Ravager4's Random Fan-Fic Facts

So, I was obscenely bored and decided to make a list of a bunch of random facts about my current, ongoing fan-fiction series (which will be updated as I add more chapters!). This is mostly a list for me, but also anyone else who's interested. It's amazing how bored I get sometimes, really. Also, if you haven't yet read my fan-fic, and you enjoy entertaining storytelling, then I invite you to take a look :) I've put a lot of hard work into it to make sure that it provides for interesting and enjoyable stories.

Rose Wilson: The Ravager

Technical Facts

  • Total Word Count: 352,005
  • Total Chapters: 109
  • Total Story Arcs: 16 (counting the three-part crossover and the two-part showdown individually), 13 (counting the three-part crossover and the two-part showdown as a whole)
  • Average WC per Chapter: 3,229
  • Average WC per Story Arc: 22,000 (counting the three-part crossover and the two-part showdown individually), 27,077 (counting the three-part crossover and the two-part showdown as a whole)
  • Total Pages: 772 (in Open Office, Times New Roman, size 12 font)

Random Notes

  • Average length of a novel: ~137,500 words
  • Holy crap, I wrote a lot

Appearances (minor spoilers)

A list of characters that have appeared so far in the story, accompanied by the number of chapters in which they've appeared. This does not include instances where they are only mentioned or are dead (as in, a corpse), but does include instances where they appear in dream sequences, flashbacks, hallucinations, or disguises. They are sorted by category, then number of appearances. A * designates an original character created by me. This list does not include the D-list fodder (you know, those guys that have such a minor presence that they're barely even worth mentioning. Barely a step up from "Armed Goon #2"). Keep in mind that most of these appearances occurred during the crossover story arc I just finished up.

Main Cast (the most prominent characters of the story)

  • Rose Wilson/Ravager - 107
  • Rebecca Chavez* - 71
  • Holly Sanders* - 47

Heroes (superheroes that have appeared)

  • Dick Grayson/Batman - 21
  • Tim Drake/Red Robin - 17
  • Karen Starr/Kara/Power Girl - 14
  • Raven - 14
  • Roy Harper/Red Arrow - 13
  • Wally West/Flash - 11
  • Conner Kent/Superboy - 11
  • Cassie Sandsmark/Wonder Girl - 11
  • Beast Boy - 10
  • Zatanna Zatara - 9
  • Cyborg - 9
  • Cassandra Cain/Black Bat - 8
  • Renee Montoya/Question - 7
  • Damian Wayne/Robin - 7
  • Donna Troy - 6
  • Supergirl - 6
  • Jesse Quick - 6
  • Connor Hawke/Green Arrow - 6
  • Static - 6
  • Bombshell - 5
  • Jade - 5
  • Argent - 5
  • Atlee/Terra - 4
  • Stephanie Brown/Batgirl - 4
  • Stargirl - 4
  • Oracle/Barbara Gordon - 4
  • Batwoman/Kate Kane - 4
  • Richard Dragon - 3
  • Black Canary - 3
  • Blue Beetle - 3
  • Bart Allen/Kid Flash - 2
  • Hercules - 2
  • Proxy - 2
  • Huntress - 2
  • Animal Man - 2
  • Aquagirl - 2
  • Speedy - 2
  • Flamebird - 2
  • Jay Garrick - 2
  • Hawkman - 2
  • Cyclone - 2
  • Dr. Occult - 1
  • Dr. Fate - 1

Villains (villains that have appeared)

  • Jeremiah Belmont* - 26
  • Slade Wilson/Deathstroke - 19
  • Michael Kubrick* - 16
  • Zaria* - 12
  • Michelle Blanchett* - 6
  • Trance* - 6
  • Hugo Strange - 6
  • Jayden Koh* - 5
  • Lady Shiva - 5
  • Holocaust - 5
  • Deadshot - 4
  • Agent Croft* - 4
  • Isaiah Slaton* - 4
  • Detective Riggs* - 3
  • Shao Shen* - 3
  • Arnold Pavoni* - 3
  • Jonathon Crane/Scarecrow - 3
  • Blockbuster - 3
  • Killer Frost - 3
  • Scandal Savage - 3
  • Knockout - 3
  • Catman - 3
  • Calculator - 3
  • Vinh Dao* - 2
  • Cheshire - 2
  • Rupert Thorne - 2
  • Francis Baldoni* - 2
  • Emelia Marconi* - 2
  • Dr. Mordred* - 2
  • Poison Ivy - 2
  • Amanda Waller - 2
  • Hades - 1

Supporting Cast (other characters that have appeared, but do not fit into the above categories)

  • Circe - 25
  • Lyta - 21
  • Ruby/Apathy* - 18
  • Gerald Palmer* - 18
  • Joseph Wilson - 11
  • Sophie* - 8
  • Lillian Worth - 5
  • Charles Foster* - 4
  • Officer Stevens* - 4
  • Linda West - 4
  • Jai West - 4
  • Alfred Pennyworth - 3
  • Jorge Chavez* - 2
  • Emma Chavez* - 2
  • Iris West - 2
  • Themis - 2
  • James Gordon - 2
  • Abigail Chavez* - 2
  • Harvey Bullock - 1
  • Athena - 1
12 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - No More Heroes: Part 3 (#62-68)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Jeremiah Belmont, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Police Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Officer Harrow, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, Senator Thomas Greene, Agent Croft, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+

Note: The exciting conclusion of the No More Heroes crossover!

Side Note: Whew, so the event finally finishes. It's been a long three weeks that it took me to write this, but I think it was worth it. I'm certainly hoping the conclusion will be mostly satisfying for what was (I hope) an enjoyable story line. I say mostly satisfying, because there are a couple parts that might leave a poor taste in your mouth, but I urge you to never fear, because things are never as they seem. As always, I invite anyone who reads it to comment (please, please comment if you actually read it. I always get like 100 views but only maybe 2 people comment :( it's very discouraging)

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Chapter #62

Int. Starr Enterprises – Night

Becky takes in a sharp breath, as Rose presses the warm, damp cloth against the cut on her forehead. It isn't too deep, but the bleeding does need to be stopped. Fortunately, her injuries aren't been any worse than that, especially considering she'd been shoved by someone with high levels of super strength. Even after crashing through a table, the cut and a sore knee is the worst of it. Leaning back slightly on the bed, she releases a heavy breath, closing her eyes.

Becky: So, that was Wonder Girl, huh?

Rose: Unfortunately.

Becky: Well, she's certainly... aggressive.

Rose: I prefer the term 'b*tchy', but maybe that's just me.

A small smirk snakes its way across Becky's face.

Becky: That actually does sound better. You two don't really get along, though, do you?

Rose: Never have, even before I got Kid Flash killed. I mean, she'd always been pretty cold towards me, and I was always looking for a reason to make her mad. So yeah, that was a match made in hell right from the start.

Chuckling slightly, Becky gives her girlfriend another smile, then reaches up and pushes the wet cloth away.

Becky: Hey, enough with tending to me. What about you? She clocked your jaw pretty good.

Rose: I wouldn't worry about it, I'm used to taking hits like that. Besides, she held back. If she didn't, I wouldn't have a jaw left. I guess even as much as she hates me, she doesn't actually want to kill me.

Becky: Well, I still say you should get looked at.

Rose: Is that right?

Becky: Come on, lie down.

Putting up no real resistance, Rose moves forward to the bed and obeys, pulling off her shirt and pants, then lying down on the mattress, front side down. She utters a cool breath, eyes closing slightly as Becky gets into position atop her, hands coming down to begin massaging her shoulders.

Becky: See, doesn't that feel better?

Rose: Mmm... maybe.

A calm, gentle silence descends over the two for a few moments, as Becky's hands slowly work their way downward. It's a silence that they both enjoy, taking peace in each other's loving company. In the time that they've been involved with each other, they've grown a close bond, a bond that often times, like now, needs no words. Of course, the silence can last only so long, as a new subject needs discussing.

Becky: This may not be the best time to discuss it, but... our next mission is the big one, right? We'll be trying to bring down the VRA at the source.

Breathing in deeply, Rose opens her eyes and stares forward. She doesn't answer at first, simply enjoying the feel of Becky's hands massaging her lower back, but she does eventually bring herself to answer.

Rose: Yeah. We'll hit them hard, and we'll find Slade. We'll beat him, we'll capture him, and we will find out everything he knows, one way or another. Whatever he's planning, whoever is giving him orders, it all has to end.

Becky: Si... and even though he's your dad, you'll be able to...

Rose: To what? Fight him? Hurt him? I told you everything about him, Beck, you know what kind of man he is. I disowned him a long time ago. When I face him, he's not my father; he's just another killer.

Becky's hands stop, a small sigh exiting her lips. Moving off of of Rose, she lies down next to her and holds an arm around her shoulders, head resting on the pillow.

Becky: I'm sorry for what he did to you, Rose. You deserve so much better than what he put you through.

Rose: You're sweet, you know that?

Becky: Well, I do try.

Smiling, Rose lifts a hand and reaches over to take Becky's holding it tightly and interlocking their fingers.

Rose: You're forgetting, though. I already do have better. I have you.

Becky: Now who's being sweet, ah?

Rose: That's not all I can be.

Becky: Hmm, that so?

Her mouth forms into a wide grin, as she leans forward and gives Becky a deep kiss, while rolling on top of her in the process.

Rose: How about I show you?

Int. Starr Enterprises – Day

With the addition of the Teen Titans, their numbers have doubled, meaning they're essentially twice as effective and twice as dangerous as before. Unfortunately, the VRA still has them all vastly outnumbered with the amount of heroes under control of neural stems. They're not just going to need a lot of determination and power to succeed this time around, but a lot of luck, too. The serious nature of their mission hangs heavy in the air, as the team gathers in the main lounge the next day to go over the plan.

Power Girl: So, we all know the main purpose of this assault. To break into VRA headquarters, shut the place down, and capture Slade Wilson for interrogation. In order put an end this, we have to figure out who he's working for.

Red Robin: I'd suggest breaking into two separate teams, in the event that we run into heavy resistance. We'll need a distraction team to draw a majority of the fire, and an infiltration team to get inside and go after Slade.

Power Girl: Good idea. In that case, the distraction team will consist of myself, Wonder Girl, Superboy, Flash, Bombshell, and Static.

Leaning forward one the couch, Bombshell gives a small grin.

Bombshell: And the objective for that team is to cause as much mayhem as possible, right? Now that I can do.

Power Girl: Which leaves Red Robin, Red Arrow, Ravager, Beast Boy, Raven and Rebecca for the infiltration team.

Beast Boy: What about Vic?

Cyborg: I'll be back here, working on a way to remotely shut down those stems.

Superboy: But you already managed to disable ours, didn't you?

Cyborg: When I could get up close and had time to interact with them directly, sure. But that isn't going to be much help against someone attacking you. If I can figure out a way to disable them from a distance, though, then we'd have a distinct advantage against the VRA controlled heroes.

At this information, Red Arrow folds his arms and shifts his weight slightly.

Red Arrow: I guess I'll be the one to ask it: why aren't we waiting until you do figure that out to attack? Seems like it would make things a whole lot easier.

Cyborg: Because, there's no guarantee I'll be able to, at least not in the near future. The longer we sit around waiting for me to come up with a solution, the worse things get out there, and the more time the VRA will have to prepare for us.

Ravager: I have to agree on that one... giving Slade a significant amount of time to prepare against anything is not a good idea.

Power Girl: Right, we want to hit them while they're still vulnerable.

Static: I just hope this works and we get the information we're looking for, because we are attacking a government building. In the middle of D.C. If this goes south, it's not going to end well for us.

Power Girl: If we fail, I doubt it will end well for anyone.

A dead silence descends upon the group momentarily. They give each other careful glances, nerves beginning to run high. No matter what happens, they can't fail. Becky then stands up from her seat, planting one end of her staff firmly against the ground and giving Power Girl an affirmative nod.

Becky: Let's do this.

Ext. VRA Headquarters – Day

Out in front of the VRA building, a large garrison has been set up to protect against any incoming attacks. Most of the men are directly employed by the VRA itself, but it also includes a collection of local police, as well as military troops. They're taking no chances. The only problem with this, of course, is the cost to not just gather them, but also keep them all stationed there, waiting for a threat they aren't sure is coming.

But Slade is sure. He's always sure. As he stands there behind a wall of large army jeeps, hands clasped behind his back, he carefully observes the setup. These men likely won't be able to hold the line very long against the kind of power on its way, but they don't really need to, either. They're simply present in order to slow the threat down, not take it out. He has other individuals more capable of that standing by for when they're needed.

Croft: Are you sure they're coming? We have no intel to indicate an imminent attack.

Slade casually glances at the man beside him, his stolid expression unchanging.

Slade: I suppose the previous attacks on our other facilities have escaped your memory?

Croft: Well, no...

Slade: They'll be here, and soon. To be honest, I'm surprised they haven't arrived already; perhaps even superheroes need a breather. The point is to be prepared, so when they get here, we can put them down.

Agent Croft utters a cool breath, turning his gaze back towards the garrison in front of them. Most of the men are just sitting around eating lunch, or reading a paper. They certainly don't look like a very prepared bunch.

Croft: Somehow, they're not inspiring me with a lot of confidence.

Slade: Just have a little faith. Pawns go first for a reason. Now, stay here and coordinate the defense. I'll be in my office.

Once Slade disappears back inside the building, Croft mumbles out a curse under his breath and folds his arms.

Croft: Stay here and coordinate... right. We'll be out here for hours before-

VRA Guard: There they are!

Suddenly, the whole mass of troops begins scrambling into defensive formations, taking position and readying themselves against the incoming superbeings. Power Girl is the first to arrive, swooping in and crashing down in front of the main line. Wonder Girl and Superboy fly down next to her, followed by Static and Bombshell. Flash appears a second later, running up behind the group and standing with his arms crossed over his chest.

Immediately, Croft runs forward with a bullhorn in hand.

Croft: Attention, superheroes! Surrender at once, or we will open fire. In light of your recent crimes against the VRA and the government as a whole, lethal force has been authorized! This is the only warning you get!

Eyes narrowing, Power Girl takes a few steps forward. The men at the front of the line instantly tense up, raising their weapons at her.

Power Girl: And here's my counter. You stand aside and let us by peacefully, and none of you need to get hurt. This is your only warning.

Croft: Not going to happen, Power Girl. You're not heroes anymore, you're the country's most wanted criminals. You don't stand down, and we will take you out!

Power Girl: You're welcome to try.

Not hesitating another moment, her eyes suddenly glow bright red, followed by a thick wave of heat vision that slices forward across the ground in front of them. A tall cloud of dust and debris kicks up into the air, blocking the heroes from sight. The front line begins open firing, some with standard assault rifles, others with the VRA's more sophisticated energy weapons that shoot out powerful orbs of electricity.

Of course, none of them even come close to hitting their mark before Power Girl's team is on them, bursting through the dust cloud and throwing themselves straight into the enemy force. Several men run in a panic, while others still try to subdue their targets. It's rather futile, though, as their weapons have very little effect against the largely invulnerable heroes.

While the more destructive members of the team go around simply destroying vehicles and causing as much chaos as possible, Flash and Static work on disarming everyone the can. Floating up high into the air on his levitating trashcan lid, Static ends out a field of electricity to magnetize and pull away their weapons. Flash, on the other hand, simply runs at super speeds in between all of them and physically pulls their weapons out of their hands. Within a minute, more than two thirds of the entire garrison is unarmed and helpless.

With an angry shout, Bombshell flies forward towards the back of the enemy troops and rips straight through a military jeep, splitting it in half and causing it to explode in a rather impressive fireball. Fortunately, the surrounding men have ample time to get out of the way of any airborne metal pieces. Turning around, she gives them a cross glare, as bullets bounce off her Dilustel skin.

Bombshell: Come on! That the best you got? You're all pathetic!

Charging her fist up with atomic energy, she punches the ground squarely in front of her, causing a violent eruption of earth, stone, and concrete. This time, however, the flying debris explodes in a much wider radius, threatening to crush some of the nearby guards. Fortunately, a red and yellow blur zips around and pulls everyone out of the way.

Flash: Calm down, Bombshell! We're not trying to hurt anyone!

Bombshell: If they didn't want to get hurt, they should have just surrendered!

As she goes to turn her attacks elsewhere, however, a sonic blast explodes across her backside, launching her forward and straight through another jeep. Flying into view, Blue Beetle raises his arm cannon for a follow up attack.

Blue Beetle: Could say the same to you, chica!

And suddenly an entire enemy team of supers arrive, including Black Canary, Stargirl, Argent, Hawkman, Jay Garrick, Terra, and Cyclone. For a brief moment, both teams of heroes just stand still, staring each other down. The other troops meanwhile take this opportunity to get the hell out of there, desperately retreating from the inevitable destruction about to take place.

Blue Beetle: One last chance to surrender before we take you out.

Before anyone can answer, however, the fallen Bombshell rockets up from the ground and crashes into Blue Beetle midair, unleashing a power explosion of energy that sends him hurtling into one of the windows of the building behind him. A moment later, he flies back outside, relatively unharmed, and takes aim with his sonic cannon again.

Blue Beetle: I'll take that as a no. Attack!

Bombshell: You wanna go, blue boy? Let's go!

And then the two sides clash. As Bombshell and Blue Beetle go at it in the air, Jay Garrick, the original Flash, races across the ground straight at the current Flash and lunges at him in a supersonic tackle. The two crash into another building across the street, partially caving one of the walls. After sliding a ways across the ground, Flash springs back up to his feet and begins racing back at the older man.

Flash: Don't make me do this, Jay!

Jay: You brought it on yourself, kid! You're a criminal now!

Back in front of the VRA building, Stargirl flies in with her cosmic staff at the ready, heading straight at Wonder Girl. While forming a defensive force field around herself, she holds the staff forward and fires off a sparkling and powerful cosmic blast. Wonder Girl stands her ground, holding her arms up in front of herself and taking the hit. She manages to endure for several moments, before the blast sends her airborne.

Stargirl: Don't think that just because you wear that W on your chest, I'm a pushover!

After stabilizing herself in the air, Wonder Girl jets forward at Stargirl. When the next blast of energy comes in, she dodges out of the way and moves in quick, delivering a thunderous punch that smashes against the force field and launches Stargirl into a jeep down below. Unfortunately, the force field holds, negating any damage the attack might have caused.

As Hawkman lunges in with a vicious swing from his mace, Static ducks out of the way, floating backwards and firing an electrical blast. Unfortunately, Hawkman holds his mace forward, which ends up drawing the entirety of the blast into it like a lightning rod and dispersing it. Eyes going wide, Static floats higher, trying to keep his distance.

Static: Okay, that shouldn't happen.

Hawkman: You've never seen Nth metal before have you?

Static: Doesn't sound familiar, no.

Flying after the young hero, Hawkman quickens his pace and takes another swing.

Hawkman: Then have a closer look!

Superboy jumps backwards, narrowly avoiding a giant silver plasma construct in the shape of a wrecking ball. However, the construct suddenly changes shape, shifting into dozens of long, flexible tendrils that lash out and chase after him. While he manages to evade them for a while, they continue splitting into more and more, until eventually a number of them wrap around his legs and swing him through the air, crashing him into the side of the building.

Argent: Not so super now, are you?

Her comment is answered by a very angry Superboy flying out from the rubble and blitzing straight at her. Eyes going wide, she forms up a silver construct in front of her in the shape of a shield, taking the brunt of the resulting impact. The force of the blow still sends her crashing back to the ground, though, and she is slow to recover. But as Superboy moves in to put her down for good, a loud, shrill scream of incredible power rips through the air and hits him full force, throwing him backwards and forcing him to cover his ears.

Black Canary: Sorry, Superboy, but she isn't the only one you have to deal with.

The team's final member, Power Girl, weaves her way in between several massive chunks of earth, as she heads towards Terra. This girl may be her best friend, but she can't let that throw her off. Terra is controlled just like all the others, who can and will kill the uncontrolled heroes if given the opportunity. She needs to end this battle quickly, or at least drag it out long enough for the infiltration team to get to Slade.

Power Girl: I'm sorry I have to do this again, Atlee! I don't have a choice!

Terra: There's always a choice, Peej! You just made the wrong one!

As Power Girl closes the distance, a massive wind gust suddenly ripples through the air. At first, it's just a mild breeze, in comparison to her resilience, but soon picks up into near hurricane force, sending her spinning violently back through the air.

Cyclone: You didn't forget about me, did you, Kara?

Another one of Power Girl's friends from the JSA, Maxine Hunkel, possesses complete control over air currents, and even sound waves, as of recently. This combination could be trouble. By the time Power Girl manages to stabilize herself again in the air, a pair of enormous boulders come in from both sides and squash her between them. Letting out a frustrated grunt, she pushes them back apart with minimal effort, only to take another flying boulder to the face, one that sends her crashing into a nearby building.

Cyclone: You should have just surrendered, Kara! Now we have to hurt you!

Chapter #63

Ext. VRA Headquarters – Day

Across the street from the battle, poised on a rooftop, the infiltration team watches carefully as their friends fight desperately against the VRA controlled heroes. While the distraction team does seem to be holding their own for now, they're still outnumbered, and a their opponents aren't exactly pushovers to begin with. Becky leans forward over the parapet, her gaze unable to break away from the scene.

Becky: Dios, they're in trouble... you think they can hold out?

Ravager: They're gonna have to; that's their job. Our job, on the other hand, is to take advantage of this. We need to get in there and find Slade.

Red Arrow: Well, I'm ready you guys are. I'd say those guys are plenty distracted now.

Red Robin: I agree. Now's the time to go.

Beast Boy: Take us away, Raven.

Raising her arms, Raven projects her soul-self once again, engulfing them all.

Raven: Yes... let us go.

Int. VRA Headquarters – Day

Raven takes them to the second floor lobby of the VRA building. As they materialize out of her dark soul-self, the receptionist behind the counter utters a terrified shriek, having not really been expecting to see something like that right in front of her. Instantly, the woman ducks down below her desk out of the way, slowly peering up over the top to check on what exactly was going on.

Red Robin: Alright, now the question is, where's Slade?

Beast Boy: Well, there can't be that many places for him to hide. There's only five floors.

Looking to her left, Ravager spots the receptionist and starts waling over to her.

Ravager: Hey, you. What floor is Slade on?

The frightened woman lets out a small yelp, tumbling back behind her chair and springing up to her feet.

Receptionist: P-please, don't hurt me!

Ravager: Lady, we're not gonna hurt you. Just tell us where Slade is.

Receptionist: S-slade? Oh, you mean Director Wilson, r-right. He's on the fifth floor in his office.

Red Arrow: Huh, never thought just asking would have worked.

Ravager: Well you heard her, fifth floor. Let's get moving.

Blinking a couple times in surprise, the receptionist gives the group careful glances, as she moves back to her desk.

Receptionist: You're... really not going to hurt me?

Ravager: You don't plan on attacking us, do you?

Receptionist: W-what? No! Of course not!

Ravager: Then yeah, you're safe. Now come on, we're wasting time.

Raven: I will have us there... shortly.

Once again, she extends her soul-self outward in order to teleport them up to the fifth floor. However, before she can complete the task, a painful eruption of electricity explodes across her backside. Her eyes go wide, mouth gaping open and a horrific scream emerging from her throat. She falls forward, collapsing to the floor and twitching in pain, her entire body numb. Jutting into her back, right between her shoulder blades, is a small bat-shaped shuriken, with a blinking blue light on it

Becky: Look out!

A second electrically charged batarang comes slicing through the air, but Becky intercepts it, swatting it out of the air with her staff. A second later, a dark figure swoops in from around one of the lobby pillars, landing a kick on Becky's face and sending her reeling backwards. When the figure lands, she throws out another couple of batarangs, but Red Robin promptly knocks them both out of the air with two of his own razor discs.

Red Robin: Cassandra?

The attacker is Cassandra Cain, otherwise known as Black Bat, and she's just as under the VRA's control as the rest of them.

Black Bat: If you want Slade, you'll have to get by me first.

Pushing past the others, Ravager comes forward and cracks her knuckles, a partial smirk on her face.

Ravager: You're kidding, right? You're a bit outnumbered, Bat B*tch, but hey, I won't complain. Gives us a chance to finally settle things.

Kubrick: She didn't come alone!

The werewolf Michael Kubrick suddenly comes bolting through the lobby, lips curled back and fangs bared. He makes a wild lunge at the person closest to him: Red Robin. With a deft maneuver, Red Robin rolls out of the way, while brandishing his extendable bo staff and moving into a defensive position. Then, the rest of the enemy team shows up, including a few familiar faces. The shark-alien woman Zaria, already transformed in all her monstrous glory, dives in from the ceiling, making a swipe at Red Arrow, who narrowly manages to dive out of the way.

When Beast Boy transforms into a tiger to help, the potted plants around them in the lobby suddenly come to life, rapidly growing and extending outward to take hold of him in the grasp of thick vines. The green skinned Poison Ivy slowly struts around the side of one of the pillars, the vines lifting herself upwards into the air as well, with a pleased grin on her face.

Poison Ivy: Don't struggle too much; my babies are still growing.

Becky, meanwhile, holds a hand to her head and shakes off the last blow, while looking around at the melee. Before she can take very long to comprehend the situation, though, she's under attack from her own enemy, a blonde haired woman in a black and purple batsuit, carrying a bo staff in similar style to the one Red Robin uses.

Batgirl: Looks like you're all mine!

Leaping out of the way of a vicious swing, Becky spins her own staff around and hits her opponent's weapon away, then thrusts the end forward. But Batgirl is quick, leaning to the side to avoid the strike and then countering with a palm thrust that catches Becky square in the jaw. While recoiling from the blow, Becky feels another hit carom off her stomach, and then a third drill into the side of her knee. Fortunately, the armored body suit she wears disperses most of the force, resulting in very little actual damage.

After taking a second to briefly shake away the partial daze she's in, Becky swiftly dodges two more attacks, then ducks low and counters with an upwards swing from her staff. The end catches Batgirl across the bottom of the jaw and literally lifts her up several feet as a result of the impact, the resulting shock wave knocking the woman out cold instantly. Blinking a few times in surprise, she glances down at the staff and smiles a little.

Becky: I really do love this thing.

---

Ravager takes a small step to the side, watching as Black Bat carefully examines every motion she makes. That's how Cassandra gains such an edge in hand to hand, reading her opponent's movements to such a degree that she can determine exactly how and where a person will attack. Likewise, Ravager possesses her precog, enabling her to see attacks before they happen. Both women have highly effective methods of defending themselves in hand to hand combat, and both are highly trained and experienced. It's what makes them such a perfect match for each other.

Black Bat: I do recall you saying you wanted to smack me around sometime. Well here's your chance; if you think you can.

Ravager: I wouldn't waste my time if I didn't know I could.

Black Bat: That's interesting, because the last time we fought to a finish, I left you bleeding from a cut throat.

Ravager: This isn't like when when we fought before; I'm not some rookie looking for daddy's approval anymore.

Black Bat: Then what are you waiting for?

Narrowing her gaze, Ravager lifts her hands, getting into an offensive stance and then lunging in for an attack. She's faster than when they last fought. She's stronger than when they last fought. And she's a hell of a lot more skilled, too. But Cassandra still predicts the location of the punch and manages to deflect it off to the side. The countering backhand strikes air, as Ravager's precog alerts her to it before it happens, allowing her to duck out of the way, and in the process raise her leg in a high kick that narrowly misses the woman's chin.

After a brief pause, both combatants staring each other down, they charge in. No more testing, no more messing around; now it's on. For the most part, they both have an extreme difficulty hitting the other, with most attacks either being blocked, deflected, or outright avoided. But some attacks do land, and for a short moment they even exchange several blows in succession, though nothing of particular significance. A split lip here, a jab to the ribs there, the damage is marginal. And neither is backing down any time soon.

Black Bat: I will admit, you've gotten better.

Ravager: So have you; but not as much.

Black Bat: You're so sure?

Ravager: Of course I am. You used to be leagues ahead of me, even with my abilities. But look at us now, almost even. That tells me you've either been slacking off, or somewhere along the way you just reached a point where you couldn’t improve anymore.

Black Bat: You mean my peak.

Ravager: Yeah, your peak. And guess what? I think my peak is higher.

Black Bat: Well let's find out.

They rush each other again, this time determined to find out which of them is the better. While Ravager has her swords and Black Bat has her gadgets, neither set of equipment comes into play. This match up is personal to the both of them, even if Cassandra is being controlled by one of the neural stems. They go hand to hand, and only hand to hand... in a sense. As they reach each other, Ravager poises herself and waits for an attack. When the punch comes, she turns herself to the side and wraps her own arms around Black Bat's, then works herself into a position to grab hold of the woman's midsection and under her armpit.

Ravager: Don't bother struggling.

Her grip comes down like a vice, unyielding no matter how hard Cassandra tries to break free. Their skill might be on par with each other, but there are some things that Ravager has to her advantage. Enhanced speed and strength are a couple of those, the latter of which is the deciding factor here. Pushing forward, she forces Black Bat face first into the pillar in front of them, then pulls back and swings her to the floor. Throughout the entire assault, she never once loosens her grip.

Ravager: A little advice-

Kneeling atop her opponent now, Ravager pins both of Cassandra's arms in an awkward position behind her back, then slams her face hard against the tile floor.

Ravager: -when you're fighting someone who can see your attacks before you make them-

Black Bat begins to fight back, twisting her body to the side and using her legs push off from the ground and attempt to break free. But Ravager doesn't let her, go instead twisting one of her arms even harder, and then lunging her knee forward straight into her jaw.

Ravager: -you have to take that ability out of the equation. If there's nowhere for you to go-

With another desperate lurch Black Bat starts to wriggle free, sliding out from beneath Ravager and nearly getting away. But Ravager is quick to grab hold again, still not letting go, in spite of a hard palm thrust that whips her head backwards. Instead, she pulls Cassandra up with her and lurches her head forward, viciously headbutting the woman square in the face.

Ravager: -then you can't get away.

One final elbow strike to the back of the skull puts Cassandra down for good. As she goes limp, slumping the the floor in unconsciousness, Ravager utters a small groan and holds a hand to her head. Those last couple shots to the head made everything start to spin around her.

---

Poison Ivy: It doesn't matter what you transform into! My lovelies will rip you apart!

Currently in the form of a hummingbird, Beast Boy zips around wildly, darting out of the way of monstrous, man eating plants. Fortunately, his speed and unpredictability in this form is keeping him alive right now. He would just transform into something much larger, but if he goes too big, he might end up crashing straight through the floor, which likely isn't reinforced enough to hold something like a mammoth or a T-Rex.

Instead, he darts out of the way of a few more lunging plant mouths and then quickly morphs into a gorilla, getting close enough to make a leaping dive in order to get to Poison Ivy directly. However, a massive plant stem suddenly shoots up through the floor straight in front of him, causing him to very nearly run straight into it. Fortunately, he manages to change directions avoid collision at the last moment. However, it also leaves him vulnerable to the man eating plants, which all begin to converge on him at once. Going on the defensive again, he transforms back into hummingbird form, ready to keep dodging.

But the need never arises, as suddenly a large ball of flame erupts at the base of one of the plants. Instantly, Poison Ivy lets out a horrified shriek of agony, eyes going wide and arms reaching out to the burning plant.

Poison Ivy: No! What have you done?! They're in pain! They're dying!

A brief second later, Red Robin appears behind her and delivers a hard strike with his staff to the base of her skull, knocking her out cold. Morphing back into human form, Beast Boy glances back over at the cause of the fire.

Beast Boy: Thanks.

Red Arrow: Fire arrow; primitive, but effective.

Red Robin: Not really primitive when you're using kerosene as a base.

Red Arrow: Well... true.

Ravager then stumbles into view, moving around the withering and dying plant life. Holding a hand to the back of her head, she glances around at the others for a moment, confused.

Ravager: Where's Becky?

Red Arrow: Uh, not sure exactly. She helped us take down ugly and uglier over there, then I think she ran off.

A sudden sinking feeling drops into her gut.

Ravager: Oh, Becky no... tell me you didn't go after him by yourself!

And then she's off and running, sprinting towards the stairs. The elevator will be far too slow, and she needs to get there now!

Red Robin: Damn it! Roy, BB, take care of Raven! I'm going after them!

---

The door to Slade's office bursts inwards, tearing straight off its hinges with splinters and shards of glass spraying in all directions. Holding her staff at the ready, Becky steps inside and takes a defensive stance, staring at the man in front of her. Slade is standing there, fully dressed in his armored costume, except for the mask. A broadsword adorns his back, while multiple guns hang off his waist and legs. He's quite prepared to defend himself.

Becky: Slade! You're coming with us!

Not answering right away, he pulls on his mask finally and straightens it, the Deathstroke persona taking over now.

Deathstroke: Rebecca, isn't it? Shame... I was hoping for Rose.

Becky: Well you got me! And the others are on their way soon, so do the smart thing and come quietly.

Deathstroke: You're my daughter's... lover, right?

Becky's eyes narrow at the comment.

Becky: Girlfriend, get it right.

Deathstroke: Of course... and she's happy with you, isn't she?

Becky: The hell do you care? As far as I'm concerned, that's none of your business!

Deathstroke: I'm her father; her happiness is certainly my business.

Becky: Right, and that's why you drugged her, manipulated her, and made her kill for you? You're a regular father of the year.

Deathstroke: Don't presume you know anything about it; even she doesn't know the whole story, not really.

Becky: And I'm sure we'd all love to hear it; you can tell it to us from behind bars!

Taking a couple steps forward, Deathstroke clasps his hands behind his back.

Deathstroke: Don't be stupid, girl. You're in over your head.

Becky: Well, we'll see about that, won't we? For everything you've done with the VRA, everything you've done to hurt these people, and everything you've ever done to Rose, I'm taking you down.

He pauses momentarily, reaching back behind himself and drawing his sword. Then, he takes a small step forward and lifts the blade above his head, waiting.

Deathstroke: I'll tell you right now, I don't want to fight you, Rebecca. But if you make the first move, do not expect me to hold back.

Becky's gaze goes narrow again, hands gripping her staff with both hands. As determined and eager as she is to make the first move, a part of her feels the pangs of hesitation. Something about this man is frightening. But she fights those feelings away, instead raising her weapon and rushing across the office.

Becky: Let's go!

Chapter #64

Int. VRA Headquarters – Day

Deathstroke stumbles backwards, catching his balance against the desk and then pushing himself forward. When he and Becky engage again, the exchange is brief but telling. When the butt of the staff juts against his ribs, he feels a thunderous force erupt, a small shock wave ripping into his armor and knocking him airborne. He does, however, manage to flip himself around in midair and land back on his feet, though he staggers momentarily.

Deathstroke: Not bad. I might even go so far as to say pretty good. That suit is impressive.

Swallowing, Becky takes in a deep breath and stumbles, dropping to one knee and wincing.

Deathstroke: The staff, too, a fine piece of weaponry. But it doesn't matter how strong or fast you are; I still got you.

A small grunt emerges from Becky's lips, as she glances down to see a clean cut through her power suit, slicing along her upper arm and shoulder. It stings... it really stings.

Becky: Rose told me you were dangerous; guess she was right.

Deathstroke: Do the smart thing and stand down, Rebecca. I don't want to hurt you more.

Becky: Sorry, but we have a job to do. No more messing around!

She briefly pauses, clicking a switch on the center of the staff. A low pitched humming noise begins to fill the room, as the weapon powers up to maximum capacity. Deathstroke lifts an eyebrow in curiosity, then prepares himself against the charging woman. As the staff swings in, he goes to deflect the blow with his sword, but the massive shock wave that erupts sends the blade spinning through the air and knocks him off balance, hands shaking and numb.

Deathstroke: What the-

Boom!

When the staff hits his gut this time, he almost mistakes the impact for a speeding train. Instantly, he lifts up through the air and flies backwards towards the window behind him. Not only does he go through the window, but he takes half the wall with him, plummeting through the air from five stories up. Realizing exactly what she's done now, Becky's eyes goes wide as she runs over to the hole in the wall, terrified that she actually went and killed the man.

Becky: Oh mierda!

Ext. VRA Headquarters – Day

The roof of an attaching section of the building breaks his fall before he can plummet the entire distance, crashing against the hard surface about twenty feet down. He lies there for several moments, groaning quietly to himself, then starts to sit up and shake off the daze.

Deathstroke: Okay, a very fine piece of weaponry.

A short moment later, another figure lands on the roof in front of him, cracking the flat surface upon impact. Becky's suit absorbs the shock of the fall, allowing her to instantly recover and prepare herself for another attack. Rising back to his feet, Deathstroke holds a hand to his chest briefly, then takes a fighting stance.

Becky: I'd stay down, if I were you.

Deathstroke: Girl, you really don't know what you're up against, do you?

Becky: I know I just knocked you out a window. Want to make it off a roof, too?

Deathstroke: I didn't want to have to do this...

He suddenly sprints forward, the fall apparently having very little effect on his ability to continue fighting. Becky readies herself, spinning her staff and delivering a vicious swing at his legs. But she strikes only air, as somehow Deathstroke manages to leap over the attack in time and lunge at her with an explosive elbow that catches the side of her head. She staggers slightly, though the blow doesn't stun her for too long... but then the follow up blows come.

Becky barely even knows where the attacks are coming from, they're hitting her so fast. And they hurt, too. Even with the armor that her suit provides, she feels the impact right through it. By the time the onslaught is finished, her entire body is throbbing and numb.

Am I on my back? I am... what the hell happened?

Everything appears to be spinning when she looks up at the sky, and for a moment she feels nauseous. Eventually, Deathstroke appears above in her vision, standing over her. She tries to get back up to keep fighting, but her insides suddenly twist, causing her to roll over and vomit, coughing and sputtering.

Deathstroke: I told you, you're in over your head.

Becky: I'm not... done yet...

Deathstroke: Yes, you are.

Lifting a fist meant to put her down for good, an angry voice suddenly interrupts him.

Ravager: SLADE!

He glances up just in time to see a figure dive bombing him from up above like a missile, feet first. Boots squarely striking him in the chest, he tumbles head over heels until popping back up to his feet and hunching over slightly. His gaze narrows, focusing on his daughter.

Deathstroke: Rose... good of you to join us.

Ravager: Your fight is with me, dad! Leave her out of it!

Deathstroke: Her own fault; I did warn her about getting involved.

Becky: Oy, I had him...

Ravager: Becky, what the hell were you thinking? You shouldn't have gone after him alone!

Becky: I just... wanted to do something good for you.

Ravager: Well, you’ve done enough for now. Take a breather, I'll handle him.

A moment later, another figure swings down into view. Red Robin lands nimbly next to Ravager, then retracting his grapple line and tucking it away.

Red Robin: You don't have to handle him alone.

Ravager: I don't need your help, Tim. Or want it. This one's personal.

Red Robin: You know I'm not just gonna stand here and watch you fight him alone.

Becky: Yeah, what he said.

A small groan finds its way out of Becky's throat, as she starts to push her way back to her feet.

Becky: Think I'm starting to feel a bit better here.

And just like that, Deathstroke is facing a three on one disadvantage. He could take any one of them just fine, he knows that. But all three... that could pose a problem.

Deathstroke: Well... isn't this interesting?

Drawing her swords, Ravager leads the charge, sprinting straight at her father.

Ravager: Take him down!

Int. Unknown Location – Day

Deep within a dark bunker somewhere, location unspecified, a man sits at a large computer console, more like a small command center than anything else. This equipment far surpasses the stuff he's been using in the past, and with it he can do just about anything imaginable with a computer. Right now, his 'eye in the sky' is paying careful attention to everything going on in Washington D.C., specifically the attack on the VRA headquarters. Even more specifically, he's watching an aerial view of the rooftop on which Deathstroke is fighting against three opponents. The man seems to be putting up a decent enough fight, but he's still outmatched.

Calculator: Well, it seems you've bitten off a little more than you can chew, Slade... can't say I'm surprised.

As he continues watching, the phone next to his station begins to ring. It rings three times, then stops. After a long pause, it starts ringing again. It's at this point he reaches over to grab it, knowing exactly who it is.

Calculator: I was wondering when you were going to call.

Voice/Phone: Are you watching?

Calculator: Live satellite feed is crystal clear. I can see it all.

Voice/Phone: And how does it look?

Calculator: Not good for the VRA.

Clicking a button on the keyboard in front of him, he pulls up another screen. It shows an overhead view of the front of the VRA building. Most of the combatants are down and out at the moment, but Power Girl, Superboy, and Static are still in the game, fighting against Terra, Stargirl, and Argent. Pressing a second button, he zooms in just in time to see Static deliver a particularly devastating blast to Terra, who goes down in a smoking heap.

Calculator: The main defense squad is almost out. I give them five more minutes, tops.

Voice/Phone: And Slade?

Calculator: Losing.

Voice/Phone: I see... Unfortunate. You know what to do in that case?

Calculator: Of course.

Voice/Phone: Slade may have failed, but as long as they don't get any information out of him, then the game continues.

Calculator: Trust me, when I'm done here, there won't be anything left of him to get information from.

Voice/Calculator: Good. Once you've done that, I'll take care of the rest of them.

The phone clicks off a second later. Calmly hanging it up, Calculator pulls himself closer to the keyboard and cracks his knuckles. With a few short button presses, he pulls up the VRA building's security systems, particularly the little fail safe that was installed for an event like this. Glancing back up at the screen, he watches as Deathstroke continues to fight the other three. Knowing the locations of each charge, Calculator waits...

Calculator: Just a little closer, Slade. You're almost on it.

Ext. VRA Headquarters – Day

Becky: Rose, look out!

Lunging forward, Becky pushes her out of the way of Deathstroke's attack, a brutal kick aimed at a downed Ravager, who had just been tripped up before that. Instead, the kick strikes Becky's arm. With a hard glare, she grabs onto the man's shin and yanks him forward, throwing herself at him. The two go down, rolling several times before coming to a stop. Deathstroke ends up on top of her, delivering a couple of hard strikes to face and midsection.

But suddenly, the claw of Red Robin's grapnel gun clamps around his left wrist and pulls his arm back, throwing him off balance. Then, Ravager is on him, leaping onto his back and wrapping her arm around his neck, choking and restraining him.

Ravager: It's over, Slade! You're coming with-

BOOM!

Their entire world is engulfed in destruction, as the rooftop around them quite literally explodes, several various detonations going off and causing showers of debris to rocket into the air. In particular, one of the charges detonates right below where Becky, Deathstroke, and Ravager are positioned. Within moments, they're falling through empty space, as the roof collapses around them. Half the building goes with them, but only the rear attachment. The main building appears untouched.

Ravager lands with a thud, the back of her head smacking against a thick chunk of concrete. A dark rain of dust, rubble, and broken furniture crashes down over her a second later, everything going black. For the longest time, she can't even figure out which ways is up and which is down. A heavy pain rips across her left arm, too, probably broken. It takes every ounce of effort she has in order to just move beneath the chunks of ruined building, but eventually she manages to dig her way out, even with just a single good arm.

Tearing the cracked helmet and dented faceplate off her head, she throws it to the ground and tumbles down a pile of rubble, grunting in pain when she lands on her bad arm. A brief, hacking cough grates her throat, as she expels the concrete dust from her lungs. For good measure, she spits several times on the ground next to her, just to get the taste out.

What... the hell... just happened?

Gritting her teeth, she sits up and looks around, seeing nothing but piles of debris around her.

Rose: Rebecca? Tim? Are you there?

No answer. Wincing slightly, she forces her way up to her feet and staggers momentarily. When she finally stabilizes herself, she sucks in a deep breath and starts walking, though it's more of a limp, really. That's when she hears a weak voice, a voice that barely comes out in more than a whisper.

Becky: Rose...

Rose's heart skips a beat, gaze snapping in the direction of Becky's voice. Suddenly, all pain, all exhaustion is gone, as she rushes over to the woman's side. Through all of the rubble pinning her to the ground, Becky is barely even noticeable, only her head and one arm poking through the piles of concrete, steel, and brick. Half in panic, Rose throws herself at the debris pile, digging furiously with her one good arm.

Becky: I can't... feel anything.

Rose: Just hold on, I'm getting you out. You'll be fine.

She has to be fine!

When she finally manages to loosen things enough, Rose takes hold of Becky and pulls the woman free. Even now that her body is no longer pinned beneath such heavy weight, Becky continues to lie there. Not a single muscle moves for the longest time, until finally a few of her fingers start to absently twitch.

Becky: I think... I think I was right on top of it.

And so she was. One of stronger explosive charges went off right beneath the spot where Becky had been lying on the roof. Most of her current condition is a result of that, with being buried by rubble just adding insult to injury.

Rose: It's alright, you're okay. Just keep looking at me, Beck. Stay with me.

Becky's eyes weakly flicker upward, her breath stuttering and followed by a hacking cough that sprays out a thick mist of blood.

Becky: How... how bad is it?

Hesitating slightly, Rose then reaches down and removes the front plate of Becky's armored suit, which at this point is mostly destroyed. When the top of her chest is exposed to open air, the massive bruising beneath is revealed. Internal bleeding, broken ribs, probably a collapsed lung somewhere in there. Rose's stomach lurches at the sight, a numb sensation building into her throat.

Rose: It... it's not that bad. Really. We'll just... we'll get you to a doctor and you'll be fine. You'll be... fine.

Becky swallows a hard lump in her throat, then coughs again. This time, not just a spray of blood comes out, but a thick glob that dribbles down her lips. Rose clenches her jaw tightly, then tenderly wipes the crimson from Becky's mouth.

Becky: Hey... I did good... ah?

It's everything Rose can do to keep from breaking down into a helpless pile of tears. The numbness in her throat grows stronger, as she looks down into Becky's eyes... her fading eyes. She forces herself to smile, though the wetness in her own eyes betrays any sense of confidence she tries to instill. All it does is make her heart sink rapidly in her chest.

Rose: Yeah... yeah you did good. You did great.

Becky's arm suddenly begins to move, though very slowly and very weakly. She's trying to bring her hand up, but it just doesn't want to go anywhere, at least not until Rose reaches down and helps it move, bringing it up to her cheek and holding it there.

Becky: Dios... you really are beautiful.

And then her arm goes limp.

Rose: Becky? Becky?!

But there is no answer. Becky's eyes are closed now, her breathing ceasing and body motionless. For a few moments, Rose just sits there, staring in disbelief. A part of her brain doesn't want to believe it, doesn't want to acknowledge what just happened.

Rose: No... no no no no no...

As she continues staring, however, it eventually clicks in her head. Her heart explodes, a sudden rush of negative emotions flooding through her, anger and grief being the two most prominent. Dropping her forehead down to Becky's, she closes her eyes and tries to keep the tears back, but it's useless; they come anyway. It's only a natural response to having her entire world ripped away in front of her very eyes. The cry that erupts from her throat barely sounds human, a sickening combination of sorrow, shock, horror, and pure, heartbreaking agony.

Rose: NOOOOO!!!

Chapter #65

Ext. VRA Headquarters (Rear) – Day

Slade hears it before he sees it. The sound of his daughter's distraught voice screeching through the air, a sound of pain and sorrow. At first, he wonders what could have caused her to scream like that, but as he tumbles down over a pile of rubble, his armor shredded from the blast and mask gone, his gaze falls on the sight. Rose kneels next to the limp, motionless Rebecca Chavez; her girlfriend, her love. Slade can't remember a time when his daughter ever looked so utterly broken, even after as much as he had put her through.

And it sickens him.

It sickens him to know that he had a part in causing this. Things were never supposed to go this far. Rose was never supposed to be hurt, not like this. His legs buckle as he walks towards the scene, body weakened from the explosion. He tries to look at his daughter, but he can't bring himself to, eyes shifting away in shame. Had he really gone and destroyed her life all over again? The only reason he became involved in all of this was to do something good for Rose for once; she might not have seen it at first, but when the dust settled she would have. Instead, he accomplished the complete opposite.

Slade: Rose...

He pauses, unsure of what to say. All he can do is bow his head and continue looking away. In response, Rose's head slowly lifts away from her dead girlfriend's, all that grief and sorrow suddenly shifting into pure, unbridled rage.

Rose: You...

Suddenly, she's on him. Before he even notices her rise from the ground, she springs up and lunges forward with a brutal punch. Her knuckles carom strongly off his jaw, whipping his head to the side and pushing him back a step. He can taste blood in his mouth, feels a tooth loose.

Rose: She's dead because you!

A hard knee to the chest now. Slade staggers, holding a hand to the point of impact and grunting. Rose isn't holding back, putting everything she has into her attacks. He doesn't know whether his body is just too sore to react in time, or if he mentally won't allow himself to defend against her. Either way, she gets free shots at him.

Rose: All you do is take! That's all you've ever done!

A kick to the head and Slade falls back to one knee. He isn't there for very long, as a backhand sends him to the ground. Then, she's on top of him, taking repeated swings with her one good arm and clubbing him across the face.

Rose: First it was my mother! Then my life! Then my sanity! And now Becky!

Slade squints his eyes, a steady flow of blood beginning to drip down from an open gash on his forehead.

Rose: For once since you came into my life, I had something good! But you had to destroy it! Why?! Why do you always do this to me?!

By the time Rose's fist stops, Slade's arms are limp, the world spinning around him in a daze. It takes a long moment before things finally start to focus again, and that's when he sees his daughter sitting over him with one of the guns from his holsters pointed straight at his face.

Slade: Rose...

Rose: Don't you dare say anything! I don't want to hear anymore of your delusional excuses! You're a b**stard, do you hear me?! That's all you'll ever be!

Her thumb reaches up and pulls the hammer back on the revolver. Cocked and fully loaded, the only thing standing between Slade and a swift death now is Rose's trigger finger.

Rose: Now you pay for everything you've ever done! To me, to others, everyone!

A second goes by, then another. Rose's hand starts to shake, her finger quivering against the trigger. She glares down at him with an odd mixture of hate and grief, sticky remnants of tears streaked down her cheeks.

Rose: I'm going to kill you! I have to kill you! That's the only way... the only way you'll stop hurting people...

Slade can only stare up at his daughter, a look of shame in his eyes that only a terrible father, one who realizes just how terrible of a father he's been, could have. Rose's hand shakes harder, as renewed tears start to leak from her eyes again, until finally she lowers the gun and drops it off to the side. She then holds her hand up to her forehead and squints her eyes closed, trying her hardest to stifle back her sobs; she fails miserably.

Rose: Why... why can't I do it?

As her sobs grow heavier, Slade forces himself to sit up, fighting the pounding headache and pain wracking his body. For a brief moment, he just stares at his daughter, then gently reaches forward and pulls her into a comforting embrace.

Slade: I'm... so sorry, Rose. I never meant... for any of this to happen.

Ext. VRA Headquarters (Front) – Day

Argent lands hard on the ground, consciousness leaving her in an instant. That last hit from Power Girl really packed a punch. For a brief moment, everything is quiet. No more fighting, no more explosions, no more destruction. The battle is over... for now. Nearly everyone who started the fight is down and out by now, with only Power Girl and Superboy still standing.

Superboy: That was... annoying.

Uttering a long, exhausted breath, Power Girl sits drops down to sit against an upturned piece of pavement.

Power Girl: You're telling me... I just hope that was a big enough distraction.

A familiar voice answers her from behind.

Red Arrow: I hope so, too.

Turning around, she sees Red Arrow and Beast Boy standing there.

Power Girl: What are you two doing here? Where are the others?

Superboy: Did you catch Slade?

Red Arrow: Not exactly...

Beast Boy: We... ran into some complications.

Red Arrow: They took down Raven first, but she's alright; she teleported back to base to recover. But the others ran on ahead without us.

Beast Boy: When we finally got a chance to go check out Slade's office, everyone was gone. Heck, the whole other half of the building was gone, completely demolished.

Narrowing her eyes, Power Girl slowly looks back over at the VRA building.

Power Girl: So that's what that explosion was... Slade must have triggered something. Let's see if we can find anyone in the wreckage.

Beast Boy: On it.

In an instant, he's transformed into a small hummingbird again, prepared to go inspect the ruins of the building. However, before he even makes a move in the proper direction, a sudden blue and red blur flies in from out of nowhere, smashing straight into Power Girl and driving her through a nearby jeep, causing it to erupt in a hot fireball.

Beast Boy: Uh... what I miss?

A second later, Power Girl reappears, this time flying back the way she came and crashing into a telephone pole, completely taking it out. Staggering back up to her feet, she holds a hand to her head and looks up in time to see the blur racing back at her again. This time, though, she's ready for it, and greets it a thunderous punch that launches the figure backwards into the wall of a nearby building.

Power Girl: I so do not need this right now!

The attacker calmly walks back out of the hole in the building, brushing off her costume and staring at Power Girl.

Supergirl: Maybe you should have thought about that before you attacked the VRA. Now I have to take you down.

Power Girl: You're like the third person to say that to me today. And everyone else who did is unconscious!

Supergirl: Sorry, Kara, but you won't have the same luck here. It's about time I show you what you really are... a cheap imitation of me!

The two Kryptonians collide again, throwing a double punch that connects at the same time, either woman battering their knuckles against the other's jaw. The resulting shock wave shatters the glass of every building and every car in a five block radius, as both Power Girl and Supergirl rocket backwards away from each other, crashing violently through several consecutive buildings. Meanwhile, Superboy, Red Arrow, and Beast Boy slowly return to their feet, after having been blown to the ground as a result the impact.

Beast Boy: Whoa...

Red Arrow: I'm gonna take a wild guess and say they're not holding back.

Superboy: I'd say you're right. But I'm not worried about that very much.

Beast Boy: Why?

Superboy: Because, I'm more worried about them.

Looking over to where he's pointing, both Beast Boy's and Red Arrow's eyes go wide, jaws suddenly dropping opening. Standing in front of them are the other members of the Justice League: Donna Troy, Batman, Jesse Quick, Green Arrow, and Jade.

Beast Boy: Oh come on! How is this fair?

Quickly drawing a his bow, Red Arrow takes aim. Just as fast, Green Arrow does the same.

Red Arrow: It's not meant to be...

Ext. VRA Headquarters (Rear) – Day

Though Rose wants nothing more than to pull away and smash this man across the face again, something prevents her. Maybe it's the fact that she's too stricken by her grief to mount another attack, or maybe she just needs the comfort, the feel of caring arms wrapped around her, telling her everything will be alright. Or, perhaps, it's because for the first time, Slade is actually acting like the father he always should have been, but never was.

She hates that. She absolutely hates it. In spite of everything he's done to her, every despicable way he's acted, he actually cares. He actually loves her, in his own twisted, delusional way. That's why she couldn't pull the trigger... and that's why she lets him comfort her, why she doesn't break his nose and kick him while he's down. That's why she doesn't kill him.

Rose: I still hate you... I always will

Slade: I know... as well you should.

Rose: Why... why did you do it?

Slade: I didn't... I never wanted to actually hurt her. To hurt you. Whoever set those charges... it wasn't me.

Rose: No, I know. You... couldn't have. Even you wouldn't blow yourself up like that... I meant, why did you do all of this? The VRA, controlling heroes, kidnapping, falsely imprisoning people, killing... everything.

Slade: I can't tell you... I'm sorry, I wish I could, but I can't. Maybe in the future, but not right now. Just know that I never meant for things to go this far. I never meant...

His gaze slowly turns to the fallen Becky, her body lying limply against the hard ground. She looks peaceful, almost as though she's sleeping... but of course she isn't sleeping. She won't ever be waking up again.

