I would like to thank The Lady Isis for her help and everyone who was nice enough to leave a review. Here is the final chapter!
The demonic entities known to the Dark Amazons as "Darker Gods", enraged and hungry after being denied their offering, reach out to slake their thirst for souls. The only morsels marked for them are the Xechasmenos themselves. Tentacles of black plasma reach out through the cracks in the glass of the globe and strike out at the remaining members of the mad sisterhood, and each strike causes their tattoos to flare brightly for a moment before the woman falls dead, and the alien appendage goes searching for its next meal. Reinforcements show up to the ritual room to try and help the superhero situation, only to fall prey to their own dark deities.
The only member of the Xechasmenos to not fall prey to the Darker Gods, Tal Rashiarna quickly makes her escape. Instead of going after the evil priestess, Diana rushes over to the man on the stone slab.
"Bruce?" she calls out, shaking him as their enemies die around them.
Bruce's eyes open and he groans as he sits up. "Diana? It's really you, right?" he asks her, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
She sighs in relief. "Yes it's me. Are you alright?" she asks.
"I'm fine," he tells her. Then he looks around, assesses the situation, and sees that Tal is not there. "Tal escaped?"
"She ran a few seconds ago," Diana answers.
"Go after her then. I'll catch up to you as soon as I pull myself together," Batman tells her.
Had Steve Trevor asked her to do that, she would have flatly refused and flown him out of there. Instead, she hands Batman one of her swords and takes off after the Dark Amazon.
Tal has made it outside and is well on her way to disappearing into the night when the Princess of Themyscira bursts straight through the wall of her headquarters and tackles her to the ground.
"This ends here, Tal!" Wonder Woman shouts as she raises her sword up to deliver a killing blow.
Tal catches her arms before the point of the blade can pierce her flesh, then flings the heroine off of her. As both women make it back to their feet the villain looks at her opponent and says, "You would normally be more than a match for me little sister. But right now you are beaten, bloody, and tired."
"I'll rest when you are dealt with, witch," Wonder Woman answers, lashing out with her lasso like it was a whip.
Tal shouts a word in a demonic tongue which knocks the golden cord away from her, then she hisses several more alien words and flicks her hand, sending missiles of black magic at her enemy. The Princess blocks the oncoming magical attacks with her bracers as she quickly makes her way closer to the Xechasmenos. When she gets close enough Diana cuts at Tal with her sword, only for Tal to block it with her magical dagger.
The two Amazons cross blades over and over, with Diana soon gaining the advantage. Finally she brings her sword down in a powerful, two-handed, over-head slash. Tal blocks, but the force of the blow knocks her down to one knee. The two are locked there for a moment with the Priestess quickly losing to her much younger and stronger opponent. When Wonder Woman is just about to push forward and knock the villain prone, Tal Rashiarana looks up and shouts out another spell, which knocks the superhero backwards.
Tal tries to take advantage of the new situation buy burying her dagger into Diana's throat, but the Princess soon recovers, dodges the blow, and thrusts her sword through Tal's chest and into her heart.
"Find peace," Diana whispers to her mother's old friend as she looks forward with still eyes.
"You first," Tal Rashiarana replies, before headbutting Wonder Woman. As the Princess stumbles backwards Tal raises her hands and shouts out another spell, which strikes Diana with a barrage of dark magic, that knocks her to the ground.
The evil priestess then calmly pulls out the sword, tosses it to the side, kneels down over the fallen Amazon, then pulls the necklace out of a pocket of her robe. "I told you that you weren't up for this battle, 'my little sun and stars'," the evil woman coos to her groggy prey. She slips the necklace onto Diana. "Rest now, my girl," Tal tells Diana - before she plunges the dagger into the woman's heart.
Diana's eyes snap open and she tries to say something as her life force is pulled out and used to restore her murder's body to full health. Tal looks down sadly at her latest victim as she stands and dusts herself off.
As she collects herself she hears a man's voice, filled with rage, scream, "NOOOO!"
She turns to see an enraged Batman charge straight at her with sword in hand.
While the Xechasmenos blocks the first blow his second knocks the dagger out of her hand and sends it off into the shadows. He then slashes with vicious speed and cuts her across the face, arm, and belly. The surprise quickly wears off though and Tal grabs his sword arm and crushes the bone in her hands. Not even feeling the pain through his fury Batman kicks her in her belly wound. Though she grunts in pain at the kick Tal catches his leg, snaps it, then slams him with a superhuman blow to the chest which cracks his ribs and sends the Dark Knight to the ground next to his dead love.
Despite his injuries, Batman still struggles to pull himself up. Tal simply puts her foot on his shoulder and forces him back to the ground. "You dealt me quite a blow, Batman. You've defied my gods and destroyed my sisters ... but this is still only a setback. I will recover from this. And I will perform my ritual again, count on it," Tal Rashiarana tells him.
