Disclaimer: Any fictional character, place or situation that you recognize is owned by DC Comics and associates. I claim no ownership, nor do I make profits from this work of fanfiction.
Acknowledgements: Let all bow before Shezza, who had the tenacity to beta-read this whole terrible chapter in Dinasis' absence and refrained from blowing his brains out. If you want to read stories about 9001 times better than this one, go to his profile.
Notes: Oh snap. This took longer than planned because I diverted my efforts to my newest one-shot, 'Henceforth, Equally Cursed'. Deal with it.
Those of you familiar with New 52 Suicide Squad will note that I have compressed several issues of SS storylines and used them much earlier than the time they're supposed to take place. This is intentional.
Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed previous chapters.
The space in front of Wayne Tower, normally empty save for the people going in and out, and tastefully decorated, was at this time cramped full. A big crowd of people, as well as every channel currently available were gathered in order to hear Bruce Wayne speak of his son. It was well known by now that Jason Wayne, previously Todd, had perished under mysterious circumstances. His status as deceased was public record. Everyone was waiting for the details, and the reaction of the ever elusive Bruce Wayne.
Despite his general troublemaker and playboy attitude, Wayne had proven fiercely protective in the security and privacy of his charges, first with Richard Wayne and later with Jason, and it was generally accepted that he loved them, though opinions on whether the relationship with his charges was that of a bigger brother or a father differed. Some disgruntled people would snicker, and offer suggestive opinions on what Wayne did with his young charges, but after the last time someone dared to suggest this in a semi public medium, no one else has tried it.
Since news of the younger Wayne's death had become public, Bruce had cut all public appearances. This press conference in front of Wayne Tower was the first, and stated to address this very topic.
Before mister Wayne's appearance, Lucius Fox had been keeping the crowd busy with news of Wayne Enterprises, once again confirming Diana Prince's refusal to show up in public, and urging everyone to keep an eye out for Wayne Ent's new Green Energy project, set to kick off in the near future. It really was quite impressive, with a full holographic display behind him that showed off a new energy plant that would provide power for a third of the city for a quarter of the current cost and ninety five percent less environmental fallout.
Too bad no one was paying attention to him. The sole reason that such a number of channels from all over the world had gathered was to see what Bruce's reaction to the death of his charge would be, and if it would affect Wayne Enterprises in any way, or Bruce's lifestyle itself.
When finally he showed up coming out of the tower, dressed entirely in black, his movement was mirrored in the giant image projected onto the slick glass walls of the Tower, towering right above and slightly behind the podium. He walked down the steps from the stairs to the microphones, for once not wearing a charming smile, or the telltale blush of drunkenness. Even though his expression was blank and he had groomed himself as perfectly as he always did, the bags under his eyes could still be discerned, and he looked paler than normal. Those very close to the podium could see how red his eyes were.
After he reached the podium and placed his hands on it, he looked around the gathered crowd and cleared his throat. No one spoke, and though the cameras never stopped, everyone present had agreed to the rules that forbade them from using flash.
Bruce started by thanking everyone in attendance, apologising for his recent absence, and proceeded to explain how Jason had gone to a trip to the Alps with some friends. He had had an unfortunate accident while skiing that, while nobody's fault, did cost the youth his life.
In less than five minutes since his appearance, he concluded his speech. "... expected to complete construction in sixteen months from now. The new Jason Todd ward of the Gotham Children's Hospital will hopefully provide aid to anyone who requires it, in the future." Here he paused, as if composing himself. "Thank you all for coming, and for respecting my loss. It is a great loss for not just me, but for all of Gotham. The world will be a poorer place without Jason in it. Thank you, everyone, and goodnight."
Only now the reporters seemed to wake up from a dream, and started screaming questions at Bruce, hoping beyond hope that he would answer and give them something more to write about. The Wayne scion ignored everyone, as he usually did, turned off the microphone and retreated back into the Tower doors.
Immediately he headed to the elevator, and down to the underground garage.
That is how Bruce found himself in his current situation, rubbing his tired eyes as his faithful butler drives the limo, heading back to the manor. Bruce loosens the tie around his neck, before pulling it off altogether and opening the first few buttons of his shirt.
"Everything alright, sir?" His butler inquires in his usual, collected manner.
"Yes, Alfred. It was just ... a long night, followed by a long day." Bruce manages to reply without wavering in his tone, as the headache that has been plaguing him for the last few weeks returns now in full force.
"Indeed? And how is the bruise on your side, if I may ask?"
"Your painkillers have done wonders."
"Perhaps you would find yourself less strained to meet each night's quota if you had some ... let's say, help." The butler says meaningfully.
"Not this again, Alfred." Though Alfred is in the driver's seat and doesn't look back through the mirror or the video feed, he can tell his master is glaring at him.
"It is a perfectly valid statement, sir."
"Valid or not, It's not going to happen. I'm not taking the boy."
"You know he's not going to stop, don't you master Bruce?"
"Let him look. He will find nothing."
Alfred said nothing, knowing that Bruce is in no condition for an argument, and even if he was, he'd never let up once he'd set his mind on something.
Later that night, Bruce is sitting on the Batcomputer, a short while before his nightly patrol is about to begin. He is mostly in work clothes, with only the mask missing, and glaring at the monitor.
Alfred chooses that time to approach Bruce, holding a glass of something bluish in hand. "Your cocktail, sir." He says as he sets the home-made vitamin shake on the desk. Alfred sees several files strewn across the desk, and as his master destroys the vitamin shake in a most undignified way, he glances over them.
"Wayne work on the Cave, sir?"
"Oh, that," Bruce says quickly as he notes where Alfred's attention lies. He scrambles to gather the papers in a neat pile and shove them to the side. "Nothing important. Just a home for homeless children that Diana is trying to get the UN to build. It's supposed to be this huge complex that will accept children from all over the world."
Alfred raises an elegant eyebrow. "And how is that going?"
"The UN will be the UN. If she weren't Wonder Woman she'd have been laughed out of the building. As it is, they're trying to keep her appeased and spend as less as possible at the same time."
"And your involvement?"
"Just making sure it's going to happen and that it's going to happen how she wants it."
"And is Miss Diana aware of such involvement?"
"No," Bruce glares at his butler. Really, Alfred doesn't know why he even bothers. It's not like he gets that look plenty of times a day for years now, is it? "And nor will she. Understood?"
"Perfectly, sir." Is Alfred's dry reply. His eyes glance at the monitor, and he suppresses a small smile. "The boy again, sir?"
Bruce nods absently, accepting the change of subject. "He has discovered the Aviary." This revelation does cause Alfred to raise his eyebrows, if only slightly.
"Then he is aware of mister Enrique Fluente?"
Bruce shakes his head. "Not yet, but he will doubtlessly get there, eventually."
At this, Alfred sees no need to suppress a slight grin.
"I know you're smiling Alfred, stop it." Bruce says without even turning his head.
"You do realise how much self control I am exercising right now, do you not?"
"If you say 'I told you so', you will be fired on the spot."
"Much as I would like to call your bluff, Master Bruce," Alfred muses, "I think I would rather focus on the point, as it were."
"Do not play the fool, sir. It is unbecoming."
At this, Bruce's head snaps towards Alfred, and he is treated to a full out glare. Alfred remains unimpressed. With a few swift clicks, Bruce returns the computer to its idle state, and rises from the chair.
"When the boy gets to the Aviary he will be dealt with. There is nothing further."
"You seem to be rather fond of that phrase, from what I hear." Alfred would not lower himself to glaring, but he does frown, ever so subtly. Bruce recoils as if struck, but regains his bearings in the same second, narrowing his eyes at his foster father. Low blow.
"What do you want from me, Alfred?" He says as he reaches for his mask, summarily putting it on.
"Give the young man a chance to impress you. See him for yourself."
"Be specific and don't test my patience. I know you've already got it worked out, so out with it." He snaps as he heads towards the Batmobile.