Slade: ...for any of this.

A long silence passes between them. Slowly, Rose lifts her gaze and stares at her father. She wants to be angry again, but the grief won't go away.

Rose: I loved her. I... I really loved her.

Slade: I know. And that's why I'm going to help you.

Rose: What are you talking about? How can you possibly help me after everything you've done?

Slade: Because I know who's behind all of this, who put this entire plan into motion.

Rose: Who's behind it... you mean the person who started the VRA. The person who...

She looks briefly over at Becky, feeling her heart clench up in agony. A second later, she tears her gaze away, eyes narrowing and jaw clenching.

Rose: The person responsible for Becky's death. The person I'm going to kill.

Slade: I can take you to him.

Rose: You'll do more than that. You'll help me take his goddamn head.

Standing up to his feet, Slade reaches down, offering a hand for his daughter to take.

Slade: I'd like nothing more.

She stares at his hand momentarily, as if pondering whether or not she should actually take it. Eventually, though, she grabs hold and pulls herself back up to her feet as well.

Rose: What's his name?

Slade hesitates briefly, taking in a deep breath and staring back at her. Then, he breathes out his response.

Slade: His name...

Ext. VRA Headquarters (Front) – Day

Jade: I'd stop struggling, if I were you. Even if you break free, we're only going to beat you again.

Battered and bloodied, Superboy lies limply in the green construct that wraps around him. Normally, he could probably break out no problem, but after taking a serious beating at the hands of Donna, Jesse, and Jade herself, he doesn't have a whole lot of strength left. Red Arrow and Beast Boy are already down, sprawled out on the ground nearby and at least unconscious. Either way, things aren't looking so good.

Suddenly, an incoming white and red figure crashes into the ground nearby. When the dust clears, Power Girl slowly staggers back to her feet, leaving Supergirl behind in the small crater they just landed in. Stumbling against the front half of a jeep, she holds herself up and groans. Her costume is practically shredded, exposing a very bruised and scraped up body beneath. A short moment later, Supergirl also returns to her feet, in a very similar condition. She stands still for a second before falling against a newspaper dispenser next to her, grabbing onto it tightly to keep from hitting the ground again.

Power Girl: A cheap... imitation, huh?

Supergirl: You're just... lucky.

Unfortunately for Power Girl, as evenly matched as she is with Supergirl, the rest of the Justice League is standing right next to her and already beginning to make a move to take her down. All she can do when she sees this is drop down to her behind on the ground and utter a desperate breath.

Power Girl: Well... we tried.

As the League begins to make their attack, however, a high pitched sonic frequency splits the air. Though only beings with super hearing, like Power Girl, can actually detect it, that doesn't stop it from affecting the neural stems lodged into the brains of the Justice League members. Instantly, they drop to their knees in pain, screaming and grabbing their skulls. Within a short few seconds, though, the pain disappears completely, as does any hold the stems had over them.

Power Girl: What the...

Cyborg: You look like you could use a hand.

Turning her head, Power Girl notices Cyborg standing nearby, holding up a sound emitter attached to one of his mechanical arms. Standing next to him is Raven, who had no doubt been the one to bring him here so quickly.

Power Girl: Cutting that a little close, don't you think?

Cyborg: Hey, I did just finish this thing about thirty seconds ago. I wasn't even sure it was going to work.

Power Girl: You weren't sure if... ugh.

Falling back against the ground, she utters a long breath and just stares up at the sky for the time being. She could really use a nap right now. The Justice League, meanwhile, is finally starting to come around.

Batman: What... what happened?

Cyborg: I disabled the devices controlling you, that's what happened.

Donna: Vic? You...you fixed us.

Jesse: Oh god, it's still in there.

Reaching up behind her left ear, Jesse tentatively fingers the round end of the stem sticking out of her flesh.

Jesse: I can feel it in my brain... oh I'm gonna puke.

Cyborg: Everyone regroup, we still have a job to do. We still need to find Slade.

Ext. VRA Headquarters (rear) – Day

When the group of heroes arrives in the back of the building, the section that was utterly decimated in the explosion, Rose and Slade are both long gone. Red Robin is there, however, sitting weakly against a large pile of crumbled bricks. When they see just what he's looking at, though, shock and panic sets in.

Batman: Oh my god...

Breaking away from the others, he rushes over to the body, kneeling down and removing one of his gloves so he can feel for a pulse. Seeing this, Red Robin lets out a sigh and bows his head.

Red Robin: Don't bother... I already checked. She's gone.

Clenching his jaw, Batman lowers his gaze and shuts his eyes tightly.

Batman: Rebecca...

A heavy silence descends upon the group. Though not everyone knows who this woman is that died in the assault, it's enough that she was fighting for a good cause. They feel the loss, as though she'd been a comrade that they'd known forever. For the ones that do know her, however, the sight holds a bit more impact. Batman continues to kneel there, a hand coming to his head in despair, while Power Girl slowly comes forward, fighting through the limp in her walk.

Power Girl: I... I gave her the suit. I'm the one that pushed her to go with us...

Eventually, Batman returns to his feet, taking in a deep breath as he stares down at the motionless Rebecca. Despite the tragedy of her loss, they still have a job to do.

Batman: Come on... we need to find Slade. And Rose. They can't have made it very far.

Chapter #66

Ext. White House – Day

The level of security at the White House is, as expected, pretty heavy, with swarms of Secret Service Agents doing everything they can to protect the President from attack. Unfortunately, they haven't exactly been trained to deal with something like this. The front lawn is currently littered with bodies, though whether they're dead or just unconscious is a mystery.

The two attackers move through their ranks like demons, never standing in the same place for more than a second, it seems. The Secret Service, in turn, cannot get a clean shot on them, and even though both of the assailants look pretty beat up, the woman even with one of her arms already dead, there is no stopping them. The remaining squad pulls back inside the White House, trying to bar the doors, but it's futile. The larger man barrels into the entrance, almost ripping the doors off the hinges.

Int. White House – Day

Rose: Please, at least try not to kill them! They're not the ones we're after!

Slade: Not quite my style-

Leaping forward into the entrance hall, he ducks below an incoming shot and kicks out the legs of the nearest agent, then finishes the man off with a punch to the side of the head. As another couple agents attempt to subdue him, Slade spins out of the way, lunges forward, and takes them both out with hard, crippling shots. Surprisingly, they're still alive.

Slade: -but even I can make an effort.

Rose joins the fray now, easily evading any shots fired her way and ripping through the lines of Secret Service with her blade. Even with only one good arm and a single sword, it's no challenge taking down these goons. They might be bleeding and they might not be walking or using their hands again for a while, but they'll live. Right now, she's saving all her rage for the mastermind behind all these events, the man who nearly crippled the superhero community, and the man who caused Rebecca's death. When they find him, then she can start the killing.

Slade: The West Wing, that's where he'll be!

After pummeling another nearby Secret Service Agent, Slade starts moving down the West Wing of the White House, with Rose in hot pursuit. Several more teams of the Secret Service meet them along the way, but these agents fall just as quickly as the others. Finally, they make it to their destination, where they can put a stop to this nightmare once and for all. With an angry shout, Rose kicks in the door to the Oval Office and walks inside, blade at the ready. Her father stands beside her, prepared to do everything in his power to back her up.

Rose: Show yourself!

The leather chair behind the Resolute Desk is facing away from them, blocking from view the man sitting in it. A short moment later, however, the chair begins to turn, until it finally reveals the person they're looking for.

President: Rose, it's been a while. And Slade... how very disappointing to see you here.

Rose: Cut the bullsh*t facade already! You're not the president!

President: Oh, aren't I?

When Rose doesn't back down, a vicious sneer snakes its way across his face.

President: Very well, if this form doesn't suit you...

And then, his face begins to quiver. The skin on his body morphs, rippling as though made of a thick liquid, and reshapes itself into its true appearance, a much more familiar sight to Rose. Grip tightening around the handle of her sword, her jaw clenches, as the fury within her body ignites to new levels. She almost hadn't believed it when her father told her, but now that she sees it with her own eyes... there is no mistaking that face.

It belongs to Jeremiah Belmont.

Jerry: There, is that better?

Rose You were dead... they found your body.

Jerry: No, they found a body. It just happened to look like me.

Rose: And it was you... everything. It was all you.

Jerry: Yes... so it was. Sorry to hear about Rebecca, by the way. She wasn't the intended target, you know. Very unfortunate.

Body quivering with rage, Rose takes a step forward, eyes burning a hole straight through the man's face.

Rose: Don't you ever say her name! You don't deserve to!

Jerry: Hmm, have I hit a sore spot?

Rose: What the hell were you trying to accomplish with all of this? What was the purpose?!

Still smirking, Jerry slowly walks out from behind the desk, hands clasped behind his back.

Jerry: If you must ask the question, then you aren't as smart as I presumed. Why else would a government want complete control over its nation's superheroes? Certainly not for safety or public interest.

Rose realizes the reason shortly, but she isn't the one who responds. Slade figures it out long before she does.

Slade: You wanted an army. An entire country of supers under your control.

Jerry: Correct. You see, metahuman warfare is the next stage in the evolution of war. What's the purpose of having even nuclear weapons when there exist multiple individuals who can swat them away like flies? When it comes to a country's military power, I think you'll agree that you superheroes make for a far more efficient defense.

Rose: What, and you just took it upon yourself to turn us all into your private soldiers, huh?

Jerry: But of course. You don't think it would have happened any other way, do you? There are certain... civil liberties and freedoms that get in the way.

Rose: So you went and got yourself some of those stems, took the president's place, and decided to take over. Sounds to me like you just wanted power, no better than any other two-bit villain out there.

Jerry: Think what you will, Rose, but in the end I brought the superhero community to its knees. I gained control.

Rose: Well congratu-f*cking-lations. Just one problem: you failed. You got that? It's over.

Breathing in deeply, Jerry brings his hands around the front of himself, holding his palms together and raising his fingers up to his chin, staring back at them.

Jerry: Not yet, Rose. How many others did you two tell about me before you came charging in here to take me down yourselves? I'm guessing no one, isn't that right? Yes... you ran off to take my head as soon as your precious Rebecca died, didn't you?

That's the last straw in Rose's unstable mind. Letting out a rabid shout of fury, she raises her blade and charges him.

Rose: I told you to never say her name!

Jerry merely watches her as she comes in, making no sudden or desperate moves. Instead, a fraction of a second before she cuts him clean in half, he steps casually to the side, evading the strike. Rose blinks in confusion, taking a step back before suddenly being clubbed by Jerry's fist, which had somehow grown much larger than it had been. With a surprised groan, she flies back through the air and crash lands against the wall.

Jerry: You see, all I have to do is kill the two of you, and then all the proof leading back to me disappears.

Rose: What... the hell?

Jerry: Oh, this?

Taking a few steps forward, both his arms suddenly morph into the shape of two long, razor sharp blades. Slade draws one of his automatic pistols and steps between his daughter and Jerry. Without hesitating, he opens fire, pumping out an entire clip. The bullets don't even faze the man, as he simply stands there and takes them, his flesh rippling like putty with each impact. A short moment later, his body pushes the bullets back out, and with a rapid series of metallic clinking, they clatter to the floor. To finish the sequence, the bullet holes left behind in Jerry's body close back up again, perfectly healed.

Jerry: The result of that little crime spree I put you on last year. It's amazing what the combination of a little mutated clay and nano-technology can accomplish.

Narrowing his eye slightly, Slade steps backwards.

Slade: So bullets aren't going to work.

Rose: I'm willing to bet taking his head off will shut him up!

Pushing her way back up to her feet, Rose grabs her blade again and holds it at the ready.

Rose: Take my other sword; I only have one arm right now.

Slade complies, moving back and drawing Rose's second blade from the scabbard strapped to her backside.

Slade: Ready when you are.

Of course, Rose has been ready since she kicked that door down. She needs no invitation to begin her charge again, this time fully prepared for whatever Jerry can throw at them.

Rose: Take him out!

The three combatants engage in a swift series of blows. As enhanced as Rose and her father are, Jerry manages to keep up with every attack they throw at him, using his elongated arm-blades to deflect and parry, as well as counter with precise strikes of his own. Rose's reflexes and precognition are really put to the test, especially given how badly beat up she already is. Having only one usable arm doesn't help much, either. Even Slade is being pushed to his limits, though he, too, isn't fighting at a hundred percent capacity with his previously inflicted injuries.

Jerry exploits these facts to his advantage, constantly keeping the two on the defensive. Though they had begun as the attackers, now they are the ones being assaulted. After deflecting a particularly brutal blow, Rose stumbles off balance only to be suddenly grabbed by Jerry's extending arm, which wraps around her neck and waist like some kind of demonic tendril. While simultaneously combating Slade with his other arm, he swings her violently through the air and smashes her through the Resolute Desk, breaking it to pieces.

Slade: Rose!

Ducking beneath a quick slash, Slade throws himself forward and flips over to the other side of his opponent. With a single motion, he cleaves the man's arm off, causing the whip-like limb to lose its grip on Rose and release her. He then hurries over to his daughter's side and helps her back to her feet. Groaning, she rolls over onto her back and slowly pushes herself upward.

Slade: Are you alright?

Meanwhile, Jerry casually walks over to his severed limb, now having reverted back to its normal shape and size, and reaches down to pick it up. It takes only a brief moment for him to reattach it to his shoulder, flesh rippling like liquid yet again before healing.

Rose: You're picking now to get sentimental? Just take his damn head off!

Pushing Slade away, she lurches the rest of her way to her feet and then charges the man again. She makes several vicious slashes, all aimed for Jerry's throat, but he easily deflects the attacks away, harmlessly. Then, one of his arms morphs into a large spiked mace, one that hits a lot harder than it should have. Even though Rose manages to put her sword up in front of the incoming attack, the force shatters the blade into multiple pieces, then sends her shooting through the air yet again. She lands with a thud against one of the walls and makes no immediate move to get back up.

Jerry: You don't understand, Rose. I can become anything I want. I am a weapon. This isn't like the last time we met; this time, you can't beat me.

Slade: But I can.

In an instant, Slade is on the man again, his attacks much more ferocious and purposeful this time around. He's fighting through his pain and injuries, pulling out all the stops. Jerry is forced on a heavy defensive, not quite able to keep up as well this time around. He may have acquired impressive meta powers, but the lack of fighting experience soon begins to make itself apparent. Slade gains an edge, takes the advantage, and never gives it back up.

Jerry makes a desperate counter move, expelling several razor sharp spikes from his body in attempts to impale Slade when he gets too close. But Slade is too fast, twisting his body and weaving between the spikes as he drives his blade forward with lethal accuracy. The point skewers through the center of Jerry's chest, driving straight out the other side.

Slade: Got you.

For a brief moment, Jerry's eyes go wide, as if in pain and surprise. However, his expression soon relaxes again, returning to an eery calm.

Jerry: You should have listened to your daughter, Slade.

Suddenly, Slade's own eyes go wide, a hot pain flaring through his stomach. Slowly, he glances downward to see another spike extending from Jerry's body. This one, he did not avoid, as it instead pierces straight through his armor and his body, spilling out warm, sticky streams of crimson.

Jerry: You should have taken my head.

The spike then abruptly withdraws, causing Slade to crumple to the floor.

Rose: DAD!

She finds it strange that she would react this way to the sight of her father being so viciously impaled, seemingly on the edge of death himself. As much she hates him, as much as she always wished he would die... he's still her father, and seeing him lying motionless on the floor in a growing pool of blood sends her heart into a panic. Struggling through her pain, she staggers back to her feet and swallows a hard lump in her throat.

This isn't happening... this whole day isn't... it can't be real. It can't be.

But it is real, she knows it is. This isn't a dream she's just going to suddenly wake up from, and there is more riding on her success than just her own life.

Jerry: A pity... I had such high hopes for him. In the end, he proves to be just another disappointment.

Rose: That's it...

Curling her hand into a tight fist, she slowly lifts her gaze, hard eyes glaring with focused anger.

Rose: You've screwed with my life for the last time.

She begins her march towards him, not running or hurrying in any way, simply walking purposefully in his direction. Jerry smirks, morphing his arms into multi-bladed monstrosities. Gradually, Rose picks up her pace, his poorly concealed attempts at compensating not deterring her in the slightest.

Rose: Because of you, I lost the the most important person in my life. Now, you pay for it.

She's sprinting now, coming straight at him. He takes a wild swing with both his arms, but she ducks beneath them. She slides across the floor, grabbing Slade's fallen sword on the way by and going straight between Jerry's legs behind him.

Rose: I told you before that you weren't worth killing. Well, guess what?!

As she springs back to her feet, a precognitive flash rips through her head. She spins in response, evading the incoming spike that shoots out towards her. In the same motion, she whirls her arm around, whipping the blade with lethal precision. The razor edge cleaves cleanly through Jerry's neck, dislodging his head from his shoulders and sending it bouncing across the floor.

Rose: I lied.

The headless body stands there for a moment, unmoving. Before long, however, it crumples into a motionless heap. Moving her gaze, she catches sight of Jerry's severed head propped against the wall, lifeless eyes staring wide and unblinking.

Rose: That was for Becky, you miserable son of a b*itch.

Taking in a deep breath, she throws her sword away and then collapses to the floor, sitting with arms resting against her raised knees. Bowing her head, she squints her eyes shut and lets everything out. First, she lets loose an incoherent scream that echoes loudly inside the oval room, pouring all her anger, grief, and distress into it. Once her voice cuts out, the tears follow. Rose has never been one to cry very often, hardly ever in fact, but there's no stopping it right now. She's been hurt far too deep this time.

A hand on her shoulder calls her away from her sorrow. Blinking a couple of times, she turns her head and looks up to see Slade standing there, a hand pressed against the hole in his gut.

Slade: You did good, Rose.

Rose: You... you're not dead.

Slade: I've always healed fast, same as you. I'll be fine.

Eyes shifting away, she bows her head again and stares at the ground.

Rose: Figures you'd be the one to survive.

Slade pulls his hand back, a heavy sigh emerging from his throat.

Slade: I am sorry, Rose... you may not believe me, but I do want to see you happy. Rebecca never should have died.

Rose: No, she shouldn't have. But there's nothing I can do about it now, is there?

A long pause descends over them, with Slade just standing there, staring at his heartbroken daughter. There's that feeling again, the sickening sensation deep in his stomach. Why is he so terrible when it comes to family?

Rose: Just... go. I know you don't want to stick around when the cops show up.

Slade: You're right... I should go. I still have work to do, anyway.

He moves past her, heading for the exit, but her voice stops him momentarily.

Rose: And Dad... this time, stay out of my life for good. Every time you come back into it, you break something. I'm just... tired of being broken.

His gaze lowers, while his shame grows. For a long moment, he just stands there, motionless. It's not until he hears the faintest sounds of approaching sirens that he finally tears himself away and keeps going.

Slade: Goodbye, Rose.

Chapter #67

Int. White House – Day

The team of D.C. police officers hurries into the main entrance of the White House. For a brief moment, they stop to look around at the bodies of the Secret Service strewn about, some bleeding and others not moving at all. The officer in charge, Officer Harrow, moves forward with his mouth slightly agape.

Harrow: What the- damn it, don't just stand around people, check on them!

Immediately, the other officers approach the fallen agents and inspect them, looking for signs of life. As badly as the Secret Service has been beaten, none of them are dead. Sure, some are unconscious or have their ligaments severed, but there are no fatal injuries.

Officer #1: Looks like they're all still alive, sir. Nothing too bad, either.

Harrow: Well what the hell happened in here?

His question is answered by a small cough. Turning to his left he notices a still conscious Secret Service Agent slumped against the wall and bleeding from the wrists.

S.S. Agent: It was the VRA Director, Slade Wilson. Him and some b*tch stormed the place. We tried to hold them off, but they got through. They went after the President... Oval Office.

Harrow: Sh*t, everyone move! I want men in that office five minutes ago!

The swarm of police officers continues towards the West Wing, guns already drawn and at the ready. Harrow is the first to snake his way around the corner of the open doorway, pointing his weapon forward and prepared for anything. The first thing he sees is the Resolute Desk in pieces, having been broken apart by some phenomenal force. His gaze next finds the headless body of the President lying in the middle of the floor. A sickening knot twists his way into his stomach at the side.

Harrow: My god...

His thoughts are interrupted by another one of the officers moving into the office, gun pointed forward.

Officer #1: Hands on your head, now!

That's when Harrow sees the white haired woman sitting against a wall, one of her arms hanging limply at the side, outfit torn up, and her body scuffed and bleeding. She stares directly back at them, her expression unchanging from a distant, almost forlorn look of calm. Slowly, she moves one of her hands up and places it on the back of her head.

Rose: I'd raise the other one, too, but... yeah. It's not doing so well.

Walking cautiously across the floor, Harrow holds an arm in front of the other advancing officer.

Harrow: Careful with her, keep your distance for now. We don't know what she can do.

Rose: Oh, would you relax? I'm too exhausted to fight back. If you're going to arrest me, just do it already.

It's at that moment that another officer inspecting the severed head on the other side of the room furrows his brow in confusion, then glances back.

Officer #2: Uh, sir? This isn't the President.

Harrow: What the hell are you talking about? Of course it's the-

His voice cuts out suddenly, as his eyes fall on the head leaning up against the far wall. That face is... not the President at all. It's someone else he doesn't recognize.

Harrow: What in the name of...

Rose: His name was Jeremiah Belmont, in case you're wondering. A sort of... shape shifter, I guess. As far as I know, he took the place of the real President ages ago, then started to control congress and other forms of the government.

Harrow: Then the real President...

Rose: Probably been dead a while. Jerry here was the one behind the creation of EPRA law and the VRA. Every superhero that went to register was implanted with a neural device that gave him complete control over their actions.

Harrow: This is insane.

Rose: Yeah, welcome to my world.

Releasing a small breath, Harrow tears his gaze away from the severed head and looks back at Rose.

Harrow: And you just killed him?

Rose: I let him live once before; then all of this happened. Wasn't making the same mistake twice.

Harrow stares at her a moment longer, then raises a hand to his head and looks at the severed head again.

Harrow: Jesus...

Ext. White House – Day

Rose grunts in slight discomfort, as her limp arm is forced behind her back to be cuffed with her other arm. For the most part, she can't feel anything in that arm, but it's plainly clear that several bones are broken and crushed, along with some torn or sprained tendons. She probably won't be moving it again for a while. Officer Harrow leads her towards the nearest squad car, one hand on her shoulder, the other on the back of her head.

Rose: You know, it's been a while since I've been in one of these. I almost miss it.

Harrow: I'm honestly not sure how to take that comment.

Rose: Take it whatever way you like; doesn't make a difference.

Before he can lead her into the vehicle, though, a surprising sight pulls their attention away. Coming through the front gates of the White House grounds, some flying and others walking, is just about every hero that had been involved in the D.C. battle against the VRA, all of them freed from control by Cyborg's specially modified sonic device.

Pausing in front of the squad car, they both stare at the approaching heroes in stunned silence. It isn't everyday you see this many super powered individuals all gathered in one place.

Batman: Officer, what's going on here?

Harrow: Clean up, that's what's going on. Your friend here made a mess of things inside.

Eyes slowly narrowing, Batman's gaze comes to rest on Rose.

Batman: What did you do?

Rose: Saved everyone's asses.

Harrow: She stopped the guy behind this whole VRA sh*tstorm, from what I understand. Some kind of... shape shifting guy or something posing as the President. I don't know, I'm not used to dealing with this stuff.

This information causes Batman to pause, arms folding across his chest.

Batman: How did you know who it was?

Rose: I didn't. But Slade did. We took him down together.

Batman: And where is Slade now?

Rose: Hell if I know. Gone, and good riddance.

Batman's arms come down again, his expression suddenly growing cross.

Batman: You let him go? After everything he's done?

Rose: I wasn't exactly in a position to stop him, in case you haven't noticed.

As Batman goes to make a counter point, Officer Harrow actually steps in to her defense.

Harrow: It's alright, Batman. We got the real culprit, that's good enough for now.

Batman: Hold on, if you're defending her, then why are you arresting her?

Harrow: Because she still killed the guy. Like it or not, murder is a crime no matter who commits it for no matter what reason. If a jury decides to find her not guilty, then so be it. But I still have to take her in.

Another long pause passes between them. Batman utters a heavy breath, bringing a hand up to rub his eyes tiredly.

Batman: Alright... understood.

Rose: Don't worry, really. I could use the isolation... it'll give me time to think.

Eyes softening, Batman raises a hand and places it on her shoulder.

Batman: I... we found Becky. I'm sorry.

Rose: If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not talk about it right now.

Batman: Right... of course. I'll see you later.

Harrow: Alright, come on now.

On that note, Harrow gently leads Rose into the back of the squad car, then closes the door and heads around to the driver's side. A short moment later, he drives off towards the local station, leaving the other police officers behind to help clean up the mess and secure the area. Once Rose is gone, Power Girl walks up next to Batman and holds her arms around herself.

Power Girl: Do you think she'll be okay?

Batman: I really can't say. She's always been strong before, but this... I'm afraid it might be one heartbreak too many.

Nearby, Red Arrow lets out a tired, pained breath, while holding a hand to the back of his head.

Red Arrow: So, I guess this whole VRA thing is finished, then, huh?

Cyborg: Looks like it, soon as Raven helps identify which members of congress and the like are still under stem control. Then I can help return them to normal.

Red Arrow: That's good, I suppose. Doesn't help the fact that the government still has a list of all our identities now, though.

At this comment, a small smile forms across Cyborg's face.

Cyborg: Oh, I wouldn't worry much about that. I already nabbed the hard copies back at the VRA building. As for the digital copies... well, I have a couple friends working on it right now.

Int. Unknown Location – Day

Holding a hand to his chin, Calculator stares back at the screen of his computer console, which shows a progress bar of data he's currently download. Currently, it's at sixty-seven percent. While throwing all his chips in with that Jeremiah guy seems to have been a bad investment, he isn't out of ideas yet. Even with the VRA sunk, he still has access to all their data, which will soon be copied to his hard drive. After that, he can sell the identities of any superhero he wants to the highest bidders. He'll end up richer than Lex Luthor.

Calculator: Come on... just a little bit more.

The progress bar hits ninety percent, then ninety-five, and then... it freezes. Narrowing his eyes he leans forward and glares at the screen. When still nothing happens, his fingers start flying over the keyboard.

Calculator: What the hell is- why isn't it responding? What's going on?!

And then, the screen shuts off, becoming completely dark. A second later, it flicks back on, this time showing a glowing green face on it, an overly familiar avatar belonging to the last person he wants to see right now.

Oracle: Hey there, Calculator. Remember us?

A second avatar appears on the screen, this one red.

Proxy: You didn't think you were getting away this time, did you?

Calculator: NO!

Slamming his fists down on the table, Calculator stares madly at the two faces in front of him.

Calculator: You can't be here!

Proxy: And yet we are.

Oracle: We were busy wiping the VRA's database, when lo and behold we detected an outgoing signal transferring the data. Imagine our surprise when it led right back to you.

Proxy: But that's not all we found. We also traced the signal used to set off the explosives back at the VRA building, the explosives that killed one Rebecca Chavez.

Oracle: The police should be there right about...

The door behind him suddenly crashes inward. Spinning around, Calculator comes face to face with a team of no less than five police officers, all pointing guns at him. For a moment, he just blinks stupidly, until finally he raises his hands.

Oracle: -now. Hope you enjoy your ten to twenty.

Ext. VRA Headquarters – Day

Back at the wreckage of the VRA building, only two people remain behind. Wonder Girl sits on a large chunk of concrete, leaning forward with her arms resting on her knees and gaze locked on the body of Rebecca Chavez just three feet in front of her. The sight knots up her stomach, and yet she cannot look away. Standing next her and leaning on his bo staff for support, Red Robin slowly glances over at her.

Red Robin: You've been staring at her for ten minutes now.

Wonder Girl: I... can't help it. She shouldn't have died.

Red Robin: Probably not. But she did.

Wonder Girl: Were she and Rose just... I mean, did they... did Rose love her?

Red Robin: As far as I know. Everything I heard was secondhand from Dick, but... yeah, it was serious.

Releasing a tired sigh, Wonder Girl brings her head down into her hands.

Wonder Girl: You know, I honestly thought I'd be happy if Rose ever had to feel this kind of pain... now I realize it just makes me sick. No one should have to lose the one they love... not even her.

Red Robin says nothing, instead turning his gaze back to Becky, as well. He can hear the ambulances approaching now. They'll be here to pick up the body soon.

Wonder Girl: She actually seemed excited to meet us, you know? Hell, she even knew who I was. And what did I do? Punched her girlfriend and shoved her through a table.

Red Robin: There's nothing you can do about it now.

Wonder Girl: If you see Rose again... tell I'm sorry, alright? For everything.

Slowly, Red Robin turns to look at her again.

Red Robin: That's something you should do yourself.

Wonder Girl: Right, because that would go over well. I'm the last person she wants to see right now.

Red Robin: Can you really blame her?

Wonder Girl: Yeah, well... whatever. I need to... I need to think, clear my head. I'll see you later.

With that, she flies up into the air and leaves him behind.

Int. Police Station – Night

Rose lies on the bench quietly, head resting against her hands. Iron bars stand tall in front of her, plain stone walls on her other sides. It's been about six hours now since they took down the VRA. That's six hours since she killed Jeremiah Belmont. Six hours since...

Rose: Becky...

Forcing her eyes shut, Rose lifts a hand to her face and presses her fingers to them. She sucks in a deep breath, slowly letting it out and trying to remain calm. It's hard, of course. Becky was the only person she had ever loved that way, the only person she'd ever opened up to completely. And it hadn't just been a crazy fling that just seemed exciting at the time, or anything like that. It had been love, she knew it deep in her heart. She could have seen herself spending the rest of her life with Becky, and nothing would have made her happier. But now... well, none of that will be happening.

The sound of the door at the end of the hallway opening causes Rose to lift her head and open her eyes again. She blinks a couple of times curiously, then sits up on the bench as an officer approaches the door to the cell. The cop already has his keys at the ready, slipping one of them into the lock and then sliding the door open.

Officer: Alright, let's go.

Rose: What's going on?

Officer: Someone posted your bail.

Rose: Who-

That's when she notices the man walking into view next to the officer. He gives her a small wave, as the cop leaves them to return to his desk.

Rose: Well, that was thoughtful.

Dick: Couldn’t just leave you in here.

Rose: You should have. I honestly don't think I would have minded that much.

Giving her a sympathetic look, Dick walks forward and hands her a folder with several papers inside it.

Dick: Here.

Confused, she takes the folder from him and starts flipping through them.

Rose: What's this?

Dick: Your court dates.

Rose: Oh... joy.

Dick: Don't worry about it too much. Considering the situation, the judge might just throw out the case. I've seen stranger things happen.

Rose: Yeah, whatever. Let's just go. I should probably get this arm looked at.

Dick: Before we do, I brought someone with me to see you.

Following after him down the hall, she gives him a narrow glance.

Rose: Who? Because right now, there aren't a whole lot of people I'd want to see.

Dick: Trust me, this is one of the exceptions.

When they make it through the doorway leading into the main part of the station, Rose suddenly catches sight of the small blonde girl running towards her.

Holly: Rose!

Eyes going wide in surprise, Rose leans down to give the girl a warm, one-armed hug, holding on tightly. In seconds, they're both forcing back tears.

Rose: Holly... oh I missed you.

Sniffling, the girl holds her arms tighter around Rose, then gives her a sad look. She can barely get through her words, stumbling through sobs.

Holly: I'm... sorry about Becky...

Taking in a deep breath through her nose, Rose brings her chin forward and rests it on Holly's shoulder, eyes closing and heavy heart sinking a little further in her chest.

Rose: I know, Holly... I know.

Int. City Morgue – Night

Michael Kubrick rubs the back of his head tenderly, as he pushes through the cold chamber door. Zaria is with him, both having managed to escape the scene at the VRA building before the cops showed up. After things went south, it only made sense to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. But while they should be five hundred miles from here by now, instead they'd been contacted. By who... well, they don't know.

The call had been from an unknown number, claiming that they still had work to do. He didn't want to trust it, of course, but Zaria insisted that if this was supposed to be some kind of set up, they could always just eat whoever this guy was. That idea actually intrigued him enough to go along with this stupid meeting.

When they enter the cold chamber, a bald man in a white lab coat and glasses is standing there, waiting for them. For a brief moment, he simply stares at them, until waving for them to come in.

Kubrick: So who the hell are you, huh?

Strange: The name is Professor Hugo Strange. I don't believe we've met, have we?

Kubrick: No, we haven't. So why the hell did you call us?

Zaria: Yes... and how did you get our numbers for that matter?

Strange: Oh, I'm not the one who called you, no. However, I was sent ahead to greet you both.

Kubrick: Uh huh. So then where is the guy who called us?

Strange: He'll be here shortly. In he meantime, we're to make preparations.

Squinting her eyes at him, Zaria cocks her head to the side slightly, then brushes back her hair.

Zaria: Preparations for what?

Strange: You'll see.

Moving away from them, Strange makes his way over to the wall of storage drawers. He counts them off, then stops in front of a specific one and pulls the chilled compartment open, revealing a naked, bruised corpse within. Recognizing who it is, Kubrick crosses his arms and lets out a scoff.

Kubrick: Hmph, Chavez. She always was biting off more than she could chew.

Zaria: Explain to me why exactly we're in a morgue looking at a dead body. I still haven't quite grasped the purpose.

Without answering her question, Strange looks over to Kubrick and motions for him to assist.

Strange: Help me move her to one of the tables.

Kubrick: There had better be a good reason for this...

Walking forward, Kubrick aids Strange in lifting the corpse off the sliding drawer and then carrying her over to one of the flat metal tables nearby, setting her down. Then, Strange heads over a locker on the other side of the room and opens it, causing another limp, ghostly body to crumple out to the floor. This one belongs to the mortician on duty, a young blonde woman.

Strange: Now, help me get her on the other table.

Narrowing his eyes slightly, Kubrick walks over to offer his assistance again.

Kubrick: Looks like she died not too long ago.

Strange: Well, I would imagine so. I injected her with a lethal dose of sodium penathol a mere hour ago.

After dropping the dead mortician on the second table, Kubrick walks back to Zaria's side and folds his arms again.

Zaria: Now, are you going to explain what we're doing? Who called us here?

Man: I did.

Turning suddenly, they notice a man standing in the doorway, a man dressed in a dark suit, longcoat, fedora hat, and black rimmed glasses. Walking forward, he flips his hat off and rests it on the table next to Rebecca's corpse.

Man: I have to admit, I'm surprised you two actually showed up. But I'm glad you did.

Kubrick: Who the hell are you?

Man: I'm who you've been working for this entire time. What's the problem? Don't recognize your boss?

Zaria: Hun, I've never seen you before in my life.

Man: Ah, of course, you don't know me in this form. Where are my manners?

In an instant, his face reforms itself, morphing into a spitting image of the President of the United States. Both Zaria and Kubrick's eyes begin to widen in surprise and confusion, as the man's face then returns to normal.

Man: Is that better?

Kubrick: Who the hell are you?

Jerry: The name is Jeremiah Belmont. And my friends... we have work to do.

Chapter #68

Ext. Whitmore Cemetery – Day

It's raining. Of course it's raining, why not? It was the only thing that could have made this day more miserable, after all, so might as well throw it in. Rose stands amongst the others gathered next to the grave, her left arm in a sling and eyes locked on the casket in front of her. The church service had been hard enough to get through, but now the committal... it feels like someone's reaching into her chest and unceremoniously squeezing her heart.

The grip on her hand suddenly tightens. Looking down, she sees Holly standing there with red, puffy eyes. No tears, though; she'd long since run out of them, now only the dry, sticky remains left behind on her cheeks. The rain works to quickly wash them away. Taking in another breath, Rose lifts her gaze back to the casket, as it begins to lower into the grave. The priest raises his hands and lifts his head, speaking to all those gathered.

Priest: And so, we therefore commit her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life. May Rebecca Anne Chavez forever rest in peace.

As the officiants begin to fill the grave, the mourners slowly take their leave, one by one. Rose, however, lingers for a while, watching the process. With each shovelful of dirt that falls into the grave, Becky's passing feels just a little more final, and Rose's heart a little heavier. Holly stays, too, leaning against her and holding an arm around her.

Something out of the corner of her eye pulls her attention, however. When she sees who's standing there, she feels sick. Rebecca's parents, Jorge and Emma Chavez, walk by, shooting a hateful glare in her direction. She says nothing, instead averting her eyes and staring at the ground, even as they speak.

Jorge: Stay away from our family from now on, do you hear me?

Emma: If she hadn't met you... our baby would still be alive.

Two quick statements that cut like daggers. When they finally leave, Rose sucks in a deep breath and looks up at the sky, rainwater stinging her eyes. Another figure holding an umbrella walks up beside her, voice solemn and calm.

Circe: They really don't like you.

Rose: Not that surprising, is it? I'm the one who told them their daughter was dead, I'm the one that put her in that position... that and they didn't know about Becky's lifestyle before.

Circe: Until you spoke at the service.

Rose: She always did say her parents would never approve. It's no wonder they hate me... too many reasons.

A quiet pause descends over them. By now, the grave is fully filled in, the funeral over. The complete finality of it all begins to sink it. Sniffling a little, Holly looks up sadly at Rose.

Holly: Can I... go wait in the car?

Nodding, Rose gives her a gentle pat on the shoulder.

Rose: Yeah, of course.

Circe: You can go to my car, if you like. Lyta's there.

Holly: Alright...

Breathing out a heavy sigh, the young girl marches away from the grave to the line of cars nearby. Another pause goes by, before Circe breaks the silence again, lifting her umbrella higher.

Circe: You know, I... haven't really ever been the sentimental type.

Rose: You don't say.

Circe: And I know I've been a bit rough around the edges since we met, and I never really gave you or Rebecca the thanks you deserved. Just the lingering mentality of being an all powerful sorceress, I suppose.

Snorting out a small scoff, Rose blinks down at the grave again and stuffs her hand in her pocket.

Rose: Yeah, I guess that could have something to do with it.

Circe: As I've spent time you, though, as a mortal and as a mother caring for her daughter... I'm starting to see the world in a different light. It's... hard to describe, really, but I want to thank you for it. That's twice now you've saved my daughter, helped me when you didn't have to.

Rose: That's what friends do.

Circe: I realize that now. You have been a friend to me, a good friend, and I wish to offer my condolences to you. Rebecca, too, was a good friend.

Rose: A great friend.

Circe: Yes... a great one.

The two remain standing there for a few moments longer, until Circe finally takes her leave. Rose stays, though, still unable to pull herself away. For several minutes longer, she stands in silence, just watching, waiting. Half of her hopes that maybe she'll suddenly wake from this nightmare, that she'll open her eyes, roll over in bed, and have Becky there to tell her it was all just a bad dream. The other half tells her that it's wishful thinking, obviously. This is reality, and she has to accept it.

Another voice calls out to her, this one belonging to a familiar man, voice deep and heavy.

Dick: Rose.

Lifting her gaze, she turns around suddenly to see not only Dick standing there, but also Tim Drake, Roy Harper, Karen Starr aka Power Girl, Cassandra Cain, Wally West, and Cyborg.

Rose: What are you all doing here?

Tim: Just wanted to offer our support.

Wally: Yeah, you helped us all in a big way, you know. Heck, you helped save my family. The least we can do is express our sympathies.

Moving forward, Roy holds a hand to her shoulder and gives a strong nod.

Roy: She seemed like a wonderful person.

Rose: She was.

Her gaze then moves to Cassandra, giving the woman a slightly bemused look.

Rose: Even you showed up?

Cassandra: In spite of our rivalry, Rose, I do not hate you. In fact, I consider you a friend.

She holds her hand forward, offering it to shake. For a brief moment, Rose stares at it, until finally grabbing hold and shaking.

Cassandra: Though, we will have to have another rematch sometime.

A very small smile begins to form on Rose's face.

Rose: Any time you want.

A quieter voice draws her attention this time. Karen approaches, rubbing one of her arms nervously and bowing her head.

Karen: Rose, I... I'm sorry. For giving Becky that suit, for sending her out with us, I... it's my fault.

Rose: Maybe... but blaming you won't bring her back. I know what you meant by it, and I know you weren't trying to get her killed.

Karen: Still... I am sorry. I didn't know her for very long, but I could tell what a great person she was, and how much you cared for each other.

Exhaling, Rose nods absently.

Rose: Yeah, I know.

A short pause passes, until Cyborg takes a couple steps forward and folds his arms.

Cyborg: You're not alone in this, you know.

Dick: He's right; you still have friends, friends who care about you. If you ever need anything, if you ever want to talk, we're here.

Rose: Thank you... all of you. I, uh... I just need to get going now, I...

Sucking in a large breath, she lifts a hand to her eyes and quickly wipes them dry. Swallowing, she gives them an affirmative nod and then starts moving past them.

Rose: I have to get Holly home, and... need to reopen my studio... I'll see you all later.

She doesn't look back as she leaves, instead keeping her head pointed forward and gaze lowered to the wet ground. She doesn't even so much as try to move around the puddles, walking straight through them on the way back to the car. Before she gets there, however, one more voice reaches her ears, this one not nearly as welcomed as the others.

Cassie: Rose!

Freezing in place, she slowly turns her head to see Cassandra Sandsmark standing there behind a tree and holding an umbrella. Moving from the tree, Cassie hurries towards her.

Cassie: I... I'm glad I caught you, I didn't know if-

Rose: What the hell are you doing here?

Hesitating briefly, Cassie blinks and stiffens up. The amount of burning ire pouring out of Rose is enough to put even Wonder Girl on edge.

Cassie: I was just... I wanted to pay my respects.

Rose: What on earth for?

Cassie: Because... because I'm sorry about Rebecca. I... know you really loved her.

Rose: What the hell do you care? You didn't even know her. All you did was put her through a damn table.

Cassie: I'm sorry-

Rose: No, don't you dare apologize to me. After everything you've said to me, after every horrible interaction we've ever had, and how you left things between us last time, don't you even think about suddenly 'seeing the light' and trying to make up for it.

Cassie: Rose, I-

Rose: I'm not finished yet. You want to know something? It's a damn shame you didn't know Becky, because she was a great person. She was kind, and funny, and caring, and always willing to put others ahead of herself. She wasn't selfish, she wasn't cruel, and she never held a grudge. She even gave her life for something she believed in, fighting for you and everyone else. She's a better person than you will ever be. You want to apologize to someone? Apologize to her. Now do me a favor and stay the hell away from me.

And with that, Rose turns and storms off, not giving so much as a quick glance back. Cassie stands there for the longest time, lowering her umbrella and blinking in stunned silence as the rain begins to soak her.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suit – Night

Rose leans against the counter with her good arm, staring at the microwave as the timer ticks down. She's in a sort of surreal daze at the moment, vision even going blurry while she waits. It isn't until the microwave beeps that she finally comes to her senses and reaches forward to open it. If she had been thinking straight, she probably would have realized not to go and grab the open end of the popcorn bag, instantly scalding her palm on the hot air seeping out.

Rose: God-damn!

She makes no move to go run her hand under cold water, though, simply squeezing it into a fist for several moments and trying to push the pain away. Eventually, she reaches for the bag again, and this time pulls it out more carefully. After opening it with her hand and her teeth, she dumps the contents out into a previously prepared bowl, then grabs a salt shaker and lightly salts the kernels. When she's done, she carries the bowl into the living room, where Holly sits quietly on the couch, waiting.

Rose: Here, I, uh... I made some popcorn for the movie. I know you don't like it buttered so I just... added some salt. Want some?

An answer doesn't come at first, as Rose moves around the couch and sits next to the girl. Eventually, Holly leans to the side and rests her head against Rose's shoulder.

Holly: I'm not really hungry...

Breathing outwardly, Rose's expression sinks slightly in sad understanding. Placing the bowl of popcorn in front of her on the coffee table, she then holds her arm around Holly and rubs the girl's shoulder.

Rose: Yeah... me neither.

Holly: I'm really gonna miss her.

Rose: So am I, Holly... so am I.

Swallowing back a lump in her throat, Rose shuts her eyes and takes in another deep breath. The movie that they had been planning to watch suddenly disappears from their thoughts, and instead the two remain like that, comforting each other over the loss of Rebecca. Through all of this, at least Rose can be happy knowing that Holly is safe.

That's right... I still have Holly, and she needs me to be strong... we need each other more than ever now.

Rose: Hey, Holly?

Blinking back a few tears, the girl raises her gaze and sniffles.

Holly: Yeah?

Rose: I, uh... I was thinking about something. I mean... I don't know if you'd even want to, but... I mean, when you were taken away, I... well, I don't want that to happen again. I... I don't want to lose you, too. So, I thought that maybe I could get some, uh... some adoption forms, and fill those out. You know... I mean if you wanted.

And suddenly, Holly is sitting upright with wide eyes, blinking several times and wiping her eyes. All she manages to do is spread her tears around, but she doesn't care.

Holly: You mean, you... you want to adopt me?

Rose: Well... yeah. I mean, sure I'm your legal guardian, and sure I look after you, but... I want to make it official.

Sniffling again, Holly forces a smile to show through her grief, then lunges forward and throws her arms around Rose in a warm hug.

Holly: That would be... great. Really great. I... thank you, Rose. Thank you.

Pressing her head gently against Holly's, Rose's arm comes around her and rubs her shoulder again.

Rose: You're welcome, Holly. I love you, girl... always will.

Holly: I love you, too, Rose. Er... wait, does this mean I should call you mom?

And for the first time in a long time, Rose utters a small laugh. Leaning back a bit, she gently kisses the girl's forehead and smiles at her.

Rose: Only if you want to. Now come on... let's get you to bed.

Once Holly is in bed, Rose returns to the kitchen. She stares at the bowl of popcorn for a minute, then dumps it in the trash. A moment later, she reaches up to the top shelves and pulls out the alcohol. She doesn't have to be up in the morning for anything, so she might as well drown herself in a drunken stupor before crashing in bed.

And yet, as she pours a shot, she abruptly loses the will to drink it. She takes a long look at the glass, then dumps its contents into the sink, and when that's done she moves on to the entire bottle, pouring it all down the drain. Releasing a long sigh, she leans forward against the counter and holds her head in her hand. Eventually, she returns to the living room and collapses on the couch, staring up at the ceiling.

Rose: Becky... if you're watching, I just... I love you. I'll always love you, no matter where you are.

Lowering her gaze again, she stares off aimlessly in front of her, eyes drooping in sorrow.

Rose: And... and I'm sorry. We were supposed to watch each other's backs and I let you down. I should have seen it coming...

She swallows now, a hard knot twisting its way into her throat. Holding her hand up to the side of her head, she closes her eyes and sucks in a deep breath.

Rose: I'm gonna miss you, Beck... I'm really gonna miss you.

9 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - No More Heroes: Part 2 (#55-61)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Jeremiah Belmont, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, Senator Thomas Greene, Agent Croft, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+

Note: The crossover event continues, as the small group of remaining free heroes takes on the VRA in attempts to put a stop to their madness!

Side Note: Should only be one more part in this crossover, so I'll be starting up the conclusion soon. However, due to me starting a new job this week, I'll likely have a lot less time to be writing, so I probably won't be able to get my chapters out on the same consistent basis anymore. But I'll still be working to get them down as soon as possible, so never fear.

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Chapter #55

Int. VRA Minimum Security Facility – Day

The interrogation room is about as dull and bland as possible, made specifically to numb a person's mood. Plain grey walls, a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling above, and no clock, making it impossible for one to tell how much time has passed inside. Rebecca Chavez guesses it's been maybe three hours since anyone's been to see her, but she can't be sure. She's been sitting at the lone table in the room, silent and alone, for what feels like an eternity. They're trying to break her, she knows.

Isolate a person long enough and insanity sets in, hallucinations start. It's a well known torture technique. They'll come back eventually, try to get her to talk again, and when she refuses they'll leave her alone for a longer period of time, a period of time she has no way of keeping track of. This isn't standard police interrogation by any means, but then, these aren't standard police officials, either. This is the VRA, an agency of power drunk b**tards out to ruin the lives of any superhero that won't answer to them, not to mention those associated with said heroes.

That's why she's here, arrested and taken in just for being involved with Rose, who patrols the streets of Silverstone City at night. When Rose failed to register, they came after her, took her in by force with some super powered goons of their own. Then, they took Becky, Holly, and even Circe and her daughter, Lyta. As far as Becky is concerned right now, they can all go to hell.

The door to the room finally opens, revealing a familiar person walking in. She has really come to loathe this man, Agent Croft. He has a way of crawling under a person's skin, even when remaining perfectly calm and cordial.

Croft: Rebecca Chavez... how are you? I hope these last few hours haven't been too taxing.

Sitting down at the table across from her, he passes over a can of soda.

Croft: Thought you might be thirsty.

Becky makes no move to accept the offering, instead folding her arms across her chest and glaring at him.

Croft: Fine, have it your way.

Becky: Where's Rose?

Croft: She's being transported to one of our more secure facilities, built especially to handle individuals like her.

Her jaw tightens, but she doesn't lose her cool. Not yet, at least.

Becky: And Holly?

Croft: The girl has been handed over to social services and placed back into foster care. It was the natural approach when both people looking after her were... no longer available.

Now she loses her cool. At this revelation, Becky slams her fists down on the table, lurching partially out of her seat.

Becky: You can't do that!

Croft: According to the law, we can.

Becky: She doesn't belong in foster care, you son of a b*tch! She belongs with us, people who love her!

Croft: I'm afraid love isn't enough in this matter, Rebecca. With the charges against you and your partner, neither of you will be fit to take of her anymore.

Taking in deep, seething breaths, Becky glares a hole through the man. She wants nothing more than to lunge across the table and rearrange the b**tard's face, but that wouldn't accomplish anything. It would only make things worse.

Becky: Should I even bother asking what you did to the others?

Croft: The woman known as Circe is currently in one of the other rooms down the hall, under charges for attacking a VRA official. As for the girl, Lyta, she's been taken to one of our children's facilities, where we'll be able to monitor the growth of her power.

Becky: Screw you. You can't just take children from their parents like that!

Croft: I'd respond to that comment, but then we'd just be heading towards redundancy. Let's move on, shall we? Currently, you're facing up to sixty days of imprisonment for your involvement in aiding the illegal vigilante known as Ravager. We're prepared to reduce the sentence, or drop it altogether, if you'll just cooperate with us.

Becky: So you've told me already. Three times.

Croft: Yes, and you've turned us down all three times. But, we're patient. There's still time to change your mind.

Becky: Listen to me very carefully, you slimy pr*ck. Nothing you say or do will get me to help you. Any information you're looking for from me, you're not getting it. End of story.

Croft: I would urge you to reconsider.

Becky: And I'd urge you to f*ck off.

Croft: You are aware that refusing to cooperate with the VRA can multiply the length of your sentence, correct?

Letting out an exasperated sigh, Becky throws her hands up in the air and falls back against her seat.

Becky: Of course it can, why not? You've already thrown due process out the window, why not make up more crap while you're at it?

Agent Croft utters a disappointed breath, then stands up from his seat. He briefly fixes his sunglasses before heading for the door.

Croft: If that's how you feel, then I suppose there's no further need to keep you here.

Becky: Why do I get the feeling that you don't mean you're letting me go?

Opening the door, Croft waves in a pair of other VRA operatives, these ones dressed in uniform and carrying heavy duty stun guns.

Croft: Take her to one of the holding cells, while I go fill out a report. She can begin serving her sentence now.

Ext. Metropolis City Streets – Day

The large transport vehicle rumbles along along the road, heading west past Queensland Park. Two VRA operatives are in front, one driving and the other talking quietly on a cell phone in the passenger's seat. In the rear section of the vehicle, divided by a wall with a small, barred window, two prisoners await transport to the holding facility, where they'll be serving their ninety day sentence. One of the prisoners, a man with reddish hair and one arm amputated above the elbow, leans back casually against the side of the vehicle and stares at the ceiling. He's calm, relaxed, though pretty bored, also.

The other prisoner is Rose Wilson, still out cold from her recent arrest the previous night. The blow to her head had been a strong one, and put her in dreamland for well over sixteen hours. As the minutes go by, however, she slowly begins to come around, eyes flickering open. A small groan escapes her throat, as she realizes a throbbing pain deep in the back of her skull. She tries to put a hand to her forehead, but finds that her wrists are cuffed behind her back. Normally, she'd be able to snap the chain with little difficulty, but with an inhibitor collar around her neck, all of her enhanced attributes are null. Try as she might, she can't wrestle out of them.

The other prisoner turns to look at her once she starts sitting up on the bench. He leans forehead, putting his arm against his thigh.

Man: Rise and shine, Rose. Have a nice nap?

Squinting her eyes, she glances over at the man. Her vision is still a little fuzzy, but she knows that voice. She's heard it many times before, though not in a long time. Even with it being so long ago, though, there's no mistaking it.

Rose: Roy?

Roy: In the flesh.

The man is Roy Harper, formerly Red Arrow of the Titans, and also father to Lian Harper, the girl that Rose acted as a nanny for several years ago. They'd been friends for a while, at least during that time span, though he pushed her and everyone else away once his life went to hell after Lian died. What he's been doing since then, Rose has no idea. She hasn't heard anything about him in almost three years.

Breathing in deeply, Rose takes a moment to gather her senses. When her vision finally clears up and the throbbing in her head begins to subside a little, she lets out her breath and stares at him.

Rose: So they got you, too, huh?

Roy: From what I understand, they got everyone. Or at least almost everyone. Those who already registered with the VRA went and switched sides in a hurry, then started tracking down the ones who hadn't. I got ambushed by Stargirl and Blue Beetle.

Rose: You mean they turned on each other just like that?

Roy: Just like that. Either the VRA has one hell of a persuasive registration policy, or there's something else going on.

Rose: There's always something else going on. This whole thing reeks of foul play, everything from how the bill was handled to putting my father in charge.

Roy: Yeah, I saw that. If Slade's involved, something is seriously wrong.

Rose: Somehow, he got a presidential pardon. Who the hell gives a guy like him a pardon?

Roy: No one I'd want to meet.

Uttering a long sigh, Rose hangs her head and stares at the floor. Her thoughts slip back to Becky and Holly, wondering where they are and if they're alright. Circe and Lyta, too. Wherever they are, she just hopes they're safe. After a brief pause, Roy leans back again, folding one leg over the other.

Roy: I notice you got a new eye.

Rose: I notice you didn't get a new arm.

Frowning slightly, Roy stares at her calmly.

Roy: Funny.

Rose: So where are they taking us, anyway?

Roy: Stryker's Island. Once the new law passed, the VRA took over ownership and retooled it as their maximum security holding facility. It's where they keep the 'unregistered vigilantes'.

Rose: So no lawyer, no trial, no nothing. Just straight to the cell.

Roy: And it's all completely legal.

Rose: Well, they're out of their minds if they think they're gonna keep me there.

No way she's going to let herself be held in prison like this. New law or no new law, this isn't right. None of it is. The VRA and everything it stands for is a sham, she's sure of that. She just has to figure out the secrets behind it, figure out a way to shut it down.

Roy: And I suppose you have a plan to escape, right?

Rose: Please, I always have a plan.

