Commissioner Gordon stood on the roof, his hands in the pockets of his overcoat as he stared up at the bat signal that shined brightly on the clouds above. With him were two uniformed police officers, both of whom watched the signal on the clouds as well. The spotlight that sent it there illuminated much of the roof surrounding it, but behind it and in the distance, all was shrouded in shadows, and everyone present knew that Batman would emerge from those shadows. The sounds of the blowing wind would mask the approach of the Dark Knight and tensions were high as the three awaited him.
A loud, mechanical click sounded from behind them and the spotlight went out, plunging much of the rooftop back into darkness. Only the two lights that flanked the one door that accessed the roof illuminated the roof to any degree. Even as the two policemen spun around, Gordon turned almost casually, looking to the shadowy figure who stood beside the big spotlight.
"Thanks for coming," the Commissioner greeted. "I have that information you asked for." He produced a yellow envelope and handed it to the Dark Knight.
Batman took the envelope and removed the contents, examining the papers for a moment before he spoke. "How did you get these?"
Gordon smiled and folded his arms. "You have your sources, I have mine. Suffice to say, the how is also part of the problem. We can't get a warrant for any of those places but we know what's going on at all three locations and who's involved. I can't even use anything based on that information to arrest or prosecute."
"I see your problem," Batman assured. "Good thing I don't need warrants."
"It sure is," Wonder Woman confirmed as she emerged from the shadows across the rooftop.
Batman looked to his right and the police officers and Commissioner looked to their left as the Amazon Princess strode toward them. Behind and a little beside her was Golden Angel.
Gordon's eyes narrowed. He recognized the girl. He had seen her two other times, once on this very rooftop months ago, though she was not dressed as Golden Angel at that time. She had been dressed as Wonder Woman, was posing as Wonder Woman, but he knew even at the time she was not.
Wonder Woman stopped and looked to the Commissioner, setting her hands on her hips as she asked, "Mind if we help out?" Her eyes strayed to Batman and the disapproving look he had for her was apparent even behind the mask he wore. Her posture explained that she did not care if he approved.
Commissioner Gordon tore his eyes from Golden Angel and looked to Wonder Woman, replying, "I don't mind at all. We'll just leave you three to hash all that out. Batman, I'll have three teams near those locations who can respond in a couple of minutes if you need them."
"Don't bother," he advised. "We'll handle it, and I'm sure at least one of them is a decoy."
"Whatever you say," Gordon said as he strode toward the door, the two officers following. "I'll still have some patrols close by, just in case."
Batman watched the Commissioner and the officers disappear behind the door, and when it closed he turned to Wonder Woman with narrow eyes and folded his arms.
With her hands still set on her hips, she raised her brow and informed, "I thought you might need some backup, or at least some company."
Golden Angel took her mother's side, looking up at the Dark Knight as she pled, "Please, Daddy. Just let us"
"Not in costume," he snapped. Looking to the girl, he said with stern words, "Remember our talk about safeguarding our true identities?"
She turned her eyes down and nodded, confirming, "Yes sir. Sorry."
Batman looked back to Wonder Woman.
"There are three locations," she said straightly, "and there are three of us. We can check out all three, deal with what needs to be dealt with and be home for dinner in no time."
"I have it under control," he growled.
"But we can control it faster together," Elissa assured. "You already said Nightwing is going to be out of town for a few days, I heard you put Batgirl on a stake-out tonight and Robin is on the other side of the country. Please can we help out?"
His gaze shifted to her again.
She frowned and stuck her lower lip out, and she gave him the saddest eyes she could muster.
He heaved a deep breath and looked away, then to Wonder Woman. Pulling one of the pages from his hand, he offered it to her and said, "The address is at the top. It's about six blocks north of here." When she took the paper from him, he looked to Elissa and offered her the next. "That one is four blocks south, some kind of abandoned store with three loading docks out back. Check the docks first."
She took the paper from him and nodded, confirming, "Yes sir."
"And check in as soon as you find something," he ordered.
Setting her hands on her hips, she complained, "I'm not a little kid anymore."
"That's how it is done," Wonder Woman snapped. "All team members stay in contact with each other, especially when on a mission. Report to one of us immediately as soon as you find something, understand?"
Nodding again, she assured, "Yes, Mother." Elissa glanced aside. "Um, I don't have a Justice League communicator."
Diana vented a patient breath. "Do you have your cell phone on you?"
Reaching behind her, Golden Angel produced it from a pouch and assured, "Right here."
"Just make sure the ringer is off. You'll need to be swift and silent."
Slipping it back into its pouch, the girl said, "No problem. They won't know I'm there until I'm all over them. I'll call as soon as I know something."
