AN: So been a while for this story, but here I am back again, and with a nice chunky chapter too!

Hope you enjoy, and please do leave a review if you liked it, or critique it if you think there was something I could have done better. I don't have a beta, so also if you spot any typos or grammatical errors please let me know!

Thanks for reading and please enjoy, if you wanna chat feel free to send me a PM or find me on Discord, I'm on a myriad of different fanfic servers nowadays.

I do not own Percy Jackson, DC Comics or Young Justice.

( - )

(Last Time)

"I'll notify the League's support staff, they'll contact the New Orleans Police Department and set things straight," Diana said. "For now though we need to go."

"Good, then we have a plan," Zatara said decisively as he started walking towards the large hole Mammoth had put in the wall. "We should not tarry here too long. Not when we don't yet know who else is hunting Maxum."

Making to follow the distinguished-looking wizard as he led the way, Percy was just able to hear a faint 'pop' in the distance.

A moment later Zatara's head disappeared in a spray of bloody mist.

( - )

Chapter 29

( - )

For all that Scandal Savage knew that both she and Knockout were complete badass bitches, she also knew that they had got lucky. When their barely functional strike team had first arrived at New Orleans, they hadn't had a clue where to find Doctor Fate's newest vessel.

After all, none of them were magic practitioners. Instead, they were a motley assortment of mercenaries, assassins, ex-soldiers, and cutthroats.

Essentially, they had been up shit creek without a paddle.

The only tools they'd had at their disposal to find the STD-ridden shitheel that was currently wielding the Helmet of Fate, was a janky magic item that Klarion the creepy witch boy had given them to narrow down the location of Maxum, and their own assorted and fairly limited skills in tracking.

The magic doodad – which had apparently been created using an old blood sample the Light had acquired from a sexual health clinic – was essentially a set of glorified divining rods and was apparently able to bypass the magical protections Fate's vessel had used to hide. Or at least, they were able to bypass the magical protections to a certain extent, as although they had at least identified which city he was hiding in, they hadn't been able to use them to pinpoint his exact location.

According to Klarion, the failure to get a more precise location was due to the blood he had been given being old. Apparently, the age of the blood affected the blood magic used for the enchantment. Which in turn meant that it could track him to a certain degree. But could not determine his exact location due to some magic theory that involved blood apparently losing its potency the older it became. Personally, she thought his explanation was complete bullshit and just an excuse the so-called 'Lord of Chaos' had come up with to hide the fact he couldn't fully overcome Doctor Fate's magic.

But then again, what did she know when it came to magical chicanery. Magic was more her father's deal than her own. Not that the old man could actually use magic himself due to his… nature. He had never actually explained exactly why he couldn't. However, that was likely because he didn't want to give her anything she could use when she eventually betrayed him. But even so, he was still old enough and bored enough that he had a working knowledge of the theory behind a number of different branches of magic.

As far as her own interest in magic went, however, it was pretty much non-existent.

Sure, throwing balls of fire at people seemed fun on paper. But to do so required a lot of effort, time, and dedication. Far too much to be considered worthwhile. Or at least in her opinion. After all, considering how advanced technology was becoming, the cost-benefit analysis of learning it just didn't make sense. Why dedicate decades of her limited lifespan to learning something that could be replicated with technology? It just didn't make sense.

Unfortunately, her comrades – and she used that in the loosest possible sense – were just as ambivalent to magic as her. Which was why they had been screwed when the magic tracker had stopped working after they had got within a couple of city blocks of their target.

She was fast, skilled and a natural killer. But she wasn't so much a tracker, as she was an assassin. She had never specialised in hunting down her target. Instead, she'd always been told where to find them and what they could do and then instructed to kill them in whatever way she deemed fit.

Knockout, meanwhile, was just a superpowered, humanoid tank, plain and simple. The sexy redhead was neither an assassin nor a spy. But was instead a frontline fighter with stupid amounts of strength and durability, and a terrifying amount of skill when it came to close-quarters combat. But that was about as far as her skillset went. She didn't have much experience in espionage or in tracking, or in subtlety either for that matter.

Instead, before she had deserted and come to earth, she had just been a regular lieutenant in the Apokoliptian army. Good in a fight. But not much more than that. But then again, that was also why she had been included in the mission. She didn't have any magic of her own, but she had a natural resistance to magic and enough strength and skill to throwdown with even some of the stronger members of the Justice League.

She was their ace in the hole should the League try to interfere.

Blackguard on the other hand was a mid-ranged specialist who relied on technology to be effective, and like her, he didn't usually hunt his target the traditional way. Instead, like with his fighting style, he used technology to make up for his otherwise lacklustre skills. He was also a cocky shithead that she'd love to disembowel, but that was neither here nor there.

Bloodshot their nominal leader – despite her pedigree and her asshole father being who he was, she hadn't been put in charge of the Light's strike team for the simple reason that she wasn't a tactical thinker and instead acted on instinct – was similarly useless. Only he at least had some range, as he was a mid-long-ranged specialist with moderate superhuman physical enhancements. Though again, like Blackguard, he relied almost entirely on technology. He was also a bigoted, white supremacist neo-Nazi twat too. But he could at least put on a veneer of professionality for a short period of time, unlike Blackguard who again was just an overt piece of shit at all times.

She, meanwhile, was a close-ranged specialist. But was also pretty squishy especially compared to someone like Knockout. Which was why she favoured hit-and-run tactics and sneak attacks whenever possible.

Copperhead the final member of their team had similar talents to her own. Only, he also had multiple body modifications that made him physically tougher in a fight. He was also a specialist at using poisons and venoms. And most importantly, he also had enhanced senses courtesy of his body modifications as well. Only annoyingly his enhanced senses were not as useful as they had first appeared on paper when she had read his file. As in a city full of piss, shit and a whole heap of drunk, shithead Americans, there was too much humanity for him to filter through with his enhanced senses to find their target.

Which again had left them up shit creek.

