by Adrian Tullberg.
Rated: R (language, violence, and various naughty stuff. You have been warned)
Setting: pre-Obsidian Age
"Spot check. Kelly Bryson, Californian driver's license."
"Ooookaaayyy ... an arrest for carrying weed, but no conviction ... born in Oklahoma ... doesn't look like a fake ID ... no red flags by any of our illustrious three-letter agencies ... this have something to do with that incident in LA?"
"The situation was resolved when I got here."
"With any luck, the newest member of the JLA."
You are not nervous.
You are not sitting - reality check here - in a tower block on the fucking moon, Neil Armstrong and Apollo 13, waiting for the most powerful, important people in the world to decide whether you should be one of them.
And we're not talking about Hollywood, politicians or Bill Gates - this is faster than a speeding bullet powerful. Superheroes.
The superheroes you call when God himself says to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye - the Justice League. The JLA.
Not nervous at all.
By the way - when it comes to lying?
Kyle Rainer, otherwise known as Green Lantern, decided to break the silence. "Is this that long-dead sense of humour rising from the grave?"
Wally West, the Flash, subtly moved himself and his seat a few inches away from Kyle, in that I don't want your blood on my uniform fashion.
The person who was the target of Kyle's comment slowly rotated his head towards the most inexperienced member of the League.
Kyle felt that unwelcome but familiar sweating around his neck as the Dark Knight gave him The Look - the silent, stony, unblinking inhuman gaze that was more unnerving than any drill sergeant's rantings or long remembered teacher's humiliations.
Abruptly, Batman stood, and tossed something to Kyle - a brochure?
Kyle caught it - it was a standard form handed out to police and sheriff stations around the country for the Palmer Metahuman Score.
Invented by a superhuman as a method of classifying superhumans, the Palmer test was very simple to execute. If you saw a superhuman perform an act - lifting a car, flying at a certain speed, destroying something or an area in a certain timeframe - a table on the form gave that action a rating. You noted down ratings observed during an event (usually a public fight) and when it was all over, you added the combined ratings to get your metahuman score. If this person made several witnessed Events, the Scores were calculated as an Average.
Kyle checked out the total at the bottom of the page - and snorted in surprise. He quickly looked over the Batman's calculations - the small, neat handwriting seemed to have been repeated at least three times, reaching the same result every time.
Kyle handed it to Wally. "Beginner's luck."
The Fastest Man Alive read it and recalculated it five times in the time it took to receive it from Kyle and hand it on to The Martian Manhunter. "She beat your first time score."
The uncontested Chairman of the JLA tapped his fingers against the tabletop. "Are you..."
"... these figures speak for themselves. Someone with this much raw potential should not be ignored."
The only female at the table gave Batman a slight smile. "So your argument is - either we take her under our wing, or somebody else will?"
Batman's smile matched Wonder Woman's. "I'd rather not risk somebody ... unsuitable having influence over her."
She didn't really remember the fight.
Only a bunch of events, which technically followed each other.
Looking for Raisin Bran just before she felt an enormous thud, which she not only heard but also felt through her entire body.
Lying in a heap of cereal boxes, her face covered in Count Chocula.
Trying to get out of the store on her hands and knees, following a businesswoman who'd she'd seen a hundred times before, confidently talking on a cell phone while waiting at the checkout, now crawling along, weeping like a two year old.
Seeing the guy who did this - a massive purple-and-orange man, gleaming like a freshly waxed Chevrolet.
Feeling her heart and breathing jumpstart from the two thousand beats per minute to hyperdrive when purple man started reaching for her face, that grin telling the blind what he was going to do to her and the shivering professional.
Scrambling over Businesswoman and giving shiny the hardest blow she could deliver - the urge to fight overwhelming the numbing fear.
The complete surprise when Purple/Orange guy who smashed through the cinderblock wall of the supermarket with the same ease as she'd open a car door, was thrown across the floor with the force of her blow.
J'onn J'ozz looked up from the brochure. "Some of these acts seem inconsistent ... what is the nature of her powers?"
"At the moment, kinetic energy perception and manipulation, down to the quantum level."
Superman's sharp intake of breath made Kyle look up.
Batman decided to take mercy on Kyle - variety was the spice of life.
"She can slow down, or speed up kinetic energy - movement, at will. She manifested her metagenetic potential when Major Power decided to hold everyone inside a supermarket hostage, and she was caught in the backwash of one of his blasts ... It's possible that exposure to the Major's quantum energies triggered her metagene."
"So a … supervillian created a superhero … just by being there?"
"Oh, he's going to make a lot of friends down in Cell Block five." The Fastest Man Alive raised his hand. "You want me to give her pointers? I already do this stuff..."
"Her ability extends to particle fields."
The Flash dropped his hand. His powers allowed him to manipulate speed and movement in physical objects, but he hadn't got the hang of altering energy beams, lasers, fire...
... and this woman managed to do this when her powers kicked in. Defeated a psychotic supervillian during the time when you were staring at the five foot wide hole you made in the launderette wall when you kicked the dryer for shrinking your favourite pants.
When the police had locked up the purple guy in the high-tech S & M gear, the shadow grabbed her shoulder. She almost hit him until he held up the handbag she'd lost when the supermarket went kaboom.
She'd recognised the silhouette from the National Inquirer. Then the light field enveloped both of them, and the world ... melted away to reveal a waiting room in a chrome motif. The picture window showed a landscape you only associated with One Small Step For Man.
The man in the cloak stated that she was going to join the World's Greatest Superheroes. Then he left. From then until now, she spent her time pacing and trying not to bite her nails.
She could sense them, in the other room.
If you touched a rail on a train line, and felt the vibrations, either there was a train coming or a real fat guy was jogging nearby. This ... new sense was like that, except you shouldn't be able to feel if a person was walking around, sense the vibration their voices made in their throats, the steady rhythm of their lungs, hearts, muscles with the same effort used to listen to a crackly cell phone conversation...
The rational part of her brain had stated that any other normal person should be a hysterical wreck by now.
She smoothed down her shirt, adjusted her hair in the slight reflection of the window - ignore the fact you're on the moon, dumbass - and thanked God she was wearing a bra on her day off.
Impress the important superheroes first, go batshit later.
A neck extended across the breadth of the table, and the grinning head that was connected to it insinuated itself next to Kyle's face. "Tell us, how does it feel not to be the rookie anymore?"
"A little scary? A touch terrifying that in a few minutes, somebody in this very room will consider you ... experienced?"
The owner of the Universe's Most Powerful Weapon tried not to think of deadly force. "Don't think about..."
"Competent? Am I using too many big words?"
Kyle instantly jammed his right index and middle fingers into the extending head's nostrils, to the knuckles.
The head spluttered, and it's neck retracted, hauling itself off Kyle's fingers with a wet sucking sound. It still hovered above the tabletop, wearing an indignant expression while keeping out of Kyle's reach.
"A tip, Greenie. After you go the bathroom; Wash - Your - Hands!"
Superman tried – Plastic Man was very trying - to get the meeting back on topic. "She's in the waiting room?"
"I'll bring her in."
O'Brian's head skimmed the tabletop to hover near Superman and Wonder Woman, who were examining the Palmer Scores.
"Hey, Supes. Is she attractive, or a total dog?"
Superman was wondering whether Batman was too conservative in his calculations. "Does it matter?"
"Look, I've seen your wife."
Superman passed over his sheet and tried to reason with him. "I don't know what she looks like."
"Er ... those x-rays of yours?"
"The waiting room is shielded." Diana handed over the score sheets. "Batman insisted."
"That reminds me: when are you guys going to recommend therapy?"
Kelly alternated between pacing, sitting, and trying to ignore the window. She never knew she'd miss magazines that proclaimed that they'd just discovered that Princess Di had an eating disorder.
Then somebody – the guy – The Batman – was walking towards the room.
She used the reflection in the metal motif room to adjust her hair, smooth down her shirt, and curse about her lack of makeup in her handbag.
You know that once they find out, they'll never let you join up, so why worry?
The Dark Knight motioned to her, and she followed, still stunned by the day's events, but still possessed her faculties. It was unfortunate that she hadn't enough time to process what had happened to her – but circumstance was neither kind nor patient.
He motioned for her to stop, just outside the entrance of the meeting room. Everybody had left their chairs and was assembled in front.
Superman and Diana were treating this with appropriate decorum.
Lantern and Wally were trying to look serious.
J'onn was wearing his usual serene but attentive expression – and from the looks of things, Plastic Man was attempting to find out what the newcomer looked like before even thinking about decorum.
Batman neatly sidestepped. "Ms. Kelly Bryson"
The woman – twenty-three years of age, naturally blonde, walked into the room. Batman regarded her Hard Rock T-shirt and faded jeans before turning back to the group.
The first indications that something was wrong began right then and there.
Superman was stunned but trying to hide it. Also – the edges of embarrassment were beginning to creep into his expression.
Kyle and Wally were not remotely as good as Clark was at hiding their reactions.
Plastic Man hadn't a hope in hell of hiding it – his powers naturally exaggerated his facial expressions; his eyes had extended on stalks and his jaw had dropped a full foot and a half downwards. Not to mention that his tongue had flopped down to the floor and unfolded like the proverbial roll of toilet paper.
Her expression hadn't shifted an inch, but Diana was just as mystified with the other's reactions as he was. J'onn had an idea – mindreaders usually did - but the amusement in his face meant that Batman would have to find out the hard way.
Wow. I mean …
… well, I know that I'm absolutely not getting in …
… but maybe I can get a photo? Signed?
Wonder Woman had no idea what had gotten into the others, but growing up as royalty, plus her extensive experience as an ambassador kicked in. She reached out and took the woman's hand in hers, giving one of her warmer smiles.
