6 Justice League Crossroads
Note: This is the 10th part of an ongoing series. The preceding installments are Justice League New Beginnings: DCAU Series Part 1; Justice League Second Strike: DCAU Series part 2; Justice League Past Imperfect: DCAU Series Part 3; Justice League Nuptials: DCAU Series Part 4; Justice League Cardinal Sin: DCAU Series Part 5; Justice League Twice Shy: DCAU series Part 6; Justice League Darkness: DCAU Series Part 7; Justice League Family Affairs: DCAU Series Part 8; and Justice League Conflict: DCAU Series Part 9. Events and personal developments from these installments will be referenced with little warning or back story given. If Part 10 raises any questions, I suggest you read the previous stories.
Additional Note: Reviewers are highly appreciated. I need to know what I'm doing right and/or wrong so I can either do it again or not do it at all the next time `round.
Additional Note #2: This is my fourth outing with animeluverqueen as my Beta Reader. I owe her a lot for her efforts and insights.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Justice League concepts, actualization, characters, or depictions thereof (such as the DCAU). All such intellectual and actual rights are properties of DC Comics and Warner Bros Animation which are both owned by Time Warner. I'm not making any money off of this. Hopefully I'm entertaining a few folks, but that's it. Do not sue me!
It had been a few months since the JLU and the Legion of Doom's epic face off in Myanmar. Of course, that struggle had been prefaced by the so-called "civil war" between factions of the JLU itself. The brain trust of the Legion had escaped during the closing moments of the conflict, as had several members of the so-called "brawn" factor. Only a fraction of the Legion was free but they still wielded enough power to create havoc wherever they went.
Only, they hadn't. Since that time it was like the Legionnaires had fallen in a deep hole and covered themselves up. Due to the Legion's enormous successes in the past, they were all individually wealthy enough to while away the rest of their days. Yet, the constant craving for power and prestige had always driven them onward to greater heights of villainy…that is, until now.
The Dome had been relocated and hidden on the Isla Salvaje, or alternately depending on the nuance, the Isla de Asesino. Translated into English it became Cutthroat Island. It was a medium sized island nation in the Caribbean ruled by a military junta led by one General Juan Rodriguez. General Rodriguez had offered Luthor sanctuary. Of course, it would come at a price but no one knew what the cost would be as of yet. Knowing Rodriguez's expansionist dreams and his own criminal enterprises, it could be nothing short of war.
Luthor had his own plans. To be truly effective the Legion had to be rebuilt. The Legionnaires operated under the guarantee that they would be liberated from any and all incarcerations. That promise rang true even now. It was just that the Gulag offered a greater challenge than a normal super max.
The Gulag had been designed, developed, and constructed solely to house meta-humans and other super powered folk. Normally people of their ilk could escape on their own. But not from the Gulag.
Getting in wasn't the problem. The facility wasn't designed to keep people out. But once in, you faced the reality of the situation which was that the Gulag was designed to keep people in and it had been designed by the best. As of yet, Luthor hadn't been able to determine how to extract his comrades without getting ensnared himself.
Then again, he mused, he had another avenue. Talia Head was running LexCorp for him. He could make a request and she would flex the corporation's muscles. LexCorp was one of the many contractors that serviced the Gulag. That connection could prove to be invaluable.
One of Rodriguez's operations was a sex slave wholesale market. Hula Hula had worked his way up through various drug and smuggling cartels until he had landed as a "protector" watching over the girls. Essentially he was muscle that insured their obedience. His heart broke to see the degradations that these poor souls survived but he had a goal and nothing could stop him.
He'd heard the Legion of Doom had relocated to Isla Salvaje and he wanted to be near the Legion. They'd maintained an extremely low profile since arriving but he'd become drinking buddies with Blackrock, Copperhead, the Shade, Firefly, and Plastique. He'd even sparked a glimmer of interest in Plastique.
Hula Hula was maneuvering to be included in any operation that Rodriguez included the Legion in. The moment the Legion embarked upon a joint operation with Rodriguez, Hula would contact the Justice League and provide precise details of the Legion's plans. Afterward he would bring in the International Security Agency to deal with Rodriguez's pet projects. The General's activities in human trafficking alone would earn him a life sentence.
Hula Hula couldn't wait for the dictator's downfall but of course for now he had to outwardly shout, "Viva la General!" with the rest of them.
Hula missed Plas and Penny. It had been years since he'd spent this much time away from his friends. It had done him a world of good though. He'd reconnected with contacts and acquaintances that he'd neglected for years. Relying upon his wits to survive had bolstered his confidence and outwitting criminal cartels on a daily basis did nothing to deflate his ego. In fact, he'd nearly slipped up because he'd grown so cocky. After a near brush with certain death he'd been more introspective.
Hula Hula had positioned himself into a place of trust with both Rodriguez's men and the Legionnaires. He was perfectly positioned to betray them to the JLU and redeem himself in their eyes. Hula knew Penny had tried to convince him that the JLers didn't view him as a joke but he knew better. He'd even begun to view himself as a joke. That would end when Hula's plans reached fruition. Then he'd be a hero worthy of the name.
