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.

Family Intercession

Dinah: At some point, my movie had come to an end. Not really a problem, but it wasn’t one of those ‘new fangled’ DVDs, which meant that when the honest to god tape ran out of the VHS that I’d had literally forever, the whole thing clicked over to what few channels I actually get up here in my apartment. I learned very quickly exactly how fast it takes me to sober up from a bottle of cheap whiskey. The answer is: in the amount of time it takes for the Joker to complete one of his sick, twisted routines. What the #$&* happened? It’s Gotham, so you expect a degree of escalation but….that escalated quickly. The only flippant thought I really have a chance to have is that I’m glad we hadn’t dug into the good liquor that Tim had brought to help me wind down for the night.

“Go. Find your brother, and then point me where to go.”

Tim’s not dressed for this. I’ve at least got my suit here in my apartment, and for once I don’t really have to even boss the kid twice. He’ll be able to find where Damien is, far faster than I could the old fashioned way and time spent suiting up is going to be time in the way of that. Unless he’s got a robot that does it for him, which isn’t really outside the realm of possibility. I feel sick, and I know it’s got nothing to do with the alcohol I’ve had. Probably not the fancy French cookies either. I feel sick for Damien. I feel sick thinking about what Damien is probably out there doing right this second, too.

I’ve had years, and years of practice at high speed costume change, and this time I’m moving faster than most others. Out the door of my apartment, that Tim’s already left through, and down the stairs. I skip the last half flight and vault over the railing, on my bike and back out the door before the thing has even fully opened. Guess we’re not down out here for the night after all, only this time? I’ve got an entirely different sort of problem to tackle. Probably literally. This one’s just going to put up more of a fight than that entire room of mafia had earlier.

“What’s our status?”

Communicator on now, and I’m regretting missing the alerts that had been going earlier. We should have been more ready for something like this, but it was completely outside the pattern. Pattern. Joker. There’s the first problem…

Tim: Finding out what happened with Oliver Queen had taken me ‘Home.’ If by home you were to mean the couch at Dinah Lance’s House. I’ve been staying there since returning to Gotham, because it’s easier than living at Home. The Manor no longer seems like home-sweet-home to me, now that Dick and Barbara moved in. I feel like an intruder in my own Home and nothing seems to cure that. Even Alfred’s crepes are a wash. Dinah’s place is utilitarian. Providing me with a place to sleep and be seen coming to and going from as ‘Timothy Drake.’ With that acceptance of it being my ‘Home,’ for now, also comes certain knowledge that my housemate is hurting. Like all of the extended family, I’ve taken to keeping tabs on them through a network of drones known as Brother Eye. It might be a little big-brother-ish, but the fact is that with Bruce gone? I’m not willing to lose anyone else.

Comforting Dinah? Hah! That’s a misnomer. Showing up with a better booze, lending a comforting ear and offering her very detailed, intimate plans for extracting her friend. Not to mention making certain of the culprits paying for it? That was how you comfort Dinah Lance. Well, that and a half eaten box of macaroons, along with the entire bottle of terrible whiskey. Lucky for me, I keep some detox pills in my utility belt to mute the effects of such things. Otherwise I’d be under the couch, instead of on top of it when the V.H.S. player rolls over and the news plays. ( Honestly, this might be the first time we’ve ever been lucky Dinah wouldn’t let me upgrade her to free-cable. )

“On it,” is my response to Dinah before she’s even off the couch herself. “My gear comes with me.”

She was barely back in to the Costume she’d been wearing for a certain amount of Mafia beating by the point that I’ve turned her coffee table in to a make-shift desk. Pulling things from my backback, connecting them to the breastplate of my uniform. Streaming data through the Wayne Enterprises satellites and down in to the portable dish that is erecting itself on the floor next to the couch. Furious typing is Dinah’s only answer to the parting ‘Stay safe,’ that we exchange before she’s off in to the night. Leaving me to work, all the more furiously on lines to our target.

“He’s disabled the tracking software in his uniform, same with the Red Hood helmet. Jesus. He’s even disabled the redundancy… and the redundancy’s redundancy. Standby,” it isn’t often that someone put the Black Canary ‘on hold’ but I need a moment to tap in the Nest’s server. Watch the last few moments before Damien left. Stephanie was still there. Good, I was worried she’d try to keep an eye on him. “Okay. Hold on. Drones had him, but… someone’s attacking them! Oh. Shitfuckballs. The League is already here. Er. There. Everywhere, I mean. They’re disabling the Drones.”

“I need a minute, he stole the prototype bike I was working on for you. Damnit, he disabled that tracker too. Boy. He’s really good at breaking my things. It’s a little disheartening. Still working. I’m triangulating the direction of the destroyed drones, in correlation to the fourth redundancy tracking system in the Canary-Cycle. I know, I know. But I’ve already lost one partner this year, call me a little paranoid about losing another one. Let’s focus on how lucky I am that I put four layers of tracking systems in to a bike, without you noticing the hardware shall we?”

“Okay. Got him. Sending you the coordinates,” there’s another hitch, a pause, then a low, low whistle. “This is strange. Someone has been monitoring my work… Canary, you need to hurry. Someone’s tapped in to my secure servers for the Nest. They know where Damien is too.”

Dinah: Should have known, really. Because I know Tim Drake-Wayne, and because I’ve seen it in action enough times. Guy’s more prepared than a whole jamboree of boy scouts on a bad day, and borderline precognizant on a good one. Today’s not really a good day. My bike’s taking me through the alleyway and out onto the street. Without a definitely direction to go, I start first in the direction of the Nest, because that’s where Damien had been. There’s this helpless feeling of spinning my wheels as I wait for a destination. I don’t like being dependent upon technology of any sort, because if it fails or you don’t have it with you, you’re lost. Good ol’ fashioned groundwork is more my style, but even I’ve gotten used to drones. And while there’s signs of a set of tires peeling out of the chute that we use for small vehicle/personal entry to Red Robin’s personal hideout?

Once they hit a certain point, I can’t really follow them. You can no longer tell which way they went, and I’m left one more with just a general direction in which to head.

“I had no idea he was such a tech wizard. That’s really inconvenient.”

All those boys are going to be, to a degree. They were trained by their father, after all, but finding all the work arounds and disabling them? I’m not used to hearing my friend and partner stymied. He gets to hear me do something that they’re all very used to though. Swearing. A literal colorful parade of foul diatribe when he says the League’s ‘already’ here.

“They were probably already here. And now Joker’s kicked the damn hornet’s nest.”

