AN: Slithers out of a hole. Hi. Remember me? Do you remember this story? :P Sorry for the long delay. A lot of stuff has been going on. I received a promotion at my job this summer. So while I got a nice pay raise, I also got more responsibilities and went through training which took my time away from writing for a while. Things are slowly coming back to normal. Hopefully the next chapter won't take so long to finish. Due to some changes with I've been going back and forth if I should post the mature sex scenes or not. I decided not to but if you want to read it, PM me.

The Bounty Hunter

Part Twenty-Three

When Kal returned to his home two hours after the incident at Metro Mountain, he expected Lobo to be there. Sure, he assume Lobo would be grouchy and bitter and even though he told Lobo to leave, he didn't think Lobo would actually do that and take Maxima with him.

"How long have they been gone?" Kal asked Jonathan and Martha.

Jonathan thought for a moment. "I would say an hour and a half."

"Maxima was ready to leave before that," Martha added. "I saw Maxima tossing her things in a bag, murmuring she had to get home and hoping she wasn't too late."

"Too late for what?"

"I don't know, Kal. I asked Maxima, but she didn't say. She looked very frantic though."

"That's different from her behavior this morning," Kal recalled the Almerac queen's actions. "When I saw her this morning, Maxima was her normally flirtatious self. I wonder if someone from Almerac contacted her."

"I asked if there was trouble at home," Jonathan suddenly remembered. "Maxima said she couldn't reach anyone from her world."

Kal suddenly turned his back on the Kents, briskly heading down a corridor. "I'll be back. Come on, Krypto."

Kal went up two levels to his Command Center. Computers from his ship, that held knowledge of galaxies and planets light years from Earth, were stored in this room. He had a wide screen twice the size of the one Batman kept in his cave. All the cameras in his home were linked to this room where he could see everything that went on in and around his home.

With guests in his home, he never viewed the cameras but Maxima's sudden disappearance left cause to be concern. "Computer, reveal all rooms accessed today."

A blueprint of Kal's Fortress filled the screen. Rooms highlighted in green revealed they were accessed and the times they were. One particular room got Kal's attention. "Oh, zhuut. She found the War Room." It had to be Maxima because one had to be intentionally snooping to find that room. "But it doesn't explain why Maxima was pumped to leave. Computer, access video of Maxima inside War Room."

For twenty minutes Kal watched Maxima snooping. He saw Maxima observing the bat design jets, exo-suits incased in protective shields; she almost took her head off tampering with an exploding arrow. Kal grew concerned when he saw Maxima using her telekinetic powers to control the computer, prompting a hologram of Kal to appear. As Maxima listened to the hologram's prepared dialogue, Kal saw the color drain from Maxima's face, followed by her immediately running out of the room.

"That's what caused Maxima's behavior but she wouldn't have cause for panic unless there was a genuine threat to her world. I thought she kept in contact with her people on her ship." Kal crossed his arms over his chest. "I don't like this, Krypto. Could Darkseid be making his move? I was expecting a simultaneous strike. Of course with Darkseid, you have to expect anything and everything."

Krypto barked.

Kal sighed. "I know, Krypto. I have to tell Diana about this."

It was evening when Diana arrived at Kal's Fortress. She was full of excitement as she couldn't wait to share the good news with Kal. It was a history making day in the Justice League. Despite her excitement, Diana was aware on what happened at Metro Mountain. She knew Kal wasn't happy about that and suspected a falling out occurred between Kal and Lobo.

Krypto was the first to greet Diana as he raced in the foyer, tongue hanging and tail wagging with Kal following behind.

Diana knelt and petted Krypto as he licked her face. "Hello, my friend. Today is a happy day!" When Kal approached, Diana stood and jumped into his arms. "Kal, we did it! We've captured the last of the Injustice League. We found the base where the rest were hidden and disabled all the bombs they had left. It's done." Diana released a joyous laugh and kissed Kal fully on his mouth. "I knew this day would come. I never thought it would happen so soon." Diana hugged Kal again. "It's because of you. This day wouldn't have happened if it weren't for you."

Diana's voice was emotional. Kal pulled back to stare at Diana. He saw tears in Diana's eyes. "Oh, Sweetness, are you gonna cry?"

Diana wasn't ashamed if she did. She was so happy. "We've battled the Injustice League for years. They did so many horrible things. So many innocents lost their lives or were harmed because of them. If it weren't for you, inspiring us to get tougher with the Injustice League, how many more years would we have fought them? How many people would've been harmed? Knowing the changes you've done to this planet, how you've changed my life, it makes me love you all the more."

"Love me?" Those were words Kal had not heard often, especially towards him.

"Yes, I love you." Why was he so shock to hear her say that? "I know it's the first time I said it to you but don't look so stunned. You know it's true."

"It's not something I hear often. I've heard it from my birth parents through the holograms. I don't think Dirk and Saki ever said the words out loud to me though I know they felt it. It's the same with the Kents." Kal shrugged. Suddenly he was feeling uncomfortable with this conversation. Women in the throes of sex said it to Kal but he never believed it. Hearing the words from Diana, felt genuine to Kal and it was humbling.

It was sad to Diana to learn Kal was not told he was loved. How horrible! "Kal, I'll say it again and whenever you want. I love you and I have for the longest time. I don't expect you to repeat the words to me if you don't—"

Kal silenced Diana with a hungry kiss. He moved so fast Diana stumbled back and it was the safety of Kal's hand around her waist that kept her from falling. Krypto rolled his eyes. Not that he minded seeing his master kiss his woman and have his hands all over her but there were important things they had to deal with.

Krypto barked to get Kal's attention. Kal pulled away from Diana and scolded his dog. "Get your own woman." He turned his attention back to Diana. He caressed her face as he told her, "As for you, Sweetness, I love you in case you haven't figured it out."

Kal moved in to kiss Diana again but she put a finger on her lips. "Later. I think Krypto is getting rowdy with us fooling around."

Kal snorted. "No, he enjoys taking away my pleasure."

Diana slipped an arm around Kal and they resumed walking in the Fortress, "I feel my mission in making this a peaceful planet is halfway accomplished. I don't know how to thank you."

"You don't have to thank me."

"Will you have dinner with me?"

As if she had to ask. "Anytime. You know that."

"With my mother?"

Dinner with Mama Bear? "I thought you wanted to thank me. Dinner with your mother is punishment for a crime I didn't do."

Diana was hopeful the third time will be the charm. "With the imminent changes in our relationship approaching and your improved stance in the world, I think it's time for another meeting with my mother. I think she will be more responsive to you."

"Or quicker with her sword." Kal wasn't as positive as Diana but her optimism was one of the many things he loved about her. "But if it means that much to you, name the time and place and I'll be there."

"Thank you." Diana kissed his cheek. She knew Kal was a good man and she knew her mother would see that, too. "I saw the video from Metro Mountain," Diana said somberly. "Where's Lobo?"

"Lobo and Maxima are gone, Diana. They've been gone for hours."

That was a relief to hear but Diana knew Kal couldn't be happy. "I wasn't fond of Lobo but he was your friend. I know you didn't want a falling out between you two."

No, but that was the situation now and there were more important matters to deal with. Kal explained to Diana Maxima's sudden departure with Lobo and his theory.

"Why would you assume Darkseid's the reason for Maxima leaving? She may have had an emergency at home. She is a queen."

"Maxima found a room here that prompted her to leave. It's a room I haven't you told about."

It was surprising Kal kept something from Diana given how honest he has been with her but she remained positive it was for good reason. At least it better be. "What room?"

Instead of telling her, Kal decided to show her. Walking to the War Room, Diana noticed this was a part of the Fortress she never thought existed. The narrow hallway they cornered themselves in looked like a dead end except the El crest on the wall. "The crest opens when anyone with Kryptonian DNA touches it. Maxima used her telekinesis to get in." Kal touched the crest and the door rose up. "Go in."

Diana stepped inside. The room itself was as large as a football stadium. One side of the room had air and land vehicles of motorcycles, jets and exo-suits, each had a symbol familiar to members of the Justice League. Weapons foreign to Diana and familiar to gear her friends used decorated the other side. Diana picked up a batarang. It was lighter than Bruce's but she knew it was just as powerful. "Are these for the Justice League?"

"I know Darkseid will come after us for what we did to him. I want us to be prepared. I don't think the weapons the Justice League has will hold against Darkseid's terror. So I made upgraded suits, weapons and vehicles that will. That batarang detonates faster and is ten times as powerful as Bruce's. It can easily take out a group of parademons in close proximity."

"How do you know the schematics of Bruce's batarang….." Diana paused. "Kal, did you swipe one of Bruce's batarangs and other weapons members of the Justice League used to-"

"To study them?" Kal grinned. "You're gonna hold that against me?"

"Not if it's to protect the Earth." Diana imagined Dick would love to wear the exo-suit Kal designed and fly the jet, Dinah would have no problem riding the bike Kal built and Ollie would gladly use the arrows. Bruce? Diana wasn't sure but he would suck it up to save the Earth. "Are you that worried about Darkseid?"

"As a bounty hunter, I'm trained to be prepared, to predict my opponents' actions and how to counter them."

Diana placed the batarang down and opened a glass case of arrows designed for Ollie. She plucked an arrow from its holder. "Are all these made of components from other planets?"

"Most of the materials are from Earth," Kal informed. "I went to a lot of junkyards, abandoned warehouses all over the globe where there are endless supplies of materials. Dirk trained me that anything could be made into a weapon. I melted, redesigned, and blended materials together."

Diana returned the arrow to its holder. "This doesn't explain why Maxima left. At best, Maxima would assume you have a lot weapons."

Kal stepped to a console that connected to his large computer. He tapped a few keys. "This will."

A hologram of Kal appeared in the center of the room. "Hello, friends. If you are seeing me, it means Darkseid has unleashed terror on Earth beyond the Justice League's control. Worst of all, Diana and I are incapacitated. I have known since our escape on Apokolips, Darkseid has been plotting revenge against us and since then I have been preparing."

The hologram walked around, passing the vehicles and weapons on display. "Here, you will find weapons and vehicles that will help take down Darkseid."

Kal shut off the hologram. "The hologram will answer any question the Justice League will have about the weapons."

"Since Maxima helped on Apokolips, she thinks her planet is in danger?" Diana guessed. "And when no one responded when she checked on her home, she panicked. I can understand that. You think Darkseid will strike Earth soon?"


And just when things were turning well for the Justice League. "We can't live in fear but we can be alert. We'll be ready for Darkseid and we will continue with our lives until he strikes."

Which included dinner with Queen Hippolyta. Showdown number three will be interesting indeed.

Julia Kapatelis entered her home after a long but exciting day. Today, the Injustice League finally met its end. She heard from Donna the news of Diana, J'onn and Hal capturing the remaining resistant members. Many in the Justice League and people around the world were celebrating. Knowing Diana was celebrating with Kal, Julia promptly rescheduled Diana's plans for the day and left the Embassy for a nice, quiet evening alone at home.

Julia flipped on the lights and found two unexpected guests waiting for her.

Knockout sat in Julia's easy chair while Lashina leaned against it. "About time you showed up, old lady."

"You serve Wonder Woman," Knockout informed her as she stood. "It's time you serve Darkseid."

