JLA: Freedom And Security

Chapter 6:


The Watchtower was taken over by mass panic, a seemingly out of control chaos that was riddled with screaming and voices talking over many, many other voices.

"Everyone, please, calm down."

Superman powered his way in, the commanding nature of his voice bringing the room to a low whisper. His team mates stopped their bickering, focusing on their leader.

"Now, as we're all aware, the north LexCorp tower was struck by the Batplane after it was taken over by outside interference."

The team shared looks, no doubt wildly speculating about who or what took over the Batplane.

"Batman, J'onn and the Flash are currently assisting with the evacuation of the south tower. The rest of us will search the remains of the north tower for survivors. Let's move out."

The team broke into their assignments, dissipating away to their duties below. Wonder Woman approached Superman, still in shock.

"Superman," Diana spoke softly, her Amazon toughness beginning to crack. "I need to tell you something."

"Can it wait until after the evacuation?"


Superman seemed a bit taken back by her answer, but listened anyway.

"I have to leave."

And if that "no" wasn't enough, that was even more of a hit.

"What do you mean?"

"I have to go back home. Back to Themyscira."

Superman searched for any logical reason to her words, but was damned if he could find it. He turned away, not wanting to delve into it any further.

"I won't stop you. It's your decision to make."

Diana had just about had it. She was just sick of Superman's need to stay on the fence and never take a side. Her stance turned defiant, preparing to strike with some of that womanly venom.

"Can't you just be mad for once?" she asked with an agitated tone. "Can't you just once be angry?"

"Why would I be angry? You've made your decision to return home. That's hardly something I see getting upset about."

"You're telling me you're not even the slightest bit upset that I'm abandoning not only the League, but all of those people down there? All of the people that need our help?"

"Yes," Superman confirmed sternly. "That's what I'm telling you."

"I don't believe you."

"Diana," Superman said calmly as he put his arms around her shoulders. "If you need to go back to Themyscira, go back to Themyscira. Believe me, if I could go back to Smallville and just forget all about this, I would. But I can't."

"I'm not forgetting about it, Clark," Diana snapped back. "What I'm saying is they were right. Maxwell Lord was right."

Diana's stinging words pierced even the mighty flesh of the Man of Steel, making Kryptonite look like child's play.


"Look at us. Hovering above the Earth like Gods with our space weapon. We're no different than what Lord said."

"No, Diana," Superman countered, getting in close to her. "We're not. We're nothing like what Lord said."

"Look, I'm not going to expect us to agree on this, so why don't we just leave it at that before we both say things we'll regret?"

Superman took a step back, taking her words in. They shared a brief look, the memories of their past battles and experiences together flooding through their minds. Diana's armor had officially been cracked as her eyes began to well up. Superman couldn't bear to see her like this, clenching his fist as he turned away.

"Like I said, I'm not going to try and stop you. You're the only one who can decide."

Diana's tears increased as she became fully aware that Superman really wasn't going to stop her. She slowly turned away, taking her final walk out of the Watchtower. She took a final look at her team mate, the man she had once loved, the man who had fought beside her for years.

"I'm sorry," Diana whispered softly.

"I forgive you," Superman said to himself.


Citizens watched from afar as thousands of people evacuated the south LexCorp tower, lucky to escape with their lives intact.

"This is Snapper Carr, reporting live from downtown Metropolis," Snapper's somber voice said to the television audience at home. "The evacuation of the south LexCorp tower is still ongoing. We've not been able to get any answers, but it appears as though an outside force took over the Batplane and sent it hurtling into the tower. The Justice League has yet to give any official word, but I'm sure they have more pressing issues to deal with. Again, this is Snapper Carr with the Metropolis News Network."

Superman floated down from above, his heart sinking from all the carnage around him as Batman approached.

"Everybody is out of the south tower," Batman informed his team mate.

"What about the north tower? Any survivors?"

"J'onn did an entire sweep, but couldn't find anybody. They're all dead, Clark."