They must have been. It only makes sense. If Talia al Ghul was here to be nabbed in the first place, she was surely not alone. What were they doing? Probably the same thing we are, especially with Ra’s advice to Bruce before his murder that he would be best served by running. Whether they were digging on their own, or waiting for those of us left to fall? I couldn’t really say.

“I’ll bitch at you about it tomorrow. Tonight we’ve got bigger worries.”

I can still mentally grouse for a half second about how many times I’d told him to keep his hands off my bike. Bikes. I could admire his, but I still prefer mine. There’s the audible sound of brakes and tires complaining about the speed with which I’ve stopped, wheeled around, and then kicked back into gear again to head in a different direction, because my heading had been off.

“Not far. Three minutes tops.”

Someone’s already tapped into Tim’s stuff? Again, not something you hear him say terrible often, and I lean lower to my handlebars as I roar through another alley.

“What are the chances that someone is Penny-One or our newest Batman?”

Or the person who broke into the real Batcave, as Dick had told me earlier today. Jesus that feels like a long time ago. The someone that could maybe be a Ghost, and was the only simple explanation at all. My arrival is probably easy enough for him to discern. Between damn trackers, and the noise of my bike cutting off. I only get part way into the building before my boots skid to a halt. And skid they do, because the floor is blood soaked. Death? Is a feeling as much as it’s a smell or a site, and I almost audibly grind my teeth.

“Not in here. They’ve moved on or…”

Then I hear the scream. Up in the air getting higher and thinner, changing in pitch as the distance grows and grows. I get back outside the door in enough time to watch in momentary confusion, before the screaming stops with a spectacular, firey bang. The trajectory? Started from near here. The bodies are still warm. They’re here, or were a minute ago.

“Hood! I know you’re up there.”

I don’t chase him up to the roof. I’m not stupid. I just back my way out of the building, to where I’ve got another wall at my back, and a better view if they choose to simply ninja-run off the roof to somewhere else.

Damien: Damien was ready to jump when he heard the familiar voice from the other side of building. ”Stay here.” telling his group of League of Shadow Ninjas. Walking to the other side of the roof, he stops at the edge of the roof, then takes a step back, knowing full well what Dinah’s capabilities are.

Storm clouds start to converge overhead, with a strike of thunder, and a flash of lightning. Looking at her just over the edge, he yells down to her. “Do not stop me, Canary. I do not wish to hurt you. I assume you know what is going on. Tell Red Robin to stay where he is. And you as well.” but he knows Dinah, she’s not going to stop. Her method of tough love was literal. Turning around, he steps away fully from the edge and starts running towards the other side of the roof.

”Come. We are heading to the Iceburg Lounge.”

Dick: Red Robin was fast at work, already, tracking down the leak in his system. Checking, then re-checking to see who had accessed his ‘Private Server’ and how had they done it? Only a few possibilities presented themselves immediately. One of those scared the absolute crap out of Tim to even consider. He worked furiously for long enough that Canary was able to clear the building. She’d managed to find Damien, even engage him before she once again had a blurting of sound from her commlink.

Canary, I’ve got a lock on who got in to my system, I think. It looks like Bruce left a backdoor in to my mainframe. So that he and Alfred. Ugh. I swear to god, if Bruce was alive I’d kill him. It’s actually called ‘Baby Monitor Protocols.’ I think you’ve got company inbo-..

Though the sky has darkened and the storm is playing dramatically across the sky. It is perhaps only giving further cover to the moon, which blots out the sight of the sleek, black super-sonic craft. The crescent shape of the wings seem to give highlight to the canopy. Which isn’t normally open, as it is right now. In this case it’s open, because the passenger has already evacuated. Cape unfurled, giving a wide angle to the approach. Even as the Bat-shaped shadow descends toward Damien his hands unload a payload plasti-gel grenades at the feet of the League of Shadows.

“I’m not here to fight them,” landing in a perch at the edge of the building in full sight of Dinah Lance below. One by one those grenades explode, spraying the Ninja with high-tensil gelatin which will solidify almost instantly, to trap them in place. “But you’re not going down this path, Damien.”

Damien: Turning to look at Batman. Too tall to be Tim, must be Dick. Damien doesn’t even respond to the ninjas being enveloped in the gelatin. Slowly turning around, he stares at Dick through the helmet. Unstrapping it, he pulls it off as rain starts sprinkling down for a few minutes, then it starts absolutely pouring down.

“No. It needs to end. This all needs to end, Richard. Penguin has information on why my mother was at his lounge. And with the Joker giving his deadline, we do not have time to dawdle. You are either with me, or you are against me, Richard. And I hope for your sake, that you are with me.” telling him, hoping that by Dick seeing his face, Dick lets him go.

“The choice is yours, my brother. I do not wish to fight. But, I am in no mood to dawdle anymore.”

Dinah: Well, that’s definitely ominous and it’s hard to say if that’s just Gotham being helpfully thematic, or if somehow Damien’s mood has reached levels that allow weather manipulation. Mind. I understand. I really do. If I’d had the opportunity to save the life of either one of my parents, I would probably have been going berserk through the city as well. But I lost most of my family to the bitch that is life, and my father was murdered before I entered this life. He’s why I did. But I didn’t know it was going to happen. We just found out with a knock on the door. My chest hurts for Damien, but… that’s also why I’m not about to do what he says. We spoke to him about this line before. He’s already over it. And no matter how bad he hurts or how justified someone might say he is? This can’t stand.

He’s smart to back off, but the truth is if I wanted to scream him off that roof? I could do it whether I can see him or not.

“Well, that’s insulting.”

Whether that’s to Red Robin over the comms, or Damien himself is iffy. It works for both. The company inbound I have to assume is going to be whomever got in through his …whateverwalls. Which means I’m tensing for either potential. Fortunately? It’s the friendly sort, at least friendly to me. Usually. Unless you count what he did this afternoon with his damn escrima sticks. Batplane, at 3’clo…

“Company’s here.”

I take the opportunity of Dick up on the roof already and engaged, to turn around and run. Not away, but around. Finding my way to the other side of the building, before I launch and kick myself off one wall, twisting and grabbing hold of a railing on the other side to make my way up and head off any fleeing attempts. Ninjas or Damien but frankly…I only care about one of the two. The other’s are just worries by necessity.

Dick: “You’re right, Damien. It needs to end,” rising to my full height in order to let the storm frame the Batman, instead of Dick Grayson. “This can’t continue. What have you done?”

