Elissa moaned softly and rocked her head to the left, then the right, and her eyes opened to thin slits. She blinked and struggled to bring the world around her into focus. Drawing a deep breath, she tried to make sense of where she was, how she got there
Anxiety surged up again and quickly she felt herself near panic as she looked around her. When she tried to sit up, a strap around her chest stopped her. Trying to raise her hands to remove it revealed that she was cuffed to the bed she lay on. Looking down at herself, she saw that she was only covered with a white sheet and white wool blanket, and over these were leather restraints over her legs and hips and she could feel her ankles cuffed and strapped down beneath the sheet. Her eyes darted about. This looked like the Batcave, and yet it did not. Drawing a deep breath, she tried to calm herself and reason out what had happen, where she was.
With another deep breath forced into her, she scanned where she was, and finally, desperately called, "Mom?"
What answered was only a faint echo.
Her eyes swept the cave around her. There was the huge computer complex across the cavern, glass display cases filled with various items
They were familiar, and yet they looked so different.
"Mom!" she called again with a fearful voice.
The clop of boots approached from the other side and she turned her head to see. No one was approaching and the clopping stopped. Looking quickly to the other side, she gasped as she saw Batman standing right at her bedside. Looking the other way, she saw her mother standing across from him. Both of them were staring down at her and she looked back and forth at them. These few seconds should have given her some comfort, but they were horrifying.
Glancing at each other, Batman and Wonder Woman turned and walked away, and as Elissa looked on with wide, horrified eyes, they both disappeared into the darkness.
She breathed in shallow gasps, looking one way and then the other. "Mom!" she called. Looking the other way, she shouted, "Daddy! Where did you go?" Looking back toward where her mother had disappeared and a breath shrieked into her as her eyes were filled with Red Panzer.
He stared down at her from behind those blacked out lenses, said nothing, did not move.
Again she could not catch her breath as she stared back at him, and slowly she shook her head.
Red Panzer raised his head slightly and ordered in that thick German accent, "Begin the procedure."
Looking to the other side, she whimpered as she saw three people on that side, all in surgical garb, and one holding some kind of horrifying, metal tool that was covered by a long plastic cap. Images were becoming blurry and she was sure she was going to spill fearful tears from her eyes, though none came out.
One of the people in the surgical reached to the bound girl, grasping the sheet and pulling a flap back to expose the bare skin of her belly.
"What are you going to do to me?" the girl whimpered desperately. When she saw the plastic cap removed from the instrument to reveal a huge needle that was as big as a drinking straw, she shrieked, then looked to Red Panzer and begged, "Please don't do this to me. Please!"
He seemed to ignore her and ordered, "Proceed. Insert the instrument."
"No!" Elissa gasped as she watched the huge, chrome colored needle as it was placed against her skin, and once more she begged, "Please don't! Please!"
The man behind the mask would not even look at her and kept his eyes on what he was doing as he changed the angle of the huge needle.
Another quick breath shrieked into her, and as the needle was brutally shoved into her, she sat up and screamed, doubling over as she grasped her belly. She could not feel the needle in her, but she had seen it pushed into her, knew it was still there. Horror was in control of her as she drew another breath and it screamed all the way out of her, then another.
The door to her bedroom burst open and Diana charged in, right to the bed, and she sat down beside the girl and enveloped her in her arms. She was wearing a soft white button-up blouse with full sleeves and a long red skirt. She wore no shoes nor was Wonder Woman's tiara in place.
As she tightly pulled the girl to her, she rocked her back and forth and laid her cheek on top of the girl's head as she soothed, "Shh. It's okay now."
"Get it out of me!" Elissa screamed as she clawed at her belly. "Get it out!"
Pulling back slightly, Diana grabbed the girl's wrists and pulled them away from her, assuring, "There is nothing in you, Little One. It was a bad dream. You are okay. Just calm yourself."