"Welcome to the JLA, Kelly."
"Ah … yeah. Yeah. Thanks. I mean…"
"The first part of our qualifying procedure is a medical examination. J'onn …" Diana indicated the Martian Manhunter "… will conduct the procedure. This may be a little sudden, but it's part of the security procedures, and can't be avoided."
The Martian Manhunter extended his arm towards one of the interior door, and Kelly, still overwhelmed, was ushered out of the meeting room.
As soon as the door closed, Diana took hold of Superman's arm, around the tricep, and 'persuaded' him to move away from the rest of the group. The bruises would fade in a week.
"Tell me Clark."
"Tell me why you and half the League recognize a girl that Bruce takes from the street, but he and I don't know."
"It's … it's a…"
Diana folded her arms, gave Superman one of her more direct gazes, and started strumming her fingers on her left elbow. She gave Clark thirty seconds before he'd spill his guts.
As soon as Superman was occupied with Diana, the others crowded around Batman.
"What … why'd you bring her in?"
"He doesn't know."
"He can't not know."
"He does doesn't know."
The double negatives weren't improving Batman's temper. "Obviously."
Green Lantern looked back where J'onn had lead Ms. Bryson. "You're telling me that you have no idea who she is."
"Then you should tell me."
Kyle and Wally looked at each other, wondering how to put it.
"She's a Porn Star!"
Diana froze. And tried to process this. "Are you…"
"Yes! I'm pretty certain it was her!" the frantic hiss was delivered with enough force to send her back half a step.
Then the thought of Superman … watching the film that this woman was supposedly featured in sent her back even further.
"Lois … Lois wanted to … spice things up…?"
Superman, having started his confession, was beginning to pick up steam. "… I went to the store … grabbed the first four I saw … you know, sometimes you don't like a film for some reason … she was in two of them…"
Diana tried to stop the flow. "Yes, I understand…"
The Kansas-bred's catharsis could not be stopped. "It turned out one of them had all men…"
"Lois wanted to watch that one all the way through for some reason … the clerk at the store kept on looking at me in a strange way for months…"
"I get the picture."
"You didn't recognize her?"
"We – Have – Already – Established – That." Batman was feeling the unfamiliar and uncomfortable sensation of not being in control.
"Wasn't the boob job … you know … a clue?"
"We were in California."
"Didn't you check her out before bringing her up here?"
"Oracle performed a spot check for criminal records, red flags and possible aliases. She was clean." Being on the defensive was not a pleasant experience.
"Hmmm, yes. Next time, tell her to check for warrants, priors, and if the subject of said search has ever taken on three guys on camera, wouldja? Clarkie looks a little flustered over there."
Kelly was seated on a high-tech doctor's table, swinging her legs back and forth while the large green guy was working on a bunch of computers.
"When you're gonna start?"
"I started a few minutes ago." Greenie looked up at her and flashed a tight-lipped grin. "Scans are picking up no abnormalities … no bacteriological and viral infections…"
"So I don't have to take my clothes off?"
"That's entirely optional." The saline-based constructs surgically implanted behind her mammary glands and the corresponding pectoral muscles, and the consistent axilla incisions were logged into her records, along with the surgical alterations to her chin and nose.
For the next few minutes, the only sounds in the room were the controls clicking under his fingers until she spoke again.
"They're talking about me, aren't they?"
He glanced upwards. "They're … concerned. You've taken them by surprise."
"You have super-hearing?"
"It's easier to scan their emotional levels from down here."
Kelly sat up straighter. "You're reading their minds?"
"Not exactly…" He had a thoughtful look on his face for a second. "If reading minds is like breaking into an office and going through the filing cabinet, what I'm doing now is listening to a neighbor's argument with his wife, and somebody both gave them a pair of megaphones for their anniversary."
"Oh." Kelly gave a slight grin. "What are they saying?"
"Somebody's wondering whether 'Love Your Work' is appropriate for your field."
Superman and Wonder Woman had approached the rest of the group. "Bruce … we have to…"
Batman cut off Superman, more venom in his voice than before. "This – doesn't – matter."
Batman grabbed the scoresheet, and tapped the total. "This is the only thing that matters. Her power."
Superman was looking more confused than Diana had ever seen him before. "I … I don't know…"
"She has already publicly defeated a major powerhouse. If she's left on her own, others will come for her, hoping for an easy kill. With us…"
Then … something intruded into the back of their heads.
"Receiving you J'onn."
Have you finished up there? There are only so many times I can wave a scanner over her and say everything's fine…
Batman gave everyone a quick glare. After a quick series of exchanged glances, Superman nodded.
"Send her up."
One more thing … she's not stupid … she knows you're talking about her…
The Martian Manhunter's influence drained out of their minds.
Superman pointed at Batman. "Probationary Membership. Your direct supervision."
Kelly was standing in front of a mirror.
Technically, it wasn't a mirror; it was a high-resolution screen, camera network and powerful computer system that looked at your body, and then mapped an image of whatever clothes you wanted to wear onto your 'mirror image'. It would even determine your size down to the millimeter, and transmit the cut, measurements and fabric to the store or tailor for rapid made-to-order.
This device was created by a technically minded hero, who was convinced by his monetary minded friend that this would be bought up by all fashion stores. However nobody told them that trying on the clothes was part of the female shopping experience, and the prototype was dumped here before anyone suggested to them they might have better luck selling them to a chain of mensware stores.
Right now, Kelly was examining a black-and-red form-fitting bodysuit with a similarly-coloured jacket, while Green Lantern and The Flash were watching her pose.
For security purposes. Honest.
Kyle nudged Wally "Secret identity?"
"She's going public. I mean, there's no point in hiding it; security footage from the supermarket were snapped up by the news networks like that."
"Oh that's gonna be fun."
The man who only kept on his mask as a dedication shrugged. "Keeping secret identities isn't as easy as it used to be."
"Has she decided on a name yet?"
"She was going for 'Movement Girl' until I told her how easy it would be to have 'Bowel' put on the start."
They turned towards Kelly. "Yeah?"
"Should I put pockets or something on this?"
"Depends if you carry around a lot of stuff." Something occurred to Kyle. "By the way; no straps."
"You know, buckles, belts around other places than the waist. There was a lot of straps in the nineties. Now it's like flares. Sometimes popular, most of the time it's embarrassing."
"And anything that looks like it came from The Matrix is out. Everybody's doing that."
"Do you fly?"
"Ah … I dunno."
"It's okay for some, but not for everybody."
"Got a name yet? Sometimes it helps."
"I'm still working on the whole 'I have super powers' concept."
Kelly resumed her posing.
Kyle had an idea. "'Motion Woman'?"
"Gee. That sucks."
"It's a good thing you're an artist because you suck as a writer."
Green Lantern turned, seeing Batman enter the room. "Hey, what do you think of 'Motion Woman'?"
Batman's expression didn't give Kyle much hope.
Batman gave Wally one of his nastier looks. "Latin. For 'movement'."
"What did you say?" Kelly stopped her posing, and headed towards the group.
"Kin – ney – sis." Kelly rolled the syllables around experimentally. "Sounds okay."
"What about 'Motion Woman'?"
Kelly's expression froze. "Well … doesn't everybody have –man, or –girl or –woman at the ends of their names?"
"Well, I'm watching the news, and a lot of the time it's 'Ultragirl' or "Powerman' or something…" Kelly shrugged. "I can always change it later, can't I?"
"There's no law against it."
Wonder Woman, with Superman following, entered the room, holding a folder. "How are things?"
"Bats got a name for me."
Wally prepared to put himself between Kelly and the Batman. Being a hero required certain acts of stupidity.
Wonder Woman extracted a few documents from the folder and handed them to Kelly. "I made the arrangements a half hour ago. Just sign these and you've got the job."
"What're these – insurance, disclaimers…?"
"The contract for your new job."
Kelly's eyes widened. "What?"
"There's a clerical position in Kord Industries Los Angeles office. Filing, typing…"
Wonder Woman stopped her spiel – by now, Kelly Bryson should be beaming with happiness, bubbling with gratitude now that an alternative to the degrading occupation she currently held had just fallen into her lap. The tension that was visibly growing across Kelly's shoulders should not be there, neither should the familiar aggressive signs.
"I've already got a job, okay?"
"This is a better one."
"No, the shoot that starts on Thursday is better. Besides - I've signed the contracts for five more flicks so far."
"We … we can arrange lawyers. Get you out of it."
"Hey." Kelly raised her hands. "Even if I hadn't spent the advance - I'm a professional."
This should not be happening. This woman should be backing down, signing the forms, and thanking her profusely.
Diana of Themyscira had worked with women from what could be termed the other side of the tracks, those who came to her sponsored shelters and her Foundation. Prostitutes, drug addicts, political refugees, abuse victims, runaways. She'd seen the hopelessness of chemical cravings, the abyss of destitution, the confused love of those who excused the back of their husband's hand while fleeing it's blow.
However, she'd never met someone who knew full well where she was, knew the alternative, and preferred it.
"So…" Diana was still trying to assimilate this knowledge. "… you're going to … remain … a …"
"Porn Star." Muttered Green Lantern.
Kinesis, a.k.a. Kelly Bryson a.k.a. Danni Love, grinned. "Yeah." She turned towards the mirror and pointed to her computer generated image. "Does my butt look big in this?"
"You let her in."
Linda West's voice had that cold edge which made her husband automatically wince. They were happily married, right?
"Technically, Batman let her in. And under the rules, it's his call."
"Somebody, someday will have to tell that pointy-eared egomaniac where to shove it."
The Fastest Man Alive snorted. "Yeah. And I plan to be on the other side of the world when that happens."
