The Bat Cave illuminated as the door slid open and Batman strode toward the car that was parked in the middle of the cavern, and right on his heels was Golden Angel, a girl about five foot six with long black hair that was restrained in a pony tail. She wore a combination of clothing and armor, a red top that left her right shoulder and her midriff bare, a golden raptor symbol across her chest that had the wings of a bat. She wore golden gauntlets on her forearms, and red and gold boots almost to her knees. The bottom piece of this costume was royal blue, low on her hips and left her legs almost completely bare, and it was adorned with white stars. On her brow she wore a golden tiara with a blue star in the center that was flanked by the black wings of a bat. This was a young heroine in training, and this day the lesson seemed to be an elusive one in patience.
"But that's totally not fair!" she complained. "I did fine out there by myself before and I don't need a babysitter!"
"This isn't about needing a babysitter," he countered in his deep, monotone voice. "It's time you learned to work with other team members."
"So why can't I learn from you? We worked together just fine before!"
He stopped at the car and drew a deep breath. "Elissa, it's time you learned to work with others, especially others your own age. Remember what happened with the Titans."
"That was different," she whined, grasping his arm. "I have more to learn from you than anyone!"
Batman pressed a button on his belt and the canopy of the car opened. "And this is one lesson. I won't always be right at your side."
"Of course," she argued, setting her hands on her hips. "You prefer to work alone. Why can't I just come with you tonight and learn this teamwork thing tomorrow?"
He finally turned and looked down to her. "Another thing you'll have to learn is to follow orders without arguing, understand?"
Folding her arms, Golden Angel looked away from him. It was clear that she was upset and even pouting a little, but finally she conceded in a low voice, "Yes sir."
"Get in the car," he ordered.
In moments they were speeding down a dark highway toward Gotham City. Golden Angel stared out the window, her cheek resting in her palm as she quietly watched obscure lights and reflections blur by. Finally she mumbled, "This isn't fair."
Batman glanced at her. "You wanted into this business, Angel."
"I know," she sighed, "but I thought I'd be spending more time with you and Mom."
"You know why you can't work with her as you'd like," he reminded.
"But what about working with you?" she countered, finally looking to him. "You know I don't need to be looked after and that I can handle myself out there."
"I'm well aware," he assured, "but what I have to do tonight is something I have to do alone."
She looked down to the dashboard and grumbled, "I can do stuff by myself too."
"You'd learn nothing about teamwork that way," he informed. "It's not about your abilities, Angel, it's about learning to work with a team. If I thought for a moment that you couldn't do this then you'd be back at Wayne Manor right now under lockdown." He glanced at her. "Intergang's activities have doubled in the last couple of weeks and we're sure that something big is about to go down. That's why I want you there with Robin tonight." When she did not respond and just stared out the window, he glanced at her again and said, "Do you remember what I told you some time ago?"
"You told me to go home about five times," she recalled.
He growled a sigh. "When you came to me in Gotham last year."
She turned her eyes down and nodded.
"Put your pride away, Pumpkin," he ordered, "and concentrate on your job. You aren't out here for yourself. You're out here for those who can't get justice without you, and for those who don't have anyone but you to protect them from the bad guys."
She was quiet for a time as she pondered, then she finally drew a deep breath and admitted, "I guess I kind of sound like a little brat, huh?"
Batman smiled ever so slightly. "That's the very definition of the daughter of a princess."
Golden Angel could not avoid a smile in return and she finally looked his way, and she slapped his arm with the back of her hand.
He glanced at her again. "You ready to get out there and do your job?"
"If you'll take me for ice cream later," she offered.
"Deal," he confirmed.
She looked out the windshield again and grumbled, "But why does it have to be Robin? He hates me and I'm not that fond of him."
"You'll have to put your differences aside and get your job done tonight," Batman ordered.
"I'll try," she snarled, looking back out the window.
Batman dropped her in a bad part of town near a dark alley, and as she climbed
out of the car he looked to her and said, "He'll be here in a few minutes. Remember to try and work with him and listen to him. He's been out here for a while and knows what he's doing."
Her lips tightened and she nodded.
With a wink, he finished, "And be careful out there, Pumpkin."
A smile touched her lips and she assured, "I will. Thanks, Daddy."
She watched the Batmobile speed away, then she turned and approached the alley, and she leaned against the wall to wait for Robin to finally show up.
