Late morning brought a new day and new possibilities. While sleep had been elusive, she had finally drifted off and slept soundly through the rest of the night. The sun was climbing high and shining through her window, making bright ribbons of white and yellow light through a gap between the curtains.
Having forced herself to forget about the most recent fight between her parents, she sat up and a little smile found her lips as she stretched. Slipping from beneath the blankets, she stretched more, this time falling into more of an athlete's regiment as she fell into a daily routine of stretching each muscle group to prepare it for the coming day. Her head no longer hurt. Her Amazon metabolism and healing power had taken stock of the injuries from the night before and she felt as fresh as ever. Still wearing the running shorts and pink tee shirt, she found the morning rather chilly and padded to the wardrobe across the room when she had finished her stretching regiment, opening it to find the thin red robe within. She slipped into it and tied off the sash as she headed for her door, looking forward to the freshness of a new day. Leaving her bedroom, she strode to the baluster and grasped the hardwood handrail as she looked down into the living area below, toward the big sitting room. All of the joy left her features as she saw her parents there, both standing in front of the big fireplace, now cold.
Bruce was dressed in a satiny blue business suit with the shirt open three buttons down. He had no tie on, and his hair was, as always, perfectly groomed. Diana wore a red blouse and white slacks, and her hair was down.
And this time, Elissa could hear what was said.
"Do you want me to just take her back to Themyscira?" Diana barked with angry words. "She's already seen this part of the world and she'll never be content to spend the rest of her life among the safety of the Amazons."
"She wasn't content before," he countered "and I know it is too late for her go be isolated on that island again."
"Then what do you propose we do, Bruce? She wants to join the Justice League, or at the very least take on a crime fighting crusade on her own again. Or with one of us!"
"I know she does," he assured, "but allowing her to go head to head with those like Metallo will eventually get her killed and you know it!"
"Have you no confidence in your own daughter?"
"I have every confidence in her, Princess, but there are certain realities to face. She is simply no match for many of the enemies we have out there."
Folding her arms, Diana turned away from him and growled, "You would have her just sit, then."
"No, I wouldn't, but we have to be more responsible about what she is put up against. If you keep thinking she'll be able to take those like Metallo and Bane then you're going to end up getting her killed!"
Elissa could simply hear no more and she wheeled around and rushed back into her bedroom.
Moments later, dressed in blue jeans and a black tee shirt, she sped through the front gate of Wayne Manor on her motorcycle.
A fast bike ride down the roads on the outskirts of Gotham City was not clearing her head. Only one thing would, and she turned her direction toward a private but heavily guarded air strip where Themyscira's most advanced jets awaited her.
She had changed before approaching the hangar and now it was Golden Angel who came for the aircraft. No one questioned her as she strode into the hanger, opened the doors and started the engines of the crescent shaped aircraft. It was small for a two seat fighter, especially one with the seats side by side and was something of a quarter moon shaped flying wing with the two engines embedded in the wings at the sides of the cockpit. Intakes and exhausts were difficult to see and the fluid lines of the wings joined into a long, thin tail that trailed behind and offered extra control and maneuvering surfaces.
Taxiing to the one runway seemed to take forever but she made it finally and throttled the powerful engines to full as she easily lifted it from the ground.
Her helmet lay on the seat beside her, leaving her long, obsidian black hair free and pulled over one shoulder to keep it out of her way. Her blue eyes darted to the instruments frequently and automatically, but mostly scanned the cloud strewn sky outside of the airplane.
She flew ever higher, knowing that her airplane would adjust for higher altitudes and eventually space. This was a trans-atmospheric craft, though leaving the atmosphere was something she had never done before and she was actually forbidden to do so. No matter. In the moment, she simply did not care.
In short order, the crescent shaped airplane left the safety of the atmosphere and found itself in orbit, and Elissa found herself streaking across the sky much faster than she had ever gone. A little smile found her lips as she looked out the side of the canopy and saw the curvature of the Earth for the first time, beholding something that very few people would ever see. It was time to simply enjoy being aloft and away from all of the troubles that plagued her.
She did not know how long it had been since she had taken off, probably a couple of hours. She had orbited the Earth many times by now and finally felt her head clearing. An alert from her radar drew her attention. There was a craft approaching, very fast. It was in a higher orbit and would cross her path less than a mile ahead, and would do so in only a few seconds. Operating only on thrusters, she slowed the IJ121 and looked to her right, and a little smile found her lips again.