"There is an inter-state gymnastics contest tomorrow that the young man in question will participate in. Attend it." Alfred proposes.
Batman pauses, the door of his car waiting, halfway open. He turns to look at his butler. "Am I correct in assuming you've double checked it with my schedule?"
"Fine, then. But we'll be in disguise." He finally relents. having said the parting word, he gets into the car and starts it, the engine roaring.
"Have a good night, sir." Alfred says needlessly to the now empty cave, a smile still gracing his aging features.
This might just be what his master needs.
The Dead One, Act III
"Who is it?"
Crashing sounds, the terrible noise of tearing metal and smashed concrete.
"Diana? Hello, are you there?" The male voice is frantically asking.
"Hello Steve. I'd love to chat, but I'm kind of busy right now."
"Diana, are you attacking a government facility? What on Earth possessed you to do that?"
A beastly roar, loud enough to break glass. Diana tugs at her straining lasso, earning another roar.
"Attacking a government facility? Whatever gave you that idea?" Diana asks. Anyone that knows her would recognize the massively exaggerated innocent tone.
"Dont give me that! You need to stop this right now!"
"I am-" She pauses just long enough to tug hard at her lasso, and change the direction of her steed while jamming her boots in his sides. "-actually offended that you would think that of me. You had better have proof of your claims."
"There's enough proof!" Steve hisses into the call. "It's going around all the higher echelons of the government. You need to stop this now, before it gets out of hand."
Her free hand raises her shield, just as a bout of flame breaks against it.
"And what government organization am I attacking? Well?"
This gives Steve Trevor pause. Diana can practically hear the gears on his head turning. Steve is a smart man, and he quickly catches on.
"Actually ... there is no indication as to what exactly is being attacked, just that it's you that is attacking. Diana, what's going on here? You've really turned over a hornet's nest. And are those gunshots I hear?"
She catches a bolt of lightning on her bracelet, and lets it flow through her, invigorating her. She throws a beaming smile at the scowling, black haired, source. Being the daughter of Heaven and owner of magical bracelets designed to hold back lightning has its perks, sometimes.
Her steed roars again, and crashes against a wall, completely tearing it down and trying to throw her off his back.
"If something is happening, which it is not, then you can be sure it's with good reason."
"Diana, listen to me." Steve implores. "I know you, you must have your reasons. But this is something you won't recover from. Your reputation, the team, none of you. You're attacking the USA, Diana!"
"Steve, you're sweet. Don't worry, none of this will be made public. Task Force X officially doesn't exist. All-" she pauses to catch a barrage of bullets on her shield, and smash an incoming fireball aimed at her head. "-that these people can do is froth at the mouth."
"Just ... just be careful, okay?" Diana can imagine him rubbing his eyes as he says that. It's something that she's always found cute. "And for Christ's sake, don't kill anyone."
"Don't worry." She says after her steed's roaring stops for a bit. "I won't."
"Listen, Diana. After you finish this, can we ... can we talk?"
"Kinda busy now, Steve. I'll catch up with you later, bye!"
"Diana, wait-" Click
Diana is certain that she will regret being this rude to him later on. Really, Steve is a sweetheart, even if he worries too much. But this is just so much fun.
"Easy, boy." She goads her mount, which just so happens to be none other than King Shark. The huge humanoid shark is enraged, and the lasso works just enough to make it manageable to ride his huge back, though not without protest. Looking around, she notices that they have entered a cavernous hangar, probably below the mountain.
Well, this is fun, Diana thinks, but...
Her shield is replaced by her sword in the span of one second, and she raises it high above her head, intent on maiming the monster so as to get him out of the fight, having witnessed his absurd healing factor early on in their fight.
Just as the sword is beginning its downward arc, something slams in Diana's side without her even noticing its approach. Feeling a sharp pain in her shoulder which could only indicate cuts, Diana is thrown off King Shark's back, though she has enough presence of mind not to let go of her lasso, which unwraps from the humanoid and follows her descent.
Diana and her assailant roll on the ground with great speed, tangled in a mess of inhumanely strong limbs and absurdly sharp nails and teeth. Diana instinctively blocks wide swipes with her bracelets, grabbing hold of one lithe wrist and attempting to punch with the other.
After a few more rolls, Diana finds her back solidly on the ground for a split-second. Not one to waste an opportunity, she brings her legs close to herself and kicks with all her might, throwing her assailant off her and sending her to crash on the opposite wall with an angry snarl.
Rather than a bloody smear, her attacker simply dislodges herself off of the woman-shaped dent and lands lightly on her feet, glaring murder at the Amazon princess. Diana rolls her shoulder experimentally, satisfied that the cuts have healed, or soon will be.
"Hello Barbara. I was wondering when I'd see you." Diana greets jovially as she reels in her lasso. The woman covered in yellow and brown fur hisses menacingly and crouches, ready to pounce, her feline face twisted in an angry snarl.
King Shark joins Cheetah, standing by her side, having regained his bearings. Through the new gap at the wall, Diana sees a variety of identical soldiers flooding the room, behind which come Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Voltaic, and a number of other Suicide Squad members whose names Wonder Woman honestly can't remember. They all looked rather worse for wear, which Diana silently took pride in.
"You will die here." Cheetah hisses at her.
"Will I now? And you will accomplish that from over there, I suppose?" Diana taunts with more confidence than she is feeling, watching the group of enemies arrayed against her.
"You are alone. Your little friends are nowhere in sight. You will die." Cheetah promises, her voice guttural.
"Come get some, then." Diana fires back.
This is not exactly how they had planned things to go.
Earlier that day
After she had declared that they would go through with the mission, Bonny and Carmen had led her and Mitch to their transport. A military-grade helicopter, it bore no emblems but was heavily armed. Carmen had assured them that it was legal and would pass any flight-control checks. Letting the Body Doubles do the driving, Diana and Mitch settled on the awkward seats, waiting to reach their destination.
After some time- it couldn't have been more than three hours- they arrived. It was an area a few miles outside a small city. They landed the helicopter near the city so as not to raise any alarms at the base. From a few crates inside the helicopter, Bonny and Carmen pulled out an array of weaponry, which both she and Mitch refused, but the Body Doubles indulged in heavily. Armed to the teeth, they began the trek towards the base.
They reached it in about half an hour. It looked like a heavily guarded high-tech compound, but the Body Doubles informed them that most of the actual headquarters was underground and inside the mountain that loomed up behind the base.
Stopping just outside the range of the cameras located on the outer wall -an actual wall!-, the team had stopped to figure out their way of entry.
"What is it this time, babe?" Carmen had asked, looking at Mitch.
"I think ..." he started, and raised his hand to eye level, looking at it intently. Before their eyes, his hand took on a silver color, and glinted under the sun. "Yes, metal. I can turn myself into a sort of alloy. I'm guessing it's tough, but I haven't had much chance to practise in the last two hours."
He glared at the Body Doubles, who had the good sense to look sheepish.
"An air-elemental would be pretty handy about now," Diana noted, although she didn't really worry.
"Yeah, yeah, we're sorry," Bonny droned, not sounding sorry at all. "Is that all, then? You can turn into metal?"
"Not exactly," Mitch replied. "In the chopper I could ... feel the metal around me, the mechanical and the electronics machines. I didn't try anything but ... I think I could control it if I concentrated."
"That's actually pretty awesome, babe." Carmen practically purred as she slung a delicate arm around his shoulders. Mitch was still concentrating on his hand, so he either didn't notice or he had chosen to ignore her.
"Let's try it out," The blond bombshell suggested. "Try to take down the cameras around the gate."
Mitch looked up and shrugged off the darker girl's hand, causing her to adopt a fake pout. He looked at the gate, and his eyes narrowed. Then, he had extended his arm toward the gate.
For a few seconds, nothing happened, but then his arm started to shake. With a deep breath, he suddenly formed a fist with his hand, and in the same time small explosions above and around not only the gate, but the full length of the wall, and even on the building itself, signaled his success.
