Beyond the 52 Issue 6
By Christopher W. Blaine ()
New Kids on the Block Part 5
Batwoman did not hesitate to let the Batarang fly; she knew it would do little harm against her nephew except maybe distract him. The distraction would give Hawkgirl the opportunity to strike at Titan with her enhanced weapon and superior strength. Again, she knew it was a futile gesture, but she needed time to figure out what to do.
For his part, Titan did exactly as expected which was bat (no pun inteded) the weapon out of the way. From his mother he had gained reflexes beyond that of the common person and he most likely could have grabbed it out of the air. Hawkgirl let out a fierce battle cry, probably something she had been taught by Hawkman, and rushed at the young hero.
Her mace hummed as she swung and had it been anybody else, it would have been a helluva blow Batwoman told herself. As it was, Titan put up a meaty forearm to ward off the blow and it was more than what Hawkgirl had expected. Batwoman found that she was evaluating her teammate's fighting ability even as she was in grave danger.
There was a loud crack as the mace connected with magically-enhanced skin. For Hawkgirl, I was like hitting a steel pipe with an aluminum baseball bat; her arms immediately began to ache. "That was not the smartest thing I've ever done," she remarked as she stumbled back.
"Kill the females," Grodd cried out, ordering Titan forward. Batwoman realized out of the two foes they currently faced, Grodd was the weakest and trying to take down her nephew was only going to get them hurt.
The Caped Crusader's daughter whirled around and drew her line gun. Pulling the trigger, she launched a grappling line into the limbs of a tall tree. Just before Titan could grab her, she was pulled up into the branches.
"Run all you want, Batwoman, you will still die!"
Batwoman swore under her breath as she landed on a sturdy outcropping from the main trunk. Twenty feet below her, Hawkgirl tried attacking Titan's well-muscled buttocks. Surprisingly, it illicited a response as the young hero gave a small grunt. A look of shock crossed his face, as if he could not believe someone would have the audacity to attack him so.
As Titan turned, Grodd sneared and looked to some trees to the right of Batwoman's position. Alone in the wild for the past decade, he must have worked his simian abilities to their maximum. With little effort, he jumped up, grabbed a low hanging branch and started swinging up through the forest, moving closer and closer to her position.
Grodd had last been seen battling Dark Flash, then going by the Flash. If she remembered correctly, the beating the gorilla had received had been monumental. He had driven the Scarlet Speedster into a rage that foreshadowed the transformation the hero would later take. Grodd had been humiliated like never before; the gorrila had always been convinced of his own superiority.
To be physically beaten by a "lesser primate" had been too much for him to bear. Obviously he had escaped to the northwest.
She wanted to use her communicator to contact Dark Flash, but it would waste prescious seconds.A handful of flash-bang grenades flew from her gauntleted hand in the direction of the ape. As they went off, Grodd slowed and swerved. He must have lost some concentration on Titan, she noted, because the big hero started to stumble.
"Keep Titan busy, Hawkgirl," Batwoman called as she started to jump to another tree branch. The daughter of the original Batman was no stranger to this type of battle. The woods on the Wayne estate had often times served as a psuedo battle ground for bother her and the children Batman had taken under his wing.
"Easy for you to say! You're up there and I'm down here!" Hawkgirl called back as she swung for a thigh. There was a crack of electrical discharge and Titan dropped to one knee.
Batwoman did not acknowledge because a sixth sense told her to duck. A hairy arm swiped the air where her head had been. "You are a bad, little monkey, Batwoman," Grodd snarled. Batwoman had to supress her gag reflex; the gorilla smelled horrible. Obviously, he had not bothered to bathe for several years. "Gorilla Grodd was content to live out his life in peace, away from you humans!"
"You have crimes to answer for still, Grodd," she replied as she moved to a lower branch. Grodd was on her in half a second and too late she realized she was way out of her element after all.
His massive hand grabbed her upper arm and would not let go. Batwoman had not felt such strength since her last battle with Killer Croc. She reached for her utility belt; there was a sonic grenade she kept for special cases, but Grodd read her mind and caught her free hand.
Balancing himself on a thick branch, he raised her up to face him eye to eye. She finally got a better look at him and what she saw horrified her. There was an almost alien intelligence in his eyes, but the eye sockets were deformed. Grodd's entire face was misshapen, not at all like that of a typical primate. The scars he bore were the results of the fractures incurred from the beating he had received ten years before.
A thick black tongue licked rotted canines. "I have more crimes to commit, it seems," he answered.
Grodd began to squeeze and Batwoman gasped at the raw strength he possessed. Then it seemed as if her body had fallen asleep and she assumed she was dying. The tingling stopped and she found herself in a part of the woods she did not recognize.
The Dark Flash slowed down their vibrations, absorbing kinetic energy from her body before she exploded. "Wait here," he told her.
In the blink of an eye he was gone and then back, setting Hawkgirl down.
"Grodd!" Batwoman blurted out.
Dark Flash nodded. "I know. He's my problem now, a loose end from my past."
Then he was gone.
Grodd did not understand what had happened to Batwoman and briefly considered she had used a teleportation device to get away. He remembered the Guild had once had a headquarters in space that was accessed using such technology. How long ago had that been, he wondered. How long had he been in the woods, hiding in shame from his failure to destroy the Flash?
Gorilla Grodd had fought the Guild for years, going up against the best they had to offer. He had battled Superman and Green Lantern! The true Flash, Barry Allen, had been his mortal enemy! Then he had crossed some hidden line with Allen's successor, the next Flash, and he had been beaten within an inch of his life.