They had traced their target as far as their magic tracker would take them, and managed to use what little they knew of their target's habits to track him to within a city block – they knew he was both stupid and a former stripper so the city's red-light district seemed like the obvious place a halfwit stripper would hide.

Unfortunately, the area they were searching was near the centre of a densely populated city, and it was during the peak hours of the nighttime economy when the streets were full of noisy pissheads. None of which gave them all that much to go off of to narrow down their search. Which in turn meant that they had been faced with the choice of either wandering around the multitude of stripper clubs and sleazy bars in the hopes of getting lucky or of waiting till things got quieter and trying their luck then.

It wasn't an ideal situation, especially considering other parties were probably hunting Doctor Fate's host and the consequences of failure. She still bore the scars of her father's displeasure for past failures.

Thankfully, before they had to make the choice they got a lead on his possible whereabouts in the form of screaming, panic, and the sounds of distant fighting of the superhuman variety.

It had been a lucky break and had led to their current position atop the rooves of some nearby buildings, with Bloodshot lining up his sniper rifle, even as the rest of them waited in the wings to engage.

The fighting had been taking place in a sleazy nightclub called 'The Hellfire Club', and the combatants were apparently Leaguers and some minor villains.

The only ones Bloodshot had spotted and recognised through his scope were Mammoth, a mutated former member of the Cult of Kobra, Robin also known as Batman's bumboy, Wonder Woman an admittedly dangerous League heavy hitter, and Zatara, a component magic practitioner.

He had been less sure of the others as he had seen an unfamiliar teenage girl with a trident that was likely an Atlantean, another teenage girl dressed in a similar garb to Zatara who could be his sidekick, and a woman with a white mohawk who could be either Silver Banshee or just another thug with a similar hairstyle. He had also spotted a guy with a sword who used water magic, again a possible Atlantean – though he apparently wasn't wearing any of the regalia commonly associated with Atlanteans – and another magic user in a purple cloak.

Overall, it was an eclectic bunch of threats. One that she personally didn't want to engage in a straight-up fight with, especially considering Knockout was their only tank. After all, if their team of five just jumped in the fight now it would become free for all, and considering four-fifths of their number were assassins or hit-and-run fighters, they would be at a distinct disadvantage in a straight-up fight in the open.

However if they waited till one side retreated they could ambush the victorious side during the lull that followed, and using surprise to their advantage they could take down the bigger threats and swoop in and hopefully steal away Maxum before their enemies had a chance to regroup – she couldn't think of why else both the Justice League and another team of independent rogues would be throwing down in a New Orleans' strip club of all places.

The plan was simplistic, but in many ways all the best plans were.

Oblivious to her inner thoughts, Bloodshot rested his rifle against the brick parapet of the squat apartment building he was standing on and sighted down its length as he focused on the large hole in the side of the building and waited for a priority target to show themselves.

The rest of them, meanwhile, were already spread out and preparing to take advantage of the confusion that would follow.

Blackguard was on the ground and sneaking closer to the building while wearing a purloined overcoat to conceal his heavy weaponry. The moment Bloodshot took his first victim, he would unleash hell on the building and force those within to take cover.

Copperhead on the other hand was slowly padding across the rooftops and was closing in on the back of the strip club in the quietest possible way. The moment Bloodshot took his shot and Blackguard started his assault, he would swoop down and break in through the second floor. With his speed and skill set, he would be the one responsible for doing a snatch-and-grab on their target.

Knockout was likewise encroaching on the building, her mace resting easily on her shoulder as she waited for the right moment to jump in. She had one job, and that was to keep Wonder Woman distracted.

Scandal bit her lip worriedly as she glanced down at her friend.

The redhead was a complete juggernaut in combat, but the same could be said for Wonder Woman.

Running her fingers along the edge of her bladed claws, she took solace in the fact that Knockout would only be delaying the Amazonian Princess, and not fighting her to the death.

Shifting her gaze to the side, she spared a glance at Bloodshot.

Her own job in the upcoming fight was to wait until the fighting started and then intercept those who tried to flee. The moment he took his shot, she would move. Copperhead would go one way, and she would go the other.

Keeping low to the ground and out of sight, she watched carefully as Bloodshot exhaled and grinned.

"Got you," he whispered his finger ghosting across the trigger.

Taking that as a sign to move, she was already in motion as he pulled the trigger and took his first shot.

( - )

(With Percy)

It took a moment for him to register what had happened as Zatara's head exploded in a spray of bloody mist.

One moment he had been there talking, the next his head was just gone. All that remained of it was fragments of bones, scraps of flesh and a misting of blood.

He had seen death before, but even so not one so brutally sudden and unexpected.

Robin, however, as a disciple of Batman reacted in an instant with a cry of "Sniper!" he tackled Zatanna to the ground behind one of the booths and covered her body with his own.

It was the correct thing to do as less than a second later and with an almost deafening roar, someone began to unleash heavy gunfire into the building.

Turning, Percy did the first thing that came to mind as he too grabbed the shocked Tula and pulled her to the floor with him only moments after Robin did the same, with his much larger body curling around hers to protect her from the high-calibre bullets that started shattering the furniture around them and cratering the walls.

As he felt several bullets strike his back and bounce off his Nemean Lion hide jacket, he chanced a glance over at where Diana had been. Only to see that she was shielding Maxum's limp body with her own far more durable body, her arms raised a she used her enchanted bracers to deflect the incoming bullets.

Watching his cousin retreat backstage, Percy was quickly brought back to his own situation as he felt a flare of pain in his leg as a bullet struck him in the thigh tearing through both his jeans and a chunk of his flesh. A couple more followed up the first one, though thankfully these ones only grazed the unprotected parts of his body.

Within his arms, he could feel Tula shaking as the storm of bullets continued to decimate the entire room.

Every now and then he saw a much higher calibre round strike something in the room, shattering the brickwork.

It didn't take him long to realise that there were two gunmen.

Gritting his teeth, he held Tula tighter to him and vaguely noticed that she smelt faintly of the sea.