Speak of the devil, J'onn phased up from the wreckage just in time to prove Batman wrong. Clutched in his arms was the limp body of LexCorp secretary Julie Grey. Superman's spirits lifted, even if just a little bit.

"Perhaps I spoke too soon," J'onn said with a grin.

"Who is she?" Superman asked as he brushed her hair away to see her beautiful face.

"Julie Grey," Batman revealed. "Graduated from Harvard with a degree in political science. Married twice with two children, a boy and a girl."

J'onn and Superman shared a look, amazed by Batman's ability to round of resumes like second nature.

"Do you know her shoe size, too?" Superman inquired with a smirk. "Get her to a hospital, J'onn."

J'onn nodded, then flew off with her.

"Four," Batman muttered.


"It's a four," he again said quietly as he walked off.

Superman raised an eyebrow at his persistence.


The Daily Planet bustled like a busy bee hive, activity running rampant. pushed through the chaos, a stack of papers in her hand. It was madness.

"Madness? This is the Daily Planet. You've not seen anything yet," Perry barked in his office, his new employee not backing down. Though one had to question whether Perry was trying to scare her away.

"This is madness," Lois said as she pushed her way in, greeted with a signature Perry eye roll. "What?" she asked innocently.

"Nothing. What is it?"


Lois handed Perry the papers, a three page spread that covered the LexCorp tower tragedy in only a way she could do it.

"There's only one G in tragedy," Perry said as he put the story on his desk. "But I think the new girl beat you to the punch."

"New girl?" Lois asked, turning to see the admittedly gorgeous blonde behind her.

"Chloe Sullivan."

Chloe had her hand extended, sweating at the chance to even touch her idol.

"Lois Lane," she said as she shook her hand.

"Oh, of course. I mean, everyone knows who Lois Lane is. You're my hero, one of the reasons I came here."

"One?" she asked curiously.

"Well..." Chloe stammered, answering Lois' question.

"Right. Superman?"

Chloe nodded, her innocence and spunk striking Lois. Perhaps she was reminded of herself a bit.

"Sullivan just transferred from Central City," Perry revealed. "I thought you might be able to show her around."

"In this? During the biggest story in years?"

"Well, let her tag along, Lane," Perry insisted as he tried to shamelessly shove them out the door. "Come on, let's go. I got work to do."

The door slammed behind them, a sound Lois was all too familiar with. Her eyes shot to Chloe, who was still beaming with delight.

"Listen, Chloe, if you wanna come along, you've gotta keep up," Lois insisted. "I don't wanna ruin any kind of hero concept you have, but I'm not here to hold anybody's hand."

"Of course," Chloe said as she whipped out her pad and pencil, flashing another big grin at Lois.

Lois could only smile, turning away and walking off.

"Alright. Let's go."


Metallo stood in front of his troops, a curious and scared crowd of Gotham onlookers watching from afar.

"Our benefactor is a powerful man who has given us freedom. He is responsible for all of you standing here and not sitting in your rotting, decrepit cells."

Metallo connected eyes with each and every one of them. Some he was impressed by, others not so much.

"Granted, I hate the man," Metallo said with a rising anger in his voice. "It's his fault that I'm in this state, this false body. But I digress."

Metallo pointed ahead, into the streets of Gotham. His metallic hand was stretched forward, showing his troops their target as they grew with excitement.

"Gotham City. It's home to many, many a tight-wearing lunatic."

Metallo turned to his soldiers, pacing in front of them.


The crowd erupted into a sea of boos, hisses and general disdain for the former Boy Wonder and man who had put many of them away.


They were again sent into a frenzy at the mention of another Batman family member. Perhaps there were some hard feelings about getting taken down by a girl, but it's hard to tell with psychos.

"Robin," Metallo said as he joined in his army's hatred of Robin, high-fiving Mirror Master and Firefly.

