Metallo and his men had been thoughtful enough to completely disable the alarm system, so quietly entering through the back was rather easy. Batman had taught Golden Angel the art of picking locks and she proved to be a quick study, so even the security lock into the back of the bank proved to be no match for her.
Once inside, she quietly negotiated her way through the back offices, cubicles and the office equipment and crept toward the front where she expected to find the hostages. Freeing them was her top priority and Atom and Huntress had agreed. In fact, they had surprised her by embracing her plan.
The lobby was ahead of her and her eyes narrowed as she crouched down and silently approached. This small hallway emptied out behind the teller's stations and she could see some activity out there, but no hostages. Peering around the corner, she saw the door to the vault standing ajar, then she saw movement out of the corner of her eye and shifted her attention directly ahead—right as a man dressed in all black with a black mask walked around the corner into the hallway and saw her.
Wide eyed, he froze and dropped the empty sacks he was carrying as he made contact with the young Amazon.
Elissa only hesitated for a second before she sprang forward and delivered an uppercut to his jaw that knocked him out cold. She watched him fall straight back and slam onto the floor, then she peered around the corner and into the teller's stations, seeing two more of them cleaning out cash boxes. This was predictable and for some reason they did not seem to be in any hurry. Apparently, with Metallo on their team, they did not fear the guns of the police.
Swiftly and silently, she rushed the two and dispatched them with quick and expert moves, delivering a kick to the head of the first one, then wheeling around and slamming the heel of her boot into the jaw of the second. With a little smile, she looked down at her work, setting her hands on her hips, then she turned around and froze.
Two more of the men in the black gear were standing there with their guns trained on them. Not usually a problem, but Metallo stood right behind them, his mechanical arms folded and his glowing eyes locked on the little Amazon.
He was also dressed in black, the same clothing the others were dressed in, but he wore no mask over his head. His head and face were skull like and reminded her of Red Panzer, though he was not quite as big as the mechanical Nazi that had almost killed her less than a year ago. Mechanical workings could be seen melded in with the armor that was his exoskeleton and old memories made her heart race and pump fear throughout her.
Metallo casually leaned his head as he studied her, then he shook his head and observed, "I guess the real members of the Justice League are all busy, so they are sending in the children now." His accent sounded British and his voice synthesized, much like Red Panzer's.
Elissa swallowed hard and backed away a couple of steps, her eyes locked wide on the big cyborg before her.
"Put the guns down, boys," Metallo ordered. "This little girl is an Amazon. Bullets are something she knows how to deal with." As the men lowered their weapons, the big mechanical criminal slowly strode forward, slowly lowered his arms. "So are you their response, or are you some kind of diversion?"
"Um…" she stammered, her eyes locked on his.
"You weren't sure what you would find in here, were you?" he pressed as he drew closer.
Elissa backed away and was stopped by the teller's station only three steps behind her.
Metallo raised his chin. "Do you know who I am?"
Hesitantly, she nodded.
He folded his arms. "So. You know who I am and what I can do. What do you intend to do about it?"
Her lips were parted in fear as she stared up at him, and with a tiny voice she admitted, "I, uh… I don't know."
"I didn't think so." Metallo looked to the men who took his sides, then back to the frightened girl.
She shrieked as he brutally took her arm and spun her around, bending her over the work station.
"Give me that pathetic guard's handcuffs," he ordered.
Elissa half turned her head as her arms were forced behind her, and she tensed as she felt the cold steel of the handcuffs close around her wrists with loud, quick clicks. In seconds she was subdued and was turned with the same brutality to face him again. As he held her by the arms, she just stared up at him and she did not resist at all.
"Taken without a struggle," he chided. He slowly reached to her face and his metal finger stroked her cheek. "You are a lovely one, aren't you?"
"Thank you," she offered in a wisp of a voice.
He took her tiara gently from her head and looked it over, then he turned his attention back to her. "Amazon warrior, huh? Not Amazon enough to challenge me, though."
Turning her eyes down, Elissa softly admitted, "I guess not."
Metallo turned and pulled her by the arm toward one of his waiting henchmen. "Put her with the rest, and take her little tool belt."
Two men took her arms, and one of them was rubbing his jaw, and he did not have a pleasant look for her.