Julia turned to run but Knockout grabbed her before she could take two steps. She clamped a hand over Julia's mouth, muffling her scream. "Oh, you won't be alerting your neighbors."

Knockout kept a tight hand over Julia's mouth as she forced Julia on the floor. Julia struggled but it did no good as Knockout overpowered her in strength. Since Julia kept her fading blonde hair short, her neck was bare to Lashina. Approaching, Lashina pulled Desaad's spider chip from her uniform. It was a small mind controlled chip with eight legs. Lashina put it on Julia's neck and watched the chip sink in Julia's skin. Julia immediately stopped struggling and Knockout released her.

Julia laid on the floor very still with her eyes closed. "Rise," Lashina commanded. Julia's eyes opened and she stood as commanded. "What is your name?"

"Julia Kapatelis." Julia spoke dully.

Knockout snapped her fingers. "Talk like that and Wonder Woman will be suspicious. Speak with a little more life in your voice."

"What is your position?" Lashina asked.

Julia smiled pleasantly and spoke normally. "I am Wonder Woman's personal assistant at the Themysciran Embassy."

"Who do you serve?"


Lashina smiled. "That is correct. You are the eyes and ears of Darkseid in the Themyscira Embassy. You will keep an eye on Wonder Woman's relationship with Kal-El, the bounty hunter. They both betrayed Darkseid and they both shall pay. You will inform of us any plans Wonder Woman will make with Kal-El so we can exact our revenge. Is that understood?"

Julia nodded. Darkseid was her lord and master and she had to obey him. "Yes."

With winter over and spring approaching, the cool nights in Metropolis were becoming a thing of the past. A homeless man made his bed under a bridge in the park with stacks of old newspapers as his manmade mattress. He rolled a stack of old papers to use as a pillow. His worn, dirty and smelly jacket would be used as a blanket. Laying down on the newspaper and covering his body with a jacket, the homeless man prepared himself for a good night's sleep.

His eyes were closed for a minute before a slight tremble in the ground shook him up followed by a blinding light. When the light faded, the homeless man opened his eyes to see two beautiful women staring at him. One was a tall beautiful redhead in a skintight yellow leotard outfit and the other was a woman in black dressed like a dominatrix.

"Am I dreaming?" the homeless man wondered.

"No, old man," the redhead spoke. "You're dead." Knockout kick the man across his face so hard his neck snapped.

Lashina wouldn't have cared who Knockout killed if so much wasn't on the line. "You didn't have to kill him. He's what they call homeless people here, Knockout. No one would've believed him if he spoke of seeing us."

"He and his kind will soon be dead. What's the harm if he dies before the rest of the world?" Knockout questioned.

"Nothing but if his death triggers the attention of the Justice League, it'll be our asses on the line, and the way Darkseid has been as of late, he'll kill us from mucking his plan in making Wonder Woman his bride."

Knockout brushed off Lashina's worry and focused on why they were in Metropolis. "The Justice League's celebrating the end of the Injustice League. They won't care of any crimes tonight or if two of their members are seduced to serve Darkseid."

That was true. Lashina pulled off her mask and loosen her black hair from its pin while Knockout discarded her own green mask. They stripped off their clothes as they slipped into Earth civilian clothing. "Plastic Man and Booster Gold have been frequenting the clubs in this city trying to pick up women. They are sure to be out tonight. We'll get them alone, put the spider chips in them and send them on their merry way to destroy the Justice League."

"Come on! You're lying!"

"It totally happened!"

"He's not lying. I was with him!"

Wally was among the youngest members of the Justice League so he was vulnerable to pranks and farfetched stories from the older members making them cooler than they were but this story was the biggest exaggeration Wally had ever heard.

"I believe two hot women hit on you. I believe they went to your place, Michael, but if you expect me to believe they slept with you and Patrick then traded to sleep with you two again, you're pulling my leg."

"It happened!" Booster yelled.

"Where's your proof?" Wally asked.

"Proof?" Plastic Man repeated.

Wally rolled his eyes. "Were they there when you woke up?"

"No," Booster Gold rubbed his neck. "They probably slipped out while we were sleeping. It happens. I've done it."

Plastic Man rubbed his neck, too. It felt itchy. "I remember waking up with a sore neck." He turned his back on Wally. "Do you see anything?"

"No, except something that looks like a spider bite." Wally finished his drink. "So what did these hot women look like?"

"A redhead and brunette!" Booster blurted. Then relented, "I think. I know they were both hot."

This story was falling apart. Wally wondered why he was humoring them. "Do you think you'd recognize them if you saw them?" Bruce entered the kitchen and made no attempt to acknowledge the men.

"No," Plastic Man said slowly. "Actually, I don't remember much after we got to your place, Michael."

Wally laughed. He knew what happened. "Sounds like you were drugged."

"We weren't drugged!" Michael yelled. "Nothing was stolen from my apartment."

"But you don't remember much after you got to your place," Wally reminded him. "Something was taken."

"No," Michael denied that. "We must've had sex. We were both naked when we woke up."

"Doesn't mean you had sex with them. Is anyone's backsides sore?" Wally snickered, angering Michael and Patrick even more with his implications. "Unlike me, I know I got some last night with a very beautiful woman."

Plastic Man made a face. "Ever since you got with Donna, you think you're hot stuff."

"I kind of am," Wally grinned. "For me to land someone as beautiful as Donna, I must be doing something right."

Plastic Man and Booster left the room, not wanting to hear anymore of Wally's growing ego.

"All joking aside," Bruce spoke, "it's not good when members of the Justice League have hours unaccounted for."

"It was just one night, Bruce," Wally didn't see the need for Bruce to become paranoid over what happened. "They probably got a roofie slipped in their drinks and they don't want to admit they got taken by two hot women. I bet they were robbed but don't want to admit it."

"Nevertheless hours were unaccounted for. Many of you were celebrating the fall of the Injustice League last night. It was a perfect opportunity for anyone to take advantage of us with our guard down."

Wally shook his head. Gotham could be free of crime forever and Bruce would take a moment to celebrate it. "Nope. Just too much partying. I wish I can party tonight, too but I can't."

"Why?" It wasn't like Wally to skip out on partying.

"I'm having dinner with Queen Hippolyta. Diana thought it was best her mother have dinner with her daughters' boyfriends."

Bruce chuckled. He didn't need to be a detective to know how tonight will go. "Good luck," he mused and left the room.

"If Bruce's laughing at me, I'm doomed."

"I can't believe I let Donna talk me into coming," Wally complained. "I'm gonna die tonight." Wally tugged his tie slightly. "And in this stiff suit."

Kal stood with Wally outside the portal room where Hippolyta would transport from Themyscira to the Embassy. Diana and Donna were inside waiting for their mother. While the sisters wore traditional Grecian gowns, their dates wore modern suits. Kal was as uncomfortable as Wally in his stiff black suit and tie but he wasn't going to complain. "Stop whining and be a man."

"You be a man when you're meeting your girlfriend's mother—the Queen of the Amazons." Wally shuddered. "What if Queen Hippolyta learns about me and Donna sleeping together?" Wally gulped. "What if she already knows? My boys won't be useful after tonight."

Kal rolled his eyes. "Wally, I am meeting my woman's mother like you. Get it together, man. Queen Hippolyta smells blood and she will pounce on you like a Targanian shark."

Wally took in a deep breath and exhaled. "You're right. You're right." Wally was calm for a moment but sheer panic overcame him again, "But she's still my girlfriend's mother!"

A year ago, Kal would've called Wally a puss and left him but being around Wally and learning of the speedster, he understood Wally was young and needed an older person to take him under his wings and make him a stronger man like an older brother would with his younger brother.

"You like Donna, don't you?"

"I'm crazy about her," Wally confessed. "I love her."

"And you want her mother to approve of you? You want her to respect you?"

"Yeah," Wally wasn't sure where Kal was going with this.

"To get Queen Hippolyta's respect, you can't be intimidated of her. Respect her, but don't fear her. If you show fear, she won't respect you and won't approve of you and Donna. Queen Hippolyta's an overprotective Mama Bear. What she will hate more than anything is losing the position of being her daughter's caretaker. She thinks she's the only one who can take care of her daughters. If you prove to Queen Hippolyta you can have Donna's back when she needs it, she will respect you and that's the key to getting Queen Hippolyta to like you. If you can do that, stay. If you can't, there's the door. And if you leave," Kal warned, "then don't come back because Donna doesn't need a man like you in her life."

It was heavy handed but it was the kick in the pants he needed. If he couldn't prove himself, he should leave and not come back. If so, shake off his fear and be confident in front of Queen Hippolyta. "Donna's as crazy about me as I am about her. I never thought how my being scared of her mother would mean to her. The last thing I want to do is disappoint Donna. I'm staying. If Queen Hippolyta gets angry with me, Donna's gonna need me to step up."

Kal slapped Wally's back. "Good man."

Wally lurched forward. "Hey!" He rubbed his back wincing. "Careful! You could break my back with your hand."

"If I wanted to, I would've done it."

"Right." Sometimes it was scary having Kal smile at him. "I shouldn't be so nervous," Wally joked. "After what you did to Diana, you have to be scared." Kal raised an eyebrow at Wally forcing him to flinch. "Sorry."

The portal room opened behind Wally and Kal. Wally turned and his legs started to twitch. The movement spread to his chest and arms and soon his whole body was shaking. Kal hit Wally on the back of his head and the shaking stopped.

Donna stepped out and winked at Wally, then Diana who smiled at Kal and lastly Queen Hippolyta.

Hippolyta saw both men bow before her but Kal was her main focus. "Kal-El, I see you and my daughter are still together."

"We are." Mama Bears. They are worse than Fathers with cannon guns.

Hippolyta acknowledged Wally. "Wally West. Please tell me Wally is short for something."

"It's Wallace," Wally's voice cracked. He cleared his throat. "Wallace, Your Highness," Wally bowed again.

"Then I shall call you Wallace."

"Shall we go to the dining room?" Diana suggested.

Donna immediately took Wally's arm and led him to the dining hall room. Wally instantly cringed and looked to Hippolyta who coolly watched him. Donna tugged his arm and dragged him away. Hippolyta turned her eyes on Diana, wondering if Diana would flaunt her affection for Kal. Diana didn't hesitate taking Kal's hand. Hippolyta was surprised Kal insisted she walk before them and when he opened the dining hall door to her. Kal's manners continued to shock her when Kal pulled out the chair for Hippolyta and Diana at the table.

Wally already seated with Donna slapped his forehead. "Damn! I forgot to do that!" He clamped a hand over his mouth. "I mean darn."

"I am not innocent to cursing," Hippolyta smiled kindly at Wally. "Be yourself."

"You are right about that, Mother." Donna giggled at Wally's embarrassment. "When Mother is really angry, she can curse up a storm."

Servants brought out plates of appetizers for everyone and promptly left.

"I prefer you be yourself, Wallace," Hippolyta told Wally as he filled her glass of wine. "When questioning the men who are courting my daughters, I prefer honesty over shadiness." Looking at Kal, she added, "That's one thing I can say is true about Kal-El. What you see is what you get from him. However, I am puzzled by the sudden manners."

Oh those eyes have killed and would kill him if given the chance. Kal remained upbeat. "I learned a lot from Martha Kent."