Elissa followed her mother's voice through the fog of panic and terror and finally opened her eyes, looking first down at her belly to see that she was wearing the long tee shirt she always slept in. Slowly, she turned her gaze to her mother, her own eyes still wide with fear, but her breathing slowed from quick gasps to deep, calming breaths. Seeing Diana, she relaxed, and finally looked around her to see that she was in her bedroom in the mansion.
Diana stroked her hair and asked, "You okay now?"
Staring blankly ahead, Elissa absently nodded.
"I think the worst of it is over," Diana assured. "Come on. Let's get up and get dressed. Are you hungry?"
Finally looking to her mother, Elissa nodded again.
Diana gave her daughter a reassuring smile. "I thought you might be, Little One." She stood and took the girl's hands, pulling her gently from the bed. "You've been asleep for almost two days. That's a long nap even for you."
Elissa swung her feet to the floor and found her whole body a little stiff as she stood. "Two days? Seriously?"
Reaching to the nightstand, Diana turned the lamp on and looked back to her daughter. "I'm afraid so. We were awfully worried about you that first day. You slept very restlessly and I could tell you were having bad dreams, but it's over now. In fact, Alfred's been waiting for you to wake up. He's made something special for you."
Her eyes widening, Elissa winced as she saw the swelling around her mother's eye. Broken memories flashed back into her, and one overshadowed them all, the memory that she had struck her mother in a blind, terrified panic. Slowly reaching to her mother's face, tears filled her eyes as she breathed, "Oh, Mother. I'm so sorry. Oh, Hera, what did I do?"
Diana responded with another smile and pinched her daughter's nose. "Don't flatter yourself, Junior. I got that fighting Bane."
" Elissa stammered. "I hit you. Mommy, I'm so sorry." She threw her arms around the Amazon Princess, burying her face in her mother's neck. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to."
Diana slipped her arms around the girl and soothed, "Shh, it's okay. I know you didn't. I'm not angry with you, Elissa."
Still, Elissa wept and sobbed, "I promise I'll never hit you again. I promise! I'm sorry."
Stroking the girl's long hair, Diana assured, "It's okay, Little One. It's okay. I know it was not you acting with a clear mind. Just settle down. It's okay."
A moment passed before Elissa finally pulled away, keeping her eyes down as she tried to collect herself.
Diana kissed the girl's forehead and ordered, "Get yourself dressed and come downstairs."
Elissa nodded, then raised her eyes as her mother turned to leave, asking as Diana reached the door, "He got away, didn't he?"
Pausing at the door, Diana looked over her shoulder and nodded. "He did this time, Junior. We'll get him the next."
Hearing this broke the girl's heart a little more.
The one small table in the kitchen already had a chair pulled out and Elissa seemed to know it was for her. She had put on a white tee shirt with the words Girl Power and a folded pink ribbon beneath them. She also wore black running shorts with pink stripes. Her hair was not worn in the long ponytail she had come to wear it in most of the time, but it was down and unrestrained, and some of it was unruly at the sides and a few locks hung in her face. She sat cross legged in the chair and folded her arms on the table in front of her, laying her chin on her arms as she stared forward at nothing.
Alfred had gone unnoticed as he turned from the stove, watching as the girl had perched herself on the chair and laid her head down. He had a bowl in his hand and a little smile on his mouth and he slowly strode to her, gently laying the bowl beside her.
Her eyes shifted to it and she noticed that it had the handle of a spoon already sticking out of it and it smelled of cream and oranges. Lifting her brow, she looked up at him.
"It is something I concocted myself," he told her, "something I thought you might enjoy."
"I guess you know then, huh?" she asked grimly.
He reluctantly nodded. "I do, Miss Elissa, I do."
She turned her eyes down, feeling even more ashamed and embarrassed.
"Not to worry, Miss," he assured. "It happens to the best of heroes." He turned back to the counter and picked up a towel. "It has happened to your father a time or two. He always managed to bounce back quickly." Looking over his shoulder, he smiled. "I see that quality in you."
She forced a smile back and looked back to the bowl. Finally raising her head, she picked up the spoon and stirred the orange cream stuff in the bowl for a moment before slipping some between her lips. "This is really good," she observed.