Pushing his intrusive thoughts to the side for the moment, he refocused his attention on the current situation.

He was wounded, but not too badly.

Focusing his mind, he shifted some of the water he had gathered down to his leg. Some of it he used to clot his wounds and start the healing process. The rest of it he glided across his arms and legs like second skin, both reinvigorating him even as it afforded him a little more protection.

Diana by this point was now pressed up against the wall and slowly inching towards the door to the backstage, even as she kept Maxum out of the line of fire.

Robin and Zatanna were still lying low at the side of the room and were hopefully safe from the worst of the gunfire.

Biting his lip, he waited for the barrage of gunfire to peter out. Guns had a finite amount of ammo, and although he wasn't an expert on guns by any means, he was aware enough to know that a magazine could only hold so much ammunition, and considering the current rate of fire it would surely be running dry sooner rather than later.

As if his thoughts were prophetic the gunfire trailed off.

The moment it did, Robin leapt to his feet and hurled a grenade of some sort at the gaping hole in the wall. The projectile noticeably bounced off Zatara's limp headless form, even as it then began to spin and emit a thick, swirling white smoke.

Sparing Percy a glance and a nod, the cloaked teen used the cover the smoke gave him to bodily drag Zatanna with him as he headed backstage.

Diana likewise used the brief lull to hurl Maxum through the doorway.

Wary of traps, Percy quickly pushed himself to his feet. His thigh twinged slightly as the muscle – which was still knitting itself together – reacted to the sudden movement.

Beneath him, Tula stirred and did the same.

Before they could do more than stand, however, the remains of the outer walls exploded inwards in a shower of dust and brickwork.

Making it fully to his feet, he was just in time to see a striking redheaded woman loom through the dust.

The woman was very tall – over seven feet if he were to take a guess. She also had an unnaturally broad build, which was only further emphasised by the thick, green armour she wore. In one of her hands, the redhead was wielding a heavy-looking flanged mace.

Meeting her green eyes with his own, Percy instinctively drew his sword, even as a bullet shot through Robin's smoke screen and shattered against the far wall with a spray of red brick.

This woman was probably as dangerous as she was beautiful. In many ways, she reminded him of Diana. They both had the same otherworldly aura and beauty that just screamed 'Don't fuck with me'.

Smirking the newcomer held his gaze for just a split second before she started running, her feet quickly eating up the distance as she rushed straight for Diana. She was inhumanly fast and would reach Diana before Percy could intercept her.

Shifting his gaze to Diana, he saw that she was preoccupied with getting Robin and a seemingly catatonic Zatanna to safety.

Reacting on instinct, Percy did the only thing he could think of in the short time he had to react. In hindsight, it was pretty dumb, but in that moment it seemed like a good idea. After all, if he just shouted a warning all it would achieve would be to alert Diana that a superpowered being with unknown abilities and a possibly enchanted weapon was seconds from caving her head in. Likewise, he didn't have the time to summon more water and hurl it at the charging redhead, nor did he want to risk the structural integrity of the building and endanger his more squishy teammates by messing around with anything related to earthquakes. Which is why, with a shout of warning he instead hurled his sword across the distance and at the charging woman.

In response, the redheaded giantess slowed her charge so she could turn and bat the sword away with her mace.

It wasn't enough to stop her but it distracted her long enough for both Diana to become aware of what was happening and for Percy to ignore his wounded thigh and throw himself across the room and tackle the green-armoured woman to the ground with a loud crash. It felt like running into a steel wall.

"Aquagirl, Wonder Woman, I'll keep her occupied, you two protect Maxum and Zatanna!" Percy shouted as he tried to gouge her eyes while grappling with the woman on the ground.

There were bound to be more combatants than just the gunmen and the giantess converging on their position, and considering they had already lost one person in the ambush he didn't want them to lose any others.

Meeting his gaze for a moment, Diana gave him a curt nod and turned to go backstage. Tula likewise paused for a moment to look back at him. She clearly didn't want to leave.

"Aquagirl!" Diana called out curtly.

At Diana's shout, Tula grudgingly did as she was bid and ran backstage.

"I'll be back!" Diana said, her voice firm and uncompromising.

Percy didn't reply, or rather he couldn't, because at that moment the giantess broke his grip and rammed her knee into his gut, winding him.

She hit harder than Superboy, it almost felt on par with Diana's, if not a little stronger.

Using the momentum from the blow, Percy quickly rolled away from the woman and gingerly pushed himself to his feet.

As he did so, the gunfire resumed.

Pulling his coat tighter around him, Percy gritted his teeth as he felt the impact of the bullets hitting and ricocheting off the coat. Each one felt like he was being punched.

Thankfully though, with the smoke still obscuring the vision of the gunman, his aim was pretty haphazard which meant the spray of bullets missed far more often than they hit him.

Standing across from him, the redhead didn't bat an eye as the bullets bounced off both her armour and her exposed flesh. Instead, with a vicious smirk she cast her heavy mace aside and raised her fists. As the mace hit the ground, it shattered the tiles beneath it.

"Great," Percy grunted, taking a step back. He could easily recognise the look in her eyes. He had seen it many times down in Tartarus. "You're a battle maniac."

"Come on then," the woman replied in a soft, seductive tone as she sent him a fierce smile. The woman almost seemed to be aroused as she geared up for a fistfight. "Hopefully you don't break too easily."

Biting back a response, Percy rushed forward and tried to land the first hit.

With a blur of motion, the woman raised her arm and blocked the hit, only to quickly retaliate with a heavy blow to his gut.

Pushing himself back to avoid the brutal counter, Percy quickly found himself on the defensive as the woman pressed her advantage.

Due to his training with Diana, Black Canary and Superboy, his hand-to-hand combat skills had become a lot better. They had progressed beyond just Greek-style wrestling and Roman boxing. But despite that, he still found himself quickly overwhelmed.

His speed and reflexes – enhanced as they were by the film of water he kept swirling around his body like a second skin – were probably on a par with her own. But she was significantly stronger than him, and far more skilled in hand-to-hand as well.

