And we're back. And since I've been off, there have been three new blog exclusive chapters posted. One with Felicity and Cassandra, one with Black Canary and Vixen, and one with Caitlin and Iris. Head to the Page of Very Important Links on my profile. Click on the Web of Chaos archives, and then either the Blog Exclusive Chapters or the Under the Hood Archives to find them.
Chapter Seventy-Six: Under Every Rock
Lyla drove Sara back to Starling City. After being around over the past few days, Sara knew it was about time for her to return home. Thea, Artemis, and Laurel did a pretty good job in keeping order in the city, but she wanted to do the very best possible in helping them clean up the city.
It had been the promise she made years ago, and the promise she kept. Now, Sara leaned back against the seat of the limo while they left Central City and made the long drive all the way back to Starling. She noticed the television news coming on and a very attractive blonde woman dressed in a business suit on the other side of the screen. Sara recognized her as Sapphire Stagg, the daughter of the recently deceased Simon Stagg.
Reaching forward, Sara turned up the television to see what the young woman had to say.
"The police department of Central City are not doing enough to look into what Harrison Wells has done," Sapphire said. "We can't deny the facts in the case. Wells was the last person to be seen meeting with my father alive. My father may have found out something about some of his actions. They've done work together in the past."
Sapphire let in a deep breath and let out another breath in response.
"I'm not going to sit here and defend the actions of my father, he's made his own enemies," Sapphire said. "But, if you won't consider what happened to my father as a tragedy, perhaps you should consider the fate of many innocent people in Central City. Perhaps you should consider it, and how Wells had been warned of the dangers of unleashing the Particle Accelerator"
The young heiress took a deep breath, trying not to work herself into too much of a tizzy. She returned back to the conversation at hand.
"There were experts outside of STAR Labs who warned him, people within STAR Labs who warned him, but he's done nothing," Sapphire said. "I, and several other concerned citizens, want Harrison Wells investigated. You might not like some of what you've learned he's done over the past seven or so years, ever since this project had been funded and commissioned."
Sapphire looked intense on the other side. Sara respected the fire coming from her.
"If Wells wasn't responsible for my father's death, he might know something he's not telling," Sapphire said. "And he knows a lot which he was not telling. And he ignored the dangers of launching a Particle Accelator into a major population center. Constantly, he had been warned, and he refused to listen, out of arrogance, and out of greed perhaps."
A long pause as the members of the press listened in for Sapphire.
"I just hope the Central City Police Department does something, and something soon, because Wells is a danger to the people of Central City," Sapphire said. "Not just for my sake, but for the sake of every single person out there in Central City."
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have heard from Sapphire Stagg earlier today at a press conference," the news reporter chimed in. "Are these the emotionally charged comments of a distraught young woman who is sadden to lose her father. Or is there some validity to this particular statement?"
Sara frowned, Wells could be considered negligent, if not malicious if you looked at things from certain angles. She didn't know what to make of the man half of the time.
"Wells has yet to comment on the claims Sapphire Stagg has been making over the past couple of months. The public wishes to know the truth and wishes to know how much Wells knew about the consequences of the explosion. Did he turn a deaf ear to any complaints? Or were the complaints simply not credible enough?"
'Very interesting,' Sara thought.
"Sapphire Stagg has spearheaded a campaign, and received several thousand signatures already on a petition to nudge the Central City Police Department into investigating Star Labs, and all of the people involved in building the Particle Accelerator."
Sara shook her head, there were far too many unanswered questions with this entire Wells mess. She doubted very much anyone would like the answers when they were given as well.
A click on her ear piece indicated Barbara was trying to get in. Sara pushed the button on the side of the ear piece.
"Barry's been kidnapped," Barbara said.
Sara let out a breath and shook her head. She took a second to close her eyes. Just when they left Central City, Barry had been snagged.
"What happened?" Sara asked. "By who?"
"The same man in the yellow suit that he swore he saw the night his mother died, the one who framed his father, according to him," Barbara said.
