10 Justice League Conflict
"Dead?" Superman choked, "How?"
"Major Force bombarded him with radiation. It killed him almost instantly." Mr. Terrific explained.
Instantly Superman felt anger towards the dissenting JLers for drawing his force into a conflict with the Legion of Doom. He kept quiet though and instead asked, "Can you take me to him?"
"Of course." Mr. Terrific summoned a T-sphere.
Diana and J'onn decided to accompany them. Before they teleported the Flash was enlisted to check on the fallen JLers and inform them of the team's reunification. It was felt he was ideally suited for the task. Flash in turn asked Plastic Man to assist him. That way both factions were represented and spreading the same message.
While they set out to accomplish that task, the League's leadership accompanied Mr. Terrific as he teleported to Rocket Red's fallen form. Wildcat, Nemesis, and the Atom stood watch over Dmitry. Superman was immediately shaken. He also felt a surprising amount of anger over the situation.
Clark knew his anger wasn't exactly directed at the dissenters. It was directed at the situation that the dissent created. Without that division the League would never have faced off unprepared with the entire Legion of Doom. Accounting for the losses occurred when the League fought itself, the League had been outnumbered by two to one. He made a vow to himself that the League would never be divided again.
"We can't leave him like this." Superman announced, "J'onn, summon Captain Marvel. He can take the body out to the US carrier and we can arrange transportation to Russia from there."
J'onn pulled his signal device free and began speaking in it. Diana approached Clark, "We must honor him."
"We will." Superman promised, "We'll make arrangements with the Russian government."
"Mr. Terrific, can you disperse your T-spheres and gather the Legionnaires to a central location near Anna Fortune?" Diana inquired.
"Who?" Terrific wondered.
"Place them in front of Zatanna." Clark chuckled.
"Easily done." Mr. Terrific guaranteed them.
Terrific was as good as his word and the unconscious Legionnaires were arrayed in front of Zatanna and Anna. Anna pulled a spell casing free from her bandolier and examined it. She unlocked the breach of her cannon and inserted the casing. Her brow furrowed as she prepared to fire the cannon.
It discharged and the casing detonated over the fallen bodies. Anna's concentration was absolute as the crimson energy arced over each body. The Legionnaires' wrists and ankles were surrounded by the energy and it resonated there, forming shackles and chains linking the Legionnaires together.
"Will they always be linked?" Zee asked, "It'll make it more difficult to transport them."
"I can release the chains." Anna assured her, "The shackles are psycho-reactive. They only react to the wearer's negative impulses; say, if they try and escape, use their powers, or act violently."
"Very handy. And the effect will last a week?" Zee asked and Anna nodded, "And you get these spell casings from Fate?"
Anna's eyes crinkled from another hidden smile, "If that's what you want to believe. I won't disabuse you of a happy thought."
"Then where…?" Zee began.
"It looks like my work here is done." Anna interrupted.
Zatanna smirked, "Not quite. You need to release those chains."
"Oh! Right." Anna's eyes went wide.
She cast a simple spell and the connection between bindings evaporated. Now her work was done but Anna lingered. Zee could have laughed.
"You know, the JLU could always use some help." Zee grinned.
"I have been wanting to put my skills to use." Anna gratefully replied, "And Fate did tell me to help out. He just didn't say for how long."
"It'll be nice to have someone to talk shop with." Zatanna saw a benefit already.
"If you don't mind a personal question, Kent said you're a powerful sorceress. Why then are you dressed as a dance hall girl?" Anna had to ask.
Zatanna laughed, "Let me explain show business to you." Zee began a discussion into the foibles of public performances.
"Solomon! Have you been sitting here this entire time?" Galatea asked Grundy.
"Grundy fought the big man and then he didn't know what else to do so he waited." Grundy explained.
"And I wasn't there for you, you poor dear." Galatea hugged him. Grundy smiled and Galatea directed him to return to the Oracle-5's and wait for their departure. Grundy happily nodded and lumbered off.
A commotion could be heard from the prisoner area and Galatea hurried back. There Doomsday was fighting his bonds. Mary and Kara stood by in case he broke free. Zatanna looked a little nervous. Her mysterious companion, on the other hand, looked completely calm and at peace.
The more Doomsday fought, the stronger and tighter the bonds became. He lunged at Mary and a shield formed in front of him, blocking him from her. He couldn't shatter the field and he roared his displeasure.
Mary took hold of one arm and Kara the other and they escorted Doomsday through a boom tube portal opened up to connect them with the Gulag. They returned moments later and other JLers escorted Legionnaires into the tube as they awoke.
While the League shuttled Legionnaires to the Gulag, Jack, Owlwoman, Gypsy, and Ulla returned from the ocean. They spotted Black Adam and landed near him. Adam was overjoyed to see that Gypsy had managed to return with the Guardians' leadership couple.
Adam explained what happened to the Guardians as they faced the Legion and Jack grew dismayed, "Great. We finally get a real chance to prove ourselves and what d'we prove? That we can't hack it, that's what!"