They took her to the vault, which strangely had a red carpet on the floor. This was a large vault, easily thirty feet deep and twenty wide with four round tables down the center. One wall was lined with safety deposit boxes, many of which were left open and empty. The other side was a bare concrete wall that was painted, and there is where the hostages all sat, lined up on the carpeted floor.
Elissa scanned the room once more, seeing four large safes at the end of the vault, all of which were open. As she was pulled to a stop, she turned her attention to the two dozen hostages, noticing quickly that they all bore looks of people who had lost all hope, especially at seeing someone who was supposed to be a superhero taken prisoner as well.
The man she had kicked in the jaw had her belt slung over her shoulder, and he stepped in front of her, glaring down at her as he was at least six feet tall. With a scowl and a growling voice, he informed, "I got something for you."
His fist slammed into the side of her face and she spun around and collapsed, unable to break her fall.
He pointed down at her and shouted, "You just lay there and think about that for a while. I'll be back to settle up with you when we're done!"
Raising her head, she looked over her shoulder as she watched the two turn and leave the vault, and this time they closed the door as they left.
"They didn't lock it," she observed aloud in a slight voice. Laying her head back down, she found herself facing the hostages.
One of them, sitting about the middle of the line, was a rather big man, a plump man who was losing his hair and seemed to be a rather rough fellow. He was wearing a plaid shirt and dirty trousers, and a disgusted look on his face.
"Great," he grumbled. "Now we're never going to get out of here."
Elissa smiled at him. "No, everything's going according to plan." She looked down at herself and said, "It's clear, guys."
Atom had a firm hold on Huntress' hand as they both jumped from the middle of her top. Each was less than a quarter of an inch tall, but as soon as they hit the carpet they rapidly grew to their normal sizes, each enveloped in an eerie glow that emanated from him.
Pulling a small lock pick from under one of her gauntlets, Elissa looked up at him and flashed a big smile as she said, "You'd better not let my mother find out where you were hiding."
He looked down at her and chuckled. "It's not like I've never been down her shirt."
Elissa's smile yielded to a horrified gape.
"So now what?" the same man demanded.
Huntress pointed at him and hissed, "Keep it down!" She looked to the door, then to Golden Angel, who was sitting up and had already freed one hand. "Okay, Angel. It's time for phase two."
Sometime later, the vault door opened and four of Metallo's henchmen strode in, holding their weapons ready as one barked, "Okay, people it's time to…"
They all looked around, scanning the now empty vault with wide eyes.
"Where did they go?"
They all ran from the vault and to the lobby where Metallo and the other two waited with several full canvas bags.
The same one barked, "They're gone!"
Metallo spun to face him and demanded, "What? How did they get out of there?"
"I don't know, Boss. They just aren't in there anymore."
Looking that way, Metallo grumbled, "That's impossible." He strode to the back, followed by his men, and once he reached the vault he grabbed onto the edge of the door and pulled it open. Storming in, he looked around, carefully scanning the room, and he declared, "They couldn't have gotten out. They couldn't have." Turning to his men, he ordered, "Search the bank! Search everywhere!"
"Don't bother," Huntress advised from outside the vault.
The seven men turned toward the vault door just in time to see it close, and the sound of a mechanical lock engaging confirmed that they had been locked in.
Outside the door, Elissa turned the huge wheel one more time for good measure, then she dodged aside and pressed her back to the wall beside the door, right beside Huntress.
"Working so far," Huntress complimented. "You sure we should stick around?"
Something banged into the vault door hard enough to shake the whole wall.
Golden Angel looked to her and replied, "I'll take off and get them to chase me. You can take his henchmen from behind. Can you handle six of them?"
With a confident smile, the tall woman simply answered, "Oh please. There are only six of them."
A second bang and the wall around the door began to buckle.
"I wonder where they left my belt," Golden Angel said absently.
With the third impact, the vault door exploded from the wall and slammed onto the floor with a heavy thud.
The two heroines looked to each other and said together, "Phase three."
Elissa darted away, spinning around right before she made it to the lobby and raising her arms before her. Two of the men fired and she easily deflected their bullets.
"Stop shooting!" Metallo ordered, his attention fully on the little Amazon who defiantly stood her ground before him. "I'll take care of the little girl."
