I do not own Hawkgirl, or any other DC character. I'm just borrowing them for my own view of alternative tales.
Kara drummed her fingers against the window frame, staring out at the blue and green marble that was her home. Her most recent home. She sighed again as she stared down at the small globe that looked so much more fragile from her current vantage point. The UN-sponsored Watchtower that had replaced the original League's satellite headquarters was a sign of the growing unity that had been reborn after the Thanagarian invasion. The numerous military satellites that banded the planet, and the Watchtower, were a sign men were still not all that trusting, either, though.
"Quiet night," J'onn asked knowingly as the green-skinned Martian rose up through the bulkheads before he materialized fully to stand before her solid once more.
"A real snore-fest," she grimaced. "I'd rather be down there patrolling with Kal."
The Martian smiled. "I believe it was Kal-El who suggested you learn a degree more discipline before you became a regular on patrols. Especially after that stunt you pulled with Green Arrow taking down that nuclear-powered android a few months ago."
"Yeah," she sighed. "GL still hasn't stopped riding me over that one. I mean, hey, we beat it. And it was thanks to Green Arrow that we did."
"And almost lost countless lives in the doing. Several of our own among them," he chided her patiently.
"I know, I know," she sighed again, still looking down at the planet. "I told you, I've heard all the lectures."
"I am certain you will hear many more before your cousin feels you are mature enough to go out on your own again. That fiasco in Danville is still fresh on his mind, too, I believe."
"You'd know," she grimaced, glancing back at the telepathic alien.
"I know you are anxious to prove yourself, Kara," he told her quietly. "As you are anxious to grow up, and become your own woman. Give yourself time. It is a journey we must all make, and we all make it in our own unique way. You, too, will find your way. Never fear."
"Right. And Kal will be right there shaking his finger at me," she snorted, dropping her chin down on her open palms as she leaned over the thick window frame to stare at the planet.
"You are lucky to have family that cares about you," the Martian reminded her.
"I know. I know," she sighed again. "It's just….sometimes he can really drive me crazy with that whole 'I'm bigger and smarter than you' routine."
J'onn didn't exactly chuckle. He did smile, which was something for him, she knew. She knew he smiled, because she saw his reflection in the thick flex-steel glass that served as observation ports for the Watchtower.
"What's so funny," she glowered at him as she glanced briefly over her slender shoulder as her cape covered her like a shroud just then the way she slumped over.
"You just gave a universal complaint about all family's. Especially older members of families."
"Yeah, well, Kal's a real super-powered pain in the…."
"Kara," a stern voice chided her.
"Backside," she turned and smiled over her shoulder at him.
"I see you've been hanging around with Oliver again."
"Well, Kal told me I should find someone more mature to emulate," she grinned impishly as she looked back at the planet below.
"I don't think he meant that borderline anarchist," the Martian smiled knowingly.
"Well, if it annoys him, I must be doing something right," Kara grinned impishly.
"Only you would think so," a deep bass drawled as she turned to find John Stewart standing in the transporter pad.
"I didn't think you were on duty this rotation," she said as she straightened up to face him.
"And I told Kal-El he shouldn't be relying on a little girl for monitor duty without a chaperone. You're still too undisciplined…."
"And you're as uptight as Bats, without the cool fashion sense," she shot back. "Jeez, why don't you give the attitude a rest?"
"This organization requires discipline, Kara…."
"Call me Supergirl," she spat. "Only my friends get to call me Kara."
"That attitude is why you don't have many friends," John shot back.
"I happen to have a lot of friends."
"Sure you do, Linda," he shot back just as curtly.
Kara's lips thinned, and she glared at him. "I'm starting to see why Hawkgirl split. You really are an uptight ass, aren't you," she shot before she walked over to the nearest hatch, and let herself out into space before flying down to the planet.
The two heroes stood near the observation port watching her descend in a blur of speed before J'onn turned to face the grimly scowling Green Lantern. "I think you push her too hard, my friend," he told her. "She does her best, but she is still young. And she faces unique….difficulties we cannot truly appreciate."
"She's still too wild. Too impulsive. And far too independent to count on. I warned Kal-El he might be precipitous about bringing her in."
"I believe you're confusing her with another, John Stewart," the Martian warned him.