A bright light was over each dock and two of the rusty blue doors were down and secured. The third, furthest to the right, was open and had a white van backed up to it and it seemed to be about two feet away from the dock. The building was sizeable and the docks were recessed into the back wall about fifty feet, no doubt to give large trucks enough maneuvering room to turn off of the street and turn to back into them without obstructing traffic. The brick structure was in disrepair and appeared to have been abandoned for some time, though lights were on inside and shining out of a back window about forty feet to the left of the docks.
Elissa had hoped for more cover so that she could approach the docks unseen, but the only cover would be that van, and as she peered around the corner of the back wall and toward the docks. The van was only twenty feet away and nobody was outside, and it seemed like a good time to cross open ground.
Sprinting as fast and quietly as she could, she reached the van in seconds and pressed her back to the front of it, looking to one side, then the other. Her heart thundered as she expected someone to emerge any second and find her.
Long seconds passed.
With everything still quiet, she slid along the front of the van, toward the driver's side and between it and the side wall which was about ten feet away and led to a rusty steel door that was closed. Her eyes were on this door as she slid her back along the van to try not to be noticed. She reached the rear of the van and paused, turning her attention to the open dock the van was backed up to, and she crouched down as she heard voices approaching from within.
The first voice she heard was a little gravely and spoke with an accent that one would expect from a mob boss from long ago, and this one was doing most of the talking.
"Just make sure nobody comes around asking a lot of questions, and don't let nobody in here."
"Sure thing, Mister Scarface," a deeper voice with a similar accent replied.
Footsteps stopped near the edge of the dock and Elissa ducked down, turning her head that way.
"I mean it, Rhino. I don't want no problems this time. Day got de Bat clear across town and duh cops are about to get real busy and we don't want 'em coming around here until we're done, got it?"
Elissa's eyes narrowed.
"I got it, Mister Scarface."
"See that ya do."
Footsteps clopped away until the sounds faded to a distant echo.
Half turning, she placed her hand on the van, the other on the ground as she prepared to slip into the building. Something big hit the ground, then she heard heavy footsteps slowly stride the other direction. Daring to peer around the van, she watched the huge man in the blue-gray suit walk toward the other side of the van. He was very tall, very broad shouldered and very think in the body and arms, and he looked immensely strong. She stood and noiselessly crept around the corner of the van, her wide eyes on the big man as he turned slightly toward the building and strolled toward the other side. He was not very vigilant and slipping inside should be easy.
Still watching him, she gently placed her hand on the edge of the dock and prepared to roll quickly and quietly inside as Batman had shown her only the day before. Everything was going perfectly until her cell phone rang, and a cold breath washed into her and her eyes widened.
The big man spun around and he was not wearing a pleasant expression as his gaze fixed on her.
As he approached, Elissa held a finger to him and reached behind her to remove the phone, holding it to her ear as she greeted, "Hello? Oh, hey."
Rhino stopped right in front of her, folding his arms as he loomed over her with an ominous expression.
She stared back up at him. "Yeah, everything's going about like you'd expect. Hey, can I call you back? Okay, talk to you in a little bit." She closed the phone and reached behind her to slide it back into its pouch. "Sorry about that. My Mom." Leaning an elbow on the edge of the dock, she asked, "So how's it going?"
"You ain't supposed to be here," he informed coldly.
"Yeah," she confirmed, "probably not." Extending her hand to him, she guessed, "You must be Rhino." When he took her hand to shake it, she introduced, "My name's Golden Angel and I'm the girl who will be kicking your butt tonight." She clamped onto his hand and jerked him toward her with all her strength as she spun around and delivered a brutal kick to his gut. The air exploded from him and he doubled over, and she took the opportunity to spin the other way and throw him over her shoulder. She was less than a third his size and weight, but her Amazon strength was something he clearly did not anticipate.
As he slammed into the ground, she watched for a few seconds after to be sure he was out, then she turned her attention to the dock again. With one hop she was inside and standing on the edge, looking around the inside of the old store to make certain it was clear.
Before she made it that first step, someone grabbed her ankle from behind and she did not have time to even turn to see her attacker before she was thrown out of the dock, barking a scream as she was.
She twisted around in the air and controlled her fall well, rolling quickly back to her feet. Assuming her battle stance, she was not that surprised to see the big man stomping toward her with his hands clenched into tight fists.
"Okay," she conceded, "it looks like you're going to be tougher to deal with than I thought."
Reaching her, he threw a punch she quickly dodged away. Another and the results were the same. She was much quicker and far more agile and every time he struck she simply moved out of the way."
"Hold still!" he ordered.
"Nuh uh!" she countered, spinning away from his fist yet again.
The more he attacked, the more she dodged and backed away, reasoning that someone that big would eventually tire, and then she would make her move. However, before that happened, she felt the brick wall on the far side against her back and her eyes widened as she realized she had run out of room.