"Yeah, that's what I'm talking about!" Carmen congratulated him.
"Can you open the gate, too?" Diana asked Mitch.
"I, uh, I don't know. I'll try."
"Better hurry," Bonny warned, listening intently to the low, yet present sound of an alarm going off.
Mitch extended his hand again, pointing at the massive metallic gates. He concentrated for a few seconds, and the gate seemed to shake, but eventually he let out the breath he was holding and shook his head.
"Nope, I can't. Either too big or too complicated, I'm not sure."
"Can you fly us inside, Wonder Woman?" Carmen asked, looking at Diana.
"Better." She replied, a smile playing on her lips. "Stand clear."
She leaped. Bringing her fist back as far as she could and letting out a loud war-cry, she brought it forward just as she reached the massive gate. Her leap had been thus that brought the apex of her flight right in the middle of the gate, a few feet above the ground, and her fist slammed into the metal with divine force.
The gate groaned pathetically for all of two seconds before giving way, and with terrible sounds of tearing metal, it blasted apart and broke into pieces. Not meant to be opened inwards, the results of the punch were a huge cloud of dust from the ground and several pieces of former-gate debris.
Diana emerged from the wreckage, dusting off her hair and suit.
"Come on, then," she prompted her flabbergasted teammates.
Shaking their heads, bemused, they followed her inside the destroyed gate.
Past the wall, the compound was only a few meters away. A pair of guards stood outside of the main entrance, pointing their guns at them. The guards wore full-body suits and helmets with black plating in front of it, obviously a one way view. Carmen and Bony took aim and fired in the span of a half second, their shots finding the guards on the shoulder and the chest, respectively. After a second of simply standing, the guards dropped like stones.
"No killing!" Diana hissed at the two women, ready to snatch up and destroy their weapons.
"They're sedative shots!" Carmen protested.
This stopped Diana, but she still watched them suspiciously for a few seconds.
"We need to move!" Mitch urged, and they acquiesced.
Running through the entry hall, three more guards blocked their path, all of which were easily dispatched by two shots from Carmen and one from Bony.
"Which way?" Diana asked.
"Through here," Bonny replied, pointing at a 'Staff Only' door at the end of the hall. "There's an elevator that will bring us below, and from there to the RnD department."
"Right," Mitch said.
They all broke into a run for the door, Diana taking point. A glass door slid open on their left as they ran, and two guards emerged. Diana leaped at them and landed a devastating blow on one's helmet, causing him to immediately drop to the ground, and grabbed the other's weapon. She spun her wrist, causing the guard to drop his hold of the weapon in pain as it twisted his fingers, and she tapped him on the back of the neck, knocking him out too.
They reached the door, but it was locked, requiring both a pass card and a number combination.
Diana prepared to bash the door in, but-
"Let me." Mitch interrupted her, and he concentrated, closing his eyes.
Five seconds later the door slid open with a 'ding'.
"Handy," Diana noted, and they went inside.
It was like stepping into a new building. Rather than the white walls and welcoming decoration of the entry hall, this part of the facility had dark colors, monitors every few feet, and reeked of militaristic practicality.
"This way," Bonny instructed, obviously remembering a blueprint or other.
He led them to the right at the next intersection. They passed through doors, glass walls, and the occasional startled scientist, but they didn't stop. No other guard got in their way, but the alarm was still beating repeatedly. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that their infiltration had been noticed. A destroyed gate and ruined camera system attested to that much.
"Wait, stop!" Bonny commanded.
The four halted their advance. Three heads turned to look at her expectantly as she looked around with an uncharacteristic frown.
"What is it?" Mitch asked.
"It should be here," Bonny muttered before elaborating. "The elevator."
This prompted the other three to start examining the walls around them in search of a hidden door, or something of that sort.
"I think I got it." Mitch said, staring at a point in the wall that was in no way different from any other.
He laid his hand on the wall and closed his eyes. His brow twitched, and the wall changed. A roughly door sized patch of wall moved inwards, before sliding to the right. Inside was, as expected, an elevator.
"In. Now now now!" Carmen cried, seeing five guards round the corner at the end of the hallway.
Mitch and Bonny rushed inside, and just as Carmen was about to enter, Diana grabbed her hand. The exotic woman whirled around to look at her, a protest dying in her throat.
"You go," Diana said hurriedly. "I'll keep them busy and draw their attention. Stay quiet, get the objective, and let me know when it's safe to leave."
Carmen was silent for a second, but as the first shots rang out from the guards, she nodded curtly. Diana released her and she entered the elevator, its doors closing a second later with a helpful 'ding'.
Wonder Woman turned to face the incoming guards, a stony expression on her face. She deflected the incoming shots with her bracelets, waiting for the inevitable lull in their fire. When it came, she dashed forwards and closed the distance between them.
Going through the five guards in the tight hallway was child's play, and Diana familiarised herself with the amount of force needed to knock them out through their helmets and armored suits. When the last of the five lay unmoving on the floor, Diana reached in their pockets, looking for a communications device. Finding none, she assumed that they were built in their helmets and gave up.
Figuring that she needed to create a ruckus so as to draw attention away from the other three, Diana located the nearest helpful map on the wall. It pointed her current location with a big red dot, and marked the rest of the floor in different sections, alphabetically. She decided to make her way towards the center of the facility, assuming that the important stuff would be there, and that she should draw Suicide Squad members in this way.
She broke into a run towards the end of the hallway. Rather than turn at its end, she barreled straight through the reinforced wall. It was harder than she had expected, but it was nothing she couldn't break through. The room she found herself in was obviously a lab of some sort, with computers and electronic equipment, as well as some plexiglass boxes and crates. Three scientists, a woman and two men, lay on the ground, completely stunned by her destructive entry.
"Gentlemen. Lady." Diana nodded at the scientists, before raising her fist and smashing the closest computer, much to the scientists' dismayed cries.
Her work done, Diana once again ignored the door and opted to create her own exit, breaking through the opposite wall and into another hallway. Just as she was familiarizing herself with another hallway, she had to instinctively raise her bracelet and deflect two bullets aimed at her torso.
She looked to her left at the pair of guards responsible, and frowned at them. The guards paused, as if holding their breath in horror. The hesitation cost them, as she used the opportunity to close the distance between them. Having recovered, or having good instincts, the guards attempted to fend her off, swinging their rifles at her. She grabbed the rifle of the guard on her right and pulled, bashing it on his colleague rather than her face. On the same movement, she twisted the rifle, freeing it from the guard's hand, and swung it around, smashing it against the side of his helmet. The guard collapsed, and with a final punch, lay unmoving on the ground.
As she contemplated her next move, she heard the telltale click of two triggers being pulled, and immediately whirled, bringing her right bracelet up to block one round and swinging her head out of the path of the other, a lock of her dark hair not being as lucky.
Taking a few seconds to examine her attackers, she noticed them at the far end of the hallway, holding two different rifles. The one on the left wore a black-purple suit, and had a facemask with a metal part above his eyes that had a variety of red and blue 'eyes', eerily reminiscent of a spider. Two weird scythes were strapped to his back. The other one wore a brown trench coat, and his face was covered in bandages, though Diana doubted it was because of a recent injury. The spider guy's rifle had a laser pointer that Diana tracked somewhere on her head.
She assumed these were Suicide Squad members.
"Freeze!" One of them yelled.
Diana raised an elegant eyebrow, and very slowly started walking towards them.
"Put your hands behind your head!" The other one ordered her.
"That's a funny thing to ask of someone who you just shot. I thought 'shoot first ask questions later' was just a phrase," she said, not stopping her almost lazy stroll.
"This is your last warning, Wonder Woman," Bandage Guy declared, hefting his rifle more carefully and leaning further into the scope.
"I never was much good with warnings," Diana muttered under her breath, taking another step forwards.
"Open fire!" Bandage Guy orders, and both he and Spider Guy do so.