And he took a while.
Looking around her, she hoped for a mugging, a robbery of some kind, someone to have a shootout with the police
A purse snatching! Anything! But, for once, this part of Gotham was quiet. It was an older part of town and the brick wall she leaned against was dirty and stained with graffiti. She happened to look down and find a brick that had fallen off of the wall behind her and she reached down to pick it up. Not noticing the car that slowly pulled up to the curb, she half turned and found a hole in the wall that was about the size of the brick, and she slid it neatly into place there.
When a bright light illuminated her, she turned to the road and raised a hand against it. Then the red and blue flashes started. "Great," she snarled as she heard car doors close. "Would you mind getting the light out of my eyes, please?"
A police officer approached with authority in his steps and his thumbs hooked in his belt as he looked her up and down, and finally he asked, "Mind if I ask what you're doing out here in the middle of the night, young lady?"
She hated people talking to her so, but restrained her temper and simply replied, "I'm waiting for someone."
The other officer was a woman and approached with her hands on her hips. Her tone was even more condescending as she asked, "Shouldn't you be at home?"
Still, she maintained her composure as she countered, "Don't I look familiar to you?"
"Yeah," the police woman confirmed, "but I see lots of girls come out here dressed as Wonder Woman, and your costume isn't even that convincing."
She rubbed her eyes, grumbling, "For Hera's sake." Looking back to the police woman, she set her hands on her hips and corrected, "I'm not dressed as Wonder Woman. My name is Golden Angel and I'm"
"Never heard of you," the man interrupted.
"Look," she said, clearly losing patience with them, "I'm meeting Robin here any minute and we have a full evening planned, so if you"
"I'll bet you do," the woman laughed. "Okay, Miss, I think it's time for us to take a ride."
As he reached for her, Golden Angel's hand shot behind her and returned with the loose brick, holding it in front of her, and she clenched her teeth and crushed it to dust and rubble, letting the pieces rain to the sidewalk. Her eyes darting from one officer to the next, she rubbed her thumb to her fingers to clean the last of the dust off. "Are you paying attention yet?" she barked.
The two police officers glanced at each other, not knowing quite what to think or what to say.
A young man's voice joked from the shadows, "Well now you have her on destruction of property." They all looked to see Robin stride toward them from the shadows, and he stopped a few feet away and folded his arms, his cape hanging straight down in the windless air of downtown Gotham. "It's okay, guys. She's with me."
The police man nodded and replied, "Okay, Robin. Be careful out there."
They watched the police car pull away and Robin turned to Golden Angel with a smug grin as he suggested, "Let's work on that street cred, little sister."
She ground her teeth, not looking at him as she grumbled back, "I'm four years older than you."
"Yeah, whatever," was his response. "Come on, rookie. We have somewhere to be."
Batman's order to set their differences aside and work with him was still fresh in her mind, but this guy was an awful strain on her patience. Less than an hour later they were on the roof of an old warehouse in an even more run down part of town, looking down into the warehouse through an open skylight. There was activity within and they both watched, taking note of crates and pallets that were coming in and where they were put, and more importantly how many people were in there.
Crouched down by the skylight, Robin was staring through his mini-binoculars as he watched the activity below, and finally he asked just above a whisper, "You recognize anyone?"
Also crouched down and a couple of feet away from him, Golden Angel shook her head and replied, "No, nobody jumps out at me. They look like just regular thugs to me."
"Regular thugs aren't that well organized," he pointed out. "They're working like they have a purpose. That tells me their boss is in there. Now's a good time to take him down."
She glanced at him, reminding, "Batman wants us to observe and take notes, not take them all on. He says there is something big about to go down."
"You want to sit on the sideline," he snapped back, "then be my guest." He carefully pulled the skylight open, very slowly so as not to make much noise with it.
Before he could slip in, she grasped his shoulder and reminded, "We shouldn't do this. We're supposed to observe them so that Batman can plan the next move!"
He pushed her hand from him and glared back at her. "If you're afraid then wait here where you'll be safe. I'm going to work." With that he slipped in and was climbing along a ceiling joist toward what looked like offices on the second level on the far end.
