Zatanna thought Melissandre would disappear with her father.
Dr Fate had left to bring the prisoners to jail, her father’s figure fading, but his daemon...didn’t.
Now the spider monkey stayed mostly in the control room, hogging Robin’s monitors and stealing his keyboards. Robin was slowly getting better around her, but Zatanna knew the sight of a daemon without its human-- that Melissandre should be in the Cave while her father was-- she knew that it was unsettling for people that hadn’t grown up around magicians.
Melissandre had watched over her and Eli dozens of time when her dad was off saving the world. Their bond could stretch as far as they needed it to, as long as he didn’t go off planet. With Dr. Fate in her dad’s body, she figured that bond could stretch through dimensions. He dad was gone, and Melissandre was here, using non magical resources to research a solution.
She fell asleep at her desk and jolted awake to the sound of Eli's terror.-- ZATANNA---but no, it was a memory. Just a memory of Eli’s scream when she had put on the helmet, the shock of being taken over by Naboo. Eli was right here, next to her, in a soft comforting marmoset form he'd taken recently.
She stroked his downy fur, watched the rise and fall of his tiny cheat. Inside the Helmet of Fate, it had been so dark and lonely, just the dread in her stomach (no other way, last choice) and the voice of Naboo to keep her company.
If Melissandre had disappeared with father, maybe then Zatanna wouldn’t have to think of him inside his prison alone.
“It's weird that you guys have all settled.” Wally said as his Celinne shifted from a hummingbird to a falcon, gesturing at Robin’s black cat daemon and Kaldur’s Ka'ikala circling in the pool below the walkway
"Super wierd, " Celinne echoed, morphing to a tabby cat. "super weird!"
"Maybe you're just slow!" Robin crowed.
M'gann tilted her head, as her bunny daemon ran up and down her arms. “What do you mean settled?”
“Well your daemon-- hey we were never introduced-- He's settled into a rabbit and you're not much older than us. It might be different for martians?”
“Oh!" M'gann giggled, "It's very different for Martians!"
and squished her rabbit daemon to nothing between her palms.
In hindsight, maybe she shouldn't have started with a demonstration.
"Move! Move!" Artemis grabbed Celinne out of the path of Red’s fireball, lifting the jungle cat daemon up into the walkway she'd chosen as a vantage point. “Cheetahs are suppose to be FAST, be faster!”
Across the warehouse, Wally stumbled at the sensation of someone touching his daemon and slammed head first into a crate.
Kaldur’ahm explained daemons to Superboy with their feet dangling into the ocean pool as Ka'ikala swam below them, splashing in and out of the water. He spoke softly, but the clone absorbed every word.
“In Atlantis, one can go far away from thier daemon, often several leagues, but this is not common on the surface world. To go too far from your daemon is like death, the souls splits and it- it is very bad.”
‘…does that mean I don’t have a soul?”
Kaldur frowned and thought for a long moment. Superboy appreciated this; he thought before speaking as well. “I have never met anyone without a soul before. My studies at the Conservatory of Sorcery were brief. I do not know of a way to determine the presence of a soul....although M’gann does not have a daemon either.”
“M’gann is Martian.”
“You are half kryptonian.’ He pointed out.
“But Superman has a daemon.”
She saw ….something.... against the bark of the fir tree, where the peeling bark was not...quite right.... Two beady eyes, swiveling to look at her!
“Cheshire!” Artemis warned, and the assassin melted out from the shadowed branches next to her chameleon daemon.
“Long time no see.” Cheshire drawled, the fixed grin of her manic mask.
“I have found that a daemon helps with the secret identity immensely. M’gann you have been practicing your auxiliary shifting?”
“Oh yes, Uncle J’onn May I show you?” She said, and at his nod, closed her eyes to concentrate. A cream colored blob separated from her pale palm and floated before her. It rippled.
“Good. Good. Have you decided on a form?”
A brown bunny wiggled its ears.
“Excellent! The mind link is the most important part of the process. I will guide you through it.”
They both closed their eyes. The little rabbit wiggled in place and began to hop.
Superboy may not have Superman’s flight, his heat vision, nor his daemon, but he did have the superhearing. In the large pod Kaldur called his room, Superboy tucked his knees up to his chest, and listened:
“What Cadmus made--”
“*Who* Cadmus made!” Batman corrected.”The boy needs your guidance-”
“Needs my guidance? For world domination maybe!” Superman hissed, “Who knows how Cadmus programmed it? Nevermind the human side, what parts of Jor El are in him? Kryptonians were conquerors! It has no daemon! The less it knows the better.”
Krypto barked his agreement, and five rooms away Superboy shook.