"Don't you guys get a vote?"
"We already put her on probationary status before we realised she wouldn't quit."
Linda slumped into the couch, and held her head in her hands. "Could someone tell me when superheroes get some common sense? I mean, at the station, before we officially said 'welcome aboard', we had interviews, we had police checks, we even had a cop who does private detective work in his spare time … all you had was 'Batman Makes It So'."
Wally tried to use reason. "What she's doing – it's not … it's not illegal."
"Oh. It's not illegal. Well, in most parts of the planet, having indiscriminate sex with … anyone and everything and getting paid for it is considered illegal. But put a camera crew in front of her, and it's all okay, isn't it?"
"I think the guy gets paid as well, Honey."
The cold edge in Linda's voice increased to testicular shrinkage temperatures. "Don't. Honey. Me."
"Do you realise what this is going to do to the JLA's reputation? To your reputation?"
Wally felt the argument slipping away from him. "The JLA's charter doesn't expressly forbid … any members having jobs that could be a bit iffy."
"Wally. A used car salesman is iffy. A politician is iffy. A Porn Star is way beyond any concept of 'iffy' than you can possibly think of."
"Do you know how many reformed criminals we've had – we have – in the League? If we started … saying stuff like 'you're okay, but what you did or do we find a bit hinky'…"
"There's a point. Lemme get to it. We'd have to kick out … well, Plastic Man for a start..."
"When you're making a point, try using people who didn't try to grope me."
"Okay, what about Chunk? He's got a record. And he's listed as a Reserve."
Linda stopped glaring at him, and looked down for a split second. "He's pretty low on the list."
Wally pressed his advantage. "Pied Piper?"
Wally automatically regretted the words the instant they emerged from his mouth; bringing up an ex-girlfriend during an argument was one almighty screw up.
The glare returned, with reinforcements. Wally knew from the way she got up, fingers tensed like claws, that this was going to be a long day.
And possibly night. He hoped the couch was still comfortable.
Superman entered the open window of his apartment through the still of the night. His plans were to change, brew a pot of coffee, type up five articles from his notes while he waited for the pot to brew. Brush his teeth, bed.
However his plans were stopped when he saw Lois waiting for him. The L.A. Times, opened to the Entertainment section, with the headline 'SUPER PORN?' and the subheading THE JUSTICE LEAGUE ADMITS PORN STAR INTO RANKS was a subtle clue about what she wanted to talk about.
Thank you very much Bruce.
Situated under a stately manor in Gotham is a massive cave network.
Within that cave network is several million dollars worth of weaponry, unique cars, computer equipment and the man who's funds and drive created it all.
That man was seated on a throne-like chair in the center of the complex, before an enormous hi-definition flat screen and computer terminal.
Using the seven inter-linked T932 Cray supercomputers known colloquially as the Batcomputer, this man was watching the newest member of the JLA perform certain acts. With a man, a brunette, and for some reason only known to the director, a Dalmatian was watching the little group's action with an expression of mild boredom.
A computer program was automatically taking snapshots of her face from the footage, cleaning up the resolution of the shots, and storing them in a separate directory. Batman noted that the program failed to work if something was in her mouth, and resolved to correct the code at a later date.
"Do I understand that you're finally entertaining the possibility of entering adolescence in your lifetime?"
Batman didn't bother to turn around. "This is the young lady who's joined the League, Alfred."
"Ah. The one that's been on MTV."
That comment earned a direct stare at his sixty-something butler. "Expanding your viewing habits?"
"Taking calls from Master Tim."
Batman was not relishing the future conversation with Robin. "I'll speak to him later."
Alfred turned his non-committal expression to the action on screen. "The blonde?"
"At least she'll meet the minimum fitness requirements."
Batman looked back to the screen. "Oh?"
"Well, she's very flexible."
"Unless, of course, that's some form of special effect."
"I don't think the budget in this particular feature stretches that far."
"You're not going to admit an error to Mr. Kent, are you?"
"I have not made an error. I have seen a potentially powerful…"
"If you knew…?"
Batman glanced back at the screen, then back at Alfred. "Granted, I might have taken a slightly different course of action…"
Alfred suddenly let out a gasp of shock.
Batman turned his head to the screen – the scene was over, and the performers were gathered at what looked like a party. "What?"
"That…" Alfred looked like he was forcing the next word out with a crowbar. "…acting."
Alfred Pennyworth, after his stint as an army medic, and before he followed in his father's footsteps as family butler to the Waynes, was a classically trained Shakespearian actor. Batman learned everything he ever knew about acting, vocal mimicry, and making an entrance from this man.
However, Alfred also had a very demanding taste concerning other people's performance, and wasn't afraid to express it – several Hollywood stars would have their entire career dissected and autopsied during the entrée whenever Bruce Wayne invited them over for dinner. Very useful if you wanted to ditch an up-and-coming starlet who wanted to use your fame and fortune as a career move.
Batman suddenly experienced a surreal mental image of his butler barging in on the earlier scene, brushing aside some of the props used before sitting next to them, and giving a stern lecture to the performers on the merits of Stanislavski.
"Maybe you should give them a few pointers?"
"I'll take that under advisement, sir."
Jennie-Lynn Hayden shone her energy construct light around one more time before giving up looking under the bed.
Kyle Rayner had done a pretty good job hiding his porn collection. She'd gone through every draw, box, book, folder and space in their apartment, and still couldn't find it.
Of course, he could have hidden it anywhere on the planet. The Green Lantern Power Ring allowed flight speeds surpassing light, and he could have bought a secure waterproof box and stashed it somewhere in the Amazon.
Normally, she'd leave it alone, but now that one of those girls was in the League, she was not going to allow temptation to cross his path.
Maybe the bathroom. She hadn't checked the space between the drawers.
Barbara Gordon tried to ignore the chuckling from the speakerphone. "Shut up Grayson."
"The Oracle – the world's greatest hacker, didn't know she was a porn star." The chuckling grew into full blown laughter.
"That search engine was directly tied to law enforcement databases all over the world. All the States. Federal. Interpol, Russia, Africa, FBI, NSA, MI5, MI6. When I wrote a program designed to do an instant security check, for some reason I didn't think it had to cross-reference laughing still continued until Barbara shut off the phone, rubbing her eyes behind her glasses. She didn't know when she was going to live this down in a hurry.
Nightwing was still chortling as he put away his cell.
Robin cocked his head to the left. "Gonna keep on ragging her?"
"Oh this is too good Timmy boy. Never before has she performed such a magnificent screw-up."
"You are dating her."
"Oh yeah. And she takes the opportunity to remind me of every single mistake I've made. From the flesh wounds I could have avoided, the clues I miss, right down to drinking from the carton and the ever popular toilet seat, up or down." Nightwing spun on one foot. "I am simply … restoring the karmic balance."
"Isn't karma in the next life?"
"The universe is a lot faster these days."
"Maybe she would have known who she was if she looked on your computer."
"Oh no. My computer is completely clean."
"Hey, when your girl is the World's Greatest Hacker, anything on your hard drive is hers to know. Trust me."
"Is something wrong, Mr. Drake?"
"Ah …" Robin edged towards the end of the roof. "I … just remembered something … something I left at home … catch you … later…"
Robin jumped off the roof.
Nightwing grinned, looking at the night sky.
In one day, tormenting material, and blackmail material.
Life was good.
Kelly parked the car, leaping out of the door as soon as she engaged the parking brake. Thank god there was a spot nearby. The trucks carrying all the … stuff took a lot of space around the house.
She could now amplify the motion in any moving object – like herself. Her last practice session had her clocked at five hundred MPH before her eyeballs dried up due to the wind shear.
However, she'd been told not to use her powers unless she absolutely had to. And being late for a shoot didn't count. Her argument that Practice Makes Perfect was countered with Unsupervised Practice Creates Massive Property Damage and Lawsuits.
A six foot five mass of muscle gave her a leering grin as he opened the door. Derek was a bodybuilder who provided 'security' – in reality, using hand grips and staring at the talent - on shoots in exchange for cash payment and bragging to his buddies at the gym that he hung out with porn stars.
Doug Walters was mounting his new Sony camera on a tripod while talking on his cell. Doug was once a star himself before starting his own line of videos, now spending most of his time behind the cameras. "Danni!"
"I know, I know, I'm late. Sorry, but I was on the fucking moon."
Doug hung up and moved closer. "Can we talk?"
They moved towards the bathroom, where a large naked guy with a crewcut looked up at them, and smiled.
"Ross, can you get ready outside? Danni and I have to talk."
He shrugged, and left, closing the door, which Doug promptly locked.
"I thought I was shooting with Phil."
"Phil's sick. Ross was a last minute guy. You're okay with Ross?"
Kelly was taking off her top. "Oh yeah, Ross' fine."
"Look – are you okay?"
"About the whole super-hero thing?"
"What, me? Hell yeah."
Doug tried not to wince at her Stone Cold impression. "I tried to call, but your phone has been off the hook for days."
"Everyone's trying to call me." Kelly slung her top towards the shower stall and started taking off her shoes. "I even got a cop – a Captain talk about increased patrols in my area."
"Next party's not at your place then?"
"The last party I had there was this guy who threw up all over my couch. The couch I'm still paying off."
"Look, about super heroes? I hear they do some freaky stuff."
"Hey, I do freaky stuff for a living. Do you have any deodorant or something?"
Doug found the cabinet, and located a roll-on, passing to the naked Kelly. "Look … just be careful, okay?"
Kelly smiled, or smiled the best she could while hurriedly applying Pink Musk. "Never knew you cared."
"I've got one of those medical conditions. I fuck a girl a few times, I get emotionally attached. You bring the stockings like I asked?"