"Thank you," he said as he turned toward the refrigerator. "I was hoping you would enjoy it."
Taking another bite, she nodded. "It's really good. Wow, it even changes flavors!" Looking down into her bowl, she saw it begin to slowly swirl on its own and she mumbled, "Ah, crud," as she slowly turned her eyes to Alfred.
He spun around, wearing Scarecrow's mask and he still had that syringe in his hand as he batted the table aside and informed, "You never got your injection, little girl!"
She lowered her feet to the floor and tried to spring up, and found herself strapped to her chair, and her chair secured to the floor. With all of her strength, she tried to break the straps, but they would not yield and she felt more wind around her ankles and bind them securely to the legs of the chair.
Scarecrow moved in on her with slow and terrifyingly fluid motions, leaning his head as he told her, "Not in the arm this time. We go right for the neck!"
She shrieked as he grabbed her hair and wrenched her head over, positioning the needle right on the side of her neck, and she watched him with wide eyes as he laughed and prepared to push it into her.
Batman slammed into him from the right, knocking him to the floor of the kitchen and making his stand between him and the girl. Looking back at her, he asked, "Are you all right?"
She nodded, then looked across the kitchen as the door opened and she screamed, "Watch out!" as Bane burst through the door.
Elissa screamed as her wide eyes were filled with a bright light that hung above her. She tried to sit up and quickly discovered that she had been restrained by a black leather strap across her chest, another around her midriff that held her wrists down and two more holding her legs down. In a panic, she struggled against them and tried to rise up off of the table again.
Grasping her shoulder, Batman pushed her back down to the examination table and ordered, "Lie still, Angel."
She found herself catching her breath much easier this time as she stared back at him. Looking to the other side, she saw her mother approaching and drew a long breath as she realized she was under the mansion, in the Batcave.
Finding her mother's eyes, she grasped her hand and asked, "Was I really out for two days?"
Diana exchanged looks with Batman, then shook her head and looked back down to the girl and shook her head as she began to unbuckle the restraints. "No, it's only been about six hours."
Elissa nodded and looked back to Batman. When her wrists were freed, she reached to her head, feeling for her tiara and not finding it there, then she looked down at herself to see she was still dressed as Golden Angel and her mother was removing the last of the restraints. Slowly laying her head back down, she closed her eyes and drew one more, deep, calming breath, keeping them closed as she asked, "Please tell me we got that guy."
"What guy?" Batman demanded.
She looked to him with eyes that reflected defeat and shame. "It was Doctor Shipley, but that's not his real name. He admitted that his real name is Jonathan Crane."
Batman's eyes narrowed and he growled, "Scarecrow."
She nodded. "That's what he said people call him." She looked away from him. "He sprayed some kind of smelly gas at me. It burned my eyes and stuff and I guess it made me freak out a little."
Squeezing her hand, Diana corrected, "You freaked out a lot, Junior. You were thrashing about so badly we feared you would injure yourself."
Golden Angel vented a long breath through her mouth and nodded. "Then strapping me down was actually a good idea."
"Yes it was, Little One. I'm sorry to frighten you."
"It's okay, Mom." Her apologetic eyes slid to the Amazon Princess and she offered, "Sorry I hit you."
Diana smiled. "We're good, Junior. I know you weren't lashing out with all of your wits about you."
"I've given you an antidote for the gas," Batman informed. "It should all be out of your system now." He shot an unpleasant look at Diana, then turned and walked away. "I'm going to get some rest. You two had better do the same. I'll debrief you later, Angel."
Elissa looked up at her mother and grimly observed, "He seems upset."
Watching after the Dark Knight as he disappeared behind the sliding door to the elevator back up to the mansion, Diana's lips tightened and she nodded.
Elissa bounded down the stairs wearing a red tee shirt with the words Girl Power in big pink letters across the front and a folded pink ribbon beneath them. The shirt fit her very tightly and showed off her shape almost like a second skin. Her shorts were black with pink stripes. With her long black hair restrained in its usual pony tail, she was barefoot and was always happy to be so, especially when going to the beach as she and her mother planned.