Ten minutes later, the transport vehicle slows down to a stop in front of a small set of docks at the West River. There, another team of armed VRA officials wait for them, just outside the ferry that will take them across to Stryker's Island, or rather, the new VRA Maximum Security Facility. The two guards in the front of the truck get out and head back to the rear doors to open them, while another two wait behind them with their weapons at the ready, just in case the prisoners try anything. Doesn't hurt to be careful, after all.

As it turns out, that's exactly what happens, too. The moment that the doors open, Rose leaps out and kicks the closest man to her in the face, sending him to the ground. The other operatives converge on her instantly, but she isn't screwing around. Her hands may be cuffed behind her back, but she doesn't need them to take out a few goons. Sweeping her leg behind another, she trips him up, then ducks below an incoming projectile. One of the agents fires his weapon, a strange gun that emits a concentrated sphere of electricity, meant to stun and incapacitate non lethally.

Unfortunately for him, all he manages to do is shoot his buddy before Rose kicks up and knocks the weapon out of his hands. As the gun flies through the air, Roy comes to the edge of the vehicle and catches it, turning it around in his hand to grab the trigger. Quickly and accurately, he takes aim at the guy coming up behind Rose and fires. The guard goes down twitching and unable to stand. By this time, however, the other VRA operatives waiting by the ferry are moving in on them, and some of their weapons aren't quite non-lethal.

Roy: Time to move!

Glancing back over her shoulder, Rose swallows and then takes off running, leading the way back towards the city. She allows herself a moment to crouch, however, bringing her cuffed hands down and then jumping her legs backwards, thus bringing her arms in front of her body instead of behind. They're still chained together, but at least now she can use them.

Ext. Suicide Slum – Day

The pair soon find themselves in one of the more run down areas of Metropolis, also one of the more dangerous. Of course, they aren't so concerned with that, paying more attention to the VRA squad chasing them. Fortunately, they have a bit of a lead and are able to duck into an alley to hide for the time being. After waiting for several minutes, Rose slowly peers out of the alley, trying to make sure that the coast is clear.

Roy: So, got any ideas on how we're going to get away? Something tells me we won't be difficult to pick out of a crowd.

Rose: Uh, I didn't really think this far ahead. But if you come up with anything, feel free to mention it.

Roy: Well, a lot of these buildings are abandoned from the looks of it. We could find a place to hole up in, wait them out until night. Then we can figure out another course of action.

Rose: I guess that's not too bad of an idea. See if you can find a suitable place, I'll keep an eye out.

Moving back down the alley, Roy begins inspecting the nearby buildings for one that would work as a temporary hideout. Rose stays at the front of the alley, positioning herself behind a dumpster and looking over it for any signs of the men chasing them. For the time being, though, it appears that she and Roy are safe. That is, of course, until she hears voices coming from the other end of the alley.

VRA Agent: There they are!

Already halfway crawled inside a window, Roy forces himself to duck back out and start running in the other direction with Rose, as the men pursue them. He briefly turns to fire off another one of the electrical pulses from his weapon to keep the men at bay.

Roy: I thought you were keeping lookout!

Rose: Well excuse me for not having eyes in the back of my head! Just move!

The two sprint down the street, ignoring the couple pedestrians here and there who give them odd looks. When a second squad of VRA operatives appear down at the end of the street, cutting them off, Roy grabs Rose by the arm and pulls her down another alley.

Roy: This way!

They don't get very far, however, before coming to a dead end, with a high brick wall blocking their path. Rose looks around quickly, searching for any means of escape, but the only thing around them are smooth walls. Nothing to climb on, no windows to jump through, or anything like that.

Rose: Well, isn't this just fantastic? Good going!

Roy: Well how was supposed to know? Come on, let's double back and-

VRA Agent: Hold it!

The squad now stands at the mouth of alley, blocking the only path. Rose and Roy are both now cornered with nowhere to go. As the guards begin to advance towards them, Rose takes a defensive stance, not ready to go quietly. She'll put up as fierce a fight as she can before they take her in again. However, she never has the need to do so. Before the VRA squad makes it very far down the alley, a massive gust of wind suddenly rips through the street, focused on the armed men. The dozen or so operatives suddenly fly through the air, tumbling farther down the street along with piles of garbage and other debris.

Rose: Did you see that? Tell me you saw that.

Roy: Uh... I saw it. Not sure if I believe it.

Rose: What was it?

At that moment, a figure appears in front of them at the end of the alley, a woman with long red hair and a pair of glasses, wearing jeans and a sweater.

Roy: Better yet, who was it?

Woman: Don't just stand there, come on!

Snapping out of their surprised stupor, both Roy and Rose start running after the woman, who leads them away down the street. The VRA squad, meanwhile, is still recovering after being knocked back by such a powerful wind burst. Within several minutes, the woman leads them to a car parked on the side of the road and gets into the driver's seat.

Woman: Quick, get in.

Needing no second invitation, Rose throws open one of the doors and slides inside the vehicle. Roy hurries around the other side and gets in next to her. As soon as they're in, the engine revs up and the car takes off down the street, leaving the VRA long behind. Finally able to relax, Rose sinks back in her seat and lets out a cool breath.

Rose: Thanks.

Woman: Don't mention it; figured you two could use a hand.

Roy: But why help us?

Woman: Because I hate the new EPRA law as much as you two clearly do.

Rose: Alright, and who are you?

Karen: Call me Karen Starr. It's safer that way, at least for the time being.

Rose: Karen Starr... you mean the head of Starr Enterprises?

Karen: The very same.

Folding her arms, Rose lifts and eyebrow and stares at the woman's reflection in the rear view mirror.

Rose: So Karen Starr is just a secret identity, huh? Because I know that wind wasn't just a random act of nature.

Karen: Ah, yeah... super breath. Not exactly the most glamorous of my powers, but it has its uses.

Rose: Really? Super blowing?

Leaning in close to Roy, she holds a hand in front of her mouth and whispers to him.

Rose: I could think of a few things that would be useful for.

In response to that statement, Karen's gaze shifts up to the rear view mirror.

Karen: I also have super hearing.

Flinching, Rose slowly meets the woman's gaze in the mirror.

Rose: Uh... right.

Roy: So where are we going, anyway?

Karen: Well, I was looking for my cousin, the reason I'm even in Metropolis today. Haven't been able to find him, though... I was about to head back to New York City when I heard your little predicament and came to help.

Rose: New York City, huh? Haven't been there in a while.

Karen: We'll head to my apartment; I have a couple of people like us waiting there.

Roy: You mean 'unregistered vigilantes'?

Karen: Yup. And we're going to figure out exactly what the hell is going on.

Sitting up straight, Rose folds her arms and smirks slightly.

Rose: Now that I can get on board with.

Chapter #56

Ext. Karen Starr's Apartment Building – Day

The drive from Metropolis to Park Slope, Brooklyn takes about three hours. By the time they pull up outside the apartment building, the sun is starting to set, casting a wave of orange light over the horizon. The three occupants inside the car wait a while, until the street is relatively clear, before finally getting out to head inside. As they approach the building, Rose glances down at her still cuffed hands and tries to hide them close to her body. If people were to see the handcuffs on her, they might be a little suspicious. Then again, the collar around her neck doesn't help much, either. Fortunately, she doesn't have to worry about that for very long.

Karen: Here, let me get that for you.

Reaching forward, the woman grabs the cuffs and snaps them off effortlessly, freeing Rose's hands. Then, Karen does the same to the inhibitor collar, throwing the pieces into one of the bushes outside the building entrance. Blinking a couple of times, Rose turns her gaze towards Karen and frowns.

Rose: Thanks... though you could have done that like three hours ago.

Karen: Hey, I was driving. Besides, you didn't ask.

Rose: Well maybe I would have, if I'd known you had super strength, too.

Karen: And that's not all I have.

Rose: Of course it's not...

Roy: If it's all the same to you ladies, I'd rather continue this conversation inside.

Karen: Right, come on. The others are waiting inside, though keep in mind we'll probably have to relocate soon. With the amount of heroes the VRA has at their beck and call, they probably already know who I am. Odds are, they'll send a team here eventually.

Rose folds her arms again, staring at her.

Rose: We don't even know who you are.

Furrowing his brow, Roy glances at her curiously.

Roy: You don't?

Rose: You're telling me you do?

Roy: I thought it was obvious.

Rose: Wait, so who is she?

Karen: Inside, people, let's continue this inside.

Int. Karen Starr's Apartment – Day

When they finally make it up to the apartment, Karen pushes the door open to lead them inside, then lets out a relieved breath.

Karen: Can finally take this off.

Reaching up to her head, she grabs hold of her hair and... pulls it off. As it turns out, the long red hair isn't her hair at all, but a wig instead. Underneath is a head of blonde hair that falls down around her chin. She then takes her glasses off, too, and tosses them in a small basket near the entrance. It's around this time that Rose finally realizes who it is.

Rose: Wait... you're kidding, right? Karen Starr is Power Girl?

Kara: Shocking, I know. But you can just call me Kara when I'm not in costume.

Rose: Kara, Karen, Power Girl, how many names do you have?

Kara: Enough to keep my identity a secret; that's the whole point, isn't it?

Rose: I suppose...

Following Kara into the living room, they're greeted to the sight of two other unregistered heroes waiting for them. One of them, a tall red haired man in jeans and a T-shirt, Rose doesn't recognize. He sits casually on the couch, watching the news, which is currently detailing the recent superhero arrests. The second person, though, Rose does recognize. Even out of costume and instead dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, there's no mistaking the woman, especially not with the red gem embedded in her forehead. Sitting cross-legged in the middle of the living room, Raven concentrates in meditation, eyes closed and levitating several inches off the floor.

Kara: I'm back; picked up a couple of strays, too.

Roy: Wally? That you?

Looking over at the group, the red haired man on the couch sits up straighter in surprise.

Wally: Roy? Man, where the heck have you been? Haven't seen you in years.

Roy: It's... a long story. So they got the JLA, too, huh?

Wally: Yeah... the VRA showed up at the Hall with damn near an army to take us in. We tried fighting back, but it was all I could do just to get out of there. Fortunately, they didn't have anyone who could catch me. After that happened, I went looking for everyone I knew, anyone who might not be under VRA control yet.

Roy: Any luck?

Wally: Not much. I managed to meet up with Power Girl here, and then Raven found us, going on about our friends being made into 'soulless vessels' or something like that... she didn't really elaborate before she went into sleep mode over there.

Rose folds her arms and stares over at the entranced Raven, who seems to be shutting out everything going on around her in order to maintain her meditative state.

Rose: She found anything useful?

Wally: Dunno, she's been meditating like that since yesterday. Hasn't even eaten anything.

Rose: Well, it has to have something to do with this whole VRA fiasco, right? And how they suddenly got everyone who registered with them to go out like trained attack dogs and take down everyone who hadn't.

Wally: Let's hope so. We need all the information we can get if we're going to fix things.

Rose: We will. They're already broken enough as it is.

Moving across the living room, Kara drops herself into the arm chair and leans forward, elbows on her knees.

Kara: If we're going to figure out what's going on, we need to start at the beginning, with the passing of that Extraordinary Persons Regulation Act. There is no way something like that ever should have made it through to become law, let alone in a matter of a few months.

Wally: No kidding. The thing didn't even get amended once, in spite of the League's efforts to point out everything wrong with the bill in the first place. With how that thing was worded, the VRA ends up having absolute power when it comes to the regulation of superheroes.

Roy: And let's be honest, when's the last time all sides of congress have completely agreed on anything the first time around?

Rose: Then there's Slade. It's no secret to the government that he's one of the world's most wanted criminals, yet the president of our country gave him a full pardon, then put him in charge of the VRA. Tell me nothing shady is going on there.

Wally: I don't think shady even begin to cover it. Not only do they now know almost all superhero identities, but they also have most of those individuals working for them.

Roy: Obediently and without question. Almost like...

Raven: They're being controlled.

All eyes turn towards Raven, whose own eyes are now open. Still levitating in the air, she moves her hands to her knees and gazes down at the floor in front of her. Her expression is distant, sorrowful.

Raven: I understand now... why Wonder Girl and all the others I examined felt so empty, so emotionless.

Kara: Is that what you've been doing this whole time?

Raven: Yes... I have been projecting myself elsewhere, locating our fellow heroes, our friends... All of them, cold and unfeeling.

Wally: Because they're being controlled somehow?

Raven: I believe so. Not just in that they are being given orders and following them... something is forcing them. I do not know what, but I can feel it within them... free will is gone, replaced by artificial instructions constantly being delivered into their minds telling them how to think, how to act, how to feel.

Rose: So let me get this straight; the VRA takes these registered heroes and somewhere during the process... brainwashes them?

Raven: Something to that effect, yes.

Rose: Well this just keeps getting better and better.

Roy: So, put all of this together and you get... what?

Wally: I don't mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but...

Kara: You don't, trust me. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me.

Raven: If that is the case... then who is in charge? How high up does this go...?

Rose: And what are they hoping to accomplish?

A small pause passes between the group. They give each other careful glances, thinking about the situation. Something bad is going on here, and so far it looks like they're the only ones who can stop it. Eventually, Wally stands up from the couch.

Wally: That settles it. I don't know how, but we're going make things right. They think they can just take away my family, my friends... no way.

Sitting up straighter, Roy gives his friend a hard look.

Roy: Your family?

Wally: Yeah... Linda and Jai for 'associating' with me, and Iris so they could 'monitor the growth of her power'.

Bowing his head slightly, a long breath leaves Roy's lips.

Roy: We'll get them back. We'll fix this. Somehow.

Int. VRA Headquarters – Day

Slade sits quietly at his desk, going over several reports regarding the recent arrests and detainments made by the VRA's various facilities. As expected, it's a lot of information to go over, and there are a lot of names on the list. From what he can gather, they now control at least 95% of the superhero community. But that lingering five percent is where his concerns now reside. As he turns the page of one of the files, his office phone rings. He ignores it for several moments, before finally reaching over and lifting it to his ear.

Slade: VRA Director Slade Wilson speaking.

He recognizes the voice coming in over the line; it's not an easy one to mistake, especially considering the amount of time the two have spent working together to organize this.

Slade: Yes, of course. Everything is going smoothly, as expected. No, not yet.

Rummaging through the papers on his desk, Slade pulls out a specific sheet of paper and glances over it.

Slade: The next batch is going through as we speak. It more than doubles our current numbers. No, no fatal incidents to report; every implantation has been a success thus far.

Leaning back in his seat, Slade takes in a deep breath and looks up at the ceiling. He taps his fingers gently on the arm of his seat, listening to the man speak and paying close attention.

Slade: A small number still remain unaccounted for, but we'll find them. We have plenty of information to locate them now, so it's only a matter of time. Of course, I'll update you shortly. Goodbye.

When he hangs the phone up, the intercom on his desk suddenly clicks on, followed by his secretary's voice on the other end.

Cindy/Intercom: Mr. Wilson, Mr. Smalls is here to see you.

Slade: Send him in.

A short few moments later, Holocaust walks into the office with his large arms folded across his chest and a frown on his face.

Holocaust: Bad news.

A small sigh escapes Slade's lips, a hand coming up to his forehead tiredly. He supposes it was only a matter of time until someone made a mistake somewhere.

Slade: What is it?

Holocaust: Just got a report from Metro. Two prisoners escaped from the transport to Stryker's and got away.

Slade: And which two prisoners would they be?

Holocaust: According to the information, it was a man named Roy Harper and a woman... Rose Wilson. They were last seen heading east, aided by another unknown woman; red hair, tall, glasses, powered.

A silence passes over them for a brief time, until Slade leans forward, folding his hands in front of him on the desk.

Slade: I see.

Holocaust: This girl... any relation?

Slade: My daughter.

Holocaust: And you still had her taken in? Seems like a waste... With that kind of relation, she'd have done better working for us.

Slade: Let's just say that we haven't gotten along in quite some time. She never would have agreed, not willingly.

Holocaust: So you sent her to the facility... got it. In any case, what do you want us to do about it?

Slade: Track them down, what else? The tracking device in Rose's collar would be a good place to start, see if you can pick up a trail.

Holocaust: Right, I'll put together a team.

As Holocaust turns to leave, Slade raises a hand, urging him to wait a moment.

Slade: And Leonard... don't come back without them.

Int. Karen Starr's Apartment – Night

The small group of heroes are gathered in the living room still, continuing to discuss how to handle the VRA. Several empty boxes of Chinese takeout are strewn about, having been their lunch of choice. Considering the fact that the VRA is most likely on heavy watch for each one of them, they found it better to be safe and have food delivered than go out and get something.

Sitting on the couch, Roy carefully twists the robotic prosthetic arm around on his severed stump, until finally it snaps into place. When the red lights on the side begin to blink on, he tests it out, clenching the robotic hand into a fist and slowly releasing it.

Roy: Much better. Thanks for the run, Wally.

In the past couple of hours, Wally had gone and retrieved the gear from both Rose and Roy's places of residence, considering they weren't nearly as effective without. Given the nature of his powers, it hadn't really been much trouble for him to go grab their equipment.

Wally: Not a problem. Figured you could use the extra hand.

Narrowing his eyes slightly, Roy folds his arms across his chest, tapping his fingers a few times on the robotic prosthetic.

Roy: Hilarious.

Wally: Aren't I always?

Rose kneels off to the side of the room, going over the gear spread out in front of her, including her armor, swords, and a carefully assorted allotment of gadgets. She goes through each of them, taking note of exactly what she has for future reference. Given the circumstances, she probably won't be able to call up Batman for more when she runs out.

Rose: Looks like everything is here... were there really only six smoke pellets left?

Wally: Uh, pretty sure. Hold on, let me check.

In the blink of an eye, the man vanishes, accompanied by a gust of wind that knocks over the empty takeout boxes. Kara lets out a small groan at this, as she comes forward to clean up the mess in her apartment. By the time she finishes throwing away the boxes, Wally is back, standing in the middle of the living room again and tossing over a small round pellet.

Wally: Found one more floating around under your bed. Should really be more careful where you put your toys. Especially the one in your sock drawer.

Rose flinches, eye twitching slightly as her gaze shifts hotly up to the man.

Rose: You went through my drawers? That's private!

Blinking back at her, Wally shifts a little uncomfortably, then clears his throat.

Wally: Uh... no, actually. That was supposed to be a joke.

Rose: A... what?

Wally: But now we know.

Feeling a numb sensation begin to crawl its way through her body, Rose slowly turns back to her equipment and starts packing the gadgets into her belt. She can feel their stares on her, could sense what the men were thinking in light of the rather private information she had just revealed about herself. Even Kara lifts a hand to her head and lets out a small laugh, her look being one of sympathy and understanding.

Kill me, someone just kill me now.

Kara: In any case, we need to move out soon. I don't know how much longer this apartment is going to be safe, so suit up and get ready.

Rose: Uh, yeah, I'll just be... getting dressed.

Mumbling quietly to herself, Rose takes her armor with her into the bathroom to get changed. Roy and Wally go to find their own private corners of the apartment to do the same, while Raven and Kara remain in the living room. Ever prepared, all Kara needs to do to get into costume is strip out of her jeans and sweater, as her white leotard is already on underneath. She then begins fishing around the apartment for her gloves, boots, belt, and half-cape.

Raven, too, slowly pulls off her sweatshirt and begins to get changed into her more traditional cloak and robes. However, her expression is distant, almost vacant. She's contemplating what they had learned recently. Everything about this situation unsettles her, forms a sick sensation deep in her gut. As she clasps the red brooch of her cloak, she gazes up at the now fully geared Power Girl.

Raven: Their pain... I could feel their pain, you know.

Adjusting the cape around her shoulder, Power Girl glances over at the empath and narrows her eyes.

Power Girl: What do you mean? Whose pain?

Raven: Our friends... the other heroes... whatever is controlling them is hurting them. They may lack emotion, but they can still feel... and I sense pain in all of them.

Releasing a small breath, Power Girl walks over and places a hand on the woman's shoulder.

Power Girl: We'll help them, I promise. Everyone that the VRA took from us, everyone they're controlling, we will get them back.

Raven: I pray you are right... because if we fail, the consequences could be unthinkable.

A few moments later, the others begin to file back into the living room, Wally dressed in his traditional Flash uniform, Roy in his Red Arrow outfit, and Rose in her Ravager gear, though she hasn't put the faceplate on yet.

Red Arrow: So, what's the first course of action? I wouldn't mind busting into the VRA HQ and grilling Slade for some answers. Maybe after we beat him around a while.

Ravager: No, not while they still have people they can use against us. We should concentrate on freeing our families and friends first, the ones the VRA locked up. Once they're safe, then we can worry about hitting Slade with everything we got.

Power Girl: Alright, but question is, where do we start specifically?

Flash: Their minimum security facility. That's where they keep everyone who was 'associated' with the unregistered heroes; it's were my wife and son are.

Ravager: And Becky...

Testing the strings on his bow, Red Arrow gives a small nod in agreement.

Red Arrow: Alright, and after that?

Power Girl: Definitely the children's facility, where they keep all the powered kids. I don't care what laws they're enforcing, those children don't deserve to be locked up and studied like lab rats.

Raven: Let us hurry... time is already running thin.

Ravager: Alright, everyone- get down!

Her words change mid sentence, as she's suddenly reacting to a vision flashing through her head. Not two seconds after her warning, there comes a large explosion of hot wind and flames at the front of the apartment. The wall erupts inwards, sending a shower of debris inside the living room and knocking all but Power Girl off her feet. Through the dust and smoke appear several figures in the hallway beyond, one of them with his body wrapped in flames. Another man dressed in a brown and tan costume peers closely inside the apartment and sniffs the air.

Catman: You see? I told you I had the right place. Could track them from a hundred miles away.

Holocaust walks inside, moving past the kitchen and spreading his flames to the rest of the apartment. The entire place is beginning to fill with a thick smoke. The rest of of his team moves in behind him, consisting of Killer Frost, Scandal Savage, Knockout, and the aforementioned Catman.

Holocaust: Good work, Blake. Now, take 'em out!

Chapter #57

Int. Karen Starr's Apartment – Night

Within moments, pandemonium erupts inside the apartment. As the heroes begin to recover from the sudden explosion, Holocaust's team moves in for the attack. Fortunately, Power Girl is already on the defensive, throwing herself forward into the enemy group head on to give her allies a chance to regroup. By the time they do get back to their feet, Power Girl comes launching backwards through the living room and crashing into the sofa.

Power Girl: Alright, the big ugly one hits a little harder than I expected. Nothing I can't handle.

On that note, she suddenly flies back the way she came, tackling Holocaust and dragging them through several walls until exiting the building somewhere outside. A red and yellow streak then races across the room and crashes against the large, red haired Knockout, sending both of them tumbling back into the hallway beyond.

Flash: I got the amazon! And by that I mean the tall one, not the ones from- well you know!

Grabbing the faceplate to her helmet, Ravager snaps it into place and turns on the built in air filters, then draws her swords and starts heading straight for Scandal.

Ravager: The clawed b*tch is mine!

Leaping over a burning coffee table, Ravager engages the woman, blades clashing and clanging together. Red Arrow takes this opportunity to let loose a flurry of arrows, one after another, at Catman. Unfortunately, Catman manages to nimbly duck, dodge, and dive around furniture, through thick smoke, and otherwise avoid the projectiles on the way to closing the gap between the two and engaging in hand to hand. No longer able to use his bow to shoot at close range, Red Arrow instead uses it as a melee weapon, swinging it ferociously in a mix of kicks and other strikes.

This leaves Killer Frost and Raven to square off against each other. For the moment, Raven makes no move attack, instead staring at the frosty blue woman with contemplative eyes.

Killer Frost: It's a little hot in here, wouldn't you say? I think we need to cool things down a bit.

Raising her hands up into the air, the surrounding temperature rapidly begins to drop. She even draws the heat out of the very flames around her, until the fire suddenly extinguishes into nothing more than cold mist. Then, she holds her arms forward and directs a massive wave of ice and cold forward. A wide, murderous grin slashes across the woman's face, as she believes to have put her opponent on ice. However, when she ceases her attack, she quickly realizes that Raven is no longer there.

Killer Frost: What the- where the hell did she go?

Raven suddenly appears behind her, through a mass of dark haze and energy. By the time Killer Frost realizes what's going on, that same blackness engulfs her, pulling her within a separate world all its own, Raven's soul-self.

Int. Raven's Soul-Self – ???

It's dark inside here, and cold, too, even for her. Killer Frost's body is constantly supercooled, yet she still feels an uncomfortable shiver tingle its way up her spine. And that's when a massive figure appears before in front of her. It's the woman, Raven, but much larger and distorted, and downright... evil looking.

Killer Frost: What... what the f*ck is going on?

Raven: You are a deeply disturbed woman... I can feel the hate in you, the murderous intent... you have killed many times before and you will do it again.

Killer Frost: You sound like my therapist... I hated my therapist.

The blackness begins to spread again, engulfing and consuming Killer Frost. She thrashes around, trying to throw it off, but in this world, such a thing is futile.

Raven: Feel the pain you've caused others... feel what your victims have felt.

The only sound that follows is a shrill, horrified scream.

Int. Karen Starr's Apartment – Night

Ravager ducks below a horizontal strike, the woman's dual arm blades slicing harmlessly overhead. Moving forward, she slashes her swords upwards at the now clearly exposed body of her opponent, but Scandal is no slouch either, throwing herself to the side and avoiding all but a couple of small cuts across her side, and in response thrusting forward with another attack. Ravager parries the strike, then spins forward and explodes her elbow squarely against the woman's face.

Ravager: Not as easy when I have my gear, is it!

When Ravager lunges forward again, Scandal crosses her arm blades in front of her, deflecting the swords and then kicking her leg forward. The boot lands hard against Ravager's stomach, forcing her backwards and on the defensive again.

Scandal: You're right; you're actually putting up a fight this time!

Out in the hallway, Flash is running circles around the far stronger, but far slower Knockout. Every time she throws a punch at him, he simply moves out of the way with more than enough time to spare. In fact, he's moving so quickly from place to place that, to Knockout, it almost looks like he's teleporting. This doesn't sit too well with her one bit.

Knockout: Hold still, cur!

Flash: You're getting closer!

Whirling around again, Knockout swings her arm forward again, having every intent of punching the man's head clean off. Just as it looks like her knuckles are about to connect, though, Flash suddenly disappears from sight and her fist strikes air.

Flash: Almost had me that time!

Growling in frustration, Knockout turns to attempt the same thing yet again, and as expected achieves the same results. Now, though, Flash decides that he's played around long enough and decides to end things. Moving in far faster than she can keep track of, he unloads on her, though is careful not to go too far.

Flash: You seem pretty durable, but I wonder you'll fare against a few thousand supersonic punches!

Within seconds, he finishes his attack, then pulls back and watches as the dazed woman teeters on her feet and then crashes to the floor, exhausted and battered.

Ext. Karen Starr's Apartment Building – Night

Whirling the large man around through the air, Power Girl whips him towards the ground with thunderous force. Holocaust crashes into the sidewalk, causing the entire street to shake and a small crater to form at his point of impact. Nearby citizens on the streets start screaming and running away in a panic, terrified over the two super powered individuals engaged in combat. The blow doesn't seem to do much to faze the man, though, as he starts to crawl his way back to his feet.

But Power girl doesn't give him much of a chance to recover, flying in like a rocket and delivering a punch to his face with such ferocity that it creates a miniature sonic boom in its wake and sends the man careening into the air. Before he gets too far, she flies up to meet him, speeding above and then delivering a double handed blow to send him straight back down again. Once more, she super speeds her way ahead of him again and catches him with her fist as he crashes against it. Finally, she throws him lightly to the ground and brushes her hands together.

Power Girl: That outta do it. Gotta hand it to you, though, you sure can take a punch.

As she begins to return to her apartment, however, Holocaust suddenly rises up from the ground again, cracking his neck from side to side and breathing in deeply. A swirl of flames bursts around his body, growing hotter by the second.

Holocaust: Not bad. Now it's my turn.

Swinging his arms forward, he intense flames scorch towards her. Power Girl stands her ground, throwing her arms up and enduring. Her body is Kryptonian; a little heat isn't going to bother her. She doesn't know how up to speed this guy is on Kryptonians, but so far he's doing a lousy job in trying to beat one. Even through the flickering flames and smoke, her sharp vision sees him charging her. Ducking out of the way of his attack, she sends another titanic punch into his gut that once again lifts him airborne. Though he's still on fire, she flies up after him and grabs hold, continuing her ascent into the sky.

Holocaust: What the hell you doing?!

Power Girl: Taking you for a little ride. If I can't put you down the old fashion way...

Holocaust: You'll what, drop me from thirty thousand feet? Ha! Good luck!

Power Girl: Not quite what I had in mind.

She continues flying higher and higher, well past the clouds. Though the searing flames have already begun to scorch and burn her costume, they slowly weaken and die as the oxygen thins out at such a high altitude. Eventually, the fire extinguishes completely, leaving the man dazed and delirious.

Holocaust: You think... this is gonna stop... me?

Within a few more moments, he finally slumps forward in Power Girl's arms and passes out cold. Quickly, she begins her descent again, back towards ground level. That should keep big ugly down for a while, at least enough time for her and the rest of the heroes to get out of there.

Int. Karen Starr's Apartment – Night

Back inside the apartment, Catman tackles Red Arrow through a table. The two go down hard, several long wooden splinters jutting up and slightly stabbing into Red Arrow's side. But the impact doesn't take him out, as he uses the momentum to flip Catman up over his head, then while still on the ground, raise his bow, nock an arrow, and fire upside down at the airborne man. The projectile zips through the air, piercing the side of Catman's leg. Quickly getting back to his feet, Red Arrow seizes the opportunity to run at the downed man and deliver a crippling kick to the face. This time, Catman goes down and stays down.

Meanwhile, a disarmed Ravager spins around another vicious strike and ends up behind Scandal. Jumping upwards, she lands on the woman's shoulders, clenches her thighs tightly, and then flips backwards. Her sheer strength and momentum forces Scandal into a backwards somersault, ending with her head smashing into the floor. The woman goes limp a moment later, collapsing and unmoving, but still breathing.

Raven then opens her cloak again, a black mass spilling out as Killer Frost reappears, curled up into the fetal position and shuddering with her eyes wide in horror. The others look over the scene curiously for a moment, eyes focusing on the almost catatonic Killer Frost. Slowly, Ravager moves her gaze up to the stolid empath.

Ravager: The hell did you do to her?

Raven: I made her feel pain... all the pain she had caused her victims, all the terror, the agony. She will recover... eventually.

Clearing his throat slightly, Red Arrow leans in close and gives Ravager a careful whisper.

Red Arrow: She always was a bit scary.

A short moment later, Flash reappears in the damaged apartment with the others, though his expression is one of urgent concern.

Flash: Uh, guys, great that we won and all, but we should probably be going. I just did a sweep of the block, and the cops are almost here. I think I spotted another VRA squad on its way, too.

The side wall suddenly crashes inward, as Power Girl makes a rather abrupt and loud entrance. She stands there for a moment, taking in a couple deep breaths while trying to fix her scorched costume. The damage isn't too bad, but there is a noticeable grey, charcoal-like coating across the white leotard, and the edges to her cape are tattered.

Power Girl: Alright, so now would probably be a good time to get out of here.

Ravager: Yeah, we already figured that.

Raven: Allow me.

The sounds of sirens are already filling the streets when Raven opens her arms. Of course, when the police get inside, all they'll find is an unconscious VRA task force. The heroes, on the other hand, have disappeared into Raven's dark energy, teleporting through space to their destination.

Int. VRA Minimum Security Facility – Night

Becky: This is wrong. Hijo de puta, this is wrong.

Lying on one of the two cots hanging from the wall, Becky holds her hands behind her head and stares up at the bottom of the top bunk above her. The cell is small, nothing more than a square space with a sink, a toilet, and the two aforementioned cots. Instead of iron bars, however, the front wall is composed of thick, clear Plexiglass, completely unbreakable for the women inside.

Becky: No lawyer, no trial, bogus charges; they just throw us straight in a cell.

Circe: Not to mention forcing us to wear these atrocious orange jumpsuits.

The purple haired woman on the top bunk leans over the side a bit, looking down at Becky. At the very least they had been put in a cell together, instead of with some strangers. It makes their current predicament a tiny bit more bearable, though not by much.

Becky: You shouldn't be trying to make a joke out of this; it isn't funny. None of it is.

Circe: And what would have me do instead? I am mortal now; I don't have the power to help us.

Becky: I don't know, try to sound p*ssed off, maybe? Or at least a little upset? You've barely said anything this we got here.

Circe: You think I'm not angry? That I'm not furious? Because I am. These people took my daughter away and have the audacity to cage me up like an animal. If I had my magic still, not a single one of them would escape my wrath. I would burn them all to see Lyta safely back to me, in my arms again.

For a brief moment, she stares over at the wall across from her, fingers gripping the side of her cot tightly. A bright flare of rage is starting to form across her face, though she quickly stifles it away and utters a cool breath, relaxing again.

Circe: But I can't. I'm stuck here, powerless to do anything.

Becky: Then why have you been so calm this whole time?

Circe: Because lamenting and complaining about it won't make the situation any better. Instead, I've been spending my time contemplating.

Becky: Contemplating what?

Circe: How I'm going to get my daughter back once our sentence is complete, and how I'm going to make them all suffer for what they've done.

Before Becky can bring herself to respond to Circe's claims, a loud, high pitched alarm begins blaring through the facility. Sitting up, she scoots off the cot and heads to the Plexiglass wall, watching as a team of guards sprints down the corridor, weapons at the ready and shouting at each other.

Guard: They're in the east wing! Stop them!

Becky continues watching until all the guards in their cell block are gone, heading to the other side of the building to apparently deal with some kind of threat. Eventually, she turns around again and sits on the edge of her cot. The shrill alarm continues to ring loudly in their ears, forcing her to raise her voice in order to be heard.

Becky: What do you suppose this is all about?

Circe: Probably some idiot trying to escape. Can't imagine that ending well.

Suddenly, the door at the other end of the corridor explodes inwards, blown off its hinges with several red colored arrow shafts stuck to the edges. Instantly, Becky is back on her feet and trying her hardest to peer around the corner of her cell through the clear wall. She spots two figures entering into the hallway, both dressed in costume. One of them she doesn't recognize, a man in red leather and carrying a bow. The second, however, she knows all too well.

Ravager: You know, for minimum security, you'd think they wouldn't have a building that was teleport proof.

Red Arrow: Well you know, that would be too easy. Besides, it's much more fun this way.

Ravager: Let's just hope Power Girl and Raven's distraction lasts long enough.

Hurrying down the corridor, Ravager and Red Arrow stop when they reach the proper cell, seeing both Becky and Circe beyond. Smiling widely, Becky presses a hand up to the clear wall. In response, Ravager presses her own hand against it as well, on the opposite side.

Becky: Am I glad to see you.

Ravager: Didn't think I'd leave you behind, did you?

Becky: Didn't even know you'd escaped.

Red Arrow: Less talking, more breaking out.

Pulling her hand back, Ravager reaches up to her swords and draws them.

Ravager: Right, get back.

Once Becky is clear, Ravager quickly makes several precision cuts along the Plexiglass. Normally, this probably wouldn't have much of an effect, but ever since Batman upgraded her swords to be five times sharper, the blades cut through it like paper. Instantly, the Plexiglass wall falls to pieces, allowing the two women inside an escape point.

Ravager: Come on!

Without needing much of an invitation, both Circe and Becky follow Ravager and Red Arrow down the corridor so they can flee the building.

Ext. Back Alley – Night

Several minutes later, the group retreats to a secluded alleyway, a short distance away from the facility. Three others are already there waiting for them, one of them being the Flash. The woman with him is Linda West, his wife, and the young boy is his son, Jai West. Both are dressed in identical orange jumpsuits.

Flash: You both sure you're alright?

Reaching forward, Linda embraces her husband in a warm hug, breathing in deeply

Linda: We're fine, hun. Just... thank you for getting us.

Jai: Yeah... it really sucked in there.

Flash: Hey, language, mister.

Jai: Well it did.

A small sigh leaves Flash's mouth.

Flash: I know. We would have freed everyone if we could have, but there's too many people in there; we can't bring them all with us.

Linda: Wally, what about Iris? Is she...?

Flash: We're going after her next, along with every other child the VRA wrenched away from their parents.

The others stand off to the side for now, waiting for the other two members of their party to return. Folding her arms across her chest, Becky utters a long breath.

Becky: Things have really gone to hell, huh?

Ravager: You don't know the half of it. I'll fill you in later.

Finally, Power Girl and Raven find their way back to the designated meeting area. Aside from their costumes being a bit tattered, they appear completely fine. This was the minimum security facility, after all. Nothing but a bunch of fodder to toy with while the others proceeded with the rescue part of the mission.

Power Girl: Everyone here?

Red Arrow: Present and accounted for.

Power Girl: Good, then let's get out of here. Raven, you know the place, right?

Raven: I'll have us there shortly.

Once again, she raises up her arms and envelopes them all in her soul-self to transport them to a safer location, in an instant.

Chapter #58

Int. Starr Enterprises – Night

The underground safe house reminds Rose a bit of Batman's bunker, except much better lit and much less of a 'cave' vibe going on. In fact, the place is more or less just a big apartment, complete with all the normal amenities: kitchen, bathrooms, living room, television, computer, bedrooms, laundry room, etc.

Rose: So, you're sure we're safe here?

Power Girl: A hundred percent.

Reaching up to the clasp on her cape, she removes the red garb and drapes it over the back of a couch. She then turns around to lean back against the couch, holding herself up with her arms and casually crossing one ankle over the other.

Power Girl: This is the subbasement of the subbasement; nobody knows about it but me. I had it built a while back just in case I ever needed a safe spot to hide out in.

Rose tucks her helmet under arm, giving the area another quick look. Wally is already out of his Flash costume and back in his civilian clothes, while talking with his family on the other side of the room. Roy left a short while ago to take a shower, and Raven shut herself up in one of the bedrooms to meditate. Circe, too, opted to be alone in the same fashion, finding a quiet room for herself.

Rose: Good call.

Becky steps forward, clearing her throat briefly before holding a hand out. She shifts nervously on her feet for a moment, while scratching the back of her head with her other hand and smiling rather awkwardly.

Becky: I, uh, just want to say thanks for helping us, and, um, it's great to meet you. I've seen you on the news before, read about you in the papers sometimes... you lead the JSA, right?

Power Girl: That's right...

Lifting her eyebrows, Power Girl reaches out to shake the woman's hand, though can't help but notice where Becky keeps looking.

Power Girl: And you're welcome, too. But try to keep your eyes up, alright?

Becky: Wha- oh! Oh my- lo siento! I didn't mean to- I mean I was just-

Uttering a small groan, Rose smacks her hand against her forehead and then pulls Becky away from the rather well endowed woman.

Rose: Easy with the eyes, Rebecca. Let's not be a perv.

Becky: Well I can't help it, they're just so- and then with the big hole in the costume- and they're so-

Folding her arms across her chest, Power Girl chuckles softly to herself, shaking her head and smirking, fully amused at the woman's awkward behavior.

Power Girl: It's alright, really. I get that a lot. Though, admittedly, it is usually from the other half.

Becky: Ay caramba... I think I need to take a shower. I'll just be going now.

Rose: I'll be there in a few.

Once Becky is gone, Power Girl looks to Rose again and smirks.

Power Girl: She always like that?

Rose: Not usually, no... Then again, I don't think I've ever seen her in the presence of a woman carrying around a couple of watermelons.

Power Girl: Flattery and sarcasm, now that's a new combination.

R`ose: Yeah, I'm great like that. Anyway, when are we making our next move? The more time we waste here, the longer those kids have to endure whatever the hell the VRA is subjecting them to.

Power Girl: Tomorrow. It's late right now, and the team has been through a lot tonight. Best to give everyone a chance to rest and recover; the next place is probably a lot better guarded than the one we just came from.

Pausing slightly, Rose shifts her weight and breathes outwardly. Her gaze finds its way to the floor.

Rose: I wouldn't really call us a team. More like the only ones left who can do anything.

Power Girl: Better than nobody left at all.

Rose: I suppose... I just hope it's enough.

Int. Stryker's Island Penitentiary – Night

Formerly serving as one of the world's most premier prisons for dangerous, super powered criminals, Stryker's Island has since been turned into the VRA's maximum security facility, where they keep all those superhero vigilantes who fail to register. At least, that's what they tell the public. In reality, there is something much more sinister at work here, and the man currently rummaging around the laboratory in search of specific tools is at the forefront of it.

Professor Hugo Strange purses his lips in contemplation, as he examines the broken surgical equipment in front of him, including a bent scalpel, twisted drill tips, and dull saw blades. Not a single tool has managed to break through the girl's tough exterior. Granted, he's had this issue before with a few other subjects, but never to this degree. No, a Kryptonian's durability is something altogether different. It looks like he's going to have to make a special request.

Strange: Don't go anywhere, my dear, I'll be right back.

Of course, his subject, the young Kryptonian and member of the Justice League, Supergirl, isn't going anywhere at all. She is currently and completely unconscious, not to mention heavily restrained on the surgical table. Even if she does miraculously wake up in the next twenty-four hours, she won't be able to move. Not even her levels of strength can break out of those specially designed inhibitor straps, tested to resist super powered forces of over 100,000 tons. Needless to say, they are not being careless when it comes to holding certain individuals.

Making his way over to the phone, Strange removes his glasses and lets out a long sigh as he dials the number. Five rings go by before he finally gets an answer, a callous voice appearing on the other end.

Slade/Phone: What is it, Hugo? I trust your work is coming along smoothly?

Strange: Quite. However, I have run into a small snag. Seems that I'm going to need some special equipment for this one.

Slade/Phone: Let me guess, the Kryptonian girl?

Strange: Precisely. None of my instruments can pierce her invulnerable hide. I'll be needing a drill bit with a Kryptonite tip in order to make the implantation. Otherwise, she's useless to us.

Slade/Phone: Have you tried an inhibitor collar?

Strange: Don't insult me, Mr. Wilson. That was the very first thing I tried. Unfortunately, alien physiology doesn't work the same as ours. Our current inhibitor collars are built to suppress an individual's metagene, thereby neutralizing their powers. Or, if the individual is magic based, we can apply our magic dampeners to prevent them from accessing their power. But aliens do not possess a metagene or operate by magic; their abilities are a natural part of their evolution, meaning we have no current technology that can negate those powers.

Slade/Phone: Spare me the science lesson, Professor; I get it. You'll have your drill by tomorrow morning.

Strange: See to that, and you'll have your very own Kryptonian at your disposal.

Hanging up the phone, Hugo moves back across the lab and begins cleaning up all the other broken tools, dumping some of the more irreparable pieces into the trash. Once he's finished, he removes his lab coat and heads towards the exit, flicking the light off on his way out the door.

Strange: I'll be back for you in the morning, Supergirl.

After exiting the laboratory, Strange makes his way down the corridor to the third door on the left. This takes him into another room, which has been made into the subject recovery chamber. His most recent subjects lean back against slanted tables at a diagonal angle in relation to the floor, with thick, reinforced straps holding them in place without falling. A heart monitor is hooked up to each of them, emitting a steady cacophony of electronic beeping. The only other person present is a fellow VRA colleague sitting in front of a computer near the corner.

Strange: Veronica, how are their vitals looking?

The blond woman swings her chair around slowly to face him, removing her glasses and letting out a tired sigh.

Veronica: Vitals are completely stable, and none of them are showing any abnormalities. Seems to be a another successful batch.

Pausing, Strange glances over at the subjects again, the remaining members of the Justice League, who he had already been working on earlier today: Cyborg, Batman, Donna Troy, Green Arrow, and Jesse Quick.

Strange: Good. See to it that you activate them before you leave; I want them operational by tomorrow.

Veronica: Of course. I'll get to work on it now.

When Strange leaves the room, Veronica turns back to her computer and begins running several programs. The heart monitors begin to beep a bit faster for a moment, as the activation process begins. Shortly after, the beats return to normal. Now all that's left to do is to wait for complete functionality, which should take approximately six hours. In the meantime, she could use a hot shower and a long nap. Turning the computer off, Veronica gets up from her desk and then leaves the room, shutting the lights off behind her.

For a short while, the only illumination in the room comes from the steady blinking from the monitors. However, several minutes later, a bright red glow appears, emanating from Cyborg's robotic eye. Though the human part of his brain is still dormant, inactive and awaiting functionality, the machine part of his brain is working on overdrive.

Detecting foreign programming...

Activating defense protocols...

Local firewall activated...

Processing...

Foreign programming removed.

And that's when Cyborg's normal eye suddenly flies open, while his lungs inhale a deep, shocked breath. He swallows a hard lump in his throat and attempts to move forward, only to find himself strapped down to the slanted table still. It doesn't take much in order to break free of them, however, stumbling forward and catching his balance while his systems begin to boot up.

Cyborg: The hell am I?

The last thing he recalls, he and the rest of the Justice league were fighting against a small army of other heroes under the control of the VRA... and they had lost. After that... nothing. Everything is blank, just a wall of darkness in his mind. Instead of trying to think about past events he can't remember, though, he instead focuses on the present, turning his attention to the room surrounding him. When he realizes that his friends are tied up and unconscious, he immediately attempts to wake them.

Cyborg: Guys? Come on, hey, time to get up.

Of course, that has little effect, as they're completely unresponsive. Lifting up one of his arms, he flips open a panel and activates his bio scanners, trying to get a read on their condition.

Scanners say they're out cold... no signs of waking up any time soon, either. Okay, plan B.

Moving away from the unconscious Justice League, Cyborg sits himself in front of the computer. When he disperses the screen saver, he finds the system requesting a password. An amused smirk crosses his face. Within moments, he interfaces himself with the computer and begins going through its system. The password comes to him in an instant, allowing him unrestricted access to all of its files, data, and information, downloading it all into his system.

Several minutes into his little hacking session, however, particular pieces of data begin flying through his head. He suddenly realizes where he is and what's going on. This is a VRA facility, and what they're doing... His eye suddenly goes wide. Once he finishes downloading the computer's entire hard drive, he pushes himself back in the seat and stares at the screen, partially mortified.

Cyborg: This is bad... this is really bad.

If the data he just received is accurate, then he needs to figure out some way to stop it, some way to fix what the VRA is doing. But he can't do it here, not under the noses of the VRA itself. He needs to escape... but how?

Int. Starr Enterprises – Night

Becky: So, you're going to free the children tomorrow?

Sitting on the edge of the bed, she looks up to Rose and leans back on her hands. Rose, in the middle of examining her armor for any damage that might need repairing, doesn't look back when she responds, instead continuing her work.

Rose: We'll try to, anyway. With some luck, we might even be successful... and after that, we take down the VRA headquarters, pay a little visit to my dad, and find out what's really going on.

Becky: And I suppose you'll be leaving me behind, right?

Pausing, Rose turns now to glance over her shoulder, giving Becky a narrow gaze.

Rose: Haven't we had this conversation already?

Becky: Well maybe it's time to bring it up again.

Rose: Becky, I don't think-

Becky: No, just listen to me, okay? If you think you're going to go running off on some crazy mission without me, then you're loco. You really think you can just leave me here, waiting and hoping you come back again? What if you don't?

Hardening her gaze, Rose moves forward now and looks squarely into Becky's eyes.

Rose: I will.

Becky: You can't promise that, Rose. You know you can't promise that. The situation is a bit different than what you're used to.

Rose: Which is exactly why you shouldn't be coming along. We just freed you, I'm not going to throw you right back into harm's way!

Becky: I'd rather be in harm's way with you than out of harm's way waiting around helplessly for you to come back.

Rose: And I'd rather not get my girlfriend hurt, or arrested, or worse! I'm trying to protect you.

Rising from her seat on the bed, Becky glares at Rose and points at her harshly.

Becky: I don't need protecting! Christ, Rose, you've been spending all this time training me, getting me to improve, but you won't let me help you. If that's the case, then what's the point?

Rose: The deal was to teach you how to better defend yourself, so hopefully my life wouldn't catch you in the crossfire. I was never trying to train you to become my crime fighting partner or anything. If that's the notion you got, then I'm sorry, but it's not going to happen.

Becky: Right, because you're so much better.

Rose: Yeah, I am, like it or not. I've been doing this for years. I have the experience and the skill to handle this kind of stuff. You don't.

Becky: You forget I've been a cop for five years, Rose. I'm not exactly new to fighting crime.

Rose: Being a cop won't stop some super powered goon from punching your head off! The stuff I deal with is a little more dangerous than your average thug with an uzi, and now with the VRA having nearly the entire superhero community at their disposal, you'll just end up getting yourself killed! You can't help, Becky! I wish you could, but you can't. That's just the way it is.

Clenching her jaw tightly, Becky folds her arms across her chest for a moment, glaring hotly at her girlfriend. At the moment, though, Rose doesn't feel so much like a girlfriend as an arrogant, egotistical b*tch. Even if she is putting Becky's safety first, at the moment it just comes across as condescending.

Becky: You know what? Fine! Whatever. I'll just wait here and pray you don't die. Like I always do.

Grabbing a robe off the bedpost, Becky slips it on and ties it off, then starts heading for the door.

Rose: Where are you going?

Becky: Away from you!

She slams the door behind her hard, rattling the frame as she steps out into the hallway and heads back towards the kitchen area. Maybe some coffee will help calm her down, though she highly doubts that. When she does make it into the kitchen, she just stands there for a while, leaning against the sink and taking in deep, steady breaths.

It's dark right now, most of the lights having been shut off a while ago with everyone going to bed, but she makes no move to turn them on. She rather prefers the dark at the moment. When the kitchen light suddenly flicks on, however, she looks up to see a familiar figure standing there, dressed in powder blue pajamas.

Becky: Oh, uh, Power Girl... hi.

Kara: Please, I'm in my civvies. It's just Kara.

Becky: Uh, Kara, right. Sorry.

Kara: So, that sounded like some fight.

Becky: Wait... you heard that?

Smiling slightly, Kara points to her ears.

Kara: Super hearing. And with the way you two were yelling...

Becky: Oy...

Holding a hand to her head, she lets out a frustrated groan.

Becky: It's just... I feel so useless around her, you know? I mean, she's great; she's strong, fast, smart, and can kick a whole lot of ass. But me... I'm just me. Sure, she might be training me on the side, but a lot of good that does when she won't even let me help her.

Kara: Sounds like she's just protective.

Becky: Yeah, I know... she cares, and that's great, but I'd rather be out there fighting with her. Of course, when it comes to that she just treats me like a kid, like I'd just be getting in the way. And maybe she's right, sure, but maybe she's not. Maybe I'd do just fine.

Kara: Hmm... sort of a 'never know until you try' kind of thing, right?

Becky: Exactly.

Breathing out a heavy sigh, Becky lowers her gaze and rubs her temples tiredly. She's starting to get a rather aggravating headache.

Becky: But it doesn't matter anyway. Not really a whole lot I can do about it.

Kara folds her arms across her chest, leaning back against the counter and thinking for a moment. It isn't everyday that she meets a person quite like Rebecca Chavez. In spite of the anger and the frustration in the woman, Kara can see a good deal of determination in her, and a desire to do good. The only problem is that Becky doesn't have the means to do it, at least not in the way the superheroes around her do.

Kara: What if I said I might have something that could help?

Becky: Help me how?

Kara: Come with me and I'll show you.

Chapter #59

Int. Starr Enterprises – Day

The small group of heroes gathers in the living room the next morning, preparing for their inevitable assault on the next VRA facility. It's a brazen move to be sure, but with the way things are, they don't have many other options. They've already been branded fugitives, so they might as well act like fugitives, and they aren't about to let innocent children, powered or not, be held prisoner away from their families just so some scientists could study their abilities. They don't care that it's required by law now; not only are the new laws broken and ridiculous, but it's just morally wrong. So they're going to do the right thing and stop it.

Securing her swords to her back, Ravager takes a moment to look around at the others. The heroes are all there, including Flash, Red Arrow, Raven, and of course, Power Girl. Wally's wife and son are there to wish their dad luck, and even Circe sits off to the side, watching them. But Becky is nowhere to be seen. Curious, she looks over to Power Girl.

Ravager: Hey, have you seen Rebecca this morning? We... sort of had a fight last night, and she never came back to the room.

Power Girl: Oh, Becky? Not sure... I imagine she's probably still testing her new suit.

Narrowing her eyes, Ravager gives the woman a hard stare.

Ravager: What do you mean, 'her new suit'?

Becky: Hey, Rose! Think fast!

Turning suddenly in response to not only the yell, but also the flicker of precog flashing through her head, Ravager brings up her arms to block an incoming strike. The long metal staff swings viciously, caroming off her forearms with a force much greater than it should have. A miniature shock wave ends up flipping her backwards through the air, over the couch. She only barely manages to twist her body around to land on her feet in a crouch.

Becky: And that was the low setting; I can shatter a concrete wall on high!

And then Becky moves in again, moving at a speed far greater than she should be, lunging in with surprising skill, and delivering a spinning kick with grace and precision that she's never shown before. Though Ravager manages to sidestep the kick, a follow up blow from the butt of the staff catches her off guard and launches her backwards again, tumbling head over heels. As she scrambles back up to her feet, shock and near panic runs through her head.

What the hell is going on?!

When Becky makes another move this time, Ravager is ready for her. The two exchange a brief series of blows; yes, exchange blows. Never before had Becky ever been able to land a solid hit on her during their spars, but right now the woman is fighting like some kind of possessed demon. She's faster, stronger, her movements more elegant, precise. Furthermore, the strikes that Ravager lands barely seem to have an effect. Becky keeps coming, completely unfazed, and in moments a sweeping low attack from the metal staff trips Ravager up onto her back. Before she can make a move to get up, the end of the staff twirls around and plants itself straight against her throat.

Becky: Not bad, ah? Do I pass the audition?

Ravager just stares up at Becky, eyes wide behind her helmet's faceplate. She can't put into words how utterly dumbfounded she is at the moment, and has no idea what just happened. From what she can tell, Becky somehow made a monumental leap in ability overnight, and it must have something with the costume she's currently wearing, a rather tight, though durable and armored power suit, with metal guards on the shoulder and arms. Its armored plating also extends up to her head, adding more protection everywhere except a spot to allow her hair to flow out.

The others, meanwhile, watch in equal surprise, mouths hanging open and astounded. A few moments later, though, Red Arrow's expression shifts into amusement.

Red Arrow: Wow... she really handed it to you.

Flash: Yeah, that was...

Circe: Rather amusing.

Raven: Impressive...

Becky: I know, right? This thing is amazing!

Blinking a couple of times, Ravager slowly reaches up to move the staff away from her throat, then sits up, still staring at her.

Ravager: Becky... the hell was that? And what are you wearing?

Walking forward, Power Girl gestures at the suit and smiles.

Power Girl: Ladies and gentleman, I give you the latest prototype from Starr Enterprises' Tech division. The X-suit is a state of the art piece of equipment designed to increase a person's natural attributes to the maximum and beyond. By keying into the wearer's bio-electric signature, it works with the body to increase strength, agility, speed, reflexes, stamina; you name, it does it. Originally meant to be a tool to help workers in dangerous jobs more easily and safely complete their daily tasks, it also makes for one heck of a superhero costume.

Ravager: Well you certainly got the sales pitch down...

Power Girl: Thanks, I've been practicing. You don't think it comes across as a little too cheesy?

Ravager merely glares at the woman, saying nothing as she turns her attention back to her girlfriend.

