It Can't be Helped: Chapter Sixteen
Danny inwardly groaned at the command. Black Canary was a tough teacher who had no qualms about pushing her students past their limits. She also insisted that even if they had powers, learning a few moves could never hurt.
Naturally, Robin and Artemis were the top mixed martial artists as they relied most heavily on it. Kaldur came in at a close second with M'gann, Conner, and Wally falling not too far behind. As for Danny though, well he was a different story.
For one thing, he wasn't the most physically fit person, and he knew that. While his body was steadily gaining more mass, he was still somewhat underweight. It was hard to undo all the damage that the GIW had put him through. And Vlad had never really bothered to train him like this before, choosing instead to focus more heavily on his ghost powers. Of which Danny was really beginning to miss using.
"Ugh," he let out a strangled grunt as Robin sent him another roundhouse kick to the chest, making him land flat on his back. Damn it. He should have been able to dodge that.
God, how he hated these no powers allowed sparrings.
Their little audience winced almost in unison; Danny's body was starting to get very familiar with the unforgiving floor.
"Are you even trying to get in a hit?" Robin asked, playfully mocking even though he felt just a tiny bit guilty. But not by too much. This was revenge for getting shot with the ghost ray after all. That thing stung like all hell.
"Well, I'm trying to not get hit," the half-ghost replied good naturedly, his eyes on the ceiling directly above him and making no move as if to get up again any time soon. Black Canary let out a small groan of defeat, her fingers pinching the bridge of her nose in exasperation. They had been going at this for a while now and Danny didn't seem to be making much improvement.
The boy possessed some skill, though not much. At least he might be able to stand his own against a common thug long enough to make a break for it if the situation were ever to arise in which he could not use his powers. Hopefully Danny would never find himself in a situation like that, or he'd be pretty much screwed.
Either way, Plasmius was going to give her an earful if he ever caught sight of the bruises that were no doubt beginning to form.
"Ok, I think that's enough for today," the beautiful, blonde meta finally called it quits, much to Danny's relief. Robin walked over to where he was still laying down and offered him a hand. Danny almost considered not taking it (he and the floor were getting to be on pretty good terms now, and it seemed unusually alluring as opposed to having to stand up) but eventually accepted the help anyway. His muscles screamed in protest as he struggled to get up.
"We'll work more on your fighting skills tomorrow, Danny," Black Canary promised before taking her leave, a string of curses muttered by the human punching bag following her on the way out.
"I think that went well!" Wally decided with an optimistic grin wide enough to hurt Danny's own cheeks just by looking at it.
The half-ghost snorted, but played along anyway and replied, "Yeah, I think I'm at the point where my body is so sore that I don't really feel anything anymore."
"See? I told you!"
"You really should try harder," Conner piped up in all seriousness, "What Black Canary has to teach us can make a difference when you're out there," he said, speaking from personal experience. He remembered how at first he didn't think he needed to learn how to properly fight, only to be promptly proven wrong.
Danny nodded, even though he didn't necessarily agree. Because thing was, he actually was giving it his all. It just still wasn't enough. Not really in the mood to get into an argument though, he simply left it at that. Perhaps if he knew of the impending doom that he was about to face, Danny would have given it his all and then some.
More. He needed more. More minions, more respect, more fear. More power.
The Fright Knight was not content with what he had, and he was more than intent on changing that. This was why he was moving from city to city, and to every large, metropolitan area. Pretty much wherever there were a lot of people. A lot of people guaranteed a lot of dead; that was the thing about humans. You couldn't have one without the other.
And the more dead he could raise, the more minions he could acquire, the better. They were merely weak and primitive ghosts, the lowest of the hierarchy. Green, skeletal remains that when powered through his might were just barely strong enough to be called a specter. Every dead thing had the potential to come back to life, for every dead thing was once a living, feeling being. It was only through his power though that this potential was met.
Their strength mattered not; however, it was through numbers that the Fright Knight planned on conquering. He couldn't do it without help though. His goal was far too ambitious for him to take on himself. Although he was powerful, he was no fool. He would need assistance. That's when she approached him…
Many years ago a story was told. A story of love and tragedy and betrayal. One might think that this tale was perhaps an overlooked work of Shakespeare made obscure by the success of his other, more famous works. Unlike Romeo and Juliet; however, this story was true. And although it had been long-forgotten by time, today the story would pick up where it had left off and a new chapter written.
Every good story needed a fair maiden for the hero to win the heart of. And the story began with her.