He punched hard at her and she slipped quickly aside, looking back to see him slam his fist into the bricks. When he turned toward her again, she saw that hitting the wall like that did not hurt him at all!
"Hold still you little brat!" he shouted.
She backed away from him along the wall and toward the building. "No, I'm not quite as dumb as you."
When he drew his fist back to throw yet another powerful but sluggish punch, she crouched down and sprang into him, ramming her shoulder into his gut. Yelling in Amazon battle fashion, she drove him backward, picked him up and lunged forward and down, slamming him back-first onto the concrete of the driveway with chilling force and hard enough to make the ground around them tremble. He seemed stunned again and she acted quickly, pouncing on him and ramming her knee into the middle of his chest as she grabbed his coat and raised her own fist to strike back. She hit him in the face three times as hard as she could, but before she realized, he had a handful of her ponytail and she was yanked from him and slammed back-first into the wall.
They were both a little slow to stand.
Holding her head low, Golden Angel glared at this big man from beneath a low, angry brow. Most likely the people inside the building knew they had been discovered and all of her element of surprise was gone.
Rhino snarled at her as he clenched his hands into tight fists and squared off with the little Amazon again.
This time she did not wait for him to come at her. She charged and ducked under his hands as she had before. He did not seem to know to expect this, did not react to it again and she rammed her shoulder lower into his solid gut, picking him up as she had before, but this time she wheeled around and slammed him into the wall where she had hit, and this time many of the bricks shattered and broke away.
Backing away as he fell to the ground, she barked through bared teeth, "Yeah, how do you like it?"
Clearly infuriated, he scrambled to his feet much quicker this time, lowered his head and charged.
Golden Angel charged to meet him head-on and seconds later slammed back-first into the side of the van that was some distance away from where they collided, causing it to rock over to one side. As it recovered, she crumpled to the ground, leaving the impression of her back and upper arms in the steel as she fell away from it. Her long black pony tail that had fallen over her left shoulder to the front of her and she whipped her head around to get it back behind her, but many locks stubbornly hung over her tiara and fell back into her face. Combing the hair out of her face with one hand, she took a couple of steps forward and snarled in a voice befitting her seventeen years, "That the best you got?"
As he charged her yet again, she ran toward him, but this time sidestepping and wheeling around to kick him as hard as she could in the gut, and when he doubled over she brought her other boot around to slam into his backside.
He stumbled into the van he had thrown her into and caved in the side door with his head, and it lurched over much further. Unlike his much smaller foe, he did not go down, rather he turned on her to resume the fight.
Setting her hands on her hips, Golden Angel shook her head and commended, "I have to hand it to you. You're as strong as a rhino, but you're not quite as smart as one."
He yelled and charged at her again, and again she met him head-on. Grappling with him had proven useless, but she wanted to try something different.
Ducking under his arms, she brought her head up into his chin, then grabbed his coat and lunged backward to throw him over her, badly underestimating his strength. Her head-butt did nothing and he grabbed her around the waist and easily hurled her away from him. This time she controlled her fall and rolled on one shoulder to end up on her feet again, spinning around to meet him as he charged her yet again. Her Amazon strength had to count for something! Lowering her shoulder, she went at him low again, ramming her shoulder into his gut and this time getting him off the ground. Wrapping her arms as far around him as she could, she yelled as she arched her back under his massive weight, then she lunged forward and down, driving him back-first into the ground with all of her might.
He was not even stunned this time and grabbed her pony tail, then hurled her toward the van and got to his feet.
Golden Angel rolled expertly to her feet again and quickly faced him, drawing a wide eyed gasp as she found him upon her already.
His shoulder rammed into her and he drove her easily backward, slamming her into the white van, and this time it turned over with them. As the van landed on its side, he rolled off of it and scrambled quickly to his feet. Stunned, Golden Angel fell limply off of it and crashed awkwardly to the ground. She moaned weakly as she struggled to get her wits about her and had just barely pushed herself back up when he grabbed her by the hair again and picked her up, slamming her into the roof of the van. Grimacing as she reached for her hair, she finally turned fearful eyes to his.
Baring his teeth, he raised his fist.
Golden angel held her palms to him and bade, "Wait!"
Her brow arching, she whimpered, "Come on. You wouldn't really hit a girl, would you?"
Eying her suspiciously, he raised his chin, trying to process what she had told him.
She looked behind him and barked, "About time you got here, Superman!"
With a deep gasp and fearful look, he dropped her and spun around, readying himself as his eyes darted about for the Man of Steel.
Acting quickly, she grabbed his collar from behind and with a mighty Amazon yell she pulled him backward and down as hard as she could, slamming the back of his head into the van and caving in the metal where the side met the top. This time he went limp and fell to the ground, and in a moment was unconscious with his back resting against the van and his legs sprawled out in front of him, and his head hanging down.