Becky: So, what do you think? With this thing, I can do everything you can; maybe more. I can help you now, Rose. I don't have to sit on the sidelines anymore.

Ravager: Becky... I don't like this. You can't just... put on a costume and suddenly become a superhero.

Narrowing her eyes slightly, Becky frowns and holds her hands to her hips.

Becky: So even when I'm perfectly capable of handling myself, you still don't want my help. Is that it?

Ravager: It's not that, it's just-

Becky: In case you didn't notice, Rose, I just beat you. Don't tell me you're a sore loser now.

Ravager: I just don't want you getting hurt. I... you know how much you mean to me, right?

Letting out a small breath, Becky reaches up and puts a hand on Ravager's shoulder. She then reaches up to remove the woman's faceplate, so she can look into her eyes, instead of at red lenses on a mask.

Becky: About much as you mean to me, ah? You know that's why I want to be there with you, why I need to be there with you. If you're putting yourself at risk like this, then I am to. That's just the way it is.

A small pause passes between them. Ravager's eyes soften slightly, a sigh escaping her lips as her gaze tilts downward. She's completely against this, allowing Becky along.

She doesn't know what she's getting herself into...

But at the same time, what can she really do to stop her? No matter what Ravager does, short of tying her to a bedpost, Becky isn't going to wait behind again, not now. Eventually, she realizes all that she can do is give in.

Ravager: Fine... you can come. Just... don't get yourself hurt, alright?

Becky: Hey, you watch my back and I'll watch yours. Deal?

Looking back up, Ravager gives a small smile.

Ravager: Deal.

Lips widening into a delighted smirk, Becky then leans forward and plants a firm kiss on her girlfriend's lips. When she pulls away, she lifts up Ravager's faceplate and reattaches it to the helmet.

Becky: Good, then let's get this show on the road!

Ext. Arizona Desert – Day

Red Arrow: Well, at least they had the courtesy to put this place in the middle of nowhere.

The group sits on a rocky outcropping, overlooking the buildings down below, about five hundred yards in the distance. All around them stretches the seemingly infinite Arizona desert, a vast expanse of dry, red rocks and earth, and dead shrubs. The compound isn't exactly on the main road, either, instead about three miles down a barely visible dirt path.

Flash: Probably to discourage the kids from trying to run away. Only place to go is miles of desert.

Ravager: What do you see down there?

Squinting her eyes, Power Girl carefully observes the compound in the distance with her super vision. She is silent for a moment before finally reporting her findings.

Power Girl: Several guard patrols, five men per squad. Can't see inside the buildings, though; the walls must be lead-lined.

Raven: And I cannot teleport inside... they have taken many precautions.

Flash: Who wants to bet I can't vibrate through the walls, either?

Standing up and holding her staff against the ground, Becky takes in a deep breath and glares down at the compound. She's motivated, determined, and yet also holds a degree of eagerness and excitement; this time around, she gets to be one of the heroes.

Becky: Alright, so what's the plan? How do we get those kids out of there?

Ravager: Well, our goal here is to free everyone, right? So, essentially we need to take over the entire compound. I say we go with the full frontal attack, work on subduing all the guards and gaining control of the facility. That way, we can stick together and watch each other's backs.

Raven: I agree... They are likely to have many security protocols that would prevent a stealthy infiltration. We must... force our way in.

Red Arrow: Fine, as long PG leads the charge.

Raising an eyebrow, Power Girl glances back at the man.

Power Girl: Quick to throw me to the wolves, I see.

Red Arrow: Of course I am, you're our only heavy hitter. Get in there and cause as much damage as possible; we'll back you up.

Power Girl: Well, I suppose I can live with that... Alright then, let's get down there and introduce ourselves, shall we?

Ext. VRA Children's Facility – Day

Guard #1: Hey, do you see that?

The east guard patrol suddenly stops and looks over to where their squadmate is pointing. In the distance, about two hundred feet up in the air, is a small white dot fast approaching, with a flicker of red trailing behind it. Another guard steps forward and holds a hand up above his eyes, trying to shield the bright sunlight.

Guard #2: I dunno, maybe a bird or something?

Guard #3: Could be a weather balloon.

Guard #2: What the hell would a weather balloon be doing out here?

Before they can further discuss the possibility of what it might be, their buddy throws himself at them, pushing them out of the way.

Guard #1: Jesus, look out!

Two long, hot beams slice across the ground nearby, kicking up dirt and dust into the air. Of course, she hadn't actually been aiming at the squad, instead only intending to cause chaos and distract, but the guards didn't knew that. As far as they were concerned, some super being was trying to kill them. When Power Girl swoops in from above and begins targeting empty vehicles, huts, and patches of dirt, several more squads came running in from throughout the compound to stop her.

As if they could stop her. They can try all they want, but none of them have a way of breaking through her tough, Kryptonian skin. Bullets bounce off, stun weapons simply tickle, and blunt objects dent or break when coming into contact. This allows her to create as much mayhem as possible, while subduing every person she comes across. Granted, she won't really hurt them... much. They just need to sleep for a while.

As several more teams pour out of the surrounding buildings, a red and yellow blur zips into the compound, rocketing from person to person and knocking them out cold. They never know what hits them, as Flash moves far faster than their eyes can even register, though he's plenty careful to not accidentally kill anyone. A short few moments later, the rest of the heroes appear to help.

Staying near the back of the pack, Red Arrow unloads shot after shot, each arrow finding its target and putting the victim down with a powerful, stunning electric shock. Raven levitates upwards, holding her arms up and projecting her soul-self outwards in the form of a giant raven that swoops down onto her enemies, throwing them backwards and holding them down. Ravager, however, takes a much more direct approach. She leaps forward into a small squad, swords already drawn, and begins making precision strikes, cutting tendons and ligaments but doing no lethal damage. When she finds the openings, which actually come fairly quickly, she puts them down with hard blows to the head.

And then there's Becky. Showing no fear or hesitation, she sprints forward with shocking speed for someone without any powers, hitting somewhere around fifty miles per hour by the time she reaches the nearest group of guards to her. They take aim with their weapons, but she's already out of the way, leaping through the air and flipping over them, while swinging her staff down in mid jump and striking two in the sides of their skulls. When she lands, she twirls around and sweeps low, tripping up another, and then lifting the metal pole skyward to catch the fourth man in the bottom of the jaw, knocking him clear off his feet.

Becky: Ha! Did you see that?

Turning her gaze, Ravager looks over to Becky and notices another stray guard running up behind her with a stun baton.

Ravager: Becky!

Without so much as turning around, Becky sidesteps the blindside attack and whips her staff up over her shoulder, smashing the man in the face and sending him hurtling backwards.

Becky: You worry too much, Rose, I got it covered!

Breathing out a brief sigh, Ravager moves to the side and catches a guard's arm in mid attack, twisting it harshly and snapping bone. A follow up knee to the face knocks him out. Meanwhile, a lone guard taking cover behind a jeep peers around the side of the vehicles and lifts his radio up to his mouth.

Guard: Are you seeing this?! We need backup out here! They're tearing us apart!

A small hiss of static comes in, followed shortly after by a somewhat annoyed female voice.

Woman/Radio: Yes, I'm aware of what's going on.

Guard: Well then where's the support?!

Woman/Radio: Soon, just try to hold out a little longer. It's not like any of you are dying.

When the radio clicks off, the guard blinks down at it and then throws it away in frustration. As he goes to look around the jeep again, watching the Kryptonian woman creating all sorts of destruction to the property, a red arrow suddenly zips through the arrow and plants itself against his chest. Blinking, he stares down at the shaft for a brief moment before a powerful electric shock surges through him. In seconds, he passes out.

Int. VRA Children's Facility – Day

Inside the main office, Amanda Waller leans back in her seat and taps her fingers against the desk in front of her. She can't say this little attack on the compound is unexpected; with everything going on, she'd actually be surprised if the remaining free heroes didn't try something like this. However, she had been hoping that her team would be a little more capable than what they've shown so far. Then again, with a Kryptonian and the fastest man alive leading the charge, it's no wonder why they're failing so miserably.

But all that will change shortly. Looking across her desk at the six individuals standing in her office, she simply gives them an affirmative nod.

Waller: Bring them down.

Ext. VRA Children's Facility – Day

It doesn't take long before all the guards on the outside of the compound are down and out, bodies quite literally strewn everywhere. They're all still alive, though, and should eventually make full recoveries. While the others regroup, Flash takes a couple seconds to move all the unconscious men into more comfortable positions, lying them down on their backsides in neat rows. When he's finished, he returns to his teammates.

Flash: Alright, that's everyone. When we're done here we can take them to the nearest hospital, but they should be fine.

Power Girl: Alright, let's get inside and-

Long before her words finish leaving her mouth, a blur sprints in from seemingly out of nowhere and tackles the Flash from behind, throwing him wildly across the desert ground.

Red Arrow: Wally!

When Flash finally rolls to a stop, he springs back up to his feet and holds his head, trying to shake himself out of the daze.

Flash: Alright, who's the coward with the sneak attack?

Looking back in the direction that he was attacked from, he gets a clear view of the person standing there, the one who had blitzed him from behind. The blue jeans and black T-shirt with an S-shield on it might not be the trendiest superhero costume ever, but it's certainly recognizable.

Ravager: Superboy?

Superboy: You shouldn't have come here, Rose. None of you should have come here. Now we have to take you down.

Ravager: 'We'?

Turning their attention back towards the main building of the compound, they see another group standing there, ready for a fight, a group consisting of familiar faces: Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Static, Bombshell, and Beast Boy. Ravager's heart sinks a little.

Ravager: Oh... crap.

Holding his bo staff at the ready, Red Robin leads the charge.

Red Robin: Titans, take them out!

Chapter #60

Ext. VRA Children's Facility – Day

As the Teen Titans begin to make their attack, Ravager starts calling out the match-ups.

Ravager: I'll take Static, Raven you take care of Bombshell!

Without saying a single word in response, Raven takes to the air, enveloping herself in her soul-self and preparing a defense.

Ravager: Power Girl, Wonder B*tch is all yours! Becky, take Beast Boy!

Becky: I don't know which one that is!

Ravager: The green one! Roy, you're on Tim!

Red Arrow: Way ahead of you.

He's already taking aim with his bow, letting the arrow loose with pinpoint accuracy. Unfortunately, Red Robin has the ability to spin his staff and swat the projectile out of the air, allowing him close the distance and make a leaping attack that forces Red Arrow to jump back out of the way. Red Arrow follows up with a second shot, but the arrow hits air, as Red Robin ducks away to the side.

Flying in on a levitating slab of metal, Static sends out a vicious bolt of lightning. Ravager's reflexes and precog allow her to dodge, but only barely. It reminds her of the time they both fought in the Dark Side Club tournament a few years back. Static had been mind controlled then, too, though in that case he'd at least been fighting it. Whatever is controlling them this time seems to have an unyielding grip.

---

Power Girl and Wonder Girl collide midair with thunderous force, grappling with each other momentarily. Eventually, Power Girl manages to flip them around and throw her opponent off towards the ground. A small crater forms as Wonder Girl crashes, but the blow doesn't seem to faze her, as she's up and flying into the air again only seconds later. This time, Wonder Girl leads in with a punch to the face, sending Power Girl spinning upwards into the sky.

Power Girl manages to slow herself to a stop, though, in enough time to fly out of the way of the next incoming attack. Swopping around behind her opponent in an instant, she sends a hot beam of heat vision into Wonder Girl's backside, burning away part of her shirt and blasting her forward like a rocket. Wasting no time, Power Girl speeds forward again, catching up and delivering a double, overhanded blow to the back of the head.

Power Girl: Sorry kid, but you're not my league yet.

However, though Wonder Girl again crashes with astonishing force into the ground, she's up a short few moment later, blitzing through the air and delivering a hard series of blows to Power Girl's face and midsection. Power Girl finally manages to catch one of Wonder Girl's punches, as well as blocking a kick with her other arm, but suddenly reels backwards in response to a headbutt straight to the nose. Then, Wonder Girl swings her around wildly several times, throwing the woman with every bit of her power into the ground.

Wonder Girl: I'm more than just in your league!

Pushing herself up to her hands and knees, Power Girl utters a slightly irritated groan.

Power Girl: That's it, no more messing around.

---

Gripping her staff tightly, Becky squares off against the green kid. It would help if she had any idea on what his powers are, but for now she's just winging it.

Becky: So, uh, what do you do?

Beast Boy suddenly shifts into an eight foot tall grizzly bear, growling and and running straight her. Becky's eyes go wide, as she leaps up and over a wild claw strike. She lands nimbly on the other side, turning around and spinning her staff to catch the grizzly in the backside. A small shock wave bursts out from the tip of the pole, sending the bear hurtling forward. A brief second later, Beast Boy morphs into a falcon, flying up into the air above her. Shielding her eyes against the sun, Becky gazes up curiously, watching as the bird suddenly falls into a dive, coming downward with tremendous speed.

Becky: Not sure what you plan on doing like that, but I always did like baseball.

Lifting her staff up like a baseball bat, she takes a stance and waits for the falcon to come into range, intent on swatting the thing for a home run. When the bird abruptly transforms into a hippo, however, her jaw hangs open slightly, having only a fraction of a second to react before the two ton animal crashes to earth, smashing her against the ground. Fortunately, her suit not only allows her to react quickly enough, but also prevents the massive animal from flattening her. Lying on her back with the hippo caught against her palms and feet, she starts to push, limbs shaking violently as she struggles to heave the load upward.

Becky: Get... off!

With one final, desperate shove, she sends Beast Boy several feet into the air, allowing just enough space for her to roll out from under it in the second or so the hippo is airborne. Retrieving her staff, she stumbles back up to her feet and takes in several deep breaths.

Becky: Come on... that all you got?

This time, Beast Boy takes a few steps forward and then morphs from hippo to something that looks like a velociraptor straight out of Jurassic Park. The dinosaur utters a shrill shriek and then makes its charge.

Becky: Ay caramba... I had to ask.

---

Meanwhile, Flash and Superboy square off, slowly circling each other for the moment.

Flash: You sure you really want to do this?

Superboy: Why not? I'm fast, too. Almost as fast as Superman. Almost as fast as you. And I'm a lot stronger.

Flash: Kid, you're nowhere near as fast as me.

Superboy: Why don't we find out?

In an instant, Superboy disappears from his current spot, blitzing forward in attempts to take his opponent out with one blow. But Flash is faster, reacting before Superboy even makes it halfway to him. He can tell that Superboy isn't holding back, so neither does he, reaching speeds he doesn't normally need to hit in a fight. As a matter of fact, none of the Titans are holding back; whatever is controlling them is pushing them to their fullest. If he or the others of his team try to hold back like they normally do in battle, they'll lose. Hopefully the others have already figured that out by now, though.

Flash does have to hand it to him; Superboy is fast. Probably one of the fastest there is next to a speedster. But, in the end, he just isn't a speedster, who have many more tools at their disposal when it comes to speed. Now, if Superboy could get a couple solid hits in, he might have a chance, but he never gets the opportunity. Once Flash amps it up, there's little Superboy can do. In fact, most of his attacks start to slow down, start becoming sluggish. The only chance he had to land a blow was at the beginning of the fight, and now that chance is long gone.

Flash: Feel yourself getting slower yet?

Superboy rushes forward again, but he's not even breaking the sound barrier now. A few more seconds, and he's barely at Olympic level speed. By now, Flash doesn't even have to try in order to avoid him.

Flash: That's the feel of your speed being drained from your body. The longer this fight goes on, the slower I make you. And then, I do this.

Knocking out a Kryptonian with sheer blunt power isn't easy. It requires an astounding level of force, and how do you measure force? Mass times acceleration. What level of force do you get when you multiply the mass of one's fist accelerating at greater than light speed? Well, we'll leave the math to the mathematicians and just call it what it is: a lot. When Superboy goes down, he stays down. He likely won't be getting up for a while, either.

---

Bombshell: Damn it, hold still!

Flying forward again, fists glowing with atomic energy, she takes another swing at Raven. And just like the last ten times, Raven simply teleports away, out of reach. It's really starting to frustrate her. At least, that's what her mind is being told. With every failed attempt, the signals come in stronger; she must subdue this woman!

Raven: Amy... you are a strong woman. You don't have to do this. Whatever is controlling you... fight it.

Bombshell: The hell are you talking about? Nothing's controlling me!

Uttering a small, distant breath, Raven teleports out of the way of another attack, then raises her hands and splays her finger apart.

Raven: If reason will not work...

Suddenly, a grip of telekinesis latches onto Bombshell and swings her downward. Letting out a surprised yell, the metal-skinned woman crashes against the ground hard. Really hard. Telekinesis isn't a power that Raven uses often, so it's no wonder that Bombshell forgot about it. Now that she's remembered, though, she suddenly realizes just how much of a mismatch this really is, as Raven lifts her up and slams her back into the ground repeatedly. It doesn't do much to actually hurt her, but it does put her in a daze, rattling her head a bit. When she finally feels the telekinetic hold release her, she stumbles back up to her feet, staggering.

Bombshell: Goddamn... hey, what the hell?!

A black mass begins to form around her, swallowing her. In a brief couple of moments, Raven's soul-self completely engulfs her, drawing her within and imprisoning her. For the time being, at least.

---

Crackoom!

Another hot wave of lightning rips towards Ravager, forcing her to lunge to the side again. She can feel the heat as the bolt passes by, boiling the air around her. Sliding across the dirt, she pushes herself forward again, sprinting at Static. Before she makes it even halfway to him, though, he unleashes another electrical blast that pushes her back on the defensive again. In spite of what some might think, dodging lightning isn't exactly the easiest thing to do in the world, even when she can see it before it happens.

At least she's lasting longer than the last time they fought, but she knows it's still only a mater of time until she gets hit, and although her new suit is largely insulated against electrical attacks, she'd rather not have to test just how protective it is if she doesn't have to. She has to go for all or nothing. Spinning out of the way of another lightning bolt, she sprints forward again, then leaps into the air, a second blast rippling through the air below her. Leading with her knee, she explodes a powerful blow against the side of Static's face, but at the same time feels an electrically charged punch erupt at her ribs.

As the two tumble to the ground, Ravager utters a small groan and rolls over onto her hand and knees, bringing a hand up to clutch her side. Her body is numb and tingling, but at least she doesn't feel anymore damage than that. The new insulation in her armor seems to have done its job well enough. Unfortunately, her strike didn't put Static down for good, a wide field of lightning crackling around him as he pushes his way back to his feet.

Ravager: Damn it, why can't you just stay down?

As if on cue, a small boom erupts from behind him and sends him plummeting back to the ground, unconscious. When he falls, he reveals his attacker standing behind him, twirling her staff in one hand and carrying an unconscious Beast Boy in the other.

Becky: So, what do we do with these guys now?

---

Power Girl: I said. Stay. Down!

Pushing her foot downward, she forces Wonder Girl's face back into the dirt, preventing her from getting back up. Breathing deeply, Power Girl wipes the blood from her split lip and gives one final stomp for good measure. Wonder Girl's strength finally fades along with her consciousness, as her body goes limp beneath Power Girl's heel.

Power Girl: That's better.

Red Arrow: Hey! A little help over here!

Some distance away, Red Arrow and Red Robin's fight had spilled over towards a small storage shed, one wall of which had a hole through it. Several smoking arrow shafts burn in the ground around them, while Red Robin struggles to get his attacker off of him. Red Arrow kneels on his backside, pinning him against the ground with the bow's string pulled tight against his neck. This hold lasts only a second longer, as Red Robin finally manages to flip Red Arrow off and deliver a punch to the jaw. Trying to regain control, Red Arrow ducks back and takes a swing with his bow, battering the Titan in the head and staggering him backwards.

Raven: Stand aside...

Floating into range, Raven opens her cloak again and projects her soul-self into the air. The black mass reaches outward, engulfing each of the unconscious Teen Titans and swallowing them back beneath the cloak. In moments, the disappear. Dropping back to the ground, Raven falls to her knees momentarily and holds a hand to her forehead.

Raven: They will be... safe there. Until we can figure out how to fix what's wrong with them.

Breathing out a long breath, Ravager hangs her head and slowly rises back to her feet.

Ravager: Good... glad that's over.

Power Girl: We're not finished here yet. Everyone, split up into smaller groups, search the compound. We have to find those kids.

Int. VRA Children's Facility – Day

As they walk down the corridor of one of the main buildings, Becky taps her staff casually on her shoulder and glances over at Ravager.

Becky: So, uh... not bad for my first time out, right? I mean, come on, admit it, I was totally awesome.

Lifting her eyebrows behind her mask, Ravager slowly looks over to her girlfriend. For a moment, she just stares, causing Becky to put her hands to her hips and frown.

Becky: What?

Ravager: Nothing, you just... you were pretty good out there.

Becky: But?

Ravager: No buts. I didn't know how you'd fare in a battle like that, even with the suit... but you handled herself really well. I'm proud of you.

Breaking out into a wide grin, Becky throws an arm around her and chuckles.

Becky: Dios mio, anyone else hear that? My girlfriend is proud of me. Isn't that sweet?

Of course, there is no one else around at the moment. Becky and Ravager had broken off from the others to cover more ground.

Becky: So, where do you suppose everyone is, anyway? I figured they would have least saved some defenses for the interior.

Ravager: They must have thrown everything they had at us. We did the same to them, after all. Question is, though, where are the kids?

Pursing her lips, Becky moves her gaze to the left, as they pass by another door. Squinting through the small glass window, she spots something strange and moves closer to investigate. A few moments later, her eyes go wide.

Becky: I think I just found them.

A second later, she pushes her way through the door, revealing what looks like a high school cafeteria beyond. Rows of long table line the room, each with dozens of children of all ages sitting down and casually eating. They range anywhere from five to maybe fifteen years old, each of them taken from their families and held here.

Becky: They're just... eating. Like normal kids.

Ravager: You call that headgear normal?

Each child has been outfitted with a strange, helmet-like device that wraps around their heads, with wires and blinking lights. Heading to the nearest kid, Ravager looks closely and waves a hand in front of the boy's face. No response. The boy just blinks absently and slowly continues to eat his ham sandwich.

Becky: Dios... they're like zombies.

Ravager: How much you want to bet it's the sci-fi helmets they got going on? Must... pacify them or something.

Becky: So what do we- oh my, Rose!

Glancing up, Ravager looks over to where Becky is pointing and feels her heart jump. Springing back to her feet, she rushes over to the young, purple haired girl at the end of the table.

Ravager: Lyta!

Of course, there is no response, as the girl just continues eating and doesn't even acknowledge their presence.

Becky: Can we just... take the helmet off, or what?

Ravager: I don't know... there's no telling what it could do to them. We need to find somebody who can figure out how these things work. We need to help these kids.

---

Pushing the door open, Red Arrow narrows his eyes and looks around carefully. It looks like they're in some kind of laboratory, with a bunch of medical and chemistry equipment out in the open, apparently having been in use not too long ago.

Red Arrow: What the hell is all this? What are they doing with these kids that they need all of this for?

Flash: I don't know... but I intend to find out.

In an instant, Flash disappears, moving through the building at high speeds. Red Arrow blinks a few times before realizing that his friend is gone. Uttering a small breath, he holds his hands to his hips and starts making his way through the lab as well.

Red Arrow: I hate it when he does that...

He finds Flash a few minutes later in one of the last rooms in the building. At first, he doesn't realize what's going on, but it doesn't take long to figure it out. Halfway through the door, he freezes when he sees the rows of machines lined against the wall, each one containing a small child strapped down and hooked up to a bunch of wires and needles jabbing into their bodies. Small forceps force their eyelids wide open, preventing them from blinking, while heart monitors keep track of their systems.

Red Arrow: Oh my god... Wally, is that Iris?

Flash is kneeling no the floor in front of one of the machines, a small girl clutched in his arms. The girl makes no noticeable cognitive actions, lying limply and staring straight off into space, a weird helmet wrapped around her head.

Flash: She's not responding, Roy. I... I'm trying to reach her but all she does is stare.

Red Arrow: Must be the helmet she has on. They all have one.

Moving towards the machines, he starts to unhook the children from them. Not a single one utters a word or so much as looks at the two men in the room. They just stare... motionless, unthinking. When all the other children are safely out of the machines, he walks over to his friend and puts a hand on the man's shoulder.

Red Arrow: We'll help her, Wally. We'll help all of them.

---

Waller: No, I don't care what you think is supposed to happen here! The facility is compromised, and the team you sent me didn't help! If you want to keep this place under control, you need to send more backup immediately!

The phone that she's screaming into suddenly goes dead, clicking off. Eyes going wide in surprise, she glares down it and then angrily throws it across the room.

Waller: Damn it, Wilson!

That's when the door to her office suddenly bursts inward, flying off its hinges. Standing there in the entrance is a very angry, dirtied, and scuffed up Power Girl, glaring a hole through the woman. Behind her is the more reserved, quiet Raven. Marching into the office, Power Girl comes to the desk, grabs it with one hand, and throws it through the wall with minimal effort, then reaches forward and grabs Amanda Waller by the shirt collar.

Waller: You think this changes anything? The VRA will come down on you harder than ever!

Power Girl: Then it's a good thing we plan on crippling them, isn't it?

Waller: You're out of your minds, all of you. The VRA has complete power. When it comes to you people, we are the law!

Power Girl: News flash: just because the law gives you permission, it doesn't make you any less of a criminal for what you've been doing here, and sooner or later you'll answer for it. You all will.

Chapter #61

Int. Starr Enterprises – Day

A short while later, the team has regrouped back in the apartment bunker beneath the Starr Enterprises building. With them are all the children from the facility, still equipped with those strange, brain numbing helmets. They don't dare attempt to take the things off without knowing exactly what they're dealing with. For all they know, simply unhooking the wires and removing the helmets could cause permanent brain damage; that is, if permanent brain damage hasn't already been done.

Becky: Okay, so that Waller woman and the Teen Titans are in Raven's... soul thingy, the injured guards we transported to the nearest hospital, and now we have a bunch of kids with brain drain helmets on that we don't know how to properly take off... what next?

Power Girl: We find someone who can and will help these children. Waller likely knows how these things work, but she isn't helping. That means we're going to need someone with tech experience... a lot of tech experience. I'll see what I can dig up.

A short distance away on one of the couches, Circe looks up, holding her daughter closely in her arms. Lyta is still as unresponsive as the other kids; she's awake, but nobody's home.

Circe: But they can be helped, can't they?

Power Girl: I promise we'll do everything we can, but until we find someone who can examine and determine what kind of danger removing those helmets poses, then the only thing we can do is be patient.

Circe isn't the only concerned parent in the room, though. Linda and Wally, fresh out of his Flash costume, are sitting with their daughter, Iris. The girl's twin, Jai, is also nearby, studying the helmet curiously.

Wally: Is there anyone left that hasn't been compromised by the VRA? There has to be someone we can contact about this.

Power Girl: I really have no idea, Wally, I'm sorry. Everyone I know of who might be able to figure it out is already under the VRA's control. There might be someone who works in my company with the proper experience, but even then I don't know if we can trust anyone to not turn us in.

Roy: Well we'd better come up with something fast. These kids don't deserve this...

Nearby, Rose leans back against one of the couches, arms folded and eyes slowly glancing from person to person. Suddenly, a small flickering red light catches her gaze. Turning towards Raven, she narrows her eyes slightly.

Rose: Uh, Raven, you're blinking.

Raven: I'm... oh.

Looking down, Raven now notices that the brooch of her cloak is steadily blinking with bright red light. Carefully, she reaches up and unclasps it, allowing her cloak to fall to the floor. Turning it over, she presses a small button on the back of the brooch and then raises it to her ear.

Rose: Uh... what's she doing?

Straightening himself, Wall gives the empath a long look, eyes focusing on the brooch.

Wally: That isn't just to hold her cloak together; it's also her old Titans communicator. Well, I imagine she still uses it since she's still on the Titans, but the only people who know the proper frequency are former members.

Rose: So someone is trying to contact her.

Wally: Must be... question is, who?

Roy: Yeah, and is it someone on our side, or a trap?

Breathing outwardly, Raven lifts her cloak back up and reattaches it around her shoulders with the brooch, then begins to disappear through her soul-self.

Raven: I'll be... right back.

Power Girl: Wait a minute, where are you-

But a second later, Raven vanishes into thin air, the black mass completely dissipating.

Becky: And she's gone. Where do you think she went off to in such a hurry?

Looking up to her husband, Linda's expression seems hopeful.

Linda: Do you think it's someone who can help with the children?

Wally: That would be nice... but somehow I don't think we're that lucky.

Holding his bow over shoulder, Roy lets out a long breath and glances at the floor.

Roy: With everything that's happening lately, we could use a little luck.

Power Girl: Anyway, I guess we should find a place where we can adequately keep the children for the time being. They seem to at least be capable of basic functions, so sleeping and eating shouldn't be a problem... though I might have to go shopping for some more food. I don't think I have enough for all of them in that little fridge.

Wally: Don't worry about that, I'll go. I can get the shopping done faster, and you're still in your costume anyway.

Power Girl: Alright, but at least let me give you some money to-

Her words never get a chance to finish leaving her mouth when the dark flicker of Raven's soul-self suddenly reappears in the middle of the living room. As Raven rematerializes, however, they quickly realize that she isn't alone. Standing next to her is a man quite familiar to most of them, a man that's as much machine as man.

Cyborg: So I hear you could use a tech expert.

Eyes going wide, Wally runs up to the man with a big smile.

Wally: Vic! Oh, man is it good to see you! What happened? I thought you got taken with the rest of the Justice League.

Cyborg: I did. In fact, the others are still under VRA control as we speak.

Wally: Well how did you get away?

Cyborg: Long story, but I'll try to be succinct. I woke up a couple of days after the Justice League was attacked and taken, in the VRA's maximum security facility.

Becky: You mean where they take all the heroes who didn't register, so they can serve their sentence?

Cyborg: Exactly. Only they aren't locking up the ones who fail to register; in fact, they're doing the same thing to everyone, whether they registered or not.

Power Girl: Controlling them somehow, right? Brainwashing or whatever method they're using.

Cyborg: Yeah. By the time I woke up, the rest of the Justice League was already unresponsive, in the process of being 'activated', as they call it. The only reason the same thing didn't happen to me was because they didn't account for the computer half of my brain.

Reaching up to his head, he lightly taps the metal side of his skull.

Cyborg: My security protocols took over and eliminated the process before it could compromise me. Then, when I couldn't get the rest of the team to respond, I hacked into the VRA's computer systems instead to learn what I could. From there, I pretended to be controlled like everyone else, until I got to a point where I could break away and contact someone I could trust.

Power Girl: And what did you find from their files?

Cyborg: Nothing good. For starters, they're controlling people with these.

Holding out his fist, he uncurls his fingers slowly to reveal a long, needle-like device with one rounded end and a bunch of integrated wires.

Cyborg: They're called neural stems.

At the sight of the stem, Rose and Becky's eyes instantly go wide in shock.

Becky: Jueputa... Rose, isn't that...?

Rose: Yeah...

Cyborg: You know what it is?

Rose: I've come across them before. Last summer I busted a sub sect of the League of Assassins, led by a man named Shao Shen. He's the one who created them... or at least the scientists who worked for him did. They used the stems to control people around the city, trying to build some kind of force for... something. I never did find out what his ultimate plans were; stopped him before that became an issue. Last I heard, though, they were causing their victims' heads to pretty much explode. Apparently, they've been improved.

Becky: But the entire stash was confiscated following Shen's arrest. After his trial, they were destroyed so they couldn't be used again. Where did these ones come from?

Rose: Not from Shen, that much is certain.

She pauses a moment, then suddenly holds a hand up to her forehead and lets out a small groan, a sudden revelation hitting her.

Rose: That must be how my father got his pardon. They're controlling the president, congress... sh*t they must have the entire government in their pocket. They're the reason that messed up bill went through the system so fast, why this whole law got made in the first place...

Roy: Alright, I'll bite. Who are they?

Rose: Hell if I know, whoever's pulling the strings. But you can be damn sure we're gonna find out.

Lifting up the device closer to his eyes, Cyborg gives the thing a long look, then turns his attention fully back to the others.

Cyborg: Whatever the case, I did manage to have my systems run a full diagnostic on a stem's capabilities, as well as how to properly neutralize them. If I have time to work, I might be able to create a counter device that we can use break others out of the VRA's control. In the meantime, let me see what I can do for the kids.

Int. VRA Headquarters – Night

Slade sits back in his seat, one hand raised to his chin in thought as he watches security footage from the earlier attack on the VRA's children facility. He takes careful note of the individuals involved, begins contemplating the best ways to plan for them. Power Girl, Red Arrow, Flash, Raven, and of course his daughter, Rose. Then there's the one he doesn't recognize, the one in the odd power suit. While he doesn't fully know the woman's capabilities, she doesn't seem to be that big of a threat.

What worries him the most is the fact that they were able to capture the Teen Titans. Should they figure out a way to disrupt the neural stems, then their numbers will grow and they'll be a much larger pain. Nothing he and the VRA can't handle, of course, but still a pain. Eventually, he grows tired of studying the footage and clicks his computer off, then turns to the man sitting in the corner of the room.

Slade: They'll likely attack here next. You know that.

Man: Of course I do. And you'll be prepared, won't you?

Slade: I always am.

Man: Good, because when I put you in this position, I was expecting a lot. Your name has a certain reputation, after all. So far, though, I've been... disappointed. Two of our facilities have been attacked in as many days, you've been quite incapable of stopping the culprits, and now they're coming after you. If they should capture you-

Slade: They won't.

Man: But if they do-

Slade: They won't get a word out of me. Client confidentiality is one of my highest priorities.

Man: I should hope so.

Leaning forward, Slade firmly folds his hands in front of him on the desk, staring intently at the man.

Slade: Just remember, when all this is over, you had better follow through with your end of the bargain. It's the only reason I agreed to this hostile takeover to begin with.

Man: Oh, I will, most assuredly. In fact, I've already located her.

A brief pause passes. Though Slade shows no signs of a shifting demeanor, he does straighten slightly in his seat, eye narrowing.

Slade: Where is she?

Man: In a safe location, away from this country and under the impression that both you and Rose have been long dead. As for her exact coordinates, they will be disclosed when you clean up your mess and get my plans back on course.

Slade's jaw tightens slightly, his gaze intensifying.

Slade: Have them ready.

Int. Starr Enterprises – Night

On her way back down the corridor from the bathroom, Rose turns the corner and very nearly walks right into Cyborg, narrowly managing to turn to the side just before collision.

Rose: Oh, sorry. Didn't see you there.

Cyborg: It's cool, it happens.

A small, awkward silence descends over them for a few moments. Shifting her weight, Rose reaches up and crosses her arms over her chest, gaze moving off to the side.

Rose: So... everything taken care of?

Cyborg: Yeah, the helmets have been disabled and Raven just finished reuniting all the kids with their families.

Rose: I see... that's good. And the Titans...?

Cyborg: In the living room, last I checked. Took a while, but I was able to disable their neural stems. They're just... readjusting. You know they could see everything that happened when they were under control, they just...

Rose: Couldn't do anything to stop it?

Cyborg: Yeah.

Rose: ...I know what that's like.

Releasing a long breath, she gradually begins to recall the days that Slade had her under the control of his mind bending serum, the same serum that gave her her enhanced abilities. When she had finally been freed of that control, looking back on everything her father had forced her to do... it had been horrifying.

Cyborg: And how have you been, anyway? I mean, I heard a lot from Dick, but I don't know the details... he says you've come a long way.

Rose: Ha, yeah that's one way of putting it. I've been... good, at least before this whole sh*tstorm happened.

Cyborg: Heard you're raising a kid.

Rose: Yeah, Holly. She's the sweetest damn girl you'll every meet, I swear. But the VRA took her, shoved her back into foster care... When this is all over, I'm tracking her down and I'm never letting anyone take her again.

Cyborg: Hopefully that'll be sooner rather than later. But that's good, Rose. I'm glad to hear you're doing well.

A small smirk makes it's way across her face.

Rose: Remember the good old days, when you used to attack me on sight? Now here you are wishing me well.

Cyborg: Well, things change. People change.

Rose: Heh, yeah, even me.

On that note, Cyborg's expression suddenly grows a bit more serious. Rose knows that look; she hates that look. It means that he's about to act like a scolding, yet concerned older brother.

Cyborg: But there are some things that you still need to take care of. When's the last time you talked to the Titans?

Breathing outwardly, Rose looks away again and frowns. Damn, she hates lectures.

Rose: Aside from that one time me and Tim crossed paths, not since the incident... so about two years.

Cyborg: You need to talk to them, you know that. After what happened with Bart, after you left them, cut them out... you need closure. You all do.

Rose: Yeah, I know. I just... I'm working up to it.

Cyborg: You've had two years to work up to it, Rose. Now's as good a time as any.

Saying nothing more, Cyborg gives her a friendly pat on the shoulder, then continues past her down the hallways. She utters a long, frustrated sigh, then holds a hand to her head and gazes in the other direction, towards the entrance to the living room.

As good a time as any... right.

Breathing in deeply, she finally continues moving down the corridor and enters through the doorway into the living room. Most of the Teen Titans are there; Tim, Conner, Cassandra, Beast Boy, and Raven. Bombshell and Static are missing, though, which is probably for the best; those two weren't involved in the whole Bart incident, so there's really no need to drag them into this. Her words are meant for the others. Speaking of them, the current conversation they'd been engaged in instantly ceases the moment that Rose walks in. All eyes turn towards her, though no one says anything, only staring. That is, until, Cassie breaks the silence.

Cassie: What are you doing here?

Hostility right off the bat, probably should have expected that. At least from Wonder B*tch anyway.

Rose: Well, if we're keeping track, saving your asses and helping free you from mind control, after someone went and betrayed the team in the first place.

Glaring, Cassie begins to rise out of her seat, a hateful frown forming on her face.

Cassie: I see you haven't changed one bit.

Tim: Both of you, knock it off. We're not here to fight with each other.

Cassie: What do you want us to do instead, just make up nice with her? Have you forgotten what she did?

Tim: No, I haven't forgotten, but it's been a long time since then. It was a mistake, an accident, and maybe it's time we move past it.

Beast Boy: Yeah, I mean... we can't hold a grudge forever, can we?

Cassie: Maybe you can't. But I don't just go forgiving someone who gets one of our friends killed, someone whose life couldn't hold a candle to Bart's.

The group goes silent again, mostly because they're unsure how to react to Cassie's harsh words. Swallowing slightly, Rose folds her arms across her chest and takes in a deep breath. She knew that Cassie loathed her, even before she got Bart killed, so this reaction doesn't really come as a surprise. But apparently those two years since the incident have done nothing to even remotely soothe Cassie's opinion. If anything, it's only gotten worse.

Rose: Listen-

Cassie: No, you listen. From day one, I knew you were trouble. You were arrogant, self-centered, barely got a long with anyone, and you were constantly putting the rest of the team at risk for your own agenda. And that's not to mention all the times you ditched us, just to come crawling back again. But we always took you back, always gave you a home, a family, and what did you do to repay us? You continued acting like the same inconsiderate b*tch you've always been!

Conner: Cass-

Cassie: No, Conner, don't say anything. Just don't. I need to get this off my chest. Rose, you've never cared about anyone but yourself. You've never listened, never considered how your actions might affect the people around you, and while you always said you considered the Titans your family, you did nothing to show that you actually cared. And you know what? You will never change.

Rose's eyes slowly narrow at the woman, her heart beat starting to elevate. She forces herself to remain calm, though, instead just pursing her lips and staring intently.

Rose: Well, I can see this was a mistake...

Cassie: The only mistake was ever letting you on our team in the first place.

Rose: Yeah... of course.

Giving Cassie a couple of slow nods, Rose then shakes her head and turns away, heading out of the living room. Obviously this isn't going to work.

Cassie: And there you go, running away again.

That's when Rose stops dead, jaw clenching and fists tightening. Taking in a deep breath, she suddenly turns around and stares coldly at the woman, pointing at her.

Rose: Now it's your turn to listen, got it? Ever since I first came to your little team, you were nothing but cold and condescending to me, just because of who my father was and what he did to me!

Cassie: I'm sure the fact that you're mentally imbalanced had nothing to do with it.

Ignoring the cheap remark, she continues, her glare intensifying.

Rose: You never gave me a chance to be anything other than the b*tch you saw me as! Nothing I ever did would have been good enough for me to crawl out of the gutter you had me in! And even when I thought we might have been warming up to each other, every time you started treating me with a little respect, I make one mistake and it's all gone, just like that! Had to start from scratch all over again! So yeah, I was b*tchy, I was selfish, I was arrogant. That's what you had me pegged as, so that's all I ever was, no matter how much I tried to be otherwise! You want to know something that will blow your mind, Cassie? Everything you just said right now? You were right. One hundred percent, undeniably right!

Rose allows a brief moment to pass for Wonder B*tch to absorb the information. In spite of the apparent confusion on Cassie's face, she doesn't say anything, probably too busy wondering where exactly Rose is going with this.

Rose: Except for one thing; that I'd never change. Because you know something? I have changed. I've changed a lot. I hate that it took Bart's death for it to happen, but that's what gave me the wake up call. Bart was my friend, too, you know. I might not have been open about it, or been all goody goody with him like the rest of you, but I liked him, and I never wanted him to die. It was my own stupid decision that got him killed and I spent a lot of time hating myself for it. And I'm sorry, alright? I never got a chance to say that, but I'm sorry! For Bart's death, for being a sh*t team member, everything!

Another moment of silence passes between them, this one longer than before. Cassie folds her arms and glares back at Rose, jaw tightening and eyes narrowing. Eventually, she manages to utter out a cold response.

Cassie: Sorry doesn't bring him back. And I don't care how much you think you've changed, Rose, it doesn't make things any different. Just stay away from me.

Their conversation is suddenly interrupted, however, not by one of the other Teen Titans sitting around the living room, but by a different voice coming from the doorway.

Becky: Dios mio, what's with the shouting? Can hear you from the other end of the bunker.

They turn towards her momentarily, but no one says anything, not at first. Rose and Cassie are still in the middle of seething at the other, trying to calm themselves down in light of a new, unrelated arrival.

Cassie: And who are you?

Becky: Rebecca Chavez. You're... Wonder Girl?

Cassie: That's me.

Becky: Well, uh, nice to meet you. And all the Titans, hey.

She gives the group a little wave, smiling slightly. Her attention falls on Beast Boy momentarily, her demeanor suddenly shifting nervously.

Becky: Oh, uh, sorry about having to beat on you earlier, BB. No hard feelings?

Beast Boy: It's cool, given the circumstances. Don't sweat it.

Becky: Right, good. Still sorry, though.

She then turns her attention back to Rose, putting an arm around the woman's waist.

Becky: So you coming to bed or what?

At this comment, Cassie's eyebrows suddenly lift, eyes widening. A small, amused scoff snorts out of her throat, looking over at Rose.

Cassie: Wait, wait. You and... her? You're joking, right? That's just... wow, I do not believe that one.

Again, Rose's gaze narrows at the Wonder B*tch, heart rate quickening.

Rose: What's the matter, jealous?

Cassie: Right, as if. I don't swing that way, least of all over you.

Rose: Oh come on, we both know you wanted me. That's why you could never keep a boyfriend for more than a couple months. Hell, just look at Tim and Conner over there, how long did they last? And refresh my memory, but I'm pretty sure they're the ones that dumped-

The rest of her words are lost, as Cassie's fist suddenly cracks into Rose's jaw, sending her crashing to the floor. Instantly, the entire group of Titans are on their feet, moving to restrain her, but Becky is the first to jump to Rose's defense, stepping right in between them.

Becky: Malparido! The hell is your problem?!

Cassie: She brought it on herself! Now get out of the way!

Becky: You touch her again and I'll-

Cassie: You'll what? Scratch me? Just move!

Tim: Everyone just calm down! Cassie, you're going too far, leave them alone!

Cassie: Shut up, Tim, this isn't your problem. It's hers. Now, out of the way!

As Cassie goes for Rose again, Becky tries to stop her. Unfortunately, she doesn't have her suit or her staff at the moment, so when she tries to push the woman back, things don't go so well. With a single arm, Cassie shoves Becky out of the way, putting a lot more force into it than she should have. For a brief moment, Becky is airborne, then crashes into the living room table, splintering it in half on the way to the floor.

Rose: Becky!

Rose is suddenly on her feet, forgetting all about Cassie or anyone else, and only wanting to make sure that Becky is alright. Kneeling down next to the broken table, she reaches out and helps the woman up. Becky groans, sitting up and holding her head, bleeding from a small cut.

Becky: Dios... that hurt.

Rose: It's alright, you'll be fine. Just a scratch. Can you stand?

Becky: Si, it's not that bad.

Uttering another pained breath, Becky gradually rises back up to her feet with Rose assisting her. Slowly turning her head, Rose gives Cassie a brief, but venomous glare.

Rose: Are you happy now?

Then, she helps Becky limp back towards the doorway.

Rose: Come on, let's get you to bed.

Cassie just stares at them as they leave, a very evident frown on her face. She tries to keep her head high, not wanting to admit even to herself that she had probably gone too far. Eventually, she turns away from the others and storms out of the room.

Cassie: B*tch.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

No More Heroes: Part 3 Preview: Rose, Becky, and company make their attack on the VRA headquarters to put a stop to Slade and find out exactly who he's working for! But what they discover will shock them! In the exciting conclusion to No More Heroes, Rose faces her demons and works desperately to stop a powerful foe! Be prepared for Part 3, as not everyone will survive.

8 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - No More Heroes: Part 1 (#48-54)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Jeremiah Belmont, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, Senator Thomas Greene, Agent Croft, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+ (Maybe a few brief M moments, but that's about it)

Note: And so begins the eighth story arc, which is part 1 of the big crossover event. This arc sees the shady passing of a new law that forces superheroes to give up their identities and fall under government control. Those who resist are warranted for arrest and taken in by a new government agency created specifically to deal with them. What happens when a nation's government turns on its heroes? Read on to find out!

Side Note: Hoo boy, this one has been both frustrating and fun to write. Fun, because it's such a big story with so many characters. Frustrating because... well, there's so many characters and I don't quite know how to write them all perfectly. Hopefully things work well enough, and I was actually happier with the outcome so far than I thought I would be. Let me know how you, the readers, think it works!

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Chapter #48

Int. Rose's Martial Arts Studio – Day

The line of students shuffles towards the exit after a long hour of training and hard work. Though all dressed in white gis, some wear different colored belts, acknowledging their higher rank. Of course, with this being the intermediate class, they are all near the same level, with some just having advanced a little quicker than others. Rose wipes the sweat from her brow, heading behind the counter and loosening the belt of her own gi, watching as her students begin to leave.

Rose: Good job today, everyone. Remember, this was the last class for next two weeks, but we'll be open again after New Year's.

Her students turn back and give her a few waves and parting words, then head outside into the snowy streets. It's been nearly four months now since her martial arts studio has been open, and since then it's really taken off, becoming quite popular amongst the people in the neighborhood, mostly younger kids in high school. Of course, Becky and Holly both have been sure to make it to her evening classes for more training, in addition to the private lessons she already gives them.

Becky, in particular, has really come a long way in such a short amount of time, proving to be quite a natural at it. In spite of a somewhat slow start, she's been picking up Rose's teachings at an increasingly quick pace and can almost even land a hit during their spars. Then there's Holly, the little firecracker that she is, who has only further increased her skill. She reminds Rose of herself near that age, packing a lot of punch for one so small.

Removing the top of her gi to expose the plain white T-shirt beneath, Rose lets out a small sigh and drops into a chair behind the counter. Opening the mini-fridge next to her, she pulls out a bottle of water and takes a long sip, then turns her attention to the woman sitting at the counter and going through the computer.

Rose: So, how's everything look?

Circe: Just finished paying the bills for this place and sorting through the student payments. Everything is in order.

Rose: Good to hear. You seem to be adjusting just fine.

Circe: Please, I'm not that out of tune with things work in the world. I've lived a mortal life before, briefly, although the circumstances were much different. Acting as your bookkeeper is simple enough.

Rose: You know, I still haven't received a thank you for giving you this job. Or for getting you Becky's old apartment, after she moved in with me. Or for letting you have my old car.

Circe: Haven't you? Imagine that.

Releasing a small sigh, Rose takes another gulp of water. Circe can be pretty abrasive, but she does her job well enough. Also, true to her word, she's been raising her daughter well, even enrolling Lyta into Holly's school; the two girls are in the same class together now, and have grown quite close.

Rose: So, are you and Lyta coming by later?

Circe's fingers briefly stop typing at the computer, as she turns to look over her shoulder.

Circe: I suppose. I still have no idea what the purpose of this 'Christmas' is, but Lyta is looking forward to coming over. What time would be appropriate?

Rose: Well, I'm taking Becky and Holly out to dinner later, when Becky gets off work. Probably be back around seven... say seven-thirty?

Circe: We'll be there at seven-thirty, then.

She turns back to the computer again, fingers flying across the keyboard.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Christmas Eve, one of the happiest times of the year for many people. For Rose, however, it's been a long, long time since she had experienced a truly enjoyable Christmas holiday, not since she lived with her mother over six years ago. Last year had been alright, with just her and Holly, but given that she had still been adjusting to her new life, it hadn't been as great as it could have. Now, however, she can share this Christmas with not just Holly, but Becky, too. Even Circe, as disagreeable as she can be, and her daughter, Lyta, are there to participate in the festivities, or at least as festive as a small Christmas Eve get-together can be.

Rose busily works in the kitchen, putting together a tray of dessert snacks, most of which she had baked herself the day before. She's only glad that none of her old team had been there to see her baking, of all things. Especially Wonder Girl... Cassie never would have let her live it down. Hell, she'd even been wearing an apron. Two years ago, Rose would have sooner burned an apron to ashes than put one on, but she has grown in that time, changed in ways she never could have imagined.

As Rose continues putting together the desserts, Becky sits with Circe in the living room, attempting to explain the concept of Christmas to her.

Circe: So, you're telling me that this holiday is supposed to celebrate the birthday of an imaginary figure who died two thousand years ago? I fail to see the point in that.

Becky: Uh... something like that. But forget the religious aspects of it. It's more just a day for friends and family to come together and celebrate the good in their life. And exchange presents, of course.

Furrowing her brow, Circe folds her arm and leans back in the armchair. For a moment, she says nothing, then glances over at the brightly decorated Christmas tree in the corner of the living room.

Circe: And what is the purpose of decorating a tree with brightly colored lights?

Becky: Well, just for... decoration. I mean, it looks pretty, ah?

Circe: I wouldn't call it pretty. Gaudy, maybe.

Becky: Er, in any case, it's also where you put the gifts. See, there under the tree?

Circe: I suppose that's a more practical reason...

Becky: We got you a gift, you know.

Suddenly, Circe's demeanor shifts. She sits up straighter in her seat, eyebrows raising and arms folding.

Circe: Oh, did you?

Becky: There's one for Lyta, too. They're under the tree with the others.

Gaze shifting briefly over to the bundle of wrapped presents beneath the tree, Circe raises a hand to her chin and lets out a cool breath.

Circe: I see... Lyta, dear, did you hear that?

But her daughter isn't listening, currently engaged in her own activities. A short distance away, over at the table, Lyta and Holly are sitting together. Holly leans forward, watching in awe as Lyta holds her hands out and emits bright, colorful flames from her palms. She makes the flames dance and take different shapes, then lets them burst into sparkles. Being a demigod herself, and the daughter of (formerly) one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world, Lyta's own magical potential is quite large.

Holly: That is so cool.

Lyta: I can do more, too, watch.

Holding her hands up and far apart, she causes flickering sparks to jump between her fingers, until finally she holds a steady electrical current. After a few moments, she brings her palms together, pressing them firmly and causing her hands to glow brightly. Holly grins widely, thoroughly impressed.

Holly: Man, I bet you could put on the best magic show ever.

Lyta: Maybe not the best, but yeah, it would be pretty awesome, right?

Circe: Lyta, I said 'did you hear that?'

Finally, Lyta hears her mother, looking up from her spot at the table.

Lyta: Huh? No, what's that?

Circe: There's a present for you under the tree.

Instantly, the girl's face lights up, as she jumps out of her seat and heads for the tree.

Lyta: Really? Awesome!

Becky: It's from all of us, hope you like it.

Holly: I helped pick it out!

Finding her present fairly quickly, Lyta levitates it up into the air in front of her and tears off the wrapping paper with a simple wave of the hand. Her gift is a book, a hugely popular and successful book, in fact, and written by a good friend: “Hex Appeal: The Modern Girl's Guide to Magic”, by Zatanna Zatara.

Becky: Most of the stuff in there is just a bunch of illusions and sleight of hand for the average person, but Zatanna assured us that someone like yourself could get a whole lot more out of it. You like it?

Lyta: Like it? I love it! This is so amazing.

A huge smile on her face, she waves another hand, causing the levitating book to begin flipping itself through its pages.

Lyta: There's a lot cool stuff in here! Thank you so much, this is great!

Becky: Ah, de nada. Glad you enjoy it. Now, I think your mother should open her gift next, don't you?

Lyta: Oh, I'll find it for her!

Going through the presents again, she soon finds the small present and sends it through the air over to Circe. Catching it, Circe stares at it for a few moments, rolling it over in her hands.

Circe: It's quite small...

Becky: Just open it, girl.

Finally, Circe does indeed open it, although she must physically do so with her hands, unlike her magical daughter. Beneath the wrapping paper is a small felt box, which she flips open to see a gold chained necklace inside, with a small, ruby pendant. Instantly, Circe's eyebrows raise, as she lifts it up and takes a closer look.

Circe: This is... I mean, it's beautiful. You... really bought this for me?

Becky: Hey, it's a gift. Like it or not, you're our friend, and we give our friends gifts on Christmas.

Circe: I don't know what to say.

Becky: 'Thank you' might be a good start.

A long pause drifts between them, as Circe gazes at the pendant for a while longer, then eventually putting it around her neck. She looks suddenly more docile and agreeable than before.

Circe: Thank you.

Carrying a tray of desserts, Rose makes her way into the living room finally, joining the others. She sets down the tray, which Lyta and Holly immediately attack, going straight for the brownies. Smirking a little, Rose reaches for one of the small cups on the tray and then passes it to Circe.

Rose: Ever had eggnog?

Circe: I don't believe I have.

Taking the cup, Circe stares tentatively at the liquid inside, before taking a small sip. Instantly, she holds a hand up to her mouth and grimaces, forcing herself to swallow. She then coughs a few times, putting the cup back on the tray.

Circe: Vile, absolutely vile!

Rose tries not to laugh too hard, giving Becky an amused look.

Rose: Well, you either like it or you don't. Guess you fall into the latter category.

Becky: I'll grab the wine, in that case.

Still chuckling under her breath, Becky gets up and heads to the kitchen, returning a short few moments later with a cup of wine. Circe takes it immediately, downing a large gulp to get the taste of eggnog out of her mouth.

Rose: Oh, Circe, I've been meaning to ask, can you watch Holly tomorrow?

Circe: Isn't tomorrow your Christmas Day?

Rose: Yeah, but unfortunately some people have to work tomorrow regardless.

Circe: Doing what?

Becky: Police detail. The station arranged for a police escort to transport a dangerous metahuman criminal. I'll be working that.

Ravager: And they want me to help. Well, technically not me. They want Ravager, in case something goes awry.

