Before delving into this fic and this chapter, I wanted to take a moment to shout out to CrazyPhenom, who will be working with me extensively on this story. Our goal is to delve into the New52, but to have the story actually be good at the same time. I know I know, a lofty goal considering what we have to work with. Also, as fellow BMWW fans, we're going to work toward showing how the sword slashing happy, almost blood thirsty N52 Wonder Woman can grow naturally into becoming more of the character that we all love. So stick with us on this fic as it will not be of the same New52 type that we've all come to dislike.
As always, this story contains characters owned by DC and is not our property, nor is this story meant for profit, but only for everyone to hopefully enjoy, and please do not sue. Now, that we have that out of the way, without further ado onto the story.
Chapter 1: Conflicts in Conversation
It was a calm but cloudy evening in Gotham City. There was barely any wind coursing through the air as the street lamps began to slowly flicker to life signaling the evening's end as it morphed into night. There was always a transition of life in the streets of this city to coincide with the day's cycle as the business world seemed to have a grip on things during the daylight before giving way to the more violent nightlife. In between that was a window of time where everything seemed to be serene and quiet. It was as though that served as a grace period which allowed the good people of Gotham to scurry away into the safety of their homes without conflict. Seeing this transition each day brought about one man's wish that was seemingly stronger than all others that this time would extend to the entirety of each day. It was that serenity that caused him to fight so hard to achieve. For now though it was still a dream yet to be fulfilled, but he would never stop. Not until he'd attained that goal for this beaten down city, and until that time came he would remain vigilant working towards that goal.
It was currently that time of day as the silence was interrupted by the sounds of a black jet as it streaked upward through the evening sky carrying its pilot up and eventually out of the atmosphere. Those sounds often served as a warning for all that were about to descend upon the city with ill intentions, but on this night the sounds came about due to a different reason. On this night, the vigilante known as the Batman was heading toward the space station dubbed as the Watchtower, which also served as housing for some members in the Justice League. The League itself had been together a little over one year much to the chagrin of some of it's members, but it couldn't be argued that much had been accomplished in that short amount of time. Even their facilities had improved as they went from an empty government building in a set location on the planet to the space station. In orbiting the Earth, it allowed them to hasten their response time to certain areas of the world. In truth, the Watchtower had proven to become an efficient central hub to operate out of. Victor Stone, who was quickly becoming better known as Cyborg had spent much of his time onboard the space station. His biomechanics had come in handy with all of the technology that they now could utilize simply because of the abilities that the half machine and half man had at his literal fingertips. He'd used his internal technology to integrate some schematics from alien technology into a working tool, such as using the mother box from the Darkseid invasion to create a slightly less intrusive teleportation system.
Batman was actually the only active member of the Justice League that still refused to use that technology. He wasn't exactly comfortable with such a means of transport, and wouldn't be until he had enough free time to look over all of the schematics himself in order to come to a better understanding of how the equipment worked. Until then he would continue using his Batwing to travel between his city and the Watchtower. The travel time was increased exponentially, but that only caused him to avoid making the long trek as much as possible. He'd used the excuse that it pulled him away from his duty with Gotham as his justifiable reasoning for being absent so often. This time was no different in his desire not to attend as there were no large threats at the moment to be concerned with needing the Justice League's involvement, but even though what was on the agenda was technically considered simply a standard business as usual meeting he knew that there was one topic which required his attendance.
Batman had learned a valuable lesson when he'd neglected to be present before as a similar topic was broached, and his absence then caused the decision to go against the way he'd have voted. This time was going to be different though with him making certain that he was in attendance. Now there would be a voice of reason to be heard. Once he reached the outer atmosphere of the planet, he set the autopilot and then began some final preparations; flipping on a recorded news report to refresh his memory on the topic that he knew would end up turning into a heated exchange of words at the very least. He waited patiently as the video eventually buffered before it began to play.