Diana is ready, and her reflexes did not fail her. She deflected every single bullet coming her way, and managed to send two of them back. One struck Spider Guy's rifle, destroying it, and the other hit Bandage Guy on the shoulder, making him hiss in pain and drop the rifle.
As she prepared to pounce on them, Spider Guy procured a small metallic object on his hand and hurled it at her. Fearing a grenade, Diana called her shield and braced behind it, resetting her weight forwards. Rather than explode, the small object split in midair, and a sort of cable launched at Diana's exposed foot. Diana felt a small sting, a split second before her body was overcome with electricity. She dropped her shield with a cry of pain and fell to her knees, barely keeping control of her movements.
The shock lasted for a full five seconds, after which she was left panting, with smoke rising out of her limbs. She took two steady breaths to gather her wits before rising, phantom pains still stinging throughout her nerves. Her shield was reclaimed and banished.
"Okay," She frowned at Spider Guy, who was helping Bandage Guy up. "I've been shocked before, but that hurt."
She saw Bandage Guy roll his shoulder to test its movement, and appeared satisfied. Diana inwardly scoffed, figuring that healing factors were distributed with the morning paper, these days.
She decided to not give Bandage Guy time to recover his rifle, and rushed them. Aiming to take down Bandage Guy, who was closest, with a swift punch to the head, she was not exactly surprised to see him deflect her blow and counter with a jab at her throat. She leaned back just enough to avoid the jab and slap his hand to the side with her returning right hand, and send the left on a trip to the guy's stomach.
To his credit, he took the hit with barely a wince, even managing to grab hold of her hand and keep her there while she adjusted her strength, leaving her open for Spider guy who had decided to join the fray. She took the high kick to the head with barely a twitch, since it was a hit designed for speed rather than strength, and pushed Bandage Guy away to turn her attention to Spider Guy. Both were upon her.
It immediately became obvious that both were extremely capable hand-to-hand combatants, with strength and speed bordering on superhuman. Though neither as strong nor as fast as her, they worked well together and covered each other's blind spots while taking advantage of the openings the other created.
Thankfully, the confined space was advantageous to Diana, who was outnumbered. Spider Guy tried to nail her with another gadget, but she managed to crush it before it went off and gave him no further chance to pull another out. The lightning fast melee began before Spider Guy had time to retrieve his double scythes, which worked just as well for her.
As good as the two were, their true strength did not lie with melee combat, and Diana soon started getting the better of them. This became obvious when, after blocking a kick from Bandage Guy with her right forearm, she sent her own left kick and nailed him across the chest with the full length of her booted shin, blasting him to the wall of the hallway where he crumbled to the ground. Their melee had brought them to the end of the hallway, where it once again split in a right way and a left way.
Being alone, Spider was easier to corner. She allowed a punch to land in her gut and used Bandage Guy's trick, taking the opportunity to grab his hand and hold it there with her left, while landing a devastating punch with her right. Neither of them would be down for long, judging by what she'd seen, but it would be long enough. She would readily admit that she was panting, and her blood was pumping in her veins. A bruise would soon start to form on her shoulder where she'd taken a heavy hit that she couldn't dodge, and her right knee was starting to pain a little.
Bandage Guy was already starting to shake himself awake while she stood, trying to decide what to do with them. Should she leave them and move on, tie them up, or knock them out a bit more permanently?
The choice was taken out of her hands, however, when she heard the telltale sound of a bullet travelling, and saw the figure of the shooter on her peripheral vision a split-second before the actual shot was fired. She managed to raise her left arm and block the round with her bracelet.
She turned to look at the new opponent.
"Wonder Woman," the shooter greeted. He wore a red suit with metallic plates on the shoulders and helmet, and a single red eye visor on the right side of his face. He held a rifle unlike any Diana had seen before in his hands, already trained on her, and his hand cannons reflected the light of the corridor.
"Deadshot." Diana called back, with a slight tilt of her head. This one, this one she knows.
"What are you doing here?" He asked calmly, almost conversationally.
Diana knew he was buying time for his teammates to recover, but that was fine with her. She was buying time, too. From what little they knew, Deadshot was the field commander of the team. If he was here, the rest wouldn't be far, meaning they wouldn't be after Mitch and the Body Doubles.
"Oh, not much. Simple repossession of stolen items. Yourself?" She replied with the same easy tone, though her muscles were tense and ready to spring.
"Just dealing with a trespasser."
"Must be a hassle," She replied, well aware of Bandage Guy regaining his bearing behind her.
She took a few careful steps backwards, never letting her eyes stray from Deadshot and his rifle, and gave a backwards kick with her foot. Her heel found Bandage guy's head, and he slumped back down on the ground.
"More than you can imagine," Deadshot replied dryly, and this time she could hear the frustration in his tone as he gripped his rifle harder.
Having made up her mind, Diana's hand was a blur as she retrieved her Lasso from her hip and snapped it. Deadshot managed to shoot twice in that time, but both hit her bracelet, and the lasso reached him. He managed to not have it wrap around him, bringing up his rifle to block. The divine rope wrapped around the weapon, and Diana pulled. The rifle flew out of Deadshot's hands, and as it reached Diana a downward strike reduced it to scrap metal. Diana retrieved her lasso and replaced it on her hip.
"There's no reason for so much aggression, surely," Diana said as her heel stepped on the largest piece of rifle, breaking it further, not changing her earlier tone.
Deadshot watched the remains of his rifle for a few seconds, but Diana couldn't see his expression under his helmet. Before long, he'd brought his hand cannons to bear against her. Diana had heard about those from Batman, and did not relax her guard for even a second.
"Why are you alone? Where's the boyfriend?" Deadshot asked, still buying time.
That was fine with her. The topic, however, did cause her to narrow her eyes. Deadshot took a step forwards, and Diana took a step backwards to match him.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, her tone dangerous. Another step forwards for Deadshot, another step backwards for the Amazon princess. She had almost reached the fork at the end of the hallway.
"Y'know, big blue." Deadshot clarified, waiting for the perfect shot and taking one more step.
"For the love of Zeus-... how many times do I have to say that there's nothing going on between me and Superman? Honestly!" Diana snapped in exasperation, shaking her head, taking a step backwards. Deadshot tilted his head to the side.
"Guess you can't believe the rags, eh?"
"No, you really can't," Diana confirmed.
Deadshot shrugged. "Oh well. In any case, NOW!" He yelled the last part, obviously to someone other than her.
She blocked the two shots fired by his handcannons aimed at her forehead and heart, and whirled around to face the new presence she felt around the corner. Rather than a person, she saw to her great incredulity a great iron hammer go around the corner and smash on her hands, hastily raised in a block.
The gigantic hammer rammed her crossed hands, sending her flying with a great 'oof' from the demi-goddess. She rolled as she dropped and was on her feet not a second after she landed. It was necessary to call her shield to block Deadshot's next volley, though one bullet nicked the inside of her arm, but her attention was on the hammer and its yielder. Her eyes widened as much as they would go.
"I thought the hammer was just a rumor." She said, her tone laced with incredulity and surprise.
"Well think again, princess!" Its yielder, none other than Harley Quinn, said in a cheery, mocking voice as she hefted the mallet once again. Diana saw two pistols strapped to the other woman's belt, along with some things that she assumed were rather explosive in nature.
Looking behind her, Diana saw that Deadshot was joined by two other men. They did not hold rifles, so they must have been metahumans. Great, Diana thought, now we're getting serious.
One of them wore a black leather jacket, his skin was of a dark color, and his hairless face was painted white to resemble a skull- at least Diana assumed it was painted. Around both of his hands swirled flames, so Diana could take a pretty accurate guess as to his powers.
The other one was a white young man with black hair, wore a long sleeveless coat, and under it a black shirt with a red circle, pierced at regular intervals by lines. Between his fingers crackled electricity, so that placed his powers, too.