In the past several months, her relationship with the local police force has gone from shaky to incredibly solid. With how much she's helped them, and how much crime she's stopped, especially crime that the police wouldn't have been able to otherwise, The Ravager is not just a mysterious vigilante anymore, but instead a well regarded fellow peacekeeper around the the city. It is for that reason that they asked her to go along on the police transport, since she has experience handling extremely dangerous meta criminals.

Circe: I don't remember seeing anything about that in the papers.

Becky: It was kept pretty quiet. The guy was actually nabbed one town over, then brought here for trial. Of course, being what he is, they pushed him through the court system pretty fast. Now that he's officially guilty, he has a nice cozy cell waiting for him in Belle Reve.

Circe: I see. Well, I suppose I can watch Holly tomorrow, in that case. I'm sure Lyta wouldn't mind.

Rose: Good, thanks. We'll bring her by sometime in the morning, soon as we finish opening presents here.

A couple hours later, Circe and Lyta take their leave, heading back home. Rose puts Holly to bed, then helps Becky clean up everything. Finally, at around eleven, the two get a chance to just sit back and relax on the couch together, watching the snow fall outside the large window in front of them.

Becky: Feels good, doesn't it?

Rose: What?

Becky: Celebrating Christmas like this. Friends, family...

Reaching out, she takes one of Rose's hands in a firm grip, their fingers interlocking.

Becky: I know you said you've never really had much of that.

Rose: Not in a long time.

Returning the squeeze with her hand, Rose leans closer to Becky, resting her head on the woman's shoulder.

Rose: It does feel good.

Becky turns her head slightly, then lifts Rose's chin with her other hand. Leaning in, she gives a deep, loving kiss, then curls up closer to her, shifting into a warm embrace.

Becky: Merry Christmas, Rose.

Ext. Silverstone City Police Station – Early Morning

Ravager: Whoever arranged for a police transport on Christmas Day should be shot and hanged.

At least, that is one of the passing thoughts currently running through her head. She should be enjoying a nice morning of presents, cinnamon rolls, and general laziness, but instead here she is, working in daylight for the first time since coming to Silverstone. While she could have refused and just opted to stay home with Holly, she had worked too hard to gain good standing with the local police to go and blow them off, and Holly would be fine with Circe and Lyta.

Becky: I'm pretty sure that would be the Chief. Something about lighter traffic.

Ravager: Remind me to smack him next time I see him.

Becky: I'd do it for you, if it wouldn't get me fired.

Ravager: So who is this guy we're transporting, anyway?

Becky: Goes by the name of Leonard Smalls. According to the information they handed out, he's a powerful pyrokinetic, along with the usual schtick of super strength and durability. Hell, I heard he once survived a trip down to the earth's core. But, he's got an inhibitor collar on him now to nullify his powers, so he shouldn't be a problem.

Ravager: And he was stopped during a rampage over in Springfield?

Becky: By the Flash, yeah. Not sure what his problem was, be he tore apart half the town before finally being subdued.

Ravager: Well, with a name like Smalls, can't really blame him for being so angry.

A small smirk forms across Becky's face, as she opens the door to her squad car.

Becky: You'll be following behind us, right?

Rose: On my ride, yeah. I'll be ready at a moment's notice, if something goes wrong.

Becky: Kay, see ya out there.

With that, Becky gets into her squad car and closes the door, waiting for the signal to move out. Ravager gives her a wave, then heads over to her own ride, the even more heavily advanced than before cycle built for her by Batman. It looks much the same as her last one, but the engine is more powerful, and the steering much smoother. It's also outfitted with a bunch of nifty and useful little gadgets. As she mounts the bike, she is approached by an older cop, greying around the ears and wrinkling around the eyes.

McCormick: Hello, hey, you're The Ravager, right?

Ravager: You see anyone else dressed up in an armored suit and wearing a mask?

McCormick: Uh, right. Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself before we get this show on the road. I'm Officer McCormick, I'm in charge of the transport today.

Ravager stares at the man for a moment, before reaching forward to shake his extended hand.

Ravager: Tell me, McCormick, you really expect something to happen?

McCormick: Oh, I'd certainly hope not. But with these kinds of people, you never can be too careful. No telling what kinds of friends they might have trying to bust them out.

Ravager: And you think a dozen squad cars, plus me, are going to be enough to repel one of these hypothetical attacks?

McCormick: It'll have to do, because it's all we got. Besides, you're used to this kind of stuff; you can handle it, right?

Ravager: Oh, trust me, I can handle it.

Ext. Highway out of Silverstone – Early Morning

The traffic is very light on the highway, with only a scant few other cars here and there. Most people are at home either sleeping in or opening presents at this time, and those that will be traveling won't be doing so until later in the morning. This allows for the police transport convoy to progress swiftly and smoothly towards Belle Reve Penitentiary. Given that the location is about six hours away, however, they're in for quite the long drive. Keeping in the back, Ravager pays close attention to the setup. Six squad cars out in front of the armored car transporting the prisoner, and six behind it. If anything did happen, she just hoped that they could handle it. One or two rogue metas coming to free their boss, sure, no problem. But a whole team? Well, that could be an issue.

It's snowing still, has been since the night before, resulting in a heavy blanket of white powder covering the surrounding land, and a rather slick road surface. At least they got a white Christmas, even if driving in the snow is a pain in the ass, especially on a bike. Fortunately, her new ride comes equipped to handle all kinds of weather conditions.

About a half hour down the highway outside of Silverstone, something does happen, although nothing that they had expected. The convoy is forced to slow down to a halt, as a road block consisting of half a dozen black cars with tinted windows sits directly in their path, blocking the entire width of the highway. Ravager glares from behind her faceplate (now outfitted with two eye holes, ever since she got her missing eye back). This definitely isn't normal.

Stopping her ride, she gets off and starts walking towards the front of the line of squad cars. Some other cops are standing outside their vehicles, while others remain seated inside. As she passes Becky's car, the window rolls down.

Becky: The hell do you suppose this is?

Ravager: Not a clue, but I intend to find out.

By the time she reaches the front of the convoy, Officer McCormick is already there, talking to a man dressed in a dark suit and tie, with tinted sunglasses.

McCormick: ...out of your damn mind! This man killed fifty-seven people in an hour, and caused millions in property damage.

Agent Croft: I'm afraid it's a presidential order.

McCormick: Bullsh*t! You honestly expect me to believe-

Ravager: Alright, what the hell is going on here?

The two man glance over at her. The man in the suit looks remarkably calm, while McCormick is borderline livid.

Agent Croft: And you are?

McCormick: This is Ravager; she's assisting us on our transport today. Ravager, this is Agent Croft, with the FBI. He's demanding that we free our prisoner.

Furrowing her brow, Ravager slowly looks over to the fed.

Ravager: You do realize who you're talking about, right? A highly dangerous criminal capable of incredible amounts of destruction. A murderer, plain and simple.

Agent Croft: We know who he is ma'am, but we you're to release him at once. I have the written order right here.

Reaching into his pocket, Agent Croft pulls out an envelope and removes the folded paper inside. McCormick takes the paper from him and quickly reads it over. It is, indeed, a written order to release the prisoner, signed by the President of the United States himself, along with the presidential seal stamped right next to the signature.

McCormick: This is insane. We can't just let him go; he's been found guilty in a court of law. He's a convicted felon!

Agent Croft: Not our call, just following orders.

Putting a hand on McCormick's shoulder, Ravager turns him to the side for a moment, leaning in to whisper to him.

Ravager: I don't like this, there's too much wrong with it.

McCormick: You're telling me. None of this makes any sense.

Ravager: Exactly. How did they even know when we were transporting this guy? They haven't given an actual reason for his release, either, just that it's supposedly a presidential order. That also doesn't make any sense. Why would the president want to free a mass murderer?

McCormick: But at the same time, what are we supposed to do? The papers look legit, and if this is a presidential order, we can't ignore it.

Ravager: So you're just going to let him go?

McCormick: Believe me, I don't like it, but I don't see how we have any other choice.

Letting out a small groan, Ravager lifts a hand to her head and shakes it slowly.

Ravager: Alright, fine, but just remember that-

Her words suddenly catch in her throat, as her mind is blotted out by a precognitive vision. It's not one of her brief warnings of an attack, it's a more extensive one, which she's quite used to by this point. But what she sees sends her into defensive mode. Federal agents firing, dead cops, burning vehicles, and a man standing over them wrapped in flames.

Ravager: Officer McCormick, walk very slowly back to your vehicle, and leave this to me.

McCormick: What are you-

Ravager: Just do it.

He gives her a long, confused look, but the seriousness in her tone finally gets him to head back to his squad car. Ravager then turns back to Agent Croft, glaring at him.

Ravager: So, when were you planning to do it?

Agent Croft: Do what, exactly?

Ravager: Open fire on everyone here.

A long pause passes between them, until finally Agent Croft folds his arms and tilts his head forward, looking over the top of his sunglasses.

Agent Croft: He was right about you; you do see things.

Ravager's body suddenly tenses up, eyes narrowing.

Ravager: Who?

But she never gets an answer. Instead, she sees another flicker of precog, this time reacting to it instantly. Before the agent can get his hands on his gun, Ravager delivers a hard palm strike to the bottom of his chin, whipping his head back and knocking him to the ground unconscious. Then, pandemonium erupts. The feds standing behind their cars all draw their weapons, beginning to open fire on them. Some carry pistols, but others are equipped with heavier artillery, mostly assault rifles.

Several cops go down before they realize they're under attack and start shooting back. Ravager is already on the move, running forward and using her precog to dodge bullets. Leaping over the wall of cars, she lands on the other side and starts attacking everyone in range. They try to shoot her, but are largely unsuccessful, as she viciously beats them down into unconsciousness. The few bullets that do manage to strike her are stopped cold by her upgraded armor; she barely feels them.

Within a short couple of minutes, the shootout ceases. Ravager glances around quickly, carefully examining things. Most of the feds are either unconscious, dead, or rolling around in crippling pain. Back on the other side, she spots at least half a dozen dead cops, on the ground and bleeding. Hurrying quickly back over to the police convoy, she looks around frantically.

Becky: Over here.

Ravager's gaze quickly turns to find Becky sitting on the ground and leaning up against her squad car. She's bleeding from a gunshot wound on her arm, but doesn't seem to be hurt beyond that.

Ravager: You alright?

Becky: Si, just a flesh wound. I'll be fine.

Her attention is pulled away a moment later by Officer McCormick, who approaches them from behind.

McCormick: What in the hell was that?! You want to explain why you just caused federal agents to shoot at us?

Ravager: They never meant to do this peacefully.

McCormick: What are you talking about?

Ravager: They were going to kill us all after they freed the prisoner. No one would have gotten away.

McCormick: And how the f*ck do you know that?

Ravager: I saw it.

McCormick: What do you mean you-

A loud gunshot goes off. Suddenly, Officer McCormick falls face first against the cold ground, bleeding from a gaping wound on his backside. Taking a surprised step backwards, Ravager looks up back over at the road block. Through the whipping snowflakes falling from the sky, she sees a figure standing atop one of the cars. He holds a shotgun forward, the barrel smoking.

Ravager instantly freezes up when she recognizes who the man is. Mask or not, there's no mistaking him for someone else. He's far too familiar to her; those colors, that costume...

Ravager: You...

And then, the voice.

Deathstroke: What's the matter, Rose? Didn't see that one coming?

Chapter #49

Ext. Highway out of Silverstone – Early Morning

Chaos erupts across the highway yet again, this time fueled by the mercenary known as Deathstroke, otherwise known as Ravager's father. As soon as he appears and kills McCormick, the remaining cops open fire on him, as well. Unfortunately, they have no idea what they're getting themselves into. He reacts far too fast for them, already moving, ducking, weaving, and drawing a pair of automatic pistols. Within seconds, he mows them all down, until not a single one is left standing. All that's left are him, Ravager, Becky, and the prisoner in the armored car. Ravager already has her swords drawn.

Ravager: You have some nerve showing up here, coming after me. After all this time, I'd finally put you behind me... and then you show up again like this. You son of a b*tch...

Deathstroke: What makes you think I'm here for you, Rose? I gave you a chance before to come with me, to start our family over, but you threw the offer back in my face. You don't interest me anymore.

Ravager: Then why are you here, shooting down cops? Last time we met, you said you were cleaning the slate, starting over. So much for that bullsh*t, huh?

Deathstroke: I'm here for the prisoner, nothing more. I was hired to make sure this transaction went... smoothly. My client is a very important man, after all.

Ravager: Your client?

Deathstroke: Details, Rose, you know I can't divulge them.

Leaning back closer against her squad car, Becky stifles a small groan at the throbbing from her gunshot. It may just be a flesh wound on the arm, but it still hurts. Moving her head slightly to the side, she tries to see over the front of the vehicle, to get a closer look at their attack.

Becky: Rose, who is that?

Ravager: My father...

Becky: Dios mio... you serious?

Ravager: Yeah.

Cocking his head to the side slightly, Deathstroke's single eye glares her her through his mask.

Deathstroke: Giving away your identity to the local cops now? Or is she a friend? Didn't realize you had any these days, after that incident with the Titans.

Fingers tightening around her sword handles, Ravager scowls.

Ravager: You don't know anything about it, a**hole.

Deathstroke: I notice you have a new costume now. Finally decided to try and step out from my shadow? It doesn't suit you.

Ravager: Shut up...

Deathstroke: And two eye holes? Is that supposed to be ironic or did you really go and get another?

Ravager: Shut. Up.

Deathstroke: You can change your appearance and distance yourself from me as much as you like, but it doesn't matter, Rose. In the end, you'll never be anything more than Daddy's little girl.

Ravager: I said... SHUT UP!

She suddenly charges at him, not wanting to listen to his venomous words any longer. She had thought herself free of her b**tard father, living her own life with no more constant reminders of him. She had finally been able to push him out of her mind entirely, had been starting to forget him... and then, in an instant, all that freedom is gone. Ravager lunges in at him wildly, viciously, swinging her blades with every intent on ripping through her father's midsection and spilling his insides out over the highway. But of course, he's too quick for that, simply moving out of the way and drawing his own sword.

For a brief few moments, their steel clashes. Her heart thumps quickly in her chest, everything slowing down as her mind and body come into near perfect, fluid harmony. She can see his attacks, defends against them effortlessly, presses her attack... but then she realizes that he's just toying with her. All that harmony comes crumbling down when his knee drives straight into her gut with tremendous force, knocking the wind from her even through her armor. A follow up kick to the head sends her sliding across the ground, and knocks the faceplate clean off her helmet to expose her face.

Deathstroke: You've gotten better, Rose, I can see it in the way you fight, the way you move. But you're sloppy right now, clumsy. You can't get me out of your head, can you?

Gritting her teeth, Ravager pushes herself back up to one knee. As she moves to stand back up, he's suddenly on her again, driving his leg squarely into her chest and causing her to crash back against a nearby squad car, denting the door. Walking forward, he reaches down and grabs her by the front of her suit, pulling her up.

Deathstroke: And as long as I'm in your head, you can't beat me.

A gunshot goes off, the loud bang echoing through the cold, winter air. Deathstroke pulls his hand back in sudden pain, the bullet driving into his armored costume and forcing his sword from his grasp. Slowly, he turns to see Rebecca standing there with one hand pointing her pistol at him. Her other arm hangs limply, bleeding from the wound near her shoulder.

Becky: Get away from her, you b**tard! Put your hands on her head, and get down on your knees! I won't say it again!

Ravager: Becky, don't! Just get back!

Deathstroke's grip suddenly releases from Ravager, dropping her back to the ground and adding another hard kick to her gut for good measure. She coughs out a deep breath, holding herself up on her elbows.

She doesn't know what she's doing, she'll get herself killed!

When Deathstroke doesn't back down, Becky fires again. Deathstroke is already out of harm's way, on the move and rushing straight at her. Her eyes goes wide, as she tries to follow him with her aim. Two more shots go off, but she misses those, as well, and then he's on her. Utilizing her recent training, Becky attempts to defend herself, and actually manages to evade and block the first couple of strikes. She quickly loses ground, however, until finally Deathstroke's knee explodes into her stomach, followed by his palm snapping her head backwards. A straight, stomping kick to the chest puts her on the ground, coughing and gasping for air. Reaching into his holster, Deathstroke pulls out another one of his guns and points it down at her.

Deathstroke: Should have stayed out of it.

Before he can shoot, however, he's suddenly defending himself against a furious, wild Ravager. She comes it at him half crazed, slashing her swords and screaming at him.

Ravager: Don't you touch her!

Though her blades manage to draw blood, the wounds are shallow and do little to slow her father down. Deathstroke quickly recovers from the surprise attack and disarms her, then puts her down again with several hard blows to the midsection. Falling back to the ground, Ravager holds her arms over her stomach, curling up slightly at the resulting pain. One thing about her father, he hits hard.

Deathstroke: Well, looks like I was wrong. Not just friends at all. You never cease to surprise me, Rose.

Rose: Go to hell...

Ignoring her, Deathstroke walks through the carnage, steps over bodies, and finally makes it to the armored car. Shooting off the locks to the rear doors, he throws them open and jumps up inside, where a large, dark skinned man sits, strapped to the bench on the side with a thick metal collar around his neck.

Deathstroke: Leonard Smalls, Jr.?

Holocaust: You're lookin' at him. But I prefer Holocaust.

Deathstroke: Holocaust, then.

Holocaust: So who the hell are you?

Deathstroke: I'm the one who's getting you out of here. A very important man has a proposition for you, one I don't think you'll want to pass up.

Holocaust: I'll be the judge of that.

Deathstroke: If you want your slate wiped clean, you'll take the offer. Either that, or I leave you here.

Holocaust: I'll consider it. That's all you're gettin'.

Deathstroke: Good enough.

Walking over to the man, Deathstroke draws a knife and cuts the straps holding Holocaust in place, then breaks the inhibitor collar and removes it. Instantly, Holocaust stands up and holds up his fists, unleashing a swirl of fire that bursts through the top of the vehicle. Grinning widely, a pleased chuckle echoes in his throat.

Holocaust: Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Deathstroke: Come on, we're wasting time. We have places to be.

Holocaust: Right behind you.

When the two exit the armored car, Deathstroke looks around carefully. He doesn't see any sign of his daughter or her girlfriend; they most likely retreated when they had the chance. Not that it matters. He didn't come here for them, after all.

Deathstroke: One more thing before we go; get rid of the evidence.

Holocaust: Heh, my pleasure.

Red hot flames engulf the man's body, then quickly begins to spread across the highway and consume vehicles and bodies alike, incinerating them to ash. In mere seconds, a towering inferno rages across the road, thick billows of black smoke rising into the sky.

Int. Silverstone City Police Station – Day

Police Chief Gerald Palmer sits behind his desk, hands folded and gaze narrowed at the two people standing across from him, Ravager and Rebecca Chavez, the latter of whom has her injured arm in a sling. They've just finished debriefing him on the events that took place on the highway, and quite frankly, it's a lot to absorb.

Chief Palmer: So let me get this straight... You were stopped by a federal roadblock, demanded to give up your prisoner, then attacked not only by the FBI, but an international criminal mercenary, resulting in the deaths of fifteen police officers. That about sum it up?

Hanging her head, Becky lets out a long breath.

Becky: Yes, sir.

Ravager: I'd say that pretty much covers it, yeah. Except, you missed the part where the pyro freak torched the entire scene. Wasn't a lot left when we went back to check.

Leaning back in his seat, Chief Palmer runs his fingers through his hair sucks in a large breath of air. He's trying to hold it together, in spite of an overwhelming mixture of anger, grief, confusion, and a swarm of other emotions raging inside his head like a maelstrom.

Chief Palmer: Son of a b*tch... I knew those men. Good cops, every last one of them. Now I have to tell their families that... Goddamn it.

Both Ravager and Becky remain silent, only glancing at each other briefly.

Chief Palmer: Okay, you two just... go. Chavez, take the rest of the day off, Ravager... do whatever you normally do. I'll handle this. Gotta send a team up to investigate the scene, send word out to the deceased's families, report this... incident. Just... go, both of you. Now!

Ravager is the first to turn and leave, heading out the door. Becky, however, remains behind a brief moment. She knew all those men, knew them well. They were fellow cops, there was a bond there. Losing that many of her comrades in one day... she feels the pain of it, too.

Becky: Sir... if there's anything I can-

Chief Palmer: Not now, Chavez. Just... not now.

Swallowing a hard lump in her throat, Becky nods slowly, then finally leaves the office.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Rose watches, as Becky moves across the penthouse and into the living room, dropping herself onto the couch. They're both tired and hurting, but in different ways. For a long moment, neither says anything. Becky sits there, motionless, while Rose stands in the main hallway, head hanging. Finally, she turns and starts heading into the kitchen.

Rose: I'll... put some coffee on.

The next ten minutes go by in utter silence. Rose just stands there, watching the coffee drip into the pot. When it finishes, she pours two cups and walks into the living room to be with her girlfriend. Though she holds one of the cups of coffee out, Becky doesn't acknowledge it at first. Only after Rose pushes it closer to her face does she finally take it, bringing it to her lips and sipping down the hot drink.

Becky: Thanks...

Rose sits down down across from her in one of the arm chairs. She takes a long sip of coffee, then leans forward and places her mug down on the table between them. Words escape her at the moment, not knowing exactly what to say. Neither of them had been prepared for such an incident today. Even Ravager, with all her experience, is at a loss. Fortunately, Becky breaks the silence.

Becky: So... that was your father?

Rose: Yeah...

Becky: He's a b**tard.

Rose: I know.

Breathing in a long gulp of air, Rose holds a hand to her forehead and leans back in her seat, eyes closing.

Rose: I thought... I really thought I was finally free of him, you know? I had my own life, one that he wasn't a part of, I'd managed to get him out of my mind... and then he comes right back in and f*cks with me all over again.

Bringing up her cup of coffee again, Becky takes another long sip.

Becky: Who do you think hired him? It... couldn't really be the president, could it? I mean, you don't really think...

Rose: No, no way. If Slade's involved, then those guys couldn't have been legit, definitely not feds. Maybe just some goons my dad's employer hired as plan A. When that fell through, daddy dearest came in as plan B. But whoever it is... whoever hired him, I'm going to find him, and I'm going to hurt him.

Becky: Yeah... I'm sure you will.

A brief moment of silence passes between them. Rose glances up at Becky, notices the hurt on her face. Seeing Becky this way... it makes Rose almost sick to her stomach. Getting up from her seat, she moves forward around the table and comes to sit on the couch next to Becky, putting a hand on the woman's shoulder.

Rose: Becky... I'm sorry. I really... I know they were your friends. I was a cop, too, I know how strong that bond is... and you worked with them a lot longer than I did.

An answer doesn't come immediately. Becky simply sits there, quietly staring down at her reflection in the cup of coffee. Eventually, she breathes out a heavy sigh and shakes her head slightly.

Becky: I just... I wish I wasn't so useless all the time.

Rose: What are you talking about?

Becky: Rose, what did I really do today? I shot at a few people, got shot myself, then almost got killed. A big help I was, huh?

Rose: Becky, there's nothing you could have done.

Becky: But that's the problem!

She's on her feet now, lurching up from her seat and holding her good hand up to her head. For a moment, she just paces, then finally drops her arm and looks to Rose.

Becky: With how you live your life, with what you do... this whole superhero thing, I can't help you with that. No matter how much I want to, I can't. Yeah, I'm a cop, but as you love to point out, there's just some things that the cops can't handle. Take today, for instance. All I did was get in the way. I want to do more.

Rose: But you already do more, Beck. You help me every night, at that computer, on the radio. You-

Becky: Jueputa! I don't want to be stuck behind a computer! When you're out there every night getting yourself shot at, putting bad guys away, what am I doing? Sitting at a desk and praying to god that you come home in one piece. I want to be out there with you, Rose, I want to really help you.

Rose: Becky... even if I wanted to put you in danger like that every night, you still wouldn't be ready, you're just-

Becky: A rookie, right, I know. Madre de Dios, I know.

Rubbing her eyes tiredly, Becky starts pacing again, then swallows a tight knot in her throat. She's trying to hide the wetness of tears beginning to form, but isn't entirely successful. Rose can see the moistness seeping around her fingertips.

Becky: And I don't have any powers or anything special about me, anyway. I can't even fight that well... what could I really do?

Standing from her seat, Rose comes forward and puts her hands on Becky's shoulders, giving her a hard, yet caring gaze.

Rose: You don't need anything super or special about you, Becky. No matter what, you're special to me, and that's what matters.

Becky: I... I know, I just... I can't help it, you know? I hate being here while you're out there, knowing I can't do anything for you. I just wish I could do more.

Rose: But you don't need to. Just being yourself... being in my life, you're already do more than enough.

When Becky goes silent, her gaze lowering towards the floor, Rose leans in and gives her a firm, loving kiss. When their lips part, Becky takes in a heavy breath again and swallows, then nods slowly.

Becky: Thanks... I'm just gonna take a while to clear my head. Think I'll take a shower.

Rose: Alright, you do that. I gotta go pick up Holly, anyway. When I get back, we'll all go out for dinner, how's that sound?

A small smile curls its way across Becky's face.

Becky: Sounds perfect.

Chapter #50

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Day

It's snowing again, but only light flurries this time. People line the streets, watching the squad cars and police motorcycles drive by in a long, mournful procession. Six days, that's how long it takes to organize such a massive funeral march. As much as the city would rather have individual funerals for these fallen officers, there just isn't enough taxpayer money to go around for fifteen such instances. Never before has such a tragedy befallen Silverstone's finest, and every single person there is hoping that it never does again.

Rose stands on the sidewalk, at the corner of Levitt and Hunting Street. Holly is there with her, holding her hand tightly and watching with sad eyes. She may be young, but she's old enough to understand the kind of impact that such an event has on the a city and its people. The general public hadn't been privy to the details of the event that actually took the lives of so many officers, though. All they were told was that dangerous criminals had heartlessly murdered them. As for the information about Deathstroke, the phony feds, and phantom presidential orders, that's all being kept under wraps, at least for now.

After the initial wave of police cruisers, the long lines of officers on foot appears, marching behind the slow procession. Becky is right at the front, walking in rhythm and trying to keep her head high, in spite of the tears evident on her face. But she isn't the only one crying. Nearly every single officer waters around the eyes. These men were their co-workers, their comrades, their friends, and they will be missed. As the line of police continues on, Holly glances up and tugs slightly at Rose's hand.

Holly: Are they going to catch the people that did this?

Breathing outwardly, Rose returns the gaze.

Rose: Of course they are.

Holly: Are you going to help?

Rose: Yeah... damn right I am.

No matter what it takes, Rose will find out who was responsible for that massacre. She's already heavily involved as it is, with her father being the biggest lead that they have, but there's something more driving her motivation, something burning deep. Whoever did this would pay dearly. Whatever she needs to do... the people responsible won't get away. She'll make sure of it.

Looking back to the funeral procession, Holly lets out a heavy breath, tightening her fingers around Rose's hand.

Holly: Good.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Day

Several hours later...

Becky knocks lightly on Chief Palmer's office door, taking in a deep breath and then slowly letting it out. When the response comes, telling her to come inside, she hesitates. Part of her just wants to turn the other way and keep on going, maybe find a nice hole to curl up in and disappear. Of course, the other part of her, the stronger part of her, forces her through the door. She closes it back behind her, then stands awkwardly in front of the man's desk for a moment.

Becky: Chief...

Chief Palmer: You can sit down, Chavez.

Becky: Right, of course.

Moving forward, she quickly sets herself down in the chair across from him.

Becky: Sorry, I... I mean, I wasn't...

Chief Palmer: I know, don't worry about it. Now, what did you want to see me about?

Becky: I just... wanted to talk. About the incident last week.

Chief Palmer: What about it?

Becky: I want to apologize. I was there when it happened, you know? I.. I tried to do what I could, sir, but it wasn't enough. We were caught completely off guard, unprepared, and we failed. I failed.

Becky hangs her head, as a silent pause drifts over over them. Regardless of how much she knows it isn't her fault, knows there was nothing else she could have done to help, the guilt is still there, clawing at the back of her mind constantly. Chief Palmer gazes back at her, shifting in his seat and sighing.

Chief Palmer: The only reason you failed is because I failed. I should have handled it differently, set the transport up another way... I don't know, maybe I put too much trust in that Ravager.

Becky: Ravager is the only reason I'm still alive, sir. She fought tooth and nail with us, but she's only one person.

Chief Palmer: I know, I know... it's not her fault. And it's not your fault, either.

Becky: Right... it's whoever set us up, whoever hired Deathstroke, whoever wanted that prisoner free. That's who we should be going after, and I want to help. Whatever you need me to do, sir, I'm yours. I'll take extra shifts, go undercover, work with the detectives, it doesn't matter. I want to help catch these b**tards.

Another long silence passes between them. Palmer's gaze moves away from her, a hand coming up to run through his hair. He looks nervous, agitated even. This doesn't go unnoticed, as Becky narrows her eyes at him, curiously.

Becky: What is it? I know that look, something's wrong.

Chief Palmer: Something's wrong, alright. We won't be handling the investigation.

Becky: Mierda! Are you kidding me?

Chief Palmer: I wish I were, believe me.

Becky: What the hell happened?

Chief Palmer: It's become a federal case. All I was told was that the FBI would be handling the investigation, and that we can't be involved. You know, because we're just the damn city cops.

Practically jumping up to her feet, Becky slams her fists on top of the desk. She's not just angry, she's not just upset; she's p*ssed.

Becky: The city cops who just lost fifteen members of their force! And they're telling us we can't be involved? That's bullsh*t!

Chief Palmer: Believe me, I'm right there with you, but there isn't anything I can do about it. Those are the orders.

Becky: Jueputa!

In her outburst, Becky drives her boot into the desk, giving it an astoundingly hard kick that rattles everything on it. Palmer doesn't make a move to calm her down, though, or try to get her to stop. She's reacting exactly how he would expect her to react, actually. He isn't any more pleased about the situation that she is; the only difference is, being police chief, he doesn't get to react like that. Rather, he has to retain his cool, has to bite the bullet. But Becky... he lets her vent.

Becky: Of all the garbage things to... I can't even... Goddamn it! Permission to take the rest of the day off, chief? I... I feel like I need to go hit something.

Chief Palmer: Was just about to suggest it myself, actually. Take tomorrow off, too, give you some time to clear your head.

Clenching her jaw briefly, she nods to him and then heads to the door.

Becky: Thanks.

The door slams behind her, shaking the entire wall. Breathing out another long sigh, Chief Palmer leans forward against his desk and holds his head in his hands; he suddenly has a very large headache.

Int. Rose's Martial Arts Studio – Day

The studio might be closed for another few days, but Becky really wants to hit something, and this is the only place with a sizable enough area for them to spar in properly. The penthouse living room suffices well enough when all the furniture is moved out of the way, but this is much preferable.

Rose ducks the incoming punch, then counters with a palm thrust to the chest. Becky stumbles backwards, growling in frustration, but doesn't let that slow her down. She comes back in again with a whirling kick, viciously. Rose throws up an arm to block it, then pushes her leg to the side.

Rose: It has to be some kind of joke. The feds are really just coming in and pushing you out of the way?

Becky: Of course they are, why not?

Exhaling a loud, sharp breath, Becky lunges forward with another punch; she hits air. Trying not to fall too far off balance, she follows up quickly with a roundhouse elbow, but again Rose blocks it.

Becky: I'm pretty sure it's in the FBI handbook, to be the biggest a**holes possible. Kick us off the case, keep us in the dark... sons of b*tches!

As their spar goes on, Becky grows increasingly aggravated, not only because of the situation involving the investigation, but also because she still hasn't managed to land a hit on her sparring partner, in spite of how bad she wants let out her frustrations on something. She thought that maybe this time, she would actually give Rose a challenge... but not so much. Even with how much she has improved, Rose is still leaps ahead of her.

Becky: Hijo de puta! I need to hit something!

Again, Rose blocks an incoming strike and pushes Becky off balance. She isn't fighting back as she usually does, instead just defending herself. No reason to add insult to injury, after all. Still, Becky doesn't give up, pressing her zealous attack with everything she has. Unfortunately, everything she has isn't nearly enough, as Rose continues to nearly effortlessly avoid her strikes.

Becky: Goddamn it!

Rose: Would you rather I just stand here like a dummy, or do you want earn it?

Another duck, another weave, another misstep that throws Becky off balance.

Becky: To be honest, I'd rather just beat the crap out of something!

This time, Rose catches Becky's arm and twists it slightly, then pushes her backwards while stepping behind her, in the process tripping her up. Becky goes down, landing on her behind and beating her fists against the mat.

Becky: Mierda!

Rose: There's always the heavy bag.

Becky: The heavy bag doesn't fight back.

Flipping herself back up to her feet, she lunges in with a flying kick. Rose sidesteps it, pushing her on by and causing her to stumble yet again.

Becky: It won't help me improve.

Uttering another loud breath, she turns and throws a cross jab, only to once more be pushed away with ease. This time, Rose moves behind her and puts her in a simple choke hold, with one arm forced behind her back.

Becky: And... I'm going... to improve!

A few months ago, Becky would have been trapped for good, but not anymore. Throwing her body forward, she uses the moment to flip Rose over herself onto her back. Letting out a quick breath upon impact, Rose looks up and then grabs onto Becky's gi, throwing her down as well.

Rose: You have improved. But you still have a long way to go.

When both are back on their feet, Rose takes another defensive stance and waits for Becky to make her next move. For a moment, however, Becky just stands there, taking deep, angry breaths. The frustration is still written heavily across her face.

Rose: I'm waiting.

Becky: When do you have to pick up Holly?

Rose: Uh, she'll be at Circe's for another few hours, why?

Becky: Good.

On that note, Becky runs in with a wild yell. Rose prepares to defend herself, but she isn't quite prepared for what happens next. Even her precog doesn't pick it up. Diving forward, Becky tackles Rose to the ground, pinning her there on her back and straddling her hips. She breathes deep, heavy breaths, hands coming up to pull open Rose's gi. In the next moment, her lips are attacking Rose's neck, while her hands start moving in under her clothes. Rose's eyes go wide, back arcing and body tingling.

Rose: Whoa, alright, wasn't expecting that.

Becky: If I can't beat away my frustrations, I'm gonna handle them a different way.

As Becky starts pulling her shirt off, Rose utters a long breath, eyes closing.

Rose: Well sh*t... be my guest.

Int. Circe's Apartment – Day

The two women walk up to the apartment door hand in hand, both rather glowing at the moment. After what Becky had initiated, though, it's no wonder. Raising a fist to knock on the door, Rose glances over at her girlfriend and raises her eyebrows.

Rose: So, you feeling better now?

Becky: A little, yeah. Still doesn't make me like being benched by the feds any better, though.

Rose: I know, but don't worry. They might be able to put you on the sidelines, but they can't do the same to Ravager. We'll get to the bottom of this with or without permission, promise.

Giving her hand a firm squeeze, Becky smiles, while leaning in to give Rose a quick kiss before the door opens, answered by Lyta.

Rose: Hi, Lyta, how's it going?

Lyta: Hey! Things are great, thanks. Come on in, everyone's in the living room.

Following the girl into the apartment, Rose and Becky make their way into the living room, where Circe and Holly are sitting and watching the television closely. From the looks of it, the channel is on some kind of political talk show. Rose furrows her brow curiously, then sits next to Circe on the couch.

Rose: What's going on?

Circe: Shh, you're going to want to hear this. Just listen.

Now even more confused, she turns her full attention to the television screen now, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees. It doesn't take long for her to identify the man being interviewed: it's the current New York State Senator, Thomas Greene.

Interviewer/Television: So, can you give us some more details on this bill you're introducing? I've heard from many sources that it could change our nation forever.

Greene/Television: You mean 'introduced'; it's already making its way through the process of becoming law.

Interviewer/Television: Right, of course. In record time, too, isn't that right? It was only proposed a few months ago, and already it's being voted on.

Greene/Television: That's correct. The content of this bill is of great importance to the security and stability of our nation for years to come.

Interviewer/Television: Why don't you reiterate, for any of our viewers just joining us? What about this bill is so important?

Greene/Television: Well, it's no secret that our world is populated by people of extraordinary power, people who dress up in costumes and masks, hide their identities, fight crime. We call them superheroes. Our kids look up to them, they have their own comic books, they save the world, etcetera, etcetera.

Interviewer/Television: But you feel there's a problem with that, correct?

Greene/Television: Not so much in the sense that I don't appreciate what these people do, but in the sense that they aren't regulated, they aren't controlled, and they aren't held accountable for when they make mistakes. This happens on a consistent basis; they do so much good that we overlook the fact that they don't strictly follow the law, laws that work well enough for the rest of our nation's people.

Interviewer/Television: A lot of people don't mind that, though. Even local law enforcement agencies back our heroes with what they do. As long as they keep helping others, should it matter if they're always acting inside the strict confines of the law? Just to play devil's advocate here, they have saved the world more times than we can count.

Greene/Television: I'm not denying how much they help, I'm saying that these people need to be monitored closely, they need to be regulated. Sure, they do good, but they've also done bad. You have some so called superheroes that are the good guys one day, and the bad guys the next. That's a lot of power out there that can just turn at the drop of a hat.

Interviewer/Television: Well, I can't say you're wrong there.

Greene/Television: And furthermore, if these people are going to using that kind of power, whether for good or otherwise, they must be held accountable for collateral damage. Too many times have I seen unnecessary amounts of destruction as a result of a superhero's power. And what happens? It gets swept under the rug. We turn the other way, because, oh, they're the hero, they have the power, so it's not their fault. Well guess what? Sometimes, it is their fault.

Interviewer/Television: Could you give us an example?

Greene/Television: Gladly. Go back about a year and a half, maybe two years ago, down in San Francisco. A bunch of thugs storm the local police station, take half a a dozen officers hostage, and make demands. Aside from the fact that the victims are some of the city's finest, sounds like your standard hostage situation, right?

Interviewer/Television: Seems like it, yes.

Green/Television: Well, that's where you'd be wrong. See, when negotiations don't get anywhere, instead of following normal procedure, what happens? They call in the local superhero team, the Teen Titans; you know them.

Interviewer/Television: I do.

Up until now, they've been watching the program in relative silence, mostly concerned and curious. Now, however, Rose is on her feet, heart pumping rapidly.

Rose: That son of a b*tch!

Turning to her, Becky puts a hand on her shoulder, eyes narrowing.

Becky: What is it?

Rose: He's... he's bringing it up. That. The reason I left the Titans, remember? I told you about it.

The revelation suddenly hits her. Becky's eyebrows lift, as she turns back to the television.

Greene/Television: ...setting the explosives off, even though she was told not to go in. A mistake that got six police officers killed, as well as one of their own. You'd think that this 'Ravager' would be held accountable for such a tragedy, right?

Interviewer/Television: Well, of course.

Greene/Television: And you'd be wrong again. What happened instead? The incident was ruled as an accident. Sure, relations between the San Francisco police and the Teen Titans were shaky for a while, but were any charges filed? Did the superhero known as Ravager pay for her mistake? No, it was forgotten about. Just one of the many reasons why this bill is going through so quickly, so that if things like that happen again, someone answers for it.

Rose is livid now, hands clenched to fists and arms shaking. Her eyes glare a hole through the television screen.

Rose: It was an accident! I didn't mean...

But the interview continues, in spite of her rather loud outburst. There's nothing she can do to make them stop, after all. She isn't there; she can only watch.

Interviewer/Television: I suppose you make fair points, but what exactly would this bill accomplish with the superhero community? What is its intent?

Greene/Television: The Extraordinary Persons Regulation Act intends to deliver a way to monitor these people we know as superheroes. No longer will they be free to run around uncontrolled, doing things as they see fit. They'll follow strict regulations, and be held accountable for their actions, or they won't do anything at all. With the laws set forth when this bill is voted in, there will be no more uncontrolled vigilantism.

Interviewer/Television: And instead replacing it with... controlled vigilantism?

Green/Interviewer: In a sense, yes. Those people we know as superheroes will be required to register with the government, in turn giving us access to their full identities, details on the extent of their powers, if any, and will regularly report to our department, who will determine and monitor their activities. It should also be noted that this Act covers not just those we refer to as 'metahumans', but also those affiliated with magic, such as the magician Zatanna, individuals who are of a more alien origin, like our very own Superman, as well as unpowered vigilantes who are physical weapons in their own right, such as Batman. Those who refuse to register will not be allowed to continue their 'superheroing' by law, and if they attempt to break that law, they will be detained and arrested for illegal vigilantism.

They watch the program with wide eyes, in utter disbelief at what they're hearing. Rose clenches her jaw, shaking her head and muttering under her breath, while Becky runs her fingers through her hair. Even Holly and Lyta watch with their mouths slightly agape. Only Circe seems to be remaining calm.

Rose: Bullsh*t. This is complete bullsh*t.

Becky: They... can't do that. Can they do that?

Circe: I think they just did.

Rose: But they can't! They want us to hand over our secret identities? They're secret for a reason! And f*ck all if they think I'm gonna be playing call girl for some government patsies!

Becky: It won't go through... it can't go through. They'll vote against it. Right?

No one has an answer. All they can do is keep watching the program.

Interviewer/Television: Oh, just one more question. You mentioned that the newly registered 'extraordinary persons' would have to report to your department. What department is that?

Greene/Television: I'm glad you asked. Since other departments of this nature have been... unsuccessful in the past, as well as restricted in how much they can get involved, a new government funded department will be created, called the Vigilante Regulation Agency, or the VRA. I actually have the future director of this agency with me here today, if you'd like to have a few words with him.

Interviewer/Television: Oh, well, yes, that would be great. Bring him on out.

When this new director walks into frame, Rose isn't quite sure how hard she kicked the coffee table, but it ends up flying across the room and crashing into the wall. She yells, too, rather loudly, though not any coherent word or thought, just a wild, angry, spiteful shout of disbelief. Thoughts begin to swarm around in her head, and suddenly some things start making sense. Those hadn't been phony feds, meaning that those presidential orders were likely legit, which makes the person who hired them...

But that doesn't make any sense... why... why would they do that?

As the man, wearing an eye patch across his right eye, sits down and shakes hands with the interviewer, Senator Greene leans forward against the desk in front of him and smiles.

Green/Television: Allow me to introduce you to the future Director of the VRA, when this bill passes: Slade Wilson.

Chapter #51

Int. Political Talk Show Set – Day

In the middle of the interview, shortly after Slade Wilson is introduced as the future Director of the Vigilante Regulation Agency, things are suddenly interrupted. A red and yellow blur zips into the building, rushing straight past personnel quicker than they can see. In an instant, the Flash is standing in front of Senator Greene with his hands pressed against the table in front of him.

Flash: Are you out of your mind?!

Camera crew, sound operators, the talk show host, the guests, and everyone else present all stare in surprise for several moments, an awkward silence descending over them. Leaning back in her chair, the woman conducting the interview utters an exasperated breath and then motions to the man in red.

Interviewer: Uh, w-well, looks like we have an unexpected guest with us, ladies and gentleman. I give you the Justice League's very own Flash.

The Flash glances between the host and Senator Greene briefly, then focuses his gaze on Slade, pointing at him.

Flash: This man is a criminal! A dangerous, murderous psychopath, and it's hardly a secret! You all know him as Deathstroke the Terminator. He should be behind bars, not sitting here on a talk show! And hiring him as this director of your bogus agency? What's the deal? This some kind of stunt? Because it's a stupid one.

Grinning slightly, Slade folds his arms and sinks into his seat.

Slade: Good to see you, too, as always.

Flash: Don't play friendly with me, Slade. You know damn well what kind of person you are.

Clearing his throat, Senator Greene leans forward, giving Flash a very stern look.

Greene: We appreciate the concern, really, but I'm afraid it is unneeded. Mr. Wilson has done some questionable things in the past, yes-

Flash: Questionable? Well if that isn't the understatement of the century...

Greene: But he's been given a second chance, employed under direct order of the government to head the Vigilante Regulation Agency.

Slade: Full presidential pardon, if that means anything to you.

Narrowing his gaze, Flash glares back at Slade again.

Flash: He's already been given enough chances. Guys like him don't change; he's a killer, end of story.

Interviewer: While we appreciate this visit, Mr. Flash, are you quite finished insulting and slandering my guest on national television?

Greene: Yes, if we could get back to the discussion; I believe we were on the specifics of the registration process.

Flash: Don't even get me started on this bill of yours, Senator. Superheroes registering with the government? Are you trying to get our families targeted by our enemies? Because that's what will happen when you force us to give up our identities. There's a reason we wear these masks, and it isn't just a fashion statement.

Greene: I assure you, the secret identities of you and your fellow superheroes will only be divulged to a select few members of the government, namely the President, his cabinet, and those in charge of the VRA, like Mr. Wilson here.

Leaning forward closely, Slade utters a whisper under his breath, so the cameras can't here.

Slade: Of course, some identities I already know. Isn't that right, Wally?

Throwing up his hands in disgust, Flash starts walking away from the set.

Flash: This is completely bogus, I'm out of here. But you can bet we're not done with this, Senator. You're going to have a very vocal superhero community rising up against this bill, I guarantee it.

Greene: By all means, Flash, we welcome it.

Int. Hall of Justice – Night

The Justice League isn't quite what it used to be. After many fallouts, disbandings, rebuildings, and members leaving for other things, the once most prominent superhero team in the world is but a shell of its former glory. That's not to say that the current members don't still operate normally or won't be there to fight the big fight when the next alien invasion finds is way to earth, but most of the big names are gone, replaced by newer faces. Membership is a lot smaller than it used to be, too, no longer expanded to the much larger team it was in its heyday.

Still, all, or at least most, of the current members do show up to the meeting, the first one in long time. They gather around the conference table in the meeting hall, at the very back of the building, away from the public museum area. Batman sits at the head of the table, with the other members spread out around the sides: Donna Troy, Supergirl, The Flash, Cyborg, Jesse Quick, and Jade. There is still one empty seat, but considering the member who it belongs to hasn't returned his calls, they're not waiting for him to show up.

Leaning forward, Batman folds his hands in front of him and gives them all a long look.

Batman: I assume we all know why we're here?

Flash: Yeah, to figure out what we're going to do about this trumped up law they're trying to pass.

Donna: I must admit, from what I've heard, it does not sound like an avenue that will benefit heroes.

Folding his arms, Cyborg sits back in his chair and frowns.

Cyborg: I don't think it's meant to benefit heroes, only the lawmakers who want to keep better tabs on us.

Supergirl: You mean control us. That's what this is about; the government wants us in their back pocket to do with what they please. And forcing us to give up our secret identities...

Jade: Would that really be such a bad thing, though? I mean, if it would help superhero relations...

Supergirl: Easy for you to say, you don't have a secret identity.

Looking up from the stack of papers she's reading through, Jesse Quick snickers under her breath.

Jesse: Yeah, pretty hard to accomplish that when you have green hair and skin.

Jade: Nobody asked you.

Batman: Alright, calm down. We're not here to argue. Jesse, you still keep in contact with the JSA, right? What are their thoughts on this?

Jesse: Well, according to Power Girl, she's pretty much against it. Something about exposing her identity causing complications with running her company effectively, or something. Though, the other members aren't as concerned over it. She may be their leader, but she's in the minority.

Flash: Then I guess it's just up to us to come up with a solution.

A moment later, the doors to the meeting hall slide open, revealing another figure standing there. The others looks over at him for a moment, before he finally approaches the table and sits down.

Green Arrow: Heard you were having a meeting.

Batman: Connor, glad you could make it.

Green Arrow: Yeah, well my father sure wasn't coming. Figured you needed an arrow representative.

Donna: Is Oliver still...

Green Arrow: On his mad quest for vengeance? Yeah, pretty much.

Batman: Let's move on. Jesse, what can you tell us about the details on the bill?

Glancing up again from her papers, which happens to be a copy of the Extraordinary Persons Regulation Act given to them by Senator Greene, Jesse lets out a long breath and shakes her head.

Jesse: Nothing good, I'm afraid. There's a lot more in here than just what they're telling people in the media. From what I can gather, any superhero that fails to register with the VRA by the designated deadline, which will be determined after the law passes, and continues to try and fight crime, can be arrested and jailed for illegal vigilantism for no less than 90 days on their first offense. Depending on the number and severity of infractions, that time only goes up from there.

Cyborg: Branded criminals for trying to help people, go figure. I don't like it.

Donna: It just seems so unnecessary and extreme.

Jade: The simple solution would be to just register, then we can keep doing what we do.

Supergirl: Yeah, but on the government's leash. And if you muck up and cause unneeded damage while trying to fight a supervillain or something, they'll slap you with... uh, what was it called again?

Jesse: Superhero negligence.

Supergirl: Right, that.

Jesse: That's not all, though.

Flash: Of course it's not.

Clearing her throat slightly, Jesse sits up straighter in her seat and flips through a few pages.

Jesse: According to section twelve, paragraph B, it will become law for citizens to notify the VRA of anyone with metahuman, magical, or otherwise destructive abilities. This includes people who have been identified to have the metagene, even if it isn't active, and forces them to register so the VRA can monitor their growth, development, and level of power.

Flash: This just keeps getting better and better.

Jesse: And with how vaguely this section is worded, it could even allow the VRA to take children from their homes if they fit the above descriptions, to be held in a government facility where they can be watched, with no indication of how long they're forced to stay there.

Tapping his fingers on the table, Green Arrow shakes his head slightly and frowns.

Green Arrow: So, they don't just want to control superheroes, they want to abduct kids with powers and raise them themselves. Wouldn't be surprised if they tried to turn those kids into government weapons.

Glancing over at Jade, Supergirl folds her arms.

Supergirl: Still in favor?

Jade: I... suppose that might be a bit too far. Maybe it could be worded differently, or some sections amended. But I still don't think the general idea is that terrible.

Flash: Yeah, well for those of us with secret identities, exposing that will leave our families as open targets. If people know who we are, they'll know who to attack to get to us.

Jade: But it's not like our identities would be thrown out to the general public or anything; they're only going to the government, and even then mostly just the VRA.

Cyborg: You really that's going to end well with someone like Slade in charge? Somehow, I don't think our identities are any safer in his hands than the public's.

Flash: What I want to know is why in the world they would give him that chance? Why would they want a cold blooded murderer in a government position?

Donna: And why would he have received a presidential pardon for his past crimes?

Jesse: Seriously... is the president on something, or what?

Batman: Another matter for another time. We need to focus on the bill right now.

Flash: Any ideas?

Cyborg: Well, we could show up at the congressional committee meeting tomorrow; that's when they'll be finalizing the bill's last minute details before sending it off to the president to sign.

Green Arrow: Some of us could, anyway. I doubt the entire Justice League showing up at the capitol building and interrupting a congressional meeting would look too hot.

Donna: A good point. I would suggest that we also come up with a written counter to the bill itself, voicing our concerns and opinions, and why we believe the bill should not be passed.

Supergirl: And you really that that will work?

Jesse: It's worth a shot. I mean, what else can we do? Just sit here and hope the thing gets vetoed by some miracle?

Jade: We should also come up with an alternate version to the bill, one more clearly defined, just as an alternative if we can't stop it from passing altogether. Maybe they'll consider some changes.

Looking around at the Justice League members, Batman stands up from his seat and leans forward, hands flat against the table.

Batman: All in favor of this course of action?

Int. Capitol Building – Day

The time is roughly one-thirty in the afternoon, when the doors to the conference chambers burst open. Several men in suits are hurrying after the three costumed individuals, trying to stop them, but of course they can't really do a whole lot. The members of the senate and house of representatives on the conference committee all turn their attention over to the interruption, their previous discussion coming to an abrupt halt. One senator in particular, the familiar Senator Greene, stands up from his seat and leans forward, glaring at the intruding heroes.

Greene: Might I ask what this is all about?

Coming forward to the center of the chamber, Donna Troy, Cyborg, and Supergirl look up at Greene. Donna acts as their spokeswoman, approaching the man and dropping a large packet of papers in front of him.

Donna: We've come here to protest the passing of your bill. This here is a written declaration from the Justice League of America that details our concerns, apprehensions, and overall distaste for what your proposed laws will do to the superhero community.

Clearing his throat, Greene slowly sinks back into his seat, then folds his hands in front of him.

Greene: I'm afraid that's not the way it works, dear.

Donna: Maybe not, but I think you can agree that this bill is unique in not only its content, but also the way in which it's being shoved through the system to be made law as soon as possible. I think that warrants an unorthodox counter. If you'll just read through this document, you'll find our response to every section of the bill, our opinions on it, and why the idea should be voided or how it could be improved.

Greene: And you managed to type this all in one night?

Donna: We have two speedsters on our team.

Greene: Point taken.

Leaning forward for a moment, the senator takes a few moments to look over the first page, then briefly flip through the packet, before closing it again and taking in a deep breath.

Greene: Well, you seem to have put a great deal of thought and effort in this, and you know we of course highly respect the League's input.

Donna: Of course.

The three teammates give each other quick glances, as though mentally noting to each other that they don't quite believe the man's words.

Greene: Tell you what, we'll break this conference for lunch and I'll make copies of your... protest. Once everyone has a copy and has read it thoroughly, then we'll reconsider our options on how to approach this bill. How does that sound?

A brief pause passes between them. Cyborg and Supergirl lean in close, whispering their thoughts to her. Nodding, Donna looks back to the senator and folds her arms.

Donna: Very well, as long as you'll take our opinions seriously and strongly consider them.

Greene: Of course. Now, if you'll excuse us, it looks like we have a lot of homework to do.

The three heroes give their goodbyes and then finally exit the chamber. When the doors close behind them, Senator Greene lets out a cool breath and glances back down at the packet. He gazes at it for a few moments, then lifts it up and drops it into the trash can next to his table. Not a single other person present so much as bats an eye over the action.

Greene: So, where were we?

Int. Vigilante Regulation Agency Headquarters – Day

Three weeks later...

Slade Wilson takes in a deep breath and slowly lets it out, standing behind his desk and looking carefully around the office. It will do just fine, for now. He might consider reorganizing things a little later on, but right now he has more important things to deal with than the arrangement of furniture. Sitting down in his seat, he reaches over to the intercom system at the corner of the desk and pushes the button.

Slade: Cindy, send Leonard in, please.

Cindy/Intercom: Right away, Mr. Wilson.

Several minutes later, Leonard Smalls, Jr., otherwise known as Holocaust, enters into the office. The large, muscled man comes forward and drops down a stack of files on the desk.

Slade: Welcome, Leonard. Enjoying your new position?

Holocaust: Actually a bit boring, but it beats prison.

Slade: Don't worry, you'll be seeing plenty of action soon, I assure you. Are these the files I requested?

Holocaust: Every last of 'em. The top one is a list of all the supes who registered already. The first wave, as you called it.

Reaching for the top file, Slade opens it and glances over the list inside, which includes names, addresses, aliases, and an assortment of other personal information. A few names in particular catch his eye, next to some notable superhero identities: Bernhard Baker, Courtney Whitmore, Lorena Marquez, Antonia Moretti, Cissie King-Jones, Ray Palmer, Dinah Lance, Jaime Reyes, Mia Dearden, Bette Kane, Natasha Irons, and Jennifer-Lynn Hayden.

Slade: Interesting... this is good progress.

Holocaust: More are coming in everyday, too.

Slade: And yet still many more will refuse to register; that is inevitable enough. Once the deadline passes two weeks from now, we'll need to be ready to step in; you'll need to be ready, as will the rest of the task force you'll be leading.