Down from the roof’s ledge, to the gravelly substance lining the roof. There’s simply no doubt about this. I’m not here as Nightwing. This isn’t some Halloween Costume Party, where I’ve come half-naked for entertainment value. My voice lends itself to seriousness, because this is just about as serious as I’ve ever been.

“Stop it. Stop the condescending. Stop the passive-aggressive, ‘I do not wish to fight’ garbage. Who do you think you’re talking to? I’ve been here. Right here, where you are right now Damien. Except I’ve been here twice. I’ve lost my parents twice. So I’m not going to stand here and lecture you about right and wrong. Because you damned well know the difference. Our Father showed you the difference.”

All of this talking, brings me closer to the other Man. My brother. The true son of the Bat, Heir to the Cowl. “No. I’m not going to lecture you. I’m going to play your game, Damien. I’m going to call your bluff. Go on. Walk away. Let your Anger keep controlling you. Go find the Penguin. Beat answers out of him. Because that’s a lot of time you can waste, Junior. Of course, you’d know that. If you stopped letting the emotions rule you.”

“Have you even asked them?” Gesturing a single gloved hand at the trapped Ninja. “Did you even think to ask the League of Shadows members you’ve been commanding, why their Leader’s Daughter was at the Iceberg Lounge? Or why -they- are here in Gotham? You think they have a super-sonic Troop Carrier in Nanda Parbat?”

That other hand reaches up and gently thumps the ‘Red Hood’ helmet that he’s taken off. “You’re not thinking, you’re feeling. Which way gets your Mother back faster, Robin?”

Over the comlink in Black Canary’s ear comes a hushed little voice. “ I’ve been running a triple diagnostic on my firewall. Something isn’t right. Alfred wasn’t the only one monitoring my systems.

Dinah: It doesn’t take me long to get up to the rooftop, though it’s still longer than I might have really liked. Grappling hooks are a bat-thing, not a Canary thing. At least in ‘standard issue gear,’ though I know how to use one well enough. I can catch snatches of conversation, or argument perhaps, on the wind. The inevitable declaration that someone doesn’t want to fight, the answer that comes back to it, the rain starting to kick up in earnest and really, truly provide mood lighting and atmosphere that we really don’t need right now. We all can provide our own angst and noir, thanks very much. Still. When I get up there, the situation isn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

For one, Damien’s taken off his helmet. Not immediately gone to attack Batman. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the challenge that’s being laid down because I know how I would have taken it, if this were me six or seven years ago. And that was before I’d even lost everything. I still had my grandfather, but I would have probably walked away and made a poor choice. I could pretend like the Shadows were responsible for everything that I just saw downstairs? But I’m not an optimistic idiot, no matter what my taste in movies might say to you.

“The Bat makes a great point. And I say that as someone who’s not real happy with him right now. They got here awful fast. Were you guys already having a Gotham family reunion, and they just happened to forget to invite you? I’d like to know how they beat those of us that live here to the scene, personally…”

Swinging my arms back and forth like I’m warming up my shoulder joints and getting ready to do some physical ‘asking’ of my own, of the good and stuck ninjas. I don’t, though, and there’s only one reason that I don’t. Damien. Not because I think he’d stop me, but because these should be his questions to get answered. And because I’m listening to the little Redbird chirping in my ear. Firewall. Right. That’s what it’s called. Alfred patched in and likely sent Dick here. So who else was in there? The mystery man from the Cave or something else? It leaves me shifting my stance. No longer facing Damien’s back, but twisting to the side, trying to get an opposite view of what either of the Wayne boys has. Is something coming..?

Damien: Looking at them both, and listening to Richard. Damien looks to the ninjas by his side, then back to Richard, shifting his gaze to Dinah as she speaks. They all have a point here. Grinding his teeth together, he steps up to Richard. Almost as if sizing him up, looking him dead in the eye. There’s a whirlwind of emotion in Damien’s eyes as he tries to figure out the best path for all of this. Damien isn’t aware there *was* an intruder into the Batcave, but for now, he didn’t care.

“The soldiers would know nothing. They are only taking orders. And they only take orders from very few. Me, My mother….” trailing off as he steps away from Dick, looking out over the city. Seeing various dark dots jumping through the city.

“And my Grandfather. Ra’s Al Ghul.” taking a deep breath.

“He’s here.” staring out over the city, rain pouring down over all of them.

“I will come with you. I will do it your way. But, Once I confront Joker? I cannot allow him to live. I do not care what you say. I will do what our father could never do. I will make sure Joker, and his band of misfits, no longer walk this Earth. Do you hear me?”

After that?

Damien may cut ties and leave. It wasn’t that didn’t feel like he belonged. Maybe it was that this city just had too much memories, to much emotion.

“I will kill The Joker.”

Dick: Do the grunts know why Talia was here? Doubtful. What they likely do know is where to meet up with the senior leadership of whichever Leader is here in Gotham. Whether that be Rhas or Talia, or whomever would take Talia’s place should something happen. The League has a hierarchy, I know because I’ve worked with them before. Before I even knew Damien existed, in fact. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll get immediate answers out of them. It it is however a start.

“Your Grandfather was here, I’m not sure he still is. He was here to talk with your Father, before he was killed. I just told Canary about it earlier, I came to talk with Tim, then I was going to hunt you down to tell you, but there was a crisis in Metropolis.” I’m not discussing, at least not yet, why I’m the one wearing the suit. This isn’t the right place to talk about Tim asking me to take it, before he got himself killed. Nor is it the place to talk about what we’ve found out about Bruce. There are too many eyes. “Just because you’re thinking with your heart, doesn’t mean you weren’t on -a- trail. Canary can follow the Penguin lead. We’ll meet with your Grandfather.”

“Oh and Damien. There was never a question of whether your Father could kill the Joker, so much as if he would do it. There’s a question about whether you should do something, just because you can and the answer isn’t always ‘Yes.’ It’s especially not the answer, when it involves taking someone’s life.”

Reaching out to put my hand on Damien’s shoulder, I want to give him a hug but there just seems like something wrong about doing that in front of these League of Shadow goons. Which reminds me. “I can’t have these guys running around the City. My City. I’ve signaled the Commission to send the Special Crimes division over to pick them up.”

“Canary, can you escort Damien back to Robin’s Nest? I’ll stay to insure GCPD doesn’t have a pro–…” Just as I’m giving out ‘marching orders,’ something changes. There’s a shrill whine in the background, that has nothing to do with the rain and storm all around us. I’ve heard that sound before and it has me grabbing Damien, to bring him with me off the side of the building.