It was a huge, broad bodied craft, a trans-atmospheric shuttle with blunt wings near the rear. Its shape was one she recognized from the many pictures she had studied. The Javelin 4 was a resupply shuttle used by the Justice League's Watchtower, a place she had always dreamed about seeing someday.
Turning the IJ121, she made the impulsive decision to follow the Javelin and fell in behind it.
The flight to the Watchtower was much quicker than she thought it would be and her lips slowly drew apart as she saw it. Slowing her fighter, she allowed the Javelin to make its approach and just watched as a huge hatch opened on the massive saucer shaped center body of the station, the hangar deck.
"If only," she whispered as she watched the shuttle disappear into the Watchtower. Her eyes danced about, studying every line she could about the station as she daydreamed about the day she would be welcomed aboard as part of the Justice League.
"Themysciran craft," a deep, monotone voice called to her over her speakers.
Elissa flinched. She had not expected to be contacted and was not sure what to do.
"Themysciran craft," the voice repeated. "This is Watchtower. Please respond."
"Comm system," she ordered. After it replied with three beeps, she answered, "This is Themyscira one two one four. Go ahead Watchtower."
"Stand by to receive approach telemetry," he ordered.
Her eyes widened and she breathed, "No way!"
"Repeat last," the Watchtower said.
"Um," she stammered, "ready to receive telemetry." She swallowed hard as she checked her scope and prodded her fighter forward, assuring, "I have telemetry. Approaching on thrusters."
The doors to the hangar deck slid open and she hesitantly strode out into the circular corridor. People in blue jumpsuits, many carrying clipboards and other paperwork, milled about on their respective tasks, and few even acknowledged her. Turning left down the corridor, she walked slowly, just taking in as much of her surroundings as she could.
She wandered for a while, dodging aside as supplies and equipment were moved from place to place, and finally she realized that there was more activity on this deck than she was comfortable with. Finding an elevator, Elissa pushed the green up button and waited for the door to open, and when it did, she found two other people already in there, one with a clipboard and one pushing a covered cart. Hesitantly stepping in, she backed herself against the wall furthest from them and watched the doors close.
"Yeah, I tell you," the man said in a laugh, "that Flash has a million of 'em. Did he tell you the one about the weasel and the rat?"
The woman with him, carrying the clipboard, laughed and nodded. "Yes! It was great!"
They both looked to Elissa.
She offered a shy, nervous smile back before turning her eyes down. They had ID badges on, and this was a quick reminder that she did not belong here. Long, tense seconds of silence followed.
Mercifully, the car stopped and the doors opened, and out they went.
Elissa drew a breath and leaned her head back against the wall, closing her eyes as the doors began to slide shut, then a chill ran through her as they opened again.
"Because that's how it was assigned," Green Arrow explained as he strode in. "J'onn knows what he's doing. Just give it a rest already!"
When Black Canary entered behind him, Elissa felt herself near panic, and swallowed hard as the doors closed.
"I know he knows what he's doing," Black Canary complained as she folded her arms and turned toward the door, "but he has to realize that some of us have lives beyond the Justice League."
They both looked to Golden Angel.
Elissa's eyes darted from one to the other and a nervous smile found her lips again as she raised a hand before her to waggle her fingers in greeting.
Green Arrow raised his chin and asked, "So who is this?"
Turning fully, Black Canary declared, "Wait a minute. Golden Angel?"
With a broad smile, Black Canary observed, "So Diana let you come to the watchtower, huh?" She turned to Green Arrow and went on, "This is the kid we read about a few months ago, the one that took down Red Panzer's stupid little war against the Justice League."
"Oh!" Green Arrow said. "I thought you looked familiar. You're Wonder Woman's little girl, aren't you?"
Elissa nodded again and shyly confirmed, "Yes sir."
He extended his hand to her. "Well it's good to meet you. Welcome to the Justice League."
She took his hand and shyly offered, "Thank you." She also shook Black Canary's hand, still trying to shake off that feeling of panic.
"So where are you going?" Green Arrow asked.
Swallowing hard, Elissa struggled to answer, "Um, I, uh… I just got here."
The two heroes looked to each other and Black Canary said, "I'll take her to Control since I'm going there anyway." She looked away and complained, "Again."
"Oh, quit griping," he growled. When the doors opened, he assured, "I'll see you later."
"Yeah," Black Canary grumbled. As he left and the doors closed, she looked back to Elissa and informed, "I'm glad to see us getting some help. We're all stretched so thin lately that it's getting hard to have anything that resembles a real life. So have you been put on the schedule yet?"
Elissa shook her head.