Every time he tried to block her punches or kicks; she smashed through his guard with brutal ease. The sheer weight of her blows almost broke his arms at times.

Thankfully, he learned quickly from his previous mistakes and quickly started to deflect when he could or give ground when he couldn't. This meant he couldn't often counterattack, but it at least stopped her from brutalising him too badly as he moved like water, flowing around her onslaught.

This was not a foe he could physically overwhelm. He needed his sword, and to better utilise his other ability.

Shifting quickly on his feet, he constantly kept on the move and avoided her occasional attempts to grapple him. He had gotten lucky previously, in that his initial charge had taken her by surprise, enough so that she kicked him away and didn't just break his spine.

He wasn't willing to risk a repeat of that though, because if she caught him, she would likely crush him and shatter his spine.

Grunting as he felt her land another blow – it felt like she had just busted a few of his ribs – Percy tried to use the water covering his body to go on the offensive.

He didn't have much left to work with, not when he was using most of it to heal his wounds and enhance his physical abilities. But he still had enough to create two six-inch-long blades of swirling water that flowed down the sides of his hands.

In terms of sheer skill, this woman wasn't quite at Deathstroke's level. But in terms of raw strength and power, she dwarfed the mercenary he had fought previously. Were this fight to happen in a desert, like his one with Deathstroke had, then he probably would have been dead already.

Thankfully, however, this wasn't a desert.

Continuing his retreat and ignoring the occasional bullets that still streamed through the gaping hole in the wall, Percy suddenly reversed course, surprising the pursuing redhead.

"Finally willing to fight?!" The redhead grinned.

Percy was too tired to bother bantering with her, instead with a snarl he lashed out with his water-covered hands.

Smirking, the redhead easily responded, her armoured forearms shifting up to block, even as her hands clenched into fists as she prepared to counter with another devastating punch, or maybe she was planning to change it up with a knee or a kick this time.

Only this time things were slightly different as one of Percy's water blades slashed into her forearms – to almost no effect. The other managed to strike at her exposed hands.

Hissing with irritation, the redhead ignored his action and landed a thunderous punch to his chest, his coat absorbed the worst of it as the force of the blow lifted him up and sent him bouncing across the floor.

"Did you really think your little magic tricks would work, Atlantean?" The redhead sneered as she stalked forward. "This is Apokoliptian armour. It was forged by master craftsmen in the bowels of Apokolips to stand up to the might of far more powerful beings than you."

Spitting out a mouthful of blood, Percy dazedly got back to his feet.

With a growl, the woman reached down and picked up her mace.

"But if you want to fight properly, then fair enough." The woman pressed, her expression shifting into one of disappointment. "I was growing bored anyway. You might not be Aquaman, but I was at least expecting more of a fight, Atlantean."

Gritting his teeth in anger, Percy's expression darkened both at her words and at the ongoing situation. He hated losing, and he especially hated feeling powerless.

Flexing his hands, he pulled on the power within him.

Almost at once, the air began to feel heavier, even as his skin started to tingle.

Bolts of lightning started to dance across his flesh, and his eyes seemed to gain a faint neon glow.

The film of water on his skin began to warm up as the lightning arcing off his skin became more noticeable, even as it seamlessly travelled through his thin, watery armour.

"Oh fun!" The redhead grinned, raising her mace. "I was hoping for Wonder Woman, but you'll do for a warm-up, Atlantean."

"I'm not an Atlantean!" Percy said bluntly, his fingers twitching, as lightning crackled between them. He didn't have enough water to use for both offence and defence and using his earthshaker abilities in the middle of a busy city was fucking dumb. The domain of storms though….

The smoke in the room started to clear away and disperse as the air gusted through the damaged building, and as it did so, the hailstorm of bullets became more intense and accurate.

Scowling at the interruption, Percy saw he was standing uncomfortably close to the hole and took a step back to get more cover.

Unlike his opponent, he wasn't bulletproof.

"Then what are you?" The redhead asked, uncaring of a bullet that literally hit and bounced off her skull.

Before he could answer, he was interrupted by Wonder Woman exploding into the room mid-flight and slamming into the redhead like a freight train.

With a loud thunderclap and another explosion of brickwork and dust, the redhead was brutally ejected from the building.

"Fucks sake!" Percy laughed. "I was just getting going."

Diana sent him a sharp look, her blue eyes momentarily shifting to Zatara's corpse.

"This isn't the time for jokes or games," she said curtly as the bullets continued to slam into the walls around her.

By this point, the entire main room had been all but demolished, and the building itself looked to be on the verge of collapsing.

Wincing, Percy nodded and summoned up a swirling shield of water to temporarily protect both himself and Diana. It was thinner than he'd like and took concentration to maintain, but it still did the job. Every time a bullet struck the shield, he saw the water ripple. Save for the occasional higher-calibre bullet from the sniper rifle, which just tore straight through his shield.

"Point taken. Where is Maxum and the others?" He asked taking a step back to get further away from the two holes in the now all but non-existent front wall.

"Robin and Aquagirl are evacuating him and Zatanna," Wonder Woman said, her tone softening slightly.

Percy grimaced.

He had seen the state of Zatanna, so Diana didn't need to explain. The girl had been splattered with her father's blood and left all but catatonic with shock which in a battle situation made her a complete hindrance.

A roar of anger from nearby caught his attention.

Looking through the hole in the wall he could now more clearly see their opponents.

The armoured redhead was on her feet and was already charging back at the building, her beautiful features twisted up into an almost bestial snarl of berserk rage.

Behind her, he could see the two gunmen.

One was on the ground between two large apartment blocks and was dressed in high-tech-looking power armour and was wielding what looked like a minigun. The other meanwhile was further away and on a rooftop. The only thing Percy could make out about him was that he was wielding a fuck-off big gun.

Taking stock of the situation, Percy looked to Diana.

"You're faster at flying than me. Take out the gunmen and try and take one or both of them prisoner. We need to know who these fuckwits are, and who they're working for." Percy said. "And then go back up Robin and Tula just in case."

