Legacy – Amazon Imperative
An alternate Earth’s story line…
“Kara, we have a problem.”
Most of my really interesting days start with those words, courtesy of the tiny transceiver buried deep in my ear canal. The voice on the other end was Bruce Wayne.
The world had known him as the famous Batman until a moment of carelessness had taken him off the street and into a wheelchair. Now he monitors the world from his control room, guiding dad and I to wherever we need to be to save the world.
“Coordinates?” I asked sub-vocally. My mike worked by bone conduction.
“Metropolis Museum. Seems we have a problem with an Amazon. The police are executing a full tactical response.”
“Shit,” I cursed silently. I was on my way to final exams for my first semester at Northern Polytech. I'd missed a lot of classes during the semester but had still kept up, however, missing the finals wasn't an option.
“OK. I’m on it, Bruce. Let's make it quick."
"What's your ETA?"
"I'm a hundred and twenty miles out... at the university. Give me ten minutes.”
I ducked behind some columns at the side of the Science Building and stripped off my street clothes – my so-called Ugly Betty outfit, revealing the tiny bit of red and blue I wear beneath. It's actually my Aunt Kara's old uniform with a few tweaks.
I folded up my street clothes and stashed them under a planter, and then rotated backwards off the fifth story balcony railing to plunge toward the empty courtyard below. I snap rolled at five feet and pointed my toes to tense my calves, and shot forward at 200 knots, stretching my arms out ahead of me like a diver as I dodged power transformers, compressors and liquified gas containers, the usual equipment that surrounded a science building.
I was accelerating through 400 knots when I dove into the culvert under the I-97 bypass, emerging a half second later inside a grove of Spruce trees, a cyclone of dried leaves following in my wake. I hit my usual mark and made the 100G pull up and went ballistic, tensing my entire body now, muscle working against muscle to develop my power. I was moving faster than a rifle bullet when I cleared the tree tops seventy feet overhead, my compression wave traveling with me to ensure my sonic boom would never make it back to the ground. This silent, supersonic departure technique had taken me weeks of practice to perfect back when I was twelve. I'm better at it than even dad now. Flying is my thing.
“Kara, AO is converging on the scene. They’ll get there five, maybe six minutes after you.”
Alien Ops was a special branch of the Navy Seals who were armed with weaponry that dad had helped develop to help defend Earth if we were ever discovered by the Arion Empire. The weapons employed a lot of Kryptonian science. So much so that they were potentially lethal even to dad and I.
“Keep them out of the action, Bruce. Too much collateral damage if they engage. I can handle whatever it is without them.”
“Negative, Kara. They're scrambling their communications. Can't get through.”
I pushed through Mach 6 as I followed a ballistic path toward Metropolis, thankful that Bruce's earpiece worked by bone conduction, not air. There wasn't much of that at the top of my arc.
“Going to be hell to pay if they get into the fight, Bruce," I sub-vocalized.
"Agreed, Kara. They've been itching for an excuse to use their new toys."
Bruce and I had the same negative view of arming that elite group of operatives with super-weapons. But dad had saved the world a thousand times, so who were we to question the fears of the greatest superhero of all time? A fear spelled Homo Sapiens Supremis. He'd encountered that powerful race during his deep space travels, and he was afraid they'd someday take an interest in our little blue world. He said we couldn't defend the Earth by ourselves. A very scary thought.
“Move your ass, Kara. They're coming in with flight packs. ETA is shrinking.”
Right. Like I could wave a magic wand and teleport myself there in zero time. But I was my father's daughter, so I had to try. I squeezed my fists and tensed my legs harder than steel, including my ass, and managed to hit Mach 9.
A blazingly hot corona of ionized air formed around me now, but I could still see the Amazon’s handiwork from fifty miles out, thanks to inheriting dad's eyes. Three cops in SWAT uniforms were lying on the street, their arms and legs twisted into anatomically impossible positions. All of them male. A female cop was handcuffed to the bumper of her patrol car but unhurt.
Typically brutish Amazon behavior, I thought disgustedly.
“Men are sport for the killing.”
I'd heard that phrase enough times on Themyscira, the island the Amazons call home. They're a warrior race, dedicated to the empowerment of women at the expense of men. A throwback to a violent, barbaric past, or so my mom says. Thank Rao they live in that pocket dimension and rarely visited Earth.
The white-gowned Amazon was engaging what was left of the SWAT team as I got close enough to identify her. Her name was Ariel and she belonged to a group of renegades who called themselves the Daughters of Enlightenment. Accordingly to Bruce's intel, they'd recently aligned themselves with Lex Luthor’s daughter, Lena, who was proving to be just as much the super-criminal as her father had been.
That was the good news, strange as it sounds. I can handle Amazons. I lived on Themyscria for a while when I was younger, so I know how to deal with Amazon strength and advanced fighting skills. Plus the 'S' on my chest says I've got a few advantages of my own.
I stared through the hazy air to see a cop firing a 12-gauge slug gun at Ariel from point-blank range. He pumped the action, firing again and again, but she just crossed her arms in Amazon style and blocked the massive slugs with her bracelets, bright sparks and shrapnel flying in all directions. Yet each impact pushed her slightly backward, keeping her off-balance until a sniper could aim his high-powered rifle at her.
Amazons and cops don’t get along at all, and the SWAT teams have a standing order to take down an Amazon by whatever means if her actions threaten a cop's life. No mercy. Given the Amazon's skill with their bracelets, it came down to a sniper's head-shot from long range, just like usual. I cringed as I saw fire belch from the end of the sniper's rifle, convinced Ariel wasn't going to be able to block that shot, but amazingly, she threw herself backward while managing to get one bracelet in front of her face at the last microsecond, sending the deadly bullet zinging off.
She was good. Very good.
Ariel leaped back to her feet before the sniper could fire again, and grabbed the now empty shotgun away from the first cop. She effortlessly bent his Mossberg in half, tossing the mangled firearm over her shoulder as he pulled his sidearm. She closed her hand over it and squeezed, powerful muscles shaping her forearms and the Smith and Wesson bent, his hand crushing with it. The cop opened his mouth to scream as Ariel violently twisted both of his arms, ripping cartilage and tendons before dislocating his shoulders. She finished with an open-palmed punch to his body armor that threw him backward fifty feet to crash through the windshield of a patrol car.
The cops really opened up on her now, but Ariel continued to deflect the rounds successfully with her bracelets, her arms a blur. Still, the cops knew as well as I did that a bullet was eventually going to make it through and take her down, especially as more and more shooters starting firing at her.
That's when I saw the blur of red and blue descending from the sky ahead of me. A vision that drew a single cry from anyone who saw it: Superman!
He landed directly in front of Ariel, storm of bullets exploding into sparks against his back as wrapped his wrap around Ariel to both protect her and contain her rampage. A police captain started to wave his arms, signaling the cops to cease firing.
Good old dad. Save a life first, then sort out the bad guys after. Even if Ariel had already taken some cops down. He cherished the sanctity of life above everything else.
I had to give it to him though... he'd put an end to the fight in less than a second.
Given he had things under control, I slowed my approach, dropping below the Mach while still ten miles out. I had just enough time to zip back to the university, change, and make it to my Physics final. Dad would whisk Ariel off and deliver her back to Diana on Themyscira. They'd love to put an Amazon on trial, but they knew as well as I did that no prison would long hold a woman who could bend steel bars in her bare hands.