Holocaust: Is that what those files are for?

Looking back down at the stack of files in front of him, Slade begins spreading them out across his desk. Written across the top of them are abbreviations for names, and inside are very detailed information about each individual. He gives each file a careful look: SS, KO, KF, MK, ZA, CM, CR and PI.

Slade: Yes, and these should do for now. In time, we'll have plenty more at our disposal. Now, get back to work; I have a few calls to make.

Chapter #52

Int. Rose's Martial Arts Studio – Night

Two weeks later...

Wiping sweat from her brow, Rose takes in a deep breath and grabs a bottled water from the mini-fridge behind the counter. She's just finished teaching her fourth and final class of the day, which means in a few hours she'll be heading out for the night as Ravager on patrol, just as she always has, EPRA and VRA be damned. She might have had zero success in turning up any evidence or information against her father, and that stupid law might have passed exactly as the government said it would, but that's not going to stop her from doing what she does best, nothing will. No one is going to make her play pet attack dog to the VRA, especially not with Slade of all people, in charge.

Suddenly, a strong pair of arms wrap around her midsection from behind, squeezing tightly. A soft kiss comes next, pressing against the side of her cheek. Smirking, she turns her head and returns the kiss, pressing her lips firmly against Becky's. From the seat behind the counter, a small, almost disgusted groan sounds out.

Circe: Uck, you two are absolutely nauseating sometimes. What's the expression? “Get a room?” Yes, do that.

Raising her eyebrows, Becky glances over at the purple haired woman.

Becky: When you find love one of these days, maybe you won't be so easily nauseated.

Circe: I tried love once, didn't like it.

Rose: Must have had something to do with you ending up damned to Hell.

Circe: Yes, it must have. Now, if it's all the same to you, I'd very much like to get home. It's been a long day.

Rose: Yeah, alright, get going. Just remember, we have belt tests tomorrow morning, so we're opening an hour earlier.

Circe: I know when we're opening tomorrow; I made the schedule, remember?

Rose: Just checking.

Letting out a frustrated sigh, Circe stands up from her seat and grabs her coat, then looks back for her daughter.

Circe: Lyta, dear, we're going.

Over on the other side of large room, Lyta and Holly are in the middle of their own improvised training. While Lyta used her magical talent to shoot out small orbs of light, Holly would practice either her footwork and agility by dodging them, or her hand eye coordination by striking them out of the air. When her mother calls for her, however, Lyta looks over and smiles.

Lyta: Alright, coming. Later, Holly!

As Lyta goes to leave with her mother, Holly gives her a wave.

Holly: See you tomorrow!

When Circe and Lyta go to leave through the door, however, they're suddenly met by a man wearing a suit and dark sunglasses (despite it being night out), who pushes his way past them inside.

Circe: Uh, sir, hello? We're closed right now.

He doesn't respond, instead walking straight up to Rose and Becky.

Circe: Hey!

Again, no answer. But he doesn't need to say anything for Rose to know exactly who it is. It might have been a little more than a month ago, but she hasn't forgotten that face.

Well, looks like someone survived the highway barbeque.

It's what he finally says, though, that has her heart beating rapidly in her chest.

Croft: Rose Wilson, otherwise known as The Ravager, pleased to meet you again.

Instantly, Rose's eyes narrow. She steps in front of Becky and glares at the man.

Rose: Two questions: What the hell are you doing here, and how the hell do you know who I am?

Croft: I'm with the VRA now, Rose. It's our job to know these things.

Rose: Well isn't that just dandy?

So Slade's his boss now, no wonder he knows who I am.

Croft: As for what I'm doing here...

Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulls out a folded slip of paper and hands it over to her.

Croft: I have a warrant for your arrest.

As he pushes the warrant in front of Rose's face, Becky moves around her in shock.

Becky: Arrest?! What are you talking about? What the hell are the charges?

The other girls, Circe, Lyta, and Holly, watch in much more reserved silence, though they're just as confused and concerned as the more vocal Becky is.

Croft: Well, let's see, what was there...? Oh, yes, failing to register on time with the VRA, for one. The deadline was three days ago, and the police confirmed your activities these past few nights acting as Silverstone's vigilante, a direct violation. That's a minimum of 90 days right there. Then, there's superhero negligence, which you committed roughly two years ago and resulted in the deaths of six police officers.

Rose: That was a mistake! An accident!

Croft: Yes, a mistake that you're finally going to be paying for.

Becky: But this wasn't even a law when that happened! You can't charge her with that!

Croft: Actually, according to section twenty-seven of the Extraordinary Persons Regulation Act, retroactive arrests are perfectly legal in this scenario. But that isn't all, anyway. We also have you on no less than two-hundred and sixty-seven counts of assault and battery as an illegal vigilante, and the murder of one Arnold Pavoni.

Rose: Pavoni was scum!

How does he even know about that?! Pavoni's body was destroyed in the house explosion, which Jerry caused. No one knew that I killed him before that! No one even knew I was there!

Croft: But you don't deny the murder. So, all in all, you're looking at some hefty jail time once you're convicted.

Becky: Jueputa! This is crap!

Clearing his throat, Agent Croft then glances over at Becky and reaches into his coat again. He then pulls out another folded slip of paper and hands this one over to her.

Croft: And here's the warrant for your arrest, as well.

Becky: What?!

Reaching forward, Rose grabs the man's shirt collar and yanks him towards her.

Rose: What the hell crap are you trying to pull now?!

Croft: Nothing at all. This is perfectly standard, actually. According to our information, the woman known as Rebecca Chavez has been knowingly aiding and abetting an illegal vigilante, as well as a wanted criminal – that would be you.

Rose: You're out of your mind!

Croft: As for the girl, Holly Sanders, she's to be taken and handed over to social services.

At this, Holly's eyes go wide, as she immediately rushes over to stand behind Rose for protection. A brief moment later, Rose straight up clocks the man, bashing her knuckles into his jaw. Agent Croft goes flying back through the air, landing hard and sliding across the floor. When he come to a stop, he wearily sits up and wipes the blood from his lip.

Croft: And now we can add assaulting a VRA official to your charges.

Rose: You are not taking Holly away! You hear me? You're not taking any of us! Now get the hell out of my studio before I throw you out the window!

Slowly returning to his feet, Agent Croft reaches inside his mouth and pulls out a loose tooth, followed by spitting out a large mouthful of blood.

Croft: I had hoped we could handle this peacefully, like adults, but in the event that you decided to act like a child, I brought backup.

Rose: The hell are you talking about?

Before he can answer, the front window of the building shatters inward, sending a spray of glass in all directions. Circe desperately pulls Lyta out of the way, as two figures land inside, both women. The first is shorter, with short auburn hair, and dressed in a tactical leather outfit complete with a lower face mask covering from her neck to her nose. A pair of metal bracers adorn each arm, both equipped with two long, wicked looking blades. The second woman is much taller, standing at least a head and a half above the other, with long, fiery red hair, toned muscular body, and a green colored costume with domino mask.

Still holding his jaw, Agent Croft walks backs away and gives the two women a hard look.

Croft: Scandal, Knockout, take them in.

The shorter woman with the arm blades begins advancing forward.

Scandal: My pleasure.

Rose pushes Becky out of the way, as Scandal suddenly lunges in with a solid kick. She's surprised at just how deft and perfectly placed the attack is, being forced to duck down and roll away from a follow up swing of her blades. Springing up to her feet, Rose flips back over the counter, just evading a second blade strike, which ends up slicing the counter clean in half, causing the computer to crash to the ground.

Rose: Hey, that cost money, b*tch!

Scandal: Cry me a river!

The woman known as Knockout, meanwhile, comes forward towards Becky and simply folds her arms.

Knockout: I will give you a single opportunity to surrender, whelp.

Becky: Like hell. Holly, get back, I gotta take care of this.

Once Holly is in the clear, Becky makes her move, utilizing all the training that Rose has given her up until this point to attack. Unfortunately... it doesn't go nearly as well as she pictured it in her head. Knockout doesn't even move, instead standing there as the roundhouse kick strikes the side of her head, not even causing her to flinch. Becky, on the other hand, feels like she just kicked a brick, hopping backwards on one foot in pain.

Becky: Hijo de puta!

Rose weaves around the blade attacks, doing everything she can to avoid being hit. Her reflexes and her precog are doing just fine, but she isn't wearing her armor right now, and she doesn't have her own swords, while this woman is fighting viciously, wildly, and yet not seemingly losing any skill as a result.

God I feel like I'm fighting naked right now.

Finally, she sees an opening. Turning her body to the side, she traps one of her opponent's arms with her own, then reaches up with her other hand to catch Scandal's remaining wrist. Without so much as a hesitation, she throws her head forward and smashes it against the woman's nose, feeling it snap.

Scandal: F*ck!

And then they're both falling. Scandal tumbles backwards, taking Rose with her, while driving her knee forward. Rose ends up landing right atop it when they hit the floor, the knee coming into her gut and knocking the wind from her lungs. Coughing in shock, Rose rolls off and holds her abdomen, trying to scramble back to her feet. Her precog goes off, though, and suddenly she's throwing herself backwards again; but she's not in time.

She feels razor steel slicing into the meat of her shoulder, not a grievous wound, but enough to draw a fair amount of blood and burn with agony. When Rose hits the floor again, she cringes briefly, trying to force herself through the pain. But suddenly Scandal is atop her, blades pressed against her throat. She freezes, daring not make a move.

If I had my swords, this b*tch would be mincemeat!

Scandal: You so much as twitch and I'll cut your throat to the bone, got it?

From the other side of the room, Agent Croft clears his throat.

Croft: We need them alive, Scandal.

Scandal: Whatever.

Knockout walks back over to Croft, carrying a now unconscious Becky over one shoulder, as easy as though carrying a pillow.

Knockout: I've defeated mine.

Scandal: Someone give me some cuffs so I can- oof!

She's suddenly hit in the head from behind, by none other than an attacking Holly. The young girl may be small, but she knows how to fight, and she isn't about to let the closest person she has to a mother get beaten and arrested like this. Unfortunately, she is still young, meaning she isn't all that effective. Though she gets in one good hit as a result of surprise, Scandal groans and slowly turns her attention to the girl.

Scandal: You little b*tch...

Holly: Leave her alone!

Scandal just stares at the girl for a moment, then raises one of her arms up, pointing the blades at her. She leaves her other pair of blades pressed closely to Rose's neck.

Scandal: Back off, kid.

Rose: Don' you touch her!

Suddenly, Holly is hoisted into the air from behind, as Knockout comes up to her, grabs her around the head, and holds her high in the air. Holly struggles, kicking and screaming.

Holly: Let me go! Let me go!

Knockout: Quiet, young one, we are not going to hurt you.

Scandal: Emphasis on the quiet.

And that's when Lyta, who had up until now been watching the scene from the sidelines with her mother, rushes forward. Circe tries to stop her, but loses her grip on the girl.

Circe: Lyta, no! Don't get involved!

Lyta: Leave my friends alone!

Holding her hands up, her palms abruptly crackle with magical energy. A bolt of lightning shoots out from her finger tips, striking Scandal and throwing her off Rose, while an invisible force causes Knockout to release Holly and then launches the woman backwards into the wall. Lyta hurries over to Holly, helping the girl up.

Lyta: Are you alright?

Holly: Yeah... I'm okay. Thanks.

Lyta: Well I couldn't just let them-

Her words abruptly cut off, as her eyes roll into the back of her head. She teeters there for a moment before falling forward, unconscious with a small dart sticking out the back of her neck. Agent Croft lowers his weapon, a tranquilizer handgun.

Croft: The magic girl will be coming with us, too.

Crying out with pure, seething anger, Circe charges him.

Circe: You b**tard!

But Circe is mortal now. She has no magic, no power, and no real physical fighting experience. Agent Croft might not have any powers of his own, but he does have some training, and thus easily overpowers the woman with a sidestep and chop to the back of the head. Circe goes down hard and doesn't get up.

Rose is back on her feet now, holding a hand to her bleeding wound and taking in deep breaths. She gives the terrified Holly as consoling a look as she can muster and reaches out to hold the girl's hand.

Rose: It's alright, sweetie. I promise, everything's going to be-

A hard blow to the back of her head drops her in a heap. Knockout leans forward to grab the unconscious woman, starting to bring her back over to the others. Holly hurriedly follows, beating her fists futilely against Knockout's backside.

Holly: Put her down! You can't do this! Rose!

And then Holly goes down, as well, another dart sticking out the side of her neck. Scandal walks over, breathing heavy and holding a hand to her chest, where the lightning bolt struck her. The blow had ripped straight through her outfit, burning a hole into her skin. Grumbling to herself, she reaches down to lift Holly up by the shirt collar.

Scandal: Can we go now?

Croft: Of course. Bring them to the van, bind them, and we'll head back to the facility.

Giving them both a nod, he carries out the unconscious Circe and heads for their vehicle. As Scandal makes her way towards the door, Knockout stops her on the way to inspect her wounds.

Knockout: Are you alright, my love?

Scandal: Yeah, fine. Just some scratches; they'll be healed by the time we get back, don't worry about it.

The larger woman breathes out a small sigh of relief.

Knockout: That's good.

Scandal: Come on, let's get the hell out of here. Liana's waiting for us back.

Chapter #53

Ext. Gotham City Police Station – Night

Commissioner James Gordon stands on top of the police building roof, aiming the large spotlight up at the clouds. Letting out a cold breath, he shivers slightly, a chill running up his spine. It must be five degrees outside, and he doesn't want to be out here any longer than he has to, especially considering the nature of this call... he just wants to get it over and done with. So far, though, they've been waiting up here for forty minutes. Next to him, Detective Harvey Bullock shifts his weight and lets out an impatient sigh.

Bullock: He ain't coming.

Gordon: He'll be here. He always answers the signal eventually.

Bullock: That could be hours from now, if he's busy

Gordon: So be patient.

Finally, twenty minutes later, two figures swing down onto the rooftop, seemingly out of nowhere. Batman stands straight, holding the cape of his costume closely around his body, likely because of the cold. Robin, on the other hand, leans back against the parapet and folds his arms, waiting for them to get the meeting over with.

Batman: What's this about?

Switching off the bat signal, Gordon shoves his hands into his pockets and steps forward and breathes outwardly.

Gordon: Listen, Batman, I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do about this.

Batman: What are you-

Narrowing his eyes, Batman abruptly cuts his own words off, now noticing a handful of men dressed in armored tactical gear, as well as carrying non-lethal weapons, marching up the stairs that lead from the building to the roof. Remaining silent, he takes a small step back and carefully analyzes just how many men there are, their positioning, and what kinds of weapons they have.

Gordon knew I wouldn't come if they were already waiting on the roof with him... smart.

One of the men, the only one not wearing a helmet and visor, comes forward and holds up a slip of paper.

VRA Agent: Batman, Robin? This is a warrant for your arrest, under the new vigilante laws put into place recently. You were both given ample time to register with the VRA, but have failed to do so. As such, you will be taken in and held for 90 days, at which time you will be made to register with us and then released.

Still silent, Batman slowly reaches forward and takes the paper from him. Robin, on the other hand, jumps up straighter with his eyes wide.

Robin: What?! Uh uh, no way, you're not taking us! Just try it!

Batman: Robin, calm down.

Robin: Calm down? Are you insane? They're trying to arrest us!

Batman: And whining about it isn't going to make the situation any better.

Glaring, Robin folds his arms again.

Robin: I'm not whining...

Turning his attention to the VRA Agent again, Batman gives him the warrant back.

Batman: I can't leave Gotham alone for that amount of time.

VRA Agent: Well, you should have thought about that before you failed to register. Then you'd still be here legally.

Batman: And at your beck and call.

VRA Agent: Make the smart decision, Batman. If you don't come peacefully, our orders are to take you by force.

Batman: That would be a very unwise decision on your part.

Moving forward again, Commissioner Gordon brings his hands out of his pockets and folds his arms. He looks conflicted, caught between his partnership with Batman and orders from a higher authority.

Gordon: Batman, please don't make this any harder than it needs to be. Just do your time, register with them, and you'll be back before you know it. We can handle things until then.

Batman: You know I can't do that.

VRA Agent: Then you know what we have to do.

Robin: Just try it, punks!

Suddenly, Robin charges forward at the man, in a clear move to attack. Batman tries to grab him on the way by, but misses.

Batman: Robin, wait, don't!

He hadn't been planning to fight these men; a simple smoke bomb and quick escape would have worked well enough. Clearly, though, Robin has other ideas. The VRA Agent doesn't even move, as Robin leaps forward, simply watching with knowing eyes. That's when a brown blur dives into view, coming from the shadows of the rooftop, near the doorway leading back into the building. A strong kick drills into the side of Robin's head, sending him tumbling across the roof.

Batman: Robin!

The Boy Wonder groans slightly, pushing his way up to his hands and knees. He's dazed, a throbbing pain in his head. Whoever hit him had hit him hard.

Robin: Cheap shot...

Batman takes a defensive stance, instantly recognizing the man, dressed in an almost knockoff costume of his own but with brown and tan colors, instead of black and grey. His name is Thomas Blake, otherwise known as Catman, the world's most premiere hunter and tracker, also a highly skilled combatant and sometimes criminal.

Catman: Settle down, kid, or I'll hit you harder next time.

Batman: Blake, what the hell are you doing here?

Catman: My job. I'm with the VRA now, ever since they recruited me as part of their task force. I'm here to make sure you go with them. You're welcome to resist if you really think you can take all of us.

When Robin finally stumbles back to his feet, he holds the back of his head and glowers at the man. Without so much as another word, he then runs forward to attack Catman head on... only to be abruptly put down by one of the VRA operatives' stun guns, rendering him flat on his back and and twitching from the electricity coursing through him.

Batman: Alright! That's enough! I'll go, just stop it!

The VRA Agent severs the charge from the cables connecting the stun gun to Robin, relieving the Boy Wonder from pain, though it will be a while until he regains his motor functions. Watching this, Harvey Bullock shifts his weight uneasily and frowns.

Bullock: Jesus, he's just a kid.

VRA Agent: And yet he's as guilty as the rest of them.

Catman: So, ready to come quietly?

Bowing his head, Batman lets out a long breath, not seeing many other options at the moment.

Batman: Fine, I'll go. Robin stays, though; he's still just a kid. I'll serve is time in addition to my own, if need be.

The VRA agent pauses a moment, considering the proposal. He then glances back Robin, holding a hand to his chin and nodding.

VRA Agent: Alright, we can do that. Now, come with us; we have transport waiting down at street level.

Batman gives the men a long look, shifting his gaze between the VRA operatives, Catman, and Gordon. Then, he finally walks forward, escorted by the team back down the stairs. Bullock goes with them. Before leaving, however, he turns to Gordon to make a request.

Batman: Make sure he's alright.

Gordon: Of course.

When he's gone, all that's left on the rooftop is Gordon, Catman, and a still recovering Robin. Humming to himself, Catman reaches into his belt and pulls out a phone, quickly dialing a number. He waits a moment for someone to respond.

Catman: We got the big man, move in on the Birds. Start with that leader of theirs.

Instantly, Gordon's heart jumps and eyes widen. If this guy is referring to the Birds of Prey, then that leader is...

Gordon: No! What are you doing? She's already registered! Why the hell are going after her, too?

Catman: She registered, sure, but that's not all we got her on. She's still been aiding and leading unregistered vigilantes around Gotham, and that makes her guilty by association. So, the VRA brings her in. That's how it works.

Gordon: If you think I'm going to let you lay a hand on my daughter, you're insane!

Catman: Not me; but someone will.

Int. Firewall – Night

The underground base known as Firewall, built beneath Barbara Gordon's apartment, once served as simply Batgirl's personal base, her very own batcave. There, she was assisted by Proxy, Oracle's protégé. In the past couple of years, however, with Oracle returning once more to lead Gotham's Birds of Prey, Firewall evolved into a base for the entire team. Now, both Oracle and Proxy monitor and assist the Birds' crime fighting activities around the city, though Oracle also continues to aid all heroes who need her expertise.

The two women sit across from each other at two separate computer terminals, surrounded by screens, holographic maps, and streams of data. Leaning forward in her chair, Oracle clicks a button on her keyboard and brings up a large map of Gotham's East End. She then brings a hand up to her headset and presses it closer to her ear.

Oracle: I said the one on Park Street. The deal's going down in twenty minutes, you need to get there and get into position.

She expects a response of confirmation soon after, but she gets nothing. Furrowing her brow, she tries again.

Oracle: Black Canary, do you copy? Black Canary?

Still nothing, just a hiss of static.

Oracle: Huntress? Batgirl?

No response.

Oracle: Black Bat? Anyone? What the hell is going on?

Glancing up from her terminal, Proxy gives her a concerned look.

Proxy: Barbara, I'm getting some weird interference on my end. Can't seem to figure out the cause.

Oracle: And I think my signal just went dead. That shouldn't happen. Wendy, see if you can-

Her words stop abruptly, as the screens around her workstation begin to flicker and fill with white noise. An electrical hissing soon follows, playing over every single one of their speakers.

Oracle: What in the...

Instantly, both women's fingers begin to fly across their keyboards, trying to do everything possible to regain control of their systems. But no matter what they do, nothing works. Panic starts to strike, Oracle's adrenaline pumping furiously now. This shouldn't be happening. This can't be happening. She built these systems herself; they're untraceable, unhackable, and completely crash proof.

What the hell is going on?!

And that's when everything goes dark, the base's power suddenly cutting out. The back up generator kicks in a few moments later, throwing on the emergency lights and providing a small amount of power to the computers. Two screens pop on, one in front of either women. On those screens is a face, hazy and distorted, but it doesn't matter; there's only one person it could possibly be.

Proxy: Is that...?

Oracle: Calculator...

Calculator: Well, well, good to see you again, Oracle. Barbara. Babs.

Oracle's eyes narrow, muscles tensing.

Oracle: How did you get in here?

Calculator: You registered with the VRA, remember? Just like a good little girl. And I work for them now; all that information they have is mine now. Who you work with, where you operate from, how to hack into your unbreachable systems...

Proxy: You gotta be kidding me. You're a criminal! Why the hell would they hire you?

Calculator: Ah, Wendy... I'm very disappointed in you, joining in with these heroes. These people are what put you in that wheelchair, and they're the reason your brother is dead, or have you forgotten?

Proxy: You know I haven't... but unlike you, dad, I don't hold grudges. I forgive. And given the choice between them and you, they win every time.

A small, distant sigh escapes Calculator's lips. The face on the screen slowly shakes side to side.

Calculator: As I said, disappointing.

Oracle: Enough crap. What are you doing here? We both registered with the VRA, you shouldn't be coming after us.

Calculator: Ah, so you did. Unfortunately, not everyone on your little team followed suit, yet you continue to work with them. That makes you just as guilty as they are. As we speak, a squad is moving in on your base; they'll be there shortly.

Oracle: You son of a b*tch. You can't do this!

Calculator: Oh, but I can. I would suggest going quietly, too. There's no reason we have to make this difficult.

Springing into action, Oracle turns her wheel chair away from the computer and begins wheeling herself across the floor.

Oracle: Wendy, see if you can manually activate the security systems! I'm gonna try and restore the main power!

Proxy: On it!

Proxy immediately turns herself around and begins wheeling her way over to a control panel on the wall, punching in a numbered passcode.

Calculator: Don't bother, girls. I have complete control over your base; there's nothing you can do. Now, have good evening. I'll be seeing you both very soon.

Int. Parking Garage – Night

The parking garage is quiet and nearly empty, save for a scant few cars here and there. The Birds of Prey are in position, though, waiting for the expected huge drug deal to go down. At least, that's what they were supposed to be there for. So far, however, nothing has happened. No shady individuals, no activity, definitely no drug deal. Peering around the side of a pillar, Huntress glances around carefully, curiously.

Huntress: Are we sure we're in the right place?

Responses come in over her comm from the rest of her team a short distance away. She can seem them all looking around cover at her, the same concern on their faces.

Batgirl: Uh, I'm pretty sure. The signal was pretty fuzzy for a while, but I thought this is what Oracle said.

Black Bat: I didn't get a clear message myself, and for some reason I can't make contact with base right now. The signal is dead.

Black Canary: Don't worry about it, nothing's wrong. And this is the right place.

Huntress: I still think I heard her say the one on Park Street.

Black Canary: Then you misheard; it's the one on Levitt.

Uttering a small sigh, Huntress shrugs her shoulders and disappears back behind cover again.

Huntress: If you say so.

A couple more minutes tick by, with no sign of the drug deal going down. Instead, something else happens; someone approaches them. Huntress hears the footsteps coming closer, echoing inside the spacious parking garage. Immediately, she prepares herself, raising her crossbow and preparing to engage. But then, she hears something else, words coming in over her comm.

Batgirl: Canary, what are you doing? Hey! Canary!

Confused, Huntress looks around the side of the pillar again. To her surprise, she sees Black Canary out in the open, walking towards a man in a suit and sunglasses.

Huntress: Whoa, hey, what's going on?

Black Bat: Black Canary? Hello? Dinah?

It takes a few moments for the response to come, as the woman moves behind the man and waits.

Black Canary: Everything's alright. Just come on out.

The three other members of the team give each other careful glances before slowly moving out of cover. Huntress keeps her crossbow at the ready, though, just in case.

Huntress: Alright, feel like explaining this?

VRA Agent: Good evening to you, Birds of Prey.

The man pauses a moment, reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a small slip of paper.

VRA: I have with me a warrant for your arrest.

Huntress: I'm sorry, come again? I could have sworn you just said you were going to arrest us.

Black Bat: That's exactly what he said.

Batgirl: Wait, hold on, why?

Clearing his throat, the agent folds his hands in front of him and stares calmly.

VRA Agent: For failing to register with the VRA and continuing your illegal vigilantism.

Huntress: Oh you gotta be joking. This whole thing is a sham, you know that? Tell you what, you turn around and walk out of here, and I won't but a bolt through your knee.

VRA Agent: You were right, Miss Lance, they won't come peacefully.

Eyes going wide, the Birds of Prey stare in surprise for a few moments, their focus on Black Canary. Huntress' aim falters, lowering her crossbow and blinking a couple of times, while Black Bat merely folds her arms.

Batgirl: Canary, you... you're working with them? You registered?

Black Bat: And set us up at the wrong location for this little meeting, from the looks of it.

Huntress: Is that what this is? All of a sudden you're a government patsy turning against your team? Your friends? I thought we made a pact, Dinah. None of us were supposed to register with the VRA's bullcrap, and we were supposed to look out for each other!

Black Canary: I just thought it was the sensible thing to do. This is the law now, and we must obey. Resisting is futile.

Huntress: My god, would you listen to yourself? I swear they must have brainwashed you or something, because the Black Canary I know doesn't talk like that!

A small pause passes between them, but Black Canary's expression doesn't change. She stares at them with an icy cold gaze, emotion seemingly gone from her face.

Black Canary: Please go quietly; I'd rather this situation not escalate.

Huntress: Escalate, my ass. You've already sold us out!

Black Bat: And will you be the one to bring us in? Will you fight us?

Black Canary: If I have to.

Bringing her hands to her head, Batgirl closes her eyes and shakes her head rapidly.

Batgirl: Can't believe this happening, can't believe this happening. I'm dreaming, I must be.

VRA Agent: I'm giving you girls one chance to come peacefully, so we can all sort this out. If you don't, we will take you by force.

Glaring at the man, Huntress lifts her crossbow up and points it at him.

Huntress: You can damn well try.

Black Canary: Helena, one more chance to stand down.

Huntress: And then what, you burst our skulls with your canary cry? I wonder how well you can scream with a bolt through your neck!

Batgirl: Whoa, okay, everyone calm down. No one's shooting anyone in the neck.

Black Bat: No one's going with them, either.

VRA Agent: As expected... looks like we'll have to do this the hard way. But your friend here won't be bringing you in. They will.

Suddenly, a dark shape rushes into view, leaping over a nearby car and throwing itself at Huntress. Whirling her aim around in time, she gets off a couple shots before the furry beast lands on top of her and pins her to the ground. Blinking up in shock, she realizes she's staring eye to eye with a massive, snarling werewolf.

Kubrick: Unless you those are silver tipped, don't bother; they won't do you any good!

Huntress tries to move, struggling beneath the beast, but his strength far surpasses her own, and the several knee shots she manages to bring up into his abdomen don't even phase him.

Batgirl: Hold on, I got you!

Reaching into her utility belt, Batgirl pulls out a sonic batarang, clicking the button in the middle to activate the charge. Before she can throw it, however, another figure lunges forward. The force at which it collides with her sends her spinning back head over heels across the ground. When she recovers, she notices the blue skinned, shark mouthed alien monster charging at her again. Turning to the side, Batgirl manages to evade the slashing claws and counter with a kick to the monster's stomach. However, this doesn't have much of an effect, and then suddenly its long, barbed tail curls up and wraps around her throat, pulling her into the air.

Black Bat: You! Let her go, Celarian!

Zaria: Ah, you remembered what I am this time.

Black Bat: I also remember that I've beaten you once before. I'll do it again if you don't drop her.

Zaria: True, you have beaten me... but you're not fighting me this time.

And that's when the cement ground beneath Black Bat's feet begins to crack apart. Instantly, she jumps backwards to get out of the way, but she doesn't get very far before thick plant vines coil up and lash out at her. Within seconds, they wrap around her arms, legs, neck, and abdomen, holding her firmly in place. A few moments later, a large plant pod rises up from the ground behind the vines, opening up to reveal a green skinned woman with striking red hair, her only clothing being a few strings of leaves: Poison Ivy.

Ivy: Don't bother struggling. The harder you squirm, the tighter my babies constrict.

And just like that, the Birds of Prey are taken in, quickly knocked unconscious by their captors in order to transport them without any difficulties. The VRA agent gives the three task force members a careful look before motioning them out of the parking garage. He's still getting used to working with a bloody werewolf and an alien. That's not to mention the crazy plant lady.

VRA Agent: Alright, let's get them out of here. And Miss Lance, you did good here today. We'll be in touch.

Chapter #54

Int. Titans Tower – Day

The subbasement is mostly quiet at the moment, with only one occupant present and utilizing the training equipment. Tim Drake grips the chin up bar tightly, pulling himself up repeatedly at a steady, even pace. The other members of the Teen Titans are up on the twelfth floor, eating lunch together. Tim, on the other hand, hadn’t been feeling hungry and so opted to get another workout instead. Somewhere around his fiftieth pull up, however, the door at the other end of the room slides open, revealing a cloaked and hooded figure floating towards him.

Raven: Tim... we must speak.

Blinking at the woman, Tim hangs there from the bar for a few moments, just dangling. Finally, he drops down to this feet and grabs a towel, wiping sweat from his brow.

Tim: Sure, what's this about?

Raven: It's about Wonder Girl. I have noticed... changes in her, these past few days.

Curiously, Tim furrows his brow and folds his arms across his chest.

Tim: What kinds of changes? As far as I can tell, she's been the same as always.

Raven: It isn't anything you would notice. Her personality, her actions, her mannerisms... they are all still the same.

Tim: Then what's wrong?

Raven: It comes from within her. Ever since she returned to the tower last week, I have sensed an emptiness inside her, an utter lack of emotion and feeling, as if devoid of any soul. I fear everything she does right now is an act.

Reaching for the bottle of water next to him, Tim takes a long gulp, mulling over Raven's words in his head for a moment. When he finally answers, he gives her a long, but concerned, look.

Tim: And you're absolutely sure about this?

Raven: At first, I wasn't. I thought that maybe my powers were malfunctioning... but then I projected myself into her mind to be sure. I found... nothing. Just an empty void lacking emotion. Yet, at the same time, I'm sure that she is the real Cassandra Sandsmark. Where did she go when she left last week?

Tim: To visit her mother. Do you think something happened to her there?

Raven: I feel something must have, yes. Something caused this loss of feeling, though I do not know what it could be.

Giving a small nod, Tim starts walking towards the door, motioning for Raven to follow him.

Tim: Come on, we'll go have a talk with her, see what we can find out.

Before he makes it to the exit, however, red blinking lights begin to flicker above them, accompanied with a loud, blaring horn.

Tim: The alarm? Damn it, someone's on the island without permission.

He suddenly quickens his pace, sprinting down the hall towards the elevator. Raven floats after him, keeping pace.

Raven: An enemy, perhaps?

Tim: Or a tourist trying to get a closer look than he should. Either way, we need to get topside!

Ext. Titans Tower – Day

Several minutes later, every member of the Teen Titans (consisting of Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Superboy, Raven, Beast Boy, Static, and Bombshell) exits the front entrance of the tower, looking for the intruders. It doesn't take long to find them, as the two trespassers are standing calmly outside and waiting for the team to show up. Instantly, the Titans take a defensive position. After all, how often do a pair of super villains show up on your front doorstep without looking for a fight? The large man in charge comes forward, hands held behind his back and a large smirk on his face.

Holocaust: Teen Titans, we meet again.

Red Robin: Holocaust... what are you doing here? Kid Flash sent you on a one way ticket to the earth's core years ago.

Holocaust: Didn't think that could really stop me did you?

A sudden burst of electrical energy draws everyone's attention, as Static comes forward. Lightning bolts are already flickering and jumping around his body, eyes glowing in anger. He and Holocaust have a long standing history with each other.

Static: You got some nerve coming here! You want a fight, then you came to the right place. I'll be more than happy to put you down again!

Holocaust: Not here to fight; well, at least not if you behave yourselves.

Bombshell: Right, and I suppose you're just here for some small talk? Cut the crap and get to the point. The hell you doing here?

Holocaust: I wouldn't talk that way to the head of the VRA's special task force, girl.

Static: The head of... what?!

Holocaust: That's right, I work for the government now. It's my job to deal with you people.

Red Robin: We people?

Holocaust: Superheroes, of course. At least the ones that don't register like they're supposed to. The deadline passed four days ago, and you're all currently acting as illegal vigilantes, giving me the power to arrest you all for ninety days imprisonment. You get it?

Beast Boy: He's kidding, right? Tell me he's kidding.

Red Robin: If you're with the VRA, then what's she doing with you? You're telling me they hired her, too?

He's pointing at the woman behind Holocaust, a woman with icy blue skin and hair, and an unnatural chill emanating from her cold body.

Holocaust: That's right; Killer Frost is with me.

Beast Boy: Alright, now I know he's kidding.

Red Robin: So let me get this straight: a legal, regulated government agency hired two well known super villains as a part of their task force to bring in rogue superheroes?

Killer Frost: Heh, kid, you don't know the half of it. Now, be a good little boy and come quietly. Or don't; I wouldn't mind snapping off a few frozen limbs.

Superboy: Enough talk; you two don't belong here! Get off our island before we throw you off!

Killer Frost: Oooh, I'm terrified. What are you gonna do, Kryptonian?

And then, another voice speaks up, one that had up until this point remained silent.

Wonder Girl: Guys, just do it. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.

All eyes turn towards her, most in a mix of stunned surprise and disbelief.

Superboy: What the hell are you talking about?

Wonder Girl: Just go with them and do your time. Then you can register like I did and be back doing things like normal.

Beast Boy: What? You went and registered with these bozos?

Wonder Girl: My identity was already public, Gar. It only made sense.

Beast Boy: That's not the point! Now you answer to them, right? Like a trained attack dog!

Wonder Girl: Maybe... but it's better this way. There doesn't need to be anymore tension between heroes and those in authority. Even though we answer to them, we can still do good, just like always.

Bombshell: And I thought Ravager was nuts. This b*tch is off her rocker.

Moving towards her, Superboy puts his hands on her shoulders, staring into her eyes.

Superboy: Cassie, would you listen to yourself? You can't honestly believe what you're saying. It's... not you.

Wonder Girl: It is me, Conner. It's all me.

Meanwhile, Raven, the other silent one of the group, is kneeling on the ground, a hand pressed to her head and eyes closed. No one notices her yet, but she looks almost sick, and afraid. Her voice speaks up in nothing more than a hoarse whisper.

Raven: I was right... there is something wrong. This isn't Wonder Girl, not as we know her. She's... I can feel something now, but it's not coming from her.

Static glances over at Raven, the only one to take notice of her a the moment. Leaning down close, he puts a hand on her shoulder.

Static: Raven, you alright? What's going on?

That's when Raven's eyes fly open.

Raven: We're in trouble.

Before Raven can give further warning, Wonder Girl reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small lead box, then flips the top of it open. A bright green glow emerges, coming from the small space rock within. Instantly, Superboy doubles over in pain and nausea, sweat beading from his forehead. In seconds, he's on the ground and groaning incoherently, as the chunk of Kryptonite lands next to him.

Red Robin: Wonder Girl, what the hell are you doing?! That'll kill him!

Wonder Girl: If you won't come quietly, then we must take you.

She then suddenly flies forward with a burst of speed, heading straight for Static. He puts up an electrical field to try and defend himself, but the resulting impact of her super strength punch sends him flying through the air, eventually landing in the waters of San Francisco Bay.

Red Robin: Cassie, stop!

Bombshell: Forget talking, she's out of control!

Launching herself at Wonder Girl, she throws a punch infused with an explosive amount of atomic energy. Whirling around, Wonder Girl throws up her arms in defense, taking the brunt of the impact but flying back into the air as a result. Bombshell flies after her in hot pursuit.

Bombshell: She needs to be put down!

Holocaust: Not so fast.

Raising an arm, Holocaust forms a torrent of flames around his body, sending a scorching stream straight at the silver woman. Upon being engulfed, Bombshell utters a loud cry of pain, starting to fall from the air. Keeping the flames on her, Holocaust turns up the heat, causing the girl to roll over in agony. The extreme temperature causes her metallic, Dilustel skin to begin to break down and peel off, exposing her normal skin beneath.

Killer Frost: That's enough, we're not supposed to kill them. As sad a fact as that is.

In response to the attack, Beast Boy suddenly charges forward, in the process transforming into an enormous, forty foot tall T-Rex. Opening his jaws wide, he plunges his head down, intent on chomping the man between his teeth. Before he gets that far, however, Wonder Girl flies back in and delivers a thunderous punch to the side of his face. Beast Boy goes down immediately, transforming back into his regular form and falling unconscious.

Red Robin: Damn it, Cassie!

Turning around, Red Robin hurries back over to the crippled Superboy. and makes a desperate dive for the chunk of Kryptonite. He has to get rid of it in order to get Superboy back on is feet. Unfortunately, in mid lunge a cold wave suddenly blasts over him. He feels the temperature drop rapidly, until a thick layer of ice encases around his body, pinning him against the ground.

Killer Frost: Chill out, kid.

Holocaust: Just one left.

Raven, however, doesn't look to be in a condition to fight back. Hands holding her head tightly, she groans and takes in deep breaths, sweat pouring down her face.

Raven: No, no... this is wrong. This is all wrong!

All she can focus on is the utter emptiness coming from Wonder Girl, an emptiness being filled with artificial emotions and instructions. There's something inside her, something forcing her to do this... and it's destroying her. Glancing up, her eyes focus on Wonder Girl, who changes her course and starts flying at Raven.

Raven: I can't... I must find help. I have to fix this!

And then, in a swirl of dark mass, Raven vanishes from the island, teleporting through her soul-self.

Ext. Appalachian Wilderness – Day

A red and white blur streaks across the sky. Taking in deep, frantic breaths, Power Girl glances back over her shoulder. Her outfit is torn and dirty, the cape shredded. Even with her high level of invulnerability, she's bruised and scraped up, exhaustion stinging her lungs. Twenty minutes ago, it had been a completely normal day. She'd called a JSA meeting, just like she did every Monday, gathering together all members of the team.

But not just the JSA had showed up to the meeting. With them was a whole team of VRA agents, threatening to take her in for failing to register with them. Of course, she completely brushed this aside. After all, what were they going to do, shoot her? Yeah, because that's always effective. She had her own reasons for not wanting to hand over her life and identity to the government, and no one was going to make her.

That is, of course, until the entire JSA turned on her. They had all registered with the VRA, and they were all now following the government's orders. Just like that, her leadership and friendship to them was suddenly gone. When she refused to let herself be taken away by the VRA, they attacked. They all attacked. She might be one of the strongest women on the planet, but even she can't deal with that kind of onslaught. After realizing that she was fighting a losing battle, she took off to the skies at super speed and fled. After that, she managed to put out a distress call to one of her closest friends. The homing beacon in her belt would draw the girl right to her.

Landing somewhere in the middle of a forest, with a range of rounded mountains in the background, Power Girl lands and parks herself on a large rock. Sighing heavily, she drops back and lies down, just staring up at the sky.

Crap, my body hurts. Feels like I just went ten rounds with Darkseid.

About a half hour passes before a shadow starts to descend over her. Squinting slightly, she sits up and leans back on her arms, watching as the dark haired girl in a white and black outfit floats down on a levitating rock.

Terra: I got your call, Peej. What's going on? And what the heck happened to you? You look terrible.

Power Girl: Yeah, well I feel terrible, too. Something's wrong, Atlee, something's really, really long. The VRA just showed up on the Justice Society's doorstep looking for me. I mean, sure, I didn't register like we're supposed to, but come on. They can't really expect us to just give our whole lives up to them so we can keep beating up super villains, right?

Getting down on her hands and knees, Terra leans forward over her floating rock, which hovers several feet above Power Girl.

Terra: And they did that to you?

Power Girl: No, that's the part that's so messed up! I could have swatted those VRA goons away with my eyes closed if I wanted to, but I never got that chance. My whole team turned on me, Terra. The entire JSA, they just... they attacked me. I put up a fight for as long as I could, but then I got the heck outta there and called you.

Terra: Hmm... sounds problematic.

Power Girl: Well if that isn't an understatement...

Terra: I really wish you registered, Peej. Now I have to bring you in, too.

A cold, numb feeling quivers through Power Girl's chest, her attitude suddenly sinking into hopelessness.

Power Girl: No... Atlee, not you, too.

Terra merely shrugs, then reaches out and clenches a fist. Instantly, the earth around her rises up in the form of a giant hand that grabs hold of Power Girl and squeezes tightly.

Terra: You have to understand, the VRA is trying to help us. We all need to listen to them and follow their laws. Just come peacefully, Peej. It's only 90 days, and then you register with them with like you already should have. Nothing terrible.

Gritting her teeth, Power Girl clenches her fists and throws her arms up, bursting through the earth holding her.

Power Girl: No, this isn't right! None of this is right!

What the hell is with everyone? Why is the whole superhero community turning on each other?!

A flying boulder abruptly cuts off her thoughts, exploding against her backside. Normally, it wouldn't hurt that much, but with how battered her body is already, she feels it. Cringing, she falls to one knee, holding herself up with one of her hands.

Terra: Don't make me hurt you, Peej. And I can hurt you; especially in your current condition.

Power Girl: Yeah, well... you're forgetting something: I can hurt you, too!

Taking in a deep breath, she rockets herself forward at super speed, blitzing the girl. She makes certain to hold back with her punch, way back. After all, she isn't trying to take Terra's head off or anything. Whatever's going on, whatever's doing this, they're still friends. She just needs to put the girl down for a while. Once her fist connects with her friend's head, Terra goes down hard, not moving but still breathing. Letting out a long groan, Power Girl then reaches down and lifts Terra up into her arms.

Power Girl: Sorry, girl... let's take you home. Then I need to figure out what the hell is going on around here.

Int. Hall of Justice – Night

As the doors to the meeting room open in front of him, Flash folds his arms and looks around. Supergirl is with him, walking in with her hands on her waist. Cyborg and Donna are waiting for them inside, but the others aren't there yet. Before any of them can speak, another speedster zips into the room.

Jesse: Z25Y(2AB)6. Alright, I'm here. What's going on?

Cyborg: You mean you don't know?

Jesse: Uh... no. Should I?

Cyborg: Considering you called us here, I would hope so.

Jesse: Wait, what? But I was called here by Donna.

The Justice League members begin glancing at each other in confusion.

Donna: And I was called by Supergirl.

Supergirl: Don't look at me, my call came from Cyborg.

Flash: And mine came from Jade.

Another voice interrupts them, as the doors open up again. Green Arrow walks in, bow over his shoulder. He's glaring, a concerned look on his face.

Green Arrow: And Flash called me.

A dead silence descends over the group. Clearly, something is very wrong here, with each member of the team apparently being called to this meeting by someone who had no knowledge of placing such a call. It doesn't take long to realize what's going on, however, at least not in a general sense.

Cyborg: Then the question is: who really called us?

A voice echoing across the room answers his question, as the other set of doors open to reveal another figure walking towards them, a very familiar figure.

Deathstroke: I did.

The Justice League immediately goes on the defensive, preparing themselves for an attack. The man is in full costume, after all, with weapons at the ready.

Cyborg: Slade... what the hell are you doing here?

Deathstroke: Ah, Victor... not as sharp as you used to be, are you?

Flash: Cut the small talk, Wilson. Give us one good reason why we should pummel you and drag you off to jail.

Deathstroke: Well, for starters, I haven't committed a crime.

Jesse: Oh, duh, of course you haven't. Because you're such a nice guy, right?

Deathstroke: I'm a free and innocent man now, whether you like it or not. I'm also the head of the Vigilante Regulation Agency, the agency that you were all supposed to register with according to the new laws put into place two and a half weeks ago. The deadline expired, and none of you complied.

Donna: Because it's wrong. And it is not something we can give in to. Forcing heroes to give up their identities and fall under government control will not end well.

Supergirl: Yeah, and what's stopping the government from forcing us to go attack another country, huh? Sorry, but I'm not fighting your wars for you.

Letting out a short breath, Deathstroke simply shakes his head.

Deathstroke: Doesn't matter what you think about it, Donna. It is law now, and by law, it's my job to take you in for breaking it. Come quietly or suffer the consequences.

Cyborg: We're not going anywhere with you, Slade.

Green Arrow: Now get out. This room is for Justice League members only.

Deathstroke: Sorry you feel that way. Looks like we'll be taking you by force, then.

Jesse: Please, who's gonna force us, you?

Deathstroke: No... they are.

On cue, the doors behind them slide open to reveal a small army standing there; a small army of superheroes, to be more precise. Among the crowd, they spot Animal Man, Aquagirl, Argent, Arowette, Speedy, The Atom, Black Canary, Flamebird, Blue Beetle, Stargirl and nearly the entire JSA, as well as a dozen others at least. Leading the pack, however, is a painfully familiar face, a green skinned woman flying up in the air and glowing with energy.

Jade: So, how are we going to do this?

Flash: Jade?! What the hell are you doing with them?

Jade: The right thing. You should have registered, Wally. You all should have. Now you pay for your inaction.

Jesse: You backstabbing little... 3x2(9YZ-

But before she can finish the phrase, a beam of green energy emerges from Jade's palm, wrapping around her mouth in the form of a gag. If she can't speak the full speed formula, she can't gain access to the speed force, and thus her powers.

Jade: Not so fast, Jesse.

Deathstroke: You're coming with us, whether you like it or not. By order of the VRA, you are all under arrest.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

No More Heroes: Part 2 Preview: With most of the country's superhero population either already arrested or under the VRA's control, those few left roaming free are branded fugitives and enemies of the state. But something is clearly wrong with how events are playing out. What did Raven really sense in Wonder Girl, and is it affecting the other heroes employed by the VRA? What are the VRA's real goals? And is Slade really in charge? Find out next time, in part 2!

11 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - Night of the Wolf (#41-47)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Jeremiah Belmont, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+ (Maybe a few brief M moments, but that's about it)

Note: The seventh story arc sees Rose Wilson stepping out of her element, as she is thrust into a world of magic, myth, and the supernatural. After being bitten by the werewolf, Kubrick, lycanthropy is beginning to take hold of her, changing her body. Working with one of DC's biggest magic users, she must work to find a cure before her first full transformation, at which time she will be forced to live out the rest of her days as a werewolf herself, in constant danger of hurting those around her.

Side Note: So I've stopped doing chapter previews for the next chapter (except the last one), since there's no real point in doing that when I'm releasing multiple chapters at the same time. As always, I appreciate any and all comments and feedback, so if you read my fan-fic and you liked or, or even if you didn't like it, let me know! As for the next story arc, it's going to be a big one. Crossover big. That's right, I'll be writing out a big crossover event, involving a lot of big names from around the DC universe, not just Rose and her supporting cast. Should be quite a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it. Oh, and the last chapter in this arc is really, really long... almost the length of two chapters, actually. Couldn't find a way to break it down evenly enough to separate into two actual chapters, though, so it's just really long. You've been warned.

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Chapter #41

Int. Rose's Martial Arts Studio – Day

The building is mostly an empty shell right now. Rose only signed the lease on it a couple of weeks ago, and the process of cleaning it out and fixing it up has been a long one. By the time she's finished with it, though, it'll be her own martial arts studio, a place where she will teach others how to do what she does; well, not all aspects of what she does, just the fighting part. When trying to think of a new job to take on during the day, it only made sense to find something that she's good at. The martial arts, multiple styles of it, is probably the one thing she's best at. It's only been a part of her life since she was old enough to throw a punch, after all. Might as well get paid to teach it to others.

There is still quite a ways to go, though. Not only does she need to finish fixing up the building, but she also needs to start ordering equipment, setting up serious advertisements, organizing personal records, and a whole other manner of business aspects that she's still new at. Fortunately, she isn't in this alone. Becky has been incredibly supportive of this endeavor, even taking days off work to help with the building preparations. One of those days happens to be today, painting day. Both dressed in protective coveralls, the two women work ardently to apply the selected beige colored paint to the walls, using large, long rollers.

Rose: Thanks again for taking the day off to help.

Becky: Ah, not a problem. I'm burning through my sick days pretty quick, but it's worth it.

Rose: You'll still let me make it up to you, of course.

Becky: Won't hear any arguments from me.

Rose: I'm thinking dinner by candlelight, maybe a walk in the park, then back to my place for a little... after dinner entertainment?

Becky: Ha, aren't you the romantic one?

Rose grins a little, as she dips her roller back into the paint bin and starts spreading out another coat along the wall.

Rose: Only when I want to be.

Becky: Sounds lovely to me, but shouldn't you be making time to go out and beat up some crooks?

Rose: Hey, even superheroes deserve some time off. I think the city will survive without me for one night. Hasn't been a whole lot of activity lately, anyway. By the way, your sister can watch Holly tonight, right?

Becky: So long as you keep paying her, she'll watch Holly as many times as you need.

Rose: Good, then we're all set for tonight.

Becky: What's on the agenda for the rest of today, anyway?

Rose: Well, in a few hours I'll need to pick up Holly from school, then we're headed to the mall for a live demonstration.

Becky: A demonstration?

Rose: Yeah, just something I put together last week. Going to be showing off a few things, give people a taste of what they can learn from me. Just some advance publicity to get my name out there. By the time I open these doors, I want to have people already lining up.

Becky: And Holly's helping with this demonstration, is she?

Rose: Well, she is my only student so far, so it makes a lot of sense.

Folding her arms over her chest, Becky lifts an eyebrow.

Becky: And what about me, ah? You're teaching me, too.

Rose: True... but you're still a rookie. Holly's been learning from me for a year now.

Becky: Oh, a rookie, am I? Care to test that?

Dropping her paint roller, Becky raises her hands and takes a defensive stance, one that Rose had taught to her during the course of the past few weeks. For a moment, Rose just stares at her, studying the woman's posture.

Rose: Your back foot is way too far forward. Slide it back a bit.

Glancing down at her feet, Becky pushes her back foot farther behind her, then looks up again.

Becky: Okay, now let's go.

Rose: And your body is too open. Turn it more to the side.

Frowning, Becky turns her body more to the side.

Becky: That better?

Rose: A bit, but now your elbow is-

Becky: Oh come on!

Rose: Alright, alright, but you asked for it.

Without even giving Rose a chance to drop her paint roller, Becky lunges in with high kick. Though Becky's aim is fine and balance decent, Rose can see so many openings in the attack that she can't even decide which one to take advantage of. Bringing a hand up, she simply blocks the kick, then throws the leg to he side. Becky is forced off balance, catching herself after a brief stumble and then coming in with roundhouse elbow.

Stepping to the side, Rose catches Becky's arm, twists it around behind her, and forces it against her back. Letting out a small yelp, Becky stiffens up straighter, trying to escape from the hold. Unfortunately, she can't do anything to free her arm, as even the slightest movement causes the painful and uncomfortable hold to tighten.

Rose: So, what was that you were saying?

Becky: I can get out of this! Just... give me a second here.

Again, she attempts to spin and yank her arm away free. After failing multiple times, however, Rose decides to just end the futility. Sweeping her leg between Becky's, Rose knocks the woman face first to the floor. Becky lands on her stomach with a surprised groan, the air rushing from her lungs. Rose then mounts her from behind, sitting atop her and continuing to force her arm firmly against her backside.

Rose: I'm waiting for your miraculous comeback.

Uttering a frustrated breath, Becky pushes herself slightly upward with her free arm. She manages this for only a brief moment before collapsing back to the floor.

Becky: It's coming... just you wait...

Leaning forward a little more, Rose rests her chin against her free hand, now whistling quietly to herself. Becky continues to struggle, but to no avail. Eventually, she gives up entirely, letting out a long sigh.

Becky: Hijo de puta... fine, you win.

Releasing the hold, Rose lays herself down across Becky's backside now, pinning her to the floor.

Rose: Still got a lot to learn.

Becky: Yeah, yeah, I get it.

Rose: Come on, let's get back to work.

Before Rose can get up, however, Becky suddenly rolls over quickly. Rose is forced to roll in the same motion, ending up flat on her back, with Becky now poised over her, hands holding her wrists.

Rose: You realize I can think of at least twelve different ways to throw you off, knock you out, or otherwise incapacitate you from this position, right?

Becky: Probably.

Moving in closer, Becky brings their lips together for a deep kiss, one of passion and warmth that they hold for a long time. When Becky finally pulls back, she smirks knowingly.

Becky: But you won't.

Rose: And what makes you so sure?

Becky: Because, as much ass as you kick-

She's kissing along Rose's neck now.

Becky: -I'm still the lead in this relationship.

Exhaling a long breath, Rose reaches up her arms and wraps them gently around Becky's neck.

Rose: Mmm... so you are.

Int. Silverstone City Mall – Day

The live demonstration, which begins in roughly five minutes, ends up bringing in a fairly sizable crowd, some of whom saw the fliers and thought it would be interesting, and others still who are just curious about the stage set up just outside the food court. Dressed in a white gi, Rose stands off to the side doing a series of stretches to loosen up. Holly does the same nearby, also dressed the same. Though Rose will be the one doing a majority of the demonstration, Holly has her own small part to play. Aside from that, though, the only others involved are the few guys that Rose hired to hold boards and set up equipment; basically, the grunt workers.

Rose: Almost ready to go?

Holly looks up from the floor, as she's sitting down and stretching her legs out. She gives a couple nods, but also goes through several hand signs.

Holly: I think so... but I'm nervous.

Rose: Hey, relax, you'll do great. Just do what we practiced and they'll love you, promise.

People are suckers for talented kids, after all. Once they get a load of what Holly can do, they'll be lining up to register for her upcoming classes. At least, that's what she hopes.

Holly: Alright, I'll try to do good.

Rose: You'll do great.

Several minutes later, the announcer takes the stage and speaks into the microphone. He does a fine job of explaining what the demonstration is all about, what Rose is trying to accomplish through it, and giving out the general information for the future opening of her martial arts studio. By the time he's done speaking, the crowd looks genuinely captivated with anticipation. Time to give them what they want.