Frowning, Diana sent him a look. "You sure?"

Glancing at the redhead as she closed in on them, he nodded.

"Fuck yeah," he grinned.

Smiling despite the current situation, Diana exploded off the ground and rapidly shot toward the two gunmen her arms already raised as she used her bracers to deflect the bullets.

Watching her go, Percy wasn't given another moment of respite as the redhead chose that moment to reengage.

Leaping back at her initial lunge, he hit the floor and rolled his hands closing around the familiar hilt of his sword before he swept back to his feet, lightning still dancing across his flesh. It felt like his nerves were on fire, and his awareness had become supercharged.

"Ready for round two, Atlantean?" The redhead growled as she pointed her flanged mace at him. She didn't look any the worse for wear, even after Diana had literally hit her with the force of a speeding train and thrown her out of the building and into one of the other buildings on the other side of the street.

"Again, not an Atlantean," Percy growled back, his sword held in the ready position and his legs slightly bent. By this point, most of his injuries had healed.

"Then what are you?" The woman asked back mockingly.

"I'm a son of Poseidon, bitch!"

Percy shot back even as he launched himself forward with a crash of thunder, an echo of lightning-infused water following his every movement as he rapidly closed the distance.

"Come on then puny demigod, let's fucking do it!" The redhead shouted back with a wild grin of her own, a green aura of power enshrouding her body as she met his charge head-on with nary a flinch.

( - )

(A few minutes earlier with Robin)

They were fucked.

Zatanna was barely moving. Her blue eyes were clenched shut, and her shaking hands covered her tear-stained face. Despite covering her face, however, he could still see the flecks of blood on her face and gloves, and yet more blood staining her once white shirt. She hadn't said a word since Zatara had gone down. She had barely even reacted to the barrage of gunfire or him dragging her from the scene like a sack of potatoes.

Her despondency and shock at the death of her father was painfully familiar.

He remembered feeling that way once. He had felt a similar way when his parents and brother had died all those years ago at the circus. One minute they had been all smiles and laughter as the audience cheered them on while they swung on the trapeze. The next he had seen the terror on their face as the ropes gave out and they fell to their deaths, and then there had been only muted shock and painful silence as his entire world came crashing down upon him in an instant.

He grimaced as thoughts and feelings he had long since suppressed surged to the front of his mind.

He needed to keep his mind on the present.

Percy was still back in the main room fighting, even now he could hear the roar of gunfire and the sounds of breaking furniture as their leader stood his ground.

Zatanna was completely out of it, which meant he had to carry her as he rushed through the deserted changing rooms and into the utility corridor that lay behind them.

Tula, who had joined him not long after the first round of gunfire stopped, had Maxum slung over her shoulder. She was no Percy or Caleb when it came to raw strength. But she was a damn sight stronger than the average human. She certainly made carrying a hulking, tanned, blonde male stripper look easy. He meanwhile was struggling to carry Zatanna, who was only a slight, fourteen-year-old girl.

Shoving the brief surge of embarrassment he felt, he pushed on toward the fire door.

Wonder Woman had already gone back to help Percy.

He grimaced again as he felt a surge of worry flare up within him.

The demigod was tough as hell, he already knew that. But unlike Superboy, he was not bulletproof, and considering there were two gunmen using high-tech, high-calibre rounds… he desperately hoped they all got out this alive. He didn't want another Kaldur situation. He knew he wouldn't be able to take it, not when the loss of Kaldur was still so recent and painful.

Glancing back, both to check on Tula to make sure she was still following, and to look for any pursuers, he turned back around and kicked the fire door open. Only for him to then pause at the open doorway as he took a moment to gently lower Zatanna to the floor and against a nearby wall.

"What are you doing?" Tula asked behind him.

"This ambush was planned out," Robin replied softly, his eyes narrowing as he carefully unsheathed his sword. "It's possible that there are more of them waiting out back."

"Shit," Tula muttered, dropping Maxum unceremoniously onto the floor at her feet. "Is there another way out?"

"There's the garbage shoot," he nodded at a nearby hatch which likely led to the outside bins. "But I don't fancy that. We don't know what might be waiting for us at the bottom, and besides, if we go out that way our landing will be less controlled which could leave us open to being more easily killed."

"Then what are you suggesting?" Tula asked, a note of desperation entering her voice. "We can't go back as we'd just get in Riptide and Wonder Woman's way. Do we just wait here?"

Robin bit his lip.

Was this what leadership felt like?

"If we stay here our ambushers might get impatient and come for us. The corridor could give us an advantage against numbers. But it is also confined, and we don't know what weapons they're bringing to the table. There is no cover here, so it'll be hard to dodge heavy gunfire. Plus, both Zatanna and Maxum are here as well, which means if we stay here, and they try and storm the building…." He let his sentence hang.

Across from him, Tula grimaced as she understood what he was getting at.

"So, we spring the trap and try and turn it on them?" She asked. "Or we try and wait it out and hope Wonder Woman or Riptide come to back us up?"

Robin grimaced at how stupid it sounded to spring the trap.

Yet at the same time, his hand ghosted across the remaining smoke bombs he still had clipped to his utility belt.

Did they stay here and wait to be saved.

It could work, but it could also end up in them being attacked, cornered, and put at a disadvantage as they had to both protect Zatanna and Maxum at the same time as fighting off their opponents.

"I'll check," he said palming one of his smoke bombs and eyeing the open door and seemingly deserted street suspiciously. He would need to put his infrared vision goggles on to see, but any information he could glean about numbers and equipment would be useful.

Behind him, Tula lifted her trident and readied herself for a fight.

Only, before he could do anything the sound of creaking above them caught his attention.

"Above!" He shouted throwing himself backwards. Reacting to his warning Tula did the same, and just in time too as the ceiling above them shattered and bronze coloured figure leapt down on them from above.

Landing on his feet a few feet away, Robin narrowed his eyes as he saw dust spill throughout the narrow corridor.

