A/N: I finally got another chapter up! Sorry for the massive wait. I know that Diana doesn't uncover her lasso's properties until The Balance, but since that's never going to happen, in this story, she's aware of it. Enjoy the chapter.
Chapter Two - History Lessons
They made it back to Resistance HQ without encountering too many of the stormtroopers, since the general knew virtually every secret way throughout the city. Despite their best efforts, there were simply too many for the Nazis to map out.
No one seemed surprised when they arrived back, though the fact that none of them were injured did cause a bit of a stir. Bruce led them through HQ, acknowledging the salutes of his troops with a brief nod. Dick raised a questioning eyebrow as they passed him, but Bruce shook his head slightly, indicating he'd talk to him later before his adopted son left.
Moving into the communications room, he ordered everyone in there out, then gestured for the others to follow him inside. "Now what?" he asked bluntly once they were all seated.
There was a silence before the green man spoke. It was obvious he wasn't human, but Bruce wasn't quite ready to accept that he could be an alien, either. "Now that the portal is closed, I am afraid it will be many days or even weeks before we can gather enough knowledge to reopen it."
"But how do we buy that time?" the beautiful, dark-haired woman asked. He'd mentally christened her Raven, because of that hair, and the fact that she could fly. She looked at him. "Would you be willing to help us?"
"At the moment, no," he said frankly. "It would take the whole Resistance in Gotham to mount that kind of assault and hold the Research Centre for the time you'd need. We can't afford to do that."
"Then it's up to us," the man in black and green spoke up forcefully. "We can do it. We have to."
"How?" the winged woman said. "We're in unfamiliar territory, facing an unfamiliar foe with who knows what weapons! We have no chance in hell until we get some decent intel. You're a Marine, you should know that."
Bruce's eyebrows shot up under his helmet's visor. A Marine? There hadn't been Marines in this country for decades. They'd all either died in the war, been executed after it or 'reeducated' and joined in the perfect society of the Third Reich. Because of that, any vestige of the Marines was regarded by legend by many in the Resistance, and as a danger to the regime. Having him here would be a great asset to morale.
But unless these guys could be trusted not to blow all the careful work the Resistance had done - and they were powerful enough to do just that, in one day if he let them run wild - then they'd be no help at all. Which led him to the next problem: how to contain them if they went rogue. A horrible thought struck him. That was assuming they weren't enemy spies. It would be a new tactic for the Savage regime, attacking stormtroopers to prove their trustworthiness, but an effective one - they were in his comms. centre after all.
The black man opened his mouth to argue some more, but Bruce cut him off. "First things first. Names."
He looked pointedly at Raven. "Wonder Woman," she said evenly.
Bruce found himself liking Raven better. The man in red was next, announcing his name with a wave. "Flash."
"Hawkgirl." She made it sound like a threat.
The 'Marine' was next. "I'm a Green Lantern." Bruce took note of that. A Green Lantern, meaning more than one. Was there a band of them, more Marines, in hiding somewhere? Something to be thought about later.
The green man nodded solemnly. "I am J'onn Jonnz," he said.
The last man looked less than happy. Bruce guessed it was having to introduce himself to someone he presumably counted as a friend. Either that or the shock of the 'new world'. That better not last - Bruce would be running out of patience real fast if he moped around constantly. "Superman," he said quietly.
Bruce raised an eyebrow. Well doesn't someone have a superiority complex, he thought. Leaving that aside for a moment, he continued. "You've yet to earn my trust-"
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Superman muttered.
Bruce glared. "So you'll all be undergoing a polygraph test, individually, right now."
"Wait a sec," Flash, "surely what we've done proves-"
Wonder Woman put a hand on his arm. "We've done nothing that a clever enemy wouldn't also do," she pointed out. "Batman- The general is right not to trust us. I'm sure that given time he will."
Bruce narrowed his eyes in suspicion behind his visor. She seemed very eager to cooperate. "We'll start with you. Rest of you wait here."
She nodded and stood. "Very well."
He strode to the door and opened it. "Follow me." As they left the room, he spoke to the six soldiers he'd just turfed out of the room. "Anyone tries to leave, shoot them."
He motioned for Diana to follow him. "Where are we going?" she asked.
She nodded, then hesitated. "What is a 'polygraph'?"
He narrowed his eyes. Was she kidding? Polygraph tests were regular fare - even schoolchildren had polygraph tests once a year to test their obedience to the regime. It was where having several trained doctors in the Resistance came in handy - it was difficult, but not impossible, to siphon off beta blockers and other medical supplies from hospitals. If Wonder Woman expected him to believe she had no idea what a polygraph was then she must be either totally innocent in the world or underestimating him badly. But if she was then she was a brilliant actress.
