery.

Carter: When she exposes the back of her neck and along her back.

“Interesting.” saying as he slides his fingers along her slightly bared skin. “This never happened before, has it?” pulling his hand back, he presses his lips together. “I wonder if the same thing is going to happen when I get the shield.” questioning, more to himself to the both of them. Slowly, he sits back down and navigates to a site to buy their plane tickets. “I can reach out to the Cairo Museum if you want to ship anything to them that we may not be able to take on the plane.” such as weapons and equipment to break into Mr. Knox’s home, along with luggage. It wasn’t the first time they’d done this, and most certainly not the last.

“Mr. Knox’s place of residence is on the Nile near Luxor.” turning in his seat, he leans back to look up at her. It was like a piece of his soul had come back, perhaps tonight he would sleep well. Slowly coming up to a stand, he snakes his hand up the back of her neck and through her hair. “I’ve missed you.” whispering softly as he presses a kiss to her, then pulls her in, wrapping his other hand around her waist. “Please don’t ever leave me.” the confession is honest, and only for her.

The house they stayed in belonged to one of their past lives. But it wasn’t something that belonged inside them. It wasn’t a piece of equipment that started this cycle. Maybe with the armor now infusing into them, they can fight back against the very resurrection cycle that they have been in for so many centuries. Always losing each other, and then finding each other again. It wasn’t impossible to think they wanted to settle down, have children and have .. well, a ‘normal’ life.

“I will have the Stonechant set up everything else. I think we may be able to get a flight out tomorrow, or early the next day.”

Shiera; The touch of fingers along my skin raises goosebumps, despite the warmth in the room, and I smother the soft laugh quickly. It’s not really a funny moment, my unconscious reaction was though. At least to me. Releasing my hair to slide into place again over my back and shoulders, I turn around to face Carter once more, arms folding across my chest, painted nails tapping away absently on opposite forearm as I consider what he’s asked, compared to what I know. And maybe more importantly what I don’t know.

“It was when I was Anne. It’s like the metal, the wings, changed themselves to protect her, or hide her better. Hide themselves maybe.”

A notion that’s both… really intriguing and more than a little alarming when I start to really think about it. It’s not a thought I share with Carter, despite his plea to know my mind minutes ago. If the metal could change its form, and its purpose, if it really is trapping and tearing away at the parts of our soul that made us up before, and should be ours to remember again now… what if the metal is just as much Curse as it can be Blessing? What if it was never Hath-Set’s wicked magic that set us on this course, but our relation to the metal itself?

Pulled in to Carter, the sigh I let out is quiet regret, and an admission of the ache that had been living in my chest, and skull, the last two months. Maybe its relief. After the kiss, I lower my face, pressing it into his chest and letting my weight settle there against him.

“I missed you. And I will do my best not to.”

Because it happens. Every time. Except it’s not voluntarily getting up and removing ourselves, it’s awful and traumatic, and the part of all of those lives of mine that I remember more vividly than any other portion. The blood. The death. Over and over as the curse loops us through time and ages.

“The earlier the better. I don’t want to let this thread go now that we’ve maybe actually got it.”

Carter: There was a bit of excitement and dread coming. But, they were going to do their best to make this their last cycle. To end it once and for all. Every minute they spend together is sacred, every second apart is like an eternity. Carter would always miss Shiera, or whatever her name happened to be this time. Kissing the top of her head, he keeps her close to his heart. Not wanting to ever let her go.

Because letting go may be the last time he would see her.

Carter would take her upstairs to the bedroom they shared. The air in the room itself was stale, as if it hadn’t been used much in the last couple months. But, it all didn’t matter now that she was here to share his bed with him. The love they shared between each other was eternal, and what was shared beneath their sheets was even more soul baring that most couples experienced. There could be several theories if they ever spoke to anyone about it. Mostly though, it was they never knew when it would be the last time they held each other in such an intimate embrace.

The next morning would come, Carter would be the first up. Getting things ready for them to go to Cairo first. The trip the Luxor would be long, they could take a plane. But, the trip by car was much easier and allowed them to plot out their robbery. It wasn’t going to be as easy as smashing in a window or sneaking into a tomb. Being apart from one another for the last two months made it easier to slide back into both of their respective roles.

When she began to stir, he’d smile over his shoulder before getting back to packing up his suitcase. “I’ve already called the museum. We have a flight this afternoon. From New Orleans to London, then London to Cairo. From Cairo we drive to Luxor. It’ll give us a chance to reconnect with our homeland.” offering as he turns to lean against the dresser, watching her. “I think it’ll take a few days, not to mention recover from jet lag. By the time we hit the man’s house. We’ll be ready to go in without a problem.”

Shiera: A real ending. It’s a terrifying prospect, as much as it’s one that we both want. Have wanted forever. It all hinges on the method, doesn’t it? If this is it, if this is our last time together. Or maybe the second to last. And we get to finish it as two people who love each other ought to? Together, growing old with one another. Building a legacy that’s not just the same events spun out again and again with different names and faces on them. There’s also every possibility that this time might end the same way it always does. With watching one another die, having that hole ripped open inside of you. Maybe even worse… if one of us were to be killed and not the other. With the knowledge that this time, your other half is really never, ever coming back. No more second chances. No more trying again. Those thoughts make me shiver again, but this time it’s not from a tickling touch. It’s fear.

I think it’s only Carter’s presence that keeps those thoughts from turning into the nightmares I’ve been contending with every night since I left. Horrific memories, mixed with a dreadfully vivid imagination of what might be in store for us. And once I’m asleep it’s dreamless. Blissfully blank and empty. It makes it hard to want to wake, because it feels like leaving peace for an unknown. At least opening my eyes gives me a nice view. At least once I emerge from the burrow of my pillows, shading my eyes from the light with my arm.

“If any of it is really the same as it used to be. It’s been… a very, very long time. Coming back the same way, I assume? If we have to ship anything, I’m asusming it will be under a lot more scrutiny than what we’ll deal with going in.”

And we’ll be criminals.

Carter: “The Museum is handling the shipping. We’ll need to give them our things. But, other than that, shipping Museum to Museum is pretty easy, actually.” a shrug “They deal with all the red tape. All we need to do is be on hand when the shipment arrives in Cairo. Should be there about a few hours before we arrive.” moving over to the bed, he sits on her side and leans down to kiss her softly.

“Mmm, we’ve got time if you want to make up for lost time..” grinning down at her, his hand gently sliding along her forearm as he leans in for a kiss. The two Hawks were very passionate, it rang in how they handled each other, how they spoke to one another. There was no other person in the world for them, except for each other.

A few hours later, they’d get ‘caught up’ on lost time as Carter slides out of bed to finish his packing and to get dressed. The next few days would be a whirlwind. From packing, to shipping their things with the tools they needed to break into a house. Arriving in London, leaving London, arriving in Cairo. Getting their things, then driving down to Luxor. They flew across several time zones, and then took an even longer trip down to Luxor.

By the time they arrive into Luxor, it’d be well into the night, approaching early morning. The town was quiet, and the ruins off in the distance gave a kind of eerie presence to the area.

“I forgot how beautiful the sand can be at night.” offering as he glanced to Shiera. She had fallen asleep some time ago on the long drive, not that he could blame her. It’d been a long couple days and sleeping on a plan was not very comfortable in the least.