Conlon, Meet Your Match

I own no one Athena and any other characters you don't recognize.

Athena and her girls are Jack's birds. He sends them to get Intel, and in return they get a place to stay and food to eat. Simple enough, but when one of their own ends up on the wrong side of Spot Conlon, Athena has to make a choice; leave her friend behind or sign on as a Brooklyn spy. But Athena's tough, smart and quick on her feet. She'll find a way out of this mess, right? Set a month after the strike, characters like Sarah, Jack, Spot, Racetrack and David as well as Athena are all 16. Spot's taller too.

Juno Sospita- goddess= Lively, youthful, person= life of the party, good interrogator, temper Age- 15 Weapon- leather strap

Diana Prince- goddess= free-spirit, refused to be tied down, huntress person= stubborn, but good at job, best tracker, second, brave Age- 10 Weapon-revolver (given to her by late father)

Venus Rustica- goddess= beautiful, strong person= still beautiful and street smart, trouble-maker Age- 9 Weapon- brass knuckles

Hestia Hearth - goddess= warm, loving, person= takes care of home and younger newsies, peace keeper Age- 12 Weapon-pick ax (from previous job in mines)

Athena Pallas- goddess= warrior, wise, person= intelligent, fighter, leader of Manhattan spies, reasonable and protector of girls Age- 16 Weapon-two long thrusting daggers

Jack Kelly slammed his fists down on the table, scaring Venus out of her seat. "Alright giorls, watta youse got? Juno, Hestia, ya got information on dat uprising in Midtown? Diana, youse an' Athena found out if da Bronx is gonna get a new leada or what? C'mon people, Isa need ta know these things if Manhattan wants ta stay on top 'o' da boroughs!" Athena rolled her eyes and stood up. For all the things Jack was, like kind and brave, he sure wasn't patient when it came to business. Of course, Jack needed to know everything that went on around him if he wanted to be able to know the full story and decide whether to get involved or stay out of it. This was a smart plan for operations, but it took its toll on her girls. Sometimes they all didn't get a lot of sleep if they were out all night, and for the 4 months that the girls had kept this job Jack didn't seem to notice. No one bothered to tell him either, so that didn't quite help matters but now wasn't the time to talk about that. Athena had to share their findings and quick, because jack had a date with Sarah Jacobs, and even though everyone liked and admired Sarah, she didn't like to be kept waiting either.

"Well Jack, youse be happy ta know dat Sludge did get to keep his position as Chief in da Bronx," Athena started, tossing her wavy black hair up into a bun and placing her hat on over it. "We all know dat we have good relations with da Bronx as long as he's da Chief, so-""Get ta da point, Athena!" Jack shouted impatiently. The leader of the Manhattan spies glared at him with her cold, gray eyes that frightened everyone that looked into them. "Don't rush me Cowboy, or Isa gonna take even longer!" she threatened. "Juno says dat your little uprisin' in Harlem dat was passed along down da grapevine ain't happenin'. Queens is just makin' a ruckus." Diana smirked at jack and lit her cigarette. "Isa hope dat teaches youse not ta rely on da kind 'o' information dat don't come from us! It makes ya look bad, Jackie boy." Jack didn't even bother to retort back. He was too busy rushing up and down the stairs getting ready to pick up Sarah. AS he headed out the door he tossed a few coins into the girl's hands. "Thanks ladies!" he called over his shoulder. "There's youse rent for da week, Isa gonna get youse ya lunch money when Isa gots it tomorrow!"

Chuckling at Jack's procrastination, the birds walked into the living room with the rest of the newsies and sat down at their table in the back. "So, what kind 'o' work we gots tomorrow Hestia?" Athena asked their 'den mother' and coordinator of jobs. They all knew that Hestia was the kind of person that preferred to stay out of trouble and act as a mother, but now that Venus was old enough to sell papers and too young to be an informant, she was stuck with being a bird. Juno, Diana and Athena liked the job well enough though. It was fun to see new places, learn new things, plus the pay was good. Each of the three had different special talents when it came to it though. Juno was pretty good at weaseling information without getting caught, Diana was amazing with sneaking around the boroughs and Athena had a way with words. But, unlike the rest, she scared to living daylight out of her subjects. If they were uncooperative, she would go another route and threaten to soak them. Juno could trick others to giving it out, Diana could weasel it, and Athena could reason or threaten. They only used Hestia for assignments close to home in Manhattan, but that was alright by her. They made a good team, hitting up almost every borough in New York in one to two nights. But now back to the story.

Hestia thought for a moment and tapped her foot in remembrance. "Tomorrow Juno's got to go speak to Jumper on Staten Island, Diana has to meet dat Harlem Contact ta get da story on Snitch's run-in up there and possibly make that go away," she told the three in her perfect English. Of them all Hestia was the only girl who had perfect grammar, something that she and tried to teach them all and failed miserably. "I guess that leaves Venus with her usual selling and helping me with the errands and you with that visit to Brooklyn, Athena." The leader couldn't help but groan. "Seriously? But Isa just visited Conlon last week ta make sure our deal with da splitting 'o' da Bridge was good! Can't Isa go ta Queens? I hate goin' ta Brooklyn as a boy an' foolin' im' into thinkin' Isa one!" Diana looked at her in amazement. "Athena!" she scolded teasingly. "Youse sayin' dat ya backing out 'o' a job? What has Jack done ta youse?" Athena slapped her second in the arm playfully. "No Isa ain't, but for da past few weeks Isa been havin' ta go ta Brooklyn. Isa already gots two biords 'o' Spot's on me tail whenever Isa ova there an' it takes me five minutes ta lose em' before Isa can even begin ta go look for dat leak and dat's precious time here people, so could youse cut me a little slack on dis one? No one knows anyone else from our group, dey won't suspect a thing if say Diana were ta get dat job!"