He could see a distinctly unhuman-like shadow moving within the cloud of dust.

Darting forward, he gave no warning and made no sound as he swept his sword at the figure.

A clash sounded as the shadow moved with preternatural speed and deflected his sword, only for it to then lunge out of the mists at him revealing itself to be a familiar figure.

Pale white, sickly skin. A long neck. No nose. Green slitted eyes. Long snake-like fangs. Arms and legs that were far too long for his body. Bladed, bronze gauntlets that glistened from the colourless poison covering them. A long prehensile tail which ended in a serrated, poisoned blade. All of which was wrapped up in fitted, segmented bronze armour.

It was Copperhead, a dangerous and murderous villain, and a mercenary for hire. The man – if he could still be called that – was a contortionist who had medically modified his body to become more snake-like, including the implantation of a poison sack to give him a venomous bite. He was quick, with enhanced physical abilities. Very skilled in close combat. But he also had quite simplistic tactics. He was known for being more cunning than traditionally intelligent or tactical.

Taking a few steps back, Robin avoided the follow-up strike from Copperhead's tail and fended off his bladed gauntlets.

In a one-on-one fight, he'd struggle against a villain like Copperhead.

Behind the villain, Tula barrelled through the dispersing dust and lashed out with her trident.

Raising his tail, Copperhead blocked the lung, even as Robin darted in and started slashing and jabbing at him, his blade a silver blur as he kept his footwork simple and his stance loose and flexible.

In a two-on-one fight, however, and with an enemy attacking from either side of him, Copperhead was at less of an advantage.

"Don't let up!" Robin shouted as he kept striking out at Copperhead.

The villain snarled in response, his slitted pupils narrowing as he opened his fanged maw and spat out a glob of poison.

Wincing at the acrid stench which assaulted his nose, Robin backed off for a moment.

Copperhead didn't even bat an eye as he lashed out at Tula with his tail at the exact same time as he swept aside Robin's sword with his bladed gauntlets and slammed his booted foot into his chest and kicked him through the doorway, sending him tumbling down the steps and into the street below.

Hitting the ground with a grunt, he let out a slight gasp as he felt the breath leave his lungs.

Even after all his sparring and practice with Black Canary, Batman, as well as all his teammates, he still wasn't quick enough to react, or at least not against someone with superhuman reflexes or enhancements.

Taking a ragged breath, he gripped his sword tight and flipped to his feet, his blade already moving as he shifted it up to defend himself against two razor-sharp claws.

Thankfully his senses were on point.

Looking past his sword, he saw a lithe woman, with cropped brown hair, and androgynous facial features glaring at him. She was short, only a few inches taller than him. Yet despite that, she was just as strong as him if not stronger.

Grunting with exertion, he shoved his sword forward and forced her back a step, even as he retreated two.

Grasping the hilt of his blade with two hands he eyed the woman up carefully. She was dressed in casual street clothing, a brown jacket, a baggy shirt and cargo pants. But in her hands, she was wielding a pair of long, ninja claws. There were twin blades on each weapon, which were slightly curved and nearly a foot long.

He didn't recognise who this was, which meant Batman didn't yet have a profile on her.

Wetting his lips, he barely had a moment to take her in before she was upon him.

Her movements were smooth, almost acrobatics. Yet at the same time, her style of fighting was fierce. She fought like a rabid wolverine.

Whipping his sword around he quickly started fending her off as she came at him, her arms whirling through the air as she clawed at him. Aiming for every part of his body she could reach.

Her technique was good, yet she didn't seem to give much of a damn about defending.

From what he could see, her tactics seemed to be to beat him before he could beat her.

Giving ground, he started trying to counter her as he deflected or avoided some swings and then lunged forward to try and find a gap.

It was tricky against a dual wielder, but not impossible.

However, the moment he changed up his strategy, she pulled back, her eyes narrowed as she darted to the side only to kick off the wall and come spinning in from the side with a vicious downward swipe.

Jumping back to avoid both the first swipe and the following uppercut, he chanced a glance behind him at the fire door. Tula was practically a newbie when it came to real-world fighting, and yet he'd left her alone against a very dangerous combatant. Guilt and fear gnawed at his gut, even as the woman in front of him tried to scratch up his front.

It was like fighting a less refined Catwoman, only without a whip and instead lots of catnip and crack.

Keeping up with her movements should have been a pain just because of how unpredictable she was. Unfortunately for her, however, he was trained by Batman and had honed his skill fighting against his mentor's eclectic coterie of bizarre and batshit insane villains.

Using his experience he caught onto her current pattern of attacks, his mind moving far faster than his sword as he predicted her next swing. Seeing it coming, he grabbed his cape with his free hand and shifted on his feet, hurling it forward and tangling it up with her claw.

Wincing as he saw the claws impale the expensive and sturdy material his cape was made from, he carefully looped his arm under his cape and pulled it up, further tangling the cape and dragging her forward a step as he knocked her off guard.

In the exact same movement, he rammed his other hand forward and slammed his fist and the hilt of his sword into her face, breaking her nose in the most expedient and painful way he knew.

At the same moment as this happened, so too was Copperhead blasted through the fire door by a powerful jet of water.

Deftly unclipping his cape he chanced another glance at the door and saw Tula, bloodied, and battered, but still standing, run through the doorway her form lit up with swirling greenish blue magic, with streamers of water following her, even as she leapt down the steps her trident raised as she prepared to impale Copperhead.

Spinning, Copperhead used his tail to throw himself back and onto his feet.

As Tula slammed trident-first into the ground. Robin was already moving as he kicked the dazed woman's legs out from underneath her and rushed Copperhead.

Snarling, Copperhead easily caught his sword on his gauntlet and spat another glob of poison at him.

Not that it did much, as one of Tula's streamers whipped out and dispersed it.

Taking a chance to look at her, Robin almost gaped as he saw the water coalesce around her in a form oddly reminiscent of a headless octopus with eight different tendrils of water whipping around and lashing out at the dodging and hissing Copperhead.