When he charged forward, Elissa barked a scream as she wheeled around and ran from him.
The six men he left behind never knew what hit them, and Huntress left nobody standing.
A chest high writing station with a black granite top that was about eight feet long was right in the middle of the lobby. Beneath it were many of the forms people could fill out before going to see the teller. Many pens were connected by short chains, but these were of no consequence. Golden Angel stopped at one end, grabbed it with both hands and wrenched the granite top off, then she wheeled around and slammed it into Metallo's head with everything she had.
It exploded into hundreds of little bits as it hit him and he stumbled sideways across the lobby.
The piece she still held was only about two feet square, and before he could get his bearings, she threw it at him with a good aim and hit him in the head again, and this time he stumbled into the teller's station, crashing into it and almost all the way through it.
As he steadied himself and emerged from the mess of the teller's stations, Elissa set her hands on her hips and demanded, "Where's my tiara?"
He took a couple of steps toward her, then set himself and countered, "Come and take it, little girl."
She snarled back, "You so don't know how much I hate to be called that." She still feared him, but she was also sure that stronger heroes would be along soon and all she had to do was fight a hit and run battle against him, using her speed and agility to keep him busy until help arrived.
Predictably, he strode toward her, but this time she did not retreat.
As he neared, he asked, "What did you do with my guests?"
"They're safe," she replied, "but I can't say the same for you."
"We'll see," he countered.
When he grabbed for her, she ducked under his arm and rammed her shoulder into his midriff, quickly driving him backward and to the teller's windows again. Before they got there, she grabbed onto one of his legs behind the knee and drove him as hard as she could onto the tile floor. Many of the tiles shattered as he struck back first, but he was not stunned and got his hand around her forearm, her gauntlet, before she could get away from him. She punched at his arm but could not break his grip on her as he stood. She tried to pry his fingers loose, but this only gave him the opportunity to get his other hand around that wrist. Now she had a problem.
Standing fully, he picked her up and stretched her arms in opposite directions. Golden Angel struggled in his grip and eventually kicked at him, catching him in the head, but this was to no avail.
"You are a spirited one," he commended, "but I'm afraid that spirit will not help you today." When she only responded with a defiant glare, he leaned his head and wondered, "Which of your arms do you think will tear away from you first?" Slowly, he began to pull her arms apart.
Elissa screamed as she felt her arms beginning to dislocate and pulled back with everything she had, but there was simply no hope of matching his strength.
A crossbow bolt hit him in the back of the head and his head swiveled around.
Standing behind him, Huntress had already reloaded with a bolt with an unusually large head on it, and her eyes narrowed as she snarled, "Let's see if you can take one of these." She shot the bolt with a good aim and it exploded between his shoulders.
As he stumbled forward, he lost his grip on one of the girl's arms and she took the opportunity to kick against him and free the other.
Huntress backed away, quickly reloading as he advanced on her. With a quick aim, and from only about twenty feet away, she shot him with another exploding tip bolt, but he only lurched backward and kept advancing on her.
Golden Angel acted quickly, slamming into his back and wrapping her arms around his metal waist. With a savage yell, she picked him up and arched her back, throwing them both backward and slamming him head-first onto the tile floor. Once again the tiles shattered as he struck, but this time she rolled away from him before he could turn on her. By the time he stood, she had backed away and stood beside Huntress.
"Okay," Elissa said, her attention locked on their enemy as he began to stride toward them again. "How many of those exploding arrows do you have left?"
"One," Huntress replied, "but it's not like they're doing any good, anyway."
"Headshot," Golden Angel mumbled, then she charged right at him and darted away right before she was within striking distance.
His attention turned to her as she readied herself about ten feet away from him. The last exploding crossbow bolt slammed into the side of his head and he staggered sideways a few steps from the blast, and Golden Angel struck hard, slamming her shoulder into him and driving him toward one of the huge windows. He turned and warded her off and she darted away again.
Looking to Huntress, Golden Angel shouted, "Get out of here! I've got him!"
Hesitantly, the tall woman nodded, then she backed away, turned and fled.
Metallo and Golden Angel faced off again.
"Alone at last," she observed with a coy smile.