Hestia crossed her arms and gaze Athena a look with her big warm brown eyes that said I'm disappointed in you, which Athena hated for some reason. "That's just the way the dice falls, girl," she said, getting up with Venus to put her to bed. "You are going to Brooklyn tomorrow and you are going to find that contact. I don't need to remind you what could happen if we don't find him by the end of the week."

"And Isa don't needs ta remind youse what'll happen if Isa gets caught."

"Then go at night when Conlon's not around. Just make sure you have the intelligence!" With that said, Hestia ushered Venus up the stairs and to bed with Diana (who just happened to be the second youngest) in tow. Juno got up as well and turned to Athena. "Boss, Isa hate ta tells youse, but she's right. If we don't get dat information before Midtown does, we're toast. If they Eva find out dat Brooklyn newsies got a mole, they'll find a way in and bring Spot down. Guess what'll happen then?" But Juno didn't need to say anything else. Athena nodded in understanding and trudged out the back door. "Where youse goin'?" Juno called after her leader. Athena didn't turn around, but replied all the same. "Its night time, Spot's not around, and it's dark. Isa think Isa can gets dat leak ta spill before dawn if Isa fin im' soon. Don't wait up! I'll be fine!"

Juno watched as the night mist swallowed Athena up. Man, her leader could be almost as determined as she could. But Athena'd be alright. She was good about tracking others down, almost as good as Diana, but not quite. Juno just hoped Spot wouldn't find her first.

Ω

Athena knew that the best way to make sure that no one knew you were spying was to act natural. That was exactly what she did. Walking casually over the Brooklyn Bridge, she crossed over and began her search. Diana had been to Brooklyn with Athena the last time, and she had been able to weasel out that the boy they needed to be was indeed a newsies, and he would be near the Drunken First Mate's bar which was the first thing youse saw when you went over the Bridge. So that's where Athena went. But she didn't dare go in, which in hindsight was pretty smart. She was wearing boy's clothes but could easily be distinguished for a girl, and everyone knew that the only girls that dressed up in boys clothes were birds, and Spot Conlon, who was in the bar at the time, would notice right off the bat that she was a girl and she wasn't one of his birds. This was a drawback, because Spot soaked other boroughs birds that set foot in Brooklyn, girl or not. So, instead of going in, Athena sat down on a bench across the street from the joint and waited for the leak to arrive or come out.

Patience didn't disappoint her. Athena saw a dark haired, tall, burly boy around 16 steps out of the building and light a cigarette. They made eye contact briefly and casually, and then Athena got up to leave. She started down the main road, glancing back at the newsies. He followed her and soon they were perhaps 200 feet from the tavern, standing underneath a lamppost. The boy leaned up against in the lit his cigarette again. "You from around here miss?" he asked.

"Manhattan. I'm visiting an old friend," she replied coolly, as was custom for meeting new allies.

"Really? Does this old friend like to exchange gifts from previous travels? Souvenirs perhaps?" he asked, confirming that he was the person she was supposed to see.

She shrugged. "Actually, dis old friend does. He has a watch made in Virginia that was given ta him a while back, but he doesn't need it, so he's goin' ta give it ta me for safe keeping." Athena knew that the word for the night instead of information was 'watch'. The newsie nodded in confirmation of this and leaned in closer.

"Yes, I do have this watch. It consists 'o' several key gears, all from different boroughs. Very hard to come by, very expensive. The first one says dat they will be on Brooklyn's side if Midtown claims war. That ain't surprising'. The second wants ta stay out 'o' it, they say it ain't their problem. The other two haven't decided yet, but the fourth's leanin' towards joinin' Midtown if we don't fix it. Do you think dis watch is worth ya time, Miss Pallas?"

Athena nodded. "Youse has been a good help. This watch will definitely help us tell time faster. Now, Isa really needs ta get goin'-""Nonsense!" exclaimed to newsie in mock surprise. "The night's still young; we could get a few drinks inside!" His eyes glittered mischievously. "It's da least Isa can do for keeping the watch safe." Athena wasn't sure about that idea, but the boy seemed pretty intent on repaying her for the proper use of this information. "Alright," she sighed. "But Isa can only get one an' it beta be quick!"

The boy smiled in gratitude and held out his hands to shake. "Isa Brandy!" he said. Athena shook it. "Call me Pallas. Spot don't need ta know me first name." Brandy nodded in understanding and led her inside and towards a back table, right past some of the Brooklynites, including Spot. Athena didn't dare look his way, but she could feel his old, calculating gaze on her. Athena had heard stories about this King and his ice blue eyes. Some girls said that they were beautiful, but Athena wasn't about to find out. For all she knew, Conlon was a womanizer and a no good thief. The two sat down and ordered drink, talking nonchalantly about common things, like how the headlines had been slow and the embarrassment Pulitzer had gotten with the strike last month.

"Personally, Isa thought Brooklyn shoulda stayed outta it, but Isa guess we pulled through fair enough," Brandy was saying. "You actually thought that?" Athena asked. He nodded in embarrassment. "But after it got goin', Isa changed my mind."

"That's good. Me an' my giorls, Isa think we traveled all ova da 5 boroughs so many times Isa could swear we know ever inch 'o' it!"

"Funny, Spot's biords say da same thing! 'O' course, they complain about it a lot more den youse do."

"Well, it pays the rent and grocery bills, an' ya get ta see old friends from around town in youse spare time, so Isa guess Isa got things dat I'm pretty thankful for dat come with da job. When Isa first started workin' for Cowboy, Isa was a newsie, but I really wasn't good at sellin' all dat much. But Isa could run faster den most 'o' da boys when it came ta sending messages, so Jack just made me an' official biord. Ova time more giorls came around, an' Isa trained em' ta do it with me, minus Venus, but she's too pretty ta do it anyways. Too young ta be a biord an' just da right age ta is one cute newsie." They both chuckled. Brandy looked behind her a little, turned back, but then did a double take.