"Proof that life on Mars existed is now a foregone conclusion it seems." The reporter stated. "One surprising twist though is the man that chose to stand in front of various boards of government offering his protection for the Martian. Metropolis' own Superman seems to have taken this other alien under his protective wing, stating that the people had no reason to fear the Martian, dubbed as J'onn. The only argument that he offered as justification was using himself as the example that aliens shouldn't be thought to be a threat just because they come from a different planet. With Superman's stance, the question that everyone has to be asking now would have to be will the Martian be offered a position to join the Justice League."
Batman turned off the video at that point, having heard enough as the space station had also come into view. He uploaded the video onto a thumb drive in preparation should Superman attempt to leave the topic out of the meeting's agenda so that he could bring it up himself if need be. All of the top line criminals were locked away at the moment so there shouldn't be anything to pull him away until the topic could be broached before the meeting adjourned.
An hour later, the conference room door swooshed open followed immediately by the dark armored Batman exiting. He had a menacing and quick pace established as he stomped his way down the corridor. He'd heard enough. They'd been together as a group for just over a year, and already there was great dissention in the ranks. It was a fool's errand to believe that any of the high and mighty Meta humans would listen to reason, not that he'd been surprised. However he still couldn't believe that they were so willing to blindly trust someone that they knew so little about. Trust had to be earned, not given. That was the way things needed to be. He'd survived and prospered as Gotham's vigilante by maintaining that policy. You simply don't work along with someone that you don't know enough about, and if you don't know enough about them then you certainly shouldn't trust them. He was just about to enter the elevator when one of the two voices that he'd hoped to get away from called to him from behind. "The meeting hasn't ended yet!" Wonder Woman shouted as she marched purposefully after him. "You cannot leave!"
"There's no reason for me to stay." Batman responded as he stopped in front of an elevator and selected the floor button. As he stood back watching the elevator doors close in Wonder Woman's face he grimaced at what was sure to come. Had it been any other member of the Justice League he'd have smirked triumphantly at successfully evading them, but he knew better than to think that way with her. She'd find out what floor he was headed to or worse yet simply know where he was heading, and end up meeting him there before he could get to the Batwing. Sure enough, when the elevator doors opened to reveal the hangar deck, there she was standing with her arms crossed defiantly over her chest as she was glowering back at him with a look that rivaled one of his own patented batglares.
"Where do you think you're going?" She angrily asked.
"Gotham." Batman responded as he started to walk around her. "There are more important things to do there than argue with Superman over the merits of just freely offering memberships to the League. If he doesn't like the rules we all established when the League was formed, then he shouldn't have agreed to them."
"He didn't agree to them." Diana fired back as she followed step for step next to Batman, ready to halt his progress if he did attempt to climb into his jet.
"It's not my problem that he didn't attend the meeting where the rules and regulations of how the Justice League operates was voted and approved of." Batman retorted as he stopped right next to his Batwing. He could read in Wonder Woman's body language that she had no intentions of letting him leave before she had her say, not that it would do her any good other than venting her opinion. "You managed to be there when the regulations were voted on."
"And I didn't vote for these rules either." Wonder Woman countered.
"Regardless, the vote was passed by majority, and because of that no new members are to be accepted into the League unless unanimously ruled in favor of." Batman explained. "I voted against, and until I've had proper time to investigate him and come to some sort of a comfort level with him, that's where my vote will stay. Nothing you or your boyfriend say will change that."
"Perhaps the next vote should be for specific current members and if they should remain with the League since that's your stance." Superman announced as he glided down from above, interrupting the argument. When he landed, he temporarily focused his attention to Wonder Woman. "Diana, Batman and I need to have a word. If you would give us a moment?"
Wonder Woman glanced back and forth between the two men. She saw how resolutely each of them stood before the other. It truly would be like the saying of when the irresistible force meets the immovable object. Her anger at being dismissed and her curiosity was peaked, but she instead chose to comply with Superman's wish for the time being. She didn't have much more of an argument to make anyways. Batman was a stubborn ass, and she knew that there was nothing to be said which would sway his vote.
Both men waited until Diana was in the elevator and the doors closed before they turned back to each other. As soon as the doors slid closed though, Superman didn't waste time mincing words. "Why are you being so difficult Bruce? You didn't put up this much of a fight with Aquaman joining."