"Yes," he drawled. "I don't make a habit of underestimating my opponents more than once. I know you are up to something or you would not have dismissed your little friend."
She slowly backed away as he stalked toward her. "Yeah, three's a crowd and stuff. So, are you afraid of me yet?" When he laughed, she grumbled, "Didn't think so." Looking past him, she saw what she could use, and smiled ever so slightly. "Well, then we should play before the grown-ups get here." She darted toward him again, and when he grasped for her she fell to the floor and under his arm, sliding on her leg and backside past him. Once behind him, she stood and darted to the vending machine that stood on one end of the lobby in a waiting area that had two rows of comfortable looking chairs facing a long coffee table that had magazines lying all over it. She hurtled over the table and landed right in front of the machine, glancing over her shoulder to see him advancing on her again. Reaching down, she grasped the bottom of the drink machine and rocked it up onto her shoulder, turning slightly as she looked to the approaching robotic bad man. Her eyes narrowed as she took careful aim, then with a mighty yell she threw the vending machine at him with all her might.
He simply batted it away and kept advancing.
Wide eyed, she watched it slide to a stop near the teller's stations and mumbled, "Well that sure didn't work." She was cornered again and they both knew it, but to her surprise he stopped on the other side of the table.
"You sure are a strong little girl," he observed.
"Thanks," she said, her eyes locked on his, "and please quit calling me that."
He folded his arms. "I already know who your mother is. Perhaps you'll tell me who your father is."
"That's none of your business," she spat.
"Process of elimination, then," he informed, slowly lowering his arms. A thick plate on his chest opened to reveal a glowing green stone that was mounted in place between four triangular metal keepers.
Golden Angel's eyes widened as she was bathed in the glow of the green stone. She knew immediately that it was kryptonite, and as he strode toward her again, kicking the table aside, she backed into the wall behind her, raising her palms as if to ward it off. She began to shake and breathe in quick gasps, and this told Metallo exactly what he wanted to know.
"Well," he drawled as he drew closer. "It would seem that Wonder Woman and Superman are more than just friends after all, wouldn't it?"
"Please," she implored in a whimper, "keep that away from me."
He slowly advanced, his hand clenching into tight fists. "This is a surprise. On the up side, it means I won't be killing you tonight after all. No, you are much more valuable to me alive."
She tore her wide eyes from the kryptonite and trained them up on his, her lips parting in fear as she pressed herself against the wall behind her.
He stopped only a foot away from her and set his hands on his hips. "Yes, you will be very valuable. Feeling weaker, my dear?"
Her knees shook and almost buckled, and she pled, "Please stop!"
"Too much of this will kill you, won't it, little girl?"
Elissa raised her brow and corrected, "Well, no, not really." Her hand darted into his chest, grabbed the chunk of kryptonite and retreated before he realized what had happened, and before he could react her other palm slammed hard up into his midriff and knocked him over the chairs behind him. She watched him slam onto the floor about twenty feet away, and she smiled as he slid to a stop. Looking to the kryptonite, which was about the size of a softball, she tossed it up and caught it a couple of times before turning her attention back to the big cyborg as he staggered to his feet. "Not so full of yourself now, are you?"
Clenching his fists, he ordered, "Give me that."
"Or what?" she challenged. "You'll kill me? You kind of want to do that anyway, don't you?"
He stalked forward. "Little girl, believe me I can make it quick and painless or—"
"Blah blah blah!" she barked back as she strode slowly forward to meet him. "I've done some reading on you, Mister Metallo, and we both know that this is what powers you."
Elissa raised a brow. "It seems to me that you're going to run out of juice here pretty quick without this, so you'd better start thinking about giving up without giving me any more trouble."
The door in his chest closed and he folded his arms again as she slowly neared. "You're a pretty smart girl."
"Thanks," she said sweetly. "I like to think so,"
"But not smart enough to think that I might have a backup power supply."
About ten feet away, Golden Angel stopped and for a few awkward seconds just stared up at him.
"I can go on for weeks without that," he informed, "and I have before."
She looked down to the kryptonite and mumbled, "Oh. I did not know that."
"Now you do," he pointed out. Extending his hand, he said, "Now be a good little girl and give Metallo the nice kryptonite."