Martha Kent. Hippolyta knew about her and her husband. "She and her husband invited you in their home after I rightly kicked you out of mine when we first met. Diana has told me about them and their current situation."

Kal kidded Diana, "Trying to make me look good in front of your mother?"

Hippolyta wasn't moved by Diana's ploy. "Impressive your attributes have been since we last met, Kal-El, I cannot help but be concern over what may befall my daughter the longer she is in your perverted company."

"Mother!" Her mother was starting early with the insults. What would happen when the main course arrive?

"I have good reason to be concern, Diana." Hippolyta wasn't backing down. "Two humans who took Kal-El in were kidnapped and tortured. They are now living with Kal-El until their home is up to par to protect them from any future attacks. You are romantically involved with Kal-El. You are at risk at suffering the same fate."

"Mother, the ones who have captured Kal are imprisoned."

"Those prisons won't hold them."

"The Justice League's working on building a facility that will hold him. After dismantling the Injustice League, they wouldn't dare harm the Kents now. Many fear Kal."

Fear him? Hippolyta found that laughable. "And yet there were a few who mustered one last attack, taking innocents hostage at an amusement park."

"Looks like I'm in the clear," Wally whispered to Donna who elbowed who him to be quiet.

Diana's hopes sank. So much for her mother being more receptive to Kal. "People were hurt, Mother, but no one was killed."

"Not yet. What if you are taken against your will, Diana? What if you are tortured and your reason for being taken is due to your involvement with Kal-El?"

"It will not happen," Kal vowed. "I won't let it happen."

"You don't have the power to prevent anything from Kal-El. You are not a God nor are you close to one."

"Mother," Diana pleaded. "I wanted this dinner together in hopes you would finally warm up to Kal. Please, try to move on from the past, try to forgive Kal as I have."

"The good deeds he has done aside, you are in grave danger being associated with him. It's not easy for a mother to accept her daughter getting in bed with a dangerous man." Hippolyta dismissed the disbelief on Diana's face. Sadly, her daughter was turning into a very good actor. "Oh, don't act shock Diana. I'm well aware of your nocturnal activities with this man as I am aware of Donna's with Wallace. I know this dinner is a weak attempt of an olive branch. You slept with Kal-El and you want us to make peace and ease your guilty conscious of sleeping with a deplorable man."

"D'oh!" Wally slapped his forehead.

Diana threw her napkin on the table. She had enough. "No, mother. You are anything but aware. I have not bed Kal. Yet! I wanted to make peace because Kal and I love each other and Kal has more than made up for my kidnapping but you won't accept that. Kal will always be in my life, but it's become evident you will not always be. Excuse me." Diana pushed herself from the table and stormed out of the room. Kal jumped from his seat and went after Diana.

"Mother!" Donna scolded her mother. "How could you be so cruel? I thought you were going to give Kal a chance!"

"Perhaps if the Kents weren't kidnapped due to associating with Kal-El, I would've been more open to him, but I would be a fool to ignore the warning signs. Diana's obviously not listening to Athena's warning."

"The only signs I see are you pushing Diana out of your life forever. Do you want that?" Donna asked. "Do you want Diana to cut you out of her life?"

"Diana will not do that." Hippolyta was confident about that. "It's tough being a mother and Queen, Donna. When Diana wears the crown, she will understand that. Unfortunately, I fear she will have to learn the hard way."

Kal caught up with Diana as she reached the staircase. Diana went up the stairs, ignoring Kal as she grumbled irritably about her mother. Kal raced to the top of the stairs to greet Diana when she reached the top. Diana didn't look in the mood to talk but she desperately looked like a woman who needed to get out of her home for the night. "I know a great restaurant in Thailand that's opening up for breakfast." Kal held his hand out to Diana. "My treat. Let's go."


"Yeah. Let's leave. Let's get out of here for the night."

"Yes." Diana grasped Kal's hand. She wanted to leave but not just for the night. "Kal, I want us to go to Gallinore."


"We had plans to leave before Lobo and Maxima dropped in. What's to stop us now? The Injustice League is no more. Lobo and Maxima are gone and the world is safer now."

As tempting as it was to leave, Kal knew they couldn't. Not with Darkseid looming. "I'm no fool, Diana. Your mother triggered this idea to leave. This isn't about us. This is about her and sticking it to her."

He knew her so well. That alone made Diana comfortable venting. "I'm frustrated with her, Kal! I can't believe my mother would be so cold hearted, so unforgiving. She won't give you a chance at all!"

"She's protective of you," Kal told her.

"She's unbearably controlling and I'm sick of it!" Anger poured through Diana. She never felt this rage before, especially towards her mother. It was overwhelming and shameful to Diana to have such feelings to her mother but she couldn't help herself. "Suddenly, the planet isn't big enough for both of us right now and I need to get away before I say or do something I regret."

Diana was wound so tightly. She was in desperate need of a release. "There are remote places on this planet we can go where no one will recognize us. You'll have the isolation you need."

Diana shook her head. That would not be enough. "No. I want to go to Gallinore. I want to be alone with you there." Diana embraced Kal and rest her head against his shoulder. "I want a break from everything. Let us go."

Kal placed a gentle kiss on Diana's soft hair. His Sweetness never sounded so vulnerable. "We've talked about this last night, Diana. If we leave, we are leaving Earth vulnerable to Darkseid. I'm concerned about this planet, especially given Maxima's abrupt exit."

"We have the Justice League and I'm confident we can defeat Darkseid. With this peace on Earth, now's the time for a quick getaway. This may be the calm before the storm."

She was saying the right words but Kal knew they shouldn't leave. However, it was hard to say no to Diana, especially when it concerned something he wanted, too. Something he wanted for a year. "Let's wait until I hear from Maxima or Lobo and know their departure had nothing to do with Darkseid."

"You've been trying to reach them since last night. Who knows when they will respond? They could've easily done so from their ship but they didn't." Diana gazed at Kal with her beautiful blue eyes. Never before had a woman had power over him and Diana wasn't even trying. "I'm tired of waiting, Kal. I'm tired of putting things off for us. There isn't a place for us at the Embassy and we can't truly be alone in your Fortress with the Kents there. I remember you telling me how beautiful Gallinore is."

"I said you would beautiful under Gallinore's moons." He caressed her face. "I mean that."

"All I want is one weekend away. A weekend alone with you. Is it wrong I want to be selfish for once in my life?"

"I've been selfish plenty times in my life," Kal quipped. "It's overrated."

Diana chuckled. He knew how to make her smile. "You know what I mean, Kal." Diana embraced him again. "A weekend, Kal. I want a weekend where I'm not Princess Diana, where I'm not Wonder Woman. I want a weekend where I'm simply Diana. That's all I want."

He couldn't argue, couldn't deny her anymore. If they were fortunate this far, perhaps they will be fortunate for two more days. "All right, Diana. We'll go."

The following morning Julia sat at the foot of Diana's bed, watching the Amazon Princess pack her things in a carryon bag for her weekend away with Kal. Julia learned of Diana's plans when she arrived at the Embassy and stayed close to Diana to learn as much as she could of this trip so she could pass this information to her master Darkseid.

"Your mother was out of line. Perhaps, I can talk to her from one mother to another," Julia offered. "I can make her understand as parents we have to let our children go."

Diana shook her head as she placed a dress in her bag. "No, Julia. My stubborn mother won't listen. I don't think she will be satisfied until she is proven right about Kal and that won't happen."

"Of course not. Kal is a wonderful man. He made mistakes in the beginning but he made up for it." Julia looked away from Diana. You have, too, refusing our Master Darkseid, but don't worry, you will make up for it.

"I'm sorry to leave so sudden and burden you with rescheduling my plans, too," Diana said as she folded a shirt, "but if Kal and I don't leave this weekend while there is a moment's peace on this planet, we may not get the chance for a while." When Julia didn't comment, Diana looked over at her friend. Her eyes were glazed over and she looked to be in another world. "Julia?" Diana called her again. Julia responded on the third call. "Are you all right?"

Julia smiled. "I'm fine, dear. I was thinking of my first weekend alone with a man. It was my husband on our honeymoon."

"Oh." That would cause a faraway look, especially now that Julia was a widow.

Julia took the attention off herself when she asked, "Is this planet Gallinore secluded?"

"I don't know." Diana added her shirt to her luggage and disappeared into her bathroom to put together the toiletries she was taking with her. "Kal's planning everything and we will be alone. He promised me that."

Julia smiled. She didn't learn everything she wanted but what she did know would be helpful to Darkseid. "That's good. Isolation is what you need. It'll be a perfect weekend."

"I don't know about a perfect weekend." Diana stepped out of the bathroom, holding a small toiletry bag, "but I'm certain it will be wonderful."

Donna burst into the room so fast she knocked the door off its hinges. "I'll fix it later," Donna promised. She flew straight from the shop, assuming she might miss Diana if she didn't hurry. "I'm so glad I caught you before you left."

Diana zipped her bag. "Why? Is something wrong?"

"It would be if you forgot to take this!" Donna opened her shopping bag and pulled out a silky red two piece lingerie with a matching sheer robe. "Isn't this sexy?"

"Goodness!" Julia blushed while Diana stared speechless. "Are you really going to wear that?"

"If she does, she won't wear it for long." Donna giggled. "Didn't Kal say it's winter on Gallinore now? Pretend you are cold while wearing this and ask Kal to warm you up."

Donna danced around the room waving the sexy garb. "Donna, have some decorum. Don't flash this in front of Julia and don't talk like that."

"I may be old, but I still remember what it's like to show off in sexy clothes before my husband." Julia sighed. "A woman never forgets that moment."

"Don't be so serious," Donna chastised her sister. She held out the clothes to Diana. "Take it."

Diana shook her head. "I already have something suitable to bring."

"Nothing like this I bet." Donna reached for Diana's bag. "What did you get?"

Diana pulled the bag from her sister's grasp. "None of your business. Wear that for Wally."

Since Diana didn't want it, Donna knew she could find uses for it. "I can do that. We're nearly the same size after all."

Diana put the strap of the carry on over her shoulder. She was packed and ready to go. "Julia, you can contact Donna for any emergency that comes up. Donna, remain on standby for the Justice League."

"Don't worry about us." Typical Diana to think of others even now. "Earth can get by without you on it for a weekend. You're not that special," she teased before hugging her sister. "Focus on yourself and Kal and have fun for once in your life!"

"I will," Diana promised.

Diana parted from her sister and hugged Julia goodbye. "Have a wonderful time on Gallinore, Diana. Enjoy your perfect weekend." With Darkseid.

Kal paced in front of his ship as he waited for Diana's arrival. Krypto paced with Kal. When Kal turned around, Krypto turned around. When Kal stopped walking to think for a moment, Krypto stopped to watch Kal and resumed following him again when Kal paced again.

"I have everything prepared in case of an emergency. You know what to do in case anything goes wrong."

Krypto barked. Last night and this morning, Kal went over with Krypto on what he should do in case of an attack on Earth with them away or in case someone came for them. Krypto was ready to act.

Kal sighed. As much as he wanted to leave with Diana, he had a bad feeling about this trip. Maybe it was his bounty hunter instincts. Maybe it was uneasiness of what Darkseid planned to do. Kal stopped pacing again. "Am I being paranoid, Krypto? Am I being crazy?"