"No one ever said I was perfect." Batman sarcastically responded. "And in any public forum, it's Batman. You know that Clark."
"So why are you so against bringing him in when you weren't with Aquaman?" Superman continued to press, ignoring the point being made of his alter ego being known for the moment.
"Aquaman being with the League better enables us to keep a closer watch on his people." Batman explained. "There's nothing to gain in this instance. We know next to nothing about the Martian, and he's supposedly the last of his kind."
"That's hardly a valid reason." Superman countered. "I'm the last of my kind."
Batman crossed his arms over his chest as he glared at the Man of Steel saying nothing. Superman's eyes widened as the silence began to grow, realizing that Batman wasn't intending to say anything about the point he'd just made. "So now it comes out." Superman surmised as he placed his arms across his own broad chest. "We've worked together in this Justice League for over a year and now come to find out that you don't trust me either. Why?"
"I have my reasons." Batman cryptically answered.
"You know something Bruce." Superman sneered when quietly calling Batman by his real name. "Out of everyone here, it seems like you're the one that shouldn't be trusted. After all, you're the one with all the secrets. You're the one that doesn't respond to any calls unless it's on your own terms, and you're the one that refuses to go along with anyone else's plans, but at the same time expect us all to fall in line at the snap of your fingers."
Both men stood there silently for a moment as Superman had pretty much forgotten what it was that he'd actually intended on saying due to his realization that a member of his team didn't trust him still. It angered him to know this as he'd done nothing for Bruce to distrust him since they'd known each other. In fact, the more he'd thought about it, it was Bruce that had been sneaking around this entire time. He'd caught Bruce in his city snooping around, but not before Bruce had discovered his own secret identity. Back then he'd thought that it was just a tactic to get even as he'd already deduced the Batman's secret identity by using his powers prior to lead lining being added to the cowl, but now he was questioning if that was the sole purpose of Bruce's unannounced visit. Was he searching for something else or even something more? Unfortunately he didn't get the chance to ask those questions as Bruce had taken the silent moment and bypassed him, climbing into the cockpit of the Batwing. "If there's nothing else…" Batman trailed off as the hatch closed and the alarm began to sound announcing that the dock was about to pressurize for vehicle release.
While Superman could certainly stand there even with the pressure change, he instead turned to make his leave. There was nothing more to be said for the time being with that stubborn ass at the other end of any conversation. Instead he'd just put that little item in the back of his mind for another time, but the conversation was nowhere near over even if Batman believed that to be the case.
Batman pushed out a frustrated breath after deporting the Watchtower landing bay. He simply couldn't believe how willingly the rest of the League had been to just take on another member. They knew next to nothing about this J'onn as he was being called now by the rest of them. At least with Superman there had been some base line established to research and come to a more educated conclusion. Although had it not been for the invasion attempt by Darkseid, he'd still have had a vast apprehension about joining forces with someone that seemed to come off as believing himself above the rest of the world. As he came to think about how the League came to be, he thought about how Wonder Woman wasn't much better either if he were honestly going to assess her or other members within the League along with Superman. Not even Hal Jordan, Billy, or Victor were ideal and fully trustworthy in his opinion. But the attempted invasion did happen, and all of them had fought together and successfully repelled the threat. He knew that there was absolutely no way in hell that he'd have been able to stop such a juggernaut without all of them there to fight alongside him, and that incident did offer some positives for him.
That was one of the main reasons for choosing to accept being initially added as a member of the Justice League when it was suggested that the heroes all join together. It also helped in gaining some leeway with his mission on protecting Gotham. The innocent people were less afraid of having a vigilante in their city at night, and the police had also backed off. He'd even begun to establish a sort of working relationship with one of the up and coming detectives in James Gordon. It was no coincidence that after the incident was when things started to seemingly make a noticeable turn for the better in Gotham. Without having to watch his own back so much from the threat of getting arrested, he was better able to focus on the criminal element. No scenario was perfect, but it had at least improved slightly, and for that city any discernible improvement was saying something.
Breaking him out of his reverie, a tone started to beep in the Batwing indicating that an incoming message had been received. Sighing in an attempt to relieve some stress from the meeting, Bruce then pressed a button to open the video conference. "What is it Alfred?" He asked.