Announcer: And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the owner herself, the lovely, the amazing, the powerful, Rose Wilson!

Okay, so maybe he didn't have to lay it on quite so thick. But he does his job. Taking in a deep breath, Rose walks out on stage and gives the crowd a wave, receiving a small applause in greeting. She begins the demonstration by going through various forms that she prepared. Sure, in a real fight, pre-planned forms are generally meaningless, but for a demonstration they sure do look good. Though starting off slow and basic, she soon mixes in a variety of quick and advanced moves, even showing off some impressive acrobatic techniques. Again, not the most practical moves to make in a fight, but it looks pretty. There's a time for teaching the proper way to fight, and a time for showing off. Right now, this is a time for showing off.

About twenty minutes into her forms, the crowd is really starting to get into it, clapping and whistling after each string of moves she makes. After finishing the last of her forms, she steps forward and takes a bow, allowing a few moments for everyone to get all the applauding out of their systems. Looking up, she spots Becky standing there in the front row and gives her a wink. Becky responds by briefly blowing a kiss back at her.

Next up is the board breaking demonstration, a lot of people's favorites for some reason. It really is a simple task, breaking a board, at least once you know what you're doing. Yet, it also looks cool and tends to impress those watching. The men she hired to hold the boards get into position. She had gone over this with them the day before, on how she wanted them to stand and where to move when they replaced the broken boards with new ones.

She doesn't just simply kick or chop these boards in half, though, no. She does it in style, unloading quickly, precisely, and gracefully on her targets. She flips herself around from board to board, each time leading with a new strike that breaks the plank in half. Within several minutes, she's broken two dozen boards in the most impressive fashion that she knows how, earning even more applause this time. Again, she walks up to he center of the stage and bows.

And then, it's Holly's turn. The announcer takes a moment to introduce her, calling her Rose's “only current student.” The crowd watches with intrigue, as the small, ten year old girl comes out on stage and bows to them, then begins going through her own forms. Though not nearly as stylish and advanced as Rose's performance, it's still an impressive sight for someone her age. Within moments, Holly has the entire crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. Once she finally finishes her demonstration, the crowd breaks out into cheers and applause. Holly is all smiles, bowing again and waving at everyone.

With the demonstration now coming to a close, the announcer returns to stage and brings the microphone up to his lips.

Announcer: Alright, ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for joining us today for this impressive live demonstration. Remember, Rose's Martial Arts Studio opens in exactly two weeks, so if you feel like learning a little something cool, be sure to sign up for classes in advance. More information is on the fliers being passed out to you now.

That's when a couple of snide, mocking voices call out over the the crowd. Two boys are standing off to the side, next to the stage, both dressed in black gis. One leans against the railing casually, while the other, the one voicing his opinion the loudest, stands straight with his arms folded.

Boy: Come on! Don't fall for that crap, that was lame! Just a bunch of flashy moves!

Announcer: Uh... just ignore the peanut gallery, folks, no need to-

Before he finishes his sentence, Rose walks up to the man and puts a hand on his shoulder

Rose: Now hold on there, give me the microphone.

Announcer: Okay, if you say so. Here you go.

Taking the microphone from him, she takes a few steps forward and sits on the edge of the stage, looking over at the two boys.

Rose: So, I believe you were saying something?

Boy: Heck yeah I was. Just stating how completely bogus that performance was.

Rose: And what makes you say that? Really, I'm curious.

Boy: Trust me, I know theatrics when I see them. I've been doing this for years, and all I saw there was a bunch of showing off. People, you really want to learn some serious martial arts, come to the White Tiger Dojo, right across from the food court.

Glancing behind her, Rose notices said dojo. Huh, quite the oversight to have a martial arts demonstration right outside another martial arts school.

Rose: White Tiger Dojo, huh? Must be some pretty skilled students there, if you're boasting this much.

Boy: Of course there are. Like me, for example.

Rose: Hmm, I see. And what's your name?

Jimmy: Name's Jimmy.

Rose: So, Jimmy, you're saying that I'm all show, no substance, that it?

Jimmy: You heard me.

Rose: And you'd be able to beat me in a sparring match, right?

Jimmy: Of course I would, but I don't fight girls. It's not respectable.

Rose: Sounds more like you're scared to fight one, if you ask me.

A few laughs come from the surrounding crowd, causing Jimmy to scowl.

Jimmy: I'm not scared! I just don't hit girls, that's all.

Rose: Well, that's good news, then, because I'm not a girl. What you see here is all woman.

Jimmy: I'm still not fighting you.

Rose: Tell you what, Jimmy. You face me in a spar right here, right now, and if you beat me, I'll publicly endorse the White Tiger Dojo. And, to make it fair, I'll fight blindfolded, with one arm tied behind my back.

Jimmy: You're insane, how's that fair?

Rose: Because then you might be able to hit me.

More laughter from the crowd. Jimmy's scowl grows.

Jimmy: And if I refuse?

Rose: Then I get to tell people how Jimmy, the loudmouth from the White Tiger Dojo, was too afraid to man up to a challenge.

At this point, Jimmy has no choice but to accept, lest he be scrutinized or made fun of for the foreseeable future. After all, with as much as he's boasting, backing down from an open challenge would look really bad for him. So, he lets out a reluctant breath and then walks up on stage.

Jimmy: So how do you want to do this?

Rose: Pretty simple, first on on their back loses.

Jimmy: And I thought this was supposed to be a challenge... Alright, let's get this over with.

Rose: Hold on just a second there.

At her command, one of the workers she hired hurries over with a blindfold. She takes it from him, then quickly ties it around her face.

Jimmy: Wait, you were serious? Geez, you're insane, lady. I mean, you're already missing one eye, that's enough of a disadvantage.

Ignoring his comments, she then takes her right hand and tucks it behind her back, holding it there firmly in place.

Rose: We can start whenever you're ready, Jimmy.

Frowning, Jimmy just shakes his head, then takes a fighting stance and rushes her. After all, with her handicaps, it should be simple, right? As he tries to grab her, though, he quickly realizes he's in over his head. Rose pushes his arms to the side, spins around him, sweeps her leg around behind his feet and causes him to stumble. Before he can recover his balance, Rose follows through with a spinning roundhouse kick straight to his back, putting a little bit more force into it than she probably should have. Jimmy goes down in a heap instantly, just lying there for a moment and blinking in surprise.

Jimmy: Wha- what the... how the hell did you do that?

Lifting the blindfold off, Rose stands over him and folds her arms.

Rose: Years of practice. Don't suppose you have anymore smart ass comments you want to make, huh?

Jimmy: No...

Rose: That's what I thought.

Taking the microphone again, the announcer comes forward, glancing back at Jimmy for a moment before speaking to the crowd.

Announcer: And there you have it, let's give a big hand for Ms. Wilson.

More applause, more cheers. Rose gives them all a parting wave, then finally heads off the stage to regroup with Becky, who greets her with a quick kiss.

Becky: Pretty fancy moves up there.

Rose: Yeah, well not just me.

She puts a hand on Holly's shoulder, giving the girl a warm smile.

Rose: Holly did great, too.

Becky: Si, she really did. Grats, girl.

Holding up a hand, Becky and Holly high five each other.

Becky: Now then, I think it's time we-

She suddenly stops mid-sentence, however, her gaze falling on Rose's arm.

Becky: Rose, you're bleeding.

Rose: Huh?

Glancing down, Rose notices that, indeed, her arm is bleeding, a bright red spot beginning to soak through the sleeve of her gi.

Rose: What the hell?

Becky: Are you alright? Did you bang into something?

Rose: I... no, I don't think so. Doesn't even hurt. Hold on, let me go clean this up. Wait here with Holly?

Becky: Yeah, sure thing.

Leaving them, Rose heads over to the nearby women's restroom. Once inside, she stands in front of one of the sinks and lifts up her sleeve, staring at her arm. It's the same arm that Kubrick bit over three weeks ago, when he was in his werewolf form. The wound had never really fully healed, completely out of the norm for her. An injury like that should have fully repaired itself in no more than a few days. The deep, burning pain had gone away a long time ago, sure, but some of the bite marks had yet to close up. This is the first time that the wound decided to spontaneously bleed, however.

Swallowing a hard lump in her throat, she thinks back to what Dick told her, how bites are what spreads the lycanthropy virus, in most cases. She had never given it much thought, though, after it happened. After all, to think that she could be turning into a werewolf... it's a laughable thought.

Isn't it?

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Rose and Becky lie in bed, both taking in deep breaths. Rose wipes sweat from her brow, then lets her arm fall back limply against the mattress. She's actually exhausted, which is saying something for someone with her levels of endurance. Closing her eye momentarily, she sucks in a large breath of air and holds it for a second, then lets it out in a sudden puff. Her entire body is coated with a thin sheen of perspiration, a plain indicator of just how much she had exerted herself. Becky, equally exhausted, holds one of her hands out and lets it come down to rest on Rose's thigh.

Becky: Dios mio... you were... really aggressive tonight. What on earth came over you?

Rose: I, uh... I'm not sure. It just happened.

Becky: Well whatever the reason... I like it.

Sitting up straight, Rose utters a small sigh and rubs her forehead again. Then, she starts to slide out of bed and walk across the room.

Rose: Be back in a sec, bathroom.

Closing the door behind her, Rose swallows and leans against the sink, staring at her naked reflection in the mirror. She suddenly realizes just how much of a mess she looks, face pale and eye bloodshot. For a moment, she's surprised that Becky hadn't noticed or said anything, but then remembers that the lights were pretty dim. Turning on the faucet, she cups her hands, filling them with water and then splashing her face. It does nothing to clear her head or get her body to calm down.

She's still breathing heavy, chest heaving and struggling to gain air. But it's not just the exhaustion after a rough night of sex. There's something else... she feels almost ill. A fit of coughing suddenly ravages her throat. She holds a hand over her mouth, hacking into her palm and expelling several misty droplets of scarlet. Blinking at her blood covered hand in shock, she slowly turns her gaze back to her reflection, only to emit a surprised gasp in response to what she sees. Her eye, it's a different color. Not blue now, but bright red instead. And the pupil is slitted, elongated down the entire length of the iris.

Pulling her gaze away hurriedly, she brings a hand up to her eye and rubs it furiously, as if trying to scrub the monstrous change away. When she blinks back at her reflection again, she utters a relieved breath; her eye is back to normal. Still, though, she shrinks backwards slightly and clenches her jaw, panicked thoughts running through her head.

What the hell is happening to me?

Chapter #42

Int. Abandoned House – Night

The place is filthy, most surfaces caked with thick layers of dust and dirt, while most of the windows are broken. The lights don't work, either, leaving the dim moonlight as the only source of illumination. Sitting in one of these old, dirt rooms, is a young girl named Jennifer, just turned sixteen three days ago. She isn't there by choice, of course. No, she was brought here, snatched up right off the streets by some lunatic in a white van. She had then been gagged, bound, and thrown in this house where no one could find her.

Taking in deep, shaky breaths, Jennifer swallows and looks frantically around the room, as though she'll suddenly find something that can help her. Of course, it won't do her any good. She's already been here for hours, unable to get up and flee, crying and emitting muffled screams from behind her gag. By this time, her eyes are so red and puffy that they itch something awful, but with her hands and feet tied together behind her back, she can't rub them.

The man who kidnapped her has been gone most of the day, off doing whatever the hell it is he does. He hasn't been back to feed her, let her go to the bathroom, or otherwise take care of her in any way. Then again, why would a scum sucking, kidnapping b**tard bother with that? He doesn't care about her, he only wants her for... whatever he wants her for. Ransom, maybe... or something more twisted and sick.

As if her situation couldn't get worse, she suddenly hears the front door opening, then footsteps coming down the hallway. A small, muffled shriek emerges from her throat, as she tries to crawl backwards, closer to the wall. The man who kidnapped her comes into view, entering through the doorway and staring down at her. He just sort of tilts his head to the side, a sickening grin curling across his face.

Kidnapper: Well, well, almost forgot about you.

Coming forward, he closes the door behind him and kneels in front of her. Jennifer closes her eyes and turns away, sobbing and trying to scream out for help. But no one is going to hear her quiet, gagged voice. No one is going to help her. The kidnapper reaches forward now, grabbing at her clothes. Jennifer goes into full on panic mode, thrashing and struggling to get away, but he isn't having any of that. Winding up his arm, he whacks her square across the face and then forces her against the floor.

Kidnapper: The more you struggle, the harder this is going to be. Just relax.

A maniac chortle emerges from his throat, as his grin widens and hands begin to pull at her clothes. Jennifer can't hear anything over her sobbing and heart beating. She wants to be anywhere else but here, just wants this to stop! Why is this happening to her?!

And then, a loud crash fills the room. A shadowed figure busts through one of the few unbroken windows of the building (though now it's quite broken), and rolls across the floor briefly before popping up with a high kick that catches the kidnapper across the jaw. With a pained grunt, the man tumbles backwards, dazed. He doesn't get a chance for respite, however, as the attacker is on him again, lifting him up and slamming him into the wall several times, then brutally beating him across the face, and finally finishing him off with a whirling kick to the side of the head, knocking him out cold.

Jennifer watches the whole thing with wide eyes, hiccuping every now and then; a side effect of her frantic sobbing. She swallows nervously, as the attacking figure, a woman from the looks of it, turns around and approaches her. When the woman removes her gag and begins to untie her, Jennifer just blinks in surprise, trying to calm her breaths.

Jennifer: Y-you're the Ravager. I-I've... I've seen you on the news. Read about you in the papers.

Ravager: Yeah, that's me.

Jennifer: The people at school, th-they say you're a bad person.

Ravager: Sounds like the people at your school don't know what they're talking about.

After freeing Jennifer's hands and feet completely from their bonds, Ravager reaches down and helps pull the girl up. For a moment, Jennifer just stands there, staring at the woman across from her.

Jennifer: Y-you saved me.

Ravager: That's kind of what I do around here, in spite of some popular theories. I help people.

Uttering an elated breath, Jennifer then suddenly comes forward and throws her arms around Ravager in a tight hug. Ravager stands there, releasing a low groan, and then finally raising her own arms up to return the hug, albeit somewhat limply.

Jennifer: Thank you! Just... thank you so much! Oh my god, my friends are never going to believe this!

Ravager: Yeah, right, well... come on, let's get you down to the police station. I think your parents are waiting for you there.

Int. Silverstone Central Police Station – Night

Police Chief Palmer opens the door to his office and lets out a small yawn, walking over to his desk. It's getting late, near eleven o'clock, the time he normally heads home. Not tonight, though, with the sudden commotion at the station. A young couple came in earlier, saying that their daughter hadn't made it home from school that day, and that she wasn't answering her phone. When she didn't arrive back home by dinner, the parents came to the police station to report her missing. Of course, they technically couldn't file a missing persons report until 24 hours after the believed disappearance, but they were quite adamant and refused to leave the station until the police started searching.

Palmer had assured them that they would do what they could, though he hadn't actually expected anything to turn up. Lo and behold, though, Jennifer, the missing girl, shows up at he station a half hour ago, safe and sound, if a little roughed up. Not only that, but the man who kidnapped her was waiting right on their doorstep, tied up and unconscious.

Chief Palmer: Now I can only imagine how that happened.

As expected, the figure hidden behind the door steps out into the open, arms crossed over her chest. With a small nudge of her foot, she kicks the door closed.

Ravager: The girl okay?

Chief Palmer: Sure, she's fine. Parents are taking her home soon as they finish filing charges against the kidnapper.

Ravager: Good.

Chief Palmer: So tell me, how did you find her? She'd only been missing maybe eight hours.

Ravager: This gear isn't just a fashion statement, Chief. Comes with a whole slew of nifty upgrades, like enhanced hearing. I heard her cries while on patrol and investigated. Got there just in time, too.

Chief Palmer: Upgrades, huh? That the reason for the new costume?

Ravager: One of the reasons.

No longer does Ravager dress in her previous costume, which had always pretty much been a rip off of her father's, of Deathstroke's. Sure, the costume served her well for years, but it had been time to move on from it, time to get away from her father's colors. So, she'd had Batman help her design something new, not only a different style but also more protective and durable. Now, her armored costume is a sleek design of blue and black, with some red, white, and grey trim (Like her New 52 outfit, here).

The headgear now consists more of a helmet than just a cloth mask, offering much more protection to her head. The faceplate is still divided into two halves, like her old mask, one side black and the other white, with an eye hole covered in a red lens. In the very back of the helmet is a small opening that allows her long white hair to flow out of, which she keeps tied back in a ponytail. She can now accomplish much more than just night vision with her new equipment, and she's been putting it to very good use these past few weeks.

Chief Palmer: Well, in any case, good work. I have to say, I had my doubts about you when we first made this little arrangement... but, admittedly, you've been a big help these past weeks.

Ravager: Like I told you, I'm just here to do some good, in the best way I know how.

Chief Palmer: So you did. I'm just glad you're on our side this time. One less thing we have to worry about, not chasing you all over the city anymore.

Ravager: Works out for the both of us, believe me.

Chief Palmer: Right, well, keep doing what you're doing.

Ravager: I intend to.

On that note, Ravager heads over to the window, opening it and hopping outside.

Chief Palmer: Going back out on your, uh, patrol?

Ravager: For now. If something major comes up, you know how to contact me.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Making her way back up to the rooftops, Ravager heads back towards the alley where she left her new ride, an even more advanced cycle specially designed by Batman. She tries her best not to think about just how much she's indebted to him, what with him pretty much bankrolling her entire operation in Silverstone. He insists that she doesn't ever have to worry about paying him back, but still, it's a thought that constantly nags at her.

As she hops onto the seat of her new bike, a brief hiss of static comes in over her built in headset, the following voice echoing crisply and clearly in her ear.

Becky/Comm: Nice work on the kidnapping, girl.

Ravager: All in a night's work, you know that.

Becky/Comm: Of course, of course. How much longer you plan on staying out, anyway?

Ravager: Couple more hours, at least. Might call it an early night if it's quiet.

Becky/Comm: Just let me know when you're on your way, I'll start us up a bath.

Ravager: Will do. By the way, how's the new command center working out?

The 'command center' she's referring to is actually a new, heavily secure panic room type setup that Dick had built in her penthouse. Not only does it function as a nearly impenetrable safe area, should anything like Riggs breaking in happen again, but it's also equipped with computer equipment and other technology that would rival Oracle's station. Granted, Becky doesn't exactly know how to use most of the stuff yet, but she's learning.

Becky/Comm: Like a dream. This stuff is pretty sweet, I gotta say. Though, I do have quite a lot of instruction manuals to read up on for half this gear...

Ravager: All in good time. Holly in bed?

Becky/Comm: Si, tucked her in a couple hours ago.

Ravager: You know, with how much time you're spending over my place now, maybe you should consider moving in for good? I mean, hell, you already sleep there most of the time.

Becky/Comm: Well, can't say I haven't thought about it... and it would be pretty fun, ah? Tell you what, you find time to come help me move my stuff out of my apartment, and I'll be happy to move in.

Ravager: I'm sure we can work out a time to do that. In the meantime, keep your eyes and ears on those scanners, let me know if any alerts pop up.

Becky/Comm: Ha, way ahead of you. Alarm just went off at Eastside Jewelers, and you're about five minutes closer than the nearest squad car.

Ravager: I'm on it.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Uttering a long breath, Rose pushes inside her penthouse. She has already changed out of her costume and into her spare set of clothes, now lugging around her gear in a large duffel bag. Heading over to the living room, she tosses the duffel bag on the floor and collapses onto the couch, while putting her feet up on the coffee table. This is just what she needs, to kick her feet up after a long night and relax. Of course, she doesn't remain like that for long, as suddenly Becky is right behind her, arms coming around her neck and kissing her cheek.

Becky: Welcome back. Bath is ready when you are.

Rose: Thanks, I'll be right there. I just... need to sit for a minute. Feeling kind of weird.

Becky: Tiring night, ah?

Rose: Well, between the kidnapping, the robbery, the drug dealers, and being shot multiple times, yeah, a bit busy.

Becky: Ha, you're a tough girl, you'll live.

Rose: Yeah, yeah.

Becky: So come on, the water's getting cold.

Rose: Alright, I'm coming.

Becky gives one more gentle kiss to Rose's cheek, then stands up straight and starts heading back towards the bathroom. She only gets halfway there, however, when she hears a sudden, and rather loud, thud behind her. Glancing back over her shoulder, her eyes go wide in surprise, as she sees Rose lying there on the floor. Immediately turning around, she kneels at Rose's side, putting a hand on her shoulder.

Becky: Rose, what's wrong?

Rose: I can't... hurts...

Becky: What is it? What hurts?

But Rose can't utter another word, instead, holding her arms around herself and curling up into a ball. Groaning, she starts to quiver, while her shoulder muscles go into spasms. Becky watches in utter shock, having no idea what's going on or what to do. The first thought that goes through her head is to call the hospital, but what happens next make her strike that idea. For several brief moments, Rose's face contorts, taking on animal-like features. Becky lurches backwards, uttering a surprised gasp, but the strange transformation disappears almost as soon as it happens.

And then, without warning, everything is fine again, mostly. Rose lies there calmly, motionlessly, hands gripping the carpet. She breathes in deeply, slowly looking up and groaning, a far off look in her eye.

Rose: Becky... I think something's wrong with me.

Becky: Dios... you don't say. What's going on?

Rose: When I fought Kubrick... the werewolf, he bit me... I didn't think anything of it at the time, but now I-

Another sudden flare of pain goes through her body. She holds her stomach again, collapsing flat against the floor.

Becky: Oh Madre de Dios, you're kidding me. Wh-what do I do? How do we fix this?

Rose: Call... Dick... use the private line, he might... still be out.

Becky: Right, okay, just hold on.

Springing back up to her feet, Becky hurries back into the command room and puts on her headset, then places an immediate call out to Batman. The other line is silent for what feels like an eternity, but finally a voice answers.

Batman/Comm: Rose, is that you?

Becky: Di- uh, Batman! No, this is Becky. We have a problem here.

Batman/Comm: What is it?

Becky: It's Rose, I think there's something wrong with her. She just collapsed, and she's in pain and she's been changing, and I don't know what do do, and-

Batman/Comm: Rebecca, hold on, slow down. Deep breaths.

Taking in a deep breath, Becky calms herself and slowly lets out a puff of air.

Becky: Sorry, I'm okay, really.

Batman/Comm: Now explain again.

Becky: She was bitten. By Kubrick, the werewolf, you remember? She... she didn't say anything about it, but now something's happening and I don't know what to do. She's not... I mean she can't really be turning into one, right?

A long silence comes in over the other line before Batman finally answers.

Batman/Comm: I've contacted someone who can help, she'll be there shortly. But Rebecca, listen to me, if Rose turns completely... I mean, if she 'wolfs out', for lack of a better term, you need to get Holly and get out of there. Understand?

Becky: I... yeah, I think so. Thanks.

Batman/Comm: Just sit tight, help is on the way.

A sudden sound of thunder booms from the living room, nearly giving Becky a heart attack in the process, as she jumps a mile. Staring at the door for a moment, she finally forces herself to hurry back into the living room to find out just what the hell is going on... and then freezes at the sight of someone else standing in the middle of the penthouse, a woman dressed up in some kind of magician's uniform, complete with top hat, bow tie, magic wand, and fishnets.

Becky: Wha- who are... how did you...?

The woman smiles, then gives a bow in greeting.

Zatanna: Zatanna Zatara, mistress of the mystical arts, at your service.

Becky: Zat...Zatarn... what?

Zatanna: You can just call me Z, if you like.

Becky: Okay... Z. How did you get here so fast?

Zatanna: Magical teleportation, of course.

Becky: I'll pretend I understand that. So you can help Rose?

Zatanna: Naturally. Batman tells me she's been afflicted with lycanthropy, nothing I haven't cured before. Should have her good as new in a minute.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Becky plops herself down on the floor next to Rose, who seems to be in some kind of delirious daze, sweating and murmuring incoherently to herself. Zatanna comes forward, fixes the white gloves on her hands, then raises her magic wand and gives it a few fanciful waves. Pointing it towards Rose, she utters her magic incantation to deliver the cure.

Zatanna: Nrut ot snamuh yltnenamrep!

A bright white flash fills the room, forcing Becky to shield her eyes momentarily. When the light dies away, she opens her eyes again and looks back up to see Zatanna halfway across the room on her back, wisps of steam billowing from her body. After a brief moment, the magician sits back up and holds a hand to her head.

Becky: Uh... are you alright?

Zatanna: Sure, sure, fine. Just a little headache.

Becky: Well, did it work? Is she cured?

Zatanna: Afraid not.

Becky: What? But you said you've done this before!

Zatanna: I have done this before. Unfortunately, my magic isn't so effective against other magics of a higher power.

Becky: Wait, magics of a higher power? I thought we were dealing with a virus here.

Zatanna: So did I. But, apparently ,whoever afflicted the werwolf that bit your friend, here, did so through the use of a very powerful curse, powerful enough that I can't lift it... and that's saying something, because there aren't many many beings with that level of magic.

Becky: Qué mierda... you're saying that Rose is cursed, then?

Zatanna: So it would seem. This isn't just your average lycanthropy virus, this is something else entirely. I can't cure her with my magic.

Becky: But what do we do? There must to be some way to help her!

Zatanna: Of course there is. We'll just be needing a different sort of help, and I know exactly who to contact.

Becky: And who exactly is would that be?

Zatanna: An old friend of mine, another expert in the supernatural. He should know of other ways to cure lycanthropy, outside of magic. We'll just need to pay him a little visit, that's all.

Becky: Well, I can't go with you; there's a ten year old girl sleeping in the other room that needs looking after. I'm not leaving her here alone.

Zatanna: Of course, I wouldn't expect you to. In that case, though, I'll be going with just Rose, if I can get her back on her feet. Let's see what I can do for her...

Coming forward again, Zatanna holds a hand to her chin, thinking for a moment, and then waves her wand.

Zatanna: Niap eb enog!

Instantly, Rose's pained groans go away, and she slowly falls out of her delirium. Taking in a few deep breaths, she opens her eye and looks around, pushing herself up to her hands and knees.

Rose: What... what happened?

Zatanna: No ruoy teef!

And then, Rose inexplicably lurches upwards to her feet, as if pulled by an invisible hand. She stands there for a moment, blinking in confusion and turning her attention towards Zatanna.

Rose: I could have got up myself, thanks.

Zatanna: You probably could have, given a few minutes, but we don't have the time to wait around. There's no telling how far along your lycanthropy has spread, and scientific cures only work before your first full transformation.

Rose: How long do you think I have?

Zatanna: Oh, could be a few days, or a few minutes at this point. It's different for everyone, especially given the specific nature of your affliction.

Rose: Cursed, right... I heard you talking.

Becky: But you can help her, right? Or your friend, whoever he is?

Zatanna: He should, provided we get to him in time, so say your goodbyes.

Rose: Well, see you soon, I hope.

Becky: Just come back without fur and fangs, alright?

Rose: Yeah, no problem there. Take care of Holly, too, let her know what's going on.

Becky: Will do. Be safe, Rose.

Leaning in, Becky gives her a firm, parting kiss, holding it for several moments before pulling back. Zatanna then raises her wand, waving it around theatrically.

Zatanna: Ekat su ot eht emoh fo Drahcir Tlucco!

Another sound of thunder booms in the living room, followed by a bright white flash. When the light goes away, both Rose and Zatanna are gone, vanished into thin air.

Becky: Magical teleportation... right.

Chapter #43

Ext. Unknown Location – Night

When the two women reappear, Rose takes a moment to double over and lose the contents of her stomach on the ground. After several moments of coughing and spitting out every last remnant, she utters a small groan and straightens herself.

Rose: Uck... I hate teleportation...

Zatanna: Not experienced with that particular mode of travel, I see. You get used to it.

Rose: You say that like I'm going to have to.

Zatanna merely smirks, as she begins leading Rose up a long, winding road through what appears to be the middle of nowhere. As far as she can tell, there isn't any civilization nearby, just a lot of grass, trees, bushes, and dirt. Oh, and it's raining. Not just drizzling, either, but almost pouring.

Rose: I hardly think I'm dressed appropriately for this kind of weather.

Zatanna: Hmm, you may be right. Hold on, I can fix that in a second. I take it you don't enjoy bright colors?

Rose's unamused stare is enough to answer the question.

Zatanna: Right, anyway. Sserd Esor ni niar etairporppa eritta!

Instantly, Rose feels her clothing change. She can't really describe how it feels, though, having nothing to compare it too. One second, she's wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and the next she's garbed in sturdy hiking boots, leather pants, a turtleneck sweater, black trenchcoat, and a wide brimmed hat. For a moment, she just looks down at herself, trying not to cringe too much over the outfit. At least it's keeping her dry.

Rose: Not... quite what I had in mind, but I guess it works.

Zatanna: Good, now if you'll just follow me, we'll be at my friend's home in a minute.

Shoving her hands into her coat pockets, she hurries after the magician woman, traveling down the road. In spite of the rain, Zatanna doesn't appear to be getting wet... some kind of magical water repellent, perhaps?

Rose: So, why couldn't you just wave that wand of yours and transport us directly to his home, instead of having to walk there from the road?

Zatanna: I'm afraid he doesn't like visitors very much; he's gone and booby trapped his property. Were we to spontaneously materialize in his house, there's no telling what we might set off.

Rose: And walking there the old fashioned way makes the traps less of a threat?

Zatanna: It does when I can see and deactivate them with a few magic words.

Frowning slightly, Rose folds her arms across her chest and continues following Zatanna down the road. Eventually, they come to the front of a large iron gate, attached to a tall fence encircling what appears to be some kind of estate... one built in the middle of the wilderness. Quite the odd place to put such an elaborate and expensive looking home, but whatever.

Zatanna: Nepo!

The gates suddenly swing open, allowing them entrance inside the property. But she isn't finished there, waving her wand again.

Zatanna: Wolla efas egassap!

A small flicker of light bursts along the path leading up to the front door, followed by a high pitched hissing that slowly disappears.

Zatanna: And that should do it.

With that, she leads Rose up the walkway and to the door, which slowly glides open after two simple knocks.

Int. The Occult Manor – Night

The interior of the mansion isn't exactly what Rose expected. Instead of all the fancy, elegant décor, one might find in an ordinary home such as this, it is what can only be described as 'creepy'. For a moment, Rose half considers that they stepped into a completely different building altogether, as from the outside it looks like something out of the renaissance. From the inside, it looks like something out of a Gothic horror novel, complete with stone gargoyles peering down from the second story balcony. Medieval suits of armor line the sides of the main hallway, down the center of which is a long red carpet. Every now and then she spots a glass case sitting on a small table, inside of which are strange artifacts; she spots a jeweled scepter, an old, rusty helmet, some sort of serrated dagger, and a box made of shiny, black material.

Rose: Someone actually lives here?

Zatanna: Oh yes, this is pretty normal for him. Hell, you should see my place; much creeper

Rose: Right... so where is he, anyway?

Zatanna: Probably in the sitting room.

And so the two make their way down the long corridor, eventually coming to a large, heavy wooden door. Without having to physically open it, or even a word from Zatanna, it opens inwards, giving them access to the sitting room beyond. It's a warm, cozy area, with two arm chairs situated in front of a blazing fireplace, a table with books stacked on it between them. While one of the arm chairs is empty, a man sits in the other, his legs propped up on an ottoman and a pipe between his lips. He acknowledges their presence without even looking up from the old, leather bound tome in his hands.

Man: Ah, Zatanna, I thought that was you.

Zatanna: Greetings, Richard. It's been a long time. Rose, I'd like to introduce you to Richard Occult, otherwise known as Doctor Occult.

Finally looking up from his book, Doctor Occult glances over at them with raised eyebrows.

Dr. Occult: Rose, you say? I knew a Rose once... but that was a long time ago.

Rose: Your last name is seriously Occult?

Dr. Occult: Odd names come with the job. Such is how the world works.

Rose: I'm sure. So can you really help me, or not?

Dr. Occult: Well that depends, what's your problem?

Zatanna: She's been afflicted by lycanthropy.

Dr. Occult: Ah, werewolves. Haven't come across one of them in decades. Don't seem to be quite as prevalent nowadays as vampires, ghouls, and the like.

Rose: I don't really care what's prevalent or not, I just need a cure.

Dr. Occult: And you're telling me that your magic was unable to strip this condition from her, Zatanna?

Zatanna: Unfortunately, yes. Her affliction stems from a curse, rather than the traditional strain that I can usually to cure. Whoever delivered that curse on the werewolf who bit her possesses magics greater than my own; I can' touch it.

Dr. Occult: Intriguing... not a lot of beings in the world capable of that, now are there? And tell me, Rose, have you already suffered your first transformation?

Rose: Uh, no, not yet. I mean, I've been having these... episodes, I guess, where my body will start to change, but I suppress it back.

Dr. Occult: You're close, then, but not quite there. That means there is still time to administer a scientific cure... good.

Rose: What if I already had transformed?

Dr. Occult: If you'd already turned, it would be much more difficult... we'd have to find the being that handed out the original curse, and get him or her to lift it from you, which would likely be a serious pain to accomplish.

Rose: Alright, so what exactly is this 'scientific' cure you keep mentioning?

Dr. Occult: A rather intricate concoction with very specific ingredients.

Rose: And those ingredients are...?

Dr. Occult: Ah, hold on just a moment. I'll need to dig out one of my old books; memory is a little fuzzy on the subject.

Rising out of his chair, Doctor Occult walks over to the far wall, where several shelves of books line the walls. Running his fingers along the spines, he examines the titles carefully until finally finding the one he's looking for. Removing the book from the shelf, he flips it open and scans the pages.

Dr. Occult: Yes, here it is. We'll need a sprig of hemlock, a single ginseng root, aconitum, otherwise known as wolfsbane, a wolf's neck bone ground into powder, and a pint of blood from the werewolf that bit you. Mix it all together into a nice cocktail, and you have your cure.

At the listing of those ingredients, Rose cringes slightly.

Rose: And I'm supposed to... drink that?

Dr. Occult: That you are.

Rose: What was the other option again?

Zatanna: If you're worried about the taste, I know a spell that can give it the flavor of honeyed wine.

Rose: It's more the thought of having to down a cup of Kubrick's blood.

Zatanna: Yes, well, it's the best we can right now, unless you'd rather wait around until you turn?

Letting out a sigh, Rose folds her arms and glances off to the side.

Rose: So what do we go for first?

Dr. Occult: I have some of the easier ingredients lying around somewhere, if you'll give me a few minutes to gather them together. I know I have wolfsbane and hemlock... and I should have a ginseng root, too. I'll be just a moment.

As he leaves the room, Rose begins to pace around the room, tapping her fingers against her arm. Zatanna stands there, watching her closely, but says nothing. Eventually, Rose releases a distant sigh and holds a hand to her head.

Rose: So, what if this... I mean, if it doesn't work, if somehow I don't get cured... what happens, then?

Zatanna: Well, you'll have to learn how to live with your... condition.

Rose: And how the hell do I do that?

Zatanna: With practice. At first, your transformations will come and go, and you'll likely be uncontrollable while in animal form. In time, though, you'll learn to transform at will, and retain your normal consciousness. Of course... there will be the hunger.

Rose: Why don't I like the sound of that?

Zatanna: Because you shouldn't. Werewolves often possess voracious appetites, craving specifically for raw, red meat. Of course, this hunger can be curbed through simply buying and eating a lot of raw steaks, or something similar, but there are times when you could lose control, and when that happens...

Rose: When that happens, I'll satisfy the hunger with whatever, or whoever is around...

Zatanna: Exactly.

A long, silent pause comes between them, the only sound being the occasional popping of burning wood coming from the fireplace. Eventually, Rose sinks into one of the arm chairs and stares into the fire.

Rose: Then we'd better get this cure soon.

Zatanna: I'll do everything I can to help, don't you worry.

Doctor Occult returns several minutes later, carrying various jars of ingredients with him. He carefully hands them over to Zatanna, then begins to head back over to his arm chair.

Dr. Occult: Now, you have your ginseng, hemlock, and wolfsbane there. So, you'll still be needing a wolf's neck bone, and the blood of the werewolf who bit you, Rose. I'd love to accompany you myself, but I'm afraid I'm working on a case right now; nasty zombie uprising in eastern Romania, and I still need to figure out who the necromancer is raising them all. So, the best I can do is wish you luck.

Zatanna: Thank you for your help, Richard. It was good seeing you again.

Dr. Occult: And you, as well, Zatanna Zatara.

Zatanna: Come, Rose, no time to waste.

Ext. Unknown location – Night

A short few minutes later, and the two women are back out in the rain. A small shiver runs up Rose's spine, forcing her to pull her trenchcoat tighter over herself. She doesn't know where they are right now, but wherever it is, the temperature is much cooler than back in Silverstone.

Rose: So, which one are we going after first?

Zatanna: The easier of the two would make sense, I think.

Rose: And where would we find a wolf's neck bone?

Zatanna: From a wolf.

Rose: You plan on just slaughtering a random wolf? I mean, sure, I'll do it, but it just seems... excessive.

Zatanna: I didn't say we'd be killing anything, now did I?

Rose: But-

Zatanna: Shh, patience, Rose.

Staring out into the surrounding wilderness, Zatanna raises her wand, closes her eyes, and concentrates.

Zatanna: Dnes a gnorts tanvres fo eht noom ot em!

For several moments, Rose just stands there, arms crossed, waiting for something to happen. When nothing does, she goes to speak up and voice her concerns, when suddenly something appears in the distance, coming through the trees. Squinting, she makes the figure out to be a large, grey furred wolf, trotting right up to them. Stopping five paces from them, the wolf looks straight up at Zatanna and waits patiently.

Rose: How did you...?

Zatanna: Magic, remember?

Zatanna then moves forward and kneels next to the wolf, placing one hand on the creature's head, and pointing her wand at its neck.

Zatanna: Evig em ruoy htfif earbetrev.

The wolf the suddenly shudders and lies down, whimpering. Holding her hand up, Zatanna reveals a small bone, one of the animal's vertebrae, in her palm.

Zatanna: You see? Simple.

Rose: Uh... that's great and all, but is he going to be okay?

Without answering, Zatanna points her wand at the wolf again and speaks another spell.

Zatanna: Laeh lla sdnuow.

Instantly recovering, the creature pops back up to its feet and runs away back into the trees and shadows beyond. Zatanna watches the wolf disappear into the darkness, then stands up straight.

Zatanna: I thank you for your aid, dear friend.

Rose: Okay, so that's done... shouldn't we get a move on now? We have to find Kubrick.

Zatanna: Yes, of course. I just hope you're ready to give my methods of travel another try.

Rose: Fantastic...

Ext. Washington D.C. Streets – Night

With a small sound of thunder, Zatanna and Rose appear out of thin air again, landing on their feet in the middle of a back alley, surrounded by boxes, trash bags, dumpsters, and the like. Rose teeters on her feet momentarily, holding herself up against the wall of the building next to her and leaning forward, ready to puke if necessary. While that bout of teleportation hadn't been quite as bad as the first one, she still feels sick as a result.

Rose: Let's please not do that again.

Zatanna: No promises.

Rose: Ugh.

Zatanna: Should I give you a minute?

Rose: No... no, I'm fine. So, are you sure this is the right place?

Zatanna: My locator spell is never wrong. This is where Michael Kubrick resides.

Rose: Okay, well then that raises a pretty interesting question: what the hell is he doing in D.C.?

Zatanna: A different question for another time, perhaps. That isn't why we're here.

Rose: Right... we need his blood, and something tells me he isn't just going to hand it over.

Zatanna: I would tend to doubt that.

Rose: And we can't just outright murder him, even if we would be doing the local populace a favor.

Zatanna: We'll try to do this as peacefully as possible... if we can't, then I have other ways of accomplishing what we need.

Rose: This is the guy that put me in this predicament in the first place. If it's all the same to you, I think I'd rather skip ahead to the part where I ram a sword up his furry-

Zatanna: Calm yourself, Rose. Aggressive emotions maybe speed up your transformation process.

Narrowing her gaze, Rose folds her arms and stares back at the woman, unamused.

Rose: Probably something you should have mentioned sooner.

Zatanna: In any case, the hotel where Kubrick is staying should be just around the corner. We should hurry.

As Zatanna makes her way to the mouth of the alley, however, Rose just lifts an eyebrow at her.

Rose: Uh, it's probably not my place to say, but should you really be wandering down the streets dressed like a slutty magician?

Zatanna: A slutty... excuse me?

Rose: Well, I mean, with the no pants... and the fishnets... and the... It just seems like that would attract a lot of attention.

Zatanna: I wouldn't worry so much how others see me. A simple spell, and everyone out there views me dressed in normal clothes.

Rose: Oh... can you do the same to me?

Zatanna: Of course.

Rose: In that case, I want my gear.

Shifting her weight slightly to the side, Zatanna lets out a cool breath and utters another spell.

Zatanna: Sserd Esor ni reh elttab raeg.

In another instant, the heavier clothing and trenchcoat disappear, replaced by her new and improved Ravager costume, helmet and faceplate included, as well as her swords. She takes a few moments to examine herself, making sure everything is in order.

Ravager: This is more like it.

Zatanna: Now let us be going.

Chapter #44

Int. Helix Hotel – Night

Michael Kubrick utters a long breath, leaning up against the back wall of the shower and enjoying the feel of hot water on his tired body. He hadn't been expecting his new boss to be working him so hard right off the bat, but the man wants to push forward with his plans as soon as possible, which means Kubrick and Zaria have been quite busy lately. Of course, it hasn't been all bad. Coming back to the hotel room every night with Zaria, the little minx that she is, has made these last few weeks quite enjoyable. That, and they're even given a special 'meal' every now and then, when their boss comes across someone that needs to disappear. They are, of course, only happy to oblige.

Finishing up his shower, Kubrick turns the water off and grabs a towel to wrap around his waist. He's about ready to get a good night's sleep, after working so late and then handling Zaria. All things considered, it's almost three in the morning now. Letting out a long yawn, Kubrick enters back into the hotel room, where Zaria should already be asleep waiting for him. What he finds when he opens the bathroom door, however, causes him to go into a sudden, panicked rage.

Zaria is indeed in bed, but wrapped up impossibly tightly with the bed sheets, one section crossing over her mouth and preventing her from speaking. She turns her head to look at him, eyes narrowing; she isn't amused at the two women sitting on the edge of the bed. One of them he doesn't recognize, some woman dressed as a magician. But he other, he recognizes very quickly. Even if it is a different costume, her scent is the same.

Kubrick: You! What the hell are you doing here?

Ravager: Oh, you know, was just in the neighborhood and felt like dropping in to say hi.

Kubrick: Mangy b*tch!

Wasting no time in listening to further words, Kubrick lunges across the room, transforming into his werewolf form in mid jump. He doesn't get halfway before the mysterious magician woman waves her wand and utters complete nonsense – nonsense that grinds him to a halt.

Zatanna: Nruter ot namuh!

Instantly, Kubrick is shifted back into his normal, human form, losing his momentum and crashing straight into the floor at the edge of the bed. The magician woman again casts a spell, this time binding him.

Zatanna: Parw mih pu!

A second sheet swirls off the bed, gliding through the air like some kind of demonic snake. In a brief moment, the wide strip of cloth tightly ensnares Kubrick's body, tying him up and not not letting go. The hold is surprisingly strong, much stronger than an ordinary sheet should be, as it's being reinforced by the magic flowing through it.

Kubrick: The f*ck is this?

Zatanna: Just a little something to hold you still for a few minutes.

Kubrick: Yeah, and who the hell are you, huh? Can't say I mind the outfit, but this hocus pocus crap is really starting to piss me off.

Zatanna: My name is Zatanna Zatara, and it would be wise of you not to get on my bad side.

Kubrick: Ooh, I'm shaking. Screw off.

Ravager: Shut it, Kubrick. I didn't come here to fight and trade insults, even if I'd love to work out some of my stress right now.

Kubrick: You barge into our hotel room, attack us, tie us up, and expect us to believe that you're not here for a fight?

Ravager is standing now, jumping up to her feet and drawing one of her swords, pointing it at him. They can't see her face, but it's contorted into an expression of pure, vile anger.

Ravager: You're lucky I'm not cutting off appendages! With how many people you've hurt, how many lives you ruined, for what you did to me, I should gut you where you stand!

A sudden flare of pain and dizziness courses through her, causing her balance to shift and feet to stumble. Dropping her blade, she teeters back against the bed and falls into a seated position, elbows on her knees and hands clutching her head tightly.

Zatanna: Rose! You have to be calm.

Kubrick watches the two for a moment, an amused sneer forming across his face.

Kubrick: Ah, I see what's going on now. The curse is finally starting to take hold, right? You're almost there... almost the same as me. And now you've come to me for... what? To get your revenge?

Ravager: I came here for a cure, you ignorant b**tard! I won't live like this, like you!

Kubrick: A cure? Ha, ain't no cure for this, babe. I tried, believe me, but eventually I came to accept what I am. What makes you think I'd even know of a cure?

Zatanna: You might not know it, but there is a way of curing lycanthropy before the first transformation, though I requires very specific ingredients. Normally, I would simply cure her with my magic, but the curse placed on you is very powerful... and it has transferred to Rose.

Kubrick: Well ain't that just a shame? I'm in tears, really.

Ravager: I swear I'll start slicing off chunks, you miserable piece of-

Zatanna: Rose, shh, calm.

Groaning, Ravager drops her head back into her hands and tries to ignore the throbbing pounding inside her skull.

Kubrick: Then what do you need from me, huh? Go make your cure somewhere else.

Zatanna: We need you, Michael Kubrick, because the most important ingredient in this cure happens to be blood of the werewolf who bit her.

Frowning, Kubrick narrows his eyes and glares back at her.

Kubrick: No f*cking way. You're insane if you think I'm bleeding for you. Forget about the cure and just learn to live with it!

Rose: Not gonna happen. Either you do this peacefully like you're giving to the Red Cross, or my friend here is going to take it from you.

Zatanna: You won't even feel any pain.

Kubrick: Okay, now just hold on a second, ladies. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret-

Rose: Quit dicking around, Kubrick.

Kubrick: Not dicking around, no. Just wanted to let you know that, while you've been paying attention to me, you should've been keeping an eye on Zee over there.

Suddenly, a long blue tail, lined with sharp barbs, swings through the air and curls around Ravager's neck, pulling her upwards off the bed. The sheet wrapping around the Celarian then shreds into scraps, as she finishes transforming into her true, alien form. With a another wild swing of her tail, she sends Ravager flying across the room.

Sh*t, what the hell? Ravager slowly pushes herself up to her hands and knees, feeling woozy. Why didn't my precog go off?

It's because of her condition, she realizes, or at least her current delirium, as the moment of her first transformation draws closer. She needs Kubrick's blood for the cure, and she needs it soon. Of course, there is one very big, blue, toothy problem to take care of first. As she struggles to get back to her feet, she notices Zatanna raising her wand, prepared to cast a spell. However, Kubrick suddenly transforms again, ripping through the sheet binding him and slashing his claws outward. Pulling her now bleeding hand back in pained surprise, Zatanna is forced to release her wand, which goes spinning off to the other side of the room.

Before Ravager can do anything to assist her ally, she is quickly under attack again. Zaria jumps at her, claws outstretched and wide, fanged jaws open. Ducking beneath the Celarian attacker, Ravager rolls out of the way and goes for her sword, picking it up off the ground and ready to defend herself. Meanwhile, Zatanna flips herself back across the bed, avoiding another incoming slash from Kubrick.

Kubrick: Not so tough now, are you, you little b*tch? What are you going to do without your wand?

Zatanna: This: teg kcab!

Raising her hands, Zatanna casts the spell, instantly causing the massive werewolf to launch backwards through the air and into the far wall. But he doesn't stop there, actually crashing through the wall and into the next room, where a couple sits on their bed, watching television. As soon as the snarling monster lands in their room, however, they're off and running out the door, screaming in terror and surprise as they go.

Zatanna: The wand is just a prop, you know. My power comes from me.

Ravager lets out an agonized cry, as Zaria's razor fangs sink into her shoulder. The jaw strength on this alien being is astounding, teeth cracking straight through the upgraded armor and piercing into her soft flesh beneath. Bringing her leg up, she forces the monster back off of her, then slices up with her sword. The blade cuts through Zaria's side, opening a long, though shallow, wound. As the Celarian lunges in again, however, she suddenly goes flying backwards, head smacking hard against the wall and falling unconscious.

Zatanna: Thought you could use a hand.

Ravager: Thanks... I can normally take these guys no problem, but I can't... I can't... oh god.

Everything suddenly goes dizzy. Ravager takes a few steps, then collapses to her knees, trying to clear her head. Taking in deep breaths, she forces herself to push through it, eventually swallowing a large lump in her throat and rising back to her feet.

Zatanna: Are you alright?

Ravager: It's okay, I'm good. Where's Kubrick?

Zatanna: He's right over-

Ravager: Over where?

After stopping mid-sentence, Zatanna is staring now at the other hotel room, beyond the broken hole in the wall. Only, the room is empty. Kubrick, in full werewolf form, has already crashed through the third floor window (as well as half the wall surrounding it), and landed on the streets below, causing an abrupt panic amongst the citizens still up at this hour. Cars honk, passersby run and scream, and Kubrick begins bounding off through the city.

Ravager: Sh*t, he's getting away!

Zatanna: Not for long. I just hope you're more prepared for this method of travel than the last.

Ext. Washington D.C. Streets – Night

Ravager: Are you sure you know how to fly this thing?!

Zatanna: Please, I've done this before with a carpet, and that's much less sturdy.

Still, Ravager is unconvinced, as the hotel bed rockets through the air. Some kind of weird levitation spell caused the thing to start floating off the ground, and then Zatanna said something else and it shot off like a bat out of hell. Gripping the headboard tightly to keep from falling off the, uh, flying bed, Ravager carefully looks down at the ground speeding by below them, and at the occasional person looking up at them in shock.

Zatanna: I see him! Down there!

Ravager: Yeah, good, down. Take us down!

Ext. Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool – Night

Piloting the bed through the air, Zatanna brings the speeding, airborne furniture lower towards the ground, catching up to the fleeing werewolf. As it so happens, he ends up making it all the way to the Washington Monument, or rather, the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in front of the large obelisk. Leaping over the side of the pool, Kubrick races through the water, moving as fast as he can to escape his pursuers. He never has a chance, however, as Zatanna raises a hand as soon as she's in range, and casts her spell.

Zatanna: Pots!

Instantly, Kubrick seizes up, frozen completely in place, mid-stride. He plunges forward into the water, sliding several feet before coming to an abrupt stop after crashing into the siding. Slowly, he begins to change back into his human form, now lying naked in eighteen inches of water. The bed zooms in a moment later, coming to a careful landing next to the reflecting pool, allowing its passengers to jump off. Ravager does so rather quickly, very pleased to be back on solid ground.

Zatanna: We tried to do this the easy and sensible way. Now we'll have to do it the hard way.

Still unable to move his body, Kubrick shifts his eyes slowly up at the woman, scowling.

Kubrick: Stay the f*ck away from me, b*tch.

Zatanna: Oh would you relax, already? This won't take a minute.

Removing the top hat from her head, Zatanna reaches inside and pulls out a small jar. Where it came from, or what it was doing in her hat, is anyone's guess. Holding a hand out, she takes in a deep breath and raises the jar.

Zatanna: Llif htiw Leahcim S'kcirbuk doolb!

In the blink of an eye, the jar in her outstretched hand is suddenly full of a dark red liquid: Kubrick's blood. Uttering a small groan, Kubrick shuts his eyes, feeling suddenly woozy.

Zatanna: There, was that so difficult? You didn't need to run.

Kubrick: F*ck you.

Zatanna: In any case, I'd love to stick around and wait for the police to get here, but we're in a bit of a hurry. Rose? Are you ready to- Rose?

Turning to her companion, Zatanna suddenly pauses, as she sees Rose hunched over on all fours, her body quivering and twitching. Curiously, she wanders over and places a hand on the woman's shoulder.

Zatanna: Rose, are you alright?

Rose: Get off!

Without warning, Rose lashes her arm out, striking Zatanna in the shoulder and sending her flying through the air in a display of strength far greater than she should have. Zatanna crashes into the pool water and slides across the bottom of it, coming to a stop after several feet. She is slow to get up, dazed from the blow, and doesn't know where the jar of Kubrick's blood went after she lost her hold on it.

Meanwhile, Rose's muscles begin to spasm, while her bones pop and snap, rearranging themselves. A horrid scream of pain erupts from her throat, feeling as though her entire body is ripping itself apart. Kubrick begins to rise to his feet, as the blow to Zatanna severed the concentration necessary to keep the spell active. Seeing Rose's agony, he grins slightly, beginning to back away. He has no desire to stick around much longer.

Kubrick: Ah, I remember my first transformation... painful, isn't it? Don't worry, you'll get used to it.

Holding her a hand to her head, Zatanna looks up, realizing what is happening, that they're too late. Before Kubrick flees out of range, she extends a hand and utters one more desperate spell.

Zatanna: Laever ruoy sthguoht!

A moment later, Kubrick is gone. Zatanna sits up straighter, everything starting to spin slightly. She grits her teeth and looks over at Rose again, just in time to see the woman's armor burst apart, as her body grows to monstrous proportions. In mere moments, Rose is no longer standing there as the woman she had been, but instead a large, ferocious werewolf, covered in thick, white fur and bright red eyes. Curling back her lips, Rose arches her neck, opens her jaws, and unleashes an ear splitting howl.

Zatanna: Oh dear Hotath...

Reacting instinctively, Zatanna lifts her hands and opens her mouth to speak another spell, intent on returning Rose to her human form. They may be too late for the cure, but Rose can still be helped.

Zatanna: Nruter ot nam-!

The snow white werewolf acts too quickly, however, displaying astounding speed and charging straight at her. Before she can finish the spell, Zatanna is swatted aside like a fly, again sent flying through the air and landing hard in the shallow pool water. By the time she comes to her senses again, Rose is already long gone, sprinting back towards the streets and into the heart of the city.

Ext. Washington D.C. Streets – Night

At about three in the morning, activity on the streets isn't exactly booming, as it is during the day. There are, however, still plenty of citizens driving or walking along the streets. After all, a city never really sleeps, whether New York City or Washington D.C. That being said, there are plenty potential victims for the newly transformed Rose to come across.

Mindless and wild, the werewolf bursts out of an alley and bounds onto the sidewalk, snarling and looking around earnestly. She can feel a burning hunger deep inside of her, a hunger that must be quenched. Within seconds, people are running and screaming. Her heightened senses takes notice of them all; sights, sounds, scents. Gaze darting to the nearest person, a young woman in a black dress and pearl necklace, she charges.

Suddenly, however, she is forced to stop, as she runs straight in front of an oncoming taxi, tires screeching in attempts to brake before crashing into the beast. Uttering a loud growl, Rose extends her arms and catches the car, forcing it to a dead stop as metal crunches beneath her claws. Within the vehicle, the driver's face bounces off the airbag; he then falls back into his seat, dazed.

Darting around the side of the taxi, Rose rips off the door effortlessly and then yanks the man out, claws digging into the meat of his shoulder. Starting to come out of his daze, the man realizes what's going on and begins to panic, thrashing around and screaming. But it's futile, he can't get away. The beast is ready to tear him limb from limb and devour him... until several gunshots go off. Rose feels the bullets penetrate her stomach, but they barely tickle. Werewolf resiliency at its finest.