I hung in mid-air for a moment, watching as dad unwrapped Ariel, making sure she wasn't going to hurt anyone else. She angrily jerked her hands from his and wrapped her arms around his neck to stand on tiptoe to kiss him. That wasn't all that unusual -- Superman was at the top of most women's list of favorite fantasies. Plus the Amazons value physical strength above all else, and dad was the ultimate there as well. But it was still damned unusual behavior for an Amazon, given their militant lesbianism.
I shrugged. They reserved their disgust for the rest of mankind -- the Frails, as they called them. I should know. Despite being raised a Kent, Princess Diana is my birth mother -- technically my surrogate mother -- and I trained for several years on Themyscira. Which makes me a real mutt -- half Amazon and half Kryptonian. But like dad, I usually thought of myself as a human with special abilities, given the way I look plus the fact that I was born and raised on Earth. Still, it got confusing sometimes.
Ariel kept kissing dad for a ridiculously long time. Even stranger, he didn't push her away. Instead, he seemed to go limp in her arms.
What the heck was that all about?
Shockingly, his legs slowly collapsed and he fell to his knees, leaving Ariel standing over him. She leaned back and spread her arms and smiled, seemingly luxuriating in a weird blue glow that enveloped her upper body. Then she reached down and grabbed the 'S' symbol on the front of dad's uniform and jerked him back to his feet, lifting him high over her head. Before I knew what was happening, she'd swung him around to launch him through the brick edifice of the International Hotel.
The cops just stared at Ariel for a long second, then looked at the human-shaped gap in the brick wall, unable to believe what their eyes had just seen. Then a shout went up, and they resumed firing on Ariel with everything they had.
Superman was their hero -- he was everyone's hero -- and this Amazon bitch had just rewarded him for saving her life by throwing him around like a rag doll.
Things got very weird now. First of all, Ariel didn't even try to block the bullets with her bracelets. She just straightened her back and stuck her chest out and walked directly into the gun fire, the bullets tearing her white garment to shreds, surrounding her body with a cloud of white confetti. She should have been dead ten times over, yet I couldn't see a single mark on her skin. Astoundingly, she looked as invulnerable as dad and I now!
Even stranger, she tore her bracelets off as she closed the distance to the first group of cops. That wasn't supposed to be even possible!
I found I was just staring, doing nothing, as the firing stopped for fear of hitting their fellow cops. Ariel's tactic was classically Amazon: use your opponent's compassion against them.
I tensed my body and shot forward again, unfortunately, still three minutes out. The hell with my finals. Ariel was totally out of control.
I stared in shock as Ariel reached up to grab the end of a smoking shotgun and jammed it against her boob, literally burying the end of the smoking barrel. Like most Amazons, she was fabulously endowed.
I had no idea what she was doing, nor did the cop. He tried to pull his shotgun away from her, struggling frantically, but she merely buried the end of his barrel even deeper, bending it against her boob. The cop gave a final, desperate tug, and accidentally pulled the trigger. His end of the barrel exploded to rip half his face away.
My stomach turned as I suddenly realized this had to be more of Lena Luthor's handiwork. She and her meteor rocks had created some real freaks in the past, and I'd run into Lena herself last year, claiming she was some kind of Superwoman. She'd shocked me by going toe to toe with me for a few minutes until I'd figured out her game -- she had Kryptonian strength and toughness, but she couldn't fly worth a damn. I flew circles around her at superspeed, punching away at her until I'd knocked the living daylights out of her.
Unfortunately, she later escaped the special confinement cell that dad and STAR Labs had put her in, and aligned herself with a disgruntled group of Amazons, offering to use her father's collection of Kryptonite in its various colors and forms to give them increased abilities. She and the SOE were hiding somewhere on Themyscira -- a place men were not allowed to set foot on. I tried to help, after all, I'd taken Lena down the first time, but Diana promised she was keeping things under control. The Princess and I hadn't been on speaking terms ever since she'd made me choose between her, my birth mother, and the mother who'd raised me. She said I'd be the next Princess of the Amazons.
Instead, I'd told her I considered Lois my true mother and I preferred a life lived among humans. Diana turned her back to me and we hadn't spoken since.
Now her arrogance had gotten the best of her. Ariel was totally out of control, which said that Lena was probably on the loose as well.
My thoughts were racing as I tried to sort out everything I'd seen. My best guess was that the blue glow had been Ariel drawing dad's energy into herself. I'd seen that mutation caused by meteor rocks before. At least, I couldn't think of any other rational explanation.
Rational. Yeah. Nothing was rational around Lena and her glowing rocks.
Just as clearly, I had to abandon my usual rules of engagement. Despite dad's constant admonishments to never risk causing mortal injury to anyone, I had to hit Ariel with every bit of power I had. If I overestimated her new powers, then so be it, but after what she'd just done to dad... damn it!
I tensed my body again and poured on the power, accelerating back to Mach 3 as I dropped down to street level, aiming myself at the small of Ariel's back. My shockwave knocked pedestrians and bicyclists to the ground and shattered windows all along the street, but that would be a small price to pay if I could take Ariel out on the first pass. I couldn't afford to let AO join the fight, particle beams blazing.
Many more innocents would die.
I had to take her out now.
I was closing the gap toward Ariel's back at blinding speed when she suddenly spun around to face me, her bullet-holed outfit hanging off her. I had no idea how she knew I was coming, traveling supersonic and all, but the last thing I saw was her standing tall, her hands on her hips, as I threw my shoulder into her midriff.
The irresistible steel of my body hit immovable flesh, which released all my kinetic energy in a tiny fraction of a second. The fireball and deafening shockwave took out every pane of glass for five blocks and blasted the closest cars on their sides, even toppling the SWAT truck. People were flung through windows that (thankfully) were no longer filled with glass. Eardrums burst. A small mushroom cloud of fire, dirt and street trash swirled upward to tower over the skyscrapers.
Inside that fireball, my velocity had gone from Mach 3+ to nearly zero in a fraction of a second.
Yet I'd taken Ariel down as expected, the pavement cracking behind her as I drove her body through the concrete, digging a trench down the street that ripped water mains apart and wrapped sparking power lines around us both before they in turn were torn right out of the ground. Still, the collision had stunned me, stars filling my eyes.
I shook it off as I recalled tackling dad this hard during training exercises. This hurt just as bad.
Shaking my head as I blinked away the spots, I gasped as Ariel wrapping her arms around me and hugged me with shocking strength. Despite the horrendous impact, she was still in the game? That made no sense at all.
Whatever... I knew I had to get this battle above the city to minimize the collateral damage. I tried to fly, taking Ariel with me, but she fought back in Amazon style. I could fly circles around any Amazon, but she was trying to disorient me by jamming her fingers into pressure points, tearing at my eyes, sticking her fingers into my ears, my mouth. Her knee ground against my pubic bone with Amazon power, sending an unbidden flurry of tingles through me.
I'd always found Amazon wrestling to be incredibly disorienting and definitely x-rated, and Ariel made the best of my sensory confusion by grabbing my boobs with such fantastic strength that I gasped in pain. Even worse, I couldn't fly this way -- a weakness the sisters had discovered during my earlier sparring on Themyscira.
"God damn you..." I groaned, trying futilely to tear her hands from my chest. I was going to have to take her down right here.