"Aquagirl, are they alright?" He asked, turning and re-engaging with his own opponent. The woman's face was bloody, and she looked beyond pissed, all of which seemed to make her already wild and vicious fighting style all the more aggressive.

"Fine, I kept them safe." Tula shot back not even looking at him as she kept her position and continued forcing Copperhead back.

Giving ground, Robin soon joined her at the foot of the stairs, both working in tandem as they kept their attackers at bay.

For a few more minutes they were in a stalemate as they refused to move and leave Maxum and Zatanna open for an attack, and the villains refused to back down.

It was a battle of attrition.

One that he suspected they might lose considering the large bloody gash on Tula's arm, and his own flagging stamina.

Copperhead also looked battered, but despite that still seemed raring to go, and the woman for all that she should be as fatigued as Robin, still looked as fresh as she was pissed.

He grimaced as he realised that they were likely in a losing position.

Only for the fight to suddenly end as quickly as it started, as without any warning, the pair of them both reacted as one and backed off.

Frowning as he saw the two glance at each other, he quickly spied the earpiece in the woman's right ear.

Scowling, the woman turned back to them and sneered. "We'll pick this up another time."

Opening his mouth to make a quippy response, he wasn't given the opportunity as without another word the two turned and ran.

"Spoilsports," Robin grunted as he watched Copperhead scamper up a building like a maniacal spider, and the woman run off down a dark alley like a common thug.

A part of him desperately wanted to pursue them and bring them to justice.

But a more sensible part of him knew that wasn't the mission.

"Aquagirl, are you alright?" He asked, turning to the girl as he remembered her injuries. Copperhead had cut her badly with his poisoned weapons.

"Fine," the pretty redhead muttered as she scowled down at her arm.

Following her gaze, Robin stared as he saw clear liquid start to ooze out of the bloody wound and run down her forearm in rivulets. "That's bullshit!"

"No that's Atlantean," Tula smirked back, her eyes glowing faintly as she continued to use her magic to expel the poison from her wound.

Before any more could be said on the topic, they were distracted by Wonder Woman crashing down into the ground beside them fully decked out in all her heroic glory, and with a limp and unconscious man in black power armour clutched in one of her hands.

"Are you alright?" She asked at once, her sharp blue eyes quickly sweeping over the area.

"Fine," Tula said at once. "Where's Percy?"

"Riptide," Wonder Woman corrected firmly, "is fine."

As she spoke, they all heard a disturbance at the top of the stairs to the fire door.

It was the sound of approaching footsteps.

( - )

(With Percy a few minutes previously)

There was not much elegance in the way either of them were fighting.

The angry redhead was all power and overwhelming strength as she swung her flanged mace around like it weighed nothing.

As it narrowly missed him, he could feel the wind whistling in his ears.

Her movements were swift, smooth, and unrelenting. There was never a pause in her onslaught. It was as if fatigue or restraint were foreign concepts to her.

Not that he was much better as he gave as good as he got.

Just like her, he was constantly moving, his sword whipping back and forth as he deflected some of her swings and swiftly counterattacked.

Now that they were wielding weapons and he'd had time to centre himself the fight was on a more even keel.

She was stronger than him, and due to her size had more reach.

But he was faster than her now, and with electrified water shadowing his movements, every blow he landed was followed up with a similarly strong blow from his electrified water echo.

Not that either his lightning or water seemed to do much more than tickle her.

The woman was either as tough as Superman or had some kind of natural resistance to magic, as his water blades which could easily cut a full-grown man in two hardly scratched her, and his lightning which would at the very least paralyse a normal mortal if not kill them, barely made her flinch.

It was fucking annoying.

He couldn't remember ever coming across someone who could shrug off his abilities so easily, not even gods.

Fortunately, his sword was at least doing some damage.

Her armour was strong, but it was no Nemean Lion hide. It also had weak points that he could take advantage of with his greater speed and now sharper reflexes as well.

Already he had managed to deal a half dozen minor wounds. She was far tougher than most. But not even her ridiculous durability seemed to stand up against Damasen's sword. The only issue was that swords weren't designed to pierce armour. Hence why medieval often used poleaxes and hammers, heavier weapons which would crush armour and bone. But still, with the right timing and enough skill he had still be able to slip his Drakon bone weapon through the chinks her armour and score quite a few hits.

Holding his blade with both hands he wielded it with careful and precise movements as he protected his head from her mace. As much as he trusted the helmet Batman had commissioned for him, he wasn't sure how well it would stand up against a pissed-off and raging… whatever the hell this woman was.

She wasn't human, he knew that much straight away. If anything, she felt almost divine in a way… only more… corrupt and less radiant and powerful. It was odd. She felt almost… familiar, like distant kin, and yet he knew for a fact he'd never met her before.

Not that it really mattered at the moment. No, all he cared about right now was finding her weakness and exploiting it.

She might be able to shrug off magic, but could she shrug off the after-effects?

If he trapped her in the ground and used the earth to crush her, would she be able to resist the overwhelming pressure?

Or more importantly….

He ducked her next swing and then lunged forward his blade extended as he pointed it at her face. He wasn't close enough to land a hit, but that wasn't what he was aiming for. Instead, as he jabbed his sword forward he used the accumulated water he had been gathering along its blade and sent it spraying into her face.

"The humans say madness is doing the same thing over and over again, despite always getting the same result," the redhead mocked as she bulled forward through the spray of water and went for a ferocious overhead swing.

Only before she could, the water Percy had sprayed at her started moving as it shot down her throat and up her nose forcing her to gag.

Releasing the hilt of his sword with one hand, Percy clenched his free hand and forced the water down her windpipe and into her lungs. He could feel his control over it slipping a bit the deeper it went into her. But he was still able to retain enough to control freeze and expand the water.

Gagging and choking, the woman dropped her mace and clutched desperately at her throat.

Running forward, Percy landed a heavy knee to her head, knocking her back, even as he swung his sword around and slammed it into the side of her neck.

Or at least he tried to.