"Only if you answer your questions," Diana mused as she entered the hangar. She crossed the large room with swiftness, jumped into Kal's arms and gave him a passion filled kiss on his lips. "Ready to go?"

Diana looked so happy, so excited for this trip. For her sake, Kal hoped it will be as wonderful as Diana expected it to be. "Yes."

Kal took Diana's hand and led her up the ship's ramp. That's when Diana realized only she and Kal will be going on this trip. "You don't want Krypto coming with us?"

"I thought you wanted a weekend alone with me."

"I do, but it wouldn't hurt if Krypto came, too."

Krypto had a bigger job staying on Earth. He was the planet's hope if things went wrong but Kal didn't tell Diana that. "If Krypto comes with us and hears you screaming, he may think I'm hurting you. I've already been bitten on my ass and hand by Krypto. Little Kal doesn't need to be bitten by him, too."

"You're so confident I'll be screaming?" Inside the ship, Kal pressed a button on the side closing the ramp. "Who knows?" Diana mused as she walked off. "Maybe I'll have you screaming."

After a whooshing sound, Diana felt Kal's body pressed against hers from behind. He wrapped an arm around her waist and lowered his head to gently nibble her ear as he whispered, "I'll hold you to that." He tugged her ear a little harder causing a slight moan to escape Diana's lips. His hand moved up to cup a breast. "If you like, I'll hold you to a lot of things." He heard Diana's heart spiking. She liked this! "The wall of our bedroom. The wall of our shower. The wall of this ship. We'll cause more shaking than a herd of elephants."

"How about a preview of things to come?" Diana requested.

Kal knew Diana was primed. He could hear her pounding heart, he could smell her arousal. It would be easy to take her now.

Or it would be just as fun as leaving Diana wanting more. Kal released Diana and headed for the cockpit. "Later, Sweetness."

Diana stared speechless at Kal leaving her body hot with desire. He dare to smirk at her? Diana shook her head amused. She will get him for this.

"Marvelous. Exactly what we needed."

Lashina and Knockout sat in their seats staring at a holographic blueprint of the Justice League's Watchtower. It was the first orders Lashina and Knockout gave Booster Gold and Plastic Man when they placed the spider chip in them. Michael and Patrick stood together like mindless robots waiting for their next orders.

Steppenwolf was also in the rooming, studying the blueprints. "We know exactly where to plant the bombs to destroy the Watchtower and kill anyone inside the building."

Lashina proudly proclaimed, "The fall of the Justice League's Watchtower will weaken their forces and strengthen ours when we attack Earth."

Steppenwolf turned to the mute Booster Gold and Plastic Man. "They have their next orders?"

"Of course." Knockout sashayed to Booster Gold. She caressed his face as she said, "They have the bombs and they know exactly where to plant them, don't you?"

"Yes," Michael knew. Thanks to the spider chip implanted in him he was blinded with serving Darkseid and betraying the Justice League. "One bomb will go in the Command Center, the other in the hanger where all vehicles will be destroyed and the third will be in Level 19."

"What's in Level 19?" Steppenwolf asked.

"The Watchtower's Power Generator is in there," Patrick answered. "It's nuclear and can wipe out anything in a five mile radius if improperly activated."

"Excellent." Steppenwolf could see the destruction, hear the screams of the pathetic Earthlings and the blood of the fallen Justice League scattered across the planet. He wished he could be there to see it but the fall of Earth will be the Furies and parademons jobs. He had a bigger job to do.

"Proceed as planned," Steppenwolf decreed. "Lashina, don't fail me."

"With this plan, it's not possible."

Steppenwolf left the room. With this plan, there was too much at stake if they failed. He wasn't taking any chances with this. It was risky but he was going to pull someone from the front lines to aide him.

It was war on Almerac! For four days, Almerac was engaged in a battle for its life. For two days, Almerac fought without their queen against Darkseid's forces. Almerac had one of the best armies in the universe and wasn't one to give in easily. Still parts of the world did fall with Darkseid's invasion. The communication towers spread across the planet were destroyed, cutting off Almeracs from each other and preventing Maxima from speaking to anyone from home. Bases and cities were overcome forcing Almeracs to flee their homes and hide in seclusion.

Maxima's ship arrived in stealth mode to avoid detection from Apokoliptan ships surrounding her planet. She made her presence known by destroying an Apokoliptan starship shooting down her palace. Maxima's arrival lifted her people's spirits. With Lobo, Maxima reclaimed stations and cities once occupied by Apokolips. Maxima and Lobo's matchup was sending Apokolip forces back and forcing the leader of this attack, Kalibak, to consider stepping in.

Kalibak was ordered by Darkseid to not engaged unless necessary. Since the invasion started, Kalibak didn't have to. Darkseid's forces of parademons and Justifiers did their job well but with Lobo and Maxima, taking back what they conquered, Kalibak knew he would have to step in and it was something he was looking forward to.

Maxima led an army of her people towards Kalibak's ship which hovered over Almerac's capital since the invasion began. She was ruthless as she used her sword to cut off heads of parademons, Dog Calvarias and Justifiers. Even without her sword, Maxima's natural skills and strength as a fighter was enough to defeat many of Darkseid's soldiers. Her fiery temper was an ally for the queen, too. Maxima always had a temper but she knew how to channel her anger and she did it now against the very people who tried to conquer her planet. Watching Maxima in battle, Lobo was very glad Maxima was never that angry with him. He wasn't sure he would stand a chance against her if she were. Still with Maxima's clothes torn, blood from the invaders she killed splattered on her body, Lobo thought Maxima looked hot.

Maxima, Lobo, Maxima's top three Generals and over a hundred of her best warriors reached Kalibak's ship armed and ready for the fight of their life. A countless army of parademons guarded Kalibak's ship. They waited for Maxima and her army to make the first move.

Maxima gazed up at the ship as she ordered. "I am Queen Maxima of Almerac and I order your surrender! I won't be so kind to order your retreat due to damage you've caused my planet!"

Maxima's demand was met with silence then a cocky voice boomed from the ship. "You would give orders to me?"

"Yes! Step out of your ship and face me!"

Kalibak responded with a laugh: an insult to Maxima. "You would be no challenge to me."

Lobo stepped up beside Maxima. "How about me, you fragger!"

Kalibak took notice of Lobo. He knew what he did on Apokolips. "For three days, I have been waiting for a worthy opponent to show." Kalibak's ship opened. The son of Darkseid descended on a disc often used by his father. "I saw the army of your copies completely wipe out forces here. I know what you did on Apokolips, too." Kalibak stood like his father; arms behind his back, chest puffed out to look intimidating. "I'll defeat you without you bleeding a drop of blood."

"So, I'm right." Maxima suspected it since leaving Kal's Fortress. "You attacked my planet because I helped Kal on Apokolips."

Kalibak was impressed Maxima figured it out. "Darkseid doesn't like interlopers."

"I don't care for Wonder Woman but if I have the power to stop a monster like Darkseid from forcing himself on a woman an ally of mine cares about, I will gladly intervene." Maxima extended her sword to Kalibak. "And if I find out you monsters harmed any of my people in such a way, I will cut off both your heads and feed you to my ravenous pets!"

Kalibak gripped Maxima's sword. He crushed the blade with his hands. "I'll be sure to remember that when I have your body in front of your people. I'll put that mouth of yours to very good use."

Surprisingly, it wasn't Maxima who made the first strike against Kalibak. It was Lobo.

The Czarnian bounty hunter threw the first punch. His fist knocked Kalibak off his floating disc. Kalibak was quick to react, catching Lobo's second punch at him. Kalibak's hand nearly swallowed Lobo's fist as he crushed Lobo's hand. "Rumor has it you care for the Almerac Queen." Kalibak returned the punch Lobo delivered to him. Lobo fell flat on his back. "Now I know."

Lobo kicked his feet up to push his body off ground. Kalibak caught Lobo in mid-air, kicking his stomach sending Lobo into a group of Almerac soldiers. Despite his hulking body, Kalibak was very quick. Years of training in his father's army taught him much. It also helped Lobo's fighting over the past two days while Kalibak stood back and watched left him with the advantage in strength. "Your weariness is showing as well as your distraction."

Maxima fired energy beams on Kalibak from the cuff of her wristband. It hurt but not nearly as much as Kalibak led on. He fell to his knees then on his face. He kept his eyes closed but ears opened as Maxima approached.

"Ha. And your arrogance distracted you." Maxima kicked Kalibak lightly with her boot, making sure he was unconscious. "Should've expected more from Darkseid's son."

Kalibak's hand grabbed Maxima's ankle, pulled her to the ground and pounced his body on top of hers. He pinned his hands on Maxima's wrists holding her down and put a knee between Maxima's legs forcing them apart. "You're right." His foul breath fanned Maxima's face. "I promised to have your body in front of your people." Maxima struggled against him. She disgustingly felt his clothed sex pressed against her. She cursed herself for being so foolish in falling for such an obvious trick. The fighting over the past two days left her mentally as well as physically weak. She was still strong but not enough to get this brute off her.

"Give off her, you fragger!" Lobo cursed. Lobo and Maxima soldiers jumped in to save Maxima but the army of parademons kept them from Maxima. The numbers were endless.

"They can't save you," Kalibak told Maxima as she continued to fight him. "No one can."

"Step off, Kalibak." Steppenwolf's voice suddenly boomed from the ship. Kalibak looked up, momentarily distracted. Steppenwolf wasn't on board. He must be watching from Apokolips and calling him through his ship.

Maxima used the moment to smash her head against Kalibak's. It hurt her more than Kalibak but the blow was enough for Kalibak to loosen his hold on Maxima and give Maxima the opportunity to kick Kalibak away and put as much distance between her and him.

One of the Generals reached Maxima and helped her to her feet. "My Queen."

Lobo reached Maxima. "You okay, babe."

"I'm fine," Maxima assured both men. "And don't call me babe!" She chastised Lobo. Lobo's concern was touching but she was queen. He couldn't call her that in front of her Generals. Looking away, her laser sharped eyes were on Kalibak's ship. Something wasn't right. Surely, she didn't receive aid from one of Darkseid's cronies.

Kalibak pushed himself to his feet. All fighting had apparently ceased for the moment from both sides. "Ruining my fun, Steppenwolf?"

"You are needed elsewhere. The point has been made on this planet."

"Back off, Steppenwolf," Kalibak growled. "I'm finally gonna have some fun."

A new voice spoke that got Kalibak's attention. "Your disobeying Steppenwolf's order is a direct defiance of mine, Kalibak."

"Father." That rat Steppenwolf would bring his father in the matter to get what he wanted.

"Let them have their victory. We have already won."

Darkseid always taught Kalibak to look at the bigger picture. If they had won, there was no need for him to stay here. "Yes, Father."

Maxima was outraged as Kalibak returned to his ship and the parademons retreated. "No! I will not allow you to leave! You will pay for what you did to my planet!"

One of Maxima's Generals held her back. "No, my Queen. There's so much repair needed and people to aid. Let them escape."

Reluctantly, Maxima held her place but she was furious watching Kalibak and his ships retreat. She wanted his head for the damage he caused her planet. Never mind what he tried to do to her.

"I wonder where they are going to now," Maxima voiced. "Darkseid said they already won."