I mouthed a silent prayer that the civilians and cops were running for their lives as I covered Ariel's eyes with her hair to disorient her and slammed her back against a concrete culvert. My blow drove her head all the way through the thick concrete of the culvert, but I kept pounding her face and neck, hoping to knock her senseless.
She responded by wrapping her long legs around me from the front, and squeezing me so hard that my eyeballs felt as if they were going to explode. Then she threw me on my back, cracking the concrete roadway around me once again, then pounded my face into a sewer line hard enough to rupture it, releasing a horrible stench. I started to gag as something that felt (and smelled!) like a turd smeared across my eyes, and then vomited while trying to blindly throw some punches at Ariel.
I barely managed to drive her backward, buying me enough breathing room to clear the crap from my face. Leaping toward her, I wrapped my arm around her neck and drove her face down into that flood of fecal matter.
She fought back with maniacal strength, matching mine, blow for blow.
But I am my father's daughter.
Need I say more?
That's when I noticed something weird... every punch I landed seemed to be weaker than the one before. Soon I was panting, my arms growing heavy.
OK... this wasn't right. I never get tired!
Ariel took advantage of my momentary confusion to lift her head out of the stinking sewer and land a single punch under my chin. The blow was so powerful that I was still seeing stars when I crashed into the side of a city bus two blocks down the street, my impact sending it skidding sideways into a building.
I climbed out of the mangled wreckage of the bus and staggered back into the street, only to hear the screech of rubber against concrete. A second bus slammed into me, knocking me down, the front tires grinding my face into the concrete as they thumped over me. I twisted myself free just in time to feel the rear dualies skid to a stop directly on top of my chest. Molten rubber from the tires started smearing all over the 'S', and choking rubber smoke enveloped me.
I reached up to grab the bus frame, trying to push it off me, but I couldn't budge it. I gritted my teeth and struggled again, and this time the tires rose easily, just like normal.
Except now they kept rising, right out of my hands.
I stared upward to see Ariel standing tall with the bus held over her head by a single hand. Before I could move, she walked over to slam a stiletto heel down on my neck, then shifted the weight of the bus onto that leg.
“Put the... bus... down..." I gasped, my windpipe nearly collapsing. "You... want me... not them."
My sudden weakness was terrifying; something I'd never experienced outside of being nuked by green-K. Yet I didn't feel any of the the painful pinpricks and hot flashes that came with Kryptonite radiation. What the hell was...?
"Feels shitty, doesn't it," Ariel said, leering down at me. "Being as weak as a fucking mortal."
She dropped to her knees to straddle my face, her slender thighs gripping me with fantastic strength. I could smell her arousal enveloping me -- not unusual for an Amazon in combat. They got off on violence. But the scent seemed so obscene here, what with those dead cops around us.
Despite feeling as limp as a noodle, I wasn't about to give up. I tried to wiggle myself free, but Ariel's legs turned into a vice of solid steel.
She slammed her fist into my forehead, smashing the back of my head deeper into the concrete.
I flailed around, trying to pry open her legs, even resorting to stabbing two fingers upward into her crotch in Amazon style, a desperation move, but I'd barely begun to penetrate her when her legs turned into an even harder kind of spring steel. Then she leaped upward and away from me, sending the bus soaring skyward.
I gasped in horror as I saw people falling out the windows and door as the bus tumbled end over end, rising nearly sixty stories before beginning to fall back.
This should be an easy save for me... if only I could... move!
Ariel came down to smash her knee on my neck, grinding my upper body even deeper into the concrete, ending my rescue attempt before it started.
I heard and felt the sickening crash as the bus landed fifty feet away, its fuel tanks bursting as the spilling contents ignited with a loud Whoosh.
Both confused and desperate now, I threw every ounce of strength I had into a final desperate attempt to twist away from Ariel. Maybe I could still save some of the passengers.... the fire couldn't hurt me.
But it was hopeless... I couldn't budge her knee a millimeter from my neck.
She laughed at my feeble attempts to escape, and then rose back to her feet. I tried to crawl away, but she grabbed my ankle and jerked me from the ground, swinging me around like a club, smashing my face into overturned cars, the metal bending and tearing, then lopping off fire hydrants with my head the way a bored child might whack at dandelions with a stick. Then she tossed me into the wreckage of the burning bus.
The stench of diesel and burning flesh gagged me. Clearly, I was too late to save any of them.
Squinting through the flames, I saw Ariel standing calmly in the gush of water from a broken hydrant, ignoring the fact that her clothing was completely torn away now. She washed herself clean as she glared back at me, that murderous boob bared for all to see. I still couldn't believe what she'd done with that shotgun. Or the way she'd discarded her bracelets and let the bullets strike her bare skin.
I was the only woman on Themyscria or Earth who could survive such an onslaught without armor!
“This is a little different than the last time we fought, Kara,” she shouted over the roar of fire and water. “Now I’ve got your energy. And you have nothing.”
I drew what energy I could from the flames, but I was still barely able to stand when the cops regrouped and started firing at Ariel again. Useless as it was, it's all they knew how to do.
Once again, the bullets pinged off Ariel's hard skin, but she simply raised her arms and continued taking her bath, ignoring even the high-powered rifle slug that plowed a path across her boob to pile up against her steel nipple. She reached down and flicked it away with her fingertip.
What the hell... she was aping something I'd done once, years ago, back on Themyscira.
"Remember your arrogant bullets and boobs demonstration, Kara dear?" she called out, confirming my fears. "You were so impressed with yourself, standing there while the Princess fired men's weapons at you, flaunting your invulnerable boobs at us, the bullets bouncing off them like popcorn. Acting as if you even liked it."
It was all I could do to walk toward the edge of the flames, my body shaking from weakness. “What…what are you…what did you do to me? To my father?” I gasped.
“A little gift from Lena. I can absorb energy. Life force. Even yours.” Then she leaped into the flames to grab my hair, swinging me around and around to fan the flames into an inferno.
The cops started firing faster now, and Ariel’s skin rippled from the impacts, looking like the surface of a pond in a hard rain, her hair flying wildly as the cops hit her head from head to toe. The bullets didn't leave a mark, but the look in her eyes told me they were stinging just a bit. Especially the ones that hit sensitive areas.
I knew Dad wouldn't have felt a thing, so that meant she had my lesser abilities now.
So where had his energy gone?
The firing seemed to infuriate Ariel. She leaped out of the wreckage to grab a city utility truck with one hand, its two occupants lying on the floor, terrified, and jerked the truck off its wheels to spin it around like a discus thrower, my body hanging on her other arm. She made a dozen spins before launching the truck at a second SWAT van as it approached. The two doomed utility workers were still inside when the five-ton trucks collided, the force of the impact ripping both vehicles to shreds, bits of metal and flesh flying in all directions. The crushed remains burst into flames as ammunition started cooking off.
Before I could open my mouth to scream for her to stop, Ariel wrenched a fire hydrant out of the ground and flung it at another cop car. It hit the cruiser so hard that it cut the vehicle in half. More blood. More body parts.
I struggled desperately to wrap my arms around her legs so I could trip her, only to discover how hard my body feels when crooks try to take me down. Her muscles felt like tempered steel and her tendons like steel cables. Ariel casually shrugged me off as she ripped a yard long section of concrete curb loose and launched it a police helicopter. The chopper barely dodged it, dropping behind the shelter of a skyscraper.