All of the air in the room felt like it had been let out. Sara took a couple of seconds to take a deep breath and realized this was not a coincidence at all.
"Barry was investigating the events of that night more closely," Sara said. "I don't think it's a coincidence he got picked up by the Man in the Yellow Suit."
"I agree," Barbara responded. "I'm not going to give up until I get to the bottom of this."
"I don't suppose it would help to tell you to be careful, would it?" Sara asked Barbara.
"It might help, but I think we both can agree, I'm very bad at listening," Barbara said. "I've faced down the Joker, Scarecrow, Killer Croc, several of the most dangerous and depraved criminals in the world. I don't think my life can be in any more danger than it was before. Trust me, Sara, everything is going to be fine."
Sara really wished she could trust Barbara on everything being fine, but there was something about this entire mess which caused unease to slip into paranoia.
"Please don't be flippant about this, this man is dangerous, he could be a crazed serial killer," Sara said.
"If he was though, why did he kidnap Barry and not just kill on site?" Barbara asked.
A good question, and Sara wished she would have had the answer. She could understand Barbara's curiosity, hell she was more than a little bit curious herself. Every single thing just dropped onto her head and that feeling of unease cramped up the pit of her stomach again.
"Call me back if you find out anything," Sara said.
"Oh, believe me, I'll be in touch," Barbara said.
Lyla stopped the car and pulled over to take a phone call. Sara knew Lyla wouldn't pick up, unless it was something important. She clutched onto the edge of the seat and wondered what was happening now. It just seemed like everything was happening at once and Sara didn't like it at all.
"Let me guess," Sara said the moment Lyla hung up the phone. "It's Waller, isn't it?"
Lyla responded with a nod without missing a beat. Sara's hands threw up and dropped down to her side. Needless to say, when it rained, it poured. Sara really didn't know what to make of it.
"She wants to see both of us now."
Three words pounded into Iris's head for a second.
'Not fast enough.'
Those words echoed through her head like some kind of depraved mantra. She watched in her mind's eyes, the grim situation of the previous night, and Iris watched herself. She followed this Reverse-Flash who burned. Her mind picked up the thoughts of Barry getting faster, faster, faster, faster, until he slipped away.
"Hey, Iris, none of this is your fault."
Iris turned around to see her father. Everything just reflected in her mind like some demented echo. Those words, they kept taunting Iris all night long. Iris moved forward as Joe West steered her away from the scene of the crime. Iris looked up and down the street.
"I wasn't quick enough," Iris muttered underneath her breath.
"No one could have known this was going to happen," Joe said. "If anything…..I should have known….I was helping Barry look into the information about his father's death….this is all on me, it's not on you."
Joe left no room for argument in his voice. Iris shook her head, and managed to straighten up. As much as she appreciated her father wanting to take the blame, it wasn't his fault. Iris was the only one who had the capability of getting fast enough to catch up with the Reverse-Flash.
She was not fast enough, those three words entered her mind one more time. Iris drew in a deep breath and released it with a heaving sigh.
"The new CSI is coming here, to help investigate," Joe said. "She's…she's not Barry, but she's pretty good at what she does."
Iris responded with a very stiff nod. It still flashed in her mind, the Reverse-Flash running away with Barry. Running faster, and faster, until he was a blur Iris couldn't see. She would have a better chance of catching the wind, than catching the Reverse-Flash.
'I'm going to have to get faster,' Iris thought. 'Stop it, stop beating yourself off….no one wants to see you go all emo.'
Normally this would be the type of investigation which Barry could really sink his teeth into. Unfortunately for them, Barry wasn't here, and his work would have cracked open this case. Iris turned and caught sight of the new CSI. She was a tall blonde, with a very nice body, even underneath the professional attire she was wearing.
"Sorry, I didn't get here sooner," she said. "I…..I never thought the first case I investigated would be one of my co-workers, this is…."
She stepped in and moved towards the scene of the crime. To the naked eye, they saw nothing. To the eye of the Crime Scene Investigator, they saw something worthy of investigating.