"And what would you know…..? Never mind," he scowled at the telepath.
John looked over the many consoles, scanning the readings, and checking the reports with a practiced glance. "So, did she screw anything up?"
"I was not supervising her. However, from what I saw when I arrived to begin my shift, she had everything under control. She is a very capable young woman, John; although she is, as you say, as yet undisciplined."
"Captain Atom still wants to boot her, too," John grinned briefly. "She really rides him."
"He is a very….unyielding personality, too."
"Hey, I'm not that uptight," John denied, catching the Martian's sidelong glance.
The Martian didn't even smile. He rarely did.
"I think I should leave for a while, Leslie," Shayera told her benefactor as they sat sipping tea in the cafeteria that fed most of the women, or patients in the clinic's shelter.
"No one blames you for what happened, Sheryle," the older woman assured her as she kept to her new identity since the redhead was currently camouflaged in that identity. "The fact is, you saved their lives that night. Even Cassie understands that."
"Still, it only proves I could bring danger right here to your door, when you don't need any other additional problems," the redhead frowned.
"Sheryle…..think about what you want. You know I'll support you whatever you decide. But I'm just asking you to think about one thing. What would have happened if you hadn't been here? Think about that?"
She nodded faintly, but said nothing.
"You can't save everyone, dear," Leslie told her, running a hand through her silvering hair. "Sometimes, not even the ones you care most about. Bruce could tell you all about that, if he wanted. That doesn't mean you stop trying…."
"I'm not running away," she cut the older woman off. "I….I just have to get away for a little while. I need to sort things out, and try to…..to figure out just what I should do now."
"Are you still staying at Keri's place?"
"No," she admitted. "I….I didn't think it would be right since she's….gone."
"Where have you been staying?" "I found another place. Nearby."
"Not another one of those seedy places like before," Leslie groaned.
"I'm fine," Sheryle assured her, emptying her cup. "And I'll be fine. I just need some time on my own to come to terms with some things. Sandy's taking over my beginning classes for now. She's more than good enough now, and the others can just keep practicing what they already know. I promise I'll let you know whatever I decide," she told the older woman as she leaned across the table to pat her hands. "I owe you a lot."
"Just take care of yourself, Shayera," Leslie told her quietly. "You owe yourself that."
The redhead smiled, and carried their cups to the counter where the dishwasher waited to take them. The gangly teen mother manning that post today grinned as she took the cups. "Not hungry this morning, Sheryle," she asked.
"I have a lunch appointment," she told her. "I thought I'd save room since they're buying."
"Smart," the streetwise girl grinned. "Watch your back."
"Always," she assured the girl.
"There she is," one of the two men in the sedan's front seat pointed out the redhead who emerged from the mission shelter to turn down an alley. "My snitch says she's the one with wings."
"I don't see no wings," a third man in the back snorted. "And they'd be hard to hide in that outfit," he added as he eyed the redheaded babe that was admittedly very well built in that snug sweater, and form-fitting jeans.
"The boss ain't paying for screw-ups," the driver spat. "And that is her. I don't know how she hides her wings, but she has 'em. Hell, you think the Big Red 'S' walks around with his cape showing all the time?"
None of them mentioned Gotham's resident vigilante. It was considered bad luck to invoke the name of the Bat when you were working. It was almost as if doing so was a sure means of drawing him to you.
"Slade, you follow her," he told the man in the back. "We'll drive around and cut her off. Between the three of us, we should bring this bitch down easy since she won't be expecting us. The boss will have his trophy by nightfall," he grinned as the man called Slade trotted across the street to enter the alley the redhead had just taken.
"Where the hell is she," the driver demanded a moment later as he pulled around to find Slade the only one in the alley facing him.
"She got away," the tall thug drawled as he climbed back into the car. "I guess she did have wings."
"You see her change," the leader demanded as he backed out of the alley.
"Nah. But she was gone when I came into the alley, and no one could move fast enough to just disappear like that."
Both men in front turned and glared at the other man. "You really are a dweeb, aren't you Slade?"
The big man shrugged helplessly. "Hey, I'm just muscle," he grinned.
"Duh," the passenger muttered in disgust, deciding muscle must be getting dumber than ever.