That’s when AO arrived. Each of the operatives wearing an antigrav pack and armor that looked like it was right out of Star Wars. A glowing forcefield surrounded them. Even scarier, their weapons looked as if they'd come from some kind of Borg nightmare. The whole setup was designed to take on a Supremis and survive, assuming they ever invaded Earth. Dad’s nightmare.
Ariel grabbed my arm and leg and flung me at the closest operative at nearly supersonic speed. I struggled to twist around in mid-air, managing to barely miss the operative before splatting up against the wall of a building. I fell four stories to dent the top of a dumpster, bouncing off to land face down on the sidewalk.
By the time I looked back up, the operative was firing on Ariel, his weapon spitting blue death. He hit her straight on, knocking her out of the air. He fired again just as she hit the street, and her body disappeared inside a tiny sun as the beam annihilated everything within twenty feet of her. The glare disappeared as fast as a photo flash, leaving a vacuum that allowed air to come crashing back in with a thunderous boom. Concrete, water pipes, half of the closest car, even the very air, were all gone. Vanished. Annihilated.
The only thing left inside that sphere of nothingness was Ariel, her skin glowing white-hot.
I remembered when Dad had asked Star Labs to test this weapon on him, and the result was exactly the same. He’d wound up with what amounted to a mild sunburn, but everything around him had been annihilated.
A second shooter unleashed his futuristic weapon on Ariel, and it tore an even larger hole in the ground.
But this time, Ariel wasn’t at ground zero. Instead, she was moving fast, unleashing a sizzle of red death from behind the first operative, hitting him square on.
I gasped… Amazons don’t have heat vision!
Whatever it was, the operative’s forcefield flared blue-white, and the thermals blasted him across the street to crash into a van. Molten metal was dripping all around him as the van caught fire.
I gawked at Ariel. I knew what a full power blast of my heat vision can do, even to Kryptonian armor, and hers had looked just as strong as mine. Had she stolen more than just my energy?
Impossible. My powers were genetic not magical. You don’t steal someone’s DNA.
The operatives shifted tactics now, the three of them maneuvering further away from Ariel, weaving and bobbing to avoid her eye beams as they tried to triangulate her with a simultaneous blast. From everything dad had told me, a triple burst would probably take me down. And if either of us was targeted long enough, the heat could burn us up. The beams were a hundred times hotter than the surface of the sun.
Ariel quickly proved why Amazons are the best fighters in the universe. Before the operatives could concentrate their fire on her, she extended her arms and started to spin around on her toes, much like a figure skater, but moving much faster. She slowly lifted her arms over her head, tucking them in to accelerate, her body creating a mini-tornado of air, the cyclone tossing the operatives around, making it impossible for them to hold their aiming point on her.
Suddenly, Ariel’s eyes flashed as blue as arc welders.
“Ariel, NO!” I screamed.
A pinwheel of pure death blasted out around her, the beams exploding through the first floors of the closest buildings, structural beams melting, rock and brick slumping, the people inside turning into puffs of smoke before disappearing completely. The superheated air and molten debris exploded outward to send the operatives flying in all directions. Everything within a hundred yard radius of Ariel was suddenly either melting or on fire.
The hot beams washed across my skin as well -- they hurt just as much as dad’s heat vision!
“Do as you wish with me, but leave them alone!” I tried to scream at her, but the thermals ripped the words from my throat.
Ariel gradually slowed, her lethal pinwheel coming to a stop as she hovered just overhead of me, her eyes looking like glowing coals. “You're still an ignorant dick-lover, aren’t you, Kara? Worrying about these frail men instead of yourself.”
Ariel was as militantly lesbian as ever. Dick-lover is the lowest insult one Amazon can throw at another.
“Men are sport for the killing. The future belongs to women.”
I’d heard the SOE mantra enough times to make me sick, and I’m half Amazon.
I threw everything I had left into getting to my feet, then clenched my fists and faced Ariel, hoping to distract her long enough for the operatives to get their bearings again. But looking around at the ring of burning buildings and cars that surrounded me, I felt as if I’d fallen into Hell itself. The air was black with flying debris from her mini-tornado.
I stared up into Ariel’s eyes, trying not to show any fear. “If you want to kill someone, Ariel, then fucking kill me. Assuming you can.”
She just laughed. “If that was what this was all about, Kara dear, you’d already be dead.”
The battered and bloody cops -- who’d been lucky enough to be lying below Ariel's lethal eyebeams -- stared back wide-eyed at me now, waiting for me to take Ariel out. After all, I’m the one with the ‘S’ on my chest.
I closed my eyes and tried to suck up some of the heat from the melting pavement, hoping to regain some strength, but Ariel didn’t give me time to do anything of the sort. She slammed me back to the ground, then fell back to her knees to straddle my waist, grabbing my boobs with her incredible strength to jerk my upper body from the shattered concrete. Before I knew what was happening, she leaned down to passionately kiss me.
I struggled to escape her, arcing my back, twisting my head away, but I couldn't escape her powerful grip. Her hands closed painfully around my breasts as her tongue found mine, her kiss moving deeper.
Her touch was anything but intimate. I was just another kind of rape as she sucked the last ergs of energy from me.
My sight began to dim and my body grew cold -- like my very soul was being sucked into some abyss.
She finished her long kiss just as my heart began to fibrillate, and then rose to leave me lying there, to weak to move a finger. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open. Isaw vague shapes hovering overhead -- the AO operatives. They were aiming their weapons at both of us.
Yet the fools didn’t fire!
Damn it Their compassion was going to get them killed!
Ariel saw the men's hesitation as well, and winked at me. “Your fan club, Kara?”
She snapped her head up, eyes blazing as she aimed another burst of heat vision at the damaged buildings, sheering the weakened support columns neatly off. Lacking support, the buildings began to slowly collapse, falling inward toward the operatives, the cops and the remaining civilians.
Ariel had no pity, nor any compassion for the humans, treating them like mere rodents -- creatures it was acceptable kill in any way possible.
She just smiled down at me as a million tons of concrete and steel fell toward us. "You are a sister, Kara. Even if you don't know it..."
Her words ended in a gasp as a huge beam fell across both of us, my scream of frustration and anger never making it out of my throat as the massive weight crushed me into the already shattered street, my consciousness swirling down the drain into nothingness.
I awoke to act out my last instinct -- avoiding the falling beam. I rolled onto my stomach and covered my head.
That's when I felt myself falling again, but this time the fall was short.
I landed face-first on a cold stone floor.
I quickly checked myself over, and found I wasn't hurt. More than that, my hair had been washed and braided.
Strangely enough, that was one of the few things that made sense. Amazons don’t kill Amazons. And Princess Diana is my mother, which gives me high-born status. Bottom line, they consider me one of them, even if we don’t agree on anything. Even if I am half Kryptonian.
My heart went out to the cop's families as I remembered the building collapse. Also the operatives. The civilians in those buildings. Memories of 9/11 haunted me. Hundreds must have died. Maybe thousands.
Suddenly dad’s idea of putting Kryptonian weapons in the hands of humans didn’t sound so good. They forced escalations that killed more people.
I decided to worry about that later. Right now, I had to get out of here and stop Ariel.
"Bruce? You there? Bruce." The transceiver in my ear was silent.
I tried to stand, and barely managed it this time, my legs shaking. That's when a sudden flash of visible light lit the room.
“Welcome back to the living, Kara.”
I spun around to see two of the sisters standing in the open doorway. Cassie and Selene. Both my age. They’d been members of the opposing Arie during my training on Paradise Island. Like Ariel, they’d tried failed to defeat me in the contests.