But then Metallo's demeanor changed. His eyes became, if possible, colder as a scowl began to grow across his face.

"And last, but not least. The one guy who has wrecked all of our lives. The one who just can't seem to leave an honest criminal alone. You all know who I'm talking about."

And they certainly did. The crowd hushed, speaking only silently amongst themselves.

"The Bat."

It sent a chill through their spines, even if some of them didn't have any.

"It's thanks to that flying rodent and Superman that a majority of us were locked away to begin with. So, what are we gonna do about it? Are we gonna let them do this forever?"


The crowd was getting behind him now, his words inspiring them.

"Are we going to let them disrupt our very own lives?"


"Are we going to let these freaks continue to keep us down?"


"Then get out there and show it to them!"

The crowd of supervillains exploded into a flurry of war screams, storming the streets of Gotham.

"Not bad," Terra said as she approached him from behind. "You're a natural leader. No wonder Luthor picked you."

"Can it, girlie. I'm only working for Luthor because it helps me."

"Fair enough," Terra shrugged. "I guess somebody has to be the obligatory faux tough guy around here, huh?"

Metallo watched Terra walk into Gotham with a glare.


"This is ridiculous!"

Kyle stood in front of the Guardians of the Universe, their scowling faces locked firmly on him.

"What this Martian told you was obviously a fabrication to suit his own ends. Hal Jordan's death came at the hands of the Manhunters, not this fairy tale you have told us."

"I came here, leaving my post and all those people on Earth who need me right now, to ask you this," Kyle pleaded. "Superman was willing to support this decision, and now the least you owe me is the truth."

"What we have told you is the truth. Hal Jordan's unfortunate death was at the hands of the Manhu--"

"No!" Kyle interrupted, even surprising himself with his own boldness towards the Guardians. "That's not the truth. I may not have known him for long, but I believe his story. I want to know why you kept it a secret and why you lied about it not only to me, but the entire Lantern Corp."

The Guardians were silent. Whatever secrets they were keeping weren't going to come out that easy.

"Maybe I'm too easy on you guys. Maybe I'll eventually give up on trying to get it out of you, but the rest won't. Do you really think John, Guy or Katma will drop it? They won't."

Kyle turned away from the Guardians, seething at their arrogance.

"Let me know when you guys stop being cowards," Kyle stung at them like a scorpion, not a single ounce of remorse in his words.


The streets of Gotham were overrun with supervillains, sending civilians fleeing for their lives. With no regret, these maniacs lit up the streets with gleeful destruction.

Firefly pointed his rifle skyward, sending a huge blast of flame into the air. He chuckled as innocent people ran in terror, quite pleased with his carnage.

"Why didn't anyone invite me to the super villain butt kicking contest?"

He'd recognize that voice anywhere. It made his blood boil, the mere sound of his teenage voice sending him over the edge.

"You need a special invitation," Firefly said calmly. "Let me give you one!"

Firefly turned, spraying a wall of fire at the agile young Tim Drake, decked out in his Robin costume.

"You're too kind," Robin replied with a smirk as he took a leap off the fire escape he was perched on, landing directly behind Firefly.

He was right on him, though, elbowing Robin to the ground. Firefly turned to his downed prey, locking his rifle right on him.

"Looks like you're out, boy."

A Batarang lodged itself directly into Firefly's rifle, knocking it clean out of his hands. He turned his gaze upwards, catching sight of Cassandra Cain, now as Batgirl, as she delivered a vicious right hand that sent him to the ground.

"Thanks," Robin said as he rose to his feet, turning his attention back to Firefly.

"What's going on here, Firefly?" Robin asked.

"You think I'd tell you?"

Robin thought for a moment, considering Firefly's question and even agreeing.

"No. Probably not. But I know who you would tell."

Robin smirked as he looked up, the terrifying shadow of a bat overcoming Firefly. His grip tightened as Batman stepped out of the shadows.

"You were saying?" Batman asked with a growl.