"I appreciate the tip, Bruce," the woman at his table smiled as the waiter walked away with their order.
"Don't mention it. So, I hear you're going to visit Dr. Fate for a while."
"Yeah. I…..I need to really get away, and just…..think on things."
"I understand," he nodded, saying no more as the waiter returned with their order in record time.
"Well, no one else seems to," she sighed.
"Leslie can be pretty tough on those she thinks are worth saving," Bruce grinned as she attacked her steak without showing any hesitation over displaying she still had a healthy appetite, unlike many of his dates.
"I like her, too," Shayera said, pausing to study him. "I just don't like the idea of leaving town when you're knee-deep in this weapons' smuggling ring. I feel like….."
"Gotham, and I, will be just fine. Trust me," he told her. "You go do what you have to do."
"I really do owe you a lot," she told him after the leisurely lunch, and a ride out of town that left her just outside the city where she climbed out of the car.
Bruce looked out of the still open door, and told her, "Professional courtesy," he nodded as he reached for the door. "Good luck, Shayera," he told her even as she shed her masquerade with a touch of the device at her waist, and revealed her more familiar persona.
"You, too," she nodded, and leapt into the sky, and kept going.
It would be many months before anyone saw her again.
"So, are you really back this time, or what," Kara asked as she walked into the lounge where Shayera had spent much of her time since her official return to the League when not on duty. By now, everyone knew she was either in her quarters, the lounge, or taking out her frustrations on the gym, which often needed some patching up afterward according to some.
"Are you going to argue over it, too," the redhead asked as she stared vacantly at the ceiling as she leaned back in her chair, drumming her fingers on the table with her right hand while showing no inclination to even look her way.
"I was just asking," Kara shrugged as she walked over to take a cold drink from the small fridge set in one corner of the room.
"No coffee," the Thanagarian asked absently as she watched the blonde teen from the corner of one eye.
"Are you kidding," Kara grimaced. "I prefer my caffeine carbonated," she grinned as she held up the cola she had just opened.
"Long night, huh?"
"It always is on monitor duty," she sighed, and sank into a chair near the redhead without asking permission.
"I hear John has been giving you a hard time," she said, straightening slightly as she flexed her wings the way most people would have arched their back while stretching.
"Yeah, well…..he's still not as bad as Captain 'Stick-in-the-mud.' Almost, but not quite," she smirked as she took a long gulp of her drink.
"Well, they are both military men."
"Right," Supergirl sighed. "They make me wonder what people see in them," she huffed. "Soldiers, I mean."
"Well, John can be a lot of fun when he gets around to relaxing. It's just hard to get him to relax. I don't know much about the Captain. He came after my…..time."
"I heard he had some accident, and that was what made him…..well, like he is."
"A lot of heroes were created by accident," Shayera told her bluntly. "Do you think your cousin grew up thinking he would become the world's greatest hero?"
"I guess not," she sighed after a thoughtful silence. "But, jeez, he can be worse than ten Lanterns. He's so hung up on duty, and responsibility that it's like he doesn't have time for anything else."
"But he's still someone to be proud of, and someone you'd like to have respect you," she guessed.
"Yeah," Kara huffed again, and propped her chin on a palm as both elbows found the table. "But I'm still just a little girl to him. Hel…. Heck, to most of these guys. Can you believe I was even told I should be staying home learning to cook," she exclaimed, her blue eyes turning dark with her scowl as she absently crushed her soda can in her hand without thinking.
"Oops," she exclaimed, and used a controlled burst of heat vision to evaporate the spilled cola before it could spread.
"It isn't that funny," she protested, then ruined her protest by grinning, and giggling. "Although, I wish I could do that when I'm attending school, and some jerk starts up. Y'know?"
"I do understand, Kara. We all face the same problems growing up. We just have to find our own niche," she told the younger woman.
"And if you can't," she grumbled, tossing the smashed wad of tin she finished off into a recycling bin on the far side of the room with uncanny accuracy.
"Then you make your own," she told her earnestly.
"Is that what you did?"
"It's what I'm doing. I'm still trying to decide if coming back was a good idea, or not. Just as I'm trying to decide just what kind of life is best for me. I didn't exactly win a lot of friends when they found out about…well, you know by now," she sighed.