Diana met her at the bottom of the stairs, wearing a red tank top and solid black shorts beneath. She was also barefoot and waited at the bottom of the stairs with her arms folded and her piercing blue eyes following her daughter down to the bottom. Her hair was in a long pony tail, much like Elissa's, and she appeared ready for the day ahead of them.
Their gauntlets were concealed, disguised as cuff bracelets, silver around Diana's wrists and gold around Elissa's. They wore no other jewelry, knowing that they would not need it.
Finally reaching the bottom, Elissa stopped in front of her mother and looked up at her with a little smile as she offered, "Sorry. Couldn't decide on a shirt."
Diana raised her brow and asked, "Bra?"
The girl smiled a little broader and nodded. "Remembered this time. Everybody's supported and happy."
"Good," Diana commended. "Let's go while the sun's still high."
A half hour later found them running side by side along the beach south of the manor. Diana's strides were much longer and Elissa could never match them, and she took three steps for every two that Diana took. They would run for miles like this and barely become winded by it.
"Public beach ahead," Elissa informed, then she smiled. "And there are always cute boys out there."
Diana's eyes slid to the girl and narrowed. "Remember our talk?"
Elissa's smile broadened. "I remember. No boys until I'm fifty years old."
With a little smile of her own, Diana confirmed, "That's right."
They did not keep track of how far they ran nor how long they were gone. They got long stares and wide eyed looks from every man and boy they passed, and some of the women. They talked back and forth about trivial matters, reminisced about Elissa's childhood, her experiences posing as Wonder Woman the year before, what they would like to have for dinner and little things like that. Ignoring the world around them, they simply enjoyed some time together, and despite the stresses of the past few days as well as everything else on her mind, Diana found her smile, managed to laugh with her daughter, and somehow forgot she was much more than the mother of an amazing teenage girl.
Near the outskirts of Gotham City, the pop of gunfire drew their attention and they stopped, looking up toward the street that was on the other side of tall hotels and restaurants. Both women had Amazon hearing that could pinpoint very distant sounds and they could both make out an approaching car chase and gunfire. Looking to each other, they smiled. Elissa backed away and both women extended their arms and spun around. Both were enveloped in a bright flash of light and in seconds they stopped, setting their hands on their hips as Wonder Woman and Golden Angel.
Wonder Woman gave the girl a confident look and raised an eyebrow. "Let's go to work, Junior."
With a big smile, Golden Angel assured, "I got your back, Wonder Woman."
The chase involved a stolen armored truck and three police cars pursuing it through narrow, winding streets that catered to beachside condos, tourist shops, restaurants and the occasional towering hotel. Cars and pedestrians darted out of the way as the rampaging armored truck sped toward them. One of the back doors was open and two men shot at the police cars chasing them, holding no regard for the safety of the people all around. They all wore ski masks and thin green sweat shirts, long black trousers and black boots. Five of them were in the van, including the driver and one who fired out of the passenger side window, and all were armed with semi-automatic pistols.
The truck had to slow down to take a hard turn to the left, and here is where Wonder Woman was waiting for it. Seeing her, the driver instinctively hit the brakes, and as tires slid on the road, the man in the passenger's seat barked, "What are you doing? Run her over!"
Diana's eyes narrowed as the engine roared and the truck began to accelerate toward her again, but she did not yield. When it was only about twenty feet away, she lowered her shoulder and met it head-on, grasping the bumper with one hand and pushing back against the hood with the other. She slid backward, her boots smoking, and with a mighty yell she picked up the front of the heavy armored truck and twisted hard, flipping it over.
It rolled onto its roof and slid sideways for twenty more feet before it stopped.
One of the men fell out of the open back door and staggered to his feet, his gun still in his hand as he shook his head and tried to get his bearings. Looking ahead of him, he froze as he saw Golden Angel standing only about ten feet away, her hands on her hips and a confident little smile on her mouth. He raised his gun and fired with a straight aim.