"Yeah … but …" Kelly dug into her oversized handbag, dragging out an oversized white t-shirt and green slip-ons. "Whaddya think …? ... girl next door kind of thing…"
"I really wanted the stockings …"
"Didn't you shoot Lynda and Angel in stockings a few weeks ago?
"Angel was in fishnets."
"I did stockings for Paul last week."
"Well you can do 'em again for my shoot."
Kelly rolled her eyes, and handed back the roll-on with more force than necessary. "Fine. I'll do the stockings. I'll be typecast as the stocking girl."
"Knock 'em dead superhero."
"You are a Probationary Member of the Justice League of America."
She wasn't quite sure whether it was lenses in his mask or he just couldn't blink, but his expression was creeping her out.
"As your sponsor, I can terminate your Membership at any time. If you succeed to my expectations, you will be nominated for full membership. Do you understand?"
"Yeah. You da man."
"Do not ask for secret identities. Do not hint, suggest or infer that you want to know their identities for any reason whatsoever. You will obey any…"
Batman suddenly remembered they currently had Plastic Man on the team.
"…reasonable orders given to you by one of the core members of the League, however, any instructions will usually come through me."
"You will attend all training cycles given to you, and respond to all League Emergencies. If your communicator can't be reached, your cell phone will be called …"
"You have my cell phone number?"
"We have your entire life on file."
"Making sure you don't miss anything again, right boss?"
Batman glowered – or more accurately, increased his current stare a few notches. He turned to the table, and picked up what looked like an electronic metal band.
"Put this on."
Okay, a collar.
"Is this a hazing thing…?"
"Put. It. On."
Kelly took the collar and feeling for the catch, snapped it together. It wasn't that tight, and she'd worn more uncomfortable…
Her new sense disappeared.
She swiveled around, breathing accelerating to try and match to her heartbeat.
"This is a power inhibitor. Fairly common design. You can even find the instructions to build one on the Internet." Batman walked up to her, till their noses were an inch away.
"If you pursue this career, you will be in a situation where your powers will not be available to you, or unable to use them due to certain circumstances, accidental or deliberate. I am going to teach you how to be effective without your powers. Are you ready?"
The punch knocked the wind out of her, pain lancing through her abdomen, sending her to her knees.
Batman waited until she stood up, and stopped wheezing.
"When I say 'are you ready'…"
Kelly reached out for him, fingers outstretched, snarling.
Batman sidestepped, grabbed her wrist, and twisted it behind her back.
"You want to hurt me, don't you?"
"Let me go you fucki…"
"Good." Batman released her, and she backed up.
"Are you ready?"
Kelly curled her fists up tight. "Right now, I want to fuck you up."
"Keep that in mind; you might get your wish."
Kelly limped towards the main hall.
Part of her training involved hitting a punching bag precisely five hundred times. And if she didn't punch it correctly once – then she had to start all over again. A dull, consistent throb that turned into sharp, biting needles in her flesh every time she moved was centered up and down her neck, shoulders, spine and hips from that exercise alone.
Then there was the formal tutorial, also conducted by Batman, or as she now affectionately referred to him: That Bastard.
The most important lesson she had learned today that there was a type of person who was worse than someone who thought they were right all the time.
It was the person who was right all the time, who knew that fact, and who probably spent more time and money making sure that they stayed that way. And she spent nearly the entire day with him.
Chair. Hard metal chair with sharp edges. She sank into it gratefully.
Kelly looked up at the Flash. "Batman just spent a few hours using me as a punching bag. Otherwise, I'm fantastic."
Flash looked around before leaning towards Kelly. "Just stick through it, okay?"
"Do all you guys beat the shit out of each other and call it training?"
"No … well, not all of us…"
"Listen. Okay, it's hard. Right now, you've got the guy who's turned being an uncompromising prick into a lifelong career. He's going to push you like you've never been pushed before."
"You have seen my movies, haven't you?"
"And he's not going to let you quit because it's become an ego thing between him and Superman."
"Right now, you're supposed to give me the good news."
"Technically, I haven't finished with the bad stuff."
"Okay, straight to the good stuff. You're gonna end up leading your own team."
Kelly gave Wally a puzzled look.
"I mean it. Whenever a bunch of guys in costumes want to form a team, sooner or later, somebody who's passed Batman's training becomes number one. The Titans. The Outsiders. Young Justice. Big players."
Kelly straightened a little, a slight grin on her face. "That … that'd be kind of cool..."
"Yeah." The Flash got up. "Personally, it's only the kind of job one of those anal retentive control freaks want, but if you like ordering five or seven people in weird costumes around, have fun."
"Like I said, you haven't seen my movies, have you?"
Simone Richards, a.k.a Lisa Lapp, looked at Kelly slumped in her chair, half asleep, a document titled 'Basic Personality Profiles of Superhuman Criminals' about to slide off her knees.
Simone put away her copy of People and nudged Kelly before she started drooling on her reading material. "Hey Danni."
Kelly looked at one of her best friends with bleary eyes. "Huh … oh … have we started?"
Simone looked at the director who was arguing with three men who were all uniformly wearing spandex bicycle shorts. "No."
"Crap." Kelly slumped back. "I got two hours sleep last night because I had to help save Missouri."
"I've got an uncle in Missouri."
"Want a pick me up? I got some crank in my bag."
Kelly placed her hands over her face. "I can't. They test me every day."
"Every new one has to do it."
Simone checked Kelly's unmarked arms. "Pee test?"
"Better." Kelly turned towards Simone. "This gadget … you place your hand on this glass plate. Then … then it reads the weight of your blood."
"Blood has a weight?"
"Actually, they said it has a 'gravity', but same difference."
"It gives a complete readout of what chemicals are and have been in me. Even stuff used to fix drug tests show up."
"Oh. That sucks."
"Yeah. At least I know my cholesterol's good."
"Apart from the whole denying you a good time deal, how're they treating you?"
"I don't know … the others are okay … I think the ones with girlfriends are avoiding me though."
Kelly mimed a whipcrack.
"I heard the Flash was a player."
"He's married now. Likes to mention it a lot."
"He wants you. He's trying to remind himself that wifey will tear his balls off if she thinks he's fooling around."
"Then there's Batman."
"You know, the National Inquirer will pay big bucks for a photo of him."
"Sounds good." Kelly stretched her shoulder. "Wouldn't mind giving him something back."
"Sounds like a prick."
"Do you remember Full Metal Jacket?"
"He's not one of those sergeants that screams at you? I had a boyfriend who was absolutely scared shitless of his sergeant."
"It's like … like he's … gone beyond the whole screaming…"
"Yeah … yeah. He's transcended the whole yelling and screaming, and goes straight for the whole humiliation thing with just a look."
"There's a director looking for someone like that in his next project."
"Then there's Wonder Woman."
"No … she's … she's one of those people who are … very, very nice, and they tell you that you're completely wrong, and you find yourself saying 'yes' to every word coming out of her mouth. It's only later you realise … you disagree with everything she says."
"About Wonder Woman…" Simone shuffled into a more comfortable position. "She was blessed by Gods, right?"
"The whole cast of Hercules showed up and said 'you will be smart, strong, beautiful…' the whole nine yards. And she was born Immortal."
"She cuts off heads?"
"No … doesn't get old or die."
"And she's a princess? A real life princess?"
"She gave it up to create a democratic state on her Island home. At least that's what she says all the time."
"Still counts." Simone held her hands to her breasts "All natural?"
"No back pain either. Or gets a period."
"And do you know what the big thing is? The thing that gets me?
"She has the balls to claim she represents women everywhere."
Kelly couldn't repress the snort from her nose.
"What about the big guy?"
"He's okay. He's one of the ones who avoids me."
"Fucked him yet?"
"You fuck Superman?"
"I work with him."
"You work with me, and I'm supposed to be fucking you if they ever get these lights up."
"I don't…" Kelly tapped her fingers on the edge of the chair. "… look, I don't want to fuck this up. Telling your boss that you want to give him a blowjob is definitely fuck-up territory."
"So you do want to fuck him."
Kelly snorted. "So do you."
A phone rang in Kelly's handbag, she picked it up and opened it in one smooth motion. "Hello? Oh, hi J'onn. What … I can't … I'm on a shoot right now, we've almost set up the lights…"
The background noise of the argument suddenly escalated, and a dull slap drew Kelly's attention. The director was on his knees, his nose streaming blood. Two of the bike short guys was holding the third one back, who was shouting something about his mother.
Kelly knew as an official super hero she should do something about this. She put the phone back on her ear.
"You know what? Looks like I'm free for the rest of the day."
"Just remember, I'll step in if there's any trouble, okay?
"Okay." She grabbed hold of the metal.
"On three. One … two…"
Superman barely started on the first syllable when Kelly pushed up.
The derelict boat, once a fishing vessel, displacement roughly one hundred tons, lifted into the air, to be held aloft.
Superman scanned Kelly, the boat, the surrounding beach. So far so good.
"Now concentrate. Remember, you can lift heavy objects like anything else because you amplify your own kinetic force and the object's own motion. But you have to concentrate on lessening an object's motion once you stop moving your arms, understand?"
"Gotcha." She felt the motion inside the boat, looming overhead, ready to be released once she let go.
Her foot was on a rock. She shuffled her toes away.
She heard the hideous creaking before she sensed the motion in the boat gathering power, unleashed above her head…
A hand in a blue sleeve grabbed the edge of the boat. "What did I say?"
Kelly gave a sheepish grin. "Concentrate. Eye on the ball."
"You sound like my editor. Your power isn't super strength. Sometimes it can appear to be super strength because you're amplifying the motion generated in your arms, your legs, your body, but you have to remember…"
"Not super strength."