Of course, that was before I returned to Earth and resumed my life as Kara Kent.
“How cozy,” I replied. “My good friends from Arie Melleny. I see your skills have improved, but not your common sense. We work together, my dad and me.”
“We were counting on that,” Cassie smirked.
“Take a look in the other room,” Selene added. She pointed to a rock wall.
I had to concentrate, my eyes aching, but I was able to penetrate the meter thick rock with my x-ray vision.
I gasped as a black-and-white image formed. Dad was in the next room, lying on his back on a stone dais, his uniform stripped off except for his boots, and Ariel was straddling him, moving rhythmically. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing -- the two of them getting it on. Like, seriously!
I swallowed hard, my stomach knotting. This was even worse that it appeared. Amazons break the backs of their strongest male opponents in a very precise way, rendering them helpless but still able to function as a man, and then they mate with them. It’s how they keep their race going. And of course, the men don't survive. Amazons have a hundred times a human woman's strength. Their idea of sex is rough and athletic. Brutish if you're a man.
“You want to keep your father alive, right?”
“Huh, wha…” I said, my thoughts racing wildly. I clenched my fists angrily, finding I was angry at dad. How could he let himself get taken down in the street like that? How could he be lying there, so aroused, participating in that obscene lovemaking?
I paused to take a deep breath.
No, I couldn't blame him. Ariel had obviously zapped him. Something we couldn’t fight. I prayed they hadn’t been strong enough to break his back the way they usually do.
I screwed up my courage and faced Cassie, forcing all emotion from my face. A skill Diana had taught me. Cassie and I had been friends once upon a time.
“And you’re showing me this because…?” I asked calmly, keeping my voice flat.
“So you can decide to save your father or not," Cassie replied. "Once Ariel is done, she is obligated by our laws to kill him. She’ll have drained all his life force in any case. He’d be little more than zombie if she let him live.”
The word zombie sent a lance of fear through me. I’ve seen zombies. Walking dead. Following the last compulsion planted in their dying brains. Far better to be dead.
Except we were talking about my dad here!
I struggled to show no interest, despite the clamor inside my head. Instead, I just shrugged again, saying: “He’s just a man. What am I supposed to do about it?”
“We can make an exception for you, Kara, just as the Princess did when she and Kal had you. Your father’s DNA is unique. You can keep him alive.”
“I presume that comes at a price?” The game was becoming obvious enough.
“All you have to do is to guarantee you won’t oppose our actions, Kara. And that you’ll reconsider what it means to be a sister.”
Yeah, right. Condone murder and mayhem. Then join the murderers. Just my style.
I glanced through the wall again, trying not to look worried. Ariel was going crazy on top of dad now, the two of them apparently on the verge of the mother of all orgasms. Clearly, dad was about to give her what she wanted.
That made no sense. I mean, he knew Amazon customs as well as I did.
“Ariel is determined to bear a Kryptonian child,” Selene said. "A child with both his powers and her own."
Selene didn’t sound happy about that, especially when the stone floor began to shake beneath our feet. Ariel was obviously getting her wish -- a Kryptonian orgasm -- but it was coming at her at pile driver force. With any luck, dad would just blow the top of her head off. I mean, he's a superman. All of him.
I pushed that sick thought away. Ariel still had my powers, which was disgusting in its own right. She as using them to do my dad!
That’s when I noticed Cassie’s body language. Selene’s too. They seemed to be stuck in some kind of emotional purgatory halfway between wild arousal and hideous disgust. Ariel’s domination of dad was actually turning them on, even as they were disgusted with what she was doing with a male.
Finally… I'd found a hint of weakness. But something I could work with?
The wild shaking peaked, filling the air of this room with dust and falling rock chips, and then it stopped. It was over. One way or another.
I kept my eyes on the two Amazons. Cassie looked flushed now, her nipples sticking out like bullets. As strange as it seemed, I knew she wanted to take her turn on the dais. Yet something had changed since I left Themyscira, because she was hesitating. Selene too. Amazons never waste a virile man.
There was one possibility. “This is all about Lena, isn’t it?”
“More than that,” Cassie said as if in daze. “Your father's DNA… in conjunction with the meteor rocks... it’s contagious. It’s why we’re stronger, even bulletproof now.”
This was not good. it was no secret that Diana's strength had increased to Kryptonian levels after she and dad made me. All we knew was that Star Labs had used a small amount of Kryptonite to dampen dad's strength during he and Diana's lovemaking. How that had resulted in DNA migration, via some retrovirus or whatever, was still a mystery.
Mom thought it was some kind of bizarre sexual disease that was spread by the meteor rocks. After all, she and dad had been married for years before the surrogate encounter between dad and Diana, and she was still Lois Lane, not Superwoman.
But then, mom had a pretty hard time with the whole surrogate thing, or so Aunt Chloe told me. She'd agreed at first thinking it involved the usual surrogate in-vitro techniques. But that hadn't worked, so dad and Diana had to do it the old fashioned way -- like a hundred times before I was conceived. According to Chloe, mom thought Diana was enjoying herself way too much for a flaming dyke. She worried that Diana wouldn't let dad go. That she'd even claim me as her child.
But of course, mom's fears were just that. Diana went back to her sisters, and dad came home. As far as I know, he's remained faithful to her ever since. And Lois has always been mom to me. Diana and I never really got along anyway.
All that said, I think mom's theory about it being some kind of sexual disease makes sense, especially now that Lena appeared to be using her meteor rocks to futz the members of the SOE. They were all lesbians, and Amazon sexual encounters were indefatigable and frequent. If sex and meteor rocks were the common denominator, then this was bad... very bad.
“You’ve still got a little time before she kills him, Kara,” Cassie finally said, briefly pulling herself together. “Think about it.”
"Like they could... he's Superman," I shrugged.
Cassie gave me that raised eyebrow look before the two Amazons turned in unison and walked out of the room. The lights went out as the door locked.
So much for having an opportunity. They were going to let me chill so that my own fears would soften me up. A classic tactic.
But Cassie's meaningful glance was encouraging. I decided to play along.
“Hey. Whatever. We can work something out,” I called into the darkness.
There was no answer.
Desperate now, I threw myself at the granite wall that separated me from dad, only to bounce off it. I made a fist and smashed it into the wall, but I was barely able to chip the paint off before my knuckles began to bleed. Whatever Ariel had done to me, it hadn’t worn off yet.
I seriously needed some energy.
I checked the electrical outlets, jamming my fingers into them hard enough to shatter the plastic. If I could charge up a bit, even on 120v, I might be able to escape.
No luck. All the power was off.
I scanned through the four walls. A library was next door. Dad was lying in the next room to it, sleeping now. Otherwise he looked OK. That was a relief. The other walls were solid rock for as far as I could see. We were deep underground.
I turned back to look at dad. If every Amazon in the SOE did their thing with him, he'd be useful to them for some time. Still, it was all I could do to keep my fears from overwhelming me as the darkness closed back in. I wasn’t going to get my strength back down here. No energy sources. No rays from the sun. Nothing.
They had me.
“OK,” I called out again, presuming they could hear me. “I’ll do it. Whatever you want.”
“Do you hear me?” I shouted.
My shout was still echoing when the door latch clicked. I walked over to push the now unlocked door open, and then stepped through into the library. Nobody was there. I tried the door out of the library, but it was locked.