Harley stood above Bandage Guy and Spider Guy, mallet at the ready. On the other side of the corridor, Deadshot and the two metahumans were sizing her up. She was facing the three men, but kept her guard up in case Quinn decided to move. The air was thick with tension, the standoff about to spill into violence.
"What have you done to Black Spider?" The weird skull guy asked. His voice had a thick accent and came out deep and guttural.
Diana spared a glance at the unconscious guy with the two scythes and weird facemask.
"He is merely unconscious," She replied.
Weird skull guy obviously wasn't too bad if he was concerned over a teammate. As if in confirmation of this thought, the darker man nodded.
"He is a good man," He said in his deep, accented voice. "Does not deserve death."
"And you are?" Diana asked conversationally. She had honestly never seen this guy before in her life.
"I am called El Diablo, Wonder Woman. It saddens me that I have to fight you," the man replied, and Diana detected no lie in his voice. Well, curious, but ultimately unimportant. She offered him a nod of recognition, and nothing else.
"I'm Voltaic," The young man with the electricity said eagerly, a cocky smile on his face. "Don't get too shocked." Diana inwardly cringed at the bad pun, and moved on. An impressive power he may wield, but Diana could judge competency pretty well, she thought.
"I don't think I need any introductions, Miss Sparta." Harley Quinn said confidently, in her annoyingly cheery voice. Diana spared her an incredulous glance and raised her eyebrow.
"Hey, don't judge me! I had to come up with something!" Harley defended.
Diana took a second to look her over carefully, this being the first she'd met the infamous Harley Quinn in person. Bleached skin? Check. Blue-red hair held in two pigtails? Check. Leather outfit? Check. And of course, none should forget the giant iron mallet.
"That corset looks painful." Diana noted with sympathy. Her own armor, while snug -even tight-, was designed as to not hinder her in any way. She sincerely doubted the other girl's outfit did the same.
"You get used to it," was the dry reply.
"Will you just kill her already?" Deadshot grumbled, and the standoff was broken.
Harley squealed and swung her mallet at Wonder Woman at the same time as a bullet bounced off of her shield, and a bolt of lightning was absorbed into it. Rather than try to stop the dangerous weapon, Diana ducked and rolled under it, putting her shield on the ground first, and passed her opponent. This placed Harley Quinn between her and her three teammates, which caused them to stop their firing lest they kill her on the narrow corridor.
To her credit, Harley Quinn redirected her mallet with frightening speed, turning and bringing the giant weapon in a new swing meant to catch the rising Diana- but Diana was too close for the hammer to be swung effectively. Letting go of the shield, her hand sprang and held the weapon's shaft between Quinn's own hands, stopping its momentum. Harley struggled for a brief second, and Diana was surprised at the strength she did exhibit -she should have learned by now not to underestimate Gotham's denizens- but Quinn soon realized that to power struggle with Wonder Woman was useless.
Abandoning the mallet, Harley reached for her two pistols, drawing one in each hand and trying to take aim. Despite her speed, Diana had already been inside her guard, and it was not too hard to catch her wrists and direct them at the last moment away from her. The magazines emptied harmlessly against the walls. After both guns were empty, Diana squeezed Harley's hands, causing the young woman to cry out and let the handguns drop.
The Amazon grabbed both of Quinn's hands with her left hand and quickly whirled the other girl around, wrapping her hand and Harley's two captive ones around herself. She pressed her body to her, effectively using her as a human shield, though she was at least a head taller than the white-skinned woman.
She looked at the three Suicide Squad members across from her. Voltaic looked frustrated, El Diablo troubled, and while she couldn't read Deadshot from under his mask, he seemed to be considering taking the shot. That was weird in itself, considering the fact that even though she was using Harley as a shield, she still left quite enough target for a marksman of Deadshot's caliber to take the shot with relatively high chances of success. Why didn't he?
"Don't think I won't push her in the way, because I will. I'm not Batman," Diana warned and reminded in equal parts. No need to look a gift horse in the mouth, her mother always used to say.
She saw Deadshot falter for a second before regaining his composure, but it was enough to bring a smile to her face. So that was how it was.
"Now, here's what-" She didn't get to finish her sentence, because her captive decided to make her presence felt.
"I just want to make known," she said, her voice uncomfortable straining under the limbs wrapped around her. "That this is the first time I'm actually using this trick."
Diana looked down at her captive in confusion. "What trick-"
She felt a very sharp pain on her foot, and hissed because of it, instinctively closing her eyes and relaxing her hold. She had been stabbed! It was enough for Harley to bring her free hand up and plant her elbow in the Amazon Princess' nose. Diana recovered from the pain almost immediately and reached out for the other woman, but she had already left her range. Diana saw the small blade protruding from the girl's boot, and it was covered with her blood.
She took off after the shorter woman, who was running full speed towards her three team members that were still waiting for her to get out of the way to unleash their payload. That wasn't quite right. A sharp pain on her right thigh as she stepped forward informed her of a succesful shot, but she didn't slow down.
Diana was much faster than Harley. She had not even closed half the distance to Deadshot before Diana had reached her. She reached out with her hand, intent on snatching the girl's pigtail and-
The wall on her left exploded, raining her with debris and forcing her to cover herself with her arms. Something slammed on her left side through the new gap on the wall, and she felt piercing pain through her left arm and shoulder-blade. The force drove her into and through the wall on the right side of the corridor, into an empty room full of shelves stacked with row upon row of paper files.
Managing to get a grip of the situation, she looked to her left and saw her shoulder and arm, up to her wrist, fully inside the mouth of a huge hammerhead shark. Taking a better look, she saw that her assailant was humanoid, but much bigger, and completely shark-like from the shoulders up. His razor sharp teeth pierced flesh and muscle, but thankfully not bone, and two teeth broke against her bracelet.
Diana wasted on time in pounding the shark's head with her free hand, as hard as she could. Once, twice, three times she punched him, seeing a few of his teeth loosen and fall. Finally the shark had enough and jerked his head to the left, releasing her arm as he did so and throwing her against the wall.
She caught herself against the wall and stood, panting, looking at her arm. Thankfully it was not completely maimed, but it did sport dozens of deep cuts that were bleeding profusely.
"Meat..." She heard the shark-man growl. He was looking at her with crazed hunger in his shark eyes, her blood dripping from between his rows of teeth. "Meat... Wonder Woman taste good ... meat!" He repeated, and made to lunge at her again. Diana squared her shoulders to throw him off, but the lunge never came.
Shark Man was held back by Deadshot, who had entered the room with the rest of the team.
"Diablo, what are you waiting for?" Voltaic asked in frustration, shaking his hand at his teammate. "Go nova on her!"
"I cannot." El Diablo shook his head. "Wonder Woman is great hero. I will not kill her."
"The sentiment is appreciated," Diana wheezed out through the pain in her arm that had slowly started to heal, but still hurt like nobody's business. "But unnecessary."
She used her good hand to grab a head high metal cabinet and threw it against the group in front of her. Harley squeaked and got out of the way, as did Voltaic and Deadshot. El Diablo was out of the cabinet's trajectory, being too far to the right, and shark man was too slow, and took the brunt of the hit. He roared as the cabinet crashed into him and pushed him to the back wall.
"Forgive me for what I must do." The Amazon Princess heard El Diablo's voice, before suddenly fire was rushing towards her.
She gritted her teeth and rolled to the side, her injured arm and leg protesting the abuse. Still crouched, her right hand moved as if on its own and two bullets pinged harmlessly against her magical bracelet.
She saw Voltaic- who had risen- throw out his arm, so she brought her bracelet in the path of whatever it was he was planning on throwing. A bolt of lightning left his hand and landed on her magical armor. Rather than being electrified like Black Spider's gadget had done, she felt the lightning course through her, and it felt good. She felt energized, like she'd taken a power nap.
While the lightning bolt itself did not harm her, the distraction it provided certainly did, as she felt the sudden pain of a bullet entering her lower torso, thankfully missing anything vital and cleanly exiting her body.