"I'll bet you're anxious," Black Canary guessed. "I remember my first few months with the League. I couldn't wait to get up here and get to work." She leaned against the wall on the far side of the car and propped one of her boots against it. "We usually go in teams these days, almost never alone." Another smile found her mouth. "Anxious to work with your mom again?"
Just that thought sent new tremors of anxiety through Elissa and she hesitantly shrugged as she turned her eyes down.
"Yeah," Black Canary drawled. "You don't want to be under Mom's shadow. I get it."
The doors slid open again and Black Canary strode confidently out, and Elissa held her head up as best she could as she followed. She had to look confident, had to look like she belonged here. If she was accepted by the others in the Justice League before her parents found out then perhaps it would be too late for them to tell her no.
The main control console was ahead and Elissa's eyes widened as she recognized the tall, caped figure who stood at it.
Martian Manhunter turned slowly, and his attention found Elissa immediately. His eyes seemed to narrow as he looked her up and down, as he studied her.
"J'onn," Black Canary introduced, "this is—"
"Golden Angel," he finished for her in that deep, monotone voice. "I was not informed that you would be joining the League."
Black Canary pointed out, "You knew it had to be coming. She saved Wonder Woman, saved Superman, and brought down a major bad guy all in day one, not to mention taking on Metallo last night. I'd say she's proven her metal."
He hesitantly nodded. "Indeed."
Elissa could sense that he could see right through her and avoided eye contact, instead glancing about her and absorbing the details of the cavernous control room.
An alarm on the control consol drew his attention and he looked down to it.
Black Canary strode toward him and asked, "What do we have?"
His eyes narrowing again, he replied, "I'm not sure. There appear to be multiple alarms at Star Lab's West Coast facility. Take Flash and Hawkgirl and investigate."
She set her hands on her hips and barked, "Flash?" When he simply looked to her, she huffed a hard breath and turned to the elevator, grabbing the communicator from her belt as she ordered, "Hawkgirl and Flash to Teleporter One." She did not seem happy about the assignment or at least one of her team members and her body language made no secret of it. Looking over her shoulder, she bade, "See you later, Golden Angel."
Elissa waved back at her. In a moment, she found herself alone with the Martian Manhunter, and found his attention on her again. She offered a nervous smile and asked, "So how's it going?"
Slowly, his attention turned back to the consol and he punched a few keys. "It is a relatively calm day. Hopefully it will remain so."
She nodded and looked to what he was doing.
A long, silent moment passed, one that grew more and more tense with each passing second.
Elissa was not sure what to do and was too afraid to ask or wander off, so she just stood there and watched the Martian's activities. Sooner or later Wonder Woman or Batman would come through those doors and then her reckoning would be at hand.
Another alarm sounded and the Martian Manhunter worked the controls.
"What's up?" Superman asked from right behind Elissa.
She gasped and spun around, looking up at him with wide eyes and her lips open in surprise.
Standing there with his arms folded, he looked down at her and smiled, greeting, "Hi there."
"Hi," she replied dreamily with a broad smile and a slight lean of her head. Without realizing, she raised her hand to a lock of her hair that hung over the side of her tiara and absently began to twist it around her fingers.
"It's good to see you again," he said with a nod.
That giddiness welled up inside of her and she drew her shoulders up slightly, gently biting her lip as she replied, "You, too."
J'onn raised his chin. "Several people have disappeared in a mine in Central America. According to the report there was a partial cave-in and a number of people are trapped, mostly scientists who were studying reports of strange creatures that live down there." He half turned and looked to Superman.
The Man of Steel nodded. "I'll check it out, but I could sure use a second set of eyes down there."
"I'll go!" Elissa barked without realizing.
Superman and J'onn looked to her, then to each other, then back to her.
Her gaze shifted from one to the other, then she shrugged and assured, "It sounds routine, and besides, I see perfectly in the dark."
Superman looked back to the Martian Manhunter and raised his brow.
Venting a deep breath, J'onn conceded, "Very well."
"Come on, kiddo," Superman ordered as he turned toward the elevator.
Elissa followed, now feeling giddier than she ever had. This was for real! She was going on a mission for the Justice League! With Superman! She could not control the little bounce in her steps as she followed him, but her heart jumped as the Martian Manhunter called, "Golden Angel." Hesitantly, she stopped and turned.
He tossed her a Justice League communicator and ordered, "Stay in contact."
She caught it with one hand and a broad grin overtook her face and she nodded, assuring, "Yes sir, we will."
The site looked just like one would expect. Police cars and fire trucks were parked around the entrance, many people in uniform milled about as did many miners who wore jumpsuits and hard hats. There was wooden bracing piled near the entrance to the mine and much rock and debris. When Superman and Golden Angel strode toward the mine entrance, two ambulances raced from the scene with their lights and sirens going.