“Sometimes I really despise your upbringing, Clark.” Batman sighed, and if Superboy had had x ray vision maybe he would have seen the vigilante bring a hand up to his forehead. Maybe he would have seen him frown.
"Martha and Jonathan Kent are wonderful peo-"
“No, don’t start. If you’re not going to help with Superboy, then you’re banned from the Cave. The team is under my command and you will. stay. out.”
Westerners, Artemis’s mother laughed, they’re so silly about reptiles.
Kaldur paused and visibly gathered his thoughts. “Dolphins do not have daemons. Sharks do not have daemons. Octopus, turtles, seals, all lack an outward sign of spirituality. But they have come to aid of Atlantis and her King many times. I do not think they lack souls.”
“Does that mean I’m a dolphin?”
“A baby one maybe!” Kaldur laughed, bright and honest, “Come with you, back to your pod!”:
Superboy frowned, and Kaldur realized his mistake.
“A pod is a family. A family of dolphins is called a pod. I meant it in jest, that as a dolphin has a pod, so do you have a family; we are your pod.”
Superboy smiled “A pod of dolphins.”
“Do you even *want* to be a part of this team? Because you’re doing a great job of not acting like it!” Wally shouted at Artemis. “How can we trust you when we don’t know what your daemon looks like!”
“She doesn’t have to-' M'gann began
“Kid Flash-” Aqualad started as Robin raised his voice: “It’s part of a secret identity, dumbass!”
The leader and sidekick stared at each other, as Artemis cut in.
“You don’t trust me? I don’t trust any of you either! Is Robin’s mask glued on? Why don't you ask M'gann and Superboy about yesterday? You can’t keep secrets and expect me to reveal mine!” She shouted, stomping off and with “Artemis B0-”, disappeared.
“Trauma can force daemons to settle before they’re ready, or delay the development,” Black Canary said, so calm and understanding and sickeningly patient that Zatanna wanted to scream a canary cry of her own. “Encourage Eli to shift often over the next few months.”
“She’s always going to be a monkey.” Zatanna said sullenly. “That’s what it means to be a magician.”
“A different genus then. That’s all for today.”
M'gann sat down on the other end of the couch and sent the little bunny hopping over to Superboy watching No Signal. He looked at her.
"I - I wouldn't mind if you wanted, I mean it's not a daemon, not really but-"
The rabbit wiggled under his hand, soft and warm, and he stroked down its back gently. M'gann shivered.
After her session with Black Canary, Zatanna sulked and reveled in it, hogging the TV remote and hoarding the last of M’gann’s snickerdoodles.
“Mmmmmmmm” she exaggerated, her mouth full of butter-y cookie cinnamon goodness, while Wally pouted from the end other end of the couch, pretending he wasn’t interested in any of M’gann’s cookies or watching the reality show that Eli picked.
Wally’s Celinne went back and forth, cheetah, bird, insect, as he gazed at the TV. She flew with the same speed as the speedster and her burn scars stayed no matter the form; on her flank as a puma, crooked feathers as a bird in the same jagged pattern, missing wing as an insect.
Robin flipped over the couch and Tsura jumped up, kneading the top cushion before curling up. Robin was younger than her and his daemon was already settled. Granted, she always saw him as something a little more showy and colorful, but a black cat must be good for lurking in the shadows.
“Trauma stays with a person, and the daemon will reflect that. It’s rare for physical events to leave a daemon changed, but it can happen.“
She knew that magic could affect a person’s daemon, that Melissandre was bleached white from a spell in her father’s youth, that Wally’s scars from his speed force accident disappeared from his fast healing body, but stayed with Celinne.. She learned that the gods could also affect daemon’s form: Captain Marvel’s Mr Tawny was majestic, Billy’s tiger cub was adorable.
What had happened to Robin that his daemon was already settled?..
Artemis sighed, looking around the schoolyard. Mammals mammals and more mammals, a regular plethora of soft fur in varying sizes. A well groomed horse cantered past.
“Hi, I’m Barbara Gordon! I’m your student mentor.”
A pretty redhead girl held out her hand, and Artemis looked down past it for a hare or a cat. A deer might suit this polite girl, all long limbs and smiles, but it must be something small (maybe a mouse or meerkat) because no daemon appeared when Artemis grasped her hand.
“Artemis,” she said wryly, “but I’m sure you already knew that.”
Barbara smiled, “Well the kids here are definitely more stuck up than Gotham High, but I think you’ll find the classes and teachers much more challenging.”
"a badger kit, Thanh whispered from her collar, a shrewling, maybe.. she’s perceptive."
“I- uh. Yeah. Wow- that’s exactly what I was expecting.”