Her brow slowly lowered and just as slowly she turned her eyes up to his, reminding through bared teeth, "I said don't call me that!" In quick motions she knocked his hand away and half spun, kicking him as hard as she could in the midriff.
Metallo landed on his back on the other side of the lobby, clearly taken by surprise by this attack, but he was quick to lunge to his feet and face her as she advanced again.
"Yeah," she spat. "Now you're going to have to tell the other bad guys you got your butt kicked by a little girl!"
"Not quite," he countered as he strode toward her again. "I think it's time for you to learn a little lesson. Now give me the kryptonite!"
She shook her head. "I so don't think so." When he charged, she evaded him easily, back-pedaling away and circling around behind him. He turned on her again and she dared to smile at him. "Too slow, metal man."
He tried again, this time side stepping to corner her, but she was simply too quick, and it was all too clear that she was just toying with him, buying time.
Turning to face her again, he reached into his pocket and conceded, "Very well. You have something I want," He produced her tiara. "and I have something you want. Shall we just trade?"
Her eyes narrowed and she raised a brow. "You must think I'm really stupid."
He slowly strode forward, holding the tiara toward her. "No, I just need to end this nonsense and be on my way. Now take your headpiece and give me the kryptonite."
"Keep the headpiece," she offered, backing away. "I have another one."
Metallo tossed the tiara away and shouted, "Little brat!" as he charged at her again.
She dodged away and he corrected and managed to get a hand around her upper arm. With speed she did not anticipate, he wheeled around, jerking her from the ground as he did and hurled her into the granite tiled wall about twenty feet away.
She slammed back first into it and barked a yell as she hit, then she crumpled limply to the floor, but somehow kept her grip on the kryptonite. Lying face down with her hair sprawled about around her head, her wits returned to her slowly and she struggled to pull her hands under her and push herself up. She drew a knee under her, planted her foot and tried to stand, but his fist came down on the back of her head to send her back down, and down she stayed.
Metallo stared down at the unconscious girl for a few seconds, then he bent down and plucked the kryptonite from her grasp, informing, "I'll just take that." Looking over his shoulder, he saw that two of his men had recovered and were staggering toward him, then his attention returned to the girl and he ordered, "Collect this foolish little girl. We'll take her with us. And make sure you bind her better this time. I want no more surprises."
One of the men falling to the floor near his foot caught the corner of his eye and he looked down to see the man lying unconscious face down. Wheeling around, he saw the other already down, and Huntress standing over him.
Staring up at him, she smiled as she announced, "Surprise!"
"This ends my patience," he growled as he strode toward her.
Backing away, Huntress pointed behind him and advised, "Don't tell me! Tell her!"
He stopped. Slowly, he looked over his shoulder, then he spun around to face Wonder Woman.
She was less than ten feet away and just standing there with her hands set on her hips. Glaring at him as she was, she appeared to be Death personified and for the first time Metallo found himself racked with hesitation.
Diana turned her eyes down to her unconscious daughter, then those deadly eyes shifted back to the cyborg who had knocked her out.
Finding his confidence, Metallo raised his chin and guessed, "I have to go through you as well? No matter." He strode toward her. "I'll make this quick." He swung as hard as he could.
She caught his fist in her palm and replied with her own, right into his chest.
This time, Metallo crashed all the way through the teller's stations and was finally stopped by the wall behind them, though he penetrated it about a foot before crumpling to the ground.
Diana strode after him, glancing at Huntress as she ordered, "See to Golden Angel."
Huntress kept her eyes on the Amazon Princess who strode with purposeful steps after Metallo, then she turned her eyes to the unconscious girl and hurried to her. Kneeling down beside Elissa, she first checked for a pulse, then she brushed her hair aside, looking for her face, and finally finding it.
"Angel?" she summoned, stroking the girl's cheek. "Angel. Can you hear me?" Hearing a crash behind her, she looked over her shoulder as Metallo flew over the teller's stations and slammed into the now topless table where people were meant to fill out their forms, smashing it to pieces as his metal body drove through it.
He stood turning to face the Amazon Princess as she pursued him with heavy, menacing steps, her eyes locked on him in that deadly glare.
Diana paused and looked to her daughter, to Huntress and asked, "Is she okay."