As they reached the entrance, Superman folded his arms and looked down to the collapsed pit, asking, "What can we do?"
A man in a well decorated police uniform that had a white shirt and brown trousers looked up at him and said with a Spanish accent, "We know that there are about eleven people down there. A little girl was seen going in this morning right before the entrance collapsed. She lives locally and her name is Christina. She is who we are most concerned with at the moment. The scientists all disappeared almost a week ago and rescue teams have reported being attacked by strange creatures with very long hair, very powerful creatures. A few came out injured." He looked back down to the pit and shook his head. "And I don't think this was an accident."
Superman squinted slightly and his gaze swept along the ground around the pit. "Hmm. The entrance has collapsed for a good twenty or thirty feet, and it doesn't look that stable down there until well into the first tunnel." Backing away a few steps, he ordered, "Everyone get back."
Elissa watched him leap into the air, hover there for a moment, then he began to spin, faster and faster until he was nothing but a blur. Angling downward, he plunged back to the ground, drilling himself through the earth and rock and disappearing below ground. Dust, dirt and chunks of rock were spat from the tunnel he made at a high rate of speed and in great volume as he drilled deeper and deeper, and in less than a moment the eruption of debris stopped. Knowing that this meant he had reached an open tunnel below, Elissa strode into the settling dust cloud and looked down into the neatly cut tunnel left by the man of steel. It was at a good angle for her to climb down comfortably and she looked to the police officer Superman had spoken with, ordering with all of the authority in her voice she could muster, "Wait here. We'll check it out."
She was able to see perfectly in the pitch black below ground as she slid down the dusty tunnel on her backside, watching her path of travel carefully.
Down in one of the mine shafts, which was about fifteen feet wide with a ceiling that was arched and about eight feet at the highest point, she slid out of the tunnel Superman had drilled and came down perfectly on her feet, falling to a crouch with one hand down to help break her fall. Looking around her, she saw Superman about ten feet away as he half turned to see her land.
Elissa stood and dusted off her behind as she walked to him, asking in a low voice, "So do you see anything?"
He looked forward again and shook his head, answering in a normal tone, "Not a thing, not yet, but something doesn't feel right down here."
"Can you see okay in the dark?" she asked.
He looked to her and smiled, tapping his temple as he reminded, "X-ray vision."
They followed the shaft for some time, noting that the floor angled downward and they descended deep into the Earth. Although she had excellent vision in the dark, something about this place made Elissa's skin crawl. They eventually reached a juncture with another shaft branching off of the one they traveled down, and here they stopped.
Superman's eyes cut down the branch tunnel, then ahead again and he asked, "Do you see anything?"
Her eyes shifting from one tunnel to the next, Elissa admitted, "Not a thing, but I sure sense something. We aren't alone down here."
"Let's split up," he suggested.
Elissa suddenly felt near panic and her eyes widened. "What?"
"We can cover more ground if we split up," he explained. "I'll take the main shaft here. You take that one to the right and yell if you see anything."
As he strode fearlessly down the main shaft, she mumbled, "How about I scream if I see something?" Looking down the tunnel that branched off, she did her best to swallow back her fear, drew a deep breath and headed down it.
Her gift of insight was, for the first time, speaking very loudly. She knew she was being watched by something that did not want to be seen and her walk was a slow one as her eyes scanned her surroundings, seeing perfectly in the pitch blackness of the mine. Turning her eyes up, she studied the arched ceiling as she slowly put one boot in front of the other, holding her hands down as she strode ever deeper into the dark recesses. Though she sensed that the presence closest to her meant her no harm, she also sensed others with more malicious intent, hungry intent.
About a hundred yards down the shaft she stopped as she heard something. Her eyes darted about to search for whatever was there. She did not sense anything wicked from it, but she did sense that someone or something was afraid of her approach.
Setting her hands on her hips, Golden Angel assured, "I won't hurt you. I'm here to help. Please just come out where I can see you." Something shifted ahead of her and she trained her gaze that way. Hesitantly, she strode forward, then she heard soft foot falls running away from her. She pursued, calling, "Wait! I won't hurt you, I promise!"
About ten yards ahead the tunnel came to a dead end. Fallen rock, piles of debris and a few old crates and some digging equipment littered the area. This far down the shaft was about fifteen feet wide and ended suddenly at a solid wall that had been worked recently, but not by tools. It had been drilled to be blasted by explosives and dozens of holes pocked it from ceiling to floor. She stopped and looked left, seeing what looked like claw marks on the wall. To the right, the wall had been dug out in a round tunnel that looked to be about three feet wide and high, and inside something moved.
