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Kara Zor-L, the kryptonian from Earth-2 known as Power Girl.
The demon, Etrigan.
Princess Koriand'r, the tamaranian known as Starfire.
The reporter Jack Ryder – at least, when he isn't the Creeper.
The Red Lantern of Havania, Bleez.
The detective and philosopher Victor Sage, better known as the Question.
And Rachel Roth – the daughter of Trigon. The sorceress and empath known as Raven.
Together, they'll do whatever it takes to protect Earth from possible threats. Together, they'll do what the Justice League won't.
Together, they are the Justice Society of America.
Rage. Hatred. Anger. Burn, burn, burn. Please, burn... burn... raaaaaage. Rage. Rage. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE.
Slender, pale blue fingers squeezed into an open palm, thin white lines marking where the nails dug into the skin. The pain didn't help her, couldn't soothe her. Her blood, or the burning slime that had long ago replaced it, boiled with murderous frenzy.
The trembling, fizzling constructs that made up what remained of Bleez's destroyed wings slowly stretched out, their tips touching the roof of her room within Jason Blood's manor. It was dark, here. So dark, like space. Like the oblivion she had fallen into when the rage first found her. Like the empty pit of horror and despair and madness and hatred that gurgled within her napalm heart.
It was all too small, too tight, in this dark little room. Made her head spin, made her seethe. Like the room was crushing her, constricting her, her heart began to throb.
Rage. Rage. Burn. Kill. Hate. Stab. Rip. Destroy.
“No, I...” Bleez rasped out, squeezing her eyes shut. Sparkling, burning scarlet tears leaked out from the corners of each eye, leaving a thin, sizzling trail down a delicate alien cheek. Her rage was becoming overwhelming, becoming... dangerous. She could barely hold on to it.
What would Atrocitus say...?
Anger. Frenzy. Burn. Rip. Kill. KILL. KILL.
Atrocitus would strike her down and call her a fool, a weakling. He'd say it was a mistake to cast her into the Blood Ocean. Say that she was a poor choice for a Red Lantern. That she didn't deserve the ring.
That's what Atrocitus would say, if he saw her here, now. It had been barely eleven hours since she had torn something apart, a gang of alien slave traffickers abusing the child prostitutes they had been transporting. Abusing them heavily... heinously. Abusing them the way Bleez had been abused, those years ago.
And she had laughed while she tore them apart, her eyes dilating in the pure psychotic ecstasy of bloodthirst and carnage. She had loved every moment, her ring had fed off of her fury and their death and blood.
If only she could kill again... if only this damned group, this “team”, would move forward to their goals. Use her as the weapon she'd turned herself into, offered herself as. Her rage would never ebb, never be stopped, but it could – for a time – be satisfied.
The havanian's struggling and seething was suddenly interrupted by a short, precise knock on the door to her quarters. Or... her “room”. Her head snapped to the side, her body twitching, heaving, tense with repressed, scalding rage.
“Who... who is it?” She growled, squeezing her eyes shut.
“Raven.” The answer was simple, not expending any more energy than was necessary.
Bleez bared her teeth within the dark of her cell. “Go away,” she hissed.
“I have business with you,” came that voice again. Raven sounded tired, on edge. Creeper had been put down for a nap, Starfire was in the tub, and the Manor had quieted down for the night... mostly. Bleez's agonized seething had kept the azarathian awake, and this was unacceptable.
A few more throbbing moments passed before the roiling, glowing bone-wings on Bleez's back slowly folded, and the havanian pulled herself from her writhing position on the carpet. A shaking hand found the cold brass of a doorknob, and slowly turned it.
Behind the door was a sight that would have made the red lantern laugh under better circumstances – Raven, the brooding, sullen, cloaked girl, was dressed in a white tank top, pink lounge pants, and Powerpuff Girls slippers, her short, dark hair still matted to the back of her neck from a recent shower. “Don't say it,” she deadpanned huskily. “I didn't bring bedclothes with me. I... had to borrow some.” It seemed as though Jason Blood's ex's always came in when someone was in need.
“Fine, I won't. What do you want?”
“We have to talk about... you. Your emotions.”
“Red lanterns don't discuss feelings,” Bleez said in disgust, folding her arms dismissively. “I am insulted that you would even--”
“Be quiet. I understand the anger you're feeling – the exact anger you're feeling – and if we're going to work together as a team you're going to have to learn to... control it.”
“Do not assume to comprehend the rage of a red lantern, girl – it is a blessing, the bane of the wicked. If you could understand my anger you would be wearing a red ring yourself. I see that you are not.”
There was a brief silence. Bleez may not have been any sort of genius, not on par with the Question or even someone like Jason Blood. But she understood what an empath was, and she understood what that meant for the... relationship, between her and Raven. The havanian snarled quietly and turned back into her room, ushering the other woman inside with a gesture. “What do you want from me, then?”
“First I need you to listen... and don't bother turning the light on, if you do not desire it.”
Bleez grunted, leaving the door open and flopping herself onto the single, small bed that the room held. Her wings folded tightly against her back, allowing her to lay down in a deceptively casual position. “I'm listening.”
“I can... learn to tune out the emotions of someone, but I have to know them first. I have to develop a... link, of sorts. I need to learn to tune out your rage if we're going to fight together. It provides a... unnecessary, distraction.”
“Great. How are we supposed to do that, hold hands and kiss?” Bleez's lip curled in haughty distaste. All of this was beneath her – red lanterns did not need to control their emotions, particularly not her. She had been enlightened by the Blood Ocean, and her rage was wholesome and pure, a divine weapon.