"Now…" Superman stood behind her, and braced her stance, his arms parallel to hers, but his hands only resting on the boat, not supporting it. "… try to hold up the boat using as little of your arms as possible."
Kelly, slowly, moved her palms away from the rusting underside so that her fingers were supporting the weight. So far, so good.
Superman smelled different. Okay, every guy and every girl smelled different, but this was … more different.
Not bad. Just … different.
And her sense definitely kicked up when he was around. Enormous motion – power – in every part of him. Like a bright neon light
Kelly kept the motion locked up, frozen above her, as she curled her fingers inside her palms, so that only her index finger and thumbs were supporting the boat's weight.
Suddenly, she pulled her arms away.
The boat remained aloft, in the exact same position that she lifted it. Both Superman and Kelly backed away a few feet.
Superman gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "How do you feel?"
Her grin was wide and infectious. "Yay me."
She slowly raised her hand up, and her expression tightened. Her fingers started moving around, like she was trying to manipulate an invisible ball.
"What are you doing?"
"You know … in Empire Strikes Back … where Yoda moves Luke's spaceship?"
"You can't generate motion with your powers, you can only increase and decrease kinetic energy that's already there."
She tried to stop the warm flush over her face. "Oh."
"But you can push the boat a little."
Kelly walked up to the boat, and gently pushed it. Go where I push you, don't fall. Go where I push you, don't fall. Go where I push you, don't fall …
She was definitely getting the hang of this super hero thing.
Wonder Woman entered the conference room, prepared to study Batman's latest reports on global metahuman criminal trends.
She stopped, seeing Kinesis – Kelly – reading something similar; the font and paragraph structure was undoubtedly Batman's.
Instead of her uniform, she was wearing what could only be described as a ratty tracksuit.
"Why aren't you in costume?"
Kelly looked up. "Got a shoot in a few hours. Can't wear anything too tight."
"I see." Wonder Woman sat down, a chair's distance between the two. "You know, once your contractual obligations are finished…"
"Signed on to a few more."
"My agent loves me right now. We're in talks for a swimsuit calendar, a spot on MTV Cribs…"
They have agents?
"Listen to me."
Kelly looked at the woman who, when not fighting crime and freaky monsters, stood in the United Nations and told World Leaders where to get off.
"You have a certain … a certain standard to live up to."
Kelly tried to say something, but she felt her tongue dry up and leaden in her throat.
"This might not have been the case before, but…"
"… but …" Kelly forced the words out. "…you're telling me to give up my career because everyone thinks it's bad?"
Wonder Woman's voice didn't waver as she looked Kelly directly in the eye. "I'm telling you are now a public figure who represents certain values. Certain concepts and morals."
Kelly stood up, trying to keep her knees as far apart as possible because they were threatening to bang together like those bongo drums. "Oh yeah? W… well look. I'm … I represent morals. And I'm using a concept right now. If I'm not hurting anyone or anything, I can do whatever I want. And right now, I'm going to go to a shoot, and earn more money in a day than I'd earn in a week filing and typing. And … that's it, okay?"
With that, Kelly walked out of the conference room, heading to the teleporters.
Before she left, she ducked into the nearest bathroom and threw up the cheese and crackers she had for lunch.
Superman entered his apartment. "Sorry I'm late, there was a ton of work…"
Lois, standing in the doorway, held up a glossy magazine.
A picture of him, on a beach, holding Kinesis by the shoulder, the two very close.
He opened his mouth to deliver a hasty explanation…
Lois closed the bedroom door. The click of the lock was very loud in the rest of the empty apartment.
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late…
… if anybody makes high heels you can run in, he will make a fucking fortune because I will buy every one of his shoes ...
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late…
Kelly skidded onto the patio.
The director, a stills photograher she'd seen before but never really spoke to, and … some new girl she was supposed to do today's scene with but hadn't met yet … were all looking at her with varied degrees of annoyance.
However, it was Alex, the director, who got first rights to bitch her out.
"Well look, it's Princess Power, here to grace us with her presence."
"And fuck you very much too."
"You're an hour late!"
"I don't care! What were you doing?"
"Saving the world."
"There's a TV inside, we saw you on CNN. All you did was stand around and watch Superman and everybody else fight a big talking monkey in Paris…"
"Big talking Gorilla. That's why he's called Gorilla Grodd."
"Oh Christ." Alex pinched the bridge of his nose. "If you've finished hanging around with superheroes, maybe, just maybe you can lick out …" he leaned over to the photgrapher. "Who's the new girl?"
"Christii, I think."
"Right. Now get over there, and start making porno, okay?"
Kelly shook of her t-shirt and shorts, exposing the thong bikini she'd hurriedly put on once they'd finished in Paris. No time to see the sights, climb the Eiffel Tower, just stand far back, and use her powers to amplify Superman's punches even harder. Though watching Green Lantern cage a big monkey was kinda funny.
She moved over to Christii, laying down to her as Alex set up the colour saturation. "Hi."
Christii had a bright, dazzling smile that didn't falter in an instant as she delivered a sotto voce reply. "Just make it look good you dumb bimbo freak."
Reviewers of this scene would note Danni Love's aggression and determination, virtually dominating the neophyte Christii, and unanimously determine that it was undoubtedly the best scene in the entire movie.
Someone was in her house.
Her sense kicked in, waking her up.
Burglar? Stalker? Pervert?
She reached under the bed for the baseball bat an old boyfriend left behind. She carefully opened the door to the living room…
"Forty seconds to react. Not good."
She lowered the bat. Although, she would have loved to hit this particular Bat.
"You could have called."
"This is an emergency. Mass floods and rioting in India.
"Er … hi …" Green Lantern waved at her from near the kitchen. "Nice place."
"I mean it, I grew up not too far from here."
"If you're both ready…"
Kelly went to her costume, hung up on the doorknob. "This is not the glamour career you guys promised."
"It's not really a career … because, technically, since we don't get paid…"
"Don't remind me."
"How is Kinesis progressing?"
Batman looked up at Diana. "Despite her schedule, and the fact I can't bruise her too much, fairly well."
"So she's not in any danger of being expelled from the League."
"Not yet. So far, she's obeyed orders and fulfilled assigned duties."
"Huntress was far better trained, and you expelled her."
"Huntress tried to kill an unconscious man." Batman closed his file. "I'm not going to kick her out because of a marginally unusual career."
"Cavorting … cavorting with men and women on camera is not what I'd call 'marginally unusual'."
The definite tone in her voice made Batman curl his lip up, slightly. "You've seen some of her work."
Diana looked away. "Cassie … she found some video clips … and showed me."
"I suppose you dug up your … personal collection?"
"Don't have one."
"No." Her confused expression warranted an explanation. "Bruce Wayne is a man of means and … rumored tastes. Buying or renting pornography is … too conventional for the kind of rumors I need to be out there. Besides…" he flashed her a split second ribald grin. "… he prefers participation to observation."
"Let me guess. You constructed an elaborate disguise, complete with change of appearance, wig and mask, not to mention full documentation and credit card history, then you drove to a store a few states over and bought her complete work?"
"Feasible theory, but my way was simpler."
"I stole Kyle's."
Wonder Woman did a quick mental double take. "Won't he … miss his collection?"
"Considering Jade's torn up their apartment five times looking for it, he'd thank me."
"You know, the guys … the performers in porn films? Don't get enough respect."
"Personally – I try not to look at them too much." Stated Kyle.
O'Brian swiveled his head a few times before looking at Wally. "How you figure that?"
"Well … could anybody here … perform … in front of…" Wally held out his hand, and ticked off each point on a finger. "… a camera operator. A boom operator. Someone in charge of sound…"
"You said that already."
"No, I said boom operator. He holds the mike – usually someone with a flannel shirt - someone else takes care of the sound levels. Sometimes one guy can do both, but they like to have two."
"And just how do you know what goes on a porn set, Wally boy?"
"I have spent a lot of quality time with my wife…"
"Mentioning her again?"
"Must have been some fight."
"Shut up. When Linda was a news reporter, I spent a lot of time waiting for her on set. You notice things. Where was I?"
"Camera guy, mike guy, sound guy…"
"Thanks Kyle. Director, make-up artist, security, gaffer…"
"What's a gaffer?"
"Does electrical stuff. Cables, wiring, things like that."
"Okay…" Plastic Man ticked off the points. "You got a minimum of seven guys."
"They can't all be guys."
"I saw a female gaffer once."
"Okay, seven people minimum. All focussed on you."
"Don't forget you got to look natural while all this is going on, Rayner."
"Yeah, it's easier for the girls."
Plastic Man, Green Lantern, and The Flash turned to see Kelly approaching the table.
"Now, how come all of you think girls don't work as hard as guys on set?"
"Well, the whole performance thing is more of an issue for us guys than girls."
Kelly was about to state something, then nodded. "Yeah. If you're a good performer … but we have to look good. If you're good on camera and you're a guy, directors let it slide a bit if you need to loose weight or something else. We're the ones who get yelled at if you're puffy one day. Gotta work out, diet, a nip or tuck, botox…"
"I've thought about it… you know, a couple years from now…"
"Look, the fact is, it's harder for guys. You just fake it."
"Hey, I don't fake."
The three men regarded her with stony silence.
"Maybe, sometimes … I exaggerate."
Kelly raised her hand, thumb and forefinger a quarter-inch apart. "A little."
"Hey, if you want to pick out any one of my scenes where I fake it…"
The door opened. Kelly turned to see Superman enter the room.
"Unidentified energy surge in Beijing. Get ready."
Kelly decided now was a good time to ask. "Hey guys … Superman … is he … I mean…"
She contemplated that fact for a second.