He decided to humour her. "A polygraph is a machine that can detect when someone is lying."
She smiled. "I have my own version of that."
Was that an admission of guilt? His eyes didn't miss the way her fingers unconsciously stroked over the golden coil at her waist. "What is that?" he asked.
"My lasso," she said simply.
Great. So she was a cowgirl as well as a...whatever else she was.
He took her to the infirmary first for blood work. Dr Thompkins was in the hospital - it was rare she could get away before ten, but Bruce could take blood himself. Diana waited until he'd approached her with the needle before asking what it was for.
"To check for beta blockers. The polygraph works by measuring your heart rate; pills could be used to keep it steady so that the test won't work."
She nodded, apparently accepting this, since she extended her arm. A few moments later the syringe was filled with blood. He gave it to one of the lab technicians. "Test it for beta blockers while I'm performing the polygraph test. Bring me the results as soon as you have them."
He motioned to Diana. "Come on."
After they'd gotten into the interrogation room, Diana did as she was bid, looking curiously at the sensors he placed on her arms and head. It wasn't the curiosity so much that bothered him; it was the humour with which she regarded the whole thing. It was the sense that she was allowing all this rather than being subjected to it.
Switching the machine on, he took note of the heart rate as it was now. Steady. "This requires yes or no answers," he told her, beginning with, "Is your name Wonder Woman?"
"In Man's World, yes," she answered.
He cocked an eyebrow. Man's World? What the hell...? "Do you work for the regime?"
Still steady. She wasn't lying.
"Have you ever been affiliated with Vandal Savage or the Nazis?"
He had to double-check that one. She was still telling the truth.
"Had you, until today, heard of Vandal Savage?"
He stared at the machine. She had to be on drugs for a result as steady as that. It was impossible. She could not have been born on Planet Earth and never heard of Savage.
"Were you telling the truth about an alternate reality in which you originate?"
"Do you have any intention of betraying the Resistance in any way to the Savage regime or any of its allies?"
"Can your friends be trusted not to do so?"
She paused. He narrowed his gaze, glanced at the polygraph. It was slightly elevated. Got her. "Yes or no, Wonder Woman."
"I would trust them all with my life," she said calmly. "But I cannot speak for you, General."
Damn. Heartbeat steady again.
He went through every other question he could devise that might trick her into revealing something, but by the time more than an hour had elapsed, he was forced toward two conclusions. Either she was on beta blockers, or she really had nothing to hide and was telling the complete truth.
He handcuffed her to the chair. "You wait here until-"
She casually snapped them in half and handed the two pieces back to him with a frank expression. "Forgive me, General, but you should know that such things are useless with me. And you should also know that Superman, in particular, is in no danger from bullets."
"How about tank shells?"
She shook her head with a smile. "They would literally bounce off him."
He raised an eyebrow. "'Bounce'?"
She grinned. "I've seen it happen."
He blinked. That was either very good or very bad. He sighed, looking at her. "I'm trusting you to remain here. And whether or not it's going to work, the guards will shoot you on sight if you try to move from this room without my permission."
She chuckled. "Then I had better not."
He made his way to the lab, entering it silently. "Well?"
The technician in there jumped, sending petri dishes flying in all directions. "General!"
"The test results."
"She's clean. I mean, sir, she's cleaner than clean. Unnaturally so."
"There aren't any antibodies in her blood," the young man explained. "Sir, as far as I can, she's never had so much a cold in her life."
This was beginning to give him a headache. The more he found out, the less sense it made. "But there are no beta blockers?"
"None. No drugs or alcohol at all."
He nodded. "Alright. How long can you stay for?"
"About another two hours before I'm missed."
"Good. Get to the comms. room, get blood samples from the others and do the same thing. Anything that could help them fool the polygraph."
He nodded. "Yes, sir."
Bruce left the lab and headed back to interrogation. Diana smiled disarmingly at him. "Well?"
"Your blood is clean. From everything. You don't have any signs of having any kind of immune system, but you're obviously in perfect health. Care to explain?"
"I'm blessed by the gods," she replied. "And one of their gifts is continuous good health and rapid healing. I never fall ill."
Oh wonderful. A religious nut. "The gods?"
"I am an Amazon," she replied smoothly.
"An Amazon?" he repeated flatly.
"Yes." She tilted her head toward him in a way that sent the jasmine scent of her hair cascading in his direction. "So does this mean you trust me?"
"No," he replied. "But it means that I don't distrust you."