Elissa's insights were fully alert and she slowly approached the hole, crouching down to look in. Leaning her head, she softly called, "Hello." Something in there growled, but she did not feel afraid. "Oh, come on," she prodded. "Come out here and let's talk."
Without warning, the creature in the hole burst out and knocked the girl to her back, landing on top of her. Before Golden Angel realized what had happened, she found herself pinned beneath something of tremendous weight. Her wrists were in the powerful grips of heavily clawed hands and held firmly to the ground at her sides.
Getting her wits back to her quickly, Elissa looked up to the flat faced creature that held her down. It was covered with long course hair that was a dark blue and had rigid and very sharp quills over its back and shoulders, and more quills in its forearms that faced forward. Large, solid black eyes stared down at her as wide nostrils flared in quick snorts. Its thick lips were parted to reveal a mouthful of heavy, pointed teeth that were tightly clenched. It was very broad shouldered, but it had short legs that were very strong. This was a powerful creature, very formidable looking, and yet it hesitated and did not seem intent on hurting her.
Elissa only struggled for a few seconds as she tried to twist free of this creature, but finally lay still and looked up at it, raising her brow as she complimented, "You sure are strong." She squinted slightly, looking to the side of the creature's head. It had small ears that were laid back against its head that were barely visible beneath all of that hair and she might not have seen it at all but for something that dangled from its long lobe: An earring! It was gold and in the shape of an angel, and this irony was not lost on her. Looking back to the creature's eyes, she breathed, "Christina."
The creature's brow lifted slightly.
"Are you Christina?" Golden Angel asked.
It released her and backed away, keeping its attention trained on her.
Elissa sat up and drew her legs to her, planting her palms on the ground behind her as she stared back in disbelief. "It's okay. I came to find you."
It made a series of chirps, then cooed in response, and it seemed to understand her.
Pushing herself up, Golden Angel stood and then knelt down right in front of the creature, whispering, "What happened to you?"
It looked down at its hand and brushed the quills on its forearm.
Leaning her head, Elissa guessed, "You got stuck with one of these and it made you this?"
The creature chirped twice. Something seemed to alarm it and it looked up the shaft, screeching as it backed away from her.
Springing to her feet, Golden Angel spun around and took her battle stance as she saw the same kind of creature bound into view, but this one was much bigger, more than twice the size of the first and with a far more muscular build, and a much more aggressive stance that resembled how a gorilla might stand on all fours.
As it bared its teeth and stalked forward, Elissa murmured, "Oh, crud," as she backed away. "Christina, get behind me."
The bigger creature's huge forearms began to swell and it thrust one at her. There was a loud pop and three of its quills streaked forward at great speed.
As she would with bullets or arrows, Golden Angel deflected them easily with her gauntlets, then deflected again as it sent another barrage toward her, then another.
The big creature seemed to grow angry and howled at her through bared teeth. Christina responded and stepped around Elissa on all fours in a clear attempt to intervene, but she backed down as the larger creature growled at her.
Stepping away from the smaller creature, Golden Angel stood ready as she called upon her gift of insight to see what she was up against. To this creature she was an enemy that had to be turned to its side, but its thoughts were straying from that idea and pursuing another about her, that she was food!
With another loud roar, it lunged forward with amazing speed. Golden Angel dodged away, raising her arm as it swiped at her. She took its claws on her gauntlet and was thrown off balance, and as she stumbled backward it turned with speed and agility she did not know it possessed and attacked again, swiping at her with its other clawed hand. Backing away, she took its claws on her gauntlet again, then again, then she kicked straight up and slammed the toe of her boot into its jaw.
It stopped and shook its head, then bared its teeth and growled as it looked back to her.
Elissa raised her brow and observed, "Yeah, you're kind of tough, aren't you? That didn't look like it hurt at all."
With an angry howl, it lunged at her again, and as she raised her arms to ward off its claws it grabbed both of her forearms and drove her backward into the shaft wall, slamming her hard into the stone. Elissa cried out as her back and head impacted, and while she was stunned it wheeled around and threw her the other direction.
Golden Angel hit the far wall with her back even harder than the first time and the air exploded from her. As she crumpled to the floor she tried desperately to summon her wits back to her, sweeping her arm just in time to ward off another spread of its quills. She had barely gotten to her feet when it slammed its shoulder into her and crushed her to the wall again, and this time consciousness nearly slipped away. As her knees buckled and she collapsed, it grabbed onto her gauntlet and hurled her the other way, and this time she crashed into a stack of old crates.