Rising Sun rejoined his comrades at that point. Dr. Light kissed him on the cheek and began to walk away. He caught her arm and drew her in and kissed her. She was flushed as she waltzed away.
"At least we can still make love connections." Owlwoman smirked.
"Wenonah, this is serious." Jack protested.
"Of course it is. It means we have a lot of work ahead of us and there'll be no letting up. We practice until everyone hates us and then keep going." Owlwoman soothed his nerves.
"Hey guys. I've got Solomon waiting for us at the Oracle-5." Galatea announced as she alighted at their position. Her eyes swept the nearby scenery and she asked, "What's that canister over there?"
"What canister?" Adam asked. Galatea led him to it and he was alarmed, "I believe this is the canister that Vapor was sucked into. Stand back."
He unscrewed the upper seal and an acidic mist began to issue forth. When no more gas came out of the cylinder it solidified into an extremely irate woman. Vapor was angry with herself for being captured so easily. Her disposition did not improve as she was informed of the Guardians' successive defeats.
While the tale was being relayed, and Vapor blamed herself for it all, the Guardians came to. They gathered together and checked each other for permanent injuries. Finding none they prepared to depart. The League had things well in hand and there would be a reunion of sorts aboard the Carl Vinson.
Penny was less than happy to depart but she complied. At least the Guardians had spotted Plastic Man and let her know he was safe. She would have flown them anywhere in exchange for that news.
After transporting the Legion to prison, the League divided again. Superman's force boarded Lady Blackhawk's Javelin shuttle. Wonder Woman's unit mounted the remaining Oracle-5 and Blackhawk flew them out the carrier. The French Special Forces lifted off in their helicopters and headed back to their aircraft carrier.
Blackhawk set the Oracle down and the JLers disembarked. Penny ran forward to reunite with Plas. The remaining JLers headed for "Sawbones". Diana arranged for Rocket Red's body to be loaded aboard the shuttle. Galatea stood by the aircraft.
"Guess this is goodbye." She said sadly.
"I'm afraid it is. Until our circumstances change, this will happen a lot." Blackhawk said, "You have the Guardians, whom you're committed to and I have the Blackhawk Squadron. At least until they relieve me."
There was something in his voice and Galatea caught it, "What do you mean?"
"I defied the UN to come here. They may send me back to prison." He informed her.
"They can't!" she declared.
"I said they could. I don't know what's going to happen." He admitted.
"If they do, I'll come for you." Tea promised.
"And then we'd both be fugitives. That's no sort of life." He admonished her.
"I don't want to live my life without you." Tea confessed.
"You're stronger than you think. You can cope with any and all circumstances thrown at you. You can live your life any way that you want." He assessed.
She suddenly threw herself into his arms. He began to speak but she shushed him. Instead they stood there in silence, drawing strength from one another.
It came to be time to go and Penny made the approach, "They finished loading Red aboard and the others are all aboard. We have to go now."
Blackhawk and Galatea's eyes met and held each other's gaze. A lot of unspoken promises were conveyed. He drew her in for a tender kiss and then detached from her.
"This isn't goodbye. I promise." He said before he boarded the shuttle.
She stood outside until he was in the cockpit. She waved and then moved off so he could lift off. "Sawbones" conducted a VTOL departure and streaked off into the horizon. Galatea watched them until they were out of range of her telescopic vision. With a forlorn sigh she headed for the briefing where the Guardians were meeting.
The UN's General Assembly was livid over how events turned out. Max Lord took the podium and addressed the delegates.
"It seems that folks have developed a mistaken concept of the Justice League's identity. The League doesn't serve the United Nations. The League is a member of the United Nations. That's right folks; our charter grants us city-state status. This body recognized us as such and that basic tenet has never changed. The UN grants special dispensation to the League by granting it international police powers but the League itself isn't under the UN's control. We cooperate with the UN but we do not follow its orders."
Max let that sink in before continuing, "We embarked upon the defense of Myanmar's sovereignty because we agreed with that mission. Well, mission priorities changed. The Legion of Doom presented itself as a life threatening danger and the League primary function is to deal with meta-human threats to peace and safety. Seeing such a threat, the League responded accordingly. A member of the JLU gave his life facing that threat. I suggest we take up a motion to honor his sacrifice." Max changed the subject.
The Russian delegates took up the bandwagon. The UN was soon debating the merits of honoring a single superhero, fallen or not.
Wade Eiling argued on behalf of Blackhawk before the Security Council. His insubordination was seen in an extremely negative light. However, the US, the UK and France looked favorably on the pilot acting on his conscience. They swayed enough delegates to forgo punitive action. Blackhawk would still receive a complaint regarding his recent actions but he wouldn't actually be punished for them.
The members of the Justice League were denied entry into Russia to pay their respects to Rocket Red. They erected a monument in the garden of the Hall of Justice and held a ceremony there. Superman spoke first.