"Jerk," she snarled. Looking along the roof, she found a skylight that was right above the catwalk that was outside the office and she quickly crept to it, making it in a moment and quietly pulling it open as Robin had. Slipping in feet first, she demonstrated a gymnast's flexibility as she hooked the top of the cross member with her legs and arched her back over backward to grab onto the lower part. Still a little afraid of heights, she focused close in and did not look down as she reached up to grab the top part of the joist and feeding her body through the triangular opening the steel rods made, and in short order she was holding onto the top with her feet planted firmly on the lower part. Looking down, she found the view a little dizzying but refused to succumb to it. Her eyes darted about the ceiling and she found Robin almost to her, and here she waited, watching him climb along the ceiling joist with his eyes carefully scanning the floor.
When he was almost to her, he finally looked ahead of him and froze as he saw Golden Angel only ten feet ahead of him, and right where he needed to be.
"You sure took your time!" she hissed.
Carefully lowering herself to the catwalk rail, she managed to hop down to the catwalk itself without making a sound, and Robin followed her seconds later. The office door was about eight feet away and Golden Angel could feel the presence of several men within. Looking down to the floor again, she grasped the rail and watched the activity for a second, then she looked to Robin who was doing the same.
"Well?" she whispered. "We're inside. What now, genius?"
"We find the big man," he replied, not looking at her. "I'll bet detailed plans as to what they're up to are in that office."
Something alerted her and her head wheeled around, and she trained her eyes on the handle to the office door as it rotated downward. Drawing a gasp, she grabbed Robin's shoulder and pulled him back to the office wall, her eyes on the door as it opened toward them.
Three men in business suits and another three in what appeared to be black commando gear exited the office and made their way single file along the catwalk and toward the stairs on the far end, and they were all looking up toward the ceiling.
"Two were triggered," one of the men said with a gruff voice. "I don't think it was the wind this time."
Robin and Golden Angel looked to each other, then to the men as they descended the stairwell, one of them calling to the men on the floor below.
"Great," she hissed. "There were alarms on the skylights. Way to think ahead!"
"We'll work this to our advantage," he insisted. Crouching down, he pushed her along toward the office door, and once on the other side he looked to her and said, "I'm going to try and find something. Keep watch here." He did not give her the opportunity to respond before he slipped inside the office and gently closed the door behind him.
"Keep watch," she snarled. She slowly stood, looking around her to make sure nobody was looking that way. Looking toward the stairwell, she was suddenly aware of a second door almost at the end of the catwalk as it opened only about ten feet away. This one swung away from her and two men emerged, also dressed in black commando gear and holding weapons, and both of them looked right at her and froze.
The three of them just stared at each other for a long moment. A cold wave swept through Golden Angel and she smiled nervously, waggling her fingers at them. Both went for the guns they wore and she held her hands to them, barking, "Whoa, guys! I'm the entertainment!" When they looked to each other she moved with the swiftness of a seasoned Amazon and was upon them before either could fire a shot. A kick to the jaw knocked the first one out cold and in a quick, sweeping motion she took the gun from the second, caught him in the jaw with a hard left hook and then kneed him hard in the belly. As he doubled over, she slammed her elbow down on him hard, sending him to the floor. With both of them incapacitated, she looked around her again to see to it things were clear, but the struggle had alerted two more who emerged from the same doorway and right behind her. One grabbed her around the throat in a perfect choke hold and lifted her from the floor while the other seized her arm and reached into his pocket for something to restrain her with. Angel kicked back hard, the heel of her boot catching him right in the middle of the thigh. When he staggered backward she was able to pull her arm from the second man's grip, swung it forward, then she torpedoed her elbow right into his face, and down he went. She got her feet back on the floor and reached behind her, grabbing the head of the man who held her and in a fluid motion that Batman had shown her she threw herself forward and him over her shoulder. The wind exploded from him as he impacted the floor and even before he could get his wits back to him her fist slammed into his forehead and knocked him out cold.
She wheeled around to make sure the others were still out, then she looked down to the floor, finding many eyes on her, including the three men in the suits and all of those in the commando gear.
"Not good," she mumbled. She had to buy Robin more time to do whatever it was he was doing, and that meant fighting a dozen men at once.
Two of them raised their pistols and opened fire.
Only a few of the bullets were fired accurately and she easily knocked them away with her gauntlets. They were only fifteen feet below her and more were running up the stairs while she was distracted by the gunmen, but they did not go unnoticed. Batman had given her several useful tools and now they would definitely come in handy.
