Chapter 2: A small green stone can make capes stumble.
Not quite sure how to respond to the whole situation, Wonder Woman breathes in, breathes out. On the one hand, it’s interesting, almost fun, to experience what she chose to baptize;
*Bat roar*. Diana considered it some levels over *Bat growling*.
It is good to get a glimpse of how much he cares. Maybe The Bat needs to know that his emotional, as much as his intellectual, concerns are appreciated by all of them. That
she and the others too, would be encouraged to form friendships with Batman if he started showing his emotional investment more explicitly?
Perhaps it would be helpful to argue that it is good for team morale? Even if none of the superheroes are part of an official team. It’s more like, you all exist, maybe we should try to assist each other, from time to time… cause less accidents. Oh, and here are some tools to help us talk, but only when necessary.
On the other hand, in the current situation, it was worrying to hear Batman, *Always calm and efficient*, allowing this storm of emotions to show on the surface. She adjusts the earpiece. One thing was to suspect this level of feelings underneath the surface, to get it confirmed was quite another. Batman's response points to a high severity, but how high? Diana finds it difficult to assess how emotionally influenced Batman is from the actual level of threat. This group experiment is still too fresh to know that, too inexperienced.
The Bat is so hard to interpret, hidden behind all that grumpiness and silence. That is, unreadable to everyone, except a thousands of years old Amazon, and any friends he may have, and Superman.
As a matter of fact, Diana finds it soothing to have her gut feeling confirmed, that Batman feels so deeply for his fellow super colleagues, and especially this specific one. The Amazon finds it, in the absence of a better word, a charming feature. Charming but still frustrating that a crisis is necessary in order to to show the level of care Bat has.
- Batman, could you repeat?
- .... , Says Batman, "My sources have warned me that the Joker has sent one of his minions to Metropolis. Our friend in Metropolis does not take dangers below a certain scale seriously. I need you to fly over to make the fool reconsider his world view. After a small assessment break of the situation, Batman growls; - Wonder Woman, just convince the fool he's wrong.
- .. I do not know .. Diana asks just to ruffle his feathers a bit. - Why don’t you tell him yourself?
- Wonder Woman, *Bat roars* the man on the other side of the earpiece dialogue. - I need to gather more intel about the threat before I can come over. We need to know what we are dealing with.
- Calm down B. With a smile in her voice, Diana decides to add, - I'll even talk to him and ask about his day.
Wonder woman can just about feel a tactile relief coming through the earpiece in the pause as follows, a grumpy pause.
- Just keep Superman alive till I get there.
Floating over a random alley, Diana sees the consequence, and can do nothing but wish she'd acted faster.
On his back, in a dark alley, lies a bloody, heavily breathing man in red and blue. On top of his chest, a strange green glowing stone. Diana can feel her stomach turn with the sight of the unhealthy greenish color on his skin. Not to mention, Superman, the invulnerables has his own blood on the outside of his skin.
A second person, in the small space between to houses, is in the middle of a phone conversation. The stranger, leaning against the wall of the backstreet smiling, hanging, just relaxing while informing the person at the other end of the device. Superman is down, bleeding and barely breathing.
Diana just stares at the rogue’s right foot. While the wind is playing with her hair, the amazon is counting down her anger, from 500. How dares he, placing his foot on Superman thorax, on her friend’s family crest? Perhaps to keep the strange green glowing stone in place, maybe just because he wanted to place his foot on the heroes chest, or both.
For Diana, experience dictates, glowing object means magic or radioactive radiation. The human’s choice to place his foot so close to the green object implies magic. Drawing on experience, Diana tries to estimate what kind of magic she is working with. The questions are, will it neutralize her as well and will the kryptonian state become worse by her waiting for a better assessing?
- No, I can not let him lie there bloody, Diana tells herself, - with a rock that does who knows what to a kryptonian.
Ignoring the Batman's attempt to communicate, the Amazon centers herself, just like she has been taught all her life. Quickly and efficiently, she expands her area of observation in order to confirm, the suspect is alone. After some moments, Diana know with certainty, she can act undisturbed.
The decision taken, Diana moves a little away and presses her earpiece.
- Have you found him? The Bat growls.
- Yes, I have found him. He's alive, but … Superman is unconscious.
- He’s with a green, glowing rock of unknown origin and influence. Superman has a little blood coming out of his mouth but is still breathing, she informs in meeting with the bald silence. - He is accompanied by one individual, a man.
- There is no one else in the neighborhood that seems to be with the suspect. After a little hesitation, Diana adds, - The suspect has placed his right foot on Superman’s chest, together with the green rock. I believe the rock is most likely of magical origin.
- … Wonder Woman, Superman's life is at stake so I want you to ..
Before Bruce gets to complete the order, Wonder Woman informs him that she considers it necessary to question the suspect. Consequently, she will tie him with her lasso from an appropriate distance, and start the integration.