"Yeah. It's funny, but even though we aren't exactly coming from the same place, we have the same problem. The guys look at us, and they think we're nothing but trouble, and are only going to get in their way, or mess things up. Even Kal forgets I'm the one that got rid of those bad Kryptonians that got loose while he was off on some mission. Without help, by the way."
"We do have our moments," Shayera nodded. "I think it's just because most of these men grew up in a world where women are still second-class citizens, despite the attempts at equal rights, and claims of equality in this culture."
"Yeah, I guess. But even Argo City had its chauvinists. We didn't call them that, but that was what they were. Were….I mean. Are your people…..?"
"I know what you mean, Kara," she smiled. "Thanagarians are raised on the basis of their skills, and ability. Male, or female, if you can do the job, you get the job. You get a few throwbacks in any culture, but for the most part, gender wasn't a consideration when you were put into whatever vocation best suited you."
"That sounds better than this bunch of thick-headed men telling everyone what they should do," she snorted.
"Well, it has its problems, too. As now, with the war, everyone ends up a warrior, and like it or not, you stay a warrior until the war ends."
"Or you get exiled," another voice drawled in a soft query.
"Or that," she nodded, looking over at Diana who had just entered the lounge in a very flattering blue gown that matched her eyes.
"Wow, Wonder Woman," Kara grinned. "Were you invited to another party?"
"A reception at the UN peace talks being held in Beijing, actually," the Amazon told her as she approached the table. "But aren't you supposed to be on monitor duty?"
"I'm on a break. I needed a drink," she told her.
"I see," the Amazon murmured, and gave her a look she knew would have fit perfectly on Kal-El's face. "And if something comes up while you are…..getting a drink," she asked as she looked pointedly at her empty hands.
"First of all, I just finished my drink," Kara explained. "And I've been keeping an eye on things from here with…." She tapped her temple, and then her ears. "So give me a break. I'm not that irresponsible."
"Still, it's not very responsible of you to just….."
"Jeez, you and Kal should get together. You both sound so much alike you'd make great bookends," the blonde complained a second before a rush of wind blew past her, and the younger heroine seemed to just vanish from the room.
"Bookends," Diana asked as she frowned at the empty seat.
"She was just complaining about how the 'adults' here all seem to act as if she's a helpless child better off staying home…..learning to cook, I think was one of the insults she recently absorbed."
"Vigilante," both women nodded as they echoed one another.
"You two ever patch things up after that mission last week?"
"Let's say we've both agreed not to mention it. But he did finally accept that he needed more time on flight simulators before he tried piloting a Javelin again," Shayera grinned.
The smile faded just as quickly as it had come as she looked up at Diana who was staring at her with a somber gaze. "So, if you're headed for the UN, what brought you here? Were you thirsty, too?"
"No. I…. I wondered if I might borrow those pearl earrings you have for the night. I don't have anything else that would match my dress as well, and I want to look my best."
"You're kidding, right?"
"No. Would you mind if I…."
"Princess, you could walk into the room in a rag, and people would still stare at you. Trust me, a few Andolian pearls won't make a difference. But….you can use them. They're in my room, on the dresser," Shayera told her.
"Thank you," she nodded, still feeling uneasy around the Thanagarian since her return. She had still not actually seen much of her since she had vanished a second time only to reappear just in time to take down Grundy's strangely reanimated corpse.
They had reached a detente of sorts between them after she helped him defeat Felix Faust a second time in the realm of Hades itself. It had been galling at first to have to rely on her, but then she proved yet again that she was a warrior at heart, and not one to shrug a challenge, even if it led to the bowels of the underworld.
"Thank you," she nodded. "I owe you one."
Shayera's bland expression hid whatever reaction she had to that statement as Diana left.
She leaned back in her chair again, careful of her wings as she let them dangle to either side, and sighed. She had only just learned that Batman had finally put Cobblepot's weapons ring out of business not long after she had left. The slippery villain had bribed, bargained, and lied his way out of yet another jail sentence, but his smuggling operation was shut down, and the confiscated weapons helped plug the illegal sales of the alien technology from a LexCorp warehouse by a corrupt security guard that Superman had helped capture after a pitched battle with some of his associates.