She realized that she was at a disadvantage at this range, so she started sprinting the few feet between them, ignoring the protest of her left arm and right leg. She narrowly missed another of El Diablo's blasts, and lunged on Voltaic. The youth sent electricity to his arms and met her lunge, trying to grapple with her. While the electricity this time stung Diana rather than heal her, it was too weak for it to really stop her. Diana easily broke the young man's hold and punched him solidly in the face, causing him to drop to the ground, disoriented and in pain but not unconscious.
That was all she had time to do as she was forced to bring her bracelets to bear against Deadshot's barrage. She instinctively ducked under Harley's swing of her mallet, and rushed the bounty-hunter. The man's glove yielded its master a short knife, which he swung at her, but Diana used her right bracelet to block the blade, causing it to break. Not stopping her momentum she jumped, taking hold of Deadshot's head and using it as a pole to swing around, using her feet for leverage, until she was once again in front of him. As she landed she pulled hard, bringing the tall man crashing down in a painful spin that should have knocked him out. She took hold of the insensate man's wrists and squeezed, reducing his handcannons to spare parts.
By this time Shark Man had torn himself free of the metallic wreckage of the cabinet, sporting a few rapidly healing gashes. He roared at her at the same time Harley Quinn raged "Wonder Bitch!" while swinging the giant iron mallet with an impressive speed considering the weapon's size.
Shark Man was still a few meters away, and El Diablo wouldn't fire with Deadshot right next to her, so Diana figured it was time to get rid of the stupid hammer. She slid forward, dodging the swing by a hair's breadth and letting it smash against the ground. Her sword materialized and swung, cutting the mallet's shaft rather than Harley's neck. She would have advanced on the jester, but the angry shark man charging towards her caused her to shift her priorities.
She used her free hand to hold the shark's punch and stabbed with the other, nailing the huge man above the elbow. The Shark roared in pain and anger, and his jaws snapped at her head, but the Amazon leaned back to avoid it. She used the grip from both her hand and the sword to heft the much bigger man, and throw him above her and to the left. Shark Man roared again as he sailed through the room and crashed into and through the wall.
Diana quickly flew after him, retrieving her lasso from her hip. A blast of white-hot fire from El Diablo barely missed her as she flew, but she cleared the room and was upon the dazed shark. Her hand found the beast's neck and sprang him to his feet as she slammed into against the wall of the corridor they were now in. The shark recovered and used his uninjured arm to backhand her away from him.
Diana cursed her inattentiveness as she straightened. She saw the shark man charging at her once again, teeth first this time. She jumped high at the last second, leaving her lasso in her wake, and the charging beast run straight into it. The noose closed around his neck, its magic immediately going to work on his anger-filled mind. It did not pacify him, but it made him much more predictable and slow.
Diana situated herself solidly on the beast's gigantic shoulder blades, finding a decent perch on the back of his neck. She gripped her lasso tighter, and smashed her heels on the shark man's sides. With a roar of pain and anger, King Shark started running in the direction Diana steered him.
"Heeyah!" Diana had yelled above the noise of the shark's rampage through the facility, edging him forwards, as she did the horses of her homeland.
Which is how she finds herself alone and injured against a fresh Cheetah, a score of Suicide Squad members and a dozen or so Task Force X security personnel.
"You could not take me with the full might of your silly Justice League," Cheetah mocks through grit, fang-like teeth. "You could not beat me then, you will not beat me now."
"Things change," Diana says simply. It is true- her first few encounters with Cheetah had been less than reassuring. But she has changed, she has evolved. She is not the same woman, in mind and in skill.
Barbara snarls and charges at her. Diana is ready, her back bent forward in preparation for the melee. Her sword blocks the first claw swipe, and she steps back out of range of the second. She swings her sword downwards, trying to cut Cheetah's hand, but she retracts it before anything more than a superficial cut is applied.
Diana hears the rushing sound of bullets and leans her head slightly back, a round grazing her cheek as it soars past, and then she engages Cheetah again. She is walking quickly backwards as Cheetah is pressing forwards, trying to keep her at sword range and keeping her swipes at bay. She knows that a cut or bite won't infect her like it had Kal, but that doesn't mean that she wants to get sliced.
Both combatants separate as King Shark finally reaches them, roaring in rage and smashing his way through equipment and crates. The man-beast crashes in the place the two women just vacated, and turns to snarl at Diana, starting his charge again. Cheetah looks at him hatefully, resenting the interruption.
King Shark reaches Wonder Woman again and leads with his face, trying to get his razor sharp teeth anywhere near her. She punches his right cheek with her left fist as hard as she can, and as his head swivels to the side she jumps above his right shoulder, performing a perfect front flip in the air and delivering a deep cut from hip to neck with her sword before landing gracefully on her feet, bullets wheezing around but not coming close to her.
King Shark stands still for a second, but as the massive wound bursts open and starts flowing he howls and drops to his knees.
Cheetah has already pounced upon Diana, not caring in the slightest for the beast-man's injury. As their lightning fast melee resumes, they move away from King Shark's fallen form. A number of security personnel move forward then and start dragging the now unconscious shark-morph out of the hangar.
Cheetah is ruthless about exploiting Diana's previous injuries, and her left hand's weakness earns Wonder Woman a deep slash on her left shoulder-blade, and another one just above her right knee from when Cheetah crouched under one of her strikes and slashed her.
Battling Cheetah would have been hard enough if she were fresh and they were alone, but as it is her left arm and shoulder are injured, she still has a bullet lodged in her right thigh, and has to keep at least part of her attention on Deadshot, his rifle, and the rest of the security guards shooting at her when she is not grappling with Cheetah. Already her right bicep has felt the sting of Deadshot's accuracy during the melee, but thankfully the bullet did not stick. A bolt from Voltaic would have been nice around now, but the angry youth must have noticed the positive effect his powers have on her and refrained from blasting her again.
All in all, not ideal circumstances.
Cheetah can see it, too, for she suddenly redoubles the ferocity of her attacks. With a burst of speed, she appears behind Diana, thrusting her hand forward, aiming to stab the demi-goddess through and through. Not to be taken down so easily, Diana had begun her spin the moment she lost track of Cheetah, so she could move to the side and let the razor-sharp claws pierce her already battered left shoulder. Not one to stop because of pain during a fight, she spins and swings her sword, too fast for Cheetah to dodge completely. She manages to land a decent sized cut on the offending appendage, forcing the feline-morph to jerk her hand back in surprise and pain.
Diana presses her advantage, her free hand shooting out to grab Cheetah by the throat. Her maimed shoulder protests, but she ignores it. Cheetah instinctively brings her healthy arm to the hand squeezing her throat and tries to scratch it, but Diana's bracelet protects her. Diana lifts the woman off the ground and smashes the pommel of her sword on her enemy's nose. It breaks with a sickening crack, blood immediately gushing out.
She is given no time to celebrate or follow-up, however, because although Cheetah's arms are futilely tearing at her own hand around her throat, her feet are free, and just as clawed as her hands. Diana looks down when she feels the stinging pain and sees five new tears on her suit along her abdomen, already leaking disturbing amounts of blood.
She doesn't release Cheetah's neck, though, because she is still in an advantageous position. She straightens her hold on her sword, and rams it straight through Barbara Minerva's left thigh, missing the bone but tearing it straight through flesh and muscle. The woman lets out a screech of pain.
When she feels the woman's claws tearing at her hand between the bracelet and the shoulder she releases her, her left hand already too damaged to take much more abuse. Cheetah hobbles for a second, her left foot unable to take much weight, and instinctively swipes at Diana. She blocks it with her sword, but she receives four new scratch marks on her right elbow, courtesy of Cheetah's other hand.
Diana sends a wide swing with her sword, which manages to catch Cheetah's chest as she leans back to dodge it, her leg injury affecting her otherwise blinding speed.