"Just curious as to how the meeting went with your super powered colleagues sir." Alfred responded. "I do hope it ended better than the last time."
"Not really Alfred." Bruce replied. "I knew that they were going to try and slip an invitation to the Martian without my consent. Unfortunately for them that I was prepared this time around."
"Forgive my boldness sir, but perhaps you should take note that sometimes the best way to attract bees is with honey and not vinegar." Alfred suggested.
"I don't have time to waste trying to play nice with a group of Meta's Alfred." Bruce retorted. "Besides you should know by now that it isn't the way I work."
"Just thinking of how a change of pace might be more fruitful in the future sir." Alfred explained. "You are supposed to work alongside these people after all. Wouldn't it be prudent to at least try to get along?"
"I'm not in this to make friends Alfred." Bruce argued. "I've got too much on my plate to worry about being in some type of popularity contest. Now, if you're done with that topic I assume there was a real reason for you to call?"
"Just to inform you that Master Richard decided that it was time to return to Bludhaven instead of accompanying you on patrol tonight sir." Alfred responded, allowing the previous topic to drop for the time being.
That was actually a refreshing thought, getting to patrol that night on his own. Dick had been patrolling with him at night for the past three days, and although he appreciated the change to spend time with his adopted son, the solitude would give him time to sift through his thoughts and the comments that were shared as the members of the Justice League argued back and forth over the merit of adding a telepath to the team. Actually, if he thought honestly for the most part it was him that argued against versus the rest of them. That thought brought a smirk to his face as the rules and regulations he'd managed to push through gave him some salvation for the idiocy of others in certain situations. He'd hoped that those protocols wouldn't be necessary, but it was better to have them in place and not need them versus needing them and not having them.
Back up in the Watchtower, Wonder Woman joined Superman outside the elevator as he'd left the hangar bay. He was still visibly frustrated, which obviously meant that he'd not been able to successfully sway Batman's stance on allowing J'onn to become a member of the Justice League either. "Perhaps next time we should pull Batman aside together when attempting to convince him that he's standing on the wrong side of a topic." She stated to break the silence.
"That would only leave the both of us more frustrated." Superman responded. "That man's stubbornness rivals my invulnerability. There just doesn't seem to be any way to get around it."
"Then we should bring up a proposal of a set amount of time for Batman to investigate J'onn since that was his main argument against voting for J'onn's admittance into the League." Diana suggested. "When that time passes; a second vote should be taken for his admittance into the League. The first proposal won't need a unanimous decision based on Batman's list of regulations and procedures, and he'll likely not even show up for the second vote once the time elapses. Or perhaps he'll perform his investigation and realize that J'onn should've just been permitted to join us from the very beginning."
"That's actually a really good idea Diana." Superman said as he smiled upon hearing her suggestion. "You should bring it up in the meeting next week. We'll get J'onn in here at some point one way or another."
"Yes, so next week it is then." Diana agreed before leaning in closer. "Perhaps we should thank Batman for causing the meeting to end early."
"Why would we want to do that?" Superman questioned as though she'd lost her mind.
"Because the meeting ended early enough tonight allowing us time to change into civilian attire and blend in with the populous for dinner." She answered with a smile. "I get tired of only eating in the commissary and the planet seems to be quiet for the time being. Maybe this time we won't be interrupted."
Superman smiled again at Wonder Woman's suggestion. It was good to practice blending in with the people, and he did enjoy spending time with his Amazon Princess.
An hour later inside a restaurant located in downtown Metropolis, Clark Kent had just finished eating his meal as Diana Prince was seated across from him sipping on her tea. He took his napkin and wiped at the corners of his mouth while chewing and swallowing the final tasty morsel of his meal. They'd been talking sporadically in between ordering drinks, appetizers, food, and while eating, but now that both o them were finished, he decided to start off where the conversation had paused earlier. "I just don't get it. Why wouldn't he have reason to trust in me?"
"I highly doubt that it's you he has issues trusting Clark." Diana offered. "It seems to me that's just who he is."