"What's da matter?" Athena asked, concerned. Brandy shuddered. "Spot's comin' dis way, but don't look! Act natural." Well, Athena did a lot of acting as a bird, and she drank from her glass a little and set it down lightly as if she had just gotten there. Brandy on the other hand was nervous. His hands were shaking so badly from underneath the table that Athena was afraid that the table would start to shake with it. Spot came sauntering over and stood in front of them, scowling.

"Isa didn't know youse had a date, Brandy," he said menacingly. The newsie didn't reply, so hang his head. Athena knew where this could go, so she stepped in. Little did she know what kind of world she was stepping into. "Oh, he ain't here on a date, Mr. Conlon," she spoke up, standing up herself and looking at Spot with mastered innocent eyes. "Ya see we were discussin' the price of a rather rare sort of watch that just happened ta come into Brandy's possession a week ago and this was his price." Spot regarded her a minute, looking her up and down warily. "Isa didn't know Brandy had a watch, much less knew it was rare," he pushed her on. Athena knew what he was doing. He wanted information, and he was willing to take the necessary steps required to do so. But Spot didn't know he was talking to an experienced spy, who knew point blank how to hide things she didn't want found out. She looked him square in the eyes and glared at him. "Are youse questioning my story? He had the watch appraised if youse need ta know," she told him.

Spot stepped back a little. He hasn't met too many girls with such a sharp tongue and quick thinking before has he? Athena wondered. She turned to Brandy and shook his still trembling hand. "Thanks for da drinks Brandy, they were great, but Isa got ta go. It's getting' a little late an' there are things Isa need ta do. It was a pleasure doin' business with youse." She began to walk out of the bar, but a firm hand grabbed her and pulled her back in. It was Spot again. And he didn't look to happy. The King of Brooklyn pushed her up against the wall and leaned in close. "Youse come anywhere nears me second or Brooklyn again Isa gonna soak youse an' throws ya off 'o' d Bridge!" he threatened. The girl rolled her eyes. "All Isa had was business ta discuss an' youse actin' like Isa gonna go slit his throat. I'll come an' go as Isa please an' youse can't stop me!" she yanked her arm out of Spot's gasp and slid out the door again. Then she ran towards the halfway point of the bridge and sat down on one of its rails, pulling out a piece of paper and a well-worm pencil.

"Let's see, gears obviously stand for boroughs, the first Manhattan, second da Bronx, an' da others Queens an' Staten Island. So they already know dat Manhattan's on their side and da Bronx ain't doin' nothing with this, so dat leaves Queens undecided an' probably da loss 'o' Staten Island. Brandy said it was pretty expensive ta get dis watch/ information, meanin' dat it took either what little money he had ta bribe em' or soak em' good. But dat ain't da point. Brooklyn obviously ain't thinkin' Staten's worth their time ta turn, so we gotta do it before they decide on their own ta joins Midtown. Isa gotta get ova there tonight then. Spot don't think Staten Island's any good, but I'll bet he's dead wrong. Staten's got a new leader Jumper, an' if Jumper's half as bloodthirsty as he says he is, he'll join up with Midtown just to get a few good fights in!

Athena took off towards Staten Island, running a million miles an hour. She had to get to Staten tonight, before Jumper could make a final decision.

Ω

Spot watched the girl from the bar window as she disappeared across the Bridge halfway, stopped for a minute, and then continue on again. He turned away to glare at Brandy, who looked as though he'd seen the scariest thing imaginable. "Brandy, who she is?" the King asked his second. Brandy pretended to give him a blank look, which Spot saw right through. "Isa didn't ask err' for err' name," he said quietly. Spot bent over and gave him a hard, cold look. "Her name, Brandy, or Isa gonna have da others soak youse." He pointed at the other Brooklynites sitting at another table nearby. Brandy shrank back in his seat and gave in. "Her name is Athena Pallas; she's a bird from one 'o' da boroughs, Isa don't know which. Her an' her partner came here last week lookin' into things about who our alliances are an' everything about our spat with Midtown. Isa agreed an' she came around tonight ta collect. They're really, really frightenin' Spot, youse gotta understand dat! I didn't wanna be killed! I gave em' a few names in exchange for word not getting' out about it. It seemed like a good deal, honest!"

Spot smirked at his second's coward appearance, wave him off and stood back up. He whistled for one of his own birds. A small boy, no older than 8 years, bounded over. Spot leaned into his ear. "Collect everything youse know about Athena Pallas an' bring it back ta me. Get your friend ta follows errs'. And keep it quiet too! Dis giorl's a biord too, an' if she knows she's bein' followed, she's experienced enough ta loose ya quick!" The little boy nodded vigorously and ran out the door, pulling his friend up from the poker game he was currently involved in. Spot let out a breath of air and headed for the tavern door as well. He knew as well as anyone else did that the two birds he sent out were fresh off the migrate boat and couldn't navigate the streets alone to save their lives. They would get lost, but Spot wouldn't. If this girl was who he thought she was, he was going to be in pretty bad shape.

Ω

Athena twisted and turned, curved through alleys and hopped over bins so much in that half hour it took to get to Staten that she swore she had pulled every muscle in her legs. Under normal circumstances she would've taken the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the most direct route to Staten from Brooklyn, but tonight was different. After that meeting with Spot, Athena was sure he would send birds out to follow her, and this was how she managed to lose the two of them he had sent. She really hated not confronting them head on, but they were only kids. She let them off easily.