Sandy, meanwhile, had built up her self-defense class into a regular course she offered to any woman outside the mission who wished to learn. Toby was helping her out, and she had heard they were actually getting rather friendly, which knowing Sandy's dislike of men in general, said something for the young man. She felt as if she just wasn't needed, even if she did receive news that many of her friends would like her to return.
Her doubts had come back after that ambush out in space, and the news that her homeworld had been ravaged by the Gordanians who had cut down their proud armada, and their defenses, like so much rabble. She had to admit it didn't help her state of mind that she now knew Ro had sacrificed his life in the end in one grand gesture of defiance. Not that it did any good.
Her proud race was now conquered by their long-time enemies. The egg-stealing lizards had ever been a threat, but now they had added her homeworld, lost to her as it was, to their empire of destruction. She sighed, and realized the reason she had not fought back at first was because she understood her former comrades all too well. She would have felt the same way in their place.
Unfortunately, she had another perspective. One that was strengthened by her time in Gotham. There were good people here. Decent people, even in the ghettos of that grim city. There were many among the League that still had doubts about her role, but there were some that welcomed her with open arms, and said little, or nothing about her past.
She was still having trouble with John, but that was expected when his attention was divided by the unfortunately likable woman he was seeing of late. A rather powerful heroine in her own right, too, she had to admit even she liked Vixen. She supposed it was only natural he move on, since it had been quite some time since she had walked away from the League after that fiasco that had cost her so much.
She sighed as she sat up again, then stood and stretched. She was getting restless again. She needed to spread her wings, or she was going to go nuts. Maybe a little time off was what she needed. Lately, all she had done was patrol, or stand monitor duty, and it was starting to prey on her mind that she was getting what Wally called 'cabin fever.'
Standing, she shook herself, and made a decision. She'd take a little personal time off, and try flying for herself for a time. If she could find a place where no one would try taking potshots at her again. She thought about it for a moment, and then headed back to her quarters to pack.
Oswald Cobblepot drummed his fingers on the desk before him as he mentally added up his losses over the past four months. Billions. Literally billions. All thanks to that interfering rodent, and that winged harpy he had apparently engaged for a time.
She was off again, out of the city doing whatever the devil such would-be heroes did, but he could not forget her. For a man who focused on aviarian themes, it galled him that another bird had thwarted his plans to rebuild his losses, and take control of a large piece of the city in the doing. His top enforcers had been unable to find the redheaded bitch either before, or after she had left his city. It was as she had vanished again. Only she hadn't. She had flown in out of nowhere recently, like she always did, ruining things for everyone around her.
Drumming his misshapen fingers absently, his thin lips turned inexorably downward in a dark scowl, he stared blandly into the dark city beyond his office, and tried to think of how to exorcize at least one of the winged freaks that was plaguing him of late. He spun his chair back about to face his desk, staring up at the rare albino canary that chattered from its cage even as a smile came to his face.
"Yes," he murmured. "Like any canny hunter, you just need the proper….bait."
His dry chortled was as ugly as it was menacing as he summoned his thugs to prepare his next move against Gotham. This time, he would not only take care of his personal agenda, he would make a little profit while he was at it. He chortled again, and then cut himself off as his men knocked at the door. After all, he was a somber entrepreneur. Not a cackling lunatic like that pasty-faced moron who had helped ruin his last scheme as much as the bird-girl's interference had.
"I've got a pickup for you, boys," he told them. "So listen close, and if you mess this one up, pray I don't find you," the diminutive crime boss told them.
Not one man didn't shudder as his tone, as much as his expression as those cold, dark eyes were fixed on each of them. They all listened intently, and being mostly experienced men who had worked with Oswald for a while, they didn't ask questions. They simply nodded, and left the office.
"Shayera," the intercom buzzed even as J'onn's voice spoke in her mind. "You have an emergency call on the Gotham frequency."
"Gotham? Is Br… Batman all right?"
"It's not from Batman," the Martian told her.
Shayera frowned at that, but replied, "I'll be right up," she told him as she reached for her boots, having just then lain down, about to try reading one of the many books found laying around the Watchtower.
A few minutes later, she dropped from the observation deck to join the sole surviving Martian at the communications panel. J'onn simply gestured at the screen, and stepped back.