Even as I’m reacting, Dinah’s changed her footing. She can see the steady hovering Bat-Wing, as it suddenly veers. Then accelerates. At the roof we’re all standing on. It’s twin jet engines going in to full thrust. In her ear, a little bird chirps once more. “…Dinah, someone’s jacking in to the Batcave’s mainframe now… they’re locking Alfred out of… sweet baby jebus…. get the &^%$ out of there…

Dinah: “Ra’s is here? Well, today just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it? I hope Batman’s right and he’s not any more.”

Because even if in the loosest definition of the words he might be working on the same side as us? He’s still Ra’s al Ghul. I don’t even like that Talia is in town, or any of the rest of them. If anything, I think it enables Damien to give in to that side, and if they weren’t here in the first place? I highly doubt that Joker would have gotten his hands on her to begin with. Averting everything that is happening right this second. He would have found another target, but maybe it wouldn’t have been so personal of one.

“You continue to make the same thinking error. Over and over. It nothing to do with ‘could’ or ‘could not.'”

He could have ended Joker’s life at any point. I could have. We are not god, or judge and jury, to decide who lives and who dies. And you do that? You’re no better than he is. I held my father’s killer’s life in my hands once. Literally, throat in my hands, a far more painful death than what my father suffered. Damien’s killed. The more he does it? The easier it gets, the less he’s going to remember the other way he was shown. Those are all things I want to say to him but. Not here. And not while I’ve got an itchy paranoia creeping up my spine.

“Cobblepot does like Birds. I’ll make sure he’s doing the singing, though.”

I’m not going to just let this go. No. Not what Damien’s doing. What’s happening to someone important to Damien. His mother, no matter what else she might be. If for no other reason than her life might be worth keeping him from losing himself further. Maybe I can actually have this discussion with him, much as I hate opening up on principle, on the way to the Nest. Then there’s sound. That whine in the air, and Dick moving and taking Damien before I even really get moving.

“Go! Something’s hacked the Cave!”

I’m sure I can be heard. I’m not quiet, even when my voice isn’t vibrating with sonic force I can make it carry. It’s carrying as I throw myself off that edge that I arrived over. Sprinting and diving, in a way that’s probably going to hurt but not nearly as much as getting crusehd by the Batplane.

Night at the Museum Pt2

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

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

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

“Incoming at three o’clock, gentlemen.”

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

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

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

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

“So, what’s the game plan?”

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

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

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

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

Adam: Shazam!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Raze it? Or raise it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I wouldn’t call him that, Flash.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we are again.

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

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

“I need you all to trust me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pausing a moment, then looking at Cass and Freddy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

“…you can hold back.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, no.”

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

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

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

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

Because Zombies are bad, Mmmkay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not discounting anything right now, honest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think that’s probably best.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good thing I’m the slow one, here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night at the Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What the ….?!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The museum. Wait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And someone else looks like he needs my help.

“Krypto! I’m here! Coming in!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Great color choice, by the way).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps Poseidon blessed you with gills, Pretender?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wally: Great. Juuuust great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cassie: “Nnngh!”

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

“There is always a choice.”

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

Wally: Giant…Dog?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crazy Freddy idea 265.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Show me where the Coast City door is.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ST: “Coast City? This way.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Batfamily Halloween

Dinah: I’d had some words to have with Alfred when I’d been up at the Manor earlier in the week. Not just about pastries, though… you see the man about pastries if you’ve got a chance. I am perfectly capable of cooking. I just don’t, most of the time, I don’t have to. There’s a fully operational bar downstairs, that despite being in the kind of neighborhood that seems more action that Black Canary is interested in than Dinah Lance, actually serves some decent food most of the time. Sure, my apartment over top of it has a kitchen, but it’s mostly for storage and bags of ice or frozen peas for knuckles and faces than something I’m going to make. The man’s an angel though, really. And I was perfectly happy to discuss some plans that may or may not have been overstepping some boundaries but you know what? No one else is going to do it, and I don’t really care. All while waiting for some baked goodness to take home to my place.

Really. It’s Dick’s fault. In a way, it was his idea.


It could be argued that tonight’s not the night for this kind of thing. There’s bound to be a whole pack of idiots out on the streets tonight, and the mood in Gotham is still a little strange. Makes it hard to know exactly what’s coming, more than normal anyway. Not even a bad argument against a little bit of merriment, but plans were just adjusted. It’s not even dark out yet. There’s time for fun, and patrolling. Both could technically count as ‘family bonding’ time, too. And I love Halloween. I always have. Even after I started dressing up as something else every night. Normally? I’d be wearing something covering tonight. Dressing to the opposite of what I am. Last year I was a terribly unexciting nun. This year?

I’m juggling an armful of shopping bags, which clank and rattle and make it pretty clear I’ve gone BYOB, but at least I plan to share, while I rap on the door, waiting for Alfred to open up for me. He makes a great co-conspirator. Even for Halloween Parties.

“Trick or Treat! I brought treats! Thanks for your help with the costume, I made it work.”

See, I did come as the opposite of what I am. The Robin costume might be said to not really fit me, but … by proxy it really fits, if what you were going for the ‘Slutty Sidekick’ look, like they actually sell online. I wasn’t going to spend the money. I’ve got the real deal to work off here. I mean. The top doesn’t exactly…close and the booty shorts are definitely booty shorts but…

“Pan boots. Super comfy. Who knew!”

Damien: Damien for the record would like to state that this isn’t his idea. Also, he never understood the understanding of Halloween. But, Dinah … insisted … that he come. It was more of an order than anything else.

Oh, and he had to dress up.

….Damien tried to argue. But, once again. Dinah ordered him. Normally he wouldn’t take orders from her. He was just trying to get by without getting more grief from the Bat-Clan. Since he also wasn’t allowed to come as Red Hood, He decided to dress as something he knew. Which, you know, happened to be what his grandfather ran. The League of Assassins. It was all black, with a face mask, hood, gloves… you name it. Damien had it. Walking up to the door, he sighed and knocked on it.

Thankfully there was a reason to wear this. It was getting cold and well, he preferred not to freeze. Unlike some of the other women he saw on his way up to the Wayne Manor footsteps. When Alfred opened the door, well, there was a strange silence that came over him. Usually, the man had something quite witty to say. But, it was the first time he’d seen Damien since Bruce died. In essence, Alfred was his other Grandfather. More of a father to Bruce than Thomas was. That was neither here nor there now.

Lowering the mask, Damien reaches out, putting his hand on the older gentleman’s shoulder. The two may not have always seen eye to eye. But, Damien had great respect for him. After the two exchanged a moment, he’d speak up. Loud enough for Dinah to hear.