The two combatants separate, both bleeding from several wounds and assessing each other with hard eyes. Cheetah's own healing factor is doing its best, but it is not fast enough to close such deep wounds so fast.
The reprieve is broken, at least for Diana, when she is forced to deflect several bullets with her bracelets, before performing a textbook roll behind a metal crate for some cover.
This needs to end, and soon. She's been fighting for a long time, and accumulated plenty of injuries. She gave as good as she got, but she'd rather leave soon before things got more heated. If she is forced to fight for a longer period of time while limiting her use of deadly force, she will either kill someone, or she will be killed herself.
Neither of these are acceptable options.
She rolls out of her cover when a grenade lands next to her, barely getting out of the blast in time and ducking behind another crate. Most of her cuts, except the deepest ones, have already healed, at least partially. The blood loss is beginning to make her dizzy, but the short breather has done wonders.
The snarl and the sound of soft, padded feet hitting the floor alerts her to Cheetah's presence, before the woman itself jumps above the crate she's hiding behind and lunging at her. Diana's sword is batted to the side, and she is forced to catch the other woman's wrist before she is gutted. Cheetah's momentum does force Diana to the ground, and Cheetah lands on top of her.
Diana's sword clatters away.
Still holding her right wrist with her left hand, her suddenly free right hand lands a devastating punch to Cheetah's jaw. To her credit, Minerva shrugs it off and tries to gouge out Diana's eyes with her free hand, but Diana manages to intercept that hand as well, and threads the fingers around her own.
They struggle like this for a bit, each trying to overpower the other and free their hands. Diana can't leverage her strength very well from her position, and Cheetah can't use her claws. The struggle is broken when Diana opens her arms wide, still holding onto Cheetah, forcing her own arms to widen and bringing the feline woman closer. She ignores the snapping jaw of her feline opponent, and lands a devastating upward headbutt, her tiara going to town on Cheetah's forehead.
The cat-morph shrieks, her head thrown back from the blow and gushing blood from the new wound, before Diana once again brings her feet to herself and kicks with all her might, throwing Cheetah off of her.
She climbs to her feet slowly, holding her still bleeding abdomen with her mangled left hand. The amount of blood is very worrying- the cuts must have been deeper than she originally thought.
She brings a blood stained finger to her ear, activating her comlink.
"Mitch? Can you hear me?"
Not a second later, Mitch's comlink opens. She hears gunshots, yelling, and running for a second before his voice drowns them out.
"Loud and clear. How're you holding up? We heard the explosions, is everything okay?"
"Good so far, but I need to leave right now. Did you get the objective?" Diana can see Cheetah recovering on the other side of the hangar, glaring murder at her, and the security team following Deadshot in an attempt to flank her. She needs to go, and soon.
"Yup, we got it. Took some creative thinking, I tell you. We're almost out of the building, so we'll meet you at the chopper once you're clear."
Closing the comlink, she breathes a sigh of relief. Staying any longer would have been far riskier than she would've liked. She starts hovering in place, raising herself about a foot above the ground. She sees Cheetah racing towards her, a furious snarl on her face. Her leg has healed enough to be usable again, apparently.
"I'd like to stay and talk Barbara, but I just remembered that I left the fridge door open- so…goodbye."
With the parting snark over and done with, she starts flying. She ignores Cheetah's roar of anger or the desperate shots from the guards as she picks up speed, heading for the sealed doors of the hangar.
Though thick and strong, these massive doors are weaker than the outer gate of the facility, and Diana easily breaks through them, not even slowing her flight. At the end of the long tunnel Diana can see the light of the evening sun. She narrows her eyes as she sees another set of doors closing at the exit of the tunnel, and these look thick enough to prove a problem, so she picks up speed. She breaks the sound barrier and manages to slip past the tiniest gap between the doors, barely in time.
She flies outside and gains altitude, enjoying the feeling of the setting sun on her skin and closing her eyes for a few seconds. Then she takes a deep breath, and heads towards the sound of gunfire.
She can see from afar her three associates running through the fields between the facility and the city. Bonny is running ahead, holding a small crate in her hands, obviously the objective. A dozen meters behind her, Carmen and Mitch are running, Mitch standing exactly behind her so as to shield her from the barrage of gunfire aimed their way by the guards chasing them, as well as the occasional fireball from El Diablo. His exposed skin is silver and glints under the sun, a clear sign of him being metallic.
From above, Diana can see jeeps leaving the facility. There's no way they'll make it in time on foot.
Decision made, she picks up speed again and swoops down, grabbing Mitch on one hand Carmen in the other.
"What the-" Carmen curses in surprise, not having spotted Diana before and suddenly finding her feet leaving the ground. She looks up, sees Diana and adopts a shit eating grin. For his part, Mitch quickly gets his bearings and realizes what happened. He turned his body to flesh again and Diana is grateful, for he is much lighter like this.
"Hold onto my right hand, both of you!" Diana instructs as they near Bonny. They comply, and Diana releases her left hand from Carmen, and now they are both dangling precariously from her right hand.
"If you wanted to get so close to me Mitch babe, all you had to do was ask!" Carmen yells over the sound of the wind rushing around them. Both of them were hanging from the same hand, their bodies are pressed together as if glued.
"You are crazyaah!" Mitch yells back, drawing out the last word into a scream as Diana swoops down again, heading for Bonny. The blond assassin has already seen what happened, and is now holding her free hand high in the air. Diana flies above her and grabs the offered appendage on her free left hand. Her injuries protest once again, but she ignores them and picks up speed.
All the way to the chopper, Bonny and Carmen's delighted cries fill her ears, and she hasn't the heart to tell them to stop.
She lands right next to the chopper and drops her three passengers.
"Wow," Carmen says, noticing Diana's state. "Those look serious." She waves at her still bleeding abdomen, right leg, left shoulder and arm.
"I'll live." Is Diana's dry reply. "Now, get in! Quickly!"
Carmen and Bonny scramble for the pilot and co-pilot seats, while Mitch climbs onto the passenger section behind them.
"We'll be off in a couple minutes!" Carmen yells from inside the cockpit.
"Not fast enough," Diana mutters, squinting at the dust cloud of the jeeps approaching from afar. "Hold onto something." She instructs her associates as she reaches down, and heaves. The chopper rises, and she slips below it, getting comfortable and finding the best handhold.
"Now wait a minute-" Bonny doesn't finish, because Diana takes off, carrying the massive chopper above her head and flying away. She grits her teeth with the effort and her aggravated injuries.
As fast she flies, they have soon lost their pursuers. Diana continues flying like this for twenty minutes, just to make sure, and not having the patience to wait for the helicopter to follow her, since she is much faster.
Finally, she lands in an empty wasteland. She has no idea where they are, but she knows that there's nobody around for miles.
Bonny, Carmen and Mitch climb off the chopper.
"That was insane. And awesome. Mostly awesome. Can we do that again?" The awe is back in Bonny's voice, and Diana consciously suppresses her brow from twitching.
"Wow, they really did a number on you." Mitch says sympathetically, noting her injuries. "You're gonna be okay?"
"These will heal by tomorrow. How did you do? What took you so long?" Diana asks back, curious as to why she had to keep the Suicide Squad busy for so long.
"Well, it was smooth sailing at first, but then we realized that Bonny's blueprints were outdated," Mitch explains.
Diana turns to look at the woman, and the blond shamefully looks down on the ground, obviously blaming herself for whatever harm fell to her idol. Carmen hugs her shoulders and shushes her gently, before glaring at Mitch.
"Thankfully we didn't meet any actual members of the Squad," Mitch observes.
"I don't find that hard to believe," Diana says, grimacing. She looks down at her right leg. Great, the wound healed over. When she goes home she'll have to stab herself to retrieve the bullet. Joy.
"Yeah, I guess that distraction worked," Carmen says, having the good sense to look sheepish and a bit apologetic. Diana honestly does not care, at this point. She just wants this crazy day to end.
"Did you get it?" Diana asks again, for more confirmation.