Almost casually, Golden Angel swept her arms and knocked away bullet after bullet, and as she heard the gun make an empty click, she reached behind her and withdrew a bat-arang, hurling it at him with one fluid motion.
It hit his gun hard enough to knock it from his grip and he grasped his hand and backed away a step, looking up to see her already upon him.
She grabbed his shirt with both hands, pulling him brutally toward her and head butting him as hard as she could, knocking him out cold, then she tossed him aside and set herself to receive the next. Predictably, the next man shot at her as well and she deflected each round with ease, just waiting for his gun to go silent. When it did, she charged, this time kicking him in the chest and knocking him backward into the third man who had just emerged from the back of the overturned truck. As they fell back inside, she darted in after them.
Wonder Woman strode around to the back and folded her arms as she heard the sounds of the struggle within. The one closed door burst open as one of the men hit it hard back-first. She watched him fall unconscious to the ground, then turned her eyes back to the truck and raised her brow as the second flew out head first, screaming until he hit the ground flat on his belly. He moaned and pulled his arms to him, struggling to get his wits about him and push himself back up, but Golden Angel emerged from the back of the truck and strode to him, reaching to her belt to retrieve her handcuffs. She dropped down and straddled his lower back, pulling his arms behind him as she cuffed them one by one, then she turned a look to her mother that Diana did not expect.
Motioning back to the truck with her head, she reported, "It's empty."
Wonder Woman's eyes narrowed and she looked to the overturned truck, striding that way. Looking inside, she found it just as Golden Angel had said: Empty.
Golden Angel took her side and folded her arms. "This doesn't make sense. Why go to so much trouble to steal an empty truck?"
Walking around to the side of the truck, Wonder Woman shook her head and countered, "Not all things are as they appear, Junior. This is probably just one phase of a much bigger plan they have." As the police swarmed to them, she ordered, "Keep everyone clear of the other side of this thing. I'm going to turn it back over." She started to reach down to the roof of the overturned truck, then she hesitated and turned her eyes to her daughter. A smile found her lips as she backed away and extended her hand to the truck, offering, "Think you can?"
Elissa found a little smile of her own as she waved her mother aside and said, "Step aside, Wonder. I got this one." She reached down and wedged her fingers under the roof of the truck, took several deep, quick breaths, then strained with all her might to lift it. Grudgingly, the truck creaked and that side of it began to rise from the ground, and as it rose higher, the girl yelled and poured everything she had into the task.
As onlookers watched in amazement, a small, five foot six Amazon girl lifted the heavy armored truck from its roof, and everyone applauded as it crashed onto its side.
Glancing around, Golden Angel smiled and waved to the gathering people and police who watched.
Wonder Woman folded her arms and said, "Okay, halfway there."
A little out of breath, Golden Angel scoffed, "No problem," as she reached down to grasp the truck again.
Getting it to its wheels was far more of a challenge than rolling it to its side had been, but with everything she had, Golden Angel righted the heavy truck and backed away as it bounced a little on its tires and suspension, and the crowd around them applauded and cheered anew.
With deep breaths, Elissa bent over and grasped her legs just above the knees. The strain had nearly exhausted her, but she smiled nonetheless, and when she looked to her mother, she saw her applauding, too, and smiling a proud smile.
After talking to the police, they found a private area to change back into their street clothes, then they made their way back to the beach to finish their run. Many people had seen them change before and waved to them, and they graciously waved back.
"How can you ever get tired of this?" Elissa asked with a certain girlish enthusiasm. "This is great!"
"Believe me," Diana warned, "when it comes time to have a normal life or a day of shopping, a date or anything like that, you'll wish nobody recognized you."
"I guess," the girl sighed. "So, when can I join the Justice League? I think I'm ready."
Diana simply glanced at her and did not answer.
"Come on, Mom!" Elissa complained. "There are people there with absolutely no Amazon abilities or strength or anything"
"They all bring a wealth of drive and experience with them," Diana interrupted. "I'm sorry, but you just aren't ready."