“Ahem. Master Wayne. That is quite the, uh, outfit.”

“Thank you Alfred. Dinah said I had to come in costume.” and, well, what a costume it was. Walking past him, Damien walks over to the study. Fully intending on reading, instead of being social. Of course, that’s probably not what Dinah had in mind. Misery loves company, and all.

Tim: Is it strange that dressing up in to a costume is a problem for people like us? Me, I feel like a chump. I never did Halloween as a child, really. My Folks always wanted me too, but I didn’t appreciate dressing up as someone else. Which brings to mind the entire conundrum of my life as of late. I’m simply not good at being someone else’s character. Kind of feeds back, all the way to the beginning really, when Bruce asked me to be Robin. I’d turned down that initial offer, instead asking to put my own label on the Mantle. ‘Red Robin’ was born.

Dinah and I have had multiple discussions about this sort of thing, none of which was related to Halloween. It was still very relevant to the night. Costumes suck. I’m not good at this sort of thing. Unlike the rest of the Bat-Family, I actually live in the same place as Dinah Lance. So there was no way to get out of doing this. I’d had little choice. So I went with the only thing I could stand…

“I feel like Cobblepot is going to think I’m gimic infringing with this umbrella…”

I’m a little late arriving to the party. Simply because Dinah refused to let Alfred pick us up in the Limo. I don’t own a car. ( Actually, I probably do. Inheritance, lame. ) Dinah only owns a bike. So we’d taken a Taxi. Except the Taxi guy didn’t have change for a Hundo. Nor did he have a fork-lift with which to carry in the Keg that Dinah insisted on bringing from her Bar. So, by default I’m a big tipper -and- carrying my own luggage, so to speak.

“Sorry, I’m late,” having hooked the umbrella in to the keg, I’ve engineered my own make-shift dolly. “You made that Cabby’s night, Dinah.”

Dinah: Only I’m not miserable. Quite the opposite, and I’m hell-bent on dragging someone along with me on my night of not misery. Dick and Barbara may be onto something with their lead, Tim might be…not a perfect fit for Batman but he’s trying, and he’s done some great things. Not just for Gotham, but spreading out to the world around us and Damien? Well. Damien actually showed up. In a costume no less. Which puts him two points ahead of where I thought we’d be tonight. Also underselling a little that I know he’s at least making an effort, after our little Batervention the other week. It’s a lot of reasons for a celebration, with a Holiday built in for an excuse. Maybe too much of a chippy-cheery one for me to normally drag them all in for but…

I kind of felt like maybe a night that wasn’t just yelling or correcting, or lecturing one another was in order. And yes. I’m as guilty, maybe more, as everyone else. The study is a pretty default hiding spot. I may not have spent much time upstairs in this place, but it’s not that hard to guess. Good thing Alfred knows these boys better than probably anyone else and has set-up in there. It’s where I head with my bags of booze, waving Tim along with me once he manages to get the keg in through the door. See? Not always opposed to letting a man do my heavy lifting.

“He’s welcome to come try and take it up with you. Be a bad night for him. Unlike said Cabby. I think he was trying to decide if someone had slipped him some special candy or not.”

I, for once, am actually wearing an eye mask. Part of the Robin costume, obviously. It was also definitely not where the cab driver was looking at any point. I think he was barely looking at the road either. Strutting in to the study, I throw my arms wide as I take in… God, that has to be Damien. Who else would show up looking like that in this house?

“…Damien, you know what? Nice costume, and Happy Halloween.”

The gesture might have been the threat of a hug. If I were a hugger. Instead I deposit my alcoholic goodies on the table that had been covered with books last time I was here. There’s no hug. Just a punch in the shoulder. Except the only person in this house that I haven’t punched is Alfred. That’s more a friendly knuckle nudge.

Damien: “This is not a costume.” making the distinction to Dinah as he gives her a curious glance when she punches his shoulder. Then looks over her costume with a raised… well, brow. It wasn’t in judgement. Tilting his head at her. “I.. believe you require a larger outfit, Dinah.” offering honestly. Completely missing the point of well, the T&A of her costume “I am sure if you were to offer to Alfred. He would have made sure the old Robin outfit would have been altered to your dimensions.” Giving her a nod, he looks over at the table of booze before turning his attention back to Dinah.

“I assume you brought Timothy?” asking as he moved to seat next to the table where she dropped her booze. Damien wasn’t planning on leaving the study. Next time, maybe he’d hide in the den. Maybe there he could be left alone with the few hundred dozen books. But, here he was now. With Dinah. And Timothy supposedly coming in behind her. Though, he heard rustling down stairs as Tim struggled with the keg. Though, he didn’t come to think to help Tim out. Looking away from Dinah for a moment, he glances to the bookshelf and picks up a book that looks interesting.

It’s not that Damien didn’t appreciate T&A…just…he didn’t really understand it. And least to say, Dinah was all about that T&A tonight.

“How are you tonight, Dinah?” asking, not really looking up from the book. So, he was trying to be a little social.

Tim: “No. I mean. I handed him a hundred dollar bill, he said he couldn’t break it. I said keep the change. But. I think -you- still made his night.”

There’s no small amount of smirk here. She was dressed like she was. Whether because of the Humor at work or because she was tormenting Dick. Who cares? I sure don’t. The cab driver certainly doesn’t care about why. Only that she was, that he got the pleasure of watching it the whole way here from the City. Hell, he didn’t even complain about the keg when I was loading it in. ( An act that started as a manly gesture, but ended with Dinah laughing at me. )

Damien being here isn’t really a surprise. I would have bet on him being here if for no other reason than to heckle everyone else for participating. Him being in costume? That’s worth all the trouble of getting here. By itself. Seeing the costume, on the other hand, leaves me unsure of whether to heckle him just a little bit instead. How do you resist?

“Hey, I though we had to come in costume!” Going with the obvious teasing gesture to Damien. “He used to wear that all the time. One time he jumped out of the Grandfather Clock and Alfred almost shot him with the 9mm he keeps under his monkey suit.”

All teasing aside, I am quick to transfer a hand from the Keg I’ve been hauling along, to Damien’s shoulder as I get closer. “It’s good to see you Damien. You really should take a moment. To just appreciate the fact that …. you’re going to spend the next fifty years listening to me tell stories about how the best looking Robin happened during my tenure in the Cowl.”

“Just. Look at her, Man. For once, that’s really the sole point. Wait. Did I say for once? That’s always the point. Appreciate the tactical advantage she gets in your old suit.”