"Dr. Tompkins," she frowned at the woman. "How….? Never mind. Is something wrong?"
"Yes, Shayera," she called her, tipping her to the nature of the call. "Sandy didn't get home last her. Her son is frantic, because in spite of the lack of evidence, he claims four giants took her."
"Does….Batman know anything?"
"I guess you don't know. He's…..out of town just now. That's why I called you. You're the only person I could think of that might really care enough to help us. Her son is scared to death, and none of us know what else to do."
Shayera frowned, and considered something Bruce had said a few weeks ago. "I might have an idea, Leslie. I'll be in touch as soon as I learn anything."
"Do you need backup," her green-skinned friend asked, knowing the look in her eye well enough.
"Not for this, J'onn," the redhead growled. "Because if it's what I think, the League isn't going to want to be involved. In fact, I think I should….change before I head out," she said, looking down at her usual costume she had taken to wearing again for the moment.
She was really thinking of a permanent costume change, though. Especially after that madness with Talec and the others who ambushed her in space. She really could have used her special armor then. Thirty-four minutes later, she materialized on a roof near the mission in her dark body armor, and carefully programmed the holographic emitter to make her look like plain, ordinary Sheryl Hall before she stepped to the edge of the roof and look around.
Lowering her visor into place on her helmet, she amped the hearing and visual spectrums, and found what she was looking for in less than two minutes. At the far end of the block, an innocuous panel van sat in a position where it could watch the front of the mission. She smiled coldly as she saw six bodies via IFR inside the vehicle.
The obvious scenario would be for Shayera to rush to the mission to investigate, and/or commiserate. Likely goons would then move to intercept her, using the civilians as hostages, or using Sandy as a threat to hold her in line.
Shayera was a warrior, though, and understood tactics far better than the men inside that old van.
She moved to the far side of the rooftop, dropped lightly down the alley floor as a drunk was startled by her appearance, and just gaped as the shadow of her cloaked wings caused a faint stirring in the air as she landed.
"You an angel, lady," the bearded, old man gaped, staring at her with wide, bleary eyes.
Shayera stared down at the man, but not with censure. "You could say that, old man," he was told.
The old man gasped, staring as he watched her walk to the mouth of the alley. Behind her, she heard him saying, "Knew they was real! Knew it! Slim Baxter don't know what he's talking about."
She smiled somberly, then glanced to the far end of the block where she had emerged to see the van pointed the other way. The back doors didn't have windows, and she would reasonably sure the thugs would have their surveillance equipment, which it was reasonable to assume they possessed, aimed at the mission itself. Not at the street.
Just to be safe, she shifted her the hologram now showing only casual clothes with her emitter, and took on the look of a now blonde street-walker as she sauntered toward the van as if she didn't have a care in the world. It said something of the neighborhood that two cars cruised by as she strolled that single block, both slowing, but only one stopping.
"Hey, Goldilocks," an apparent college kid beamed. "Wanna go to a party?"
"Wanna spend the night in jail," Shayera winked at him, and the kid floored it as he drove off.
She reached the back of the van, her visor still in place in spite of the holographic image showing only a scantily dressed blonde standing beside the van. She could go on the offensive here, but there was still a chance someone might get hurt considering there were six, heavily armed thugs in the van.
She considered the men's attitudes, and went with what they would expect.
Knocking on the van's side door, she heard sudden movement, and stepped back as the door suddenly opened and a very big gun was aimed at her face by a very big man. Someone a frightened boy might just call a giant, she mused somberly.
"What 'cha want, bitch," the tall man folded up in the small seat demanded. He had to be well over six foot, and likely a giant to a five year old boy watching his mother grabbed in the dark.
"I's just a messenger, guys," she drawled, putting on her best street accent. "Some crazed redhead grabbed me back yonder," she gestured vaguely, "And give me fifty dollars if I brung you's a message. Never made fifty bucks just for carrying a message," she grinned.
"What message," a shorter, leaner man with an ugly face that looked pushed in asked as his dark eyes glittered just a bit manically.
"Ah, something about settling things like men? Said to tell you's that she knew what you wanted, and you knew what she wanted. Or something like that."
"It's her. The bitch spotted us," the big man grunted.
