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“Me,” Killer Frost whispered, her voice conveying dozens of aspects all at once. It spoke of a woman who had given everything away, only to not want it back. A woman whose very soul was inked with the dark, crawling tattoos of mental sickness and perversion. A woman who had sacrificed her humanity, willingly, to embrace the unending, unbearable cold that now emanated from the very air around her.
Though, the girls weren't going to stand for that, wouldn't be cowed in the face of ice and fear and dread and hopelessness. They were Terra and Misfit, Atlee and Charlie. They were the World's Finest, and there was no way they'd lose today, if they could help it.
“I think you'll find you aren't so tough without your shark!” Atlee shouted, narrowing her eyes into gleaming violet semicircles of rage. Though it wasn't obvious from her playful demeanor or her naïve attitude, and her power didn't truly show itself when she was in the presence of someone like Power Girl, Atlee was a fierce opponent. She had been raised as a hero in Strata, a warrior, a special girl with special abilities. It was in the name of her duty, that of protecting the earth, that she had found herself on the surface (and in Kara's care) in the first place.
And it was thus that, in the face of Killer Frost's psychotic, confident sneer, Atlee brought her arms out wide, every muscle, every fiber of her mind and body straining to touch the earth below her, to bend it to her desires. Her mind wandered, just briefly, to Charlie – Misfit had only one real power, besides her regeneration, and that was her teleporting, or “bounces”. They could take her anywhere in the world, and as a weapon, Misfit's power was almost unstoppable... and also one hundred percent lethal. It was up to Terra to stop Killer Frost, a legendary supervillainess. She just hoped she'd be enough.
Her eyes closed for a moment, a smoky purple glow seeping out from beneath their closed lids as boulder after boulder rocketed through the walls, floors, and ceilings of whatever place it was that Killer Frost called her home. The multi-leveled complex began to crumble under the effort of Atlee's power as the ground itself assaulted the woman who had made the two teens' lives hell, even if for a relatively short amount of time.
Misfit's eyes widened for just a moment before she began to bounce, launching herself back and forth to avoid the incoming tide of cannonball-like rock and earth. Even King Shark, having just risen back to his feet from his new position on a lower floor, turned tail (though perhaps not literally) and began to run. Apparently his loyalty had its limits.
The only person who wasn't afraid was Crystal Frost.
Every chunk of earthy debris, every soldier in Terra's geographic army, stopped in its trail no more than a few feet from the villainess, caught in a thick wall of fluid ice. Her cold mocked nature's progression – each clump of dirt was compressed into pebbles, each heavy rock was frozen until it burst. Not even the steel girders holding the building together could withstand Killer Frost's new power. That what she had gained from the Heart of Ice seemed to have left her more powerful than ever before, even under Neron's contract.
That sinister smile just widened, now, as the icy-skinned woman posed atop her lofty plateau of what appeared to be solidly frozen air. “I'm sorry, girls – really, honestly, it's been fun. But who are you? A second-rate Batgirl? Some little punk who throws rocks?”
Misfit inhaled sharply, teleporting behind Atlee and placing both gloved hands on the other girl's shoulders, pulling her back slightly.
“I... I'm Killer Frost. Before the height of my power I could give Firestorm a fight for his life. Now... now that Icicle has weaponized the Heart of Ice? And now that I have absorbed its power into my own body?” Killer Frost let out a rich, grating peal of laughter. “I don't even need Neron's power – I'm stronger than ever before, with the black, icy, ragged tatters of my soul intact. It's poetic, in a way... after that brat Alice restored my soul, I feel more evil lurking inside me than ever. Doing cruel things to you becomes so much more exciting – so much more heinous – when I can come to care about what happens to you first.”
“Atlee... if I die, and you make it?” Misfit whispered quietly, squeezing her arms tighter around the other girl. She couldn't bounce, not and take Atlee with her. Whatever happened here happened to both of them – she was effectively helpless. “I want you to go to my apartment and take that miniskirt you liked so much, the red one with the dark green? I think it was a little too big for me anyway.”
“Don't say that! We're both going to make it, I can--” Terra's voice was cut off by the continuing chilled rattle of Crystal's voice.