At the sound of approaching sirens though, Tal has no more time for anything else. She quickly runs.
With his enemy now gone, Bruce pulls his broken body to Diana. He checks her pulse - there is none. He examines the wound - and finds it completely fatal.
"No. Not like this, please God not like this," he says as his tears fall on her still face.
His mind churns with sorrow, rage, and pain. The thought of his world without her torments him and all the things he hasn't said to her weigh down his soul. Then he sees a glint of metal in the corner of his eye and looks up to see Tal's dagger sitting in a storm drain, like a beacon of hope to his eyes.
Bruce somehow moves his injured body over to grab the weapon and then returns to his loves side. He then removes the necklace from around her neck and slips it on himself. He then puts the dagger into her hand before lifting it up and pointing it at his own heart. "If any god is watching, then please accept this sacrifice and bring her back," he prays before pressing forward and piercing his own heart with the dagger's blade. His last words as his vision goes black are, "Diana, I..."
By the time dawn arrives, Tal Rashiarna has made it to a safe house in the outer suburbs of Trondheim. She showers and changes, then picks up the phone. She puts in a number and waits for a moment before she gets an answer.
"It's me. Yes, you could say that we've had a bit of a setback!" she snaps. "Besides myself, all of our sisters in Norway. Our hope is still alive as the sacrifice still lives, and I've removed an enemy by killing-"
Before she can finish her door is kicked in and Wonder Woman, in full armor and full health, steps inside.
Tal smiles and shakes her head as she hangs up the phone. "How?" she asks.
Wonder Woman holds up her dagger and the Dark Amazon sighs. "So the Dark Knight brought back his Princess and made sure that I could never use him to get the power I so desire," she says. "You have good taste in men, Princess."
"I know," Diana growls before belting her across the face with a right cross.
Tal recovers and starts to shout a spell before Wonder Woman kicks her in the gut, grabs her, and throws the villain through the floor boards and into the basement. Diana drops down, only to get a dark magic barrage in the side. That attack doesn't buy the Xechasmenos much time though - Wonder Woman answers with a spinning back kick to her jaw and follows it up with a kick to the back of her leg. Tal Rashiarna tries a backhanded blow, but Diana catches her arm, breaks it, then knees her in the spine. Tal tries to hit Diana with the elbow of her other arm, but Diana catches that two and pulls her into a full nelson and uses that as leverage to slam her face first into the ground.
As Diana binds Tal with the Lasso of Truth the Xechasmenos laughs. "What's so funny?" Diana demands.
"That despite how much you've won today, you have still lost more than I," she answers. "I've lost many of my sisters and my chance at supreme power too, and I'm going to be imprisoned by Hippolyta back on her Paradise Island...but you, my dear... You have lost the one man you've ever truly loved before you were even able to tell him."
"Bruce is not lost to me yet," Diana answers as she yanks the now bound villain to her feet.
"You live, which means that Batman used the Candarian Dagger to give his life force to you. Which means he is quite dead now and not any feat of science, the power of your gods, or even the Lazarus Pits can restore him," Tal Rashiarna explains.
"I don't intend to use any of that to bring him back to me," Diana calmly answers.
"Then..." the Dark Amazon falls silent as Wonder Woman flies her back to the city.
The Trondheim's morgue is a quiet place, with clean white hallways and stainless steel tables. On one such table lays the body of a newly received John Doe, a John Doe who has suffered various traumatic injuries including a stab wound straight to his heart which ultimately proved to be the cause of death. The Mortician on call looks the man on his table up and down and tries to make sense of his powerful build and the road map of scars running up and down his body.
Before he can make his first incision the door of his morgue is opened and he turns to see the famous superhero Wonder Woman step in dragging another woman tied in her Lasso behind her.
"Could you please give us the room sir," she asks. The Scandinavian man quickly looks over the situation then smartly decides to make his exit.
With the civilian gone Diana drags Tal to the operating table. "You will not do this Princess," the Dark Amazon tells her, "cold blooded murder is beyond you."
"This isn't murder," she answers, dragging another medical table over next to the one Bruce is laying on.
"What would you call it?" Tal asks as she is picked up and layed on the table.
"I am merely taking back what you've stolen," Diana explains, slipping the necklace around the bound woman's neck.
"Would he think so?" the evil priestess asks. This causes the Princess to pause and Tal jumps at her opportunity. "I know a great deal about Batman including the one thing he refused to do. The one thing he loathes the most is taking lives. He would not consent to murder, not even to save his own life. You know that, Diana, and you know that if you go through with this he will never forgive you."
A few quiet moments go by, then Diana pulls out the dagger and places it into Bruce's dead hand. "It doesn't matter," she says.
"His wishes don't matter?" Tal Rashiarana asks, a little worry slipping into her voice.