Before he could, the woman desperately raised her arm and used her armoured bracer to block his sword.

Glaring up at him, the woman lashed out with her other hand forcing him back a step to avoid a heavy blow to the head, his sword already coming up to counter her follow-up. Only for one not to come as she instead turned on her heel and started running.

Exhaling loudly, Percy let her go.

As much as he wanted to pursue and interrogate her about just why she felt so… familiar and what the hell she and her friends were doing ambushing them, that wasn't the mission right now.

Hearing sirens in the distance, he eyed the street outside one last time.

There was no one in sight.

The gunmen were gone, as too was Wonder Woman.

Sighing, Percy didn't let his guard down as he turned to head back in the direction Tula and the others had gone. If there were other people involved in the ambush, they might need his help.

Turning back to the rest of the main room and sparing a glance at Zatara's still and now bullet-riddled form, Percy grimaced.

This didn't feel like a victory.

Ignoring the sinking feeling in his gut, he reached down and picked up the flanged mace the redhead had left behind.

It was much heavier than it looked, but still just about weldable, or at least it was for someone with enhanced, but not quite super, strength like himself.

Resting his newly claimed spoil of war on his shoulder he swiftly headed towards the others, passing through the changing rooms and then down the service corridor. As he entered the corridor, he paused at the sight of Zatanna.

She was hunched up against the wall crying.

Wincing, he sheathed his sword leant down and gently scooped her up into his free arm. As he did so the girl let out a large sob and buried her head into the crook of his neck.

Outside he could hear Wonder Woman, Robin and Tula talking calmly.

"Riptide is fine." He heard Diana say.

"Yes, I am," Percy added as he stepped outside and started descending the steps. "And from what I can see all of you are too." Looking around, he frowned. "Where's Maxum?"

( - )

(With Steel Maxum)

Desperately running through the back alley and away from the club, Steel Maxum was terrified.

He was currently wearing nothing but golden-coloured hotpants and was covered in garbage after his impromptu escape down the garbage shoot.

Why couldn't they leave him alone?

He wasn't doing anything wrong, he'd certainly not done enough to deserve being hunted.

Running away from the Hellfire Club, he winced as his bare feet padded along the pavement.

He hated this.

Especially since the night had been shaping up to be a great one. He'd got a load of tips, and one of his sidepieces had called him up for a booty call later. Things were as good as they could have been considering the circumstance, and then that bitch had shown up demanding he come with her.

At first, he had thought she was joking and was just a new stripper who had boldly decided to cosplay as Wonder Woman.

How was he supposed to know she was the real deal?

If he had, he would have been far more polite.

But no. No one had said a thing, and so he had run his mouth and got sucker punched for his trouble.

Didn't they know knocking someone out was dangerous?

And they called themselves heroes!

Biting his lip he ran around another corner and screeched to a halt as he found himself in a dead-end.

He hadn't really had a destination in mind. Instead, the moment he had woken up in the ruined hallway, near a crying teenage girl, he'd done the only thing he could think of, and slid down the garbage shoot and started running.

In hindsight, that was dumb.

He should have headed for his bike, that way he could at least have had some transport.

Grimacing, he looked back the way he came, before with a sigh he hoisted the lid of the bin in front of him and leapt inside.

It was embarrassing, but he'd taken shelter in the bin for the moment.

Desperately trying to ignore the stench, he looked around at his nearly pitch-black surroundings with a grimace. Only for his grimace to rapidly shift into a look of pure terror as a dark, faintly glowing, purple portal formed in front of him.

"Hi," a grey-skinned, purple-eyed girl said dully as she met his gaze.

He couldn't summon the courage to let out more than a squeak.

"Felix Faust wants a word," the girl continued blandly. "Do you mind coming with me?"

It was phrased as a question, but in the end, he didn't have a choice.

The last thing he saw before the darkness closed in around him and all went black, was a flash of crimson red as the girl's purple eyes momentarily changed colour.

( - )

AN: Puts his hard hat on and prepares to be shouted at! Yeah, I can imagine some people are not going to be happy with this chapter. But ah well, can't please everyone.

Personally, I enjoyed exploring some of the more niche characters and heroes. Plus, it's semi-important for me to continue developing both Apokoliptians and New Genesians for reasons, even if I did go a bit AU with my development of Knockout. She is a real character, but a pretty niche one with not much development, which is great for my purposes! That said, I liked what I did, it's good to challenge Percy as he works his way up from the low-tier and cannon-fodder villains like Kiteman, Condiment King and Harley Quinn to the Upper high-tier villains like Darkseid, Trigon, Ares and Morgana as a hypothetical example. It is fun to see him thinking outside the box too, learning his weaknesses and finding his standing. Same with the other characters. I enjoy character work quite a bit, even if I'm not always great at it.

That said I'm sure I'll receive a load of angry comments about how Percy should be able to do such and such, or how Zatara should have plot armour for... reasons. Or complaining about Percy not stomping everyone without batting an eye, despite still being relatively new to superhero and villain shenanigans. After all, fighting monsters in Tartarus is pretty different to fighting superpowered people with advanced technology in the middle of highly populated cities. But to be honest that is fine. There is nothing wrong with having a different opinion, and nothing wrong with criticising something you don't like. You might not make me change my mind, but I'll still read it, and think about your critique and take on board the points I think are valid. So long as you're polite, it's fine, I have thick skin and don't mind. After all, I tend to get a dozen or so angry reviews on pretty much every chapter I publish :D

Either way, it is what it is, I hope you enjoyed the chapter! If so let me know what you like! If not, let me know what you hate! As long as you're not rude I don't mind.

In terms of the next chapter, it's coming. Though it'll probably split from the current arc to head for Belle Reve for a bit, just to progress what's going on there! Can't leave my other characters out in the cold for too long, they all need a bit of TLC, even that shitheel Batman.

I've many plans brewing, some that you might love, some that you might hate.

But either way, you're gonna have to stay tuned to find out!

Thanks for reading, and I'll catch you later!