The men below finally ran out of ammunition and she took the pause to turn toward the stairwell as at least six more men filed up it and ran along the catwalk toward her. Backing away, she reached behind her to a small pouch on her belt and removed a black orb about the diameter of a half dollar. It was made of glass and threw very easily, landing about six feet in front of the man in the lead where it exploded into a dense cloud of white smoke. Looking below, she reached for another and threw it at the men who were taking aim at her once again and it exploded into a thick cloud of white smoke right between them.
Acting quickly to exploit this advantage, she jumped up onto the catwalk rail and, peering through the smoke with her enhanced vision, she leapt down with her arms outstretched and arched her body over, coming at them feet first and impacting the first one with both boots right in his chest, slowing her descent enough for her to land crouched and safely. Before anyone could react she hurled herself into the second gunman and took him down with two quick punches. Others followed the sounds of combat but she darted away before they got there and many collided with each other. Chaos ensued and she ran under the catwalk and darted toward the stairs once she reached the wall.
The men up there all made for the stairs to intercept her, but she lay in wait and kicked the first hard in the face as he reached the bottom. As he fell backward, the other five stumbled over him as he fell into them, and they were easy prey for the little Amazon as they struggled to keep their feet under them.
With those six incapacitated, she ran along the wall again as the smoke began to dissipate, keeping her eyes that way as she could hear them groping around and hurrying to and fro to try and organize some kind of defense. This was the exhilaration she craved and a little smile touched her lips as she crouched down again and waited for the first of them to emerge. Never mind buying Robin time at this point. If her count was correct, there were only four left and she was ready to take them, just as Batman had shown her.
A shadow moved within the cloud of smoke and she sprang toward it, and in a few seconds another man was down. Darting aside, she crouched down right outside of the thinning smoke cloud again and this time made out the silhouette of someone with a gun drawn. Reaching to her belt again, she found a small batarang she carried and hurled it with well practiced accuracy. It struck his hand and the gun fell, and she leapt toward him and knocked him cold with one spinning kick.
Gunfire rang out and she crouched down again, lower this time as she looked for the source. Two more shots, two more flashes in the cloud and she let another batarang fly, smiling as she heard the tink of metal striking metal and a distinctive "Ow!" from her target followed by the sound of his gun hitting the floor. The smoke thinned and she could see easily into it. Moving swiftly, she took down the disarmed man and wheeled around to the last, her left arm a blur as she deflected the shot he fired at her.
The last man, one of them in a suit, backed away, but kept his gun trained on her.
Golden Angel turned fully and strode with long, slow steps toward him, her eyes locked on his as she neared.
He fired and she deflected, again and she deflected with the same arm. Two more shots and she deflected them both with the same arm.
Shaking her head, she advised, "Just put it down. We both know you're going to run out and I'm going to get you anyway."
Snarling, he took careful aim and fired repeatedly at her, sending bullets her way in rapid succession, and once again she knocked them all away easily.
When his gun made that empty click, she strode toward him, shaking her head as she warned, "I told you."
He threw the gun at her and turned to run, making for the emergency exit on the side of the building, but she caught him easily and in seconds he fell unconscious to the floor.
Standing over him, she set her hands on her hips, shaking her head as she stared down at him.
"Very impressive," a man said from behind her.
She swung around, assuming her battle stance and was prepared to deflect bullets again, but the man she saw, standing only about twenty feet away, simply stood there with his arms folded, staring at her through goggles with round, thick red lenses.
He was also dressed in black but seemed to have some kind of padding about his elbows and knees. This was not the commando gear the others wore, rather it seemed to be designed for freedom of movement, and even though he was a lean fellow, she could tell he was very muscular in his arms, chest and legs. He had no hair and there was an almost golden tint to the skin of his head and face, and that was the only skin she could see.
Slowly standing from her battle stance, she kept her eyes locked on his goggles as she offered, "Thank you. I've been training all my life."
"As have I," he countered. "You dispatched the rest with relative ease, and this tells me you may just be a worthy adversary."
He did not seem to be very big and was, thankfully, not mechanically enhanced like Red Panzer had been. He also only appeared to be about six feet tall and she did not anticipate much trouble with him. Still, there was that feeling in the pit of her stomach that warned of danger from him and she was hesitant to approach a few steps, which she did slowly as she studied him and he clearly studied her.