Reaching the Staten Island lodging house, Athena rapped her knuckles on the door in her normal fashion. That way when the boys opened the door they would know it was her and not tackle their visitor head on and begin to beat the life out of her, as was their custom with other visiting newsies. The heavy oak door swung open to reveal none other than Jumper himself, the new leader of the Staten Island newsies. He stared at her for a moment, and then realized who she was.

"Athena, my favorite biord! How's da life 'o' a spy workin' for youse? We missed youse comin' down here!" he cried out as the boy picked her up, twirled her around, and set her back down gently on the opposite side of the door. "Isa doin' alright, thanks for askin' Jumper," she replied, sitting down at a table. "Sorry Isa haven't been around. Jack's got me handlin' Brooklyn for da past 3 weeks, an' I don't get back 'til late. So, how's youse life been?" Jumper slumped down into the chair across from her and frowned. "It ain't been as nice around here ta be honest, Athena," he admitted. "Some 'o' da boys left when I took ova, an' now with dat war we've been expectin' with Brooklyn an' Midtown Isa ain't been getting' much done." He regarded her slyly. "Dat's why youse been sent down here, ain't it Thea?" he asked. Athena nodded solemnly. "Can't get nothin' past ya, hey Jumper? Yeah, dat's da reason, but Isa came here on me own."

That caught Jumper off guard. He leaned in closer. "What? How did youse get dis far in one night? No one was supposed ta know we were considerin' sidin' with Midtown! Who told ya?"

"Isa got friends in high places."

"Youse mean Brooklyn's second?"

"Yep."

"When did he tell youse?"

"About an' hour ago."

"What? Youse has been ta Brooklyn tonight? No wonder youse shakin' Thea!" Jumper exclaimed. He called over one of his newsies "Rigger! Get Thea ova here a blanket! She's not feelin' too well!" Rigger winked and sped off. Still smarting from the use of her name, Athena glared at Jumper. "Isa fine, Jump, but thanks. Isa just run into Conlon, dat's all!" "Exactly why youse shakin'!" he countered. "Anyone dat gets on da bad side 'o' Conlon's got da right ta be scared." Athena looked herself over. "Golly, Isa didn't know Isa was so scared! I guess da nerves finally got ta me!" she exclaimed. Jumper chuckled and handed her the blanket. "Now, what about dat information regardin' our decision in da war? What's da point 'o' findin' all 'o' it out?"

Athena wrapped herself in the blanket and frowned. "Manhattan's sidin' with Brooklyn on dis one. I can't have my own men fightin' against me friends." Jumper let out a sigh and leaned back in his chair. "Well neither does me Thea but with dat favor we owe Midtown I'm afraid we're screwed. Plus Isa got a personal thing with Conlon ta handle." Athena slammed her fist on the table much like Jack did, but with more enthusiasm. "Look here, Jumper, Midtown doesn't care about youse personal business! They care about earnin' more land ta their territory! Trust me on dis, da leader from Mids, Drake I think he's called, he'll get to Spot as soon as he's able ta an' it won't matter if youse called dibs on im' or not. Spot'll go down and so will da rest 'o' da boroughs dat side with it! Manhattan, Queens, Harlem, everyone!"

"Isa didn't know Harlem was considered a borough now. Or dat Queens is sidin' with Brooklyn either."

"It ain't ta da state 'o' New York, but it is ta us. Truth is, Isa don't know if Queens is sidin', but it does probably gonna happen."

"OK. Continue on, girl."

"Anyhow, Midtown's bigger den all 'o' us combined. Youse got da second largest newsie count besides dem in New York, Jumper! If youse join us, den your debt ta Midtown's gonna be gone!" Athena continued. "You can deal with Spot what youse like after this is ova, but now this is war. The fight might be good, but in the end only one side wins."

Jumper wasn't ready to give up the argument, but then he stopped. When he did speak finally, he spoke slowly. "Youse sayin' dat our owing Mids will be ova if we side with youse?" he asked. Athena gave him thumbs up, sending a grin across Jumper's face. "Alright then, we're in!" he cried out, leaping up and hollering into the living room "Hey boys! We're goin' ta war with Midtown ova our debt. Ya in or what?" A wave of whoops and hollers rang out, almost knocking Athena def but happy. Jumper turned to smile at his friend. "This could be a while; ya can go if youse want. And take da blanket, its cold out there." The bird didn't need telling twice. She scurried to her feet and dashed out of the lodging house but leaving the cloth behind. It was almost midnight, and she needed to get back before Jack realized his spy was gone. But fate didn't smile down on her just then. No sooner had she gone 3 blocks from the building did she meet the very person she was trying to avoid at all costs standing 20 feet away; Spot Conlon- again.

Ω

Athena didn't have time to reason her way out of this one. If Spot wanted to pick a fight, then a fight he would get. Still running, the spy hurtled herself into a dive, rolling across the pavement while reaching into her boots. Grasping her first knife in her left shoe, Athena pulled out of her roll and threw the dagger at her enemy's throat. If Spot hadn't been fighting for nearly all of his life he wouldn't have lived. Having been a Brooklyn newsie since he was 6, Spot's 10 years of training was the only thing keeping him alive. Dodging the blade, he pulled out his own slingshot and some marbles. The two weaved in the out of each other's range, shoots rocks or deflecting slashes. Soon Spot was out of rocks. Leaping up onto a crate, he stopped to catch his breath a moment and survey the predicament he was in. Athena was stopping too, but for different reasons. She couldn't jump up onto the wooden box with Spot; because it would be to hand combat and she wouldn't have time to put her knife away for the first blow. Instead she began circling the crate, eying her opponent. Spot took his chance.