Elissa moaned weakly as she lay in the splintered wood of the crates, which were thankfully empty but for the paper packing within. She rocked her head back and forth, blinking her eyes open. She knew quickly that the fight was not going well for her and heard it charging her again. Even before she saw it, she drew her knees to her chest, and when it was upon her she kicked it with both legs as hard as she could.
This time the creature found itself hurling backward through the air. Its head slammed into the ceiling and then it hit the far wall and crumpled to the ground. A little rock and dust that had been knocked loose rained down on it for a second later as it lay on its belly.
Taking the opportunity to get back to her feet, Golden Angel staggered backward through what was left of the crates and into the wall, and for long seconds that was all that kept her upright as she rubbed the back of her neck. Looking across the tunnel, she saw that the creature was also getting to its feet, and it looked even angrier.
It thrust its arms again, there was a series of pops and the little Amazon swept her arm to ward off more of its quills. With an angry growl, it turned and picked up a stone that was twice the size of its head and hurled that at her.
Quick to dodge away, she stumbled over one of the broken crates and fell, raising her arm against still more quills as she lay on her side. She could not move well like this and could not protect her entire body. As it shot more quills at her she drew her legs to her and deflected the quills as best she could. One struck her boot and stuck and she gasped as she felt it pass close to her skin inside the boot.
She stared back at it, too afraid to move but knowing it was going to charge her again any second.
A deep growl rumbled from it and it took an ape-like crouch, its solid black eyes fixed on her as it dug its back claws into the ground beneath it, preparing to pounce.
Breaths entered the little Amazon reluctantly and she forced each one as she slowly pushed herself up with one arm, holding her other ready as she braced to defend herself.
The creature roared again, shooting more quills at her as it charged.
Golden Angel's boots could not find good footing and she kicked frantically to move aside as it closed the distance between them in seconds, and she raised her arm as it was upon her, bracing for the impact that was an instant away.
Air whooshed by and the creature was slammed into the end of the tunnel.
Superman backed away, landing halfway between Elissa and the creature as he watched it crumple to the ground. Half turning, he looked to the little Amazon and barked, "Are you okay?"
She nodded and assured, "I'm good." She stood, but did not advance as she offered, "Thanks."
Looking back to the creature as it rose to all fours, the Man of Steel set himself to receive his opponent.
With an angry roar, it thrust its arms and sent a barrage of quills at its new foe, all of which bounced off of Superman's chest and belly.
A tense moment followed.
It growled, and Superman's eyes narrowed.
This time when it lunged it was met by an enemy of vast strength, and the fist of the Man of Steel slammed squarely into its face. It impacted the wall again, fell limply to the ground and this time did not get up.
Spinning around to face the smaller one, Superman ordered, "Stay behind me, Angel."
"Wait!" she cried, darting around him.
The smaller creature cringed and backed into the tunnel wall right below the hole it had emerged from.
Elissa darted to its side, kneeling down beside it as she carefully put her arms around it, careful of the quills on its back, insisting, "It's okay. We don't want to hurt you."
Setting his fists on his hips, Superman leaned his head and eyed her suspiciously.
"I know what you're thinking," she admitted as she stared back at him, "but they aren't what they seem to be." She maneuvered herself around to face the creature, and gently she framed its face in her hands, staring into its eyes as a golden light sprayed from between her fingers.
Slowly raising his chin, Superman watched the transformation in amazement.
In a moment, a frightened girl about twelve years old sat huddled and frightened in front of Golden Angel, her black hair a bit of a mess and her eyes wide with fear. She was wearing nothing but that fearful look, and gold earrings in the shape of angels.
Elissa combed her fingers through the girl's hair and assured, "It will be okay. We are going to take you home now."
Hesitantly, the girl nodded.
Looking over her shoulder, Golden Angel asked, "Can I borrow that cape?"
When the girl was wrapped in Superman's cape and cradled in his arms, Elissa turned to the unconscious creature and slowly strode to it, knelt down and placed her hands on it.
Venting a deep breath through her nose, she shook her head and observed with regret, "It's too late for this one. There's nothing left of the person he used to be."
Superman looked down to the girl he held. "You mean these creatures were…"
"Yes," she answered softly, still staring down at the creature. "The quills turn people into them. I got to Christina in time, but it seems to be too late for the others." She looked over her shoulder and suggested, "We should go, and we should make sure they aren't disturbed by anyone again."
