(Superman, Wonder Woman and Oracle are entirely owned by DC. This is a nonprofit tale)
JLA Watchtower - Monitor Womb...
In the semi-darkness monitors glowed like small points of fire, flickering with ever moving light.
"Come on, let's do it. While we have the chance."
The gentle, lilting voice drifted upward, for a moment distracting eyes attending an overview of Metropolis. All seemed quiet as he gave his terse response.
"We can't, we're on monitor."
"Kal, there's nothing happening down there, we can put it on auto and have Oracle patch to terminal if anything does." Her voice was followed by the soft whir of an electric motor.
"Wellll," he droned, knowing she was rising to meet him, "you're tempting me, Di'."
Her chair rose quickly upon the super conducting central column and with easy use of inbuilt controls she rotated it until she was facing him. For a second she studied his handsome face, discerning his desire, then quickly said.
"Come on, Kal. You know we've always wanted to, so while there's no one here let's go. It'll be fun."
Superman looked back into those familiar, desultory eyes, eyes that were now shinning with intent. And although he tried hard not to smile the Amazons obvious excitement overpowered him. He found himself laughing as he said.
"Why is it I can never resist you?"
"Well who could resist me?" As she smiled she opened her toned arms.
"No one that I know," he replied, sharing her smile.
"Right," she quickly said, taking control, "before you change your mind - Womb on auto. Patch to ST if required."
"Affirmative," returned the synthetic voice.
"Well then, whatta we waiting for?" In truth he wanted to do this as much as she did.
Wonder Woman levitated effortlessly from her Womb chair, curtesy of the gift of Hermes, and offered her hand toward him.
"Let's fly, Kal, we'll get there faster."
"Patience, Diana," the man of steel replied while eagerly taking her hand.
"Forget that," she said, clasping it firmly, "I can hardly wait."
Hand-in-hand they glided along pristine corridors, smiling and glancing into each others eager eyes while the backdrop of infinity shone its ancient feeble light through large liquid crystal windows, and scattering insignificantly over the entire Watchtower complex.
Still holding hands they gently touched down before a closed syn-steel door. While adjacent it glowed back the steady yet unobtrusive words - Simulation Room.
"I never thought we'd get the chance to do this, Di, just you and I."
"Don't speak too soon, Kal," she replied, "knowing our luck we'll have GL interrupting us with his corny jokes."
"Or even Bruce!"
Instantly they both looked at each other and in unison said.
White light streamed out of the opening door and the two perceived heroes stepped inside, profiled in silhouette; until side by side they stood in the center of a brightly illuminated but totally empty room.
"Well, here we are, Kal. Are you ready for this?"
Into the blandness a shape began shimmering into view, a human shape.
"Here comes our host," said Wonder Woman nonchalantly.
"Yeah, here he comes."
"Hey, that looks like..."
"Who?" interrupted Superman, forcing back a smile as he watched Diana eyeing the solidifying form. But his smile broke through as he saw her eyes widen at a familiar adversary.
"Lex Luthor! You planned this, didn't you."
"Don't be silly," but his broadening grin easily betrayed him.
"Kal." Diana stood, with hands on hips and arms akimbo, in a show of mock remonstrance.
"Okay, Diana, you've got me," he answered, laughing, "I admit I programmed it earlier. I knew when we were rostered for monitor you'd want to do this - so I took a little liberty."
"Hello, Diana, Kal. What would we like today?"
Diana turned to face the voice, and suddenly found her own humour at the sight of this powerful adversary, equipped with usual sinister smile, at last beckoning to their desire. With a grin as wide as Superman's she swivelled her head back to him and said.
"Nice touch, Kal."
"Couldn't resist it. The chance to have Lex doing our bidding for once." Still laughing Superman said, "Okay, Lex. Run Tactical and Strategic."
"Program parameters, Sir?"
"Sir!" Now Diana was laughing. "You really have got him trained."
"Not before time... eh, let's go with level 3, Lut-"
"Cancel that, Luthor."
Diana gave her command while deliberately studying Kal's face.
Yes, she could see his sudden bemusement chase away his fast smile. She bit her lip to control her own humour. Now it was her turn.
"Kal. Where's the warrior in you? T&S and level 3! If we're gonna do this then we're going all the way."
Then leaving him to his puzzlement she turned to their host and said, "Luthor. Run Random Enemies. Attack mode. Level - Unlimited."
With a flash of his holographic smile Lex Luthor bowed, and as his form began to flicker out only his voice remained.
"Thank you, Diana. Accessing A.S.P. - R.U. In thirty seconds."
"Touché, I can hear you thinking!"
