Chapter 1, Prologue
Disclaimer: I don't only any DC characters they just inspired me to do this story because they are so damn amazing. I recommend anyone to watch Young Justice or Justice league Unlimited.
It was funny, thought a lonely girl on a lonely swing. A swing surrounded by a world of her own imagining. Including immaculate castles straight out of a storybook, encompassed by a dark forest from the grandest fairy tale with a bona fide yellow brick road to finish it all off. The quality of the road decayed the closer it got to the girl; it turned from a masterpiece of masonry to the odd step stone on a forgotten trail.
Not that anybody would walk it anyway. No one wanted to come to see her, come play with her, be with her…. At least not for any reason she liked at least. They wanted what she could give them, her powers or they feared her and wanted her gone. Yes, it was funny thought the girl that with all the power in the world she couldn't imagine anyone to sit next to her on the swing.
She was Ace. No other name was ever given to her that she could remember. She was eight by the time CADMUS finally decided to give her one. Before that, it was just subject this and metahuman that. Now at the ripe old age of 14, she was burning out … She wished she had a last name, something funny or maybe cute.
She wore a black and white long sleeve leotard. Black from her right wrist to a vertical just off the center of her torso still on her right side. The rest was white except a single black clover on her right breast. Contrasting the white clover hairpin on the right side of her pitch black hairline. Her pale skin helped her jet black eye shadow compliment her charcoal eyes as well as her ebony black lips.
The one accessory she had that strayed from her monochrome Colour palette was a pair of comfy lilac boots. A bribe from Queen. The former Petty criminal didn't want Ace to take her new powers away but also didn't want to spend time with the creepy girl so instead offered a gift. Such a gesture may have broken her permanently solemn expression if she hadn't known the motivation behind it.
In the end, all her new royal flush gang were just selfish people craving power. Hell the only reason they were fighting the Justice League right now was because they believed without Ace they're powers would stop working. Which she supposed was correct.
She shivered and the world around her followed suit. It wouldn't be long now.
Soon she would have a massive aneurysm and….die. Its root cause was overuse of her powers. Of course, by the time she realized this the aneurysm was already inevitable. If she had kept to just telepathy and telekinesis rather than League defeating levels of psychic might she may have been able to live a lot longer.
Admittedly the reality warping wasn't helping her but if you're gonna die in a week why not make the city your madhouse for a day?
She felt her gang get defeated one by one and wasn't particularly surprised that she has no emotional reaction to it. Unlike the previous gang, she had no shared torture experiences at CADMUS as she did with the old gang. Sorry, 'training', experiences. This royal flush gang didn't even try to play with her as Joker's did.
She genuinely felt sorry for what she did to him. He had recovered his sanity, however much the crazy calamitous clown ever had, but that didn't excuse her actions. Overreacting like she did and breaking his mind was something she never wanted to do again. But she never wanted to be manipulated like that, to be used as nothing but a weapon.
And arriving now is her manufacturer. Amanda Waller landing in her world after the fighting was finished. Killing her would be so easy. Probably would if she was still angry at her yet instead respect was the only emotion she had for the infamous 'Wall', as she scanned her mind.
It wasn't Ms. Waller she blamed for everything at CADMUS. Blame for all that wasn't something she could really place on someone who regretted their actions like Ms. Waller did. Make no mistake Ms. Waller would do it all again but unlike that stupid general or the other scientists on the project, Ms. Waller would actually change things. She'd make sure the kids were more looked after, mentally if nothing else. Ms. Waller accepted that in her rush to save humanity she forgot about the inhumanity of her actions. Something that would never be done by the caped crusader she was conversing with.
The sheer respect Ace had for the man couldn't be understated. Like Ms. Waller, he would never stop doing what he thought was right but he would also only ever sacrifice himself in the pursuit of those goals. He was also honest (to her at least). Genuinely wanting to help her when she nearly killed him in the whole Joker fiasco 2 years ago…. And no Ms. Waller was asking this man to kill her.
The idea which was considered in the minds of his teammates gained no traction in the mind of the Batman. It never would. He never would.
Still, citing that he was the only one Ace would let get close (not wrong there), he took the device Ms. Waller made to kill her and set off towards her castles. Kicking off the ground with her feet she started swinging as she waited for Batman. Excited she cleared obstacles from Batman's path while blocking off the other heroes; this moment was only for the two of them. Ace wouldn't have it any other way.
As he reached the end of her broken yellow brick road she broke the silence, "Batman."