The mission was much quicker than Golden Angel had expected it would be and only a couple of hours after leaving for it she and Superman walked side by side down one of the corridors of the Watchtower. She was still dirty from her action in the mine, but she was smiling and the hero beside her had her full attention.
"Believe me," he assured, "they are only rarely that quick and easy."
She raised her brow and barked, "You call that easy?"
He glanced at her and smiled. "Well, it could have been a lot more complicated. I'm glad you saw them for what they really are. It made things much simpler."
Elissa finally turned her eyes forward and shrugged. "Just something I do." She was unconsciously twisting a lock of her hair that had fallen over her tiara as she asked, "So, how about lunch or something?"
"The commissary's up ahead," he replied. "I thought you might like a bite after all of that."
"Well thank you," she offered sweetly. "I guess I can clean up after lunch unless you want me to before."
"You're fine," he assured.
"I'd love to hear more about some of the stuff you've done," she said with a girlish enthusiasm. "You're the only one I haven't heard talk about what you do."
Superman laughed. "Well, I don't like to brag. Everything we do here is a team effort, and that's how I like to keep it."
"You're still amazing," she said dreamily.
From ahead of them, Atom turned into the corridor, pointed to her and greeted, "Hey! Golden Angel! What's the good word?"
She waved her fingers at him as they passed and said, "Hi."
"Feels good to be recognized, huh?" Superman asked as he smiled down to her.
"Yeah," she confirmed.
"Golden Angel," Batman summoned from behind.
She tensed and suddenly felt a little ill as she added, "Usually." Looking up at Superman, she took his arm and said, "Hey, I'll catch up to you, okay?"
"Sure," he assured. Looking over his shoulder, he raised his chin and greeted, "Good to see you two are back."
Elissa stopped in her tracks, watching as Superman strode on. Two? Slowly, she turned around, her eyes widening as she saw Batman and Wonder Woman standing side by side.
Batman's arms were folded. Wonder Woman had her hands set on her hips. Both of them had their eyes fixed on her, and both looked extremely annoyed.
With a nervous smile, Elissa waggled her fingers to them and bade, "Hi, guys."
Wonder Woman's expression did not change as she pointed to the open doorway she stood beside.
Drawing a breath, Elissa cringed, drawing her shoulders up as she strode toward the doorway, no longer able to look at two of the Justice League's founding and senior members.
The room they entered was a conference room of some kind with four comfortable looking chairs surrounding a round metal table. A computer station was on the far wall, a communication terminal to the right and nothing notable on the left.
Elissa stopped at the table, folding her arms across her belly and closing her eyes as she heard the door slide shut behind them. It locked, and she knew her moment of reckoning was at hand. She knew to expect this, but still found herself completely unprepared for it. "I know what you are going to say," she started.
Wonder Woman barked, "No, you really don't."
Venting a hard breath, Elissa turned toward them, keeping her eyes on the floor before her and her feet close together as she shrugged her shoulders up, trying to occupy as little space as she could. She hated being in trouble with them, and hated more that they were angry with her.
"We have been sick with worry over you," Wonder Woman declared. "You just disappeared, you did not answer your phone… What were we supposed to think but the worst?"
"I guess I was kind of out of cell range," Elissa admitted softly.
Batman added, "Even the members of the Justice League check in with others to make certain someone knows where they are. That's the mature thing to do. Taking off like that without a word was very irresponsible."
"What are you doing here?" Batman asked in a harsh voice.
She shrugged and replied, "It's kind of a long story."
"We have time," Wonder Woman assured.
Drawing another shaky breath, Elissa explained, "I just needed to get away and clear my head, and I do that best when I fly, so I took the airplane I brought from home and…" She glanced at Wonder Woman, seeing quickly the hard and angry expression she wore. "I just flew, and I kept going higher and higher and…"
"Are you supposed to go out of the atmosphere?" Diana barked.
Elissa cringed again, staring at the floor as she sheepishly replied, "No, Mom."
"And how did you get aboard the Watchtower?" Batman demanded.
"Um…" she stammered. "I… I was just flying along to clear my head and, well, I saw a Javelin and I kind of followed it." She glanced up at him. "I was just looking at the Watchtower and I watched the Javelin land…" She glanced at Wonder Woman. "I think they thought I was you flying here, Mom."
Batman growled, "And you didn't correct them."
"No sir," she replied in a low voice, just over a whisper.
Diana rubbed her eyes. "Skip ahead to the part where you were sent on a mission with Superman."