Atom Smasher sat before a federal grand jury. The jury would decide whether or not Al Rothstein deserved to face criminal charges. The defense had called Dr. Marci Ventrusca to testify. She'd used displays, diagrams, scans, and personal testimony to explain how Al's brain chemistry had been rewired by the meta-gene bomb. She had documentation of before and after neural scans and she compared and contrasted those.
Next, Dr. Ventrusca described the process that was used to reverse the condition. Security footage revealed the change in Al's behavior as the process worked. He'd been isolated at Eclipse Labs for a few months now and the change was amazing. His brain chemistry and electrical functions now matched those before exposure to the bomb. It was also explained that Al's powers had also reverted. He no longer altered his density but instead shifted his mass so that he could grow to immense heights.
The prosecutor tried to derail her but Dr. Ventrusca proved unflappable. The question was whether or not the jury would lend her facts and figures credence. Finally, Atom Smasher himself was put on the stand.
The defense attorney ran him through a fairly standard series of questions and then the prosecutor got her chance. Her only question was, "Are you guilty?"
Al addressed the Jury, "I was aware of what I was doing. Part of me tried to stop myself but the greater portion of me acted on those impulses. I literally couldn't stop myself. If that makes me guilty then I need to be punished. All I know for certain is that I'm myself again and those things will never happen again. I have enough guilt to last several lifetimes and I don't think I can bear any more."
The defense attorney had one final witness. Superman was summoned. He took the oath and fielded the question of whether or not the JLU would reinstate Atom Smasher if he were freed.
"Yes, we would. Dr, Ventrusca's evidence is compelling enough for us to offer him a second chance, if he wants it." Superman answered.
The jury deliberated for four hours. In the end they exonerated Atom Smasher. Courtney jumped up and shouted, "Yes!"
The judge banged his gavel several times to silence her and then he proclaimed, "Albert Rothstein, you are free to go."
Al left the courtroom a free man and he found Courtney and Superman waiting for him. Al gushed.
"Thank you for the offer of a second chance. I won't let you down." He promised.
"Don't be too hasty to accept the offer. You'll be watched every minute. The slightest hint of regressing back into criminal behaviors and you'll be sitting in the Gulag. Can you live with that?" Superman spelled it out.
"Yes sir, I can." Al agreed to the terms.
"Drop by the Hall of Justice. We'll get you sorted out." Superman assured him. He then flew off.
Courtney was practically giddy, "Let's get your stuff. You can room in the Hall and all your needs will be met."
"You've thought this through, haven't you?" he grinned appreciatively.
"Stick with me, baby. I got your back." She declared. She used the Cosmic Rod to levitate them into the air and then they flew off to upstate New York to retrieve Al's costume from Eclipse Labs.
Luthor and the Crimson Queen sat down to a private lunch. They had just spent the last two hours in the throes of lovemaking but that was over and things were settled. They had showered and dressed and moved to her private dining nook.
Unlike the formal dining halls, the nook possessed a bistro style table and chairs and was ideally suited for up to four diners. Luthor felt oddly contented, as he often did after a tryst with the Queen and she looked like she'd swallowed the proverbial canary.
"So, how goes your plan to rescue the Legionnaires trapped inside of the Gulag?" she asked.
"Nowhere as of yet." He answered.
"I think I'm a very bad influence upon you, Lex. If you weren't involved with me you would have broken everybody out a month ago." The Queen decided, "I…"
The doors burst open and armed men rushed into the room. They surrounded Lex and strong armed the Queen. The apparent leader addressed Lex.
"Do not resist us. This bitch is going to die and you will not stop us." He said.
"You're right. I'm not." Luthor declared.
"Lex?" the Queen asked as she was put on her knees and a pistol was placed against her head.
"You want to have a palace coup? Fine. I'll be on my way." Luthor said.
"If you leave, she dies." The leader warned him.
"What's that to me? If you want the country, take it." Lex started to walk out of the room. All of the gunmen suddenly trained their rifles at him. The Queen rose from the floor and wagged her finger.
"Wrong thing to say, Lex. You've just proven what I suspected. I have your child, I don't need you." The Queen informed him.
"My child?" Luthor stumbled over that one.
"Yes, Lex. You've impregnated me a few months ago. I am to be the mother to your child. You, however, will not be the father." She declared, "Leave. Now. Before I have you shot."
Luthor's visage grew dark, "This isn't over."
"Yes, it is. Free your Legionnaires. Reclaim the life you once had. Forget about me. There's nothing here for you now." She advised.
Luthor scowled, opened a boom tube, and departed. The Crimson Queen dismissed her troops and then she stood in the middle of the room and rubbed her belly.
"If only Adam were your father. Then we could have a real family. But I did the best I could for you. As it is, Adam will return in time and you shall have a surrogate father who is twice the man your biological father is." She soothed the fetus within her.