Good, introductions were out of the way. Having limited social experience she didn't want to appear rude to the only adult figure she both liked and respected. Should she apologize for her royal flush gang? It wasn't the best idea she ever had and Batman did have a thing about not endangering civilians. Well, she had to at least address it, "Did you like playing with my new royal flush gang?"
Batman came to a stop just to the right of the apex of her swing, "Can't say that I did."
"Yeah, they aren't any fun at all. I gave them their powers and they still hardly ever play with Me." she admitted. Glad that he was humoring her.
"Can't imagine why."
Ace almost smirked. Was this what it was like to hold a conversation with a friend? Well friend might be pushing it a bit but how would she know; she never experienced this before like other kids had. Like she should have. Anger flared, the sky darkened and the wind started to ghost through her park. She couldn't stop the words that came out of her mouth next, she needed to tell Batman, someone needed to know her. Even if it was just one person.
"When I was little CADMUS used to make me play all kinds of games but they weren't any fun either. They'd strap me into their machines and poke wires into my brain." Ace scowled, "Ace can you move this object with your mind." Uprooting a tree she launched it into the sky. Batman only spared it a glance before refocusing on Ace.
"Yeah, I can move it." She calmed herself and started to stop swinging. "They weren't really games you know, they were training me. Turning me into a weapon" Tiredly Ace kicked the dirt creating a short-lived cloud of dust at her feet before it was blown away by the wind. "For justice they said. They got their weapon. I got cheated out of my childhood…"
"I know what that's like."
Ace looked to Batman after hearing his soft reassuring voice. Scanning deeper into his mind that she ever had before. Bypassing his mental shields or more likely being allowed through them to see him. His past, his begging, the birth of Batman at the death of Bruce Wayne. The boy who died with his parents over a hand full of pearls. A boy who was sacrificed for the wants and needs of others.
"You do don't you…. ", Ace smiled her first genuine smile since the last time she met the Bat. "You don't have to answer, I read your mind, that's how I knew you weren't going to use Mrs. Waller's weapon on me."
"No, I wasn't." As if to confirm his words he took out the device that could end her in a heartbeat and through it way without a second thought. And she would know, she was in his mind. Ace withdrew from him and looked straight ahead, smile dropping from her fate as her fate finally caught up with her.
"You were going to try to talk me into fixing what I've changed. Before I die..."
"I'm dying very soon."
"Yes. I'm sorry."
Ace closed her eyes and shrugged knowing that this was going to happen for a while.
Tears started to well up in her eyes as she realized that this was it. She beggingly looked at Batman, "Would you stay with me. I'm scared."
Her eyes followed Batman as he walked in front of her and sat down on the other swing as she wiped her nose sniffling. She reminded herself that this was affecting him as much as it was her. Going into the future this would stay with him and she didn't want to make the memory more painful than it had to.
Batman offers his hand to help her through.
Ace took it and couldn't imagine anyone else in the world she would rather have sitting on that swing.
Hours ticked by. Ace had set her illusions to dissipate just before her death so no one else would join her and just waited there with Batman until her time came.
Batman meanwhile was thinking a mile a minute to find a way to save Ace, any way to save Ace. That's when it hit him.
"Ace." She glanced up to meet his eyes as he continued in his ever collected tone, "With your current level of power could you move your consciousness to a new body?" After all it was her brain about to give out if she could get a new one then she could survive.
"I wouldn't be able to transfer to another body, my psychic presence is too linked to my own biology to accept any other host."
"But what about another one of your own bodies. There are hundreds of parallel universes, could you use your reality manipulation to switch into a younger version of yourself in another dimension?"
Ace thought it through. In the past, it would have been impossible but with her current level of power, it was entirely possible just very VERY difficult.
"I'll try, but you won't know if it worked or not; it will still look like I just died even if it did work." Ace put her hand on Batman's shoulder, kissed him on the cheek, and said the only last words that would ever fit with a tone of hope she wouldn't believe herself ever able to produce, "Thank you, Batman."
The swings, the castle, the trees all faded away at that moment. Ace died.
Batman would carry her body back to the rest of the heroes. Amanda Waller would look back on this as the moment she realized that the world needed someone like Batman. Someone with his heart. Batman would carry this moment with him as well. Its memory would be his companion through the years, he would even name his loyal hound in his later years Ace in memory of the little girl he couldn't save.
Neither would ever know that a world away, Ace opened her eyes.