"I'm really bad at introductions," she said. "You must be Iris…..I'm Patty….Patty Spivot, I just hired in last week."
"Barry needed the extra help, and I'm sure he would have been glad to have it," Joe said.
"But, I never thought I would have to investigate his disappearance," Patty said.
Patty moved over to do her work. Despite the nervousness in her tone of voice, she was looking around.
"Well, I don't know what to make of this," Patty said. "Other than the scorch marks on the carpet…there's nothing out of the ordinary here…and there are two sets of scorch marks."
"One of them would have been from the Flash," Iris said. "She…she chased whoever took Barry out of here, but, she couldn't catch up with whoever it was."
"You saw them running out of the door when you got home and you called your father?" Patty asked.
"Yes," Joe said.
Both Wests had been happy for some kind of plausible explanation. One of the scorch marks had belonged to the Flash, but the other belonged to a foreign invader. Other than these scorch marks, there was no physical evidence whatsoever.
"It's almost like Barry's been abducted by a phantom," Patty muttered. "Sorry, if it seems a bit off, but anything's possible after the Particle Accelerator went off. And if they're faster than the Flash, then they'll pretty dangerous."
Patty tried to remain professional, not to disrespect the family of the man who had been kidnapped. But she really wanted to meet the Flash. She was an inspiration for Patty, and one of the reasons why she came to Central City. The other reason had been a bit personal.
"I'll keep looking around, maybe there's something that I missed."
She darkened the room and picked up a blue light to shine it about every surface of the room to look out for any evidence. Other than the scorch marks on the carpet, there had been no other physical evidence which had left.
'Talk about getting your ears wet,' Patty thought.
After passing the check point leading into the main ARGUS headquarters, both Sara and Lyla thought something was wrong. Two things pointed to that, one being Waller's tense call, and the fact the various agents in ARGUS walked around like they were standing on eggshells. They didn't want to be the one to set Waller off, and Sara could hardly blame any of them.
'It's awful,' Sara thought to herself.
Sara took a half of a breath and moved closer. Waller stood in the side entrance to the conference room, waiting for them to arrive. Sara could not help, but think Waller looked a bit surlier than usual, which was really something for her. She took a half of a step towards the center point of the room and stared Waller down from her position.
"Digger talked," Waller said.
"What did he have to say?"
'More like what deal did you have to make with him to get him to cough up information?' Sara thought.
Regardless of her thoughts and feelings, for the moment, Sara deferred all conversation to Waller, to Lyla. She was the best at doing so, and she had the most experience in dealing so.
"Veritgo's agents are after a deadly nerve toxin which the country of Bialya is developing."
Sara's mood darkened several shades when she heard of this country.
"I don't have to tell you what four letter organization backed the overthrown of Bialya," Sara responded. "And put their Queen in place. And Vertigo wants to start a war with them."
"Is this the first you heard of it?" Waller asked.
"First I've heard that Vertigo's making a play at Bialya, yes," Sara said.
"Your source in the League is not cluing you in on everything," Waller said.
Sara wondered what Waller was getting at. She didn't really care for the tone in Waller's voice, and Sara looked down at her. Lyla situated herself between the two high strung women. Their nerves were a powder keg which was about ready to explode.
"I'm aware there's a splinter faction of the League who has ties with Vlatava," Sara said.
"Are you aware of who may be leading this faction?" Waller asked. "Talia al Ghul."
Sara registered very little surprise. She didn't know Talia was behind this rogue League faction, which caused Nyssa and her faction of the League so many problems in the past.
"The League is minor, compared to what HIVE is going to do in retaliation," Sara said. "If Bialya is developing this chemical agent, and Vertigo's agents fail to grab it, they will not hesitate to launch it."
"We're on the same page, for once," Waller responded. "Which is why we need to prevent this from happening, even if this will loosen the grip HIVE has over countries."