- (...) and if you do not hear from me, I’m now sending over the address and a picture of the suspect.
With the earpiece off, her lasso in hand, Diana lands at the other end of the back street.
A large part of Wonder Woman feels happy when she observes how the villain stops dead in his phone call, forgets his smile and how his body stiffens. There is joy in seeing his eyes jump in fear to and from Kal El's chest and to her. How the strangers complexion loses blood supply, before he turns around, trying to escape. Without success.
The mobile, forgotten, hits the back. Diana note where it falls. Batman can study it later.
With experienced movements, Wonder Woman swings the lasoon. The tool is like an extended arm. It revolves around the refugee man and ends the flight.
Pleased, Wonder Woman observes that nobody was injured in the process.
This part of the responsibility she has sworn to participate in as a hero, gives her pleasure. Now is the time for words of truth from a villain, a person, a soul. There is no place to hide for him.
The person turns to her, eyes filled with laughter and hint of disgust.
Wonder Woman grips the lasso with purpose and it starts to glow like hot metal. Her experience allows her to lead the conversation where she needs it to go, instead of letting the interview drown in, for her focus's, distracting unimportant truths of a mad man.
This act, of finding truth gives Diana satisfaction. A pleasure the lasso of truth will never allow her to lie about, not even to herself. A hero must be, if nothing else, true to herself.
Captured, secured by the lasso words of truth starts to pour out of the captured person. Diana lets him, until she has the necessary information. She was right, it was the stone that had taken Kal's consciousness. The Joker was involved and ... wait a minute, what was he saying? The green thing only works on kryptonians, and it could end Superman? Think Diana, so, not magical and unable to neutralize her. Then it was safe to remove the stone without both of them being knocked out.
Still with a hand around the lasso the hero picked up the stone, searching for a way to neutralize or destroy the object
- Which method for disposing of this rock is best for helping Superman? Asks Wonder Woman.
- .... In the box, he says, pointing with his eyes. - Put it in the box.
Old habits die hard, so she says thank you while she puts the stone in a small black box... of metal.. lead?
The box is closed.
Almost at once, Superman's breath seems less wheezing, his facial features more relaxed and the skin more, like a healthy person’s. Her moment of relief is interrupted by an electrical cracking in her ear:
- Flash is coming to pick up the criminal. Bring Superman and the object to this address is all Batman says.
Not for the first time, it still feels strange to have a dialogue with someone she does not know the name of. Gives her the feeling of working with a spy or ghost, and not a cape friend .
Flash is there, seconds after Batman handed over his proposal for action. The red sprinter stumble in his words, his eyes filled with tears at the sight of Superman. Only Wonder Woman promises to get Superman to safety helps him find a little more courage.
Now, free from the lasso the apprehended, almost, killer of superman just laughs.
Flash grabs and handcuffs the new villain and runs to the nearest police station.
Bruce bends over his screen, typing the information he has until now. Next to him, Alfred puts a tray of tea and two pairs of sandwiches, a mild hint.
- ... Thanks Alfred.
- Sir, nods Alfred.
With worry Alfred studies his 25 year old ward. Not for the first or last time, he wants an easier life for Bruce. Alfred can sympathise with him, nobody extracts happiness from knowing that the person they like is harmed. Not that Bruce would ever acknowledge
that the invulnerable man, he refuse to admit his idealize, has awakened warm feelings in him. - Alfred, Superman is unconscious and heaven knows how close to his death, because of a rock.
- Yes, Sir.
- Alfred, Bruce looks up from the writing, a sure sign of his inner turmoil, - Wonder Woman and Superman will be here in 12 minutes. Have you prepared for their stay?
- Yes sir. Alfred says with a humf.
In left the silence as follows, the butler choose to refer to the existence of the food and tea.
- Sir, for now it is important for Superman that Batman has the energy to help him.
The eye roll is only stopped by Bruce's respect and love for Alfred, and if he is honest, a desire to keep access to Alfred's exceptional food. Nobody is so self-destructive that they will voluntarily cause their own exclusion from Alfred's kitchen.
Within the time Batman estimated, the alarm sounds.
A quick glance at camera image No. 20 confirms it. There is Wonder Woman in front of the cave’s hidden water entrance. Bruce can not stop his body from breathing in a quiet sob at the sight of the precious cargo in her arms. Superman is still unconscious. The idiot! Bruce thinks, before pushing the button that separates the water and opens the entrance.
Wonder Woman, busy trying to locate masked heroes in the forest, falls into battle position. After a second she smiles to herself. Of course, Batman has access to and is paranoid enough to create a hiding place for rest, protection and to access, hidden by Gaia herself.
Wonder Woman can not shake the feeling of entering into Hades’ realm as she flies into the cave, holding Superman safely in her arms.