"An Amazon," he observed. "You deflected their bullets like an expert, but you are clearly very young, and clearly not as large a woman as the others I've seen."
She raised a brow and informed, "Big bangs come in small packages."
"May I ask your name?" he politely asked.
Raising her chin slightly, she replied, "Golden Angel."
He smiled. "A lovely name that suits you nicely. You may call me Zeiss."
Angel nodded to him. "Pleasure to meet you, I guess."
"I've studied your fighting style," he went on. "Reminds me of another old adversary of mine, one I'm sure you know." He half turned his head. "So how much did Batman teach you?"
She drew a shallow gasp, unwittingly telling him with that and her widening eyes exactly what he wanted to know.
"Not as much as you would have liked, I'm guessing," he answered for her. Slowly, he lowered his arms. "I'm afraid I have to kill you now, my dear Golden Angel, but I am sure we will both enjoy the battle while it lasts."
She assumed her battle stance as he strode toward her, informing, "You wouldn't be the first to try, Mister Zeiss."
As he reached her, she spun and kicked at his head with a perfect aim, but he knocked her foot away easily and kept coming. She set herself and punched, only to have it blocked, and again with the same results. She went for his body and he was ready, kicked at him again and he simply lurched back out of range. A left cross was blocked but she spun around to deliver a hammer blow to his head and he met her arm easily with his. With bullet deflecting speed this time, she wheeled the other way and struck with her left hand, then her right, but both were knocked away easily, and he just kept coming!
Angel retreated, set herself, then lunged into him with an Amazon battle cry, dodging away at the last second to kick at his belly, but he caught her leg and flung her brutally to the floor with strength he did not look like he should possess. She rolled up and set herself again, darted toward him but this time dropped to the floor and swept her leg at his to cut his feet from under him, but he easily jumped over her sweep and landed behind her, and she was quick to roll away from him and leap back to her feet. With her heart pounding wildly within her, she found herself a little winded and staring wide eyed at a man who was not only far more skilled, but much quicker than she was.
He shook his head. "Poor child," he drawled. "I know you think you are quick, but to me you appear to be moving in slow motion."
She assumed her battle stance again and informed, "Okay, then I guess I'll just have to take it up a notch, won't I?" Without waiting for his snappy comeback, she charged again and threw a barrage of quick strikes at him, uppercuts and jabs and crosses that he easily blocked with moves that were much quicker than hers, but as he slowly backed away, she knew it was time to make her move. With a quick lunge, she head-butted him right in the face, then spun around and delivered a solid kick to his gut that doubled him over and sent him backward and to the floor.
Golden Angel was a little more winded now, but knew she dare not let up. She charged and he rolled backward to his feet, spinning around to deliver a kick to her head, which she blocked barely in time. Now he was on the offensive and struck at her with super human speed, and only her reflexes as an Amazon who could deflect bullets stopped blow after blow. Even when he kicked she was able to catch his strikes before he connected, but now it was Angel who was backing away. With every strike and parry he learned more about how she fought and in moments it was clear that he was simply wearing her down. When one punch came her way, she changed tactics again and seized his arm with both of hers, spinning away from him and locking his arm back against her body, forcing him into her spin lest his elbow and shoulder dislocate. From here she should have been able to take him down easily, but he counter twisted and rotated away from her unexpectedly, and before she realized he was behind her, his arm around her throat and her arm twisted behind her.
He whispered in her ear, "Oh, you're good, little girl. You have wonderful potential. A pity you won't live to reach it."
Before she could break away from him, he released her and pushed her away, and she stumbled a few steps before turning back to him. She simply could not understand. He was mortal, and yet he was so fast! His skill and experience far exceeded hers and he seemed to be able to anticipate everything she did. Almost reluctantly, she set herself to receive him again
He simply walked toward her, studying her from behind the round red lenses of those goggles, and this time she would change tactics yet again. Setting her arm to throw a punch, she leapt into the air as he reached her and spun around, knowing that a spinning back kick would be expected, and hoping the second would not be.
Zeiss ducked under her leg, then grabbed the other and pushed it hard into her spin, thwarting her balance and sending her crashing to her back on the concrete floor.