With a glance down at the girl, Huntress looked to Diana and nodded, assuring, "She's out, but I think she'll be okay."
Nodding back, Wonder Woman turned her predator's gaze back on Metallo and said, "Well, it looks like this is your lucky day." She held her hands before her and cracked her knuckles, snarling, "But not that lucky."
Morning was only a few hours away and now police and investigators milled around the bank lobby and all marveled over the damage caused by the battle between Golden Angel and Metallo. Commissioner Gordon looked over the wreckage of the teller's stations as Detective Bullock reported what had happened.
Gordon, who faced the teller's stations with his arms folded, half turned his head and asked, "So how long were they in here?"
"We think about six hours," Bullock answered. "They hit the place a few minutes before it closed and had everyone locked in the vault. We didn't even know about it until we were responding to missing persons calls and found out most of them were last known to be here."
Watching them, Diana sat on the floor near where her daughter had slammed into the granite wall tiles. Her back was against the wall and her legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles as she listened for the detective's report. Golden Angel slumbered peacefully, her head lying on her mother's lap and her arms drawn to her as she was curled up on the floor next to her mother, and Diana slowly, gently stroked the girl's hair.
When the girl whimpered and rocked her head ever so slightly, Diana looked down to her and gently combed her fingers through her hair right over her ear.
Golden Angel drew a deep breath and rolled her head to look up at her mother through eyes that were open only to thin slits. She blinked and slowly brought the world around her into focus.
Wonder Woman smiled. "How did you sleep, Junior?"
Unable to answer, Elissa drew another breath and blinked, holding her brow low as she tried to remember where she was, and as that realization hit her she gasped loudly and sat up, bracing herself up on her palms as she looked around her with wide eyes. Seeing that it was over, she bowed her head and grumbled, "I got my butt kicked again, didn't I?"
"Afraid so," Wonder Woman confirmed. "Have you thought about taking on bad guys who are not so…"
"Mechanical?" Golden Angel snarled.
"Well," Diana sighed, "I was going to say out of your weight class, but that would be a good start."
"I thought I had him," Elissa said softly. "I really did."
Wonder Woman roughed her daughter's hair. "Cheer up, little warrior. We don't win every battle."
Drawing her legs to her, Golden Angel wrapped her arms around them and laid her chin on her knees. "Lately I just want to win one."
"You got the hostages out of there safely," Diana pointed out, "and Atom tells me that was your main goal. You saved lives tonight."
"Except my own," the girl mumbled.
A police officer approached and offered, "Excuse me." When the Amazons looked to him, he offered Golden Angel her tiara and informed, "I found this and thought you might like it back."
"Thank you," she said softly as she slowly reached to him and took it.
He smiled at Diana and went about his duties.
Elissa laid her chin back on her knees, staring blankly ahead of her.
Wonder Woman simply stared at her for a moment, then she drew her feet to her and stood, slapping the girl's back with the back of her hand as she bade, "Come on, Golden Angel. Let's get going."
Reluctantly, Elissa stood, then she barked, "Whoa!" as she grasped for her mother's arm. Her eyes were wide and she was clearly having some problems with balance, then she squeezed her eyes shut and reached for the back of her head, whining, "Ow."
Grasping the girl's shoulders, Wonder Woman asked, "You okay, Angel?"
With a hesitant nod, Golden Angel replied, "I think so. My head hurts really bad."
"Maybe we should get you checked out," the Amazon Princess suggested as she turned with the girl toward the door.
"I'm okay," Elissa assured, walking more on her own, though not with steady steps.
Outside, police cars were still everywhere, an ambulance or two, a fire truck and many people in uniform, mostly police officers. The armored truck had been taken away from the front of the bank and the way was clear to the perimeter line the police had set up. And, of course, the ever present news cameras.
Seeing the media on the other side of the police line, Elissa pulled fully away from her mother and walked on her own, holding her head up as best she could as her eyes darted about at the all the activity.
A very big, dark blue van was backed up about fifty feet from the bank and its doors hung wide open, and Elissa tried not to look that way as they passed.