Dinah: “Today it is. And now that you’ve worn it as a costume once, there’s just no going back.”

With that ‘greeting’ out of the way, I’m adding liquor to the spread that Alfred’s already laid out. I’d say it’s probably above what was required when there was only going to be five potential guests, and himself, in the house, but I don’t know. I’m no mind reader, but I think that maybe ‘Penny-One’ was happy to have an excuse. While i don’t know exactly how cheery a group it’s going to be, we’re at least making the attempt. It had been made clear to me when I’d turned up to pick up my own ‘costume’ that I didn’t need to bring anything with. I wanted to, though. And alcohol is something I ‘own’ in spades with the bar. It was this or peanuts. That and the gift of my glorious presence.

“Oh, this is the old Robin outfit. And he did alter it a little for me. Mostly to make sure I didn’t rip out a seam putting it on.”

I feel like I ought to point out to Damien the whole point of the costumes are to wear something that you are not, and likely will never be in the future. That connotation, mixed with him being the one that put it on? Well. I’m smirking a little bit as I finish distributing bottles through the treats and appetizers. Last out of the bag is a small black box that I shake once to make the heavy sound of cards thumping back and forth inside of it, laughing at Tim’s story in a single, little too loud guffaw.

“…I’d say seriously but that’s about the most believable thing I’ve heard all day. Happy Halloween to the cabby. Maybe he won’t be so grumpy when he shows up at his next fare.”

Though. See commentary about costumed freaks being up to no good tonight, as much as any other night and maybe I don’t entirely blame him. Not in Gotham. Instead of his life at risk, he got an enormous tip and to look at me.

“Tim’s right. Is this how it worked for you? Did you get to curb stomp crooks because they were gawking, too?”

Damien: “I believe it started with you, Timothy. We were playing …” trailing off as he tried to think of what the game was called. “Hide and Seek? You told me to hide. And you would come seek me. I took the opportunity to frighten Alfred. Though, You never did find me…” trailing off, Did Tim ever look for him. Looking to Dinah once again. “I suppose she is … unique … in my old Robin outfit.” saying as he shrugged. It wasn’t that he didn’t think Dinah was attractive. Just he never really thought of her in that line. They were similar in age with some of the same life experiences. But, thought of her more as an extension of his family.

Helena on the other hand….

“Psh. I am not sure what you are referring to, Dinah. Father would not allow me to “curb stomp” in air quotes, none the less. “Criminals.” shrugging slightly.

“Timothy. I must applaud you on your .. costume … I would have never thought you to dress as one of Father’s most hated villains. Maybe if we are to do this again next year, I will come dressed at Joker. To continue tradition, if you will.” explaining, his tone even and cool. It’d be hard to determine if Damien was joking. Especially since he was wearing something that covered the lower half of his face.

Coming back around to Dinah, he looks her over one more time. She’d see the gears turning in his mind on how to compliment her.

“I suppose it is most likely a good thing father did not choose you as Robin. Maybe the criminals would have gawked a bit too much for his liking. And I am sure you would have gotten cold with your legs bare and your chest exposed during the winter.” giving her a nod. That was a compliment, right?

Tim: See the bright smile? You should focus upon that and not the way I’m stage whispering to Dinah, “… I never went looking for him. It was the only way to get him to stop telling me how to do everything. He nearly gave Alf a heart-attack. I made a GIF out of it. It’s what I send every year to Alfred with his birthday card.”

The drinks are for the others. I’m not having any for a litany of reasons, but the most major among them? I’m the official designated driver. Because we came by Cab, but we’re leaving with something a little different. Trading up, so to speak. That is really half of the reason I agreed to the cab ride, instead of the Limo. I need to procure nondescript transportation for something I’ve got in the works. The work that I’ve been doing with Coast City requires me to show up to work on something other than a pedal-bike.

“Wah wah waaaaaah,” shaking the umbrella at Damien. “When I saw what Dinah was wearing, I couldn’t compete. So I figured that I would go the opposite direction. Fat, Disgusting. I started to wear fishy cologne, but I was worried she wouldn’t get in the Cab with me if I did.”

Clearing my throat just enough to get Damien’s attention, “Damien. Buddy. Pal. Brother. Have you ever seen her Canary costumes? She’s wearing a cape right now. Which means she has more clothing on right this second, than she would have if you stitched two Canary costumes together.”

Dinah: “I think this actually covers more than my usual suit. I mean. The support’s a little lacking. Seems like it’d lead to high potential for wardrobe malfunction… a lot less shredding of fishnets though. Do they make pan-booties in a high heeled variety? Might be onto something with these at least…”

Plus, besides all that I’m fairly sure that Bruce already had a Robin at that point. The first versions of my Canary costume weren’t nearly this exposed, either. It was a lot closer to what Damien’s wearing right now, and just started to get skimpier. And skimpier. As the nights went on and I realized how much of a distraction being a girl was, let alone one who was much more mature for her age than most would have guessed. Setting the Cards Against Humanity box on the edge of the table, I’m left laughing once again at Tim’s comment. I was wondering if Tim hadn’t found Damien, or if he’d just never looked. And now I know.

“Poor Alfred. He deserves some sort of war hero recognition. Seriously.”

Snatching up a canape, followed by another when it gets promptly popped into my mouth, I cross the room to drop down in a seat near Damien.

“The cape is really the only thing I’ve got a complaint about. So impractical.” Says the girl wearing…what I’m wearing now, that normally goes out in boots and what amounts to underwear. “Where did you even get Fishy Cologne, Tim? Please don’t tell me you’ve made some sort of doohicky to manufacture it.”

Dick: “He doesn’t need to make something to manufacture it, Silly Canary. Bat-Shark-Repellent. It’s in the utility belt. Smells like rotten codfish.”

They’ve congregated in the Den, so when I make my entrance it’s with the flare of throwing open the doors. So that everyone can see that someone wore even less than Dinah did. There was really only one way to go with the costume this year. You might have guessed it. “Michael Phelps. Speaking of sharkes. He raced one earlier this year on History channel. Sorta. It wasn’t really a Shark. Nor a race. And he didn’t win, actually.”

There’s an immediate hug in-store for Timothy Drake and Damien Wayne in turn. They’re each getting one. “Barb sends her apologies, but her Dad was working late. So she’s taking him some Licorice. Heavy on the Liquor.”

Damien: “The cape is really the only thing I’ve got a complaint about. So impractical.” Says the girl wearing…what I’m wearing now, that normally goes out in boots and what amounts to underwear. “Where did you even get Fishy Cologne, Tim? Please don’t tell me you’ve made some sort of doohicky to manufacture it.”