"It's not just that though Diana." Clark continued. "He's the most difficult person on the team to work with unless you follow his way specifically. Sometimes I wonder if he isn't more a detriment than a benefit."
"I can certainly understand where you're coming from Clark." Diana replied. "In the beginning especially he got on my nerves, but eventually I came to understand better how he worked. He relies solely on his intellect almost to a fault at all times, and irritatingly I've found that he is correct more often than not. That's especially true while participating with a mission. He seems to have an innate ability to discover the precise choices to bring an outcome our way."
"I know Diana." Clark exasperatedly said followed by a frustrated sigh. "I know that he's intelligent, but even knowing that sometimes I wonder if the League wouldn't be better off without him. I'm not the only one that feels this way either. Arthur's questioned his overall usefulness on a few separate occasions."
"As a newer member, Arthur's opinion might not hold as much water at the moment." Diana responded. "I still don't believe that you'd receive a majority vote, and if it's questionable then the topic shouldn't be brought up at all. It would only place dissention amongst us, and we're still working to become a coherent unit."
"You're right, you're right." Clark conceded before noticing their waiter approaching, which brought a smile onto his face. "So….dessert?"
"Only if they serve ice cream." Diana responded with a hopeful look. She could really enjoy some of the delicious dessert that was quickly becoming a favorite for her, but also she was happy that the shop talk seemed to be coming to an end so that they could potentially enjoy an uneventful rest of the evening together.
While Superman and Wonder Woman were enjoying their dinner date, a small group of men were inside of a chemical lab. There was a man in a white lab coat crawling his way back up to his hands and knees. One eye was swollen shut and blood was trickling from the corners of his mouth. He was having difficulty catching his breath after having the wind repeatedly knocked out of him. He'd been beaten for what felt like hours even though in reality not even one had surpassed yet. Slowly, he began to crawl forward, eventually reaching forward to grab hold of a pant leg that was attached to the one man out of the group standing around him that seemed to be in charge as he began to whimper. "Pl….please…." He begged hoping for mercy.
"Your time is up." The leader stated as he looked down with a sneer on his face. "We want what you promised us, and we want it now."
"B…but, I don't have it yet." The bloody professor replied. "I…I just need some more time. I told you that I couldn't get what you wanted ready with the time you gave me."
Instead of time being given to him, he received a kick to the midsection that drove the wind out of him once again. "Beating you doesn't seem to be sinking in doctor." The leader called out to him while walking over to another man and holding his hand out. The other man placed something into the leader's waiting hand, and once it was in his grasp, he knelt down and placed what was quickly discovered to be a picture in front of the beaten victim. "You've got twenty-four hours to get results and finish with our deal or the next visit we make will be to her."
The blood dripped onto the picture of a beautiful little girl as the beaten professor gasped in shock. "No." He pleaded. "Not my little girl."
"Then finish your job." The leader stated as he stood back up before delivering one last kick. He then relaxed in his posture while pulling a cigarette and lighter from a pouch in his jacket. The man stuck the filter in between his lips before striking the lighter and inhaling as the flame touched the cigarette's unfiltered end. A puff of smoke was blown out when he once again turned his attention to the professor that was still lying on the ground, but now clutching the picture tightly. "Oh, and don't even think about taking off with her. We've got eyes everywhere, and if you try anything stupid, we'll make you watch what happens to her."
The group of men all made their leave after having successfully sent their message to the good professor, who was beginning to cough while he tried to suck some oxygen back into his lungs. He was shaking uncontrollably at the thought of just what these horrible men might do to his daughter. Twenty-four hours just wasn't enough time on his own to get them the results they wanted. He needed a miracle, but knew that one wouldn't likely to be coming.
The professor knew that he had to move and move quickly for his daughter's sake. So he took in a deep breath and dragged himself over to a stool before pulling himself up to a vertical base. After taking in a few sobering breaths and becoming accustomed to the feeling of pain that he was in, he wiped the blood dripping from his mouth onto the sleeve of his jacket and turned toward the closest computer monitor. He had work to do, and a deadline to meet, in every sense of the word.