Golden Angel sat down beside him and patted his thigh, smiling as she observed, "Yeah. The back of your head's not quite as hard as the front, is it?"
She reached to her belt and into a pouch there to retrieve her cell phone. Looking down at it, she punched in some numbers and then raised it to her ear, waiting for a few seconds before she heard it answered on the other end. "Hey, Mom. Yeah, I have it under control here. There was only the one guy guarding the dock and I took him down." She shook her head. "No, I don't think there are more than three or four more in there." She looked to the big man said, "Yeah, one of the others called him Rhino. He's really strong! No, sleeping like a baby." With a little smile, she pushed herself up and assured, "No, it's cool. I'll just take out the rest and call the police in to pick them up. No biggie." She turned around and slowly turned her eyes up and she mumbled, "Ah, crud." Ever so slowly, she lowered her hand to her side.
On the other side of the van was a man of massive proportions, almost twice the overall bulk of the man she had just taken down. He wore a mask over his entire head, one that was white with the black outline of what appeared to be his face and covered everything but his mouth and chin. Something was over his eyes and they appeared to be a ghostly white. He wore no shirt, only black commando trousers and black boots.
Golden Angel's eyes were locked on the huge man as he just stood there with his fists set on his hips. Unaware that her mouth was hanging open, she raised the phone to her lips again and nervously cleared her throat before speaking. "Hey, Mom? Yeah. Um, never mind that last part and get your butt here as soon as you can, okay?" With that she closed the phone and slipped it back into the pouch on her belt, never taking her eyes from the huge man before her. Mustering her courage, she raised her chin slightly and narrowed her eyes, asking defiantly, "So, you want to go around with me, too?"
He casually reached across his chest, twisting around slightly to grab onto one corner of the overturned van.
Though a little wide eyed, she watched with no other expression as he easily slid it out of his way. Rhino slumped to the ground as the van was moved. Slowly, she looked back up at him, lifting her brow slightly as she warned, "You know, I'm an Amazon warrior. I've trained for combat my whole life and I've never run from a fight."
He raised his hands before him and cracked his knuckles.
Slowly sliding one foot back, she assumed her battle stance and offered, "I'll give you this one chance to give up peacefully, just this one chance."
He folded his arms.
A tense few seconds passed quietly between them.
Without warning, she spun around and slammed her foot into his belly, stumbling away right after she did. Quick to turn back, she found him just standing there and staring back at her with his arms still folded. He was solid, very solid and built like a tank! Swallowing hard, she resumed her battle stance and raised her fists before her.
This time he advanced and she was quick to back away.
Clenching his hands into tight fists as he strode toward her, he finally asked, in a deep voice and thick Spanish accent, "So you have never run from a fight?"
"No," she nervously replied, "but I think this might be a good time to start." A breath shrieked into her as she ran back-first into the cold, brick wall of the building behind her and her eyes locked wide on his. She had managed to get herself cornered and fear surged up through her and left a lump in her throat.
He stopped well within arm's reach, his arms at his sides and ready as he asked, "What do they call you, little girl?"
"Golden Angel," she replied, then she set her hands on her hips and barked, "And I really don't like to be called little girl! What if I called you big
"You may call me Bane," he growled back. He leaned his head and gently took her chin between his huge thumb and finger. "It would be such a shame to crush a pretty little flower like yourself. Come with me quietly and I promise you will not be harmed."
She smiled back and sweetly informed, "Thanks, but it's really time for me to kick your butt now." She brutally knocked his hand away with her left and drove her right as hard as she could up into his chin.
His head snapped back, but that was all.
When Bane growled and cocked his arm back, Golden Angel knew what was coming and leapt away from him, narrowly avoiding his fist. She rolled over one shoulder and back to her feet, looking back to see him removing his hand from a hole he had just punched through the brick wall, and he was turning to face her. "Oh, this is some major serious wicked doo-doo," she mumbled as he advanced on her again. The time looked right for a retreat and she spun around to do so, greatly underestimating his speed and she barked a scream as he grabbed her hair.
She slammed hard into the brick wall and crumpled to the ground, lying there trying to collect her wits for long seconds as he loomed over her. As she tried to push herself back up, he reached down and took her upper arm, lifting her easily from the ground and to his eye level to leave her feet dangling as he held her with no effort at arm's length. With a few locks of hair hanging into her face over her tiara, she turned horrified eyes to him, her lips parted in fear as she stared back.
"Now," he said with a patient tone, "are you a little more receptive to my offer, little girl?"