Kasnia, Bialya, and Markovia, they had heavy HIVE influence. Damien Darhk and Werner Vertigo made an uneasy agreement, to keep Vlatva in Vertigo's leadership, at least until the Princess had been recovered.
The Princess, Waller didn't know what happened to her. She wondered if HIVE had something to do with her abduction as a leverage chip. Vertigo didn't care about the Princess, but as long as she was alive, there would be a question of his leadership.
And if Darhk or any of his fellow HIVE operatives could subvert Perdita, they would have a fourth strategic location in their plans for the world. Waller could let this happen.
"Tell me what you want me to do about it, and I'll handle it," Sara said.
"What I want, is the White Canary to join up with some old friends," Waller said. "You know who I'm talking about, don't you?"
One stiff nodded followed, Sara knew who Waller was talking about. It was perfectly clear she inferred. Sara couldn't even begin to figure out what Talia's end game was, only she needed to be stopped by any means possible.
Sara didn't doubt Nyssa was conducting her own search for her wayward sister. The two of them didn't have the best parting of the ways the last time they met with each other.
"Find, guess the Suicide Squad is back together again," Sara said.
She wasn't particularly pleased with being drafted into duty again. But, by agreeing to this now, would give her some measure of leverage of Waller to be used later. Despite leaving the League, you never quickly broke all of your ties with the League, and Sara knew it was her responsibility to deal with this.
Necessity ruled every single directive in Talia al Ghul's mind. They would never understand all of what she did.
"Are you certain it is where you said it was?" Talia asked.
"Yes, I know it is," the distorted voice said over the phone. "I want the situation handled with. If this goes wrong, my plans to acquire undisputed control over the throne are going to go up in smoke."
"I understand," Talia responded.
She hoped this weapon of mass destruction Biayla developed was exactly in the place where her benefactor claimed it was. The government of Biayla, they did not take too kindly to outsiders. And given the involvement of HIVE, they did not take too kindly to the members of the League of Assassins.
'Perfectly fine, I don't take too kindly to them.'
"I will contact you," Talia said. "Remain at your location when you do."
"As you wish."
Talia waited for the helicopter to land on the ground and for her to have plenty of room to exit. She located a very subtle, but very easy to exploit blind spot in the defenses around the country's borders. She stepped out of the helicopter and stepped out of it.
The stench in the air caused the Daughter of the Demon to nearly stagger and drop down onto one knee. Talia shook her head in response. She knew there was all kinds of experiments over several biological agents. Even through her gas mask, the stench was almost overpowering.
Talia made sure the air filter was in place before she moved over to the side. She noticed three figures moving about in the dark. Instincts pointed for Talia to reach towards the sword on the sheath connected to her hip. Talia waited for them to venture out of the shadows and move directly towards her.
A trio ninjas stepped towards Talia. They moved closer towards her and bowed down before the Daughter of the Demon. Her eyes locked on them, and without another word, Talia extended her hand up.
"You may rise before me."
All three of them rose. They were three female ninjas, hand picked from her Elite Guard for a very special purpose. They would serve her well on this mission. Numbers were not needed, but rather skill.
"Tonight is the night where I begin to secure the legacy of Ra's al Ghul in my own hands," Talia said. "My father may have faded, but the League of Assassins will move forward, even without his strength."
The three members before Talia bowed before the Daughter of the Demon. A figure stepped in, a fourth fighter, who had been dressed in a black and orange outfit which pulled over her face. She wore a facemask which resembled that of the infamous Slade Wilson, as Deathstroke.
"Here is the latest report, Mistress," the fourth ninja said.
"Thank you, Rose."
Talia took the report and unrolled the scroll. She leaned closer towards the report and began to read the contents of the report. It amused her, somewhat, that she had taken an apprentice much like her sister had, trained her in the arts of the League, and had extended their relationship further than mentoring a new recruit.
'The irony is that while Nyssa trained the woman who saved Starling City, I mentored the daughter of the man who attempted to see it burn. And our relationships have turned similar.'
