Young Justice: After Death

CHAPTER 1: The Dinner of Extranormal Obtrusions

Jesus said that he who is without sin, should cast the first stone.

But Greta Hayes didn't care much for Jesus anymore; and even if she did, he never said anything about dousing your enemies with a water bottle of red paint.

It had been eight years since her death, but Greta was still angry.

Angry, that a man like Dr Charles—who established the Orphanage and experimented on innocent children—was about to be given an award for his 'contribution to science'.

It had been easy to sneak into the Elizabeth Arkham Foundation building where the ceremony was being held. Since Darkseid, Tim had set her up with a seemingly endless bank account – so buying a costume and creating fake ID's had been a breeze. It would have been easy to ask him to take her as his date, if she had been honest in her intentions. But Greta wasn't about to raise a toast—she wanted to raze his fields, burn down his house, trap him in an airtight cannister and subdue him with some oxygen, she…

She wanted to ruin his life, the same way he had contributed to ruining hers.

As she lurked backstage, Greta missed the days when she could dissipate into the air vents and wait as an ominous cloud of fog until the right moment. But, with a human body came human limitations. What had Darkseid called it? She was just a — 'a normal, powerless, mortal girl', with a series of 'mundane hardships'.

Greta didn't understand how trying to publicly humiliate the man who'd made her afterlife a living hell was 'mundane'—but what had Darkseid known, really? He'd never been ritually sacrificed by a loved one.

"I'm so glad that you all could make it this evening. We are gathered here tonight to celebrate a very special man who has done ground breaking work at the DEO…" On the stage, a woman in a black satin evening gown began to speak, and on the podium in front of her, an ornate glass trophy glimmered under the stage lights. "… And so, now is the time to really express our gratitude for his work. So put your hands together for Dr Charles."

Greta watched Dr Charles as he rose from his table and wove scenically through the crowd towards the stage as the room broke into a round of applause. Strangers patted him on the back as he passed. She saw Tim in the crowd, and even he offered a golf clap and a forced smile. It felt wrong to stand there, her muscles ached—they told her to run onto the stage right now and make her speech. The taste of blood in her mouth and the pounding in her ears were constant reminders of everything that Dr Charles had tried to keep from her by holding her captive at the DEO. But the time wasn't right yet. She couldn't make an impact without him on stage. She patted her breast pocket, triple checking that her speech was exactly where she had left it. For too long, the DEO had silenced her; but now was her time to speak up for all the little 'monsters' that they had abandoned in the Orphanage.

The band quietened as Dr Charles stepped up onto the stage, and the applause faded as he reached the lectern. He cleared his throat, grinned from ear to ear, and began to take cue cards from inside his suit jacket. "I'd like to thank everyone for coming this evening—"

Now was her time to strike.

Greta took one step, and then another. Being four foot eleven, it was easy to duck and weave through the startled assistants and run until the stage lights were upon her. The heat of the lights crashed against her skin as though Mount Justice was exploding all over again, she pushed that thought away. Greta kept walking, and as she reached halfway across the stage- when she was close enough to see Dr Charles break out into a nervous sweat and his eyes ignite with recognition- the room was plunged into darkness.

Moments later, the stage was awash with a green light. The house lights remained dark and so, through the spotlights, Greta struggled to find Tim's face. Eventually she found it. He was clearly disappointed, though not surprised; but Greta watched as the seconds passed and he stopped being Tim, and became Robin, right before her eyes.

"Riddle me this, riddle it so, who thinks that they're smarter than the D.E.O?"

The voice was omnipresent. The lights flashed again, and after the spots in her eyes dispersed, Greta saw him: The Riddler, stood in the midst of the tables and holding a microphone in one hand. Amongst the crowd, several armed thugs held automatic rifles in the vague direction of guests.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" The Riddler walked between the tables, mirroring the path that Dr Charles had taken minutes earlier, until he climbed onto the stage between them, "I thought I was the only one who had plans to crash this party. Tell me little girl, what's your name?" Greta thought for a moment and tried not to look at him as the Riddler bent forward to inspect her more closely—close enough that she could feel his breath on her cheek, "come on! Or is it a secret?"

Every alarm bell in Greta's mind began to scream, and her eyes widened as the word rolled from his tongue, "my- my name is Suzie."

"'Suzie', huh?" He rolled his head from one shoulder to the other and shoved the microphone towards her face, "tell us, Suzie, what brings you to the stage tonight?"

"That's um—" the speech in Greta's pocket and the bottle in her hand had turned to lead. Now that all eyes were on her, she questioned if she had been a touch over dramatic. "That's personal."

"Personal?" The Riddler cackled, and then turned to his goons in the crowd, so that they might chortle too, "Suzie you were about to douse the man in—what is this, paint? —and ruin his big moment. It stopped being personal the minute you stepped into the spotlight."

"The moment—"

"So, you're a showman now, are you?"

"I just wanted to prove a point." Greta looked over the Riddler's shoulder and towards Dr Charles. A large Edison bulb switched on in the Riddler's face, as he seemingly remembered his own purpose and shouted,

"Yes! A point!" The Riddler straightened his back and rose to his full height, with long, confident strides he took centre stage, and flicked his wrist. Three goons sprung into life and marched towards the stage. Two pushed the award-giver into the crowd, before they flanked Dr Charles, whilst the other stood beside Greta. "Now Suzie, I understand that you might have a vendetta to fill, but I spent too long planning this evening to have it ruined by you. So," he waved his hand once again, and the henchman by his side grabbed her by the arm and began to march her into the wings, "bye bye now. No one will be seeing you any time soon."