She snarled, "I told you not to call me that!" With a defiant yell, she kicked as hard as she could, her boot connecting with his chin with brutal force, and she followed this kick with the other across the side of his head. He was not even stunned, and growled something in Spanish as he turned and threw her again, this time into the roof of the overturned van which thankfully caved in about half way and cushioned her impact. Still, she was barely conscious as she rolled to the ground again. Before she regained her wits, his hand closed around her neck and she was lifted from the ground, and this time she was slammed back into the van and held there by the throat.
Baring his teeth, he growled, "I offered you a chance to live, you little brat, and now"
"Now you'll let go of her," Wonder Woman ordered.
Bane raised his chin, looking to the other side of the van where the Amazon Princess stood with her hands set on her hips.
Grasping his thick wrist with both her hands, Golden Angel rasped, "You're about to get your butt seriously kicked, Pal!" He threw her away from him and she rolled to the ground some distance away, springing back to her feet as quickly as possible to turn back on him, flailing her arms to keep her balance.
Wonder Woman watched Golden Angel as she collected her bearings, then her eyes shifted back to Bane and narrowed. Raising an eyebrow slightly, she observed, "Someone has to teach you how to treat a lady."
He snarled back, "Perhaps it is time for you to learn who you should not challenge." He reached down and slid his hand under the van, and with a mighty yell he lifted it over his head.
Golden Angel's eyes widened as she watched him hurl the heavy van at Wonder Woman, and she smiled slightly as the Amazon Princess leisurely moved aside to allow the van to pass by her and loudly crash to the ground behind her.
Bane sounded another battle cry as he charged Wonder Woman, swinging his fist. This time she did not dodge aside and met him head on, easily blocking his fist and slamming her own brutally into his face, and this time he stumbled backward.
"Yeah!" Golden Angel shouted. "Take that!"
Powerful arms were suddenly wrapped around her and she was crushed to a huge, solid body and picked up off of the ground. With her arms pinned to her sides, she found she had little hope of breaking free, but struggled with everything she had anyway.
"I ain't done with you yet," Rhino growled as he proceeded to squeeze the little Amazon as hard as he could.
Elissa yelled as he tried to crush the life from her, struggling with everything she had, but she could not break his grip on her.
"I'm gonna squash you like a little bug!" he said through bared teeth.
Batman swung in from the darkness above and delivered a hard kick to Rhino's face.
Dropping Golden Angel, the big man staggered backward and reached for his face, then he wheeled around as the Dark Knight slammed onto the ground between him and the docks and crouched down.
Slowly standing, Batman's narrow eyes were fixed on the huge man as he advanced.
Elissa scrambled to her feet and turned her attention from Batman to the other fight to see Bane deliver a solid punch to her mother's belly.
Wonder Woman doubled over and staggered backward. When Bane pursued, she spun around and slammed the heel of her boot solidly into his gut. He struck back expertly and connected with her head and she blocked his follow-up strike and brought her fist hard up into his jaw. This looked like a pitched battle, but Wonder Woman had things well in hand. In fact, she almost seemed to be toying with him.
Looking back to her father, she raised her brow as she watched the big man charge and Batman simply move out of the way. Rhino turned and charged again, swinging his fist hard, but Batman simply diverted the strike with a sweep of his arm and spun around, redirecting his big foe into the brick wall to his side.
As Rhino staggered away from the wall and turned back on the now advancing Dark Knight, Elissa rushed in from behind the big man, and as her father leapt up and delivered a hard kick to his chin, she grabbed the collar of his jacket and pulled him downward, then planted her other palm in the small of his back, picked him up and threw him the other way.
Rhino crashed hard to the ground flat on his back, raising a ring of dust around him as he did.
Looking to her right, Golden Angel saw Batman take her side, and she smiled at him as she met his eyes.
Even behind that mask he wore he had a proud look about him and he gave her a little wink.
Elissa sensed something and wheeled around, looking to the open dock as two men who were dressed in dark gray business suits and white ties jumped out of it and hit the ground. One crouched down while the other remained standing and they both aimed semi-automatic pistols and her and Batman.
Barking, "Look out!" she stepped between them and the Dark Knight, and when they opened fire her arms were a blur as she deflected bullet after bullet from her gauntlets.
In seconds they were empty and both men reached to their belts to find fresh magazines.
Batman took Golden Angel's side again and the two of them simultaneously reached to their belts and each removed a bat-arang. Glancing at each other for only a split second, they turned their attention fully to the two gunmen as they finished reloading their weapons, and they let the little metal bats fly at the same time. Each bat-arang found its mark and both gunmen were disarmed. Together, Golden Angel and Batman charged and the two men barely had time to retreat a single step. Elissa reached hers barely ahead of Batman, spinning around as she delivered a solid kick to his head that dropped him immediately. Batman hit his target with a right cross that knocked him back into the wall behind him, then a left uppercut that finished him off.