“The cape controls ascent and can be used to block various kinds of elemental attacks. Also, it is reinforced with an early kind of kevlar. As Robin, I was to be the target instead of Batman.” giving a nod as Dinah has a seat next to him. Leaning back, he pulls the facemask portion down and then pulls the hood down. Watching the exchange between Dinah and Tim, he tilts his head a little in confusion. Why would he want to smell like dead fish? Shaking his head, he picks the book that he was reading and opens it back up to what he was reading.

“I would imagine Timothy would build a contraption to make something reek.” offering a bit of a jab, though not really paying much attention. “When we lived together. Timothy once took apart the microwave, a television remote and finally a remote control car. From it, He assembled a contraption that would heat his meals on the run. It had met its demise at the hands of Alfred who was none too pleased at the range of the Microwave Car.” explaining.

“He also used it to chase Ace around the house. As you can imagine, Father was also not very amused.” though, Bruce did little to squash their imaginations. Or, well, rather Tim’s. Bruce had a hard time inspiring Damien not to use his imagination for mangling the criminal underworld.

Looking to Dinah, he bares a smile. Though, it’s clearly strained and not in practice.

“I have pictures of when Timothy had a bowl cut, if you ever wish to see.”

When Dick enters the room…half naked well, Damien’s brow shot up, and also didn’t return the hug that Dick seemed to eager to give him. Instead, he looked like some sort of rag doll.

“Richard. I do not believe you. All you are doing is wearing trunks and nothing else. This is hardly a costume.” offering with a bit of a teasing smile.

Dinah: Do I doubt that there is such a thing as Bat-Shark-Repellent? Are you joking? I’ve worked with these people for long enough to know that chances are better that it exists than it doesn’t exist. Boyscouts and Batman had basically the same motto. Be Prepared. So there’s no commentary on it that’s the truth or not, or if that is in fact what it smells like.

“What the hell did you ever need shark repellent for?”

It’s not often I’m not the least dressed person at any event in my life. In a fight. At the grocery store… even squeezing myself into a boy’s old costume, I’m still not going to win a prize for Most Skin Showing tonight. Man. There should have been prizes… that would have made this all a little too official and forced I think. Though ‘forced’ is definitely the word I’d use to describe Damien’s reaction to the hug Dick gives him. Not that the attire, or lack thereof, is really probably even to blame. I’m still snickering as I kick green boots up over the leg of the chair I’ve taken.

“I was going to guess Baywatch. Is that Barb’s, or did you actually own a speedo that small already? Lucky Gordon. That is the best kind of candy. Clearly we should all go trick or treat at the Precinct once we’ve eaten all of Alfred’s food.”

Truth is, listening to the bickering, bantering and exchanging of stories about the awful/amusing/embarrassing things that have been done by one or the other of them is good. Not even from some kind of ‘togetherness’ angle but… good for me. It’s all actually been a relief that I haven’t had to deal with the kind of problem Helena thought would arise. She actually called me in because she thought there’d be a battle royale over who GOT to wear the Cowl. Not the opposite. Seeing them behave like…well… brothers? Is a relief no matter what else is going right or wrong.

“It can also be used to snare and/or strangle you with. Not a fan of capes.”

Damien: “The trick not to being strangled by your own cape is to make sure they never grab you.” giving a nod. Damien and Bruce went over many, many situations on what to do if your cape did get grabbed on. Looking to Dinah, then back to his brothers. It was an interesting family he thought himself in. His brothers, Tim and Dick. While Damien may not show it, he wouldn’t trade them for anybody else. They were his brothers in battle, in life. And he knew that if for whatever reason, he had to call for help. They would be there in an instant. And likewise, he would be there for them in an instant.

They fight, bicker and act like… well, brothers. Even if they aren’t bound by blood. Apparently family extends beyond blood.

“Dinah.” turning his attention to her. “I have heard that you are training a new recruit. A young girl. How is that going? I do not suppose I could come in and help?” Damien was trying to extend his field of friends to beyond family. Maybe by giving Spoiler some even tougher love and no quipping while at it. Maybe….maybe he could make a new friend. That’s how it works, right?

“I promise not to try and kill her. I am assuming you are going full contact?” asking. When they were younger, Damien and Dinah had often sparred going full contact. While him and his brothers often did what brothers did best. Fought, Wrestled, Argued. All at full contact. There was no holding back against your brothers. “I will offer pictures of Richard in his first Nightwing outfit. I believe it was an attempt to channel the Ninety Seventies. V Neck. Flair collar.”

Tim: Richard Grayson is not just the older Brother, but he is also the Senior Statesman now. As such there’s a level of maturity one would anticipate when expecting him at a function. That is thrown to the proverbial birds when Dick shows up like he is. It’s all I can do not to start laughing immediately. The only way I manage -not- to laugh, is when Dick gives first me and then Damien a hug.


“Dude. I think he just hugged us while wearing a pair of Barbara’s bikini bottoms. I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I’m re-thinking my stance on the booze.”

There’s always time to ridicule Dick later, right now there’s something far more important to address. “Actually, that was my first foray in to drone technology. Model Two of that mobile microwave used a micro-transceiver from the sat-phone Damien used to use to call his Grandfather to relay to one of the Wayne Tech Satellites. Unfortunately the laser-torch kept burning all of my pizza-rolls.”

“For the record, I agree with Dinah. I hate capes. I acknowledge that they’re essential at times, depending on the situation. Their aerodynamic appeal. The ability to use them for stealth. Not to mention, like Damien says, you can layer them for additional defense. Right before everything went sideways, I was working on a new style of cape for my Red Robin outfit. Made out of tensile polyfilament, it’s light weight but can be deployed as -literal- wings to allow me…

Dick: “…to fly. You’ve been talking about this idea since you were twelve. He’s been obsessed with flying ever since he met the first Superman.”

There’s a slanted smirk in place right now. Nothing to worry about, normally, but I’m clearly enjoying the discomfort of my little brothers. They both seem equally put off by the Hugs, by the state of my ‘costume’. Added to my not answering about the origin of the thong I’m wearing? Well it makes this more of a ‘party’ than it otherwise would have been.

The Boy certainly like to tease one another, don’t they Mum? Should they get out of sorts, just remind them that the Manor has had internal surveillance since before they were born and that I am a meticulous keeper of secrets. Unless plied with wine and good cheer. In which case I would be happy to regail you with tales of their misadventures… like the time Ace stole Master Damien’s utility belt and buried in the Garden Maze. Or the time Master Tim spent the afternoon tasered in place, after he tried to disassemble -his- utility belt for the first time. Or perhaps the story of why Master Richard started the tradition of the Pan Booties to begin with…

“See? This is what happens when you let Alfred cater a party. He’s always upstaging the Guests.”