Curious, I started to browse the racks, trying to judge what kind of place this was. The books were half scientific texts and half hard science fiction. Lots of Clarke, Orwell, Bradbury, Heinlein, Asimov, Pohl, Dick. I found a draft of a book about the theory of science fiction by someone named Pierce.
Who in the heck lived here?
I’d nearly completed a circuit of the room when Ariel opened the door to stand in the opening, leaning against the frame, looking exhausted. She was wearing a torn, white robe, her hair a mess. I could smell her hormones in the air, my dad’s musk too, not to mention a weird flowery, sweet perfume that sent an unbidden tingle through me.
I crossed my arms over my breasts to conceal my unwanted reaction to the scents, and looked through the wall to make sure they hadn't done anything permanently damaging to dad, but he was gone now.
“He’s alive and uninjured,” Ariel said before I could ask. “And if you play your cards right, he’ll stay that way.
I gave her my coldest look. “So let me guess; you’re the new poster child for the well fucked?”
Ariel glared daggers back at me, but said nothing as she traced her finger through her sex and then slowly licked it off. Another Amazon insult. She looked like she’d just had the best sex of her life – her eyes were smoky, her hair wild, her clothing in disarray, her movements reminding me of a cat that had been basking too long in the sun. Despite their pervasive lesbianism, Amazons are good at anything that requires physical talent. If that meant fucking was required, well, then they were great at it too.
My stomach was doing flip-flops now. If she had dad’s power, nobody was going to be able to stop her. Certainly not me. Definitely not when I was this weak.
I was debating my next move (not that I’d come up with any ideas) when a very tall black-haired woman slipped past Ariel and entered the room. Lena Luthor!
Shockingly, she was dressed in a uniform that looked like a cross between dad's and mine. His top, my skirt. She lifted one arm behind her head, flexing a little, sending an obvious enough message. Did she have dad's power now?
If so, then I was screwed. While Lex had never been able to take dad down for good, he'd raised his daughter to do what he couldn't. Bruce claimed that Lex had subjected her to meteor rock radiation while Lana had still been carrying her. And then every day of her life since.
Could my day go any more to shit? Missing finals, getting the crap beat out of me in downtown Metropolis, and now dad and I are some kind of pets in the Amazon zoo?
Lena paused to study me. It didn't take a genius to realize she was looking through me. I returned the favor, only to discouragingly find that her body was as dense as dad's.
“Ah… let me guess… you're supposed to be Superwoman, but from the Dark Side?"
Lena smiled crookedly. "More precisely, I am your father's replacement. Something this world has needed for a very long time. It should never have been a man’s role to begin with.”
"You're buying into the whole Amazon thing, Lena? I thought you liked guys?" She'd briefly had an affair with my friend Robert, and he said she was definitely hetero.
"My sexual preferences have nothing...."
"Bullshit, Lena," I interrupted angrily. "Let me guess... you and your lesbo girlfriends are going to take over. The vagina Empire."
She just smiled. "Put crudely. Yes."
"So the men of this world are all in deep shit. Amazons in every position of power, with men on their knees."
"I'm just helping the sisters realize their destiny. Diana and your grandmother held them back for far too long."
"Destiny, huh. Like killing off all the men?"
“Not all of them. Those who are worthy will be treated well.”
I didn’t have to hear any more to know where this was going. I knew SOE’s manifesto: Keep just enough men around to stand at stud. Genetically perfect but docile men. One man to fifty child-bearing age women. The rest would be disposed of.
It was such a ridiculous concept that I’d never worried about it. SOE had just been a bunch of crazy Amazons on the fringe. Diana and her mother Hippolyta had kept them under control.
Until now. Lena had somehow turned the tables. The balance of power had changed overnight.
"So... is my mother well?" I'd only refer to Diana as my mother when around the Amazons. They took a lot of pride in my being half Amazon, even if I didn't.
"Of course, Kara. She is confined. As is her mother. Along with the sisters who do not have the foresight to grasp their destiny."
I understood it now. Lena had used her meteor rocks to futz the members of the SOE, and had probably recruited many more sisters to join. Themyscira had been split, and the SOE, or rather, Lena, was in control now.
She saw the look on my face. “I promised Diana that you would not be harmed. You can continue helping the people of this world, Kara, as long as you don’t interfere with the Sisters. If you do, then you will join your birth mother in confinement."
That must be some kind of jail if it could hold Diana and me.
"And my father?"
"He is useful, so he'll be kept under control and isolated. That will be Ariel’s job. If he escapes, Ariel will track him down and kill him. Drain his life force. Without remorse. Without appeals from you or anyone. Understand?”
She spoke as plainly as a soldier.
“Do you understand?” Lena repeated.
I shrugged. “Yeah. Sure. Sisterhood and all. Hooray.”
Lena's eyes narrowed. “You don’t have to help us, Kara. Just don’t get in the way. You are always welcome as a sister should you wish to join us.”
I wanted desperately to say “Fuck you very much”, but I figured I’d already mouthed off enough. No sense in painting a bigger target on my chest than was already there. Besides, dad had saved my bacon enough times. Now it was my turn. But I needed some maneuvering room.
So I forced a smile to my lips. “Yeah. So Diana keeps telling me.”
“Then live up to your legacy, Kara. Save his world from destroying itself. Join us.”
“How much are the dues again?”
I’m not sure how well I played the “reluctant but willing to listen” game, but obviously well enough for them to let me go.
Cassie and Selene covered my face with a lead shield and flew off with me, finally dumping me on the side of a dusty road in the middle of nowhere.
Oklahoma nowhere, to be specific, based on the road signs. I was strong enough to stand now, but hiking any distance was out of the question.
So I stuck my thumb out.
The first semi that came along nearly burned its brakes out as the driver skidded to a stop.
So much for the power of being cute, blonde and dressed in a tiny costume. Not to mention walking down the road in a pair of three inch heels.
Once inside the truck, I covered myself as best I could with my cape, but the driver kept gawking at my legs. He said he’d run into this young hooker that dressed like me, but she wasn’t half as pretty.
I rolled my eyes. This guy obviously knew how to charm a woman he’d just met, talking about my resembling a truck stop hooker. But then, a lot of sexual fantasies rotated around dad and myself.
But a hooker pretending to be me? That bothered me.
The driver prattled on about how he’d just gotten paid, his wallet bulging.
That wasn’t the only thing I saw bulging.
He went on and on about the loneliness of being an over-the-road driver. How his wife had left him for another man. How it had been a very long time.
I tried to convince myself that he just wanted someone to talk to. A truck cab is a lonely place. So I pretended to listen as I curled up against the far door.
Mostly, I was worried about getting raped – a common enough fear for other women, but never one of mine. But then, girls my age don’t hitchhike down some interstate dressed in the closest thing to lingerie. Especially not alone and in the middle of the night.
Fred, that was the driver’s name, finally stopped his rig at a truck plaza outside Oklahoma City. It was the darkest hour of the night – just before dawn. I started to get out, but Fred reached across the cab to grab my wrist, saying there was a price to be paid for the ride.
I looked up at his eager face, then over at the glowing lights of the restaurant on the other side of the parking lot, and prepared to make a run for it. Then I looked down at his hand on my wrist.
Fred saw the fearful look in my eyes, and quickly released me, apologizing profusely. He said he just wanted me to stay long enough to take my picture – so he could remember the prettiest woman he’d ever seen.