"Youse a biord from Manhattan ain't youse Athena?" he confronted. Athena stepped back, surprised. She shook her hand violently, but Spot just laughed. "Ya a biord, admit it!" She rolled her eyes. "Fine, Isa work for Jack, happy?" "Not really, but Isa guess that'll have ta do for now," Spot answered casually. "Now Isa will know youse name when youse come ta Brooklyn again." Athena gasped softly, but tried to hide her surprise again under Spot's icy look. "How does youse know dat Isa a giorl, much less from Manhattan?" she asked as calmly as she could without wavering her dangerous tone. It took a lot to maintain that voice when you were afraid of someone. Spot raised his eye brows. "Isa got biords too ya know," he stated simply. Then he smirked. "Why, youse impressed?

This kid's really getting' on me nerves! Athena screamed inside of her head. He threatens ta soak me, den follows me an' attacks me, an' now he's flirtin'? Who does dis guy think he is, some King who gets every woman he's attracted ta? But she tried her best to keep calm and spoke. "Well, now dat youse know who Isa am, could youse be as kind as ta haul youseself back ta Brooklyn? Isa got things ta do!" she napped. Spot whistled and jumped down off his perch. "Youse don't like me, do ya Athena?" he challenged. She glared at him. "Obviously, or Isa wouldn't be smartin' off ta youse, now would I?" Spot snorted and began ta walk away. "Well, at least youse honest!" he called back behind him.

But then, suddenly he stopped, whirled around with a wild look in his eyes. "Why youse lookin' into our alliances with da others, huh?" he snarled meanly. Athena stared at him and shook her head. "Jack's worried about youse, Spot. Brooklyn ain't as powerful as they were since da strike an' everyone knows it too. Midtown was waitin' ta extract revenge on youse for humiliatin' their leada for a while now an' since youse lost so many newsies since den dey now 2got their chance. Cowboy sent me around town ta try an' convince everyone dat youse need as much help or men as youse can. Dat's all, honest."

Spot eyed her with consideration for a moment, perhaps a moment too long. But, nevertheless, he nodded, thanked her for her trouble and bounded down the lane. Athena watched the strange figure known as Spot Conlon disappear, thinking to herself He's so strange, dat King of Brooklyn. Cute, but stranger anyhow. And it'll take more than a few biords ta impress me, Spot! Isa more da intelligent type. Brute strength an' power mean nothing. But he was cute, even if he wasn't everything she'd heard about him. But being cute didn't mean anything either. You could think someone was cute without liking them, right? Debating this, the spy headed back to her lodging house, hoping that she could still get at least 1 hour of sleep before Jack woke them up to do the job that was already done.

Ω

But that didn't happen the way she expected it at all. Jack was still up with all the Manhattan birds in the living room, waiting up for her. Walking in, she glared at Juno for not telling them not to worry and sat down in the chair closest to the door. Everyone looked at her. "What?" she asked innocently. "Isa went out for a run, is there any crime in dat?" That set Jack off. "Oh, I don't know, maybe because youse blew our perfect cover an' maybe jeopardized da entire job! Athena, what was youse thinkin', waltzin' into da bar like dat? Isa got two Brooklyn biords come up ta my door askin' questions about youse an' we have ta tell em' ta leave nicely because they're just kids an' don't know no English an' here youse are with no information whatsoever about what we gonna do now dat Conlon's onto us! Watt does ya got ta say for youseself, huh?" Athena'd been leaning up against the wall waiting for Jack to finish yelling at her, opened her eyes and threw on a smirk that would've put spot to shame. "I just broke our case wide open in three hours!" she told him proudly.

That shut everyone up. The girls stood there dumbfounded, eyes popping out of their skulls and Jack crossing his arms and narrowing his eyes. "Alright den, let's hear it," he growled impatiently. Athena leaned back again to recount her adventure, leaving out the part about Conlon knowing who she was. "So youse see, Isa convinced Mids ta side with us, tied up all da loose ends an' made it back all before 11 o'clock at night! Pretty impressive, huh?" Jack shifted uncomfortable but nodded. "Isa sorry Isa yelled, youse wanted ta does youse job an' get it ova with an' we should be grateful we got someone like youse ta do it an' not get us killed. Shouldn't we, guys?" he elbowed Diana, who coughed and said rather hurriedly "Waa- oh yeah, dat's right, thanks Thea." The others mumbled their sincere thanks and sulked off to bed, feeling a bit guilty that they hadn't trusted their own leader and on edge. Spot Conlon knew Athena by name and sight, and when he knew birds like that it normally wasn't good. Jack most of all was worried. Athena was the best, and now Spot knew it. He needed to make sure he didn't' owe any more favors from Brooklyn from now on. Spot was almost clean out of birds, and if Jack owed him anything, he would be sure to collect. And Jack had a pretty good idea on the way he was going to settle it.

6 hours later…..

Venus ran through the streets of Brooklyn, just like her leader Athena had done less than 24 hours before. But this time it wasn't for work. In this case, Venus was going to see an old friend. Actually, it wasn't an old friend at all. It was her older brother Steven. Steven worked in an iron factory in 78th Street, the slums of the most dangerous borough in New York. Venus hadn't seen her brother in some time, so when she had told Athena this, she had naturally agreed on the condition that she went early in the morning, specifically one hour before the Brooklynites were awake. Everyone in the Manhattan lodging house knew that Spot and his men didn't get up until 6 o'clock am, so Athena had somehow arranged for Steven to take the nightshift at his factory so Venus could spend the day with him uninterrupted and get back across the Bridge before Conlon found out Venus was even there. The youngest bird/newsie hadn't been keen on getting up early in the morning, but Athena had made it plain that the less spot knew anyone from her group was on his territory the better. But now we're getting off topic. Back to the story!

Venus could almost just make out the bulging square building that people called the "Iron Works". She scrunched up her nose at the smell of burning fumes as she drew closer. She hated going around there, but if she wanted to see Steven 5 minutes inside wouldn't hurt. Too bad she would never make it there.