Dinah: It’s basically the same liability as my hair is, when it comes down to it, only I can’t be strangled with my blonde locks. Not long enough for that. I can’t really debate the technique of not letting it be grabbed in the first place, but sometimes things happen in the middle of a fight despite what you ‘let’ happen or not. No matter how good you are.

“Two. One’s more refresher training though, and he’s not actually new. Transplant from another city. Spoiler though. Spoiler’s definitely new. It’s going better than I expected though, honestly. I figured she’d give up or wash out after the first few days. She’s making progress though. I’m not sure she’d survive both of us going Hard Knocks on her. But if nothing else we can make for better demonstrations than she gets from watching me…well… she can’t really watch when I’m using her for practice. …you assume full contact. Pshttt. Who do you think you’re talking to?”

There’s always something about listening to Tim geek out over his gadgets. I mean, I patently refuse to let him do any of that stuff to my gear, outside of some good ‘old fashioned’ armoring, but the things he comes up with. Between his initial drone tech, apparently, to the wings he was apparently working on before his ‘suit’ change.

“Hey, now it’s almost necessity as much as dreams. Trying to make sure you can ‘hang’ with your new friends?”

Mind you, I don’t have a problem with being ‘stuck’ on the ground. It’s always served me pretty well. But I can see the draw, especially when you’re slowly amassing acquaintances who can all transcend normal transportation concerns naturally. And people say Gotham’s weird… I find myself grinning at Alfred as he makes his appearance in the room. The stories he has to have. Both living here, and as Penny-One, the man’s seen some things.

“Gotta admit, the last one sounds informative, and I kind of need to see the footage that surely exists of the tasering. Don’t worry, Dick. Alfred’s as much guest as you are, so he can’t really show you up. Hm. Actually. He does trump you. He’s feeding me.”

Damien: Damien didn’t hold the same social graces that the rest of them did. While he didn’t fight back against the social gatherings, he was much more comfortable in his own outfit and beating up criminals than he was talking with others. Giving a nod to Dinah “I will contact you at some point, then. If you do not mind.” looking back down at the book, he finally gives up on trying to read it and puts it on the table as he watches Tim geek out, Dick embarrass them all, and then Alfred being, well, Alfred.

“I am going for a walk.” There were memories he wanted to explore, a house that once was warm and welcoming, now felt cold and empty. Maybe he should come back… but the memories of his father were great. Pushing up off the chair, he puts a hand on both of his brothers shoulders. “It is a pleasure to see you both again, at once. I hope we can do it again soon.” offering as he turned his head slightly, nodding to Dinah.

Walking out the door, Damien would turn the corner to go explore and visit his old memories. Maybe in a way to try and attempt to reconnect with his father. To pay for the sins of his own past without witnesses. It was how Damien worked, always had.

Tim: The joking back and forth? Is not just good, it’s needed. We haven’t had something like this since we all came back to the City. This is exactly what we’ve all needed. At least, this is what I’ve needed. It feels good to just be here. Together. Maybe without Bruce, but we all seem more like a family now than we have since losing him. But, I knew if the group of us was in the same place for long enough? Business would come up as a topic of discussion. I hadn’t anticipated Stephanie being the ice breaker though. Hell, I wouldn’t have even wagered her as being one of those to even be spoken of at all.

“For what it’s worth. I think introducing Stephanie to any one else from our ‘Family’ is a bad idea right now. Ever since she found out that Dinah is the Black Canary, she’s been working things out. She saw my announcement about Coast City on the television the other day. Now she thinks I’m Red Robin. She’s got her Father’s knack from Clues, I’d prefer not to give her another. At least, not until I’m absolutely sure she’s not a pawn in her Father’s schemes.”

There’s a small shrug at the end of this, because ultimately I don’t feel like it’s my call. I brought the girl in, I’ve been taking her out with me as Batman, but I asked Dinah to get her ready. If Dinah thinks she can handle something, then that’s the end of the discussion for me. I just wanted to put that out there. I’m not comfortable with her knowing who I am, yet. Much less knowing who the rest of them are.

“I always assumed the pan boots were a call back to your time with the Circus, Dick?”

Dick: “It does, Tim, but Alfred’s actually referencing the fact that… When I first decided to go out in the Night, I… sort of put together a costume from bits and pieces of anything I could find around the manor.”

Including. Master Dick’s boots from his turn at Peter Pan, from highschool.

“At the time I didn’t actually know Bruce was Batman or anything. I was just going out on my own…”

Dressed. As Peter Pan. Whom Master Dick was convinced was real, at the time.

“I was like 10.”

We’re very lucky, he didn’t believe he could fly, because I’m quite sure he was sniffing pixie dust at the time.

“You. Are. Completely. Not. Helping. Alfred.”

Dinah: “Don’t get lost.”

There’s a jaunty, if sloppy little salute given in Damien’s direction as he bails on the rest of us. Not surprised, nor am I going to try to stop him. I’m actually a little amazed he showed up, but it’s probably testament to just how strong my annoyance game can be if I feel the need to direct it at someone. I might have implied there’d be suffering of the non-physical variety if he didn’t at least poke his head in. Or maybe the fact that they are still a family is more the reasoning.

“She does have that going for her, that’s for sure. And her Eavesdrop Fu would put most of you to shame. I don’t even think she does it entirely on purpose.”

The girl’s got a lot of qualities that would, on the surface, make her suitable to the life she thinks she’s wanting to join, even if just to get even with her Dad. What she lacks, other than skill and experience though, isn’t something any amount of time with me is going to teach her though. I’m just not entirely sure if she’s got fight in her. And no, it’s not the same thing as stubbornness or a goal that she’s trying to reach. It’s still early though. We’ll see. Hopefully before she gets herself in trouble with it. Or her lack of it.

“Jeeeesus. That explains so much…”

Because I’d been at a bit of a loss as to who could have possibly dreamed up this costume. Especially compared to Bruce’s Batman Aesthetic. My Canary get-up may be flashy of the skin variety, but it’s still almost all black, or darker colors. But meanwhile? I’ve devolved into laughter in my chair, hand pressed to my temple like I need to contain it. The guys may rib each other…but no one does it nearly as well as the one who knows them best.

“Alfred. You savage. You’re staying for the card game, though…somehow I think that might be a mistake on my end. You’re probably going to win…”