"It's not our concern," her General said. "We have our planet to take care of."

He was right. Almerac came first. Maxima gave her first orders. "Get started on the repairs to our communications towers. As soon as that is up, we can let the people know the invasion is over and bring aide to anyone hurt and in hiding."

With her General gone, Maxima turned to Lobo. "Are you staying to help or are you gonna run off?"

"Why would I run off?"

"You have a tendency to do that after you feel your job is done."

Where was the grouchy attitude coming from? "I'll help you fix things here," Lobo offered. "Come on. You need me."

Maybe but it was Lobo's friendship to Kal that caused this. Maxima wasn't letting that go so easily. "My planet was attacked because we helped Kal on Apokolips. My planet and people paid for your friendship."

Now Lobo understood Maxima's anger. "If it helps, we ain't friends no more." Lobo recalled how things fell apart on Earth. He was still angry with Kal and how his friend turned on him. "He's changed. He can handle whatever comes his way with his new friends."

"He burned you that bad?" Maxima knew Lobo was upset with Kal but didn't think it was so bad Lobo would throw away their friendship.

"He's completely changed!" Lobo complained. "He's so goody goody now! He's no fun anymore."

"Because he's acting responsible for once in his life," Maxima remarked.

"If responsible means dumping your friends, who needs him!" Lobo scoffed. "This is the thanks I get for being a friend to him."

"Oh, get over yourself!" Maxima's ego was nowhere near as big as Lobo's. Lobo was overreacting to the matter and given what happened to her planet, Maxima had enough with dealing with big egos. "It's not like you were best friends. Didn't you only see each other two or three times out of the year?"

Lobo didn't see Maxima's point. "So?"

"Friends see each other more often than that." Maxima saw the truth to Lobo's anger. "I think you're afraid of the change in Kal. You're afraid he's gonna leave you behind and not be your friend anymore."

"Frag no! I ain't afraid of nothing!"

Maxima rolled her eyes. Sure Lobo wasn't. "The Kal on Earth is a lot more responsible than the Kal we last saw. On Earth, I saw a responsible man. I saw a man who deeply cared about others. His caring was always there even in his bounty hunting days but as Superman it's even more prevalent. He's also in love with Wonder Woman. Nothing I could do would get him in my bed. Add that to fact he hadn't contacted you in a year, you think Kal is leaving you behind and you don't like it."

Lobo pouted as he folded his arms over his chest. Maybe Maxima had a point. Maybe. "Even if you're right, which you're not, what should I do?"

"I wouldn't sulk about. Be responsible for once and warn him about Darkseid. He's obviously going after Kal and Diana." Maxima turned to walk away from Lobo but stopped, returned and kissed him.

Not that he minded but Lobo asked, "What was that for?"

"Thanks for staying to help."

Lobo grinned lecherously as he grabbed Maxima's backside. He knew she wanted him. "I can think of another way to thank me."

Maxima firmly pushed Lobo away. "That ship has sailed Lobo. No more freebies. Being on Earth and this attack on my planet taught me a valuable lesson. It's time I be a responsible queen. Had I not left Almerac to chase Kal in a poor attempt to bed him, I would've spared my people a lot of pain."

"Aw," Lobo groaned. "Now you want to be responsible, too?"

"We all have to eventually. Don't you think it's time for you as well?"

First Kal and now Maxima. Lobo didn't like this at all. He liked partying, drinking, getting in fights, sleeping around without a care. He liked having fun with his friends but that fun was dwindling. Kal was changing, growing more mature and responsible with his new career on Earth and now Maxima wanted to be a responsible queen to her people. It left Lobo joining them or sitting out these friendships for good.

It was snowing heavily when Kal and Diana secretly arrived early in the evening. Diana expected she and Kal would stay in a hotel residence. She didn't expect Kal to rent out a cottage for them deep in one of Gallinore's largest forests. After hiding Kal's ship on the outskirts of the forest, Kal and Diana grabbed their bags and hiked the half mile snowy, rocky trail to the cottage.

"I can honestly say I never expected an evening hike to our getaway." Diana didn't expect Kal to hide his ship either. He was being extremely cautious.

"It's out of the way but I like that. Krypto did, too." Kal reached the top of the rocky hill first and waited for Diana to join him. He could've easily carried her. He wanted to but Diana refused.

Diana did grab Kal's waiting hand as she reached the top. She found him staring at her. "What is it?"

"You look breathtaking in the snow. If the snow clears out later, maybe I'll see you under Gallinore's four moons."

Diana had not forgotten Kal's words about Gallinore's moons and her beauty. She wasn't a woman hungry for a man's attention but she loved compliments given to her by Kal. "You say that because you know I will kiss you for it." After the kiss, Diana spotted the cottage behind Kal. "Looks like we're here." She also noticed footprints leading to the cabin. "Is someone inside?"

"The locals set up the place before we got here." Kal lead Diana over the two feet thick and crunchy snow to the log cabin. Diana dressed warm in a jacket, sweater, pants, gloves and snow boots but surprisingly the falling snow and frigid winds were chilling to her tough skin. She couldn't wait to get inside.

"No keys?" Diana remarked of Kal simply turning the doorknob.

"Being in the middle of nowhere, who needs keys?" Kal flipped on the lights and stepped in the well-lit cabin. The fireplace was roaring as it warmed the cabin and knocked out the chill from outside. "The locals stocked the cabin with food and supplies but we'll venture into the nearest village tomorrow if you need something." Diana wasn't near him anymore. She stood in front of the warm fireplace. "Are you cold?"

"A little." Diana rubbed her arms. "But I'm not freezing."

Still, Kal made a mental note to bring in more firewood so Diana wouldn't get cold. "The kitchen's to your left. The two bedrooms are adjoined by the bathroom. There's only one but it's large enough for both of us to share." Kal grabbed Diana's bag. "I'll drop your bag in your room."

Her room? Diana turned from the fireplace. "I thought there was one bedroom."

"No. There are two." He knew what Diana was thinking. "I want you to get settled for the night. It was a long trip." She was disappointed. He could see that. He knew she felt rejected though she didn't have a reason to. "Diana, we're gonna be here for two days. We have time. Sleep in the other room tonight in case you change your mind."

"Why do you think I will change my mind?"

Kal shrugged. He knew where this road was going to take him. "I know your mother is a big part of you wanting to come here."

Not this again! "Kal!"

"I want to make sure there won't be any regrets about later."

Diana was stuck between hitting Kal and kissing him. Kal changed a lot from the man she first met. She never imagined such tenderness from a once proud and arrogant man. "I'm not changing my mind and I won't have regrets. This is about me doing what I want, Kal. For too long, I let my mother control me. I let her desires outweigh my own. No more."

This was more than Diana sticking it to her mother Kal realized. This was Diana liberating herself, exploring her options without doubts, without the invisible puppet strings of her mother. Who was he to doubt her decision or hold her back? "Okay, Diana. Okay." He stepped to Diana and dropped a kiss on her forehead. "You are freezing."

"I'm not that cold."

"Take a bath to warm up and I'll get dinner ready."

Despite her desire to argue, Diana relented and was glad she did. The hot water from the bathing pool was what she needed to warm her body. The pool was half as large as the bathing pool in her apartment on Themyscira and could include more than one person. Diana's mind drifted to the possibility of her and Kal in this pool together. They could.

"No," Diana decided. "We will."

Donna told her she shouldn't hold back and Diana had no plans to. She wasn't timid on what she wanted. She knew exactly what she wanted. Looking back at the window, Diana saw how heavily the snow was coming down. It would be another two feet on the ground by dawn. It was clear she and Kal were staying in tonight and where it could lead to was promising. After her bath, Diana entered her bedroom. She took her carryon bag, entered Kal's room and dropped her bag next to his.

Diana could smell the delicious aroma of dinner beckoning her as she dressed. Kal was spoiling her and she loved it. She didn't keep him waiting as she emerged from the bedroom wearing a garnet colored dress. Diana found Kal in front of the fireplace, placing dinner on a blanket.

Kal turned his head at Diana's arrival. He paused for a moment eyeing how the dress hugged her figure. "All warmed up I see." His eyes lingered on Diana's breasts. Those babies need airing out.

Diana sat on the carpet. "You're spoiling me." Her mouth watered at the food before her: steaming vegetables, fresh green salad, chopped mixed fruits, grilled pork tenderloins, bread dipped in honey and wine chilling in an ice bucket.

Kal poured Diana a glass of wine as she fixed her plate. "More like storing your energy until later."

"I may turn you down," Diana teased. "With all this food, I may go to sleep after I eat."

"Then why did you put your bag in my room?" The surprise on Diana's face amused Kal. "I saw you slipping in my room."

"Is that all you saw?"

"Yes." He surprised her again. "I'm patient. Unlike you."

Diana chewed her grilled pork so she didn't have to respond to that. Kal fixed his plate and ate as well. Though he told Diana he was patient, Kal was quickly running out of it. He had waited so long for Diana and now the moment was here and Diana had promised she wasn't going back on her word, it was taking a lot of resolve for Kal to not pounce Diana at this moment.

Diana praised Kal, "You are a man with extreme patience to wait for me."

"You think so?" Kal's eyes studied Diana's breasts again. I wonder how they will taste with ice cream.

"Yes. Donna has chided me for keeping you waiting for so long. She said you must've banged your head against the walls out of frustration a few times." Diana laughed. "I didn't see any holes in the walls at your home so I figured you are not as frustrated as Donna think you are."

The drought of one year, two months and five days ends tonight.

"Shows what Donna knows." Kal placed his empty plate on the blanket. He was finished with dinner and ready for dessert. Unfortunately his dessert wasn't ready yet. She was still eating.

Diana was oblivious to Kal as she gushed over the meal Kal prepared for her. "This food is delicious. You are a wonderful cook."

Kal sat back staring at Diana. He stared at her beautiful form starting from her long, wavy black hair that felt like silk in his hands. He couldn't wait to see it disheveled after he had his way with her. His eyes stared lovingly at her breasts snuggly confined in the dress she wore. The top button was open, offering Kal a tease of Diana's breasts. He couldn't wait to get his hands and mouth on them. Moving south, his eyes fell on her tight stomach and slim waist. He wouldn't forget to show his love there. Lastly, his eyes fell on Diana's legs. He would definitely show love there and most importantly, between her legs. He hadn't forgotten how she tasted or how her body reacted to him. He was looking for to the repeat performance.

Diana wasn't aware of Kal's smoldering attention on her as she polished off her dinner. "This is incredible. You could challenge the cooks on Themyscira." Diana turned to Kal. "Don't you think so-" Diana paused once she caught Kal's eyes on her. His blue eyes were highlighted in a red hue. From his lustful eyes and the slight bulge in his pants, Diana knew things were going to proceed differently this evening. "You're not hungry for dinner are you?"

Kal shook his head slowly. "Come here."

Entranced, Diana placed her plate on the blanket and slid beside Kal. His gaze was intense but he didn't touch her. Diana wondered why. Diana expected Kal to make the first move but then asked herself why should he? She wanted this as much as Kal. Why can't she make the first move? Not waiting for an invitation, Diana pressed her lips to Kal and easily opened his mouth to hers. For several moments, they only kissed and touched each other, occasionally groping especially with Kal touching Diana's curvy rear and breasts. Being bold, Diana's soft hands touched Kal's sweater and pushed it up his chest. Kal helped Diana pull the sweater over his head.