There, at the back of the van, Metallo had been secured to a heavy, metal table of some kind by thick, form fitting metal brackets across his chest and belly that kept his arms down and under control. Similar metal restraints held his legs down. Mounted on a wheeled dolly of some kind, it held him nearly standing and leaning back on the steel platform that would be used to load him into the van and later transport him from the van to whatever facility they saw fit. As he saw Wonder Woman and Golden Angel stride by, his head followed their movement with evil intent, and finally he called, "Hey, little girl."
Elissa stopped and could only stare forward for long seconds as she fought to suppress that nervous crawl within her. Slowly, reluctantly, she looked toward him, her lips parted a little fearfully as she did.
His mechanical eyes simply glared at her for a few seconds after, and he growled, "This isn't over, you little brat."
She could not purge all of the fear from her voice as she spat back, "It looks pretty over to me." She flinched as he wrenched his shoulder up as if trying to escape the restraints that held him.
His head drew toward her as far as his mechanical neck would allow and he warned, "They won't be able to hold me forever, little girl, and when I get loose…" His attention shifted slightly away from her.
Wonder Woman strode around her, right at the robotic villain, right up to him.
He was a little taller and stared down into her eyes with wicked purpose, but he was silenced by her approach.
Stopping only about a foot away, Diana stared back at him. Slowly, she reached up and stroked his cheek with the back of her finger. "You can't feel that, can you?" When he pulled his head away from her, her eyes narrowed and she continued, "You can't feel anything, can you, John Corben?"
He looked away from her.
"Oh," she drawled sympathetically, "but I guess there is no more of John Corben left in you, is there? The man you used to be has been replaced by this piece of junk you live inside of now."
His mechanical eyes slid to her.
"A pity," she sighed as her fingers stroked across his robotic face. "I'll bet you were once quite a handsome fellow. Now you're just… this."
"Don't think that you are off my radar, you Amazon wretch," he warned. "You and that little girl are—"
She grabbed onto his neck and slammed his head back onto the solid platform he was strapped to. "Threaten me all you want, but if you go near my daughter again I will tear you into so many pieces they'll never be able to put you back together! I suggest you remember that!" She released him and turned to walk away, finishing in a softer voice, "John."
He glared back as she took the girl under her arm, then he spat, "And your pal Superman? He'll be feeling the brunt of what that little girl should the next time I meet him."
Diana paused and looked over her shoulder at him. "Rest assured, Mister Corben, that you may be a problem to him, but now you have your own nightmare to worry about." Her eyes narrowed. "Me." She continued on, leading the girl away as she added, "You're under my full attention now, so just pray that you never, ever get paroled. Prison is the only place you'll ever be safe from me. I catch you on the outside and I will finish what I started tonight."
Wonder Woman led her daughter past the police line.
Elissa vented a hard breath through her nose, then she shook her head and grumbled, "Why do mechanical bad guys always seem to have it in for me?"
Laughing under her breath, Diana shook her head and replied, "I just can't imagine, Junior."
They entered the mansion through the Batcave, careful not to be seen by unwanted eyes. As they walked side by side toward the staircase at the back of the mansion, Diana ordered, "Just get changed. We'll talk about it later."
Elissa cut her eyes up to her mother's and informed, "She said we did really well together. I don't see why we can't hang out from time to time."
"I'm not saying no," Wonder Woman informed, "just not tonight. You need to get some rest and recover from your big evening, and I'm sure you have another concussion so you are to go right to bed."
"Yes, Mother," the girl grumbled. "I guess the Justice League just got a little further away, didn't it?"
Diana smiled and slipped her arm around her daughter's shoulders, brutally pulling the girl into her as she replied, "You thought of the safety of the hostages first, and having Atom shrink them down so that they could all hide in a safety deposit box was simply brilliant."
Leaning her head against her mother's shoulder, Elissa also smiled and offered, "Thanks."
"That's the kind of thinking you'll have to have in the Justice League," Diana informed. "It's not all about brute force and fighting bad guys. Much of it is what you did tonight."
"So," the girl stammered, "a little closer?"
"A little," Diana assured. "Now go change and get cleaned up."
Elissa changed quickly and bounded back downstairs to bid her parents good night. Surely Batman had made it back and she headed straight to the clock to greet him in the Batcave, only wearing white running shorts beneath a long, pink tee shirt that read Princess in big white, sparkly letters.
