Author's Note: Yes, this story still lives. Sorry for the eternity without updates. I will try and wrap this up without too many further delays. Feedback always helps, of course.
Part 16: The Plan
"We need to seek a confrontation now," Bruce said.
Diana simply nodded, this was exactly what she wanted. Dick and Helena both seemed to agree with Bruce as well. Barbara was keeping to the background right now, still a little overwhelmed. There was a slight tingling in the back of her head that Kara had come to associate with the telepathic presence of J'Onn. So the gang was all here, assembled in the 'Bruce-Cave', as Helena had come to call it.
"We're not exactly in optimal shape," Kara reminded him. She was feeling better than yesterday, but not by all that much. She doubted she was anywhere near one hundred percent. Diana seemed fresher, but that might just be sheer determination.
"We realize that," Dick told her. "Unfortunately I don't think we have the luxury of waiting much longer. The Four know that this is not a mere stray superbeing that needs to be put down. They know that there are several of us, they know that we are organized, and they probably suspect that we have some kind of support system in place, given how quickly we disappeared from Metropolis."
Barbara nodded her agreement. "Judging by past behaviour patters, the Four will seek to end this matter as soon as possible, no matter the collateral damage. They will probably try and draw you out," she pointed at Kara and Diana, "and then use whatever firepower is necessary to kill you."
A few days ago Kara would have doubted that the Four had anything capable of killing her, but considering how close Ultraman had come to doing just that, she was no longer quite that certain. Invulnerability was relative. And it wasn't like others hadn't found ways to neutralize her powers in the past.
"We need to strike back at them and we need to do it where it hurts them," Bruce continued. "We have never been able to locate the Four's headquarters, but I think we might have found a way now."
He activated the large monitor, which showed a blueprint. Kara wasn't exactly a technical wizard, but she recognized parts of the design.
"That's Kryptonian technology," she gestured towards one part.
"Captured from the Four," Bruce told her. "We have been able to gather some bits here, some bits there, things they left behind now and then. It also incorporates some elements that J'Onn designed, as well as some latest Earth-grown technology."
"It's a scanner," Barbara clarified. "A scanner specifically attuned to the frequencies and energy signatures the Four use in their technology. We've never quite gotten it working right. The Four not only have heavy signal security, their technology is also a hybrid of so many different kinds..."
"Stolen and scavenged from the people they killed," Diana interjected.
"Yes. That mix of different technologies makes it difficult to track. Our current estimate is that we'd need at least several minutes to track a Four signal and it would have to be a pretty strong one."
Richard drove his right fist into his palm. "So we need to draw them out and get them to open up with some of their heavy tech. Then we can find out where they're hiding."
Kara considered this. Draw out the Four. It sounded easy. Diana and she would just need to appear publicly somewhere. That would certainly do it. At the same time, though, that would almost certainly endanger innocents.
"It needs to be some sort of remote location," she finally said. "The Four won't hesitate to sacrifice however many people they need to."
"I have an idea about that," Bruce told her. "The Four are keeping close watch on Earth at all times and are usually able to spot any kind of unnatural or out-of-the-ordinary event within minutes. Which leads me to believe that they have some kind of heavy-duty satellite network in orbit. It's heavily cloaked, we've never been able to find it."
"Paradise Island was destroyed from orbital height," Diana growled, anger darkening her voice. "If it wasn't a ship of some kind, it's an orbital installation. And it will be heavily armed."
Dick nodded. "Kara can look for it. Her superior senses should make short work of any cloaking field they might have and seeing her approach should certainly put the Four in an uproar."
Kara wasn't exactly thrilled about going one-on-one with killer satellites that could vaporize entire cities, but she had faced a lot worse.
"It sounds doable," she said. "If they sick their satellites on me, I should be able to keep them occupied long enough for you to get a lock on their signal. Then we can trace them, right?"
"Right," Bruce confirmed. "And no matter where they hide, we will find them."
The expression on his face was quite scary.
"So assuming we get this confrontation with the Four, do we know whether we'll be able to win it?"
Everyone looked at Helena. That was a good point.
"What kind of powers do the Four have?" Diana asked Bruce.
"We don't know for certain, but with all the data we've compiled over the years we do have some pretty good guesses."
He manipulated the controls again, showing a picture of William Leather as he looked before the space flight.
"Data gathered from known Leather sightings indicate that he has some kind of fire-based powers. Possibly a firestarter or pyrokinetic. We also suspect he's capable of personal flight."
An image of Kim Süskind replaced Leather.
"Süskind is the Four's infiltration and sabotage expert. We know she's been able to come and go wherever she pleases, even in the most heavily secured facilities on this planet. This has led us to believe that she has some kind of stealth power. We also know that people she has personally killed were usually found with ... ruptured bodies. She's either very strong or some sort of telekinetic."
Jacob Green was next.
"There have been no sightings of Green since the space flight. What little we know leads us to suspect that he, unlike the other three, no longer possesses a human appearance. Meaning he can only operate in remote regions. We do know that he single-handedly exterminated an entire tribe in Africa in order for the Four to get their hands on some sort of special metal native to that region. He might be the most dangerous of the quartet."
Finally there was only Randall Dowling left.
"We know absolutely nothing about Dowling's powers. He's a genius-level intellect and will probably use all kinds of weapons, but apart from that..." Bruce shrugged.
"Not the best kind of intel," Dick said, looking worried. "And with our two heaviest hitters not in their best shape…"
"We'll manage," Diana cut him off. "These Four have shied away from any kind of personal combat, preferring to let others do their dirty work. From what I've gathered they have never been in any sort of battle situation where the odds were even remotely even. They might be powerful, but I doubt they know anything about fighting."
"That's nothing more than a guess, Diana," Bruce said. "Not one here has ever encountered the Four in person. We only know that all who did are now dead."
"As will the Four be when I am done with them," Diana growled, then stormed out.
For a minute everyone was silent, contemplating the enraged Amazon who had just left the room. Then Bruce looked at Kara.
"You should rest and recover some more," he said, his voice carrying a tinge of sadness. "I don't know how much time the Four will give us, but it won't be much. Soon they will start and arrange some sort of situation to draw you out. We need to beat them to the punch."
Kara nodded. "I think I'll be more or less recovered in another two days." Looking after Diana, she added "I'm gonna go and catch some sunlight."
Everyone else also left before long, thinking about what was ahead of them. In two days they would try and draw out the Four. And God alone knew whether any of them would survive to tell about it.
TO BE CONTINUED