"You're making me do all the work," Diana murmured as she kissed him again while her hands groped his smooth, massive chest.

"More like letting you have your way with me," Kal returned her kiss.

Diana eased back from the kiss on his lips and dropped a kiss on Kal's nose, his right cheek and chin. "Do you want to give me what I want, Kal?"

Feeling Diana's lips on his neck and her left hand slowly moving down his muscled abs, he asked Diana, "What is it you want?"

Diana's hand slipped to Kal's pants. Her hand gripped the area between his legs making Kal jump. He mused, "You want my pants?"

Diana grinned as a hand massage the clothed area. Whispering in his ear, "I want what lies in these pants. I want Little Kal."

She had a nice firm grip on it, too. "Well, Sweetness, what do you want to do with Little Kal?"

Diana's thoughts were a tumble of mixed fantasies, wild imaginations, dreams and lust of what she wanted to do with Little Kal. Could she really act on them? Could she really say what she want to with it? Hera, yes she could. No holding back she told herself. Diana whispered her request in Kal's ear. His eyes widen slightly. He didn't think Diana had it in her to speak like that.

"Is this really your first time at this?" He had to asked.

Diana chuckled as she nibbled his ear. "Being a first timer doesn't mean one doesn't have fantasies, ideas." Her fingers caressed the growing bulge gently causing a low groan from Kal. "So, can I get what I want?"

"Oh, Sweetness, I think I can honor that request." He felt Diana fingers snap off the button, pull down the zipper and slipped her hand inside. She didn't waste time. "Knock me to carpet, pin me down and have your way with me."

Diana pulled her hand out but doing so she relieved Kal's manhood from his pants "Like this?" Diana straddled him with her lovely center caressing against the bulge in Kal's pants.

Diana gasped at the sudden, unexpected sensation while Kal inwardly groaned as he realized, "You're not wearing anything underneath your dress."

"Hera," Diana moaned, "I didn't expect it to feel like this." She tried pacing herself, rubbing slowly against him to take her time to make the pleasure last but there was another part of her that wanted to rubbed against him faster and build the intensity to a climatic peak.

Kal jerked his hips up, pleased at Diana's astonish cry. She was close to her first of many releases for the night but Kal wasn't ready to let her go yet and he was done with the teasing. He grabbed Diana's hips and pushed her off him.

"Kal!" Diana gasped astonished and frustrated at him. "What do you… whoa!" Kal scooped Diana in his arms and headed for the bedroom.

"No more teasing, Diana."

Diana's heart studded in her chest. "Right. No more teasing."

He could watch her forever. She was intoxicating to look at. Kal's eyes dipped to Diana's breasts. He could watch those forever, too. Diana slept soundly with a thin sheet covering her to her waist. She had fallen asleep two hours ago. They were like bunnies. Being out of the game for a year, Kal needed to make up for lost time and Diana new to the game was very eager and very willing to learn and experiment. Kal worried he was being too eager but Diana proved to be a willing and loving partner and took all he gave her.

Kal turned away and got out of bed. If he stayed, he would forget to do what he needed to do. He slipped on boxers, grabbed a thin case from his bag and left the room. Dinner was left on the blanket from last night before the still roaring fire. Wood on Gallinore didn't burn as quickly as wood on Earth. He'll clean up later he decided. Kal sat on the sofa and opened the case. It was no bigger than a netbook but it held a lot more power. Kal glanced at the clock. Two minutes to six in the morning which meant it was almost six in the evening at his Fortress. He turned on the small computer, typed keys and waited for the black screen to reveal his Fortress where Krypto sat in his chair.

"Checking in as scheduled. It's six in the morning here, Diana and I arrived on Gallinore with no problems. It's snowing heavily here which can hamper visibility. The weather is chilling to Diana so that's a concern but if she's affected by the cold anyone threatening our time here will be affected as well." Kal sighed. "I guess I won't truly relax until Diana and I return to Earth. I'll be back in three hours for the next update. Bye, Krypto."

Kal turned the computer off. Three more hours until he checked in again. He'll have to make the time worthwhile.

Diana rested her head against Kal's shoulder. She breathed heavily against him. Her body was wet, covered in soap and yet Diana didn't feel clean. How could she after what they did? "I think I need another washing."

When Kal invited Diana to take a bath with him, she knew they would be doing more than bathing. Still, she didn't think she would need another washing in certain areas but with Kal, she should've known better.

Kal kissed her wet hair. "I'm volunteering."

Diana giggled. He would. "I know what your volunteering will lead to."

"I'll be good this time," Kal said as his fingers descended down her stomach. "What do you want? Good?" His fingers found his way between her legs. "Or very good?"

Diana drew in a sharp breath feeling Kal given a delicately cleaning to her delicate spots. He was doing this on purpose: torturing her this way, touching her in a way she wouldn't want him to stop. "If you keep at this, we'll never leave this cabin."

"Why would you want to?" He slipped a finger inside.

"I thought you wanted to show me Gallinore." Of course at the moment, she didn't care about touring the planet only Kal again.

Kal slipped his finger out, grabbed a sponge floating in the pool and washed Diana's stomach, back and chest with heavy attention on her breasts. "It's still snowing. Unless you want to go out in the snow, we'll stay inside and entertain."

"I don't know how we will do that," Diana droll.

Kal kissed her bare shoulders. "We'll think of something. Usually people snowed in play games. I'm very good at sex poker."

Diana laughed. "Don't you mean strip poker?"

"On Earth, you have a game called strip poker. In space, it's sex poker. You're already naked when you start the game. When you lose a hand, you pull a card out of a bowl and do what it says."

Diana was intrigued. "Oh? And what are some of these things you have to do?"

"It could be something as simple as massaging your breasts before me, getting off in front of me, me having you in my chair, me making a meal of you between your legs. Whatever the act, it's sexual."

"I see." Diana suddenly pulled away from Kal. It really sounded like something they could play. "We'll play but we'll do so clothed." Climbing out of the pool, she added, "I need to slip on something to keep you off me during the games."

Kal watched as Diana climbed out of the bathing pool. She grabbed a towel to dry her body. "Clothes won't keep me away. You know that."

Diana's beautiful backside retreated into the bedroom. That was probably true now. "I guess not but my mouth is my most powerful weapon."

Kal climbed out of the pool and released the water. Afterwards he turned on the self-cleaning mechanism. He dried himself with a towel and stepped into the bedroom to find Diana slipping a lavender colored Grecian gown over her head. He watched the dress slipped down her back, her hips, just stopping above her knees.

Kal moved swiftly, startling Diana with his body touching hers. His hands moved under her dress to touch the lacy garment underneath. "Why do you insist on wearing these when they are not needed here?" While one hand moved under her lacy clothes to stroke her, the other cupped a breast through Diana's dress and gently massaged her. His mouth found her neck. "Hmm?"

"I don't know," Diana eyes were closed as she enjoyed Kal touching her. "It seemed like a good idea."

"Silly woman. You know….." Kal suddenly stopped. A heartbeat. It was faint but he could hear a familiar heartbeat. No. Not just one; not just his but others and they were getting closer. He could hear their footsteps against the snow. He didn't have to ask how or why because he knew. Kal took his hands off Diana. "Diana, go to my ship and leave. I'll hold them off while you escape."

"What?" Diana turned baffled. "What you talking about? Who?"

Kal zipped by Diana to slip on a pair of boxers to protect his vulnerable parts. He would be looking for them. "There's no time to-" The wall and windows behind them exploded catapulting Kal and Diana off their feet and crashing through the bedroom wall into the living area. The sofa caught Diana as she slammed into it while Kal collided in the kitchen.

The explosion caused smoke and fire to slowly spread through the cabin. Diana immediately jumped up; ready to fight. "Who attacks?"

An arrow shot through the smoke. Diana put her arm up to deflect the arrow. The piercing end of the arrow attached itself to Diana's bracelet like a magnet and poured coarsening electricity through Diana.

Kal quickly reached Diana, pulled the arrow from Diana's bracelet and crushed the arrow with his hands. While the potent charge of electricity didn't affect him, it shook Diana. She would've swooned if Kal wasn't holding her.

Out of the smoke, stepped Steppenwolf and Kalibak. Behind them, a small army of parademons spread out through the cabin surrounding Kal and Diana and waiting on the order to strike. Kal heard of Darkseid's son but never met him before. He miscalculated. He expected to confront Steppenwolf and parademons again, perhaps a Fury or two, but not Kalibak since he didn't meet him during his first two trips on Apokolips.


"We finally meet, Kal-El." Kalibak sized up Kal. He wouldn't be a threat to him. "I assure you won't get a repeat performance of victory over my father and his army again."

Kal wasn't threatened but he knew he had a fight on his hands. He only wished Diana wasn't with him.

"Bedding Darkseid's bride. He won't be pleased." Steppenwolf twirled his electro axe, "If Darkseid didn't want you alive, I would make it so and kill you."

"You can't attack us here," Kal said. "Gallinore is under New Genesis protection."

"It is?" the news was a surprise to Diana.

Steppenwolf chuckled. "That's why you selected this place to commit the ultimate betrayal to Darkseid. You thought you could get away with it here. It's true Gallinore is under New Genesis protection and we are forbidden to harm the locals. However, you and Wonder Woman aren't natives to this land and as long as we keep the fight contained here we won't be in violation of the rule."

"How did you find us?" Diana wanted to know.

Steppenwolf was hoping someone would ask. How wonderful it was Diana. "Why, your beloved Julia Kapatelis told us."

Julia? No. That couldn't be! "What did you do to her?" Diana knew Julia wouldn't willingly betray her. "Did you capture her? Torture her?"

"Kidnapping and torture would only alert your attention. I assure you the Furies were very discreet."

"Mind control," Kal realized. "You got her alone and brainwashed her like those scientists on Apokolips." Suddenly Kal had a very bad feeling. "But she wasn't the only one, was she? Who else are you controlling? Who in the Justice League?"

Justice League? Diana hadn't considered that. Who is brainwashed? Who is betraying the Justice League at this moment and can they be discovered before they follow through with whatever Darkseid has planned?

Steppenwolf was impressed with Kal's intelligence. "It's a shame you had to betray us. Your intelligence and cunning would've been useful." He was done with talking. It only delayed the inevitable. To the parademons, he decreed, "Attack."

Swarms of parademons went after Kal and Diana simultaneously. Kal used his heat vision to slice their limbs, burn their eyes, their bodies and freeze them wherever he could. He used his strength to literally rip off the arms and deliver knockout blows to them. He wasn't holding back with them. Diana punched and kicked, knocking the parademons down. While she could handle the parademons with her hands, Diana wished she had her lasso on her. It was in the bedroom but with Steppenwolf blocking her way it wouldn't be easy to reach it.

Kalibak quietly watched Kal, looking for a weak point. He knew Kal was a force to reckon with and it wasn't easy finding a weak spot. He moved fast, struck hard. He didn't fling parademons off him. He didn't want them returning to attack. He took care of them when they attacked him. Kal didn't have a weak spot when fighting the parademons, Kalibak decided. He had to attack Kal and take the parademons with him.