I hesitated, that old rationalization engine spinning up in my brain. Good guy or bad guy? Sometimes it was hard to know.
I decided that Fred’s only real sin was that he was lonely and devoid of any social skills around women. To his credit, he’d never tried to touch me, other than his impulsive grab at my wrist. He had the heart of a country boy; decent in his own way, even if he did come across as a creep.
So I turned and smiled for his camera. I figured it would give him bragging rights with the boys for a while. Men are kind of simple like that. And he had given me a ride. Ample payment.
Then I jumped out the door and ran across the back of the parking lot and cut across a field and into the nearby town, going as fast as my weakened legs would carry me. It was just starting to get light enough to see, but I still tripped over rocks and debris, including an old washing machine. I thanked Rao that my invulnerability was intact.
I soon found myself in the middle of a neighborhood of rundown houses with trashed cars and even more appliances littering the front yards. What is it about country people and tossing old appliances into their yards?
I looked around nervously, worried about somebody confusing me with the pro from the truck stop on her way home. A lot of men get kind of bi-polar around me. They either wanted to drag me down into the slimiest ditch and do unspeakable things to me, or put me on an impossibly high pedestal and worship me. Even weirder, some men wanted to do both. Maybe someone will explain that one to me someday.
Most of all, I needed energy, and I didn’t have time to lie out in the sun to soak it up. I didn’t even have time to wait for the sun to rise. So I searched for an electrical substation. Some high voltage would do the job and fast, although it wouldn’t be fun.
Unfortunately, the substation I found was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I’m not very good at getting around without being able to fly, but I was able to climb the chain link fence. At least until the concertina wire at the top tangled me up. I slipped and fell into the wire, trapping myself. I tried to get out, but the harder I struggled, the tighter the barbed wire wrapped around me, grabbing at my costume and hair. Soon I was hopelessly trapped.
There was only one solution – strip off my uniform -- the barbs couldn’t snag my skin. That took some doing (you should try to get undressed some time when you’re wrapped in barb wire), but in the end, my uniform hit the ground first, leaving me tangled up just by my hair. I finally got that free and fell, landing in a heap just inside the fence.
I grabbed my uniform and wadded it up really tightly and stashed it away on my person. (No, I’m not going to explain where). Then I found the cage where the high voltage came into the substation – 600,000 volts according to the warning sign.
The last time I tried this, the voltage was half this -- back when I was a kid.
I bit my lip nervously and opened the cage, holding my hair in my hand as I slipped inside. The field made my whole body buzz, but I managed to position myself in the middle of a triad of power cables, each one as thick as my calf.
It was now or never. I opened my knees to straddle one cable, not quite touching it, and positioned my hands near two others. I need all three phases to pull this off the fastest way. Then, without trying to think too much about the consequence, I closed my knees around the first cable and grabbed the other two at the same time.
A violent shock lanced through my whole body, completing a circuit that ran up my thighs, through the trunk of my body and out my arms. My arms and legs started to twitch wildly, crushing the stranded cables. Needles of excruciating pain sent my heart into fibrillation.
I just gritted my teeth and hung on as bolts of lightning stared jumping off every sharp point of my body, striking the metal wire of the cage. A painful burning sensation grew between my legs, traveling up into you know what, then through the core of my body and out my hands. A path formed by ten thousand amperes of electricity.
Slowly, far too slowly, that burning turned into a powerful tingle that in turn became something way more intense. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t suffering any more, but now I had another problem.
I fought the rising sensation, knowing if I lost control now I’d thrash around so badly I’d rip the wires apart. I bit my lip until it hurt like the devil and just concentrated on getting stronger.
I didn’t have long to wait -- the power main shorted out two minutes later, presumably back at the power station -- and I fell to the ground, my skin so hot I was steaming, my hair frizzed up, the last echoes of that unmentionable bit of threatened ecstasy making my body shake.
But it was enough.
I felt my strength returning.
Enough even to fly?
I staggered out of the cage, only to find Fred, the truck driver, standing just outside the fence, his jaw hitting the ground.
“You… you really are her?” he gasped.
I stood there looking dumb as my addled brain tried to catch up with me. That’s when I remembered that my costume was tucked tightly away. Also that various unmentionable parts of me were still glowing from all that current.
Blushing, I leaped from the ground to fly directly toward the rising sun.
It took me a long hour to get to the entrance of Bruce’s place in Gotham City. I almost forgot to put my costume back on before he greeted me at the door with his usual warmth.
“Where in the hell have you been, Kara?” he shouted angrily, pointing to his watch. “Neither you nor your father have been responding to my calls for hours!”
Good old Bruce.
“We got hit by some meteor freaks, including an Amazon who can suck energy. Must have drained the batteries too. Even worse, Lena is organizing the Amazons against us.”
“Wait... slow down. Lena Luthor? Organizing who?”
I could hear the fear in his voice, and Bruce Wayne is never afraid.
“Lena’s little meteor freaks seem to have taken over Themyscira. Now they have Earth in their sights.”
“OK... ok.” He started to cool down. “You need to tell me everything. But first, where’s Kal?”
I collapsed into the nearest chair. “Long story, Bruce. But first, do you have any of those yellow sun radiators? The ones you used to revive dad that one time.”
“Then turn them on, Bruce. All of them. Over there in the corner. We can talk while I bake.”
While he hooked up the radiators, I stripped off the costume I’d just put on, leaving only my shoes, and then I walked under Bruce’s radiators.
He finally got all the projectors going, and then ducked behind a transparent shield while I crouched down to maintain some modesty while I absorbed the full power of the beam. It was kind of hard to talk, what with my ass hanging out. Between truck drivers and Uncle Batman, today was not a good day for men.
To his credit, Bruce averted his eyes and didn’t ask any questions until I’d finished the story.
“So, we have Lena running around, presumably thinking she's tough enough to wear the 'S' shield from all the meteor radiation. Even worse, she's created more freaks, with Ariel able to take both you and Kal down by draining you. That about right?"
I stood up to stretch, keeping my back to him. “Yeah.”
“This is a very dangerous situation, Kara,” he mused, keeping his cool like always. But I could hear his heart racing.
“Is Lena going to be flying around soon, calling herself Superwoman?” Bruce wondered. “Filling Kal’s role, but with a gender bender twist. I don't get it.”
I shrugged. “No clue. I’m guessing she’s going to stick with the behind the curtain role, despite the costume. She is a Luthor.”
Bruce nodded. “I agree. Kal’s got a following of billions.They won’t trust her. What I don’t understand is how they’re going to work this gender agenda in? The whole world will align against that.”
I shrugged. “No idea. But the SOE aren’t dumb. They’ve got a plan. They just didn’t share it with me.”
“And this energy-sponge girl is going to keep Kal El under control?”
“Sponge Girl. She’ll like that.”
“This is serious, Kara.”
“You think I don’t know that, Bruce,” I shouted, forgetting my state of undress as I stood and faced him, hands on my hips. “This is my dad. They’ll turn him into some kind of breeding machine. And they’re planning on killing every man who doesn’t measure up to Amazon requirements. Hell, Bruce, how long do you think you’ll last? You got perfect genetics? Perfect health? You sure as fuck aren’t docile.”
“Not long,” Bruce replied in that infuriatingly soft voice of his, his eyes never leaving mine. “They’ll get rid of people like me first.”