"No. And it doesn't matter whether or not he forgives me," she answers flatly. Diana then carefully positions the dagger over Tal's breast then stops long enough to explain. "He can hate me forever and it won't matter. I refuse to loose him like this, because of you."
Tal is about to say something else when Diana lifts up Bruce's hand and then slams it down, plunging the blade into the Xechasmenos's heart. Tal Rashiarana eyes pop wide open and her mouth stretches out into a silent scream as her life force flows through the dagger into the dead man. As color returns to Bruce's skin, his bones melt back together and he sucks in a painful lungful of air before finally his eyes open again.
On the bed next to him, quite the opposite is happening. As life returns to the Dark Knight Tal's pale skin begins to turn a dark gray and shrink next to her bones, her eyes loose their color, her hair turn to death white, and all of her flesh begins to shrivel as if mummifying until finally turning to dust and leaving her blackened bones in her clothing still wrapped in the Lasso of Truth.
Bruce looks around in surprise and sees whats left of the Dark Amazon on the table next to him and sees the dagger once again in his hand he drops it and flinches away in shock. "Diana?" he asks is shock.
With tears of happiness streaming down her face she collects the newly resurrected man in her arms and holds him close. "I'm here, Bruce," she tells him, hugging him close.
"Diana...what?" he asks in confusion.
"I'll explain later. Let's go home."
The embrace can't last forever, of course, and eventually Bruce pulls himself free from her. He doesn't ask her anything, looking at the scene he soon put everything together himself, and after that he was very quiet.
Diana, expecting this reaction, had already called in Alfred and his sons who were overjoyed to see Bruce alive. They took him home and she thought that would be the last she heard from him for a long while. So she was a bit surprised when she got a call from Alfred three days later inviting her to the Manor.
She shows up when she was asked to, when the night is about to get late, and is greeted at the door by Alfred. "He seems to want to make this quick, he goes on patrol in about an hour," Diana says stepping inside.
"Actually he asked the rest of the family to take over his patrol for the night," Alfred tells her. "He is waiting for you in his room," he explains.
Diana looks at the master staircase and asks, "How has he been?"
"Unusually quiet," Alfred answers. Diana raises an eyebrow to him and nods. "Yes, more than usual. Though he hasn't been hostile at all," he says, trying to be encouraging.
Diana gives him a parting peck on the cheek before taking the stairs. She soon makes her way to the Manor's master bedroom and finds the door open. She steps inside and sees Bruce standing on his balcony and looking up into the sky. "Good evening, Bruce," she greets him.
"Hello, Princess," he answers not turning around.
She sighs. "I take it that you're upset with me," she says.
Bruce turns, walks back into the room, and looks Diana in the eyes before answering, "Actually I'm not."
"Really?" she asks, genuinely surprised.
"I know, normally I'd be furious over the way I was brought back," he acknowledges, "and I've spent the last few days trying to figure out why I feel the way I do."
"And what have you figured out?" Diana asks him.
"I've tried coming up with excuses, like maybe 'I'm not angry because she killed others to keep her alive over the centuries' or ' I can't be upset because I didn't give her a choice when I brought her back', but none of that is right," he explains.
"Then what is right Bruce? How do you feel?" she asks him.
He walks over to his Princess, takes her in his arms, smiles at her and says, "I'm happy to be alive and to be with you, Diana." Then he kisses her.
Early the next morning the both of them are lounging in the afterglow, naked on his bed and in each others arms. "You promised to tell me something once the business with the Xechasmenos was over," Bruce reminds her.
"I did, didn't I?" Diana asks with her head resting on his chest.
"What happened during the Blackest Night?" Bruce asks as he lazily runs his fingers through her hair.
"I was possessed by a Black Ring, turned into a murdering madwoman with hellacious power," she explains.
"Funny, none of the reports had any sightings of you as a Black Lantern," he says.
"My gods were kind," she explains, "Aphrodite locked me into an illusion where I could fight off the Ring's influence and not harm anyone."
"That was nice of her," he comments.
"Yes it was," she answers giggling a little bit. "The illusion kept throwing my family and friends at me, to force me to draw upon my love to free myself." She sits up and looks down into her lover's eyes then. "My love for my mother, my sisters, my friends...none of that was enough to pull me out. It wasn't till I remembered my love for you that I found the strength to liberate myself from the Ring. It was my love for you that saved me."
He sits up and kisses her before hugging her again. "That reminds me of something I went through recently," he tells her.
"Really?" she asks.
"When I was having my duel with the 'Darker Gods' they used an...image of you as their voice, to try and convince me to give in to them," he explains. "While I was fighting them off I know I should have been thinking about my city or my family, but the only thing going through my mind was that I had to fight so that I could see you again," he tells her.
She sits back a bit and smiles at him. "I love you, Bruce," she tells him.
He gives her a half-grin in return. "I love you too, Princess."
The End. Reviews are always welcome and appreciated.