Looking to each other, Batman and Golden Angel bumped fists then turned on the stirring Rhino.
"I've got him," Batman assured.
With a nod, Elissa spun back around and leapt into the open dock.
She trotted into the dark building, past stacks of steel racking and pallets, papers that lay randomly about, and a couple of ladders that leaned against one wall. Crouching down as she reached the cavernous sales floor, she squinted slightly as her night vision scanned the darkness within. There was no movement, and nobody about, but along the wall to her left she heard something, a faint shuffle, and she stood and made her way silently along the wall and toward a doorway about fifty feet away.
As she neared, she saw that it was a steel door with paper taped over the one window, and right at the edge of this paper and tape she could see a little glint of light from within the room.
Stopping as she heard that shuffle again, she realized that the sound was about halfway up the wall, as if someone was pressing their shoulder against it and moving ever so slightly, anxiously.
Her eyes narrowed and she crept forward, holding her right arm ready while she allowed the fingers of her left hand to gently glide along the wall. As she reached the door she stopped, tensing up as she thought out what to do. The door would open away from her and she would have little time to react once whoever was inside emerged, but she was confident that it would not be a problem. Reaching to her belt with her left hand, she slowly withdrew another bat-arang, took it in her right hand, and flung it out into the store, and it flew with a rapid spin.
Reaching nearly to the ceiling, the bat-arang stopped and hovered for just a second, then it traveled back down at the same angle, veering slightly away from Golden angel and finally hitting the wall just on the other side of the door.
It burst open and another man in a light gray suit this time followed it and crouched down, wheeling around to face the source of the sound and aiming his gun in that direction.
Elissa dispatched him with a single kick to the head, and as he fell another stormed out, this time turning his gun toward her! Her arm whipped up as he fired and the single bullet ricocheted upward. Lurching back slightly, she kicked him hard in the chin, knocking him out cold and she watched as he fell over the other man.
With a little smile, she stared down at them for a few seconds to make certain they were out, then she turned her eyes back to the doorway, stepping over the two unconscious men as she slipped inside.
Inside was what appeared to be a dilapidated office. About ten feet by ten feet, it was painted a light blue, or had been years ago, and had an old metal desk off to one side, facing the door with a new looking chair behind it. A door on the right side was closed and did not look like it was often used. Her eyes were on it for long seconds before returning to the desk. None of the items on the desk interested her. They were merely clipboards, pencils, papers and a briefcase, one that looked expensive and new. All had been recently put there and this escaped her notice, but the doll laying on the edge of the desk near the briefcase had her full attention.
She approached slowly, her gaze locked on the doll and her lips parted inquisitively. Leaning her head as she reached the desk, she hesitantly picked the doll up, slowly raising it to eye level.
No. It was not a doll. It was a ventriloquist's dummy. It was dressed in the pinstripe suit and the hat of an old gangster and in its hand was a small Thompson machine gun. Its face was rough looking, mean looking and had a scratch or scar down one side from above the eye all the way down the cheek. There was even what appeared to be a cigarette in its mouth, mounted to the lower jaw.
Seeing it gave her a cold chill. There was just something about it
"Rhino responds very well to little Scarface," a familiar voice informed from one side.
Elissa drew a quick gasp and dropped the dummy as she spun around, backing away a step. Her wide eyes found someone she knew, someone she did not expect to encounter this night, but someone she had hoped to find again.
Doctor Shipley looked a little different. There was no longer gray in his hair and the beard had been shaved from his thin face. His thin rimmed glasses were also different and his piercing eyes no longer looked so friendly. There was a menace about him, and his thin frame was covered in a very expensive looking silk suit with a black jacket and trousers, a light gray vest and white shirt beneath and a solid black, silk tie. He wore a smile, clearly just for her, but this smile was not as she remembered. There was something wicked about it, something horrifying.
"In fact," he went on as he slowly closed the door behind him, "he would rather take orders from him than from someone real. I've thought about writing a paper on it, how he thinks a dummy more real than the man controlling it." He raised his brow. "So how have you been, Wonder?"
Finding herself a little afraid, she dismissed the feeling easily and ground her teeth, setting a hand on her hip as her eyes narrowed, and she leaned her head slightly. She fired a disapproving, angry look his way, making no secret of her feelings for him now.
"Sorry," he offered. "I guess you aren't Wonder Woman anymore, are you? But then, you never really were." He strode forward with slow steps, angling toward the desk.
Elissa circled toward the door, ready for anything.
Reaching the desk, he looked down at the briefcase and worked the wheels of the combination locks. "I'm guessing you have some questions, perhaps some unresolved anger toward me." He raised his brow as he pushed the buttons to release the locks. "So how have you been?"