The wind exploded from her and her head struck so hard she saw a bright flash of light, but refused to black out and found herself stumbling to her feet as quickly as she could. He was upon her before she realized and this time delivered a blow to the side of her head with his fist and she went down again. Stunned anew, she was slow to push herself back up and when her wits returned she was surprised to see that he had backed away.
He was shaking his head and actually folded his arms. "Come now, little girl. You're not even trying."
She scrambled up to face him again, stumbling back a few steps. Her back slammed into one of the steel columns that held up the ceiling and she just leaned back against it for a moment to collect herself while he was not coming at her. Her mind was whirling around some way to defeat him. Being an Amazon, she knew she was stronger and her reflexes should have been much quicker than his, but they were not.
Slowly, he stalked toward her, holding his arms at his sides as he taunted, "My employer was expecting someone a little older than you, more experienced. I suppose they could not be bothered tonight so they sent some little girl to her death."
She lunged and struck true for his chest, but his arm swept and he had a firm grip on her wrist before she realized, and he twisted her arm sharply, half turning himself to deliver a brutal kick to her side, her ribs and she cried out as the wind exploded from her again. The same leg swung over and caught her hard in the belly and she doubled over, her arm still in his grip. Moving too fast for her to react, he seized her throat and slammed her head into the steel pillar behind her with crushing force and consciousness nearly abandoned her. His hand half circled his neck and two fingers found their positions between vertebrae right under her skull. The wrist he still held was pushed over her shoulder and her arm was bent as far back as it would go without dislocating, and the pain from this contorted her young face.
"I can make this very quick," he informed, "very painless, or I can paralyze you and leave you here to suffocate. How would you like to die?"
Her gaze locked on his goggles in a fearful stare, her brow arched high over them. When he forced her arm back a little more and she whimpered from the greater surge in pain.
"Who else is with you?" he demanded.
"I'm by myself," she whimpered.
A commotion up at the office level drew their attention, and they saw Robin locked in battle with four of the commando clad men.
Zeiss looked back to Golden Angel, and his posture told her that he was not pleased with her attempted deception.
"Oh yeah," she added, "and him."
He drew in close to her, observing, "Well, it looks like you are out of tricks, little girl."
"No," she corrected, "I have one more." Her leg moved with amazing speed and her Amazon strength sent her knee between his legs with enough force to lift him from the floor almost a foot.
This time it was Zeiss who cried out in pain and his grip on her was lost. With her free hand, she knocked his hand away from her neck, punched his other arm hard to free her other hand, then she grabbed onto his shirt, pulling him toward her as she head-butted him in the face again as hard as she could. He staggered back and she half spun and delivered a solid kick to his belly, doubling him over as he staggered backward more. Advancing, she yelled an Amazon battle cry as she brought her fist up as hard as she could, catching him on the chin hard enough to knock him from his feet. He arched backward, blood spewing from his mouth, and he crashed head-first onto the floor about six feet away.
As he lay on the floor not moving, Golden Angel pointed down at him as she shouted, "And quit calling me little girl!" Looking up from her vanquished enemy, she saw Robin approaching, and she set her hands on her hips as she cried, "Way to take your time in there, butthead!"
"What took you so long with him?" he countered. "I could have taken him out in less than a minute."
Folding her arms, she snarled, "Sure you could."
"We got what we need," he informed. As he turned, something slammed into him from the side, knocking him across the warehouse. It looked like a giant mallet of some kind, something formed of clay that was a pinkish color in the warehouse lights.
Spinning around, Golden Angel found herself facing a huge figure that seemed to be formed of clay himself. Over eight feet tall, he had no neck, his arms and legs were very thick and his hands and feet were huge. His body was also very thick. His head seemed to be more of a mound and small black eyes were beneath a badly sculpted brow.
To Golden Angel he was horrifying and she backed away a few steps, and as he thrust a hand at her she tried to set herself, but blocking this strike was futile. A thick substance with the weight and consistency of cement slammed into her, enveloped her, and she was pushed by it ten feet backward where she was slammed into that same pillar again. The substance from his hand wrapped around the pillar and quickly grew more solid, but much of it flowed down her legs and wrapped itself around the pillar there as well. In seconds she was hopelessly trapped by it, her arms pinned to her sides beneath the heavy cement like substance that continued to wind itself around the pillar, continued to solidify, and her struggles to escape were in vain.