"No? You think," the flat-faced thug growled. "All right, slut. Where is she," the other man asked, looking as if he might shoot her himself just for the fun of it.
"See that yella wreck? That alley there," she told him. "Least, that were where she grabbed me."
It was also, she knew, the alley she had already scouted, and knew no one was camping in it for the night. No innocents, or bystanders.
"Lead the way," flat-face demanded as he climbed out of the van. "Grab those machine pistols, Mel. Even that winged slut can't bounce bullets from what I heard."
"Wings," Shayera frowned in feigned confusion. "What wings?"
"The redhead didn't have wings," another of the six asked as he climbed out handing flat-face a weapon. "Are you sure it's….?"
"Shut up, stupe," flat-face barked. "Don't forget, these capes all got ways of hiding who they are. Even Slade didn't see her wings when they tried to jump her a while back. But she sure as hell flew off, didn't she?"
"Uh, yeah," the man murmured, and said nothing as the six of them started toward the alley.
Shayera lagged back for a moment, and then flat-face stopped, glanced back at her, and grinned. "Well, lead the way, Blondie."
"Me? I's just carrying the invite," she protested. "I weren't paid to be no tour-guide."
"You one of DD's girls? You do what I say, or….."
"All right. All right. No reason to bring Davie into this," she protested, holding up her hands in apparent surrender. "He's mean enough lately."
"Cause he's getting half his territory chopped up by the boss," someone sniggered.
Flat-face's glare cut the man off, and the six moved to follow Shayera as she moved toward the alley she had indicated.
"Say, am I getting paid extra for this," she glanced over her shoulder to ask the apparent leader. "Cause this is really taking up my time, and….."
"Just shut up, and call her out," he barked as the men moved to spread out, weapons at the ready, and kept their eyes on the alley.
"Uh, lady," she called as she approached the alley. "I brung them guys you wanted."
There was, naturally, no answer.
"Lady," she asked, calling a little louder.
"Go on," flat-face gestured with his gun.
"Hey, now," the blonde sputtered as he obviously intended to use her as a shield. "I ain't got nothing to do with this….."
All six men now formed a tight semi-circle around her as they closed on the alley. Her hand went to her side where only an apparent pager was clipped to her belt. She didn't even bother to switch off her holographic emitter as she grabbed the cloaked handle of her mace, and by the time the men saw it 'materializing' out of thin air as it left the cover of the holographic cloak, three of them were already down as the winged warrior rose slightly off the ground as she delivered a powerful swing that dropped five men, and stunned a sixth before any of them could move.
Flat-face was the only one still conscious as the blonde mask shimmered and faded, leaving a tall, angry redhead in black body armor looking down at him.
He didn't look quite so cocky now as she reached down with her free hand, jerking him to his feet, and then pausing to use her mace to crush the deadly weapons fallen around her. She then locked her eyes on her captive, and smiled coldly as she growled, "Let's chat, shall we," she asked just before powerful wings drove them both high into the air in the blink of an eye.
Flat-face's howl echoed over the streets as the old, bearded man who had crept out of the alley gaped up at the dark angel that flew back into the night sky with her captive.
"The angel of death," he rasped, his heart thudding as he realized how close he had come to being carried off by death itself. Even if she was pretty, he had no wish to go anytime soon.
"Maybe I should check out that rehab thing," he grumbled as he retreated back into the alley where it was safe.
"Now," Shayera said curtly as now held he repulsive felon in both hands high over the city. "Let's talk about my friend."
"You can't mess with me. You do anything, and she's history."
"No. You are. I'll find her. Sooner or later, I will find her. Even if I have to drag that hideous little man out of his ivory tower, and drop him on his beak a few dozen times. I'm just giving you a chance to go to jail by earning my forgiveness."
"You should rethink that. Because your other option is far more….limited," she growled, pointedly looking down.
"You wouldn't," he gasped in genuine fear, his face virtually bloodless.
"Remember who you're talking to," she growled again, her hands letting his cheap jacket slide through her fingers briefly before clamping down again.
The man gasped, and lost all his bluster as he began to babble.
Oswald glowered darkly as he waddled around his office restlessly. The Bat seemed to have vanished for a while, and while he didn't know where, or why, there were still plenty of interfering heroes that kept putting their noses where they didn't belong.