"Sure did," Carmen replies, reaching inside the helicopter and retrieving the small metal crate. She presses a button, and the metallic shell folds into itself, revealing a smaller box of some transparent material. Inside it is Mitch's hand, floating inside some sort of liquid.
"Delightful," Diana deadpans. She looks at the Body Doubles, and points a finger at them. "And you will have it destroyed? You'll take it there now?"
At this, Mitch perks up from where he was sitting back at the chopper's side.
"Yes, we promise."
"Then I will take my leave," Diana says.
'Uh, these two will take the chopper, and I can't exactly fly anymore," Mitch says in embarrassment, rubbing the back of his head.
"Not to worry then. I will drop you off in Viceroy," Diana offers. She is well enough for this, certainly.
"Before you go, can I please have an autograph? Please, pretty please?" Bonny begs her, eyes wide and lips pouting. Diana sighs heavily, rubs her eyes in irritation, but nevertheless follows the blond woman, earning herself a loud and obnoxious cheer.
"Mitch baby, come here," Carmen commands, her voice low and husky as Bonny and Diana go to the other side of the chopper.
"Wha-" Is all Mitch has time to say before Carmen roughly grabs the front of his shirt and pulls him towards her. When he is close enough she smashes her lips to his. Mitch is stock still for all of a second, before he starts kissing back with just as much fervor, his mind completely blank and his hands finding the exotic beauty's hips. Carmen wraps her own hands around Mitch's broad shoulders, standing on the tips of her toes to kiss the much taller man.
After a full minute of this, Carmen breaks the kiss. She smiles at Mitch who looks dazed and confused, but nevertheless sports a grin that is threatening to split his face in two.
Diana has returned, having signed her name on the small of Bonny's back, not even bothering to question anything. She hopes that the tool Bonny gave her to sign with is not permanent, but she wouldn't bet money against it.
"Mitch, I want to get out of here now."
"Ah, sure," Mitch says, but does nothing to let go of the hot, dark-skinned woman in his arms.
"Can I visit soon, Mitch babe?" Carmen asks. Her voice is low and uncharacteristically shy. Diana can't be sure, but she thinks she sees the faintest blush on the strong woman's cheeks. Well, what do you know? Diana thinks.
"Of course," he replies. "I'll be waiting." With that, he leans down and kisses her again. Thankfully, this one is much tenderer and much briefer than the last one. They separate and Mitch heads for Diana, looking at her awkwardly, not knowing what to do with his hands.
"So how do I-, ... err."
Diana sighs again, walks behind Mitch and grabs him from under his arms. She takes off as Mitch shouts a goodbye at the Body Doubles and receives some of his own, as well as promises of visits.
Bonny and Carmen watch the pair fly off into the sunset, both sporting equally goofy grins, for completely different yet similar reasons.
After they vanish from sight, the two bombshells turn to look at each other, the grins slowly melting from their faces. Bonny picks up the crate, closes it again and goes to stow it back in the chopper.
Carmen reaches for her cellphone, and presses '9' on speed dial.
The phone rings once, twice.
"It's us," Carmen declares, her voice clear and professional. "Tell Mister Luthor that the package is secured."
Then she closes the phone and climbs into the pilot seat.
The hand will be destroyed. Eventually.
"-last seen above 24th and heading towards One Gotham Center. Requesting air support. I repeat, requesting air support, over."
"Roger that, choppers are on their way. What is that thing, officer?" James Gordon anxiously asks his radio. He is above the GCPD HQ building, by the blaring Bat Signal and looking from afar at the smoke and eerie red glow emanating from downtown Gotham.
"I-, I'm not sure, sir. But it's big. Really, really big."
"Do not engage. I repeat, do not engage! Evacuate the area, and don't lose it."
"Lose it, sir?"
Jim does not usually appreciate sarcasm from his subordinates, but this time he ignores the semi panicked patrolman's jab.
"Keep me informed. Choppers are inbound and we'll have a clear visual in five."
"What the hell is it this time, commish?" Harvey Bullock explodes from behind Jim. The white haired Police Commissioner rubs his tired eyes, before scanning the nearby rooftops once again.
"Can't be Ivy, no way that thing is a plant. Hell, reports say it set fire to four cars. At once!"
"Harvey, calm down."
"I mean seriously, what the fuck? This isn't fucking Metropolis where huge-ass aliens invade every-" Jim's fist smacks Harvey on the back of his head, throwing his fedora to the ground. The burly detective glares at his superior officer before bending to reclaim his hat.
"This isn't helping, Harvey."
"Yeah yeah," The detective mutters, straightening his hat and coat, to better guard against the Gotham night chill. "And where is he, anyway? Isn't this what he and his buddies are meant to deal with? I mean, we're sitting up here freezing our asses off when by all accounts there's a huge freaking-"
"I'm here." The low voice of the Batman causes both police officers to startle slightly and spin backwards, to see Batman standing next to the signal, turning it off with his right hand without looking.
"What took you so long? It's been at least fifteen minutes."
"I was busy." Batman glares at the detective who, for all his bravado, can't help but feel the chill air bite a bit harder and the hair at the back of his neck rise. Batman turns to the commissioner.
"What's the situation?"
Gordon looks at Batman critically, almost glaring.
"I don't trust you." he says frankly, pointing an accusing finger at the masked vigilante. "I hate what you're doing. But this ... this is beyond simple Police work. If the UN is to be believed, you deal with this kind of stuff all the time."
Batman nods curtly, accepting the man's reasoning. Gordon himself swallows, before explaining.
"That thing just ... appeared around One Port. Witnesses said that the sky just split apart and the creature fell from the tear. It's been rampaging ever since. Bullets can't hurt it, and we don't even know what it is with how fast it moves. Two people are dead. I'm keeping my boys back, but we'll have to do something, and soon. If the army gets involved, it will get very ugly very quickly."
"I'm telling you Jim, there's only one thing that thing can be."
"Enough, Harvey!" Gordon snaps, before turning back to the Batman. "Can you help?"
"I'll get to it." Batman nods, and throws his hand up in the sky. His grapple gun fires, and attaches itself to seemingly nothing but a piece of the black night sky.
In two seconds he is inside the Batwing and in the pilot's seat. As he blasts toward the center of the disturbance, flying as low as he can without crashing into anything, he cannot help but feel resigned. He should have known something like this would happen. It is, after all, a Wednesday. Nothing good comes on Wednesdays.
As if to prove him right, Batman sees a giant torrent of fire streak upwards through the air with alarming accuracy. He barely pulls the flight stick in time to avoid the deadly projectile, and raises his eyebrows when he sees another torrent closely follow the first. He manages to dodge that by turning the plane nearly vertical and going upwards. Completing the loop, he manages to spot a shape, easily covering the width of the four lane road, from which another bout of oddly focused flame springs forth. This time he turns the stick upwards, and the plane dives, accelerating towards the ground and misses the scorching attack by barely a meter. When he reaches rooftop level, which he judges acceptable, Batman pulls sharply on the stick, hits the auto pilot button and the hatch button at the same time, before jumping out of the plane with his hands folded over his chest.
As soon as he is clear of the plane, he opens his cape and begins gliding as the jet flings itself to the skies and is soon lost over the building tops. He falls lower and lower, keeping his eyes on what part of the beast he can see from here.
When he is no more than five stories from the ground, he relaxes his cape and enters a controlled fall, landing with a heavy thud on the asphalt, his right knee coming to rest on the torn up ground as he steadies himself with his left hand.
He raises his head to look at the beast, two blocks down from his current position. He examines it critically as he rises.
The magnificent creature unfurls a pair of truly massive, black as night wings upwards. They very nearly reach the top of the buildings around it. With its leathery wings fully extended, the beast roars. An honest to god shockwave forms, blasting away nearby cars and destroying what glass remained intact in the nearby buildings with the power of the creature's fury.
Batman glares at what is, undoubtedly, a dragon.
He really hates Wednesdays.