As Venus passed a long, narrow alley, she thought she saw a suddenly movement coming from amongst the shadows. Venus knew she should have paid it no mind and continued on her way, but the way the twp persons moved made her feel very, very curious and very, very wary. Reaching for her brass knuckles that rested in her back suspender pockets, Venus crept cautiously down the winding narrow path. The air grew suddenly quiet, a little too quiet for Venus's tastes. Yes, there was definitely someone down there that didn't want to be found. Clutching her weapon, she drew her fists back into a fighting stance and drew in a long, deep breath. Someone or something was approaching her, two some ones or some things. "What does youse want?" Venus called out in a shaky voice. "I- I ain't afraid 'o' ya, so go pick on somebody ya own size!" A short and raspy laugh came from one of the Brooklynites approaching the girl. "Youse ain't afraid, are ya?" he repeated mockingly. "Den why does youse got a pair 'o' those nice, shiny brass fingertips there sweetheart, if youse ain't scared?" The other boy clenched his fists. "Spot don't like Manhattaners dat think dey can just meander into Brooklyn without permission," he said. "An' we da kina people dat make sure dat rule's followed ta da letter!" With that said, he lunged at the poor newsgirl, who screamed and leapt out of the way as he went flying by. The first boy growled and threw what looked like a red brick at her, but Venus, using all of her well-earned training Athena had given, ducked it and threw herself onto her attacker, pounding every inch of his body that she could reach with her knuckles. By the time she finally let off of him, both Brooklyn newsies were on the ground, the first attacker having hurt himself by not getting her the first time and the second groaning from his injuries by Venus's brass knuckles. Suddenly Venus felt a swift and strong hand grasp her by the arm and pull her out into the street. She screeched and reared back again, ready to face another newsie- but it was only Steven.

"Venus! What are ya doin' down there!" her brother demanded, pulling her along past every newsie in sight that wasn't helping their friends and into a nearby bookshop. "Ya decided ta pick a fight with 'o' bunch 'o' newsies, did youse? Venus, you should know beta!" "I didn't mean ta Steven, honest!" she pleaded. "They came onto me!" Steven nodded in understanding. "Now dat makes more sense. Well, we can't stay in Brooklyn now; Conlon'll be huntin' for youse in no time flat. Where ya gonna go sis?" Venus was trembling; her nerves were finally coming out. "Back ta Manhattan; Jack an' Racetrack will sort it out." She then added under her breath "I hope." Steven didn't argue any further. Instead he pulled off her cap and let her blonde hair fall down, disguising her from the rest of the world and ruffled her shirt a bit. "Now ya look different; that'll hold ya down until we reach Manhattan." Steven then hustled her out of the shop and towards the Brooklyn Bridge checking over his shoulder to make sure no one followed.

Pretty soon they were back at the lodging house, where Hestia ran out to Venus and wrapped her in a warm blanket after hearing about the ordeal. She then immediately led her upstairs with Steven to get some rest. After they were gone, Jack, Diana and Juno sat down around the long table while Athena leaned up against the wall. She hated sitting on a time like this. It made her feel helpless and weak.

Juno pounded her fist on the wooden table in anger. "Now what'll we do?" she asked. "Conlon's gonna be aft' her hide once he realizes she's da one who cost him two 'o' his newsies!"

Racetrack sputtered from inhaling too much cigar smoke after he heard that. "What do youse mean, she cost him?" he coughed. "All she did was soak em'!"

Diana shook her head. "From what Steven said, those two boys will be outta da game. She beat em' pretty bad, he said."

"Yeah, but why's he gonna take it out on us? All she did was defending herself!"

"But, Race, it won't be watt dey say ta Spot," Jack told his second. "Dey will say dat she attacked em' without no warnin' an' dat will be his leverage. Spot'll be aft' Venus's blood once he knows dat she hurt em'.

Racetrack nodded in understanding and flunked back in his seat. "OK, so watt we do now?"

Jack shook his head. "Isa don't know," he admitted.

Athena, who had been keeping out of the conversation until now spoke up. "We try an' get Spot ta see reason," she said.

"And if dat don't work?" Jack asked.

"Den we make a deal."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Like watt? Isa promised me dat Isa want no more owing Spot something! And it ain't like we got things ta bargain with."

The leader of the Manhattan birds lost her temper at her friend's close-mindedness and slammed her fist up against the wall. "Then damn Cowboy, we don't do nothin'!" she yelled at him, her gray eyes crackling with lightning. Diana and Race scooted their chairs back a little bit as if to avoid being struck. "Look, Isa don't know watt Conlon's gonna do, but I'd reckon he has in mind ta try an' cripple us just like he is! Isa mean, look at him! He's loosin' newsies by da hour; he's only got two lousy biords left in his spy system. Brooklyn's getting' weaker while Mids is declarin' war on em', can't youse see dis is all fittin' in? If Brooklyn falls, everyone who leans on dem for support goes down with it. Queens does, Harlem's only inches away from dependin' on it completely an' Staten Island's joinin' up with dem for da war against Midtown. If Brooklyn falls, Staten'll be finished and Queens as well as Harlem will go down as well. We'll be da only other borough left in its way, an' Spot can't have dat. Da way dis al ties in is dat Brooklyn needs men ta fight, an' he don't got any. He'll use dis as an excuse ta get some, an' we hardly got any ta spare anymore. I know how Spot thinks; if he goes down with Brooklyn, he'll take everyone down with im'. Da only ways in his mind ta win is ta get more people or get Mids ta back down. He needs biords ta do dis."

Juno raised an eyebrow at her leader. "So watt youse sayin, Thea?" she asked, using her leader's real name.

Athena heaved a sigh. "Spot needs biords, we got da best. He'll take one 'o' us as leverage."