A shadow fell over them, and a giant grey owl landed lightly on Barbara shoulder, its head swiveling to look over Artemis. The girl shifted her weight and headed toward the double doors. “Come on then, Oracle and I will give you the tour.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have been so quick to judge.” Thanh smirked.
“Fine, fine…” maybe this place wouldn't be so bad, After all, one student already managed to surprise her....
As she trailed after the older girl, a tiny freshman with a small jungle cat pounced into her personal space, throwing an arm around her, much too close to Thanh!
“We going to laugh about this someday!” he quiped, snapping her picture, scampering away before she could deck him. Barbara shouted insults “Dick! Get lost!” after him.
“Or not.” Thanh snickered, flicking his tail in laughter.
“The Joker doesn’t have a daemon.” Robin said. “that’s why he’s so wrong. He doesn’t have a tiny spider daemon or a monkey that’s hidden far away or something that stays up airborne. That’s why the League was so freaked out when it looked like Supes didn’t have anything.”
Later Kaldur would ask, because he was leader now and needed to know their opponents.
“It is unheard of for a human to be born without a daemon. He must have had one at one point.”
Robin looked away, “I think he killed it.”
When Superboy and M’gann, now Conner and Megan, readied for their first day at Happy Harbor High, Red Tornado handed Superboy a shirt with a front pocket and small silver case with holes in it.
“This is part of my disguise?”
“As far as your classmates know, this box holds your daemon.”
“Big guy, small daemon,” Robin approved later. “People’ll see you as shy rather than threatening.”
Superboy held the case in his palm and tried to imagine a part of himself small enough to fit in it.
Her mother had tsked tsked at them when Artemis was young and Thanh shifted into birds and cats, trying out forms she’d seen other children use.
Our family is lizards and amphibians. Her mother's many banded krait coiled around her wrist.
During a visit to see her in prison, with her fathers heavy hand on her shoulder, Nhung hissed to her in Vietnamese. “You may have your father's hair and last name, but Thanh will be cold blooded.”
Red tornado is a robot. Robots have no need of daemons.
Robin and her looked down at the Reds, Kaldur and M'gamn trapped in the cage of fire, Wally near drowning...
"You're gonna have do it." Robin said in her ear. From the air shaft, Tsura jumped toward her, small and black and brushed against her wrist, scent marking. Artemis froze and looked down at where Robin's daemon was touching her.
“We believe in you,” Tsura said, the first time she'd ever heard the cat daemon speak, a voice high and clear.
“His name is Thanh,” Artemis blurted out, and moved into position with her single arrow. Her team was counting on her.
J'onn Jones was an accountant and his mild mannered boar daemon rarely spoke. Wonder woman’s fierce lioness was larger than most. Thanagarians had daemons, oversized birds of prey that wore armour same as the men and women..Lois Lane’s crow daemon had a distinctive pattern of slate grey pinion feathers that the writer used instead of byline picture. Artemis's Thanh had arrow-like markings on the leopard gecko's back.
“It's so weird to me, that you have a part of yourself outside of you and you call it by another name.”
When they finally find the original Speedy, he has no left arm below the elbow and no daemon.
Artemis stretched her feet out over M’gann’s lap, wiggling them in the toe dividers, prepped for slumber party of “doing what earth girls do!”. Artemis had never been to a sleepover either, but she’d seen enough movies and overheard enough girls with actual friends to have a general idea of what went on: Hair, nails, gossip...
Next to her on the bed, Thanh tasted the air around M’gann’s daemon and recoiled.
“I just don’t see why you went with fluffy little bunny daemon. I could see a bird maybe. Something with claws or a beak at least…. It must be so different on Mars, no daemons, no daemon philosophy, no judging people for them…”
“Martians judge each other in other ways, ” M’gann said, fiddling with the different colors of nail polish.
"Atlanteans look down on certain daemons. Mammals are seen as too close to the surface world, though daemons do not "breathe". Those that are cetiloiphods, sharks, skates and rays are seen as... untrustworthy. Each type has a meaning, much like here. Ka'ikala settled and my mother said we were strong-willed duality.
She settled later than my peers, shifted back and forth from an eel for many years actually. I spent much of my childhood around the eel hatcheries. Messengers and potion ingredients. eels too have a mixed view: intelligent and resourceful, dependable, but crafty, daydreamer, and ill suited for community.
Predators are not uncommon as daemons in Atlantis. There is a wide variety of species, but in recent years.... a pilot whale like Ka'ikala would not be welcome."
“Besides,” M’gann says. “Maybe I like being soft and harmless.”
Artemis grins, shark sharp. “Being seen that way, you mean. You’re sweet, but you’re no prey.”
Superboy stood at ramp to the bioship and gestured to the large grey creature next to him. “Everyone, this is Wolf. Wolf, everyone.”