The parademons were persistent and consistently surrounding Kal. When he knocked one down, three more came at him. He didn't hold back on his fighting and the results—the blood of parademons were evident on his body. Kal didn't care. Kal's only focus was getting to Diana who was surrounded by her own army of parademons with Steppenwolf lurking. She was Darkseid's target. He didn't care if Darkseid captured him but he wasn't going to let Darkseid get his hands on Diana.

Something with the power of a hundred trucks collided into Kal from behind. It knocked the wind out of Kal and knocked out several parademons in the process. The power of the strong force locked a steel grip on his waist, lifted him off his feet threw him out of the cabin.

Kal's face collided with two thick Gallinorean trees. Unlike trees from Earth, Gallinorean trees were strong and withheld forces of stronger beings like Kal. When Kal plowed through the first tree, he felt the pain. The second tree left his head ringing. Kal landed in the snow and rolled down the rocky hill into the ice lake. If he were a human the frigid waters would've killed him but lucky for Kal he was not. Kal's head still rang when he climbed out of the lake. On his knees, he shook his head trying to get the ringing out.

He stayed on his knees a second too long. With the ringing in his head persisting, there was a rushing sound coming towards him but he didn't move fast enough to prepare himself. One of the fallen trees Kal collided with was now being used as a weapon for Kalibak. Kal was hit with it like a baseball bat, knocked off his feet, sending him further from the cabin and away from Diana.

Kalibak dropped the tree and advanced on Kal before he could stand. He wrapped one of his bulbous arms around Kal's neck. "It's a pity we never crossed paths when I was on Apokolips. You never would've embarrassed Father with me around." He squeezed harder, choking Kal. "You will pay for your betrayal."

"Not…" Kal croaked, "as much as he….. if Diana's… harmed."

"How is it harm when Darkseid wants Wonder Woman as his bride? My new Mommy."

The image it brought up infuriated Kal. He grabbed Kalibak's arm. Turning his eyes down on Kalibak's arm, he fired his heat vision burning Kalibak. Initially, it didn't hurt him for Kalibak had very thick skin but the more intense heat Kal focused on Kalibak's arm, the more it started to affect him. His hold on Kal loosened. Kal slowly pried Kalibak's arm off him. Getting a good hold on Kalibak, Kal jumped to his feet and twisted Kalibak's arm. He was too strong for Kal to simply break his arm off but the pain was enough for Kalibak to stumble and allow Kal to kick Kalibak's back.

This won't be a short fight Kal realized. Kalibak was a strong one and not one easily put down.

Back in the cabin, Diana had her own dilemma with the parademons and Steppenwolf. Diana didn't have her lasso but she had her skills and wits about her. The parademons pulled at Diana but they didn't bite or scratch her. They didn't aggressively attack her as they did Kal. It was as if they were trying to subdue her without hurting her. Diana knew this was Darkseid's order. He wanted her unharmed.

Smoke and fire was in every room of the cabin now. It was an annoyance but Diana could hold off longer than a human could. Every attempt Diana made to escape she was blocked by parademons. Where one fell, two more rose to fight. They were deliberately keeping her in the cabin, hoping the smoke fill her lungs and the fire to tire her. As the smoke clouded her vision, Diana wondered where Steppenwolf was hiding. He had to be lurking somewhere. She saw Kalibak ram Kal out of the cabin, separating him from her. It was deliberate scheme to separate them when they fought so well together on Apokolips.

Steppenwolf wore a breathing mask so the smoke wouldn't affect him and he wore special goggles that helped him see in the smoke. He watched Diana's every move. The parademons were following Darkseid's orders and not harming Diana but Steppenwolf saw the only way to capture Diana was by harming her.

Darkseid will understand. It's the only way to capture his whore.

Steppenwolf pulled out his axe and stealthily approached Diana. She was an excellent warrior. She moved with flawless grace and speed. She fought to escape, knocking parademons away with her strength, using furniture and objects around the cabin as a weapon. Before it broke on the head of a parademon, she used a fire poker to put out a parademon's eye. No matter how many she knocked down, she was always surrounded by parademons. She couldn't get away; not with the number of parademons he brought with him. Steppenwolf knew Diana would eventually wear down and make a mistake. He only waited for his chance to strike.

Her back was to him. When she turned, he moved. He moved constantly so he never came in Diana's peripheral. He edged closer and closer to Diana, gripped his axe tightly and swung. Diana didn't see the strike coming. She could only feel the pain of Steppenwolf's axe tearing through her shoulder blades. Diana dropped the parademons she was holding and collapsed to the floor. She grabbed her wounded shoulder, smothering her fingers in her blood.

Parademons crowded around Diana. She looked up shakily at them. She couldn't fight them off now; not in her condition but she wasn't going to allow them to take her freely. Diana pushed herself to her feet, her legs wobbled.

"You will not take me without a fight!"

"You don't have a leg to stand on," Steppenwolf told Diana. He shook his head at the Amazon slowly turning to face him. "Give up. Darkseid is waiting for you."

"Never! You'll have to kill me."

Steppenwolf attached his axe to his hip. "I would if it weren't for Darkseid's orders." Steppenwolf moved to strike Diana. She barely dodged his fist but a kick at her leg forced Diana to the floor. The pain in her shoulder was excruciating but Diana gritted her teeth and fought to work through it. Amazons never gave up easily.

But Steppenwolf wasn't giving Diana a chance to fight. While on her knees, he tangled Diana's neck with his cable snare. The potent and sometimes deadly energy beams even to metahumans were too much for Diana's weakened body. Every part of her was struck it.

Diana pulled at the cable, trying to get it off but that only increased the potent charges going through her body. She tried to stand but Steppenwolf yanked her back like an owner with a wild animal on a leash sending Diana tumbling to the floor. As strong as her body was, Diana couldn't fight forever and gave under the pressure. Her last vision were parademons gleaming at her. Her last thought hoping Kal would get to her.

Steppenwolf released the cable from Diana. Two parademons picked up Diana's unconscious body. "Contain this fire," Steppenwolf ordered the rests. "We don't want it spreading and bringing attention to the locals."

Kalibak's body landed near the edge of the ice lake. Though he had the upper hand in the beginning of the fight, Kal was a making a comeback, landing blow after blow to his body. He didn't get a chance to retrieve his Beta Club from his back before Kal jumped him and forced Kalibak's head in the ice lake. Kalibak wasn't sure if Kal was trying to kill him or hold him until he lost consciousness. Either way he had to do something or he was a goner.

Even underwater, Kalibak's hearing was sharp and heard a feminine scream. He knew Diana had fallen. Kal did as well. He released his hold on Kalibak. He ran through the snow, up the rocky hill in seconds. When he reached the top, he saw the cabin was on fire. He used his superior eyes to look in the cabin. An unconscious and heavily bleeding Diana was in the arms of two parademons as they made their way out of the burning cabin and towards the boom tube Steppenwolf opened. Rage poured through Kal.


Steppenwolf turned his head and saw a blur of something coming towards him. He cursed. Kalibak was to keep Kal away while he left with Diana and then they take care of him alone.

"Block him," Steppenwolf ordered the parademons that weren't carrying Diana.

Kal's eyes burned as he neared Diana. He was almost to her when swarms of parademons surrounded Kal like bees to honey. They scratched his bare chest, his back, his legs. They even bit him. They were doing everything in their power to slow him down. In return, Kal showed no mercy. Limbs fell, heads rolled, blood splattered on the snow and Kal's body. Multiple parademons were falling and while more came after Kal, the forces were dwindling.

"Get off me, you Fruckers!" Kal growled. He dismantled the swarm in half. He had to hurry and get to Diana.

But he was too late. Diana was carried into the boom tube. With her gone, Steppenwolf was ready to get involved. In the distance, he could see Kalibak running in the snow to rejoin the fight. Strong and bulky he was, he wasn't as fast as Kal. Still, the two could tag team Kal together. Steppenwolf released his cable snare, and warmed his arm as he twirled the cable snare over his head like a lasso. He waited for the right moment and tossed his cable snare.

Steppenwolf trapped Kal's neck in his cable snare. He yanked hard jerking Kal away from the parademons, dragging his body in the snow. He laughed at the image of Kal only in his boxers, covered in snow and parademon blood. "Not as skilled without your fancy weapons are you?"

Kal pulled at the cable snare causing cords of deadly energy beams to travel over his body. Kal grunted in pain, not surprised at the pain but surprised it hurt him as much as it did. "You've gotten soft, Kal-El." Steppenwolf stepped on Kal's chest. "Or did tasting that Amazon's puss turned you into a weakling?" Steppenwolf smiled seeing Kal struggling to get the cable snare off him. Reading Kal's eyes, he knew the former bounty hunter knew there was something different from this cable snare but not what. "Quit trying. This snare is powered by red solar energy and kryptonite." Kal stopped struggling and stared at Steppenwolf shocked. "You can thank Lex Luthor for letting us in on that kryptonite secret. The kryptonite on Earth won't immediately affect you but our scientist magnified its power, making it potent enough to affect you."

Kal gritted his teeth at Steppenwolf. Smug frucker thinks he has me. His eyes turned red and he fired his heat vision on Steppenwolf. One of the beams hit Steppenwolf directly in his right eye.

Steppenwolf cursed and dropped the cable snare as he covered his eye in pain.

Kal yanked the cable snare off him only to get smashed in the back of his head with Kalibak's Beta Club. When smashing Kal's head, with the beta club the nerve beams connected with Kal's head and quickly traveled over Kal's body. The pain was immediate. Kal fell against the snow convulsing in agonizing pain as the beams from the Beta Club attacked all the nerves in his body. He couldn't move to fight. He couldn't move to escape. He could only suffer as every nerve in his body was tortured.

Steppenwolf with a hand over his wounded eye, snapped at Kalibak, "Why didn't you use that sooner?!"

"He got the upper hand on me." Kalibak felt his pride hurt when Kal explained. His pride would be hurt since he is rarely beaten but seeing Kal convulsing in horrendous pain made up for it. "So, this is the bounty hunter that caused you and Father so much trouble."

Kalibak was arrogant but he didn't look like he won the fight. The bruises on his face, swollen cheeks, blood dripping from his left eye painted a different picture. If he didn't have his Beta Club on him, Steppenwolf knew the battle would've had a different ending. He turned his attention back to Kal relishing in the pain he was now in. "He's not much to look at now," Steppenwolf sneered. "If he thinks this is pain, wait until Darkseid gets a hold of him."

Krypto sat in Kal's chair in worried. The monitor was on waiting for Kal to send a message that all was well on Gallinore. While here in the Arctic, it was almost ten in the evening, on Gallinore it was almost ten in the morning. Kal and Diana would be up. Kal was up because he sent a signal at six that morning to let Krypto know all was well. Kal told Krypto he would be up by six in the morning and send him a signal every three hours until midnight.

The clock turned ten. It was an hour after Kal was to signal him. Krypto knew his master and Kal wouldn't wait this long to signal him. Something happened between the last correspondence and now. Kal warned him if he didn't contact him within an hour after he was supposed to contact the Justice League.

Krypto didn't hesitate to leave. He flew from the Fortress, flying with all his speed to the Watchtower.