Racetrack gasped. "Who's we gonna take, do youse think?"

Athena shrugged. "It depends. But we gotta be prepared for dis. Today one 'o' us is leavin' for good, so w gotta be ready when he does pick."

Jack stood up defiantly and looked Athena square in the eye. "Not if I can help it."

Ω

The one thing everyone knew they couldn't anticipate was who Spot would pick as a new recruit. So when Spot came calling almost all the Manhattan spies were all shivering down to their teeth with the exception of Athena and Diana, Athena because she thought showing emotion was weakness and Diana because she wasn't scared of much. After Spot arrived Jack ushered him into a chair, trying to pretend nothing was wrong or that he didn't suspect anything. Spot saw right through them. Scowling he turned to jack and said, "Jack youse can cut da act. Ya already knows why Isa here." Jack frowned himself and sat down. "Well Spot, Isa can't do nothing about it. Ya boys came onto my biord; my biord defends herself by all means necessary. So don't we call it quits right here an' youse get back ta Brooklyn, OK?"

Spot shook his head. "It don't work dat way Jackie-boy. Isa loosing men by da hour an' youse got da person responsible for their leavin'. Isa think an' exchange is in order. A biord's worth two newsie; your biord as payment for me loosin' my two bet hit men. Fair?"

Juno, who had the worst temper of all of them, slammed her fists down on the table in front of Spot so hard it shook. "No! It ain't fair, Conlon!" she objected. "It wasn't her fault, Venus was defendin' herself like Athena taught err', youse got no right ta take someone who did nothing wrong!" Athena, who was standing (again) silent in the corner spoke up, her voice calm and imposing. "Juno, careful," she warned. But now Juno wasn't listening to anyone. The large girl was yelling at the top of her lungs at Spot, screaming profanities and demanding he get his "sorry excuse for a leader" out of this Manhattan lodging house and never returns. Spot was just sitting there, watching it all go down with those icy blue eyes of his. When Juno had finally screamed herself hoarse he at long last spoke. "Isa won't change me mind. Give me my payment an' Isa be on my way. Look, youse can visit err' anytime ya want, but she's gonna be in my territory now an' youse can't change a thing." Athena got very, very angry at that. She walked slowly on up to the King of Brooklyn, leaned in close and looked him in the eyes with intensity so thick in the air an onlooker could almost see the lightning crackling, threatening to burst forth at any moment in Athena's eyes.

"Youse listen here Conlon, an' youse listen good." Athena stated, whispering quietly yet with such a dangerous tone that Spot started to become anxious. "It's my job ta protect my biords, an' right now Venus's still under my protection an' Isa won't let anything happen ta her. I know Brooklyn spot; youse play rough an' a shielded 9 year old like Venus can't take dat, not when she's been in Manhattan all her life. So ya beta shut up an' leave my giorls alone unless youse want war, an' I'll be happy ta give youse one ta remember!" This wasn't a decision coming from Athena; it was a threat. Even Spot in all his glory knew that Athena as an enemy wouldn't be a nice and easy thing to have. If she wanted to kill you, she would plan it out and execute it with such precision it couldn't fail, and she would make sure it wouldn't. But Spot also didn't want to be shown up by the likes of a giorl either. So, denying everything he had been told and placing his life on the line he smirked and said, "No."

Athena didn't even flinch, just leaned back and look at Jack real calmly. But anyone paying real close attention could see the flashes, so quick that they were almost unreadable, of their eyes and the exchange of minds. You said you could do something about it! Athena's eyes seemed to say. Well do something! Jack's expression looked pained. I can't do nothing anymore, Athena! Spot's makin' sure we can't find no loopholes ta get her back. Isa sorry, but we're gonna lose her. Athena's eyes flashed in a sort of furious pride, not attempting to hide the look not all. Not if I can do anything about it, she seemed to mimic Jack's very words he had promised just minutes before.

Just then footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs. Venus and Steven were up, along with Hestia who apparently hadn't heard Spot come in. They were leading Venus down the stairs, the little girl feeling much better than before and bouncing around Steven, who was grinning at his sister's ability to go through the scariest of encounters and still have the light heatedness and energy of a gazelle. Hestia, who thought of Venus as a daughter smiled warmly and picked her up patiently. "You are going to have to restrain yourself now young one!" she chuckled. "Your energy will get the best of you someday-""Looks like it already has," Spot spoke up.

Hestia stopped cold, Steven along with her. Venus snapped her head backwards and stared at spot, her emerald green eyes wide with fear. Spot stood up and made his way over towards the door. "Venus, youse comin' with me," he told the small biord, beckoning her forward. Venus, after staring at Spot for a time, tried to ran in the opposite direction, back towards Steven and Hestia, who were still trying to recover from the shock of having Conlon come get her when they had barely had any time to prepare for a goodbye themselves. Seeing Venus's attempted escape, Spot smirked and snapped his fingers, calling in two newsies that Athena had never seen before. They had apparently been waiting outside for this exact moment, and they grabbed a screaming Venus from Hestia and Steven's grasp to pull her along with spot out the door. Athena glanced at Jack's face; it was as white as a sheet, mainly because the event was so heartbreaking and completely out of his or anyone's control. Even Racetrack's eyes were filled with tears.

In a sudden effort to regain her friend, Juno made a lunge for Spot's throat only to be held back by Diana, who was trying to resist joining her comrade in arms and attack Spot's cronies with her revolver, which when aimed and fired could never miss. Athena grabbed hold of Juno's leather strap and yanked it away from her belt, making sure that is she broke free Juno couldn't use it to kill Spot with it. The leader flung the weapon away from her and reached for Juno's other arm, which was being temporarily restrained by Diana. The leader and her second together tried to pull Juno even further away from the Brooklynites and their sobbing captive, but with a sudden burst of energy the large girl ripped herself out of their grasp and threw herself at Spot again.