“The fastest way I know of to create that sort of bond is through joined meditation,” Raven said quietly, sitting cross-legged on the floor beside the havanian. Her voice never seemed to change, her inflection always held the same restrained, rolling rasp. “I don't know if you'll enjoy it. But I do feel that it may help you govern your anger... perhaps even make you stronger. I noticed that you cannot create constructs with your powers, like other lanterns.”
“I'll show you constructs--” Bleez bared her teeth, showing off tiny fangs as she rose aggressively from her bed, a thin line of red drool seeping from the corner of one lip. She paused, however, when the room began to darken. Not an artificial effect, like those some metahumans were capable of creating. The darkening was natural, gradual, a palpable gloom that stemmed from Raven's grasp on Bleez's rage. The silently-fought internal struggle to control it, to suppress it.
“Don't make me fight you.”
“...I hate you already.”
“You hate everything, Bleez. Everyone and everything around you is nothing more than a target for your scorn and contempt, and I feel every second of it. I selected you because you were one of my father's chosen Scions, but if you are not going to gain control of your own feelings, then I cannot use you in the fight against him.”
Bleez tossed herself restlessly back onto the bed, her dark-eyed glare lingering on Raven for a long while. “Fine,” she growled. “Joined meditation. If you think it's really necessary.”
“And I'm gonna beee, hiiiiii-hiiiiiiiiiiigh something somethiiiiing... I'm a rocket-Starfire, buuurning out her fuse out there alone... na na na... rocket-Starfiiiiire...! Burning out her fuse out there alone!” Starfire smiled brightly as she held one leg out of the bathtub, scrubbing along it with a bar of simple soap and lathering up her fire-hued, delicate-seeming skin. There really was nothing like a good bath, she decided peacefully.
“And I think it's... something something long long time, 'til something brings me 'round again to find, I'm not the Starfire they think I am on Tamaran – oh, no no no! I'm a rocket-Staaa--”
“--This is pointless! I've had enough of your ridiculous meditation and your inane droning! I will not have you corrupt me! Get... out... of my room!”
Starfire silenced herself with a small 'eep' and looked at the bathroom door, as if she could see through it into the room across the hall. Well, at least it seemed like that talk Raven said she was going to have with Bleez was going well.
“...Rocket-Starfiiiire, burning out her fuse out theeere alooooone...!”
“Caged within the form of man... release the demon... Etrigan.”
A swirling blaze of hellfire later, and Kara Zor-L, Power Girl, stood beneath the thickly-built, heavily-armored demon that had served as her second-in-command since the formation of the Justice Society. There was a whiff of brimstone and bile as two curling plumes of smoke gushed from either of Etrigan's nostrils. “What did you need me for? Or does that weakling simply wish to partake in another of Hell's brothels?”
“Tactics, Etrigan. You're the best on the team. Have you been filled in on the new mission? Trigon?”
Etrigan arched a brow before taking a single step backward, slightly pivoting his massive weight before settling himself onto the couch Jason had had designed for him. “Yes, Blood informed me using his scrying mirror. Should save you the exposition.”
“Then we have to figure out our next move.” Kara folded her arms beneath her bust, pacing back and forth across the lush burgundy carpet of Jason Blood's study. She wasn't nervous, or afraid – just excited. That was what she told herself. “Raven says she has no way of knowing when Trigon will strike, only that he's slowly targeting and amassing 'scions' – people he's going to try to enslave, enlist. Horsemen for his apocalypse.”
“Yes, yes, and you started gathering up the ones you could find to turn them into a little anti-Trigon army. Who said that would work, again?”
“And she is the authority on this Trigon character?”
“She... I mean, I guess. She's his daughter.”
“Well that plan sounds absurd to me, but I suppose it will have to do. Shouldn't the plan, then, be to identify and isolate as many potential turncoats as possible? Those the monster has set his sights on?”
Kara stretched one arm up, her elbow pointing towards (and nearly touching) the ceiling as she scratched uncomfortably at her own back. “Well, Raven said she only found a few... and those are the ones we have here already. Don't you think you could investigate Hell? Maybe find someone close to him, learn about his plans? He is a demon aftera--”
Etrigan snorted loudly, another plume of smoke causing the room to smell of cordite and sulfur. “Trigon is no demon of Hell. Perhaps you were misinformed, or your nomenclature is simply too... casual. But the creature you seek is the ruler of its own realm, one known, but not familiar, to me. My connections will do nothing to help us learn of Trigon's machinations.”
“What then? How do we fight some massive being when he isn't here, can't be stopped physically, and we don't know a damn thing about what he's up to? Raven said he would have a lot of scions, maybe an army of them.”
“You're making a scene.”
“I am not.” Kara's eyes flashed, just for a moment, the hazy crimson of a budding beam of kryptonian heat vision. “I just want to do what's best. The Jay-El doesn't know about this, and it'd probably be under their radar even if they did. It's up to us to save the freaking world, yet again, while everyone else sits and watches Rocky and Bullwinkle reruns. You have to give me something, Etrigan.”
“I'll look into it, that's all I can promise. As for tactical advice... keep the team active. There's always something going on that could use looking into, and if we're going to take down an apocalyptic threat, we're going to have to have the JSA working like a well-oiled machine. Let the team get to know each other, let them work together. One of these days I'll have a talk with this girl, this sorceress of yours. We'll figure something out.”
Kara nodded slowly, letting out a deep, heavy exhalation before flopping into the loveseat opposite the demon. Despite being their greatest flaw, Etrigan was one of their greatest strengths. She wasn't sure what she'd do without him. “You want to get a drink or something?” she sighed.
“A kryptonian and a demon, walking down the streets of Gotham at night, to get a cocktail?”
“Might as well.”
Etrigan shrugged. “Alright, sure. You're paying, though.”