Grinding her teeth, Elissa snarled, "I'm guessing you already know, Shipley. I'm guessing that you also know your butt's getting kicked tonight for what you did to me!"
He slowly turned his head, meeting her eyes with the deep pools that were his own. "Unresolved anger. I think we're making progress."
Her eyes narrowed again. "Are you just trying to provoke me?"
"We both need to just face reality, Wonder," he interrupted. "I'm unarmed and I don't see you beating someone who won't or can't fight back." He turned fully toward her and folded his arms. "We both know I don't stand a chance against Wonder Woman, or even some child who thinks she is."
"I don't think I'm Wonder Woman," she growled, glaring back at him.
"When we first met you did," he pointed out. "So what do you call yourself now?"
"Golden Angel," she replied with hard words.
"Thank you for your honesty," he said softly.
"So," she started loudly and with authority to her words, "are you coming along quietly, Doctor Shipley?"
"I suppose I should be honest with you," he suggested. "My name isn't Gordon Shipley."
Watching him turn his attention to his brief case, she raised her chin. She watched his motions as he slowly opened it, suspicious and a little nervous, and more so as he looked back to her and removed his glasses.
"Then tell me who you really are," she demanded.
A slight smile took his mouth. "My name is Crane, Doctor Jonathan Crane." He tossed his glasses down and removed something made of burlap from his briefcase, and he slipped it over his head, looking back at her through the eyeholes of the horrible mask he now wore. "But your colleagues call me Scarecrow."
Elissa's eyes widened. Wearing the mask, he had become a most horrible apparition. It had an oversized mouth sewn in and an almost skull-like nose. Straw stuck out of it in places, much thicker around where the neck was. She tensed up, raising her chin slightly. He was just trying to frighten her, to intimidate her, and she would not allow him to. Setting that hand back on her hip, she leaned her head slightly and replied with a disbelieving look, and her other hand clenched into a tight fist.
"Huh," he said in a huff. "I thought for sure you would scream like a little girl and bolt out of here when you saw this."
She reached behind her and retrieved her handcuffs. "You coming along quietly or what?"
Scarecrow sighed. "Oh, I suppose I have no other choice." He held his arms straight out and his hands to her, ready to be cuffed. "Just don't hurt me, Golden Angel."
Elissa strode toward him and grabbed his wrist, grumbling, "No promises."
Before she could get the first cuff on him, something sprayed from his sleeves, an aerosol with a noxious stink to it that burned her eyes as it hit her face. Stunned, she backed away, turning her face away from him and tightly closing her eyes. She coughed and dropped the handcuffs, raising a hand to cover her mouth. Tears streamed from her eyes as she continued to back away and she was finally stopped by the wall behind her.
The immediate effects were only temporary and the burning in her nose and mouth subsided in seconds. Blinking her eyes back open, she found a strange anxiety washing through her and she looked back to Scarecrow, suddenly seeing him very differently. Her anxiety began to worsen. Her heart thundered and she could not catch her breath, could not focus right.
Scarecrow slowly approached her and his voice was different, deeper and more menacing as he asked, "What's wrong, little girl. You suddenly don't look so confident."
Pressing her back to the wall behind her, she mustered her draining courage and ordered, "Back up."
He did not stop and closed on her inch by dreadful inch. His mask distorted and he looked like he was speaking through the mouth in his mask. His eyes were glowing red and he appeared bigger, though she knew he could not be.
"Don't you want me to come along quietly?" he mocked.
Her eyes widened as she watched him remove a syringe from his jacket pocket, and when he pulled the cap from the needle, it looked huge!
"I have something to calm your nerves," he informed, holding the syringe and the huge needle in front of her and ready to deliver. "You look like you could use a sedative. This is going to hurt, so be very still and take your medicine like a good girl."
Frantically shaking her head, she whimpered, "I don't want a shot!"
He leaned his head and the mask seemed to snarl, showing very long, very sharp teeth that were clear like glass and appeared to be filled with some horrible liquid. "Now now, little girl. Your mommy will be here shortly and you want her to know that you were brave and took your medicine like a good girl. Hold your arm out."
Pressing her arms to the wall behind her, she shook her head again and screamed, "Stay away from me!" Charging him crossed her mind but she was terrified of being stabbed by that needle, terrified more of what was in the syringe.
He slowly aimed at her with the needle, making sure she could see what he was doing with it. "Your mother says you need this," he informed coldly. "Don't run away or your parents will have to bring you right back here, they'll be very angry about having to do that, and then it will hurt much worse."
Wide eyed, Elissa began to slide along the wall to elude him, and she shook her head and begged, "Please don't. Please."
His voice became more demonic as he shouted, "Be still you little brat!"
Finally close enough, he thrust the syringe and the needle jabbed into her upper arm, and panic exploded from her!