Kelly reached out, and grabbed the cell phone. "Muh supa bodda needsh schleep …"
"Danni? Are you there?"
Kelly tried to clear her head, pushing her body to an upright position. "Lisa? Issat …"
"It's Nicky … he's gone absolutely bugfuck…"
Adrenaline kicked in. "Where are you…"
"Home … he's outside…"
"Just stay there. Call 911, okay? I'm coming over." Kelly hung up, grabbing the jeans she'd artistically draped on the floor when she couldn't muster the energy to do anything but collapse into bed last night.
Nicky was an aspiring actor who made a living being a DJ in a few clubs. He was gorgeous, and had just the right amount of tattoos that made him look sexy without making him look like a biker wannabe.
He was also an arrogant little shit who enjoyed putting down Simone at every opportunity, and the usual source for any recreational pharmaceuticals she might have.
Superman or Batman would swirl their capes, and dive effortlessly through the window – she'd seen them do it often enough.
She had to hop down the stairs putting on her sneakers, set a brand new record for profanity as she hunted for her keys, and narrowly miss her neighbor's parked car when driving off in her Ford F-150.
Simone lived in a nice little condo half an hour away. Kelly made it in thirteen.
She'd expected cops notice her reckless driving, and she'd have a couple of cruisers following her. Of course, none were there. Probably caught her license plate on half a dozen speed cameras though.
Kelly ran towards the apartment – the door was busted open, and the screaming shouts could be heard in the still night air.
Kelly entered the doorway. Smashed table and chair.
And someone screaming at a closed bathroom door. Wide open eyes and bulging neck muscles.
"GET OUT OF THERE YOU STUPID DYKE AND TELL ME WHERE THE REST IS, CUNT!"
A torn open handbag wasn't the hardest clue to decipher.
Nicky must have heard her, because he turned around, pointing a knife. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE!"
Kelly looked at him. The cold voice of the bastard who trained her reminded her to note everything in the area that could be used as a weapon. "Get out of here Nicky."
"I DON'T TAKE ORDERS FROM STUPID LITTLE SLUTS!"
She could increase the kinetic force on his inhalation and explode his chest from inside. She could increase gravity's constant pull and turn him into a puddle.
"NOW GET THE FUCK OUT…"
Kelly ran up, grabbed the wrist of his knife hand and squeezed at a certain space.
The pain making his knife drop out of his grip distracted him long enough for Kelly to use the thousands of times daily she was forced to use a punching bag in the correct manner, and punch him directly under the ribcage.
His knees slackened and he went down.
The equal amounts of time spent kicking the punching bag, imagining it was Batman's face was used to send her battered Nikes into his ribs.
"Oh Nicky wants to fuck with me?" Another kick "That's okay baby-" another kick "-we've got-" this one went just above his hip "-all night!"
Kelly swung back, and aimed her foot towards the side of Nicky's head.
Nicky flailed around, grabbing her leg, and pulling.
The unexpected move sent Kelly falling. The chair that connected with the side of her head broke her fall.
A sick sensation followed by the taste of blood.
Kelly pushed herself up towards the chair. Nicky was already running towards the door. "You're dead, you hear me? Dead!"
Kelly knew she would have said something really cool at this point if she could form any words with her mouth.
The training made her look around before slumping back onto the chair. There was a headache forming behind her eyes, and a lump was definitely on the side of her head.
The bathroom door creaked open. "Danni?"
Kelly looked around, saw tear-streaked mascara and a nasty bruise on her eye. "Are … are you okay?"
Simone was about to say something, but tears were beginning to flow again.
Kelly walked towards her on unsteady legs, and opened the door. Simone flew out, and hugged her, the type of embrace that allows you to count every one of your ribs.
"He … he wanted money … was going…"
"Okay … okay … it's okay honey…" Kelly moved Simone's face towards her own. "It's okay." She looked around. "DO … do you have anywhere to go tonight?"
Simone's frantic expression wasn't a good sign.
Suddenly, an idea occurred to Kelly. However, it involved swallowing some pride.
"Hang on … I know somewhere … or someone." Kelly took her cell, and dialed a sequence that someone told her was only used for strict emergencies.
"Hey … it's … you know, Kinesis."
"What can I do for you?" Clipped, cold, professional. She wasn't going to make this easy.
"My friend … I need your help."
The Wonder Woman Foundation was a massive charitable organisation founded and run by the most charismatic and influential female of all time.
One of their most visible branches was Women's Shelters. Direct line to the police, medical staff on 24 hour standby, permanent rotating councilors on staff, and armed Amazons who were an order away from exterminating every living thing with external genitalia.
Kelly noted that even the instant coffee was fantastic. She stared at the blue door where Simone was having her examination.
"Dr. Weber is very good at what she does."
Kelly turned to see Wonder Woman. Perfectly tailored pantsuit, Italian shoes, never wore or seemed to need makeup. And no indication it was four in the morning.
"Thanks … thanks for getting her in so quickly."
That smile; warm, genuine. "My pleasure Kelly."
She got up from the waiting room chair. "I'll go as soon as Lisa's … as Simone's okay."
"Actually, there's a detective coming to take a statement. We have an arrangement with the local precinct, and he'll need your version of events."
"Ah .. yeah, sure."
"We can wait in the administrator's office."
Not quite sure what was happening, Kelly followed Wonder Woman towards a small neat office. Diana showed her a seat next to the desk, and refreshed Kelly's coffee, somehow knowing exactly how she took it.
"I think Batman will be very interested in how you took down Mr. Wolverton."
"He's not going to chew me out for being too rough on Nicky?"
"Knowing Batman, he'll chew you out for leaving him in a condition to walk."
"I understand Ms. Richards is in the same business as you?"
"Ah … yeah. We sort of … entered at the same time."
"Is this behavior normal among men you date?"
"Hey … look, Nicky is a gonorrheaic asshole who kicked the shit out of his girlfriend so he could get money for a fix. I'm sure that you can find a whole bunch of women here who went out with or got married to similar little fucks, and none of them are in porn, okay?"
"Have you met men like that?"
"I…" Kelly waved her hand "… I've gone out with a few pricks. Some dipshits and a real momma's boy. I lucked out on the whole human punching bag thing." Kelly edged forward on the chair. "Look, you don't like what I do. Okay. That's cool, this is America … free speech and everything. Just … and I'm asking you nicely … just don't get in my face with it all the time."
Wonder Woman regarded her silently for a second. Then she nodded, holding out her hand. "Truce?"
The two women reached out and shook hands.
"You know … I sort of thought you'd be into it. Well, some of my movies."
Kelly put her index and middle fingers over her lips, and waggled her tongue.
A confused look was quickly replaced by understanding, and a shake of the head. "Sorry to disappoint you."
"Ah … oh. Not me. Not off camera. Most of the time. I got drunk, I mean, really drunk once, and she offered me a lift home and…"
"That's … that's your business."
"What's the weirdest thing you've done?"
"Wie …" Diana quickly rubbed her hand. "I don't have … anything … weird … this…" she waved her hand to encompass the office "…is pretty much a full time job."
"Just between us. Promise."
"Well…" Diana looked at the door, then leaned in closer. "Sometimes … I get offers. From … certain magazines?"
"Oh yeah. I've got a pictorial coming out next month."
Diana's eyes flickered downwards. "They keep on saying things like ... it's tasteful. Artistic."
"You know, I heard from a friend that there's somebody in the middle of the desert who actually believes that."
Diana smiled. "Urban legend."
"They send me contracts, ready to sign. Usually with a nice bunch of flowers."
Diana shrugged. "The last offer was … fifteen million."
Kelly couldn't feel her hands. Or her arms. It must have been related to the buzzing in her ears.
Fifteen million for a pictorial? She'd done a whole lot more for a whole lot less.
"Kelly? Kelly, are you alright?"
"Yeah … yeah. Just … keep …"
Diana's voice lowered to a whisper. "I tell my staff that I get rid of them. Well … I don't."
She does the shoot in secret, chickens out, and does really freaky shit with him to keep his mouth shut. One of her staffers finds out and she has to do him as well. Or her. Probably both at the same time…
"I keep the contracts. In a secret file. And If I need a … little pick-me-up, I look at how much they're willing to pay … just to look at me."
I watch too many of my own fucking movies.
"Okay … yeah … I'd feel pretty good about myself if someone wanted to pay … fifteen … million … to stare at my tits. What about stuff you've … done?"
Diana looked up into Kelly's eyes. "I … I haven't."
"I … really?"
"What about a girl? They count."
"Gee." Kelly felt oddly embarrassed. "It's … it's nothing to be … how old are you…?"
"Oh. That's … no real hurry…" Kelly checked out he carpet, then back to Diana's eyes. "You could … it's not that hard."
"I know. There's a lot of it going around."
"You could … guys at bars. Pick one."
"I … it's more difficult …"
"Nobody would ever believe him. Even if he brags."
"Was the … first time … alright?"
"Ah … yeah. Okay. Well, there was a lot of weed involved."
"Now? I get a lot. Get paid for it."
"I mean…" Diana raised her hands. "Do you … did you did it … do it because of the money, or you … like doing it?"
"Yeah. I … I like it. I … I wouldn't make a career of something I didn't like. I don't want to … to look back in twenty years and think 'I wasted all that time doing something I hated'. You know what I mean?"
"Yes. I think."
"And it's different … with the camera. There's a lot of … stopping and starting? And staying really still for a long time."
"Well … to be honest … it kind of gets in the way when you're not … the last time I was with someone, you know, purely recreationally? Half the time I was thinking; is there enough light on my ass?"
Diana raised her hand to stifle the laugh.