“Oh, my my. See, this is what I meant – truly touching, you two. But you can't do anything. This earth, these rocks you called your weapons – they belong to me now.” Frost's peal of icy laughter grew now, grew into a roar of murderous lunacy as she flicked her fingers apart, Atlee's projectiles now blasting outward in an unavoidable fan of earthy shrapnel that was nearing absolute zero, drained of any warmth they had ever remembered.
Atlee turned slightly, not facing Frost. She couldn't do anything now – even her connection with the nearby rock and earth had been severed, as if her old allies were now more ice than rock, perverted by Killer Frost's powers. Alien to her. She put her face in Charlie's shoulder and squeezed her eyes shut, taking a deep breath and preparing for the end. That tide of sharp, hellishly cold rock would overtake them, and there was nothing either of them could do to prevent it.
Even if Misfit broke her one rule, even if she tried to use her powers to teleport Crystal away, to destroy her completely – she would be flash frozen before she got the chance.
But the incoming tide of death never came.
“Sorry, Frost. But the only person who's going to kill my sister... is me.”
A moment of silence that felt like an eternity passed, amidst the ambient cold and the sound of pebbles and sand dropping harmlessly to the floor. No more words, from anyone, no more actions, no more sounds. In those few brief seconds of time, everything was still, and the two huddled teens who thought to play hero got a significant span of time to consider their own mortality.
Misfit was the first to open her eyes when she realized that, for the moment, the girls may yet live. Things were not so different than they had been before she tried to tune it out – Killer Frost sat atop her hellish pedestal, tiny crystals of pure cold orbiting her psychotic visage like loyal pets. The building around them was all by destroyed, and Nanaue was long gone, as far as she could tell.
The big difference was that, standing before the ice villain, in ripped fishnets, a black leather tailcoat, and top hat – was Lori Zechlin. Her “sister”.
“Stay out of this, brat!” Frost hissed. “These girls belong to me, you have no part in this! I'll destroy you!”
“Wrong on two accounts, bitch,” Alice spat back, her form starting to quiver, her eyes glowing a deep gold. She was holding onto more power now – she'd transform again, and soon. “One: This is a family affair, and these girls are my property because I'm the one with the power to take them. Two: I'd just love to see you die trying. Next time I won't just let you retreat after I cripple you.”
Atlee was watching now, as well, observing the scene that was unfolding before her. While she didn't know everything about Black Alice, like Charlie did – the fact that she had the potential for nearly all of the universe's power, kept in the troubled mind of a traumatized teenage girl – she could see Killer Frost's organic reaction to the goth girl's words.
Pure, unadulterated fear shone through Frost's dark eyes, a brief flicker of the memories of what had happened to her at Alice's hands. Black Alice had done more to her than the most cruel vigilante could have dreamed of – she had given Frost her soul back, after it had rotted for who could tell how long in Neron's realm. Ripped the power from her body, shattered her dark contract, and given her the gift of a broken, tarnished soul. Even through Crystal's bravado, it was obvious that the reunion had been the most unbearable thing that had ever happened to her.
Killer Frost trembled with impotent rage as mysterious, eldritch energies slowly encircled Alice, replacing a twisted version of Zatanna's costume with an even more gloomy and bizarre version of Wonder Woman's.
“You'd deserve anything I did to you, Frost,” Alice whispered, tilting her head down slightly to gaze up at the woman through her brows, giving her a stern, deadly look. “And with Wonder Woman's powers, I can't promise I won't rip you in half with one punch. They're very volatile, you know... and...” The girl looked down for a moment, putting a hand to her temples for just a moment as if she was experiencing some kind of hangover-pang. “And Diana has a very violent heart.”
“You... would let me go, now? Without a fight?” Relief, surprise, and a determined attempt to appear nonchalant all flickered simultaneously over the villainess's face. “Why?”
“Because my fight isn't with you,” Black Alice growled, casually turning her back to Frost and glancing at Terra and Misfit, still huddled in the ambient cold of the ruined building, mortified observers of this conflict. “It's with her.”