Elissa screamed and knocked his hand away and she charged past him, running for the first door she found. Pulling it open, she darted out, only to find herself cornered in another small office. A breath shrieked into her. Shallow breaths did the same as she frantically looked around her. She did not see an abandoned room that was littered with papers and packing material and an old desk that was broken and covered with boxes and old papers. What she saw was something from months ago. She found herself standing in Red Panzer's office in that warehouse. She saw his big oak desk, the old phone on it, the papers and the elaborate wooden box. The portrait of Adolf Hitler was behind it, the comfortable chairs to her right and the vending machine beyond it.
"It can't be," she breathed. Wheeling around, she screamed as she saw Red Panzer standing in the doorway and blocking the only way out. She backed away and found herself crying as he advanced. There was nowhere to go. He was going to kill her!
That metal, skull with those blacked out lenses seemed dark and so horrifying. The old helmet was black and dull in the dim light. His long red coat simply added to his size and she knew the armor beneath it was impenetrable. She knew his strength far surpassed hers, that his skill in combat surpassed hers, that his weapons could fire bullets right through her gauntlets
Slowly he raised that left arm and the barrels of the machine guns slowly emerged from that flap in his sleeve.
Breathing in quick, shrieking gasps, she tried to raise her hands to defend herself, but could not lift them. Looking down, she cried out as she saw them snared by vines that had grown out of the floor. She tried to rip them free, looking back up at Red Panzer as he stood in front of her, aiming at her.
A red glow overtook his eyes and the jaws of that skeleton mask he wore parted, revealing that it was not a mask, it was his head! Straightening his arm, he simply said in that deep, synthesized voice, "Die."
Panic took complete control of her and she dropped to the floor, balling herself up as she screamed and cried hysterically. "Please!" she begged in a scream. "Please, don't! Please!" All she could do after was cry, and her hysterics only grew worse as she did. Shaking and sweating, she was no longer a formidable Amazon warrior. She was just a terrified girl.
Someone grabbed her and she twisted and struggled away, not wanting to look at her attacker as she scrambled to the corner of the room. She heard her name, but could not see through the cloud of fear that she was lost in.
"Elissa!" Wonder Woman shouted this time, grabbing her shoulders.
This made the girl panic further and she cried, "Leave me alone!" as she tried again to struggle free.
"Elissa, calm down!" Wonder Woman ordered. "Calm down, Little One! Elissa, look at me!"
Her struggles ceased, but Elissa kept her eyes shut tightly and her face turned away as she whimpered, "No."
"It's all right," Diana assured, raising a hand to the girl's cheek. "Elissa, it's all right. Just relax. Nobody is going to hurt you."
Her eyes flashing open, Elissa shrank away and shook her head, her wide eyes locked on her mother as she shouted, "You sent them! He said you told them to do this to me! Why, Mommy, why?"
"Little One, I didn't tell anyone to hurt you. There isn't anyone else here."
"Liar!" the girl accused. Looking behind her mother, she began to cry again, to shake her head again, and she shrank away, pushing herself against the wall as she cried, "Please leave me alone! Go away!"
Batman crouched down beside Wonder Woman and ordered, "Hold her still."
Elissa sprang to her feet and yelled, "No more!" As she tried to dart around them and escape, her mother grabbed her arm and stopped her. Panic surged forth again and she fought to free herself as Wonder Woman grappled to restrain her, and finally Elissa lashed out, striking Diana as hard as she could in the face.
Stunned by the attack, Wonder Woman did not allow surprise to keep her entranced and she seized the girl's other arm, and somewhat brutally she pulled the girl to her and wrapped her powerful arms around her. Crushing Elissa's little body to her own, she held her as tightly as she could.
With her arms pinned between her and her mother, Elissa screamed in terror and fought with all her strength and vigor to escape, twisting and pushing back against her mother as best she could. Something cold was put against her neck, there was a pop and a brief shot of pain and she cried out against it, then strength drained from her. Her eyelids grew very heavy very quickly and a deep sleep washed through her. She fought it as best she could and with every part of her, but soon her head rolled back, her eyes closed, and in seconds her body was limp and held up only by her mother's powerful arms.
Wonder Woman turned wide eyes to Batman.
He put the hypo gun away and explained, "It's a fast acting sedative. She'll be out for a few hours. In the meantime, get her back to the Batcave and onto the examination table before she wakes up. I'll finish up here."
Diana reached down and took the girl behind the knees, gently cradling her limp form as she looked down at her sleeping face with fear in her eyes. "What happened to her?"
"I have my suspicions," he reported, "but I'll need to draw some blood to be sure."
"How long until you know?" she demanded.
"It shouldn't be too long once I have a sample." He turned and strode out of the office, saying as he left, "I'll see you there."