Diana's Aphrodite face became one huge smile, her visible humour somehow enhancing her beauty. She looked again at Superman's face - arms folded and ironic twist of his lips as he stared right back at her - it was too much, forcing laughter to sound with her voice.
"Something like that."
"Amazon Special Programs," she answered, the grin still playing on her face, "it's what I do when I get bored. I had Dome download them. Artemis loves them."
"Yeah but, she's mad!"
She moved closer to him, happy to see he was sharing her humour, then placing a readying hand upon his firm shoulder, said.
"Now be ready. Because from here on it's action all the way."
"You do have an idea what to expect?
"Not a clue. They're new every time."
"That's good," said Superman, letting his voice share his irony.
"All we'll get is the mission objective." As she spoke she her body tensed in readiness. "And don't worry about killing anything. None of it's real."
"Well I know that."
Luthor's voice suddenly returned.
"Mission Objective - Seize the Golden Sword from the hands of the Queen. Enjoy"
"Sounds easy enough."
From her poised position Diana glanced at Kal. He stood there erect, arms still folded with a satisfied smile on his face. With a shake of her head she said.
"Kal. You know you'd never make an Amazon."
"I should hope not," he replied, nonchalantly waiting for something to happen. "'Sides, I'm invulnerable, remem- ugghh."
In an instant the bland Simulation Room became a surrounding of tall dense pine trees of which they were stood in a small clearing; well not exactly stood, for at this moment Superman was being hoisted into the air by a giant female warrior. Wonder Woman - whose arms were suddenly held by two tall powerful warriors - watched in numb disbelief.
The woman warrior must have been eight foot, at the very least. She was dressed in an animal skin garment that covered her knees but exposed her arms, and those arms looked even more powerful than Kal's. Yet despite her visible strength her face was feminine, in fact the woman was close to being beautiful. She smiled as she looked up toward Superman; whose own body was dangling in midair, suspended by the woman's hand clasped tightly around his throat. She held him there, arm outstretched, as though he were no more than a little boy.
"Now, little man," she said, in a tone that belied her great stature, "resist and I will snap your spine. You are my pleasure for the day. And then I will kill you."
"Great horoscope," croaked out Superman, "hey, and lose the 'little man' thing; an' I sure ain't gonna be your pleasure."
"I love it when my men play hard." And with that she lifted him even higher, her smile growing broader her eyes widening with triumph.
"Well you ain't seen nothing yet."
Superman reached with his hand and grasped the women's thick wrist, it felt like, well, steel; it surprised him but what perplexed him more was the fact that he couldn't move it.
"Great Scott, I-I can't budge her arm. And I'm actually feeling the pain of her grip. W-who programmed this?" he stammered.
"Artemis usually comes up with the plot," Diana answered, still immobile, more from surprise at Kal's predicament than the arms that bound her, "hence the dubious dialogue; but it's Dome who creates them - Kal, use your heat vision."
"On a women! Never."
Mild exasperation edged her voice as she said, "Kal, she's not-"
"Makes... no difference," he struggled to say, "but I think... she's big enough for one well... aimed super-punch!"
Wonder Woman, becoming frustrated as much with Kal as their situation, suddenly snapped out of her trance, and tensing her powerful arms, quipped.
"Sorry, sisters, but it's time I wasn't here." She applied her strength; but then joined Kal in his amazement. "Hera, I'm caught too. Their grip feels as powerful as Darkseid's." She struggled again but nothing gave.
"Then this one must be Doomsday. But not for much longer." Superman balled his steel-like fist and drew back his arm, then forcing out a smile, said, "Sweet Dreams, big girl." His super-punch made a noise like thunder; and then his jaw dropped open.
"Great Hera. She took it." Wonder Woman was back in trance land.
"Yeah, and she's still smiling. I'm... gonna have to have a word with your... Sister." The pain from the woman's grip was beginning to show on his face.
"And I'll have an argument with Dome."
"Ohhh, that hurt." The woman merely smiled while clutching Kal even tighter.
"Lady Vallia," sounded one of the women pinning Wonder Woman, "these so-called-heroes offer futile resistance. This one struggles like a mere child."
"Indeed, Estia. Mine is little better, are you, little man. Tell me, is that the best you can do?" She didn't wait for his answer. "How humiliating for you... And how painful."
"Uggghh... Some... Lady..!
Diana was fuming now. As much from the woman's insult as from seeing Kal struggling.
"Mere child! Kal. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Yeah. Your... sisters dialogue is... atrocious - but let's see if... these girls've got... wings."