Gotham's nights were easier to deal with now that Gotham's most dangerous criminals were in Arkham Asylum and the police were dealing with crimes Batman was not needed to get involved in. The Bat signal was used even less now. Bruce would never say it out loud but he felt a sense of relief to not see the Bat signal on a nightly basis. Still, that didn't stop him from being a workaholic for justice. With Gotham not needing him, Bruce spent his nights at the Watchtower.

Batman entered the Command Center, pausing to see Zatanna sitting in the main chair. She wasn't scheduled to be on duty tonight. They have not spoken since that morning in his home where she left him to decide where their relationship will go. Bruce had yet to make a decision on the matter. He wanted to turn and leave but Zatanna saw him come in and truthfully, it would be cowardly if he left. Instead, he stayed and remained cool to her.

"Where's Mr. Terrific? He was scheduled to be on monitor duty."

"Hello to you, too, Bruce," Zatanna acknowledged curtly. "Avoiding me?"

Bruce ignored the question. "Where is Mr. Terrific?"

"I switched places with him."

Bruce turned his back on Zatanna as he pulled up the Call Logs. "Are Booster Gold and Plastic Man here, too, when they should be off? Their behavior these past days have been odd even for them."

Zatanna rolled her eyes. "Are you so paranoid with peace you are checking up on our own members? Bruce, you have got to learn to lighten up."

Bruce studied the Call Logs, reading which member of the Justice League entered any of the closed off rooms. It wasn't as if members of the Justice League weren't trusted but Justice League members were given access to rooms in the Watchtower based on tenure. Founding members had access to every room. Newer members had access to the basic rooms: kitchen, lounges; training rooms, sleeping quarters and showers. Their access to secure areas grew with their tenure in the Justice League. When newer or lower ranked members wanted access to a secure room, they needed approval from a founding member or a member of a high status.

"Two days ago, Plastic Man received access to the secure level of the library by Flash's authorization. He got a copy of blueprints of the Watchtower. Why would he want that?"

Zatanna sighed. Bruce was going to let his paranoia drive him insane. "I don't know."

Bruce read the Call Logs this morning. Plastic Man got secure access to the Level 19 where the Power Generator was stored and Booster Gold received access to the Communications Complex. This room had a network that connected all the Justice League members together with their com links wherever they were around the world. This room also had computers, networks and links built for Justice League members to reach others when not in the tower. Bruce wouldn't be able to access the League from his cave were it not for this room, nor Diana from the Embassy. It was one of the most secured levels in the Watchtower and access to this room was very limited.

"Where's Flash?"

"He had a midday shift today, Bruce. He left an hour ago to meet with Donna. Why?"

"Flash gave Plastic Man access to Level 19 and Booster Gold access to the Communications Complex two hours ago. They're Status Five members. They're not allowed access to those rooms unless someone of higher status authorizes it."

"Wally outranks them. So he gave them access."

"Why would they want access to those rooms?" Bruce asked.

Zatanna didn't know nor did she care. "What is your obsession with them?"

"Four days ago, they lost a night, Zatanna. They haven't a memory of it."

"Four days…." Zatanna sighed. She turned her chair around. "That's the night the Injustice League fell for good. Everybody was out partying that night, Bruce. I doubt Michael and Patrick were the only ones to lose a few hours."

"They were. I checked with everyone that celebrated that night. Some were drunk but they didn't lose hours. Four nights ago was a time for celebration but we were also vulnerable that night for celebrating." Zatanna rolled her eyes again. Her rejection to take this matter seriously annoyed him. "Are you not taking me seriously because of that morning in my home?"

Zatanna scoffed. "Do you think I'm that petty? I think you are a paranoid nutcase. You refuse to believe in peace so bad you are distrusting of the very people you work with to bring justice to the world."

"Not all. Just two." Bruce closed the Call Logs file. "I need to find them."

"I'm sure they are in the Watchtower." A beeping at the console forced Zatanna to turn back to the monitor. "I saw Patrick leaving this room before I came in."

Bruce didn't like that. "He what?"

Zatanna ignored Bruce as a familiar face outside the Watchtower got her attention. "Look at this, Bruce."

On the monitor, Bruce saw Krypto outside the Watchtower. The camera recorded Krypto on his hind legs pressing the side panel, demanding access in as his paws pounded the glass doors. Bruce frowned. Bruce knew Krypto could tear through the doors but he wasn't. "Why is he here? I thought he left with Kal-El and Diana." Only a few members knew Diana and Kal were off world. Most assume Diana was off for the weekend but still accessible on Earth.

"He wants in." Zatanna opened the doors and Krypto zoomed in the Watchtower. Zatanna studied the white blur of Krypto on the cameras and his path, "Looks like he's coming to this room."

Zatanna opened the door to the Command Center. Two seconds later Krypto zoomed in. Bruce grimaced, "Perfect timing for J'onn to be on the other side of the world. He likes entertaining the dog. Hey!" Bruce jumped as Krypto placed his hind legs on Bruce, barking at him. "What's with you?"

"Bruce," Zatanna wasn't joking. "I think Krypto is trying to tell us something." Krypto jumped off Bruce and placed his hind legs on Zatanna. "Hey, watch the stockings!" Zatanna took Krypto's paws off her and set him on the floor.

If J'onn or even Animal Man were here, maybe they could get a reading on Krypto. Without them, Bruce had to rely on his skills. "Like what?"

"Well, Kal and Diana are gone. Maybe something is wrong with them."

Bruce cursed. He hoped that wasn't the case. "So much for Kal-El protecting Diana."

Krypto growled at Bruce.

"Careful how you speak of Kal around Krypto," Zatanna warned.

Krypto abruptly stopped growling at Bruce for the insult to his master. Krypto's sharp ears picked up on something in the room. Something was ticking in a high pitch frequency only a dog could hear. He scanned the room with his eyes, searching.

"What's he doing?" Bruce wondered. Krypto rammed his head in a panel under the main console. With the metal pierced, Krypto grabbed it with his teeth and pulled the steel panel off. Krypto found the source of the ticking but didn't move to touch it. Being on bounty hunting captures with Kal, Krypto was aware of all types of universal bombs and this was a dangerous one. It was activated, ready to blow in less than four minutes, and if touched prematurely, it would detonate immediately. He stepped back and barked at it, hoping Bruce and Zatanna picked up the warning.

Bruce and Zatanna looked over Krypto barking at a rectangle device of wires and digital alien words on it.

Blood drained from Zatanna's face. "Oh, Bruce, I think I'm gonna join you in that paranoia about Patrick and Michael."

It was a bomb but Bruce couldn't read the language. He couldn't tell how much time they had. "You've read alien languages, Zatanna. Can you decipher this? How much time do we have?"

"Three minutes."

Bruce reached for it. "Maybe I can deactivate it." Krypto smacked Bruce's hand away with his nose. He barked at him.

"No, don't!" Zatanna grabbed Bruce and pulled him back. "You can't even read the language on the bomb. How can you decipher it? I think it will go off prematurely if you do."

"If we don't try to deactivate it, the Watchtower and everyone in it will be gone."

"Bruce, even if we stop this bomb, it's gone anyway. Remember what you said. Patrick got blueprints of the Watchtower."

"The rooms they were in." It was all connecting for the Dark Knight. "Bombs are in there. We won't be able to get to all the rooms in time. We have to abandon the Watchtower."

Zatanna realized another horror. "There's a bomb near the Power Generator. There are nuclear components in there. Bruce, if it explodes, it will affect everyone in a ten mile radius. Evacuate the building. I'll try to contain it here."

Bruce grabbed Zatanna before she can run out of the room. He couldn't let her leave. "Zatanna, you could die."

"With my magic, I'm the only here than can contain that bomb in Level 19. I know the risks." Zatanna quickly kissed Bruce goodbye. "I'm not afraid and you know how I feel for you."


"Maybe you were right to protect your heart. You were saving it from another heartbreak."

And with that Zatanna was gone. Every fiber in Bruce's being wanted to go after Zatanna but Bruce knew he had to evacuate the Watchtower. Too many lives were at stake that he couldn't be selfish. Bruce hit the alarms. Never in his life did he think he would have to do this.

Alarms blared throughout the Watchtower followed by Batman activating Code Black. It was a prerecorded voice of Batman warning everyone to abandon the Watchtower and that it was not a drill. It was something the founding members planned years ago. Bruce never thought it would be a day he lived to see.

While the alarms blared, Bruce sent out an emergency call to every Justice League member on and off duty away from the Watchtower to return. Bruce knew everyone would not make it out of the Watchtower when it blew and they will have to deal with the many injured and perhaps dead.

As Bruce ran from the Command Center, he knew he would not make it out before the bombs went off. He was a fast runner but with a minute left Bruce knew he was only human and not one with Flash's or Kal's speed.

Teeth sank into the back of his cowl and Bruce's feet were lifted off the ground. It was then he realized Krypto stayed with him. He didn't leave and that angered Bruce. "You stupid mutt! Why stay with me? You should've gone with Zatanna! You could protect her!"

Krypto ignored the pissed off Bruce as he quickly flew him out of the Watchtower. He dropped Bruce with several members of the Justice League that were outside in a safe zone while others were still making their way out. Bruce only knew seconds remained and Zatanna was still inside.

Foolishly, Bruce ran towards the Watchtower. Perhaps there was something he could do. He only knew he couldn't let Zatanna do this alone.

Krypto grabbed Bruce's cape and pulled him back. "Let me go!" Bruce snarled. He was no match for the strong Kryptonian dog. "Let me-"

A loud explosion rocked the entire area with the destruction of the Watchtower. The force of it knocked Bruce, Krypto and everyone nearby off their feet. Bruce's body was flung several feet upwards but with Krypto being nearby, he caught his cowl and saved Bruce's body from impacting hard on the ground. Hovering safely in the air, Bruce could only watch as members of the Justice League escaping the Watchtower were caught in the blast. Their bodies were consume with flames and screams echoed in the wind. The Justice League members who did escape were helpless to help with their bodies thrown in the air from the shockwaves of the explosion and shielding themselves from any flying debris.

Seeing the charred Watchtower hadn't exploded in several pieces, Bruce knew Zatanna did her job. She contained the power generator from releasing toxic nuclear energy around them but at what price? Was Zatanna even alive? Was she exposed to the radiation?

There was a moment of calm as the Justice Members outside gathered themselves. The blast was over. They could check on their fallen colleagues caught in the blast and the ones who were still trapped in the tower.

The calmness lasted merely a minute before the tower itself began to crumble. Floor after floor fell on top of each other, possibly killing anyone trapped inside. Bruce and everyone watched horrified as the Watchtower, the Justice Leagues home fell to the ground like a pile of rubble in a horrific demolition.

On Apokolips, Darkseid watched the destruction of the Watchtower with joyous approval. "Excellent."

Desaad agreed it was a wonderful site to see the enemy of his Master fall. "The Justice League has fallen, Sire. Now is the time to finish them off for good."

"No." It wasn't time for that yet. "With this causality, the Justice League around the world will return to the Watchtower to deal with the injured and dead. Then the Furies and my army of parademons will attack and kill the Justice League in one fell swoop. They'll all die together."

Desaad agreed with this plan. "Of course. You are right, my Lord."

"As the Earth rain in blood, I'll deal with my traitorous bride and her bounty hunter lover. They will learn the true price of betraying Darkseid."