Looking to the horrible creature, she was suddenly still as she saw him stomping toward her.
He looked her over, and shook his head. "This is pathetic," he said in gravely voice.
As she stared up at him, she felt the stuff he had hit her with begin to slowly ooze downward and knew in a moment she could escape from it, and she hoped she would have that moment.
Thankfully, he turned on Robin and slammed his fist into his other hand. "Your turn, bird boy."
Robin was in his battle stance and simply smiled back as the creature approached him, and he asked, "Have you seen the latest from the Doctor Freeze collection?" His hand swept forward and a small white orb was thrown with a true aim and hit the big creature square in the chest before it exploded.
The creature retreated, roaring as he was enveloped in a white mist. Ice crystals began to form all over him and in seconds he was frozen solid.
Running at him, Robin wheeled around and kicked him about dead center and the creature exploded into thousands of frozen pieces. Dusting his hands off, he strode around the mess toward Golden Angel, saying, "That's how you deal with Clayface."
She managed to pull one arm up out of the goo she was trapped in and she twisted and struggled to get it off of her. The going was slow, but it was not completely solid and she found herself having some success in working her way free. Pausing to look at Robin, who stood about ten feet away with his arms folded as he watched her, she raised her brow and barked, "A little help?"
"You're doing fine," he assured.
Her struggle resumed and she strained to say, "Well thank you for nothing." The more solid portion was on the outside and once she had broken through that she managed to pull herself away from the pillar and the bulk of the goo she had been trapped in, but she found herself covered in a thinner part that was the consistency of thin mud. Holding her arms out, she looked down at her body to see that it was all over her. "Yuck," she snarled. "This is just great. What is this crap anyway?"
Robin half smiled. "That crap is part of his body."
Slowly, she raised horrified eyes to him, her mouth locked in a slack jawed grimace. Still holding her arms out, she cried, "Eew!"
Robin laughed and walked past her, informing, "Come on, little girl. We have what we need and they've called in reinforcements, and we don't need to be here when they arrive."
She turned and followed, walking gingerly and with her arms away from her body, complaining the whole way, "Oh, eew! This is sick!"
Hours later Damien sat at the long dining table at Wayne Manor having a snack of some kind of sandwich and a glass of milk. He had changed into a black tee shirt and blue jeans. His black hair had been recently washed and was still slicked back. More lounging in his chair than sitting, he just took the time to unwind and had his eyes on his food until the door behind him opened and he looked over his shoulder, greeting, "Good morning, Father."
Bruce was also casually dressed in khaki slacks and a white shirt, and his eyes were on his son as he asked, "How did it go?"
"It went smoothly," he informed. "Had a little glitch with Angel"
"I heard," Bruce harshly informed as he reached Damien. "I believe my orders were to observe this time."
Looking up at his father, the boy smiled and countered, "I got us a whole lot more than I would have just watching. Sartini had hired both Zeiss and Clayface to look after things, that and I got a whole list of names on his payroll."
Bruce folded his arms and growled, staring down at the boy with a disapproving look. "Where is Elissa?" he finally asked.
Turning his attention back to his sandwich, Damien replied, "She's still in the shower." He took a bite and continued, "Been in there about two hours now. I think she got a little creeped out by part of Clayface being all over her like that."
The door Bruce had entered from opened again and he turned to see Elissa enter the dining room. She was dressed in a long terry bathrobe and had her hair up in a towel. Her arms were crossed over her belly and she held her head down and her shoulders up.
As she reached them, Damien smiled and looked back to his sandwich, asking, "So how was your shower with Clayface?"
She walked by and slapped the back of his head hard enough for the sound to echo in the big room and his head snapped forward, and she cried, "Not cool, Damien!"
Damien rubbed the back of his head and smiled as he watched her take a seat two chairs down from him.
Elissa glared at him for long seconds, then she turned her eyes down to the table, keeping her arms crossed over her.
Alfred came in through a door at the other end of the dining room, carrying a tray that had bowl and spoon perfectly in the center. Without speaking he strode to Elissa and set the tray down beside her, removed the bowl and set it down in front of her and the spoon beside the bowl.
Seeing the bowl full of strawberry ice cream, Elissa did not look up at him, but she did offer a meek, "Thank you."