"For all of us that worked with Dmitry, it's hard to imagine that he's gone. His ready smile and a friendly, 'Okey-dokey' marked him as a penultimate partner. He never shirked from his duty or backed down from a challenge. It was his bravery that cost him his life. Major Force was a threat. A greater threat than most of us could face so Dmitry flew headlong into the face of danger. He stopped that danger. In fact, we don't know if Major Force's essence can be gathered to fill another containment suit."
Superman paused to collect his thoughts, "I think we should spend our time remembering Dmitry's humanity. The little acts of kindness and charity that so permeated his life should be on display here today. I know Wildcat had dictated a message to Dmitry's wife and kids. Perhaps we should all add to that message and give his family a sense of the hero that he was. Because it's the little things that make a hero and Dmitry was a champion in those areas. He's already missed."
Superman sat down and other JLers rose to speak. They endorsed the idea of memorializing Rocket Red for his family. They were given a week to get testimonies, photographs, and other memorabilia to L-Ron.
Anna Fortune was run through the security procedures of the Hall. Penny caught up with her and asked her how she appreciated the flight home. She'd heard it was Anna's first.
"Ah can't believe you've never flown before." Penny gushed.
"Does a dirigible count?" Anna asked, "Because I have been up in one of those. That was the closest thing to flying that was available in my youth."
"Ah guess it counts then. Do you want to grab a cup of coffee?" Penny asked, "We have a full service kitchen."
"Do they have lattes?" Anna asked, "They're my latest guilty pleasure."
"Honey, we have everything." Penny laughed and led Anna away.
Once in the dining area, they ordered their drinks and received them in short order. Anna and Penny took a seat near a corner so they could observe the entire room. Anna slid the bandana off of her nose and mouth and let it rest at her throat. Penny sighed.
"Ah knew it. You're beautiful. Ah wish Ah had your skin." She confessed.
"But you're lovely. You have a natural glow about you." Anna confided.
Penny was about to object but then she laughed, "Isn't always the way? Here we are wishin' we were each other rather than bein' happy with ourselves."
Anna smirked, "I suppose. All I know is that I have so much to learn about this era that I feel inadequate."
"Ya'll have nuthin' to worry about. You handled those Legionnaires. If ya'll can face them you can conquer anything." Penny asserted.
Anna smiled, "I suppose. I…hello?"
The Flash had appeared out of nowhere, "Hello ladies."
His eyes were clued on Anna. She blushed, "Can I help you?"
"I'm the official Justice League morale officer. Part of that duty includes welcoming new members. How would you like a guided tour of the facility?" Flash offered.
"Thanks, but Penny was going to show me around." Anna replied.
"But Penny isn't a JLer. I am and I know all the secrets around here. I was even a Founder of the original Justice League." Flash boasted.
"Thank you anyway but I think I'll stay true to Penny. Maybe you can show me your secrets some other time." Anna smiled.
Flash melted, "Anytime."
"Bye now." She waved him off.
Flash drifted off and Penny exclaimed, "That was amazing."
"He's not that different from men in my era. A little flattery and misdirection and they wander off happy." Anna revealed.
"Ah think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Penny decided.
Anna was relieved, "I certainly hope so. I don't know anyone in this day and age."
"You do now." Penny declared, "Now how about that tour? We can bring the coffees."
"Yes, these paper cups are amazing." Anna observed.
"Oh, we're definitely goin' to have to get you out more." Penny resolved.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Clark asked Diana after they'd gone home. She was standing out on the balcony, staring off into the distance.
"You may not like them." She warned.
"I'll take my chances." He said.
She stepped back into the apartment and leaned up against the dining table, "I'm rethinking 'us'."
Clark was stunned, "Why?"
"I fell in love with Superman. I think it was more with the 'Super' than the man. This debacle revealed to me just how much of a mortal man you really are. I guess it's a case of disillusionment. When I first met you I thought you were Apollo incarnate. When I found out you were mortal, it intrigued me even more." Diana confessed.
"If that's true why is there a problem?" he asked.
"Because you still stood above the rest. You towered over them. I pushed you to capitalize on your image and assume leadership of the League. Since then I've seen your flaws and I have to say I'm quite disappointed." She held up a hand to ward off objections, "It's a prejudice of mine. I realize this but it affects me nonetheless."
"So where do we go from here?" Clark wondered.
"I need to embrace your humanity. If I can't, then there is no future for us." Diana stated.
A feeling of dread closed around Clark's heart.
a/n: Yes, there will be a Part 10. I don't have a title yet but the main thrust of the plot has been hammered out. Expect to see it posted in the weeks to come.
a/n: Thanks go to animeluverqueen for beta reading. Besides the usual proofing chores, she offered insights into what was happening in the story and even inspired a few plot developments so thank you for that.
a/n: thanks go to everyone that reviewed and didn't spam me. Feedback is great and also influenced several developments in the story. Thanks specifically go to S-Bumblebee for suggesting John Stewart be the one to talk to Billy Batson. That created a whole subplot that will linger for a while yet.
a/n: thanks also go to you the reader. Your interest in this story kept me writing. I hope you'll stick with me as I shift to Part 10.