Elissa stopped and dropped her arms to her sides as she watched her mother stop a few steps beyond her and turn around. "I am to ready! Look what we did back there!"
Approaching the girl, Diana grasped the sides of Elissa's neck and lowered her forehead to her daughter's reminding, "Look what Scarecrow did to you."
Tight lipped, Elissa turned her eyes down.
"I don't want to see you run blindly into anything unprepared and
" Diana vented a deep breath. "Little One, you simply aren't ready for all that you would have to face in the League. I am not saying that you can't become a member of the Justice League, just not now. You have to be patient, you have to learn more and you have to work really, really hard to prepare yourself."
"I am working hard," Elissa pouted, staring down as she folded her arms.
"I know you are," Diana assured. "I've seen more drive and focus in you in recent months than I've ever seen in you, but you still have much to learn and much training ahead of you before you are ready. Allow yourself that before you dive in unprepared again. All of us will always be here to teach you whatever you need to know."
Huffing a breath, Elissa grumbled, "So now I'm just your sidekick?"
Diana smiled and kissed the girl's forehead. "I don't have a sidekick, Junior."
Watching her mother turn and walk down the beach, Elissa followed, dropping her arms to her sides as she barked, "Then what am I? I'm not a sidekick, I'm not a hero
"You are a remarkable young woman who is doing an amazing job at helping people. You are making a huge difference to everyone you meet. And yes, Junior, you are very much a hero."
Catching up and taking her mother's side, the girl looked up to her with lost eyes.
Diana smiled at her. "Look at the lives you've touched. Look at everyone who has had their lives changed just by meeting you."
"I was Wonder Woman then," Elissa pointed out, turning her eyes down. "Of course everyone looked up to me. I was you. Now I'm just Golden Angel, and Golden Angel's a nobody."
This time it was Diana who stopped, and she folded her arms as she watched her daughter stop a few strides beyond.
For a moment, only the sound of the crashing surf and the seagulls surrounded them. Elissa stared at the sand before her, feeling her mother's eyes on her, but unable to turn and look at her.
"A nobody?" Diana questioned.
"I'm just your sidekick, Mom," Elissa complained, "and I'm Daddy's sidekick, and Superman's sidekick. I went from being a hero to just a sidekick. Do you know what that feels like? Do you really think anyone's ever going to take me seriously now? A lot of people figured out that I wasn't really Wonder Woman and now
Now I'm just a fake to everyone, just some poser who pretended to be you and
and failed. I'm a nobody."
"Are you really doing this for fame and glory?" Diana asked, her harsh words sounding more like those of Wonder Woman than Elissa's mother. "Is that all you've become, someone who seeks the spotlight and the attention of the masses you want to love you?"
Closing her eyes, Elissa bowed her head and drew another really deep breath, venting it slowly from her nose. The words hurt. More than that, they rang true, and that made them hurt even more. Slowly, she turned and forced herself to look to her mother, who stood a few feet away with her hands resting on her hips. Her mother was a real hero, someone who did not seek accolades. She did not seek the admiration and attention of the public and for the most part she avoided it.
As Diana strode to her, Elissa's brow arched and she admitted, "I kind of sound like a little brat don't I?"
Diana raised her brow and nodded.
"I'm sorry, Mom," Elissa offered as the wind blew a lock of hair across her face. "I know you raised me better than that."
With an unexpected smile, Diana combed the hair from her daughter's face with her fingers and ordered, "Quit taking my lines, Junior."
Elissa responded with a strained smile of her own. "So, could you use a sidekick?"
Taking the girl under her arm, Diana strode with her down the beach and admitted, "I realize I'm your mother, but I'm afraid there's a line of heroes looking to have Golden Angel as their sidekick."
"Really? Who the heck would want me as a sidekick?"
"You made a name for yourself, Junior, and everyone knows it. Everyone knows that you're a girl who can be counted on. Almost everyone I know wants to work with you, but to be honest, I don't think you even need to be a sidekick. I think you stand on your own very well."
Elissa wrapped her arms around her mother and hugged her tightly, declaring with a big smile, "Best mom ever."