Despite the centuries that had passed on, she had not aged a single day. Her long, auburn hair and smoldering, amber eyes looked the same now as she did in his memories from a lifetime ago. Blossoming, pale skin contrasted nicely against the shimmering dress she wore which was dyed in her signature emerald green. Various accessories and jewelry of gold snapped around her wrists and hugged her waist.
When she glanced at him, there was the same glint in her eyes.
"It's been so long," she murmured, her voice having this sort of singing lilt to it. Solemnly, the Fright Knight opened his own eyes and took in her appearance, drinking up every detail. He knew she would be coming. No words passed his lips though, prompting her to continue on.
"I thought I would never see you again," she insisted, silently urging him to reply.
"More like you had hoped," he finally said, it came out more like a statement than anything. There was no spite or rue in his voice. Immediately she made as if to deny this accusation, but then thought better of it.
"Oh, come now," she scolded, "What transpired between us had happened ages ago. You oughtn't dwell on the past like this," she finished off with an insulted "humpf". He watched her, cursing himself for even now he couldn't help but love her still. He could have said a million things, but instead opted to simply settle.
"You're right," the stony ghost agreed prompting her to regard him with a sort of cold curiosity, "Now, to what pleasure do I owe your company?"
A sly smile embraced her full, pink lips; like a fat cat with a bowl of cream. She had already won.
"Well, you certainly have been drawing quite a lot of attention to yourself. What with you going around raising the dead and all. You may thank me, by the way, for had it not been for me you would have attracted some desperately unwanted attention." She was of course, referring to the Justice League. She had bent over backwards trying to cover up his tracks.
"I am in your debt," he noted, with all the authority he could possibly muster. He had hoped to keep this purely a business transaction.
"Hm. So, what are you planning exactly?" She finally got to her point. She would not have even bothered visiting him had she not suspected that he was up to something. Something big. And she wanted to be a part of it.
He kept his answer short and simple, he had no purpose to hide this from her. "To make this world mine."
"I see. And where do you see me in this world of yours? Do I have a place in it?" She questioned innocently, though she already knew what the answer was. And he knew that she knew, so he played along.
"You will always have a place by my side. I could certainly use your help."
"And I'd be more than glad to give it to you."
And just like that an agreement had been reached. He loved her. And yet he hated her, for what she had done to him. But one thing that they both loved was being in control. And through those shared sentiments, he would set his hatred aside. Because together, they could be unstoppable.
Feeling awfully pleased with herself, she tilted her head back and smiled.
"You certainly haven't changed, Merek."
"Nor you. Queen Pariah."
The Queen's smile grew only larger. She had gone through many names in her long lifetime. And while Merek had become into what he was now, it was only because she had turned him into that. She was plenty of things, but she was no ghost.
A sorceress, an enchantress, a witch. A god. All of these titles she had held and was in possession of. And at one time, her title was Queen. Her husband, Pariah, was the most powerful king of his time. So he kept around him only the strongest of knights.
And Merek, while strong, was not always loyal to his king. No, he paid tribute to the queen and only to her. They had started an affair, always sneaking off to some empty room or deserted hallway and keeping each other preoccupied and distracted with their sweat and lust.
One day though, something horrible had happened. The enemy kingdom had trespassed into their territory and launched an attack. The enemy was held off for as long as possible before they came storming the castle. Merek went to look for her, he had to protect her.
He entered her chambers only to behold a sight he would never forget. The king, bleeding and dying at her feet, a dagger speared through his eye. Soldiers, not his men, then rushed the room and surrounded him.
"Him, too," she had said, so carelessly. That's when he understood. The enemy hadn't trespassed, they had been invited. As the soldiers cleared the room, Merek used his last breath to ask her why. Didn't she love him?
She merely watched uninterestedly though. Then, with one last stroke of pity, the demi-goddess used her powers to revive her dying lovers. Anything coming back to life would hurt, and she then teleported them to a separate world.
She hadn't seen him since.
"Please," she said to him, in the present, "call me Circe."
AN: I'm using both the Greek mythology version and the DC character of Circe for this story. With my own take on her of course. And to make things clear, she was not the one that I had talked about bringing in earlier. So we still have her to look forward to.
Ok, everyone. Thanks for reviewing, especially to Kay Hau. Your reviews were such a delight to receive! Please, continue delighting me everyone.
Also, for this story I think I'm gonna keep it to the original six members. I know about Zatanna and Rocket (and freaking Roy), but for my own sanity let's keep things simple.