Firefly scrambled to his feet, backing into the wall behind him.

"I ain't afraid of you, Batman. I ain't afraid."

"Really?" Cassie asked with a smile. "Could've fooled me."

"If you won't tell any of them, maybe you'll tell me," Batman said as he got in close to Firefly, staring him down.


Deep in the depths of the Arctic, Superman's beloved hideaway known as the Fortress Of Solitude stood in all it's glory. Within it's cold structure, it was empty. Who could seek solitude at a time like this?

But it wasn't all alone. In the central core, the mainframe of the Fortress began to beep. The intervals became shorter and shorter, building up until there was nothing. All that remained was a low rumble, gradually increasing in volume. An eerie, machine-like voice emitted from the console.

"Eradicator program online. Awaiting commands."

"Thank you," a mysterious voice said from the shadows. Perhaps we weren't as alone as we thought.


Superman soared through the skies of Metropolis, his ears on a constant listen for anything that could lead him to Terra.

"Batman to Superman," Batman's voice chimed in through the comlink.

"This is Superman. Go ahead."

"I think I've figured out what Terra is up to."

"Where are you?" Superman asked.

"Gotham," Batman replied.

"Give me half a minute and I'll be right there."

Superman shot into overdrive, tearing through the sky to meet his team mate.


Lois' car pulled up to the chaos at LexCorp towers, Chloe saddled in the passenger seat.

"We'll never get through this," Chloe said with desperation as she stuck her head out the window, surveying the destruction.

"Please," Lois retorted. "I've never met one blockade I couldn't pass."

Lois gave her a smile, then exited the car. The police line was, surprisingly, one step ahead of her and stopped her before she could even get close.

"Hold it, Lane," Officer Jurgens intruded, holding Lois back. "I can't let you through."

"Oh, come on, Jurgens," Lois pleaded. "You know I won't cause any trouble."

The officer's eyebrow lifted at her absurd statement, coupled with a sly smirk.

"Alright, so maybe a little."

"Listen, the Chief said not to let you through, so I'm just following her orders. Take it up with her."


Lois' mind began to churn with ideas, shooting a quick glance to Chloe, then back to Jurgens.

"Say, Jurgens," Lois said with an increasingly devious intention as she inched in closer. "You're not married, are you?"

"Even I'm not that crazy."

"Then you have to meet Chloe Sullivan. New girl from Central City."

Lois shoved Chloe into Jurgens eyesight, flashing her a quick wink. Chloe was smart, obviously, as she got the message.

"Hi. Chloe Sullivan," Chloe extended her hand.

"Mark Jurgens," the seemingly love struck officer said as he shook her hand.

"It must be great living in Metropolis," Chloe baited him, motioning for Lois to get on with it. "You get to share the same city with Superman. What's that like?"

Lois made a quick move, flipping the police tape up and circling around Jurgens.

"You know, I've spoken with him a few times," Jurgens bragged, trying his damndest to keep Chloe interested.

"Oh, yeah?" Chloe asked as she continued to sucker the poor sap in.

Lois continued her approach, taking a closer look at the damage that had been brought upon the north LexCorp tower.

"Can I help you, miss?" the voice of Superboy said, floating down towards her.

Lois turned quickly, trying to shush her case of alien interruptus.

"Lois?" Superboy asked as he came to street level. "Come on."

Superboy rushed Lois away, out of sight of law enforcement.

"What are you doing here?"

"What do you think?" she replied as she pointed to the demolished building behind her. "Now, what happened?"

"I don't know," Superboy insisted. "All I know was that Clark called me and asked me if I could cover for his absence here. He said something about the Batplane being taken over by outside forces and a series of jailbreaks initiated by Terra. That's all I know."

Lois thought for a moment, evaluating everything Superboy had just told her.

"Now, come on. You've gotta get out of here before anyone sees you."

Back with Jurgens and Chloe, her feminine charm had locked him in a permanent state of bliss. Lois chimed in, relieving Chloe of her duty.