Heroes were not supposed to do that! Grodd's intellect, controlled by his all-encompassing ego, could not grasp the fact the Flash's unbendable moral code had been breached. Everything Grodd had held to be true came into question and his mind had snapped.
He caught a thought from Titan and a deep, sharp cold traveled down the gorilla's spine. He looked down and the slightly wounded Titan was standing in front of someone in a variant of the Flash's costume. "Keep back, Hip," the man said.
Grodd dropped to the ground in a crouch. Slowly he stood up to his full height, intent on destroying the newest Flash. "You are the inheritor of a destiny of death," Grodd said coldly.
Dark Flash was not quick to turn in order to face his old foe. "Yes, on that you and I agree, Grodd."
The gorilla came up short and his mental link with Titan was broken. The large hero fell forward, face first, into a pile of deer dung. "You!"
The speedster allowed a grim smile to cross his face. "You have no idea how much I have changed, Grodd. If you thought I was angry before, then you are in for a very, very bad surprise."
Fear, horror and revulsion welled up inside Grodd and he attacked the Dark Flash with a blast of telepathic energy. It smashed into the iron will of the hero and crumbled into nothingness. In all of his years, never had Grodd come up against such a single-minded desire to accomplish a task. Not even against the celebrated Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
Then came the Dark Flash's assault. At a speed faster than the eye could follow, punches and kicks landed all over Grodd's massive body. The pain brought back dark memories, and the primate howled in frustration.
Titan rolled out of the dung, spitting out matter and twigs. Anger welled up inside him as he remembered his mind being controlled. His butt and his knee throbed; Hawkgirl must have had her mace set on full power he mused.
He looked over and saw a red cloud enveloping the big monkey they had discovered. Some of it was blood, but the rest could only be the Dark Flash. He was literally beating the ape to death. Titan got up and moved closer knowing he had to stop his teammate from doing something he would later regret. Taking a deep breath, he called upon the power of the gods that flowed through him. The Dark Flash may have been connected to the Speed Force, but Titan was the son of Donna Troy, the twin sister of Wonder Woman.
He reached into the crimson maelstrom and caught hold of Dark Flash's arm. Only magically-enhanced muscles could perform such a feat. "What the hell?" Dark Flash said.
Grodd slumped to the ground, out cold and bleeding from several wounds. "Uncle Walter, what the heck are you doing?" Titan asked. Walter West had once been the best friend of Titan's father, hence he was often referred to in private as "uncle" by the Olympian.
Dark Flash pulled himself out of the grasp. "I'm taking care of something I should have dealt with a long time ago. Because I didn't kill Grodd, all of those hikers died!"
"Damn it! You can't keep doing this to yourself!" Titan growled. "I miss Linda, too, but that doesn't give you carte blanche to do...this!" he exclaimed, pointing to the bleeding Grodd. Linda Park had been a bright beacon in so many lives that her death truly had made the world, and not just her boyfriend, a little more dark. "This is Gorilla Grodd? This is the one you used to talk about? It seems to me he's responsible for his own actions!"
"You sound too damn much like your dad," Dark Flash said, stepping back and turning around. Blood dripped from his clenched fists. "You just don't get it, kid. When you put on the costume, when you think of the fancy name, you become responsible not just for your actions, but for your inactions as well."
"The Guild doesn't kill. That's what your uncle Barry said," Titan reminded him. Barry Allen was considered something of a saint or martyr, depending on your point of view, in Guild history. Many of the by-laws and regulations had been written or revised by him before his death.
"Barry was known to be wrong once in awhile," Dark Flash commented. "You want to take Grodd in, go ahead. Don't come crying to me when he kills someone you love."
Gotham City, New Jersey
Killer Frost had already escaped by the time Nightwing had pulled himself away from the warm corpse of Kyle Rayner. Two GCPD officers had paid the ultimate price for crossing paths with her. The young hero stood at the wall where Green Lantern had burst through and searched the floor.
Though she was physically shaken by the death of their teammate, the Huntress had enough sense to have Nightwing look for Rayner's missng power ring. Neither of them was well-versed in Lantern lore, so they had no idea what happened to the weapon when its wielder died. There was no sign of it anywhere, but Nightwing was not sure if that was a problem.
As Rayner's body was placed in a body bag, Barbara Gordon pinched the bridge of her nose. "He was a damn kid! I can't believe how low the Guild has sunk!" She looked at the Huntress, who was visibly pale. Gordon had no idea that the woman was suffering in two ways. For one, she had felt the last emotions of Kyle Rayner. Second, the sight of the dead body and the blood was secretly exciting her.
Gordon did not notice how the Huntress kept a closed hand over the cross at the neck of her costume. "I'm telling you right now, your activities in Gotham City are over. You tell Batwoman I want to see her immediately." Then she turned and pointed to two figures on a rooftop three blocks away. "And you especially keep those minors out of costume and back in school!"
Huntress wanted to protest; only Batgirl was a minor, but she could not speak. She had never felt so many emotions at once. Rayner had been so full of energy, pride and enthusiasm, but then overwhelming fear had permeated his soul as he died. Then came the hunger and the lust, those vampire traits Huntress had tried to keep buried.
All she could do is nod as Nightwing stepped up. Gordon looked at him and was about to say something, but decided against it.
It was another fifteen minutes before the Huntress could be pried from the death scene.