Rose had been very abrasive, rough around the edges, but Talia helped smooth that out. She managed to utilize a combination of discipline and passion to mold Rose into a fairly skilled fighter. And given who her father was, why wouldn't she be a skilled fighter?
Talia looked at the report and understood what she was after. It wasn't as damning as she caught, although if she had been sighted, or if the people manning the borders in this country got any hint of what she was up to, everything would be all over.
"We slip in the night, and we prevent Biayla from moving forward," Talia said.
She also kept an eye out. Nyssa was very close to catching up with her. Talia didn't have any time to try and sway her sister over to the necessity of what she was doing. The only thing she could do is hope to move forward, and secure the future of the League.
Much more on the line than many saw, but Talia always prided herself on seeing a far bigger picture. Her methods to achieve the bigger picture might have been extreme of those of her infamous father, but Talia did what she had to do to accomplish what she had to.
'Time to move,' Talia thought.
Sara slipped into the guise of the White Canary, and joined the rest of the Suicide Squad. Huntress had been released from duty, as her duty had been voluntary much like Sara's was. Sara caught three old faces. One of them was Deadshot, the other was Sportsmaster, and the other was Cupid.
Funny how Cupid seemed to be head over heels obsessed with the Arrow, but she seemed to be rather indifferent towards the White Canary. Cordial, well about as cordial as someone with an extreme personality disorder could be.
"So, Waller dragged you back in," Deadshot said. "I guess that's the problem with the Suicide Squad. When you get dragged in, you stay in for the long haul."
"I'm here because I have to be here," White Canary said. "Waller hasn't told you what you're up against this time?"
"No, she doesn't normally volunteer that information until we're out in the field," Sportsmaster said. "Not that it's really that big of a deal, because we aren't going anywhere, not with the failsafes she put on us….but it might be worth the risk, wouldn't you say?"
Another figure made her way in. Sara's eyes locked onto the figure who turned around the corner. She had come face to face with a very familiar face, a beautiful, elegant dark haired Japanese woman. Her name was Tatsu Yamshiro, better known as Katana, and when seeing her in battle, that codename became very obvious.
A second passed, and Katana locked eyes with the other woman. The other members of the Suicide Squad looked at the two women together.
"If the two of you could just kiss already, that would make this trip a bit more interesting," Sportsmaster said. Cupid reached in and punched him in the stomach which doubled him over. "What, don't you think that would be hot?"
"Yes, but that's not the point," Cupid said.
"Come on, baby girl, I'll make it up to you," Sportsmaster said. He turned to Deadshot. "You know, she really has a thing for me, she just doesn't know it. Deep in denial."
"Well, one of you is anyway."
White Canary and Katana pulled away from each other, with the Samurai exchanging a respectful nod with her. Deadshot fiddled with his weapon of choice in his lap.
"So, are we going to get this show on the road soon, or what?" Deadshot asked.
"We're waiting for one more," Katana said to him.
"One more…you don't mean?" Sportsmaster asked.
White Canary noticed the full body shudder which went through the criminal, and the vindictive smile which passed over the lips of Cupid. She wondered what was going on here.
"Alright, finally, they let me out of this cage! C'mon, let's get this show on the road, people! Brains ain't gonna bash themselves, you know!"
'Oh, Waller must be desperate for someone to blow something up,' Sara thought.
The infamous Harley Quinn stepped into the room, with her blonde hair tied back into ponytails. She wore a tank top, and a pair of cut off jean shorts. She moved closer towards them. Cupid gave her a smile and shoved Sportsmaster off of the seat to give Harley a place to see.
"So, what are your orders?" Sportsmaster asked.
"Your mission is to stop the League of Assassins," Lyla said.
All of the air had been let out of the room.
"Waller really must want to make the Suicide Squad name truthful advertising," Sportsmaster said.
"Buckle it," Lyla ordered them. "It's going to be a bumpy ride. I have more information to brief you on, on the way."
To Be Continued on October 6th, 2017.