"Alright, Sullivan, let's go," she barked, pushing Chloe towards the car. "We've got a lot of stuff to do."

"Listen, if you're ever free," Jurgens shouted as Lois continued to push, trying to get away as fast as she could. "Maybe we can have dinner."

But they were gone, speeding away in Lois' car. Superboy stood beside Jurgens, watching them go with a smirk. The two shared a quick glance.

"Women, huh?" Superboy asked as he gave Jurgens a pat on the back.


Superman stood with Batman, Robin and Batgirl in front of Firefly's unconscious body.

"And while all of you were distracted with them, Terra took over the Batplane and crashed it into LexCorp," Batman explained, his information taken straight out of Firefly's mouth. "This has Maxwell Lord and Lex written all over it. All of this is being used to dirty our image."

"A smear campaign," Superman added to Batman's hypothesis of the situation.

"So, what now?" Batgirl questioned.

"We clean this mess up first," Superman replied. "Once we take care of the super villains on the loose, we can concentrate on Lex and Cadmus."

"You're gonna need help with all that, Superman," the voice of Captain Marvel said.

Behind Captain Marvel was the entire Justice Society Of America; Doctor Fate, Black Canary, Huntress, Speedy, Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E. and Supergirl.

"The JSA is here to assist you," Cap said boyishly. "If that's okay, I mean."

"Of course, Captain," Superman said with a smile. "Let's go to work."


Power Girl was clinging to life aboard the Watchtower. Slowly, but surely, her eyes began to slide open. Looking around her unfamiliar surroundings, she floated up from the bed.

"Where am I?" she questioned, softly flying through the strange metallic structure she had found herself in. She came out into the main control center, seeing the pitch blackness of space from the window.

"We brought you here," Wonder Woman said from behind, her packed bags at her feet.

"Why didn't you kill me?" she asked, sill wary of the Amazon's intentions.

"The Justice League does not kill."

Power Girl stared at Wonder Woman for a moment, trying to read her stance, but could only find sadness. She then noticed her bags.

"Are you leaving?"

"Yes. I'm going home to Themyscira."


"Because I have to," she replied sternly, set in her decisions obviously. "I can't stay anymore. It just reminds me of everything I've done wrong or failed at."

The two of them stared at each other for what seemed like years. Wonder Woman should have been gone a long time ago. Perhaps she couldn't bear to leave, to abandon everything she has loved here.

"You can stay if you want. I'm sure Superman won't mind. But I have to go. Goodbye."

Wonder Woman turned, leaving the Watchtower behind forever.

"Hey," Power Girl stopped her, approaching her slowly. "Can I ask you something?"


"The Justice League never left me for dead, did they? That was just a lie, wasn't it?"

Wonder Woman thought for a moment, searching for the right answers, though who the hell knew what the right one was.

"If we had, would we have brought you here and kept you alive?"

Power Girl nodded, hearing exactly the answer she was expecting.

"Take care of yourself," Wonder Woman said as she turned to leave, wiping the tears from her face.

Power Girl watched her go, all the while wishing she wasn't. Whether her actions constituted abandonment or not, she was still a hero to her.


In the deep reaches of space, a Thanagarian cruiser quietly burrowed towards it's destination. Aboard, Fel Andar stood at the front of the command center. He watched with an evil smile on his face.

"Sir," a Thanagarian officer said from behind. "Transmission coming in."

"Put it through," Fel replied as the ghastly image of a White Martian appeared on screen.

"What is your progress?" the creature asked.

"We are making good time. If all goes according to schedule, we will rendezvous with you on Earth in approximately three days."

"Very well."

The transmission ended as Fel turned back to his sight seeing, feeling right at home in the cold, empty void of space. His insidious smile grew bigger.


Don't miss the next explosive chapter! Wonder Woman travels back to Themyscira and the return of The Eradicator! Plus, Lex continues his smear campaign against the League!