Her mouth quirked into a smile. "What a Batman-like answer."
"We still have to test the others," he said.
"Alright. May I make a request?"
"I would like to learn more about the history of this world. How Savage came to be in power, for instance. When I arrived in Man's World I began studying what had happened in the three thousand years my people had been cut off from it, but now I find that everything has changed again. I would like the opportunity to study it."
He nodded. It was a reasonable request. "Alright. I'll show you to the archives."
He gave orders for the others to be tested and took her through the complex to archives. Once there, she sat at one computer while he took a seat in front of another. While the internet was censored or monitored, the Resistance had their own secure ways of communication and codes that hadn't - as yet - been broken. It was a highly useful way of getting messages to other Resistance leaders when they had no satellites.
One such message had been posted on a pro-Savage site from Sovereign, the head of the British Resistance. Bruce had received and issued so many of these correspondences that it took almost not effort to translate the letter. Or would have done, but he was being distracted from the frequent and interested glances Wonder Woman was sending his way.
Without looking at him, he asked, "Why do you keep looking at me like that?"
Wonder Woman blinked, then immediately flushed at his gruff enquiry. "I'm sorry; I didn't know I was doing it."
"Yes you did," he countered, looking at her now. "Now tell me why."
"I just...I'm finding it hard to believe you don't know who I– who we are. I know you don't, but..."
"We were friends?"
"Of course we were," she said, "we're a team."
"No. Were we friends?"
"Oh. I...think so."
"You don't sound terribly sure," he noted with a touch of amusement.
"I'm not," she admitted. "It's...was...a little difficult to tell with you. No, I take that back," she corrected. "Now it's a little difficult. Before it was impossible."
"So what did you think?"
"I think we were friends," she repeated more firmly. "I know you respected me, and the feeling was mutual. But friends?" she shrugged. "I would consider you a friend, but that's all I can tell you for sure."
He nodded thoughtfully, and she turned back to resume scanning through the records. "You seem less disorientated than the others," he remarked after a moment.
"Well I'm far less familiar with Man's World than the others. To disorientate me, Savage would have had to take over at the point of the Trojan War."
"The Trojan War?" he repeated. "Just how old are you?"
She waved her hand dismissively "Oh not that old. My people were quite heavily involved though; it is a point of importance in Amazonian history."
He did not sound convinced, but they were quiet again before Wonder Woman thought of something. "May I...ask you a favour?"
"Depends what it is."
His fingers ceased their tapping, and his chair swivelled to face her. "You don't know? Your 'Batman' didn't see fit to divulge it?"
"You're both very private people," she answered calmly. "But in the reality we came from, we received a certain amount of press attention, however elusive you are- were. I personally never understood hiding who I am, but I know that both Superman and Flash have secret identities. Even though I would never reveal who they are-"
"So you know who they are?" he interjected.
"I know what Flash's name is," she allowed, "but since they no longer exist in this world...perhaps the concept of a secret identity is a redundant one." She smirked. "But no, I am not going to tell you what I know – it is not my secret to tell."
"Yet you want to know my secret?"
She shrugged. "If it is not a secret, yes. But if it is, I have no great desire to know."
"Then why ask?"
"I would prefer not to have to call you 'General' all the time. I understand you don't know me, but I know you – at least a part of you," she explained. "So it would be nice to know."
His blank stare was unreadable. "I've not stayed alive this long by being nice," he finally stated.
Wonder Woman nodded, disappointed, but she understood his hesitation. She'd known him for eighteen months or so, but he didn't have that advantage. "Very well."
"That doesn't mean I don't want to know your name," he smirked. "Or is it just 'Wonder Woman'?"
She matched his smirk. This, at least, was familiar, this teasing banter between the two of them. Looked like there were aspects of Batman that existed no matter what reality he was in. "My full title?"
The smirk grew a little more. "If you like."
"Diana of Themyscira; daughter to Queen Hippolyta, Princess and Champion of the Amazons."
"Quite a name," he commented.
"I suppose it is."
"Which is your preference?" he asked. "Diana, or Princess?"
Her heart swelled – just a little – at the familiar moniker. "Well...this is where Batman comes in again."
"When we're alone on a mission, it's generally 'Princess', otherwise 'Diana' is fine."
"Then I guess for now it's 'Princess', Princess."
"You never did answer the my question, General," she pointed out.
He nodded once in acknowledgment. "Yes, I have a secret identity; no, I will not tell you what my true name is. Not until I trust you."
"And then?" she asked, confident that he would soon.
"I'll let you know, Princess."
She smiled, then returned to her history lesson.
A/N: Review please!