Once again she drew a deep breath, trying to collect her thoughts, and finally answered, "I think they thought you said I could join. Um, we were in the command room…"
"Oh, Hera help me," Wonder Woman hissed as she massaged her temple.
"Um," Elissa continued, "this… Martian Manhunter got this call and Superman said he would check it out and that he could use someone watching his back and… I might have…" She looked up to her mother. "I really thought my ability to see in the dark would be helpful. It was in a cave and stuff and… We did really well. We made a good team. Mom, you know how I've always wanted—"
"I know," Diana assured, raising a hand to the girl. "I know." She looked away, blowing a breath from her before she asked, "Why did you leave the mansion to begin with?"
Batman also turned his eyes away. They both seemed to know the answer already.
Backing into the chair behind her, Elissa turned her eyes to the floor and could not reply for a moment, but she finally managed, "I… I couldn't be around you two. I so hate when you fight. I just know it's my fault that you fight so much."
Diana folded her arms and looked to the floor.
Reaching to his head, Batman removed the cowl to reveal his face, something he almost never did aboard the Watchtower. Closing the distance between them with two steps, he took the girl's chin and turned her face up, her eyes to his. "Nothing about that is your fault, Angel," he assured. "Sometimes grown-ups fight."
"But it's always about me," she pointed out in a meek voice. "It's all my fault."
Diana finally stepped toward her and took her shoulder. "No, Little One, it isn't." She looked to Bruce and did not seem to know what else to say.
Elissa looked to the side, across the room as she whimpered, "I'm the reason you don't like each other anymore. If I'd never been born then you…" A tear rolled from her eye. "You would still be in love with each other."
"Elissa," Batman corrected with harsh words, "no problems we have between us are your fault."
As if summoned by the tense moment, all of their communicators blared to life with J'onn's voice ordering, "All active members report to the Watchtower command center, priority one."
Batman was quick to pull the cowl over his head again and looked to Wonder Woman, observing, "This sounds major."
"Let's go," she bade, and as the two turned toward the door, she ordered, "Come on, Junior."
Elissa followed them to the command center where almost all of the Justice League was already gathered. She was content to stand between Batman and Wonder Woman and folded her arms as she listened to J'onn.
"They struck multiple installations simultaneously," the Martian Manhunter explained, "almost all to the exact minute, and all over the world. This was a very coordinated attack made by someone with an organization to handle the logistics of such an operation. Assemble your teams and report to your assignments. Batman. Batgirl, Nightwing and Robin are already awaiting you in Gotham. Just be careful. All of the inmates of Arkham were released, and we know how many enemies you had there."
Batman's eyes narrowed and he asked, "What about Metallo and Bane?"
J'onn reported, "Both of their transports were attacked at the same time. They are both missing now."
"Ah, come on!" Elissa declared in a loud voice.
Silence suddenly gripped the control room and all attention was turned to her.
Glancing around, she shrugged her shoulders up and mumbled, "I'm just saying."
Superman patted her shoulder from behind, and when she turned and looked up at him he smiled and shook his head.
"I'll see to it we can send help if you need it," the Martian Manhunter added.
The Dark Knight nodded and turned toward the elevator.
The Justice League members assembled into their teams and disbursed, but Wonder Woman approached the Martian Manhunter, and Elissa stayed on her heels.
Someone took her arm from behind and turned her around and her wide eyes turned up to Batman's as he bent close to her.
Grasping her jaw in his gloved hand, he ordered in a low voice, "Watch your mother's back, Angel."
She nodded and assured in a whisper, "I will, Daddy."
He offered her a little smile and a wink, then wheeled around and swept toward the elevator again.
Wonder Woman nodded to J'onn and informed, "We'll need a couple of teams here on standby. Something tells me that they'll try and surprise us once they think we're all in the field."
"I'll bring up the reserves and assemble a few teams here," he agreed. "Hawk Girl is awaiting you in Teleporter Three."
Spinning around, Wonder Woman had a powerful intensity in her eyes as she raised her communicator to her mouth and called, "Wonder Woman to Hawk Girl. We're on our way." Putting it back to her belt, she strode on, ordering, "Come on, Junior."
Raising her brow, Elissa said, "Really?"
"Come on!" Diana barked, her voice laced with impatience.
Darting to her side, Golden Angel asked, "You aren't putting me on the reserve team?"
"I need you at my side," Wonder Woman replied. She gave the girl a sidelong glance and a little smirk. "And I heard what your father said to you."
Staring at the elevator doors as they stopped at them, Elissa also smiled. "I'd better not let him down then. I totally don't want to get into more trouble than I'm already in."
"No you don't," Diana warned with an ominous tone.