A knock on the door heralded a small, bespectacled woman. "Ambassador? Detective Connelly is here."
"Thank you Sarah. Send him in please."
When Sarah left, Kelly gave Diana a grin. "Let's go meet the fuzz, okay?"
Kelly got off Green Lantern's platform, along with Flash and Plastic Man.
Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Batman had already arrived at the hill overlooking the generator complex. If you ignored the gaping smoking hole in the wall and the two twelve foot high suits of mechanical armour at the gates, it might look normal.
The only indication that Batman noticed their arrival was his voice. "Three minutes ago, operatives from the Kobra Cult seized that facility, along with thirty-eight known hostages. No demands as yet."
"The religious cult and terrorist organisation destined to bring about their version of Armageddon."
Plastic Man's face morphed into a flesh coloured hood "And using the names of the bad guys in GI Joe!"
Batman lowered his binoculars. "Superman. J'onn. Scan the facility and one square mile around it."
Superman's gaze took on that disfocussed look whenever he used his X-Ray vision. "They're using sensor cloaks."
Sensor cloaks were a device invented when bad guys discovered using lead to block Superman's x-ray vision made them stand out like a flare in pitch black darkness. Constantly upgraded plans circulated on the Internet, some easily built from commercially available electronics and parts, making them invisible to everything except normal vision.
J'onn confirmed it with his own x-ray vision, then reached out with his mind – and hit a brick wall. "Psionic shields. I can't scan them."
Batman turned to Kelly. "So far nobody's developed anything against your senses. What can you detect?"
Kelly took a deep breath, and reached.
"Fifty … four people with heartbeats. Seventeen … no, eighteen have…" Tensed springs in automatic magazines, pins shuffling imperceptibly in metal holes, creaking motions of bundled Kevlar. "…guns, grenades and body armour."
"What about security guards?"
"No … some people have got holsters that are empty … they move different."
Batman consulted a PDA. "That means no hostages have been killed yet." He handed it and its stylus to Kelly. "Put the positions of everyone with weapons on this display."
"Wait." She raised her hand out, focussing.
The guards at the gates, wearing several million dollars of cybernetically operated body armour, keeled over.
Everyone turned to Kelly.
"And what did you do?"
"I … I slowed, but didn't stop … their blood. I stopped it moving as fast as it should. That made them pass out, but not … die, or get brain damage and…"
The heroes looked at each other before returning their gaze to Kelly.
Wonder Woman was the first to speak. "Good work."
"Well done Kelly."
"Some of the hostages might be Kobra moles. Wally…"
Wally blurred before Batman could finish speaking, a dust cloud appearing around his feet.
"Just frisked thirty-eight people and searched for nasty surprises. They're clean, and from the looks of it they didn't have time to set anything up."
"Superman. J'onn. Diana. Go in. Lantern, support." As the others flew off, Batman turned to Kelly, a rather stupid grin on her face.
"Don't get cocky."
With an artistic flurry of his cape, he headed towards the complex.
The Flash looked at Kelly. "That's batspeak for 'good job'. Usually."
"One day, that guy is going to make his kid's therapists very happy."
"I just hope when Linda has…" when Kelly looked at him, Wally stopped. "Ah … let's keep Batman happy. Ish."
He disappeared, the trail of dust kicking up towards the building.
" … and it'll be shot in Cancun. It'll be the biggest project you've been in yet."
Geraldine was her agent. Face like a ferret, instincts of a shark. Rumour was she gave up sex when she discovered the taste of fresh blood.
"We're talking massive distribution. The States, Europe … rest of the planet."
"Okay, I'll draw up the contracts…"
"Just one thing."
Her smile wasn't pleasant. "Name it honey."
"Lisa Lapp has to be in it."
Geraldine was used to personal demands, not instructions for other people. "I don't know … Bill wanted an all blonde cast."
Right now, Simone was moving, and had a cash flow problem. A decent part could fix a whole bunch of problems.
"She's in it, or I'm not."
"Okay. I'll talk to her people, and his people…"
Kelly grinned. "Great. Catch you later."
Before she left the restaurant, two college-age guys asked for her autograph, and she quickly signed before heading to her car.
Good things happening today. Big movie, with all the rewards that went with it.
Also, Green Lantern mentioned that there were moves to finalise her nomination into the League. She was so excited that she almost kissed Batman.
Thankfully that passed.
She parked her car in the driveway.
Quick stop. Change of clothes. Pee break.
Slamming the door, she looked through the mail.
The lights flickered, some kind of surge –
- her sense disappeared.
An electrical current burned through her.
Pain. Her head. Her neck.
Kelly's eyes fluttered open.
Her sense was still gone.
She was in the living room area, lying in a spread-eagled position. All the furniture had been pushed aside.
Three men were watching her wake up. One small bald guy in a green uniform. One really large guy in a similar costume.
And her hands and feet were secured to the ground, and a ball gag was in her mouth.
"Told you I'd kill you, cunt."
"Thank you, Mr. Wolverton. You may leave."
"Hey, I wanna watch…"
"We need … a certain amount of privacy. The teleporter will take you back to our headquarters so you may receive your reward."
Nicky nodded, then moved over towards Kelly. He quickly brought his heel down on her abdomen.
She would have convulsed up, if she wasn't bound.
The bald man waited patiently for Kelly to stop twitching, then he hiked up his robes, and knelt close to her head.
"My Lord requires answers from you."
Kelly tried to control her breathing. She almost succeeded.
"Your tongue has to move, so you can speak."
Where was her phone?
"Your jaw has to move, so we can hear you speak clearly."
Didn't her neighbors notice some freaks in green costumes enter the house?
"Your lungs need air, so we can hear your voice."
Wouldn't the others come looking for her?
"To bring closer the glory of the Kali Yuga, we give these to you."
Then the bald guy moved closer, to whisper in Kelly's ear.
"Everything else – is ours."
Geraldine hung up for the third time. Either her cell was turned off or it was way beyond range. She looked heavenwards, where her client was suspected to be.
Repping a client who was also a superhero was almost dreamlike. No more chasing up pissant jobs, or screaming down the phone for a deal gone bust. Now they were all begging her to get Danni in the spotlight.
The fact her client lucked straight into the A-List of superhero teams had magazines and directors and people calling her with the same intensity, those who she thought would never answer her calls.
Except her client would spend a lot of time on the moon. Literally.
Geraldine shrugged, and dialed a different number. She had a lot more clients besides Danni, most who were frantic that they were being ignored in favour of someone who could leap tall buildings in a single bound.
And her mom said she was a terrible babysitter.
"This – is not your fault."
She had stopped struggling as much as she did before.
"You are, as they say, a victim of circumstance. The wrong place and the wrong time."
There was no strength in her neck to watch the bald guy walk around her living room.
"You were handed a freak of nature, and told it was a gift. Then the unbelievers seduced you with fame, glory, and the illusion of a righteous cause."
The large guy was grinning at her.
"You could never be what they wanted you to be. No real strength of character to match your … 'power'."
The bald guy's voice was warm. Friendly. Like a teacher she liked once.
"No one expects you to succeed at this; the false gods look at your struggles, your attempts and laugh when you fail." He leaned closer. "They laugh now."
Her eye rolled back into her skull.
"Only you can change this fate. Only you can stop this unfortunate set of events."
Blood mixed with saliva dribbled down her chin. She couldn't spit properly now.
The bald man looked at her hand.
"This offends me." He turned to the big guy. "Remove it."
"Are you going to vote her in?"
Wonder Woman looked at Kyle. "Yes, I expect I will."
"Technically, you aren't supposed to ask how we'll vote." Muttered Batman.
"Lobbying is a great part of the American culture." He looked at Wally. "What about you?"
"Hey – if we let in Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, we'll admit anybody."
"Beetle ain't that bad."
"He spends too much time with Booster." Stated Batman.
"That reminds me; anybody warned her to stay away from him?"
"Some things Kyle, we have to learn for ourselves."
"We know they didn't trust you. Not that much."
Batman is a Control Freak. The Control Freak. No way he'd let anyone else pay for his equipment, his training or join any other organisation; that'd give someone else control. He's rich, fit and his money is legit. Can't be many of those in Gotham City
"We're not expecting you to know … security codes, passwords, and similar."
Green Lantern is called Kyle Rainer. He lives in New York but lived here in California.
"Just … tidbits. Gossip. Small things that slipped when unaware, but might be useful to us."
The Flash's wife is expecting.
"We are not expecting much from you."
Superman has a job. A real job. He's a writer because he said he's got an editor. And he's married. And I swear if you ever got a hold of her, he'd do anything, anything you asked.
"So once again - tell us what we want to know."
I wish I could give you the finger.
"Start with her arms."
Plastic Man entered the room. He was carrying several bottles of Scotch, Vodka, Tequila and other assorted spirits.
Batman noted the liquor. "Getting your weekly groceries out of the way?"
"Oh, snap." He hefted the bag, which was formed from his own body. "Thought I'd get the 'Welcome Aboard' party ready."
"She's not formally confirmed yet."
"Oh come on. After that little save at the Power Plant? It's a slam dunk." He further illustrated this point by morphing his head into a basketball ring, and a red ball slammed through it.
"And you're going to let her know that you'll vote for her."
"And she might be … grateful."
"Stranger things have happened."
"O'Brian, this is not one of her videos."
"Bats, I got a theory." O'Brian set the bottles down, and clasped his hand across Batman's shoulder. "The cliché is basically, an idea that gets circulated around, and around the general population to the point where they become part of our culture. With me so far?"
"Now, the cliché becomes widespread because of general knowledge. But how did the Pizza Boy getting a tip, the pool cleaner getting lucky, and the attractive and curious neighbor get off the ground?"