They took to the air, and although the sky was darkening Diana could see that the women, still clinging to her arms, were fast losing their smug smiles, in fact the higher she went the more sickly they looked. She smiled as she gazed into their frightened eyes on seeing the earth retreat below them.
Where's your smiles now, sisters? Has Vallia's gone?" She yelled over to Kal.
"Er, sort of - but that's not what's bothering me."
"What is it?" She glanced over at him, he seemed to be struggling.
"She... she's so heavy - Oh oh, going down!"
'Got to do something,' she quickly thought on seeing him descend. She had the answer instantly. She started to rotate her body, slowly at first then gaining speed until she became a rotating blur, like a spinning top. Estia, and her powerful friend, now clung onto Wonder Woman for their very lives, their bodies positioned horizontal to Diana through centrifugal force. Eventually something had to give.
"Taken care of," said Wonder Woman, as two heavy shapes flew off into the darkened sky. "And now for Mighty Minx."
"W-who?" Kal strained.
"Eh, never mind. Just hang in there, Kal?"
"Do I have a choice?"
Sinister trees shot into the air as they descended faster and faster until the dark shape that was the ground rushed up to meet them. Diana had to act quickly.
With one hand under Lady Vallia's arm - her other arm was curled tightly around Superman's torso - Diana held their rapid descent, then, with a gentle tap on the women's formidable shoulder, said:
"Excuse me, Lady..!" Vallia turned her head. "I have something for you."
Wonder Woman's fist connected with Vallia's chin so sweetly it tinged, but it failed to remove her despairing clutch upon Superman.
"She is a strong one," Remarked Diana, surprise in her eyes, "but what was good for her handmaids..."
Diana took hold of them and again did the corkscrew express. While holding their position she spun Superman faster and faster until at last a huge shape spun off.
"...Should be good enough for her. Hera, I thought she'd never - Kal. Are you okay? You look-"
"Terrible, I know. Believe me I feel it too."
Concern was all over her face as she saw him put his head in his hands.
"But, Kal, this is impossible. There's no way you should feel like this. I mean, Vallia, was strong, but with your power... Wait!"
"What? What is it?" The tone of her voice made him look straight at her.
"We're going up."
"Don't know if I can make it."
"You don't have to... I'll make it for you."
Diana put one arm around Superman's muscular waist and taking the other over her shoulders she elevated rapidly into the darkness. Up up and away they rose until the Earths obscuring limb receded and revealed...
"Red sun." Kal's voice came weak; in truth he was feeling the extreme cold. "B-but this is only a game... Di', there's no way... it should effect... me."
"Yes, but it explains everything." Diana descended as fast as her ascent, she could see the effects of the stratospheres climate upon him. "Somehow, maybe psychosomatically, it's having an effect - of course!"
"This is a Dome program."
"When Artemis and I play, Dome becomes part of the game. Depending on whom we program it to be it then takes up that personalities characteristics. Don't you see? Our host-"
"Yeah." As they lowered some strength was returning to his voice. "Your Dome is playing at being Lex Luthor. I should've known that weasel would find some way to bite back - hey, but how did it know about the red sun thing?"
A look of remorse shaded Wonder Woman's face, she was glad that he missed it.
"Kal. I must apologize. We sometimes program in extra characters. Once or twice we've used you in our imaginary scenarios. Dome has simply accessed the information that I have given it. I never dreamt it could really effect you."
In the dark the foreboding trees towered over them like giant sentinels, ever watching ever listening. With feet back on mother Earth Diana held onto Kal, a little angry with herself as she suddenly said:
Instantly Luthor's head materialized; in the dark it glowed like a wood sprite, an evil one judging by his smirk.
"Dome, I want you to terminate this-"
"Whoa. Slow down, Diana... Dome, Lex, ignore that command and just... disappear."
As Superman spoke he made a motion with a sweep of his arm indicating for the hologram to exit.
"Kal?" Diana watched him carefully, hoping that he was recovered.
"It's perfect Diana." With the glow from the still present hologram she could see that he was smiling. She was glad. "The whole purpose of these CGI' is to simulate battle scenarios and hone our response. Well this gives me a chance to operate under red sun conditions."
She listened to his words then shook her head.
"Kal. I will not have you enfeebled because of my foolishness."
"Lex," frowned Superman, "are you still here! Go, shoo - we've got a mission to accomplish. We're gonna get that Golden Sword."
Diana met his smile and walking quickly to him kissed his cheek.
"That's my Kal. Always the brave one-"
Both voices rang out as the ground, so firm before, gave suddenly away. In that instant Diana gazed down, she could see nothing but a great black maw. As she fell she had a sudden fear they were falling into the very pit of Hades. But as ever her body was ready... Like an Amazons.
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