Case in point, the annoying bird-girl who had apparently single-handedly stormed his carefully vetted safe-house, put over a dozen of his best enforcers in the hospital, and then freed the hostage he had hoped would smoke her out in the first place.
It worked, but not in the manner he had expected. He had forgotten that the alien was one of the direct types that didn't spend a lot of time on negotiation, and banter. Even the Bat seemed a paragon of patience compared to that irritating redhead. While it was true there was nothing that tied him to the peasant's kidnapping in the eyes of the law, he was always careful in such matters, he had little doubt it would make a difference to the bird.
Which was why he remained holed up in his penthouse office, his guard doubled as he waited to hear if his enforcers he sent to find her again had managed to do an any better job than the last witless boobs who had apparently let a woman outsmart, and overpower them.
Grumbling darkly, he glanced at the clock, having expected to hear from his men by now. It was growing late, and…..
The glass of his balcony doors shattered as two large objects just did miss him to impact against two large vases adorned with delicate cranes. The genuine Chinese artifacts disintegrated under the bulk of the two heavy bodies that sprawled before him as Oswald cursed vehemently, belatedly realizing that both men were out cold.
Turning back to the now open entryway, he saw a dark silhouette that made him shiver in spite of himself. Only this was not the Bat. It was worse.
"Hello, Penguin," a cold-eyed harpy from hell glared down at him as she settled to the ground, and stepped into his private office. "I hear you wanted to meet."
"You're trespassing, birdie," he squawked indignantly, glaring at her as he realized his best umbrella was across the room, and out of his reach.
"And you're pretty high up for a flightless bird," she told him pointedly, glancing toward the balcony doors.
"Was that a threat? I'm a legitimate….!"
"Don't even bother. I'm not impressed. I just came to deliver my own message."
The short, squat man sniffed indignantly, and drawled, "And why should I care what you have you to say?"
"Oh, you care. Trust me. You care. Your very life depends upon it."
Oswald swallowed at that one. Something told him this was not one of the usual Bat-ploys his usual nemesis employed.
"So, what is on your mind, woman," he scowled.
"Just this," Shayera snapped, her green eyes glittering as she stared at him, her visor pushed up just now so she could look on the unimpressive, little man. "If you, or your men go near that mission, or mess with anyone there again, I won't bother with your men. I will find you. And unlike Batman, I won't arrest you. I won't warn you. I won't even hit you."
Oswald felt himself shudder at the look she now gave him.
"I will simply carry you very, very high into the sky, and see how well Penguins can fly," she told him curtly, and turned her back on him.
"You wouldn't dare! You're a hero! You…."
She glanced back at him. "No. I'm a Thanagarian warrior. Remember that, if you remember nothing else," she told him.
Oswald swallowed very hard at that one.
"I'm watching you, little man," she told him. "Remember that the next time you get another bad idea."
Oswald glanced to his umbrella as she headed for the shattered doors, and before he could even make up his mind to try it, she told him, "Go ahead. I've survived Apokolips' weaponry. Do you think you're little tricks will stop me."
She hadn't even looked back as she stepped out onto the balcony, and rose into the night sky.
Oswald shuddered, and hated that she had managed to actually rattle him far more than the Bat ever had. Which was saying something.
"Leslie," a seemingly ordinary redhead walked into the office just before noon the next day.
"Shay…. Sheryle," she asked. "Why are you sneaking in the back, dear," the older woman asked. "Everyone was happy you got Sandy back, especially her son."
"It's the least I could do."
"So, will we see you again?"
"I'll always be available to help you, Dr. Tompkins," she smiled. "But I finally realized who, and what I really am. For now, I'm sticking with the League. It is where I can do the most good. But….I won't forget you. Any of you. And if you ever need help…."
"We have a city full of heroes," Leslie rose to embrace her. "So don't worry about us. You just take care of yourself."
"That I can do," the redhead smiled.
Leslie smiled as she watched the woman leave. She didn't always have success stories in the mission despite all her best efforts. Still, as she watched Shayera Hol take a side door, and saw a flash of shadow at a window, she knew she would never stop trying. Because if she could help a fallen heroine regain her rightful place, she was certain she could help anyone.