"Repetition, Bats. A cliché becomes a cliché because of repetition. And it gets repeated because it's an idea that works."
Batman regarded Plastic Man carefully. "Your theory is that those and similar scenarios have a basis in reality and can be used, is that right?"
Batman nodded. "Interesting theory."
"Hey, some of us don't have a massive fortune to attract the babes."
"She was talking about you the other day."
"If it's any help; she was speaking of you in a positive light."
Plastic Man's smile grew. To five foot wide. "See, my theories work."
"She said you were the best friend she could have on the League."
Plastic Man's smile shrunk with a loud snap. "You're lying."
"I … it's not …" O'Brian slumped, and left the conference room, shoulders slumped, his arms trailing three feet behind him.
Batman continued reading in peace.
The Interrogator was angry. Very angry. He signaled to his Apprentice.
Batman activated the signal again.
Green Lantern walked in, dumping the Doritos and dip on the table. "What's wrong?"
"Kinesis is not answering her signal."
"Tried her cell?"
"She said she had a big day today. Business, lunches, that sort of thing."
"Then she'd carry her phone with her." Batman pointed at Kyle. "You. With me. Now."
They materialised outside her house, across the street. Dusk was falling.
"There. Her truck's there. She probably forgot to charge her cell or …"
Batman raised his arm to block his progress.
"What do you notice?"
"Her front yard."
"Oh. The digging?"
"She said something about having a sprinkler system installed. Those are probably for the pipes."
"And it makes sense for the pipe network to go around the entire house, to deliver water efficiently."
Kyle noticed the fresh excavation. "Well, yeah, I suppose."
"What did you notice when you arrived here last?"
"She's neat. But not a freak about it?"
"Her back yard is completely paved."
"But … why…"
"Pull up the pipes."
Kyle pointed the ring. "You know, only a billionaire can say something like that."
A green glow surrounded the excavation, and the pipes burst out of the ground in an explosion of earth and stones, pulled by green miniature mecha.
Kyle wasn't an expert on plumbing, but he guessed that battery packs, computer processors, and yards of fiber optic cable wasn't standard at Home Depot.
"Broad spectrum power inhibitor." Batman touched his cowl. "AllLeague members, full alert. Converge on my location immediately."
Green Lantern pointed the ring, vapourising the door in a flurry of splinters before charging in.
Then he stopped.
Batman entered, Batarang at the ready. He was about to berate Kyle when he saw what had caught his attention.
"Oh fuck …"
Batman ignored Kyle, and raised his fingers, trying to find a clean spot on her neck to locate a carotid pulse.
It took a while.
When he finished his examination, he closed her eyelids.
Kyle had retreated outside, bent over at the waist, hyperventilating.
Kyle looked up at the Bat.
"Contact Wally, and tell him to sweep the area for ten square miles."
Right now, Kyle couldn't process.
"Then tell Diana and Superman to contact the local police and keep them out of our hair. Then call Steel and The Atom, and tell them to bring the full forensic kit."
Batman's head moved to half an inch from Kyle's nose and hissed into the young man's face. "Focus."
Kyle stared for a second, then nodded.
"In the meantime – seal off the crime scene."
As Batman entered the house, a green dome covered the entire property.
The interrogator looked pensive, as his master rose to face him.
"You were supposed to find answers."
"She … she did not have them."
"Just because she did not provide them, does not mean she did not have them."
"If the whore had them, she would have told me."
"Maybe you overrate your own abilities?"
"This wasn't necessary."
Wonder Woman looked at Batman, who continued his painstaking examinations.
"They have drugs. Lie detectors. Trained telepaths."
"Obviously, they didn't think they needed them."
"She didn't … she didn't know anything useful."
"They thought she did." Batman stood up. "Earlier wounds indicate an almost surgical expertise. Though closer to mortem…"
Green Lantern turned away.
"… they're much messier, far less controlled. He lost his temper."
"Should have told them. Told them something. Anything."
Batman's comm chirruped. "Go ahead."
"We locked the signal. They bounced it off a whole bunch of relay stations and false images, but we've locked it."
"Send me the co-ordinates, then set the sensor net on that area. I want full intelligence. In the meantime…" Batman toggled the switch to every member in range "…the League will prepare to attack."
"Master, she could not hold out without telling."
The lights dimmed, then went out.
Faint sounds emerged, queries, shouting, and other noises indicating that the darkness wasn't confined to this room.
The wall exploded.
More accurately, a great force pushed the concrete aside like cardboard, the reinforced material crumbling to dust in an instant.
A man in blue tights and a red cape stood in the hole, drifting dust framing his dark expression.
The master, a mastermind who's very whereabouts would have been a career making intelligence coup, was shoved aside like a stray kitten.
"I can see her."
The interrogator backed away from the alien.
"I can see her hair. Her blood, her sweat. All over you. Marking you."
"For the Kali …"
The inhuman hand clutched around his throat, and lifted him up.
The unholy creature's eyes were surrounded by a heat haze.
Lungs bursting, legs aching but he demanded they move faster.
San Francisco. He knew a guy there that had a line in false ID. Then Canada. Maybe.
He rounded the corner – then skidded to a halt.
A woman in star spangled underpants. A massive nearly naked green … thing. And a guy in a dark cloak and mask.
The green guy's eyes glowed red. "His fingerprints match those found at the scene, along with the hairs."
Nicky walked backward, stumbling over, landing on his ass.
"I think …" The chick walked forwards. "I think we should confirm it."
From behind her back, she produced something.
A pair of bolt cutters.
"Hey … you can't …"
"Why not, Nicky?"
"Okay, look, you got me."
Her hand reached around his throat, and muscles that only a Kryptonian could compete against lifted him up. "You bet."
His jeans were starting to feel warm and damp. "Whu .. why …"
"Interesting question." Stated the dark cloaked man.
The girl held his right hand aloft. "Why? Because we can. Because we have the power to and we can, and there's nothing stopping us."
She forced his fingers apart.
"Because you did something truly horrific to one of us."
The cold metal of the bolt cutters was shoved roughly around his thumb.
"And most important of all…" she grabbed one of the handles. "…I'm doing this because I have Diplomatic Immunity."
The pressure of the metal increased.
It was a small chapel. Non-denominational.
Bright coloured costumes mingled with black suits and dresses.
Superman always felt guilty at these. The guilt of not being there to help, to save, to prevent like he was supposed to do. The personal guilt of seeing the video footage of his funeral and the multitudes that attended – then the small turnout of the others.
There was that girl, the brunette that was with Kelly in one of her movies. He mentioned to Lois that she looked like her, and got an elbow in his ribs for the trouble. She was whispering something, over and over …
"… my key, he used my key …"
Superman stood at the podium. What made things worse was that he was always asked to make a speech, when he really, really wanted to stay in the background.
"Kelly Bryson was taken from us. Unfairly. Cruelly. She didn't deserve this death; nobody ever has, and nobody ever will."
"I'm not proud to say that … I judged her on what she did for a living while she trained and fought beside us. I didn't think…" Superman stopped, took a break, then continued.
"Even in her last hours, she never faltered. Even, when dignity and identity was stripped from her, she found strength and resolve."
"Whatever she was before, whatever you thought of her – Kelly died a hero. And no one can ever take that from her."
Superman folded up his sheet of paper, and walked away.
Geraldine was outside, talking on her cell. "I mean it. "The Best of Danni Love is gonna sell. And I mean sell. We are talking James Dean, Elvis, Marilyn, we are sitting on the next tragic pop icon and if we don't secure those rights right now…"
Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she collapsed onto the ground.
J'onn J'onnz took the cell phone and turned it off before looking at Green Lantern.
"She needs some time to reflect."
"A long nap helps a lot."
Doug stayed in the seat. He didn't react until someone he didn't know sat next to him.
"Hey." New Jersey accent.
The guy, an Italian greaseball gangster straight out of the Sopranos if he ever saw one, grinned, a match lodged in his mouth. "Nah. Name's Malone."
"Met her once. Was in the neighborhood, thought I'd … light a candle, somethin' like that."
"How'd you know her?"
"Performed with her … eight times. Directed her in six films."
"Normally, I'd make a crack about … nice work to have … or stuff like that. Then, I'd remember the priest who whacked the back of my skull every time I said something in church."
The two men sat silently for a few minutes before Doug broke the silence.
"They come back, don't they?"
"Superheroes. Superman came back from the dead. Wonder Woman came back. Other … other guys did."
Malone turned away from Doug. "Not all of them."
Doug inhaled, and stood up. "Gotta go."
Doug left the chapel.
As soon as he was gone, Malone stood up, and tapped his watch. His posture, expression changed almost instantly. His voice was now a rasp. "J'onn. Bring me up."
'Matches' Malone disappeared in a shimmer of light.
Batman strode into the conference room.
Wonder Woman was there, staring at the surface.
The Dark Knight slid into the seat next to her. "Are you alright?"
"Good thing you didn't follow through on your threat."
Diana looked coolly at Batman. "I thought a life sentence in a federal prison was more … appropriate for a pretty boy like him."
"And I thought I wasn't a good influence."
Diana turned away, reaching down beside her chair, producing a DVD.
"A movie she starred in. One of those … straight to video action types. She got a speaking role before she got her powers."
"What did she play?"
"Hmm." Batman took the DVD, then examined the back.
"Want to watch it?"
They got up, and headed towards the recreation room.
Hopefully O'Brian hadn't 'borrowed' the DVD.
I'd like to thank the following at who were kind enough to take the time to answer my many questions, add insight and diplomatically correct my mistakes.
For answering my questions, I'd like to thank croy, Keebler Elf, HeyNow and pornlaw
For Beta Reading, I'd like to thank the Moderator Hardware.