The cave itself was cold and very damp, not well suited for a scantly clothed girl in bare feet, but she barely noticed as she strode into the cave. Stopping abruptly, she looked ahead of her, to the massive computer console some distance away. Batman was there, and Wonder Woman. They faced each other in front of the big monitor of the computer where some unfinished research was still displayed.
And they were arguing.
Cold quickly began to penetrate Elissa and she crossed her arms over her chest as she watched them. She could hear their voices, and while she could not make out what was said, she could hear the anger in their voices. She had only seldom seen them together and not fighting, only then it was because of work, of having to take on bad guys or something like that.
She lowered her eyes and slowly turned away from them.
Back upstairs, she closed her bedroom door behind her and padded to her bed. Alfred had pulled the covers back for her and she slipped under the sheet and blanket, pulling them up to her neck as she curled up on her side and stared into the darkness, a darkness her gift of night sight penetrated with ease. Tears rolled from her eyes and a deep breath entered her in broken gasps. Finally closing her eyes, she curled up tighter and hugged her pillow to her. And she wept.
"It isn't supposed to be this way. Why can't they just love each other again?"
Hours later she had finally managed to fall asleep, though it was a restless one. Lying flat on her back right in the middle of the huge bed, she was largely sprawled under the covers with her head rocked over to one side, one arm curled over her head and the other lying straight out from her.
Slow, rhythmic breathing began to succumb to deep, hard breaths, then quick shallow ones. A whimper escaped her and she rolled her head the other way, her lips parting and her brow tense. She sucked a hard breath and whimpered again, drawing her legs to her and grasping the edge of the bed tightly in her hand: her other hand clenched into a tight fist.
Quick, short breaths shrieked into her and she cried out, then she sat up and screamed, "No! Get it out of me! Get it out!" as she grasped her belly with both arms. Her wide eyes were locked across the room as she struggled to catch her breath and realize where she was.
When the door to her bedroom burst open she screamed and looked that way as her entire body convulsed with shock.
Wearing a long red tee shirt that went almost to her knees and her hair loose and flowing behind her, Diana strode into the room and hurried to her daughter's side, sitting beside the girl and enveloping her in her arms.
Elissa found herself crying and clung to her mother, burying her face in Diana's neck as she tried to separate reality from dream.
"Shh," Diana soothed. "It's okay now. It was just a bad dream."
Hesitantly, the girl nodded, still clinging to her mother like a frightened child. She found herself covered in finely beaded sweat and trembling, and she concentrated on overcoming that.
Even after Elissa had finally calmed herself, the two just sat there and held each other, and Diana continued to slowly stroke the girl's hair to soothe and reassure her.
"Are you okay now?" Diana asked with a gentle voice.
Drawing a deep breath, Elissa just nodded again, then she pulled away, turning her eyes down as she offered, "Sorry. Really bad dream. I guess I kind of freaked out a little." Intermittent tremors still racked her body despite her best efforts to control them.
"You want to talk about it?" Diana asked as she combed her fingers through the girl's hair.
Elissa shook her head. "No. Not now."
"Okay," the Amazon Princess said in a whisper. "Do you want me to lay with you for a while?"
Turning away from her mother, Elissa shook her head again and scoffed, "I'm seventeen, Mom. I don't need to—"
"Elissa," Diana barked. When the girl looked to her, she raised her brow and asked again, "Do you want me to lay with you for a while?"
Tears welled up in Elissa's eyes and her trembling mouth curled downward in a little girl's frown, and hesitantly, she nodded.
"Go on, then," Diana ordered as she pushed the girl back into bed.
Elissa faced away from her mother, curling up on her side, and Diana pressed her body to her daughter's and pulled the sheet and blanked over them both, then she wrapped her arm around the girl and held her closely to her. Elissa felt a little ashamed about this, being as old as she was, but this was comforting, and finally she felt safe.
Loosing a hard breath, Elissa offered, "Sorry I'm such a wimp tonight."
Diana laughed under her breath and kissed her daughter's head, then settled back down and assured, "You're no wimp, Junior." She stroked her fingers through the girl's hair right about her temple and whispered, "I will never regret these moments. Just be my little girl a while longer."