“Right. And Ariel’s little demonstration in Metropolis makes it clear enough what they’ll do to me if I don’t play the game their way,” I growled. “And that’s before I figure out what Lena did to Cassie with her fucking meteor rocks. I already know that Selene can read my fucking mind!”
“Seems obvious to me, Kara. The SOE hopes to win you to their side. Being half Amazon and all.”
“Not going to happen, Bruce.”
“I know that.”
“In the meantime, what am I supposed to do? Rescue cats from trees?”
“Not much of a job for Supergirl.”
“And you won’t be able to help me if you’re dead. SOE’s gotta be gunning for you.”
“So why don’t you help me stay alive, Kara. They don’t know who I am. Right?”
I shook my head. Dad and I had been obsessive about keeping secrets, including Bruce’s.
“We have to organize a resistance, Kara.”
“And how do we do that? Look it up under R in the Yellow Pages?”
Bruce smiled... and he never smiles. “Maybe the online version of it. Nobody can stop the signal, Kara.”
I spent most of that night pacing, sleeping a little, staying under the radiators, trying to store up as much energy as I could. Ariel had really sucked the guts out of me.
By morning I felt pretty strong. Not 100%, but enough to pull my costume back on without feeling like an impostor.
“Now you look like the girl I remember.”
I jumped at the sound of his voice, and spun around to find Bruce sitting in his wheel chair a few feet away.
“How the hell do you always do that? I can hear a pin drop a mile away, yet you walk right up without my hearing you.”
“You know what I mean.”
“You’re thinking amplitude, Kara. Think frequency.”
I thought for a moment. “Let me guess… your chair sounds are designed to blend into the ambient noise of the room. And my brain automatically and unconsciously rejects the noise. Even if it’s easily audible.”
Bruce tapped his head. “You’ve always been a smart girl, Kara. But like your dad, you have your limits.”
I traced my hands down the front of my costume, tugging it around a bit to center the ‘S’. My skirt was still on the floor, but my red panties covered what they had to. “Well, at least I got most of my mojo back, Bruce. No limits for this girl today.”
Bruce’s eyes flicked downward for a fraction of a second, then back up. His expression didn’t change, but I heard his heart skip a beat. I’m not exactly ugly. Especially when I’m only half dressed in my uniform.
“We’ll see. While you were recharging down here, the Amazons crashed a General Assembly meeting at the UN. Your dad came with them and gave a very impressive speech.”
“What? Dad was there? Helping those bitches?”
“It looked that way. But I know your dad too well. It wasn’t him. Just someone who looks and talks like him."
Bruce shrugged. “Possibly. The likeness was nearly perfect. Has to be some kind of deception.”
“Was Lena there?”
Bruce shook his head. “No sign of her. I have only your report on her.”
“So what did ‘daddy’ say?”
“He delivered an ultimatum to the assembly: stop all forms of violence and crime immediately or the SOE would assume control of their countries.”
I rolled my eyes. “Gee. Why didn’t we think of that before? So easy.”
“As expected, the Assembly went a little nuts.”
“So the Amazons rounded up every delegate at the UN and locked them in the basement. According to your father’s doppleganger, if there is a major criminal or terrorist act committed by the citizens of a country, then their UN delegate will be “dealt with”. End quote.”
I gasped as the scope of the plan hit me. “Global blackmail. Nearly every country is involved. And Superman is supposedly fully behind it.”
Bruce nodded. “A lot of people’s worst fears came true last night. Kryptonians and Amazons taking over the world. The military is at high alert. My sources tell me tactical nuclear release has been authorized.”
“They won't use nukes on our soil. And they can't get them to Themyscira. Useless.”
“It’s all the military has to fight with, Kara. Other than AO. They’re terrified.”
“And I’m not?”
“We all are, Kara. But there is hope. You weren’t at the UN. The public and the military are very aware of that. Everyone on TV is talking about you, wondering whether you’re forming a resistance or whether you’ve joined them. They know you’re half Amazon.”
“Or wondering if I’m dead after that battle in Metropolis.” I wasn’t going to ask about the outcome there -- casualty numbers or anything. I didn’t want to know.
“Which can work in your favor, Kara.”
“So, what you’re saying, is if I play Lena's game, maybe I can find a way to take the SOE down later, is that it?”
“The only problem is that they still have your dad.”
I shook my head. “But they won’t kill him, Bruce, despite the threats. As long as they have him and he’s still, you know, performing, then the next generation of Amazons will all be like me. I engaged Ariel long enough before she drained me to know I’m still stronger than her.”
“Maybe. But they won’t just take your word that you’ve joined them, Kara. They’ll want you to do something to prove you really are in their camp.”
My stomach knotted again. He was right. All criminal gangs worked like that, and the SOE were now criminals by every definition.
“I can handle it,” I shrugged, even though I knew I couldn’t.
“But they’ve taken another insurance policy out on you, Kara.”
“It seems as if the SOE paid a visit to your dad’s fortress yesterday. They grabbed a bunch of electronic files and decoded them.”
“I thought dad’s encryption was more potent than even you could break?”
“It is. But Lena seems to have learned how to break Kryptonian codes. She's a criminal genius. Even more than her dad was.”
“So exactly what did they find that was so interesting?”
He turned to point toward one of his screens.
I followed his finger, zooming in, and my heart froze. I saw my personal diary displayed. The one I’d been keeping for years. The one where I’d tried to capture the weirdness of growing up super.
“But… how… why?” I sputtered.
“They sent it to me in plain text, Kara.”
“But… but…” my head was spinning.
“They have it all now, Kara. My identity. All of your secrets. All of Kal’s. Your family, friends, everything. Enough to blackmail you forever.”
My stomach fell away as the magnitude of it hit me. I’d written about dozens of people in my diary. Mom. Chloe. Jeremy and Robert. Dad’s secret identity. The people at the Planet. Bruce himself. The Star Labs mission. Personal stuff. Intimate stuff. Childish stuff. I’d even tried to make it into a bit of a story, dialog and all. Just playing around.
Bottom line, the SOE now had every secret that dad had worked so hard to protect. Including his fears about the Supremis. It went on and on and on.
Damn it! Why hadn’t I kept it in my room at home? Or someplace truly secret. The fortress was such an obvious target for SOE.
“I’m not sure how much I can help you now, Kara. I expect I’ll be in one of their pens or dead before the day is out.”
With that, he spun around in his wheelchair and headed out the door.
Shit! Shit! SHIT!
I turned back to stare at the screen, forcing myself to start reading. I barely remembered half the stuff I’d written, but the words seemed to burn into me now. My whole life story was there, written more like a newspaper article instead of a blog. Given my parents were both journalists…
Not that any of that mattered now. I just wanted to fly away, to stop reading, to hide my head. I felt myself blushing as I saw all my immature thoughts laid bare, even intimate ones, spelled out in excruciating detail.
Those bitches in the SOE were reading this!
How could I have been so stupid?!
I sighed and collapsed into a chair, focusing my thoughts like Bruce had trained me to do. Clearly, there was nothing I could do to fix this. To make it go away. All I could do was swallow my bile and ignore the embarrassment and suck it up like dad had always taught me.
Thank Rao I hadn’t updated my diary since my 16th birthday. A lot had happened in the two years since. So much so that the diary almost seemed to describe someone else. I guess growing up is like that. Changes in latitudes. Changes in attitudes.
Except it was way more than just embarrassing. My childish diary was about to become a tombstone for the people I loved.
Unless I played the game exactly SOE’s way.
And that would doom mankind forever.