Without even blinking an eye Athena lunged towards Juno, rolling onto the ground and pulling out one of her thrusting knives from out of her boot and threw it at her throat. Blood sprayed everywhere, getting on Spot's shirt and splattering into the street. Everyone, including the cronies, stood in shock at the event they has just witnessed. Still keeping her cool, Athena stood emotionlessly over the body of her friend, eyes hard. Diana, whose hand was still placed to her revolver, drew in breath and went over to place a comforting hand on her best friend's shoulder. Being the person who knew Athena the best, she knew that her leader was only going to mask the pain as long as she was in the presence of company. Diana remembered Athena's past; she had never killed someone she had known before.

The King of Brooklyn stood dumbfounded at the Manhattan bird's action. Not only had she saved him but killed someone she loved in doing so. He hadn't seen anything like this before and doubted he would again. "C'mon," he ordered in a low voice to his two newsies. "Let's go." The three Brooklynites started out towards Brooklyn again, but they hadn't even gotten three feet when spot was attacked again, this time by the very person that had saved him. Athena pushed him to the ground and stated beating the life out of Conlon, hitting him where it counted and channeling all of her penned-up rage into each and every one of them. "I saved youse lousy hide an' youse don't even blink an eye?" she yelled, hitting Spot harder and harder. "I saved youse from Juno ta make sure Venus wouldn't get hurt an' ya don't even have the guts ta bow as little as a simple "thank you"? Youse a disgrace ta newsies Conlon! Youse don't deserve ta live!" Athena began to see that Spot wasn't even attempting to fight back. She stopped suddenly and allowed Diana to pull her off of the fallen Brooklyn leader. The second gave Spot a look of disgust. "Dat's da second time we saved youse lousy hide, Conlon," she growled. "Youse didn't even think about da fact dat Venus ain't even a biord. She's a newsie like Racetrack or Jack; Venus isn't ours ta give away."

Spot struggled to his feet and looked at Jack. "Its true den?" he asked, surprised. Jack shrugged and grinned slyly. "Watt cans Isa say, Spotty boy? Venus's too young ta are a biord just yet. Being a newsie's da best thing closest ta it; youse use her as a runner an' train err' ta be a spy lata. But she is still part 'o' Athena's group, youse gonna have ta talk ta her." Spot turned to the veteran spy, who was still fuming. "Isa takin' her regardless, Athena," he stated simply. "Face it, youse gonna have ta find youseself two more biords." Athena watched helplessly as Spot motioned for the two Brooklynites to pull Venus, who started to scream for Steven again, down the street. Her brother stood helplessly, tears streaming down his work-worn face. "Can't youse do something? Anything Athena, dat's my sister!" he pleaded. Athena regarded him coldly. "Youse think Isa would settle for less?"

She turned to the King of Brooklyn, who at the moment had a smirk the size of New Mexico. It wouldn't last very much longer. "Spot, take me instead."

Spot froze mid-smirk at blinked. Jack, Racetrack, Steven and the rest of the spies stood and gapped in awe. "Dat wasn't what I meant," Steven whispered, but Hestia hushed him. "Athena knows what she's doing," she told him. "She's had training with this kind of thing." "What kinda thing?" Steven asked Hestia, but the girl just shushed him again. Spot narrowed his eyes at Athena, who was standing before him with her arms crossed and her face revealing nothing. "Ya would do dat for her?" Spot confronted. "Youse would take err' place?" Athena smiled coolly and replied, "Youse wouldn't get a good end 'o' da bargain, with only one newsie instead 'o' a biord." Spot nodded his head and snapped for the newsies he had brought with him to release Venus. "A wise choice. C'mon, we don't have all night." His goons shoved the small girl towards her brother's arms and stepped forward to take hold of Athena instead, but quick as wink she had her other knife out, poised to strike. "Isa can walk just fine, thank ya!" she said sarcastically. The she started towards Brooklyn, leaving the three Brooklynites in her wake. Still muttering about how Spot was going to cause the borough a whole of pain, the two newsies with Spot followed her, and finally Spot, bringing up the rear. But then the spy stopped. The other kept on going as she waited for them to get ahead of her. Then she glanced behind her to take one last look at her beloved family.

The full moon was a bright orange tonight, making a sort of glowing silhouette around Athena's form. She looked almost like her old self, two silver knives each in one hand and the sleek body of the assassin Athena had been. She spoke directly to Diana and Diana only. "Di, Isa want youse ta lead da giorls like with all da strength an' skill youse can possible muster. I trained youse for dis moment an' now dat I ain't here ta help for da time bein' youse gonna take ova. Take care 'o' dem, Di. Start trainin' Venus ta be one 'o' us, she's old enough and get more spies den we had before. Isa countin' on ya Diana Prince." Then the assassin fled off into the night, orange light barely touching her skin as she weaved in and out of the shadows. "

Wait!" Diana shouted at her. The former leader of the Manhattan spies froze and looked at her, gray eyes gleaming. "What did youse mean, 'for da time bein''?" Athena smiled, as if they were sharing a private joke. "I'll be back ta taken ova, Di. Dat's all Isa sayin'." Then she took off again, walking up to the Brooklyn newsies and their leader. "C'mon den, we don't got all night!" she mimicked Spot saying. One of the goons looked at Spot and whispered. "Isa ain't sayin' anything Spot, but Isa think we've just met ya match."

Ω

So, how did you like it? Just for clarification Athena was a hired assassin before she became a bird for Jack, which is what makes her so cold, heartless and better at her job than anyone else. Should I continue or what? I'll need at least 5 people to say I should!

PS- it can be from the same person numerous times!