He smiled and patted her shoulder before picking the tray back up. "You are quite welcome, Miss Elissa." His eyes found Bruce, who nodded to him, then he turned back toward the door he had come from.
Bruce sat down across from her, his elbows on the table and his chin resting on his laced fingers. With his eyes on the girl, he said, "I heard you tangled with an old enemy of mine."
She loosed a deep breath and nodded. Clearly, she was feeling a little embarrassed about being outmatched so, especially by what appeared to be a normal man.
"You need to know something about him," he went on. "He's been surgically enhanced. Many years ago he had an experimental procedure performed on his spine and optic nerves. He reacts almost instantly to most fighting styles and has been studying martial arts longer than you've been alive."
She finally turned her eyes to him.
He continued, "We fought to a stalemate a couple of times, and he's badly injured or killed a number of people who were considered expertly skilled in many forms of fighting. I would never have sent you alone against him, but it sounds like you got the better of him."
Deepest truth called to her and Elissa lowered her eyes again, admitting, "I
" She heaved a breath out. "He was getting the better of me the whole time. He was beating me. I just wasn't a match for him."
"So how did you beat him?" he pressed.
Elissa glanced at him. "Well, let's just say he won't be interested in girls for a while."
Finally picking up her spoon, Elissa stirred her ice cream and turned a smile to Bruce.
Finishing his sandwich, Damien looked to her bowl and observed, "Huh. Looks like something that came off of Clayface."
Elissa had nearly gotten her spoon to her mouth when he said that and she paused long enough to look down to it, then she slammed it into her bowl with a loud clink.
Turning narrow eyes to the boy, Bruce made no secret of his disapproval.
Damien got the message and wiped his mouth with his napkin, then he pushed away from the table and stood. "Okay, peeps, I'm going to get some training in before I go to bed. You okay if I train in the cave, Father?" When Bruce nodded to him, he nodded back and announced, "I'll be down there if you want to join me. See you later," His eyes slid to Elissa and he finished, "Father."
Quiet as he departed, Elissa could feel his resentment toward her but she would not look at him as he left. When he was gone, she drew a breath and pushed her bowl away from her, grumbling, "Why does he have to be such a jerk?"
"You mind telling what happened out there?" Bruce asked in the voice of Batman.
Elissa cringed, bowing her head a little as she admitted, "I didn't want to go in there. He insisted he was going and just wouldn't listen."
"And you just had to follow," he added.
Her eyes darted about and she shrugged. "He was going no matter what I said and"
"Aren't you older than him?" he questioned. "At what point did it seem like a good idea to let him give into his impulses? One of you had to be a leader out there and we both know that Damien doesn't have the discipline for that step."
"What am I supposed to do when he won't listen to me?" she asked meekly. She finally looked to him and confessed, "I'm not a leader, Daddy."
"And yet you were when you took on your mother's role as Wonder Woman, weren't you? You went into many situations and took control for the common good."
Her lips tightened. "But that was Wonder Woman talking, not me. They all respected Wonder Woman. Golden Angel is just
" She shook her head and looked down again. "I'm just a little girl who wants to be a hero."
"And to many people Golden Angel already is," he informed. "Do you remember what I told you that night on the roof?"
She timidly replied, "This isn't a popularity contest." Elissa looked to him again, her brow tense as she continued, "I remember, and I want to do good, but I just don't think I have the power to do what I need to."
"Elissa," he said patiently, "you are the best of both your mother and me. You don't have to be as strong as Wonder Woman or as menacing as Batman. People will count on Golden Angel being Golden Angel. You may not realize this, but the people out there are looking for both your strength and your compassion, and the others in the Justice League rally to you."
"Everybody just wants to look out for me," she said softly.
"And that brings us all together. Just focus on your strengths, Pumpkin.
That's all you have to do."
She nodded and assured, "I will." Looking to her ice cream, she grimaced and complained, "I can't eat that now."
Bruce stood. "Well, come on, then. Let's get a good workout in and loosen you up."
Heaving a breath, Elissa grumbled in the voice of a young girl, "I don't want to."
"Come on, Golden Angel. Time to get some training in, and I think it's an ideal time to do a little sparring with Robin."
Her eyes slowly lifted up and trained on him.
Stone faced as he almost always was, Bruce stared back at her, and winked.
And a wicked little smile curled Elissa's lips.