Turning her head, she notices a police officer standing outside of his squad car and taking aim at her with his pistol. Another couple of shots go off, these ones striking her shoulder; they only succeed in making her angrier. Lips curling back, she snarls again, then tosses the man in her grasp away. Unleashing another ear splitting howl, she begins racing straight at the cop, who begins to understand just what a dire situation he's in. The officer turns to flee, but he won't get away in time. The werewolf is too fast. Closing the distance, Rose lunges, claws outstretched and teeth bared, ready to sink into her meal.

Zatanna: Teg kcab!

Instantly, Rose launches backwards, sailing over a nearby car and crashing against the street. Zatanna comes forward, having followed the animal from the pool. While she is here, she will not allow Rose to uncontrollably harm innocent people.

Zatanna: Og ot plees!

Rose loses consciousness the moment that the spell erupts from Zatanna's fingers, entering into a deep slumber. Shortly thereafter, she slowly reverts back into her human form, now lying naked in the middle of the street with a crowd of people beginning to gather. Zatanna doesn't give them a chance to stare, though, once again casting a spell that transports her and Rose away in the blink of an eye.

Zatanna: Ekat su ym emoh!

Chapter #45

Int. Shadowcrest – Night

Rose slowly opens her eye, everything appearing blurry and watery. Quickly blinking the sleep away, she sits up and looks around, finding herself to be lying in a bed, in a room filled with even more books, occult objects, and downright weird ornaments than even Doctor Occult's home possessed. Holding a hand to her head, she tries to remember what happened, but the last thing she can recall before blacking out is Zatanna filling a jar with Kubrick's blood.

Zatanna: Ah, you're awake, good.

Entering into the room, Zatanna walks over and sets a tray of food on the beside table.

Zatanna: I figured you'd probably be hungry when you woke up; you've been out for nearly sixteen hours. Welcome to my home, by the way. Creepy, right?

Rose: What happened? Did Kubrick knock me out or something?

A distant, sympathetic looks comes over Zatanna's face, as she utters a long sigh.

Zatanna: No... I'm afraid that we were too late in acquiring the ingredients for the cure. You... transformed.

A nauseous sensation quickly bubbles up into Rose's gut. She holds her arms over her stomach, leaning forward and staring at the bedsheets, eye wide.

Rose: I... then I'm... you mean I'm stuck like this now?

Zatanna: In all likelihood, yes.

Her hands come up to her head now, gripping her her hair tightly in panic.

Rose: But I can't! How am I supposed to- I'll end up hurting people. Becky, Holly... I can't stay with them now. What... what am I supposed to do?

Zatanna: Well, I do still have one idea that may work.

Rose snaps her gaze over to the magician, a small flicker of hope rippling through her chest.

Rose: What is it?

Zatanna: Before Kubrick got away, I cast a spell that allowed me to read his mind. In those brief moments, I was able to learn who cursed him...

Her answer is slow, cautious, as if somewhat concerned or dismayed over the information. Rose, on the other hand, is sitting up straighter and leaning forward.

Rose: That's good, isn't it? We find this person and have him remove the curse from me. That is the plan, right?

Zatanna: Yes... unfortunately, things aren't that simple.

Rose: How so?

Zatanna: The one who cursed Kubrick is a being who goes by the name of Circe.

Rose: Should I know who that is?

Zatanna: Not unless you're familiar with the Greek mythos. Simply put, Circe is a sorceress of goddess level power, which explains why I can't break the curse myself. I may be powerful, but I'm no goddess. She also has a long history of turning men into animals, though I've never known her to afflict someone with lycanthropy before. Kubrick must have done something to severely anger her.

Rose: I get the feeling she won't exactly be willing to just lift the curse on command, either.

Zatanna: Very unlikely, but that's not even the worst of it. Circe's last known location is Hades, the Underworld. She was sent there by the Olympians to suffer for her crimes.

Rose: So... what you're saying, basically, is that she's dead?

Zatanna: As dead as an immortal goddess can be, but if you want to think of it that way, go right ahead.

Rose: And I don't suppose we can just waltz into the underworld to talk with her, huh?

Zatanna: Of course not, that would be far too simple.

Rose: But it can be done, right? We can get to her?

Zatanna: Yes, certainly. If I pull a few strings, make a few calls, I may just be able to arrange a meeting with her. Of course, meeting her and actually getting her to agree to cure you are two different things entirely.

Rose: We'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there. We're wasting time just sitting around here, though; let's get going.

Zatanna: Before we go, you may want to select a different attire. I don't think you want to be traipsing about the Underworld in your pajamas.

Blinking, Rose glances down at herself, just now realizing that she's been dressed up in bright pink pajamas pants and shirt.

Rose: What in the hell am I wearing?

Zatanna: Just something I thought you'd be comfortable resting in. Now, as I was saying, different attire?

Rose: Just give me my gear.

Zatanna: Later, maybe. You're going to want something you can wear out in public right now.

Rose: And why's that?

Zatanna: Because, we have to make a little detour first.

Int. The Pin Up Club – Night

Rose: I thought you said we had to go to a bar...

Zatanna: And so we do.

Rose: Then why on earth are we at a strip club?

Glancing around the dimly lit interior, Rose squints her eyes. The pounding music is bad enough, but the blinking lights on stage, where the current nude dancer is swinging around a pole to the delight of the half-drunken men eagerly throwing dollar bills at her, only adds to the suffocating atmosphere of this place. The smell of alcohol is thick in the air, too, almost choking her nostrils. Sighing, she follows Zatanna through the club.

I can see why Becky prefers The Fuego Lounge...

Zatanna: The entrance to the bar is in the back.

Rose: Wait, there's a whole separate bar in the back of the strip club? I didn't see any signs or anything for it... how do people even know it's there?

Zatanna: They don't, unless they're one of us.

Rose: One of you?

Zatanna: A being of magic. You see, the Oblivion Bar is a place where we magic folk go to... well, be away from everyone else. It's where we can come together to be among others of magic. Non magical folk, such as yourself, can only enter through invitation.

Rose: And I take it you bringing me along counts as my invitation?

Zatanna: Right you are.

The two push past the curtain dividing the front part of the club to the employee only section. Turning a corner of the hallway, Zatanna leads her beyond the dressing rooms, around a storage area, and finally to a small alcove in the very back of the building, where nothing but a simple wooden door waits for them.

Rose: Well... the entrance is a little less impressive than I thought. You know, for a super secret magical bar.

Zatanna: It isn't meant to be impressive. In fact, to anyone other than a person of magic, they will only find a storage closet on the other side of this door. To us, however, it opens into a pocket dimension, where we are welcome.

With that, Zatanna reaches forward and pulls the door open.

Int. Oblivion Bar – Night

The Oblivion Bar, a sanctuary for all sorts of magical beings to come and unwind away from non-magic society. It looks like any other bar, with a counter, a bartender, tables, a lounge area, a couple pool tables, etc. Rose even spots a dart board, currently occupied by Captain Marvel and someone she doesn't recognize. Something about the atmosphere, though, seems somewhat calming and inviting. Moving up toward the counter, Rose stands back out of the way while Zatanna does what she came here for. The man behind the counter looks up to see them approach, giving a wide smile.

Rook: Ah, Zatanna, been a while.

Zatanna: That it has, Jim. Good to see you again.

Rook: And you, as well. Who's your friend back there? Never seen her around the bar before.

Zatanna: This is Rose Wilson; she's here by my invitation. Rose, this is Jim Rook, otherwise known as Nightmaster.

Rook: Pleased to meet you, Rose.

Rose: Yeah, real pleasure.

Rook: So, what can I get you? The usual, or you looking for something special?

Zatanna: We're not here for a drink, actually. I need to speak with Fate, is he in?

Rook: Sure, he's in his usual spot, meditating or whatever it is he does in there. Want me to show you to him?

Zatanna: I know the way, thanks, Jim.

Rook: Always a pleasure, Z.

Moving away from the bar, Zatanna brings them down a side corridor lined with many doors. She stops at the third one on the left and knocks three times, no more, no less. After three seconds, the door swings open. Rose probably should have been paying attention when she entered the dark room, then maybe she wouldn't have made such an incredible fool of herself.

Surrounding them is nothing but dark, empty space, with no discernible walls to mark the confines of the room. Tiny twinkles of countless stars flicker in the distance, along with a couple of eerily glowing purple and green nebulas. Rose, however, realizes this too late, lurching in mid stride, as if afraid she's about to fall through space. What she doesn't know is that there is still solid ground beneath their feet, albeit invisible ground. Thus, she ends up losing her balance and toppling to her hands and knees.

Rose: Uh... I'm okay.

But no one is paying attention to her, anyway. Zatanna stands in front of her, looking at a man in a bright gold helmet and cape, who is floating cross-legged in mid air. Several glowing ankhs circle him, spinning round and round in a methodical pace.

Zatanna: Fate, it's been a long time.

Dr. Fate: Indeed it has, Zatanna. Why have you come here?

Zatanna: I have a request to make. My friend here is suffering from a unique form of lycanthropy, the result of a curse cast by Circe. Our other attempts at find a cure have failed-

Dr. Fate: And now you seek the one who cursed her in order to lift it from her.

Zatanna: That's right. The problem is, she's sort of... well, suffering in the Underworld.

Dr. Fate: And one does not simply walk into Hades.

Rose: You stole that line from a movie.

A brief pause passes, as both Zatanna and Doctor Fate slowly turn their heads to stare at her.

Rose: What? I watch movies like normal people, too.

Turning their attention away from her again, they resume their conversation.

Zatanna: I was hoping that you might be able to arrange a way for us to meet with Circe, whatever it takes and however it needs to be done. You have a lot of pull in these areas.

Dr. Fate: Circe will not merely agree lift the curse, even if I can arrange it, you realize. She will want something in return.

Zatanna: You let us worry about that little detail. We just need a meeting.

Another pause, as Doctor Fate appears to be considering the request. Eventually, he lowers his legs from his floating position and stands on his feet.

Dr. Fate: Very well, I will arrange it.

Int. The River Styx – Night

Rose stands with her arms folded, glancing around the impossibly large cavern. She isn't exactly sure where they are, only that, according to Zatanna, they're underground and at the barrier between the Underworld and the living world. And right now, they're waiting. Tapping her fingers against her arm, Rose slowly moves her gaze over to the third woman, the strange one accompanying them, dressed in a toga, a blindfold wrapped around her eyes, a broadsword in one hand, and scales in the other. Themis, that's what she calls herself. Or Justitia, as the Romans call her.

Zatanna: Thanks again for agreeing to help us out.

Themis: I did as Fate requested of me, in hopes that some small amount of justice may be done here today.

Rose: So, what's with the blindfold, anyway? I mean, are you actually blind or what?

Themis: It is symbolic.

Zatanna: Themis embodies divine order, law, and custom. In the western world, she's better known as Lady Justice. The blindfold-

Rose: Blind justice, yeah, I got it. Lame as hell.

Themis: I doubt you would fine hell 'lame', were you to experience its torment.

Rose: Uh, it's just a saying, but sure, whatever.

Themis: Quiet, the ferry approaches.

In the distance, a small wooden boat appears in the waters of the River Styx, pushed along by a cloaked and hooded ferryman with a skull for a face. In the back of the ferry sits the passenger, another cloaked figure, with long purplish-pink hair coiling out from beneath the hood. Her body is one of near perfection, quite befitting a goddess, though her face remains hidden. When the ferry pulls up to the dock, the ferryman leans against the long stick he uses to push the ferry, then waits. Zatanna, Rose, and Themis, step forward up to the edge of the dock.

Themis: Circe, you have been granted these few moments away from torment so that you may participate in this meeting. Use them wisely.

The hooded woman slowly turns her head, face still veiled by the cloak. Still sitting in the boat, she crosses her legs, then finally reaches up to pull the hood down. Her face is normal, gorgeous as always... except her eyes, which are gone, instead replaced by empty, bloody sockets.

Rose: And I thought I had it bad, missing just the one eye.

Circe: Caught me at the end of my daily suffering. Oh, they'll grow back, of course. Just in time for the vultures to pluck them out again tomorrow.

Rose: Remind me never to get sent to the Underworld for eternal damnation.

Circe: It's excruciating at first, but after a while... it just gets old. Now, tell me, why have you asked to see me?

Zatanna: We understand that you cast a werewolf curse on a man named Michael Kubrick some time ago.

Circe: Ah, yes, the name does sound familiar. The fool, thought he could force himself upon a goddess? Ha! He got what he deserved, living the rest of his life as a monster in constant hunger.

Rose: That's great and all, but he bit me, and now I have the same curse.

Circe: Oh? Such a shame. But I'm not sure why you came all this way just to tell me that.

Rose: Because I want you to remove it.

A loud, shrill cackle laugh erupts from Circe's throat, her face looking quite amused. Rose scowls, waiting for the woman to finally calm down enough to respond.

Circe: And now why would I go and do something like that? Your problems are no concern of mine.

Rose: Listen to me, you little-

Zatanna: Ecnelis.

Suddenly, Rose's lips close, refusing to open again. She mumbles through her shut mouth, glaring at the magician and folding her arms across her chest.

Zatanna: What Rose means to say, is that we would like your help with this. Your assistance won't go unrewarded, of course.

Themis: I am prepared to grant you the removal of five hundred years from your sentence, if you cooperate.

Circe: Ha, five hundred years? Honey, that barely puts a dent in my sentence. I'll still be here when your grandchildren's grandchildren are long dead and buried. You want my help, make me a better offer.

Zatanna: What about a thousand years? Can we do that?

Themis is quiet for a moment, glancing down at her scales. It slowly tilts to the left.

Themis: It is doable, yes.

Circe: Sorry, kids, but you're not going to buy me out by scraping away a few fractions of my infernal suffering.

Zatanna: Is there anything you do want?

Circe: Of course there is. I want out of here for good, to be free, but that isn't going to happen.

Zatanna: Then, is there nothing that will get you to help us?

For several moments, Circe, glances off to the side. She can't see anything, obviously, but she still doesn't wish to be facing them. Silence drags between them, as the sorceress remains silent.

Themis: Speak freely, Circe. If it is a reasonable request, and within my power to grant, it will be done.

Circe: You really want to know what I want more than anything?

Zatanna: Come on, just shoot it out there.

Circe: I want what any mother wants: to be with her daughter.

Zatanna: You have a daughter?

Circe: Yes, her name is Lyta. But she was taken from me by her father... until he was killed. Now, my daughter is... I don't know where. Lost in her father's domain, somewhere. Scared. Alone. In pain...

A genuine hint of sadness and grief emanates from Cirice, as she shrinks back in her seat on the ferry. Though a twisted, evil sorceress, she is still a mother, and only wants for her daughter to be safe. Raising a hand to Zatanna's shoulder, Rose begins to mumble something, still unable to speak. Zatanna glances back, then smacks her own forehead.

Zatanna: Whoops. Nepo ruoy htuom! Sorry about that.

Finally, Rose's lips part, enabling her to speak again. She gives Zatanna another long glare, then turns her attention to Circe.

Rose: Okay, so you're telling us that if we find your daughter and rescue her from... wherever, then you'll lift the curse?

Circe: Honey, you do that for me, and I'll grant you anything you want.

Rose: Fine, then we'll do it.

Zatanna: Rose, are you sure?

Rose: If it's to get this curse off me, then yeah, I don't care what I have to do. Just tell us where she is and we'll go get her. What exactly is her 'father's domain'?

Circe: Well, her father, the being I conceived her with, is known as Ares.

Lifting an eyebrow, Rose gives a curious expression.

Rose: Wait... like the god of war, Ares?

Circe: That's right. His domain, at least the one he used to rule over, and where you'll have to retrieve my daughter from, is right back the way I came: Hades, the Underworld.

Rose: Okay, hold on. My knowledge on Greek mythology is a little shaky, so correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Lord of Hades, um, you know, Hades?

Circe: So he is and was. Ares usurped rule of the Underworld by stabbing his uncle in the back. When he was defeated and killed at the hands of your Wonder Woman, however, he went from ruler to denizen and fellow sufferer. Leadership was then returned to Hades himself.

Rose: Of course...

Clearing her throat, she turns back to Zatanna.

Rose: So... I take it venturing into the Underworld isn't exactly the smartest thing to do, is it?

Zatanna: Not even close.

Rose: But can it be done? Surviving in there, finding this Lyta girl?

Zatanna: Well... I suppose, though not without a guide and a way to return still alive. But Rose, are you certain you want to attempt this?

Rose: I am not living my life as a cursed monster, knowing that any day I could end up killing the people I care about by accident. Either I go back cured, or I don't go back at all.

Zatanna lets out a cool breath, crossing her arms across her chest and nodding.

Zatanna: Alright, I understand. But like I said, we'll need someone to guide us into the world of the dead, and a way to keep our mortal souls rooted with the living.

Themis: I believe I can arrange that. Give me a short while, and I will return with the necessary preparations.

In a flash of white light, Themis disappears, leaving Rose and Zatanna to stand there at the edge of the docks with Circe and the skeletal ferryman.

Journeying into the land of the dead... not the brightest thing you've ever done, Rose. Let's just hope it's not the last.

Chapter #46

Int. The River Styx – Night

His name is Hercules. Well, technically, it's Heracles, but his Roman name is far more recognizable. Regardless of what one calls him, however, the fact remains that he is a near immortal demi-god, with strength to match the mightiest heroes on earth. And he is also serving as their guide into the Underworld, at the request of Themis made to the Olympians. Having committed heinous crimes in the Greek world in ages past, Hercules now loyally serves the gods to atone for his sins.

Rose stands in the back of the ferry, as Charon, the ferryman, paddles them down the River Styx. Zatanna stands next to her, arms folded and keeping an eye on Circe, who remains in her seat in front of them. Hercules, on the other hand, stands at the bow of the ferry, leaning forward with one leg raised up on the low railing. A Xiphos sword hangs from his belt, at his left side, while his large, round shield rests against the railing to his right.

Hercules: Put some back into it, great Charon! There is no time to waste!

The ferryman, of course, ignores the command and continues paddling at the same pace. Leaning close to Zatanna, Rose whispers, keeping her voice low.

Rose: Would you look at him? Now I know where the phrase 'body of a Greek god' comes from.

Rose's gaze hasn't left the demi-god's backside since they boarded. Indeed, Hercules is a magnificent physical specimen, his body practically sculpted to perfection. The flowing brown hair, gorgeous face, and simple breastplate with leather skirt that he wears, also doesn't hurt.

Zatanna: Down, girl, you have a significant other waiting for you back at home, remember?

Rose: Of course I do, and I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that, either.

Tilting her head slightly, Rose leans back against the rail of the ferry and lets out a long breath, still staring.

Rose: But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the sight of a natural wonder when I see it.

The boat ride doesn't take much longer, soon reaching the very end of the Styx. As the ferry docks, dark, cloaked figures approach. Circe rises from her seat and steps onto land, being escorted back to her torment in Tartarus. Before she leaves, however, she looks back over her shoulder at them.

Circe: Please... find my daughter.

When she is gone, Hercules turns from the bow and walks over to Charon. He pulls out four silver coins, one for each passenger, and pays the ferryman. Then, he turns his attention to the two women.

Hercules: Fair maidens, prepare yourself, for beyond these docks lies the Underworld, land of the dead. I will do my best to guide you to safety and find the girl you seek, and protect you when need be, but know that not even I am invincible here.

Rose: Appreciate the sentiments, but I assure you that we can protect ourselves.

Hercules: Of that, I have no doubt. I see great strength in both of you, and am honored to be making this journey with you.

Rose: Flattery, huh? Now that I can get used to.

Hercules: Before we step off the ferry, however, I must give you these.

Reaching into a small pouch attached to his belt, he pulls out two vials containing blue liquid and hands one to each of them.

Rose: What's this?

Zatanna: Some kind of potion, it appears.

Hercules: It is called the Draught of Undeath. It will keep your souls alive from the pull of death, while you traverse the Underworld.

Uncorking the vial, Rose gulps down the mouthful of liquid. It tastes something like stale beer; not the most pleasant favor in the world, but it could be worse.

Hercules: Very good, now we can begin our quest!

Rose: Just one more thing. Z, if you please.

Zatanna: Oh, right. Sserd Esor ni reh elttab raeg!

And in an instant, Rose's attire changes to her new Ravager gear, fully repaired from when she tore it apart during her transformation.

Ravager: Alright, now we're ready.

???. The Underworld – ???

The Underworld can't exactly be compared with any other place. With a blood red sky, black clouds, trees made of flesh with twisted, screaming faces jumbled along the bark, a dirt ground that oozes bloody puddles with each step, and eyeless crows watching them from the tree limbs above them, it is truly something out of a person's worst nightmares. Ravager can't even tell if it's day or night, or if they're outside or inside. There is a sky, yes, but they had been in an underground cavern not long ago. It stands to reason that the Underworld is not a domain of their world, instead in another dimension entirely, separated from the living.

Explains the need for the Draught of Undeath to keep us alive... This places reeks of the dead and rotting.

Ravager: So, do we have any idea where to even begin looking for this girl?

Zatanna: All we know is that Circe's daughter was taken by Ares to live with him here. Once Ares fell as ruler, there's no telling where Lyta ended up.

Hercules: If I had to make a guess, I would say she was sent to live in the Asphodel Meadows, the region where neutral souls reside upon death.

Zatanna: What makes you say that?

Hercules: My uncle may be a twisted, corrupt god, but he is fair when it comes to the rule of his domain. He would not have sent her to Tartarus to suffer with the damned souls of Hades, for she has done nothing deserving it. Perhaps to the Elysian Fields, if virtuous in nature, to be among the blessed heroes of legend, but unlikely for a soul yet to be claimed by death.

Ravager: Then take us to these asthma fields.

Hercules: Asphodel.

Ravager: Whatever.

Hercules: There is always the possibility that Hades took it upon himself to keep the girl in his own personal kingdom, though. We will have to ask around to be certain.

Ravager: Ask who, exactly? There's no one else here.

Hercules: Of course there is. You need only know where to look.

Ravager: Well then, lead on.

Moving forward through the twisted forest of dead, fleshy trees, Hercules leads them beyond into a barren land, with nothing but soot and rocks as far as they eye can see. Nearby stands an old, stone building, small in stature and falling to pieces. Outside this building, two statues have been erected, one on either side of the entrance. These statues are of people, men more specifically, both in the exact same, tortured pose, agony on their faces. Hercules walks straight up to one of them, hands on his hips.

Hercules: Excuse me, oh noble soul, I might have a word.

Suddenly, the statue's head slowly and awkwardly beings to turn, the expression of anguish shifting into one more of curiosity.

Statue: Nothing noble about me, I'm afraid. Just a lost soul in a lost world.

Ravager: It talks? The statue talks.

Statue: Not a statue, but the last remnants of the man I once used to be, chosen to become a piece and fragment of the realm you see before you. It is as much a part of me as I am of it.

Hercules: Which is exactly why I must speak with you. You know things, see things that go on in this domain.

Statues: Yes, all things.

Hercules: We were hoping you might know of a young girl brought here not long ago, a couple years at most. Raised by Ares, during his time in rule, purple hair, strong of heart. Goes by the name of Lyta.

Statue: Ah, yes... the girl. She does sound familiar.

Hercules: Might you know where we can find her?

Statue: Let me see... my memory is fuzzy, muddled. So many thoughts all melded together into a seamless flow. Give me a moment to recall...

The statue, or lost soul, rather, suddenly stiffens up and freezes into a motionless object once again. Hercules remains in his stance, hands firmly at his hips, and waits. Ravager and Zatanna, on the other hand, begin to grow slightly impatient.

Zatanna: How long is he going to be like that?

Hercules: Shouldn't be long. It is difficult for souls merged with the Underworld to remember things after having their memories wiped with the waters of Lethe, even those memories gained after.

Ravager: Well, he'd better hurry. I'd really rather not stay in this place any longer than I have to.

As if on cue, the statue begins to move again, once more turning to face them.

Statue: The girl, Lyta, yes, I remember now. When Ares took over rule here, he brought her to live at the Palace of Hades. There, he raised and cared for her, until his untimely demise. After that, the young girl was left without a caretaker and wandered these unforgiving lands, tired and alone. Once Lord Hades returned, however, he found her, brought her back to the palace. She is still there, to the best of my knowledge.

Ravager: Alright, good, let's go.

Hercules: We thank you for your assistance and cooperation. May you continue to rest in peace.

And with that, Hercules proceeds into the barren wasteland.

Hercules: Come, the Walls of Erebos are just beyond these hills. Once past that, we begin our true journey into the Underworld.

Ravager: You mean we're not actually in the Underworld yet?

Hercules: Not quite. These grounds are more akin to Hades' front lawn.

Zatanna: This place just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?

Ext. Walls of Erebos – ???

The giant, three headed monster canine snaps its jaws at them, standing guard in front of the main entrance with lips curled back and teeth bared. It doesn't attack, however, not as long as they keep their distance.

Ravager: Alright, how the hell are we supposed to get past that?

Hercules: Relax, this won't be any trouble at all. Cerberus and I have a history together; I once borrowed him to complete one of my many labors. He'll let us by once he remembers me.

Stepping forward, Hercules raises a hand as if to calm the beast.

Hercules: Be at ease, noble Cerberus. We have come meaning no harm, and wish only to speak with your lord and master, Hades.

The only response he receives is three very large, very vicious jaws lashing out at him. Quickly, he jumps back out of the way in a near panic.

Ravager: Smooth.

Hercules: He does seem to be a bit more aggressive than last we met.

Rolling her eyes, Zatanna steps forward this time.

Zatanna: This is wasting time, let's do this the easy way. Og ot peels!

Within moments, the great furry beast begins to teeter on its legs, soon falling forward and landing against the ground with a thunderous impact. Taking in deep, steady breaths, Cerberus swiftly slips off to dreamland.

Hercules: My, that is effective.

Zatanna: Can we keep going, now?

Ext. Asphodel Meadows – ???

The next stop on the way to Hades' place is the Asphodel Meadows. As described to them already, it is a place where neutral or unimpressive souls end up upon death, if not chosen to merge with the world itself, as the lost soul they spoke with previously. It is a ghostly place, of bleakness and sadness, nothing more than an expansive, empty field of flowers where the pale shades of departed souls wander aimlessly. Ravager glances to either side of her as she walks, eying the wispy hands of forgotten souls reaching out to her. Frowning, she blows out a breath of air, causing the smoky figure to disperse.

Zatanna: I can... feel them. It's like they're calling out to me, yearning for me to stay with them.

Hercules: Listen not to the voices of the departed, for they will whisper sorrowful persuasions into your ear. If they have their way, you will never leave this place.

Zatanna: So just... ignore them? Right, easy...

Several more ghostly arms claw up at them, reaching and pulling. Zatanna waves her arms around through the air, dispersing them.

Ext. Plains of Judgment – ???

Hercules: The last place between us and the dividing roads, which we can follow to the Palace of Hades. This is where newly departed souls are judged, then sent off to their final place of rest.

As with the Asphodel Meadows, the Plains of Judgment consist of wide open fields. However, there are no flowers, only tall grass, in which colorless figures shuffle forward in seemingly endless lines, waiting to be judged. These figures are much more solid in appearance than the wispy shades in the Meadows, but do no give the passing three even a brief glance, their attention solely on their destination in front of them.

Ravager: Ya know, I'm starting to be really glad I'm not Greek. This whole afterlife of yours is just... depressing.

Hercules: One of the bleaker afterlifes, it is true, unless of course you are judged virtuous enough to be allowed into Elysium, a true paradise for the deceased.

Ravager: Something tells me I wouldn't qualify.

Zatanna: I think you may be surprised.

Ravager: Either way, I'd rather not have to find out the hard way.

Hercules: Hopefully, you never shall. Now come, we are almost there.

Ravager: Next stop is the big guy, right?

Hercules: Almost, yes. We do still have one more stop to make along the way first, but I doubt it will take long.

Ext. Palace of Hades – ???

The enormous, obsidian carved palace looms high above them, with pointed spires stretching towards the sky. The jagged edges of these spires give the palace an appearance as though covered with countless, razor sharp knives, truly a fitting home for the ruler of the dead.

Ravager: So... you're sure your plan will work?

Hercules: It should, yes. I would rather not have to find out for, sure, however. It is merely a backup, should words fail.

Zatanna: And how likely is that, exactly?

Hercules: I estimate it at thirty-seventy.

Ravager: With the seventy being...?

Hercules: That Hades attempts to destroy us for intruding upon his domain.

Ravager: Fantastic...

Hercules: But that is why we have a plan. Now, let us enter and-

Before he can finish his sentence, the earth beneath them suddenly bursts open, as thin, skeletal hands begin to claw their way to the surface. At first, there are only a few pairs, but they are then joined by dozens of others. Within moments, an entire squadron of bone warriors, dressed in full battle gear, including armor, swords, shields, spears, and even maces, stand between them and the entrance to the palace.

Zatanna: That's quite the welcoming committee.

Hercules: I'm afraid my uncle is not very fond of visitors. These are his personal guards, sent to keep us out. We must fight through them to get inside.

Ravager: Now that I can live with. And with them already being dead-

She smirks, drawing her swords and preparing herself, as Hades' guards begin to advance towards them. Beating them to the punch, she sprints at them, leaps forward into the middle of the group and begins hacking with expert skill, going straight for decapitations.

Ravager: -means I don't have to hold back!

Hercules smiles at Ravager's enthusiasm, then draws his own sword and shield, beginning to charge.

Hercules: Shall we join her?

Zatanna: Be my guest; I'll be doing this from a distance. Yfirtcele!

Holding a hand forward, a web of lightning bolts from her fingertips, striking one of the skeleton warriors and turning it to ash. The lightning then leaps out from its initial target and jumps to several others in a long chain effect, vaporizing those, as well. Normally, she is not so lethal with her spell casting, but as Ravager said, these foes are already dead.

Hercules rams into a guard, battering it with his shield and then swinging out his sword, splitting it in half. Spinning wildly, he strikes several others close by with his shield, launching them backwards and breaking them to pieces. These enemies may be undead, but they are quite fragile, it seems. Still, their numbers are great, and that is their biggest advantage. Ravager weaves around enemy attacks, evading them with ease and countering with whirling strikes meant to take off empty skulls, cleave apart bony legs, and otherwise maim these skeletal guards.

But even as the guards fall in droves, with each one defeated, another two seem to rise from the ground to take its place. The three fight hard and valiantly, but make little progress in pushing forward to the palace entrance. As time goes on, all their effort goes into trying to keep from being skewered by their enemies.

Ravager: This isn't working! We're not getting anywhere this way!

Hercules: I fear you are correct. We must attempt a different tactic! Can you two keep them off me for a minute?

Another chain of lightning rips through a small group of warriors, frying them. Zatanna backs up, coming closer to Ravager, as the bone guards begin to surround them.

Zatanna: We can try, but hurry up!

With a mighty yell, Hercules swings his shield forward again, smashing apart the three guards in front of him. He then lowers the shield and charges forward, using it as a battering ram and pushing his way through the crowd, all the way up to the massive doors that open into the palace. Ravager and Zatanna follow him, beating back their foes every step of the way. Sheathing his sword, Hercules reaches forward and places his hands on the doors, pushing with all his might. It takes a mere moment before they begin to groan and creak, slowly giving way and opening. When the gap between the doors is wide enough, Hercules waves his allies in.

Hercules: Quickly!

Zatanna casts one more spell to drive the guards back, then slips inside, followed by Ravager and lastly Hercules, who pushes the doors closed behind them. Letting out a deep breath, Hercules places his hands on his hips and gives a merry laugh.

Hercules: I've not fought in a battle like that in ages! Ah, it feels good to stretch my sword-arm again. Now then, let us proceed. Hades will be waiting in his throne room.

Chapter #47

Int. Palace of Hades – ???

The interior of the palace is not much different from the outside, with walls all carved from jagged obsidian and no windows. The only light within is provided from flickering torches lining the walls, which cast eery, dancing shadows. Along either side of the central corridor are more statues, just like the ones they met when first arriving in the Underworld. These ones, however, look far more tortured and anguished.

Ravager: Well, this is... homey.

Zatanna: Not exactly my first choice in décor, I'll admit.

Hercules: Come, the throne room is right up this way.

They follow him down the central corridor to another set of double doors, these ones far smaller in size than the palace entrance. Pushing them open, Hercules steps inside and walks forward a few steps, then stops. The other two remain just behind him. The room within is massive, nearly as tall as it is long, with the ceiling so high above them that the torchlight does not reach, instead casting it in shadow. At the end of the room rises a large throne, the seat also carved out of the same black obsidian as the rest of the palace. Seated upon this throne is a large figure dressed in flowing black robes and armor, with equally dark, stringy hair: Hades. Leaning to the side of the throne, Hades holds his head up with his hand, looking somewhat bored and unamused as he eyes the three before him.

Hades: Nephew... why have you returned to my domain? And why have you brought these intruders with you? They reek of the living, an insult to the realm of dead.

Hercules: Dear uncle, we have come to make a request of you.

Hades: A request. Really? And what makes you think that I would grant you such a thing?

Hercules: You have aided me before, during one of my many labors in ages past. I humbly ask for your assistance once again.

Hades: That was a very long time ago, Heracles. But go ahead, make your request. I am... curious.

Pushing past Hercules, Ravager comes forward this time.

Ravager: We’ve come for-

Hades: Remove your mask, woman. I will not be spoken to by a person who would hide when giving words.

Pausing briefly, Ravager glances back at the others for a moment before finally reaching up and removing the faceplate to her costume's helmet.

Ravager: There, happy now?

Hades: I would choose your words more carefully. You stand in the presence of a god, and the proper respect will be shown.

Frowning slightly, she clears her throat and tries again. It almost physically pains her to try and contort her words into something a god would find respectful

Ravager: Lord Hades, we have come to your domain to request the freedom of the girl known as Lyta, daughter of the sorceress, Circe. Our information tells us that you have been raising her within your palace.

Hades: Ah, you come for the girl, how very intriguing. Tell me, woman, what purpose would one such as yourself have in doing this favor for that insufferable wench?

Ravager: To complete my part of a bargain.

Hades: A bargain with a treacherous sorceress... what would compel one to agree to that?

Ravager: That is my own business.

Hades: Perhaps. But why should I give up the girl? She is happy here, she is cared for, she is safe.

Ravager: She belongs with her mother.

Hades: Her mother suffers in Tartarus for her sins! You would condemn a girl to a life of eternal torment simply to be with her mother?

Ravager: You let me worry about that. We'll figure something out.

Hades: Your lack of conviction is uninspiring, I'm afraid. I have no reason to believe she would be better off going with you.

Ravager: Because this place is so good for her, right? Looks like something out of a bad Hellraiser flick.

The air around them seems to instantly chill, following her words. Hades rises from his throne, glaring hotly at her with a look that could pierce diamond. Even Hercules takes a small step back.

Hades: You dare to insult a god?!

Another chilling silence. Zatanna eases herself forward and whispers.

Zatanna: Tread lightly, Rose... tread lightly.

Ravager: Just calling it how I see it.

Hades: I should cast you into Tartarus!

Ravager: Please, if you were going to, you'd have done it already.

Hades does not respond, but continues to glare, his gaze narrowing even more.

Ravager: Tell you what, you show us the girl, and if we're satisfied at how she's being treated, then we'll leave.

Hades: And if unsatisfied, exactly what do you intend to do about it?

Ravager: We'll just have to come up with a different solution, now won’t we?

Another long stare from Hades, until finally he raises a hand. A flash of white hot light sears the ground in front of him, and when it disappears, a young girl with purple hair is standing there, though she's dressed like a high school goth reject, with a lot of leather, straps, eyeliner, and the like. Her expression seems empty and sullen, as if not noticing what is happening around her. Upon seeing this, Ravager frowns.

She's no older than Holly... what the hell has this b**tard done to her?

Hades: My dear Lyta, explain to these people how happy you are here, with me.

Lyta: I... am happy here. This is... my home.

Ravager: This isn't your home, Lyta, this is a prison. We've come to take you back to your mother, where you belong.

The girl slowly glances up at them, her expression still void of any real emotion. Her voice, too, is hollow and empty.

Lyta: I don't... I have no mother... I have never had a mother. This has always been my home, I have always... been here.

Ravager: What do you mean you've never had a mother? Of course you do; her name is Circe.

Lyta: Circe... I don't know that name.

A triumphant smirk slashes across Hades' face.

Hades: You see? She does not even know her mother. She knows only my domain, and her happiness here.

Zatanna: Something feels off... what's wrong with her? Why doesn't she remember- oh dear Hotath.

Realizing the indication at the same time, Hercules comes forward, an angry scowl on his face.

Hercules: You forced her to drink from the waters of Lethe! She has no memory of her past life, none of it! That is how you keep her here!

Hades: Such a simple solution, don't you think?

Giving her full attention to the young girl, Ravager takes a knee, coming to eye level with her.

Ravager: Lyta, snap out of it. You do have a mother, and she misses you very much. Everything this monster has told you is a lie, none of it is true. This isn't your home, and you do not belong here.

Hercules: Bother not with words, dear Rose. It will take much more than that to remove the forgetfulness inflicted upon her mind. Uncle, we're taking the girl.

Hades: You will do no such thing. Not a single one of you will leave this room alive. Lyta, be a good girl and come to your master's side.

Seating himself back on his throne, Hades watches as the girl turns from the others and obediently walks to the side of the throne. She just stands there, waiting and doing nothing else. Ravager clenches her hands to fists, scowling; at this point, Lyta is no more than a trained pet at Hades' beck and call. Rising back to her feet, she begins marching towards the twisted god.

Ravager: You demented b**tard... I swear, I'll-

Hades: You will do what, exactly? I am a god, and you forget your place, mortal!

With a wave of the hand, more of Hades' minions begin to crawl their way out of the floor, though these ones are covered with bloody musculature, skin removed from their bodies. Not all of them are humanoid, either, some resembling great, hulking monstrosities of nature, animalistic beasts with gaping jaws and piercing eyes.

Hades: Do try to put up a good fight; at least then you might provide some entertainment before your bodies are ripped to pieces.

Zatanna: So, is this part of the plan?

Hercules: A minor issue. As soon as we deal with this lot, we will be able to-

His words are cut off, however, as one of the monstrous, sinewy beasts attacks from behind, swatting away the demi-god like a fly. Hercules quickly recovers, however, rolling back up to his feet and then sprinting at the creature. With a mighty lunge, he tackles the monster and begins grappling with it. Ravager and Zatanna, meanwhile, have their own problems.

Ravager: Z, get back to safe spot, hit them from afar!

Zatanna: Way ahead of you!

As Ravager leaps into the fray, whirling her blades around in a wild frenzy, Zatanna retreats backwards a ways, then brings her hands up.

Zatanna: Edolpxe!

Instantly, one of the undead warriors bursts apart in a bloody mist, no trace left behind except for a red stain on the floor. She enjoys not having to hold back almost as much as Ravager does, whose swords cleave a bloody swath through the undead guards. It feels... empowering, being able to let loose the full might of her magic for a change. Of course, doing so also has its drawbacks. She can feel her power draining slowly, gradually, the more she uses it. Her magic tires her over time just the same as her more physically combative allies lose stamina during combat.

Leaping over one of the large, monstrous creatures, Ravager comes down on the other side while slashing along its backside with her blades. The sharp edges slice cleanly through sinew, spraying blood and dropping the creature to the floor. Following her sharp skills and reflexes, she continues cutting her way through these new enemies. Meanwhile, Hercules has torn apart several of the larger monsters with his bare hands, though now fights again with sword and shield. He does more than is fair share of cutting down their foes.

There is a problem, however. As with the skeletal guards outside the palace, the numbers of these new enemies do not dwindle, no matter how many of them are defeated. Within minutes, they begin to swarm and overtake the heroes, far too many to properly fight and keep track of.

Ravager: Do these things ever stop coming?

Hercules: Not as long as Hades wills it! He means for us to fight until we are too exhausted to continue, at which point his guards will cut us apart!

Zatanna: Well, that's a bit of a downer, huh? Teg kcab!

A small group of the sinewy creatures fly backwards through the air, allowing the heroes some breathing room. This doesn't last very long, however, as the numbers continue to grow, enemies closing in on them. Taking in a deep breath, Zatanna raises a hand again, preparing to cast another spell. Hades, on the other hand, appears to have other ideas, pointing a finger at her.

Hades: Silence, witch.

Instantly, Zatanna's mouth closes up, her lips no longer able to open. She lets out muffled cries, trying to cast a spell, but nothing works. A moment later, one of the guards comes forward and thrusts its spear, the metal tip ripping into the her side. A quiet scream of pain gurgles in her throat, as she falls to the floor.

Ravager: Zatanna!

Cutting through the enemies in front of her, Ravager jumps over several others to reach Zatanna before the attacking guard can finish off the downed magician. Swinging her blades viciously, she cleaves off both the creature's arms, then finally its head, and kicks the body backwards. She quickly steals a glance down at Zatanna, who, though injured, is still breathing and alive.

Ravager: Just hang in there, Z. Herc! Now would be a good time for the plan!

Bashing a few of the guards back with his shield, the demi-god turns to her.

Hercules: We'll need a distraction!

Before Ravager can answer, she is forced to whirl around again and cut down another attacking guard. However, at the same time, three others come in with their blades. She manages to twist herself out of the way of two of them, but the third cuts deep into her backside, going through her suit like butter. Her earthly armor is apparently of no defense against these otherworldly weapons. Scowling, she spins around and cuts the guard apart.

Ravager: Now I'm really pissed.

She can feel that burning beginning to spread through her, the pain of growing muscle and shifting bone.

Ravager: You need a distraction? I think... I can give you one!

As her emotions run wild, so does the more animalistic side of her. Though still not in total control, she concentrates, gets angrier, forces her body to transform. She suddenly feels... very hungry. The next time she opens her mouth, a deep, intimidating roar erupts from her throat. In seconds, her body grows further and completes the transformation, furry muscle bursting apart her armor from the inside out.

Her suddenly enhanced senses pick up another incoming attack. With agility far greater than her human form, she turns around and grabs the thrusting spear, then breaks it in half with little effort. Pointed ears flicking back, lips curling, spittle dripping from her jaws, Ravager roars again, this time slashing out with her claws and ripping the squishy guard to shreds. And then, the snow white werewolf is off and tearing through the Hades' troops, cutting them to ribbons and tearing meaty chunks out of them with her teeth. The hunger burning inside her must be sated.

Hercules: By Zeus...

The demi-god stares and watches the massacre for several moments, before his eyes shift carefully over to his uncle. Hades is standing now, as if ready to act himself, though his attention is drawn fully to the rampaging werewolf eviscerating his guards. Snapping out of his surprise, Hercules cuts down a few remaining stragglers not occupied with Ravager, then runs over to Zatanna's side.

Hercules: Young magician, can you hear me? Are you alright?

Though bleeding from her side, Zatanna nods. Her lips are still shut tightly, unable to cast anything. Reaching into his hip pouch, Hercules pulls out another vial, this one filled with a transparent liquid.

Hercules: Can you still do your part?

Again, Zatanna nods. As Hercules uncorks the vial, she pulls her hand away from her bloodied side and begins to rub her fingers across the ground, writing a spell on the surface. There is no stronger magic than blood magic, yet it is to be used only under the most dire of circumstances, as each spell cast in blood siphons away a small amount of the user's life force. Right now, however, the situation calls for it.

Suddenly, the water inside the vial begins to float up into the air. It hovers there briefly, quivering and undulating, then begins to fly off in a long stream, heading straight at Hades. During this time, Hades has come forward off his throne, glaring at the werewolf, as it continues to rip apart his minions. Finally losing his patience, he raises a hand. Instantly, Ravager flies through the air and crashes against the wall, pinned there by an invisible force.

Hades: Enough of this! You will burn in Tartarus, wretched beast!

Before he can continue his assault, however, the airborne stream of water abruptly forces its way down his throat in an instant. Coughing, he takes a step back and scowls, then glares over at Hercules and Zatanna.

Hades: What foolish attempt was that? What did you hope to... to... what did you... who... what's going on? Who are you people? Where are we?

With the hold over her lips releasing, Zatanna breaths out a sigh of relief.

Zatanna: Laeh em.

Her wound instantly closes up, healing completely.

Zatanna: I can't believe that actually worked. Good call on hitting up Lethe on the way here.

Hercules: The danger has not yet past, I'm afraid. The waters of forgetfulness do not last forever on gods. We must retreat and leave this place before Hades remembers who he is. Attend to the girl, make her sleep for now if you must. We'll need to take her to Mnemosyne, the river of memory. Its waters will counteract what Lethe has done to her.

Zatanna: Right, on it.

As Zatanna heads over to Lyta, Hercules hurries over to Rose's side, who has now come out of her werewolf transformation. During this entire time, Hades looks around, as though confused, unable to remember anything about anything.

Holding herself up against the wall, Rose lets out a small groan and straightens herself, then stretches out her arms. Hercules suddenly freezes in place, however, realizing that, after shredding her costume, she is fully nude. Either not noticing this, or simply not caring (most likely the latter), Rose walks forward and gives him a congratulatory pat on the shoulder as she pushes past him.

Rose: Good work.

Hercules just blinks, his gaze following her. Finally, Rose apparently acknowledges the situation and glances back over her shoulder, smirking.

Ravager: Take a good long look, muscle-boy, because you won't be touching.

Hercules: Great Zeus...

Zatanna, now carrying the sleeping Lyta in her arms, turns to them and notices Rose's... predicament. She blinks, her gaze following the naked woman to the exit.

Rose: What are you all waiting for? Let's blow this joint.

Zatanna: That girl has no shame.

Int. The River Styx – Day

A short while later, Rose, Zatanna, and Hercules have returned to the shores of the River Styx, about ready to leave the Underworld for good. One matter does need to be taken care of first, however, a matter for which Themis has rejoined them. Soon, Circe appears, being led by cloaked and hooded figures. Chains are around her hands, and empty sockets still where her eyes should be. Because of her current blindness, she does not notice her daughter, not until the girl runs forward.

Lyta: Mother!

Circe's face instantly shifts into surprise and then softens. A brief moment later, mother and daughter embrace.

Circe: My girl... oh, how I missed you.

Lyta: I missed you, too.

Taking in a deep breath, Circe then tilts her head towards the others.

Circe: Please, my eyes... let me see her.

Themis gives a slow nod, granting permission for Zatanna to cast a spell.

Zatanna: Laeh S'ecric seye.

Once the spell is cast, Circe lets out a small gasp as her eyeballs begin to reform in their sockets. Within seconds, she blinks and can see once again, the image of her daughter appearing before her. Lyta is no longer dressed in the horrid attire that Hades had given her, now in a much more simple and traditional Greek toga, with her hair tied back out of her face. No atrocious eyeliner to speak of, either.

Circe: Lyta... you're beautiful.

The girl smiles back widely at her mother.

Lyta: And so are you.

After giving the two a couple more moments together, Rose, now fully dressed again, after Zatanna took the liberty of casting some clothes on her, steps forward and folds her arms.

Rose: There, I completed my end of the bargain, now remove the curse.

Circe's gaze slowly shifts over to Rose again.

Circe: Before I do, I want something else.

Rose: Are you kidding me? We just went through hell and back for your daughter! Now you want something else from us?

Circe: Not from you, no.

She looks over at Themis, now.

Circe: From her.

Themis: You are not in a good position to be making demands, Circe.

Circe: It is not a command, just a request.

Themis: Then make your request, though I make no promises in granting it.

Circe: I want parole, so I can raise my daughter.

Themis: Circe, you are sentenced to four thousand years in Tartarus, without the possibility of parole. That is something I cannot grant.

Circe: You cannot expect me to take Lyta back with me to Tartarus. I can't raise her there. Please, have mercy on a mother and her daughter.

Themis: The same mercy you showed to all of your victims throughout the years? Or, should I say, lack thereof?

Circe: Put me under guard, lock me up, have Zeus himself keep an eye on me, I don't care, just... please, anywhere but Tartarus. I want to be with my daughter, whatever it takes.

Themis goes quiet, apparently considering the words, though her expression doesn't shift. Rose glances between the two for a moment, then utters a long sigh.

Rose: Just do it.

Themis: You are not the one to decide this, Rose Wilson. Parole is not something I can grant to one of the most powerful criminal sorceresses in this world.

Rose: There isn't any way you can make an exception? She just said she didn't care what it took. Shut her up somewhere else and just let her raise her daughter.

If Circe doesn't get parole, the backstabbing b*tch might not cure me. I am not letting that happen.

Themis: There may be one way in which I can grant parole.

Circe: I don't care what it is.

Themis: Very well, allow me to consult the scales.

Raising her scales up, Themis waits a moment. Eventually, it tilts heavily to the left, the right side coming all the way up.

Themis: I see... it can be done. Circe, you are hereby granted parole-

Circe's face instantly lights up in relief, a smile coming over her face.

Themis: -on the condition that you give up your magic. You will hereby be stripped of all your power, and your immortality. You you live a normal, mortal life to raise your daughter.

Circe's elation suddenly turns to shock and disappointment, a distant frown forming on her face.

Themis: And you will be watched very closely. Should you ever give reason, the gods themselves will drag you back to the deepest pits of Tartarus, where you will spend eternity. Are these conditions acceptable to you?

Breathing in a deep breath, Circe slowly looks down at her daughter. Lyta returns the gaze, eyes meeting. Eventually, Circe closes her eyes and nods.

Circe: I accept.

Themis: Then you are free to leave with the others. When you return to the living world, your power will be gone.

Rose: But before that happens, you owe me something.

Circe: Of course... in thanks for bringing me my daughter.

Walking forward, Circe brings her hands to Rose's temples, then closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath. Rose feels a cold ripple run through her body, followed by a strange warmth.

Circe: The curse is gone.

Rose: Good... thanks. Now let's get the hell out of here.

Ext. Cape Tainaron – Day

Bright sunlight greets them, as they walk out of the cave entrance and return to the surface. Hercules steps forward and breathes in a deep breath, holding his arms up to the sky.

Hercules: Ah, a glorious day!

Turning back to the others, he smiles and holds out his hand.

Hercules: It was a pleasure and honor to fight by your sides, young maidens.

Rose and Zatanna extend their own hands, giving Hercules' a firm shake.

Zatanna: My sentiments are the same. It was an honor.

Rose: Yeah, you do pretty good. I mean, for a demi-god and all.

Then, Hercules looks over to Circe, who holds her daughter's hand gently. He walks up to her and points a finger, glaring.

Hercules: And you, witch, do not squander this opportunity you have been given. Atone for your sins, as I have done, and live a good life. Your daughter deserves that much.

Circe says nothing in response, simply glancing down at Lyta and tightening her grip slightly. Lyta looks back up at her and returns the squeeze, smiling.

Hercules: And with that, I must be off. Farewell, and good luck in your future adventures!

With a parting wave, Hercules turns away from them again and heads down the hill, disappearing from sight soon after. Once he is gone, Circe holds her free hand up, staring at it. She splays her fingers, turns her hand over, then clenches them into a light fist.

Circe: It feels... very strange, being mortal. No magic, no power...

Rose: You'll get used to it, eventually. Just remember what Herc said: don't you dare screw things up after what we went through for you. You take care of your daughter, got it?

Circe: At this point, I want nothing more. Once we figure out a place to go and find a home, I will raise her well.

Rose glances back briefly at Zatanna, who merely shrugs. Releasing a soft breath, she turns to Circe again.

Please don't let me regret this...

Rose: Look, if you don't have anywhere to go, I... know of a place. Silverstone, the city where I live. It might take some adjusting, but it might be a good fit for you. I look after girl named Holly, too; she's about your daughter's age. They... could be friends.

Circe stiffens up slightly, raising her chin, as if trying to show her pride. She doesn't respond, at first, simply staring. Eventually, however, she utters a breath of her own and holds a hand to her hip.

Circe: Very well... but do not think this makes us friends. I have no need of people like you to call friend.

Rose: Oh sure, no problem. I only fought the minions of Hades for you, saved your daughter, and got you freed from four thousand years of pain and suffering, but no, you're right, you wouldn't a friend like that, now would you?

A long pause passes between them, before finally Circe crosses her arms and purses her lips.

Circe: Let's just go, already.

Rose: In a minute. Just hang tight for a sec, kay? Good.

Turning away from Circe, Rose walks back over to Zatanna, holding an arm around her shoulders.

Rose: Gotta say, Z, you're not half bad.

Zatanna: Well, I do have experience. I will say the same of you, though; I'd only heard about you in passing from Dick, every now and then, but you've impressed me.

Rose: Hey, you're not they only one with experience. Now, I just, uh... I have one question before we head home.

Zatanna: Shoot.

Rose: Back there, when you healed Circe's eyes... could you heal the same type of injury on anyone?

Lifting an eyebrow, Zatanna tilts her head and gives a curious look. Her gaze focuses in on Rose's eye patch.

Zatanna: Yes, I could. I can heal most injuries, in fact, past or current. You want your eye back?

Breathing outwardly, Rose glances towards the ground and slowly nods.

Rose: It's the last, constant reminder I have of my father; you know him. I want it gone.

Zatanna: Then just hold still, this will only take a moment.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Zatanna's magic transports them just outside the door to Rose's penthouse. Circe and Lyta are with them, dressed in normal, casual clothes now. Reaching forward, Rose pushes the door open and leads them inside.

Rose: I'm back! Anyone home?

A moment later, a familiar figure appears out of the kitchen. Upon seeing Rose, Rebecca lets out a heavy, relieved breath, then runs up and gives a warm embrace.

Becky: Dios mio, I was getting worried. You were gone for days!

Rose: Yeah, I know, I'm sorry. But I'm back now, and one hundred percent normal... well, for me.

Becky: That's great news, I can still hardly believe that-

Suddenly, Becky stops mid sentence, blinking in confusion and staring. Her hand comes up, clutches the side of Rose's cheek.

Becky: Rose, your eye...

Rose: Yeah, I got it back. Kept the scar, though; I think it looks cool.

Becky: That's... I mean.... I don't believe...

Unable to formulate her thoughts into complete sentences, Becky instead responds with a firm kiss, pressing their lips together for several moments before pulling away. Her gaze then moves over to Zatanna, who gives a wave in greeting.

Becky: Thanks for helping her, Zar... er... Z, was it?

Zatanna: That works fine, and you're welcome. It was my pleasure.

Becky: And who are they?

She's looking at Circe and Lyta now.

Rose: Oh, these are... sort of friends. That's Circe, and her daughter Lyta.

Becky: Well, good to meet you both.

She extends her hand to them, and though Lyta quickly shakes it, Circe just folds her arms and sort of glares.

Rose: Er... don't mind her. She's adjusting.

Becky: And where did you meet them?

Rose: That's a rather long story... I'll tell you all about it later.

Another figure then appears, wandering out of living room. Holly's eyes light up when she sees who's there, then rushes forward and hugs Rose. Looking up to her, she then begins rifling through a series of hand signals, while mouthing the words at the same time.

Holly: I'm so glad you're back!

Rose: I'm glad, too, honey, believe me.

Putting a hand on Holly's back, Rose eases her forward and turns to the side, showing her to Lyta.

Rose: Holly, I'd like you meet Lyta. She's your age, I think.

Lyta walks forward now, giving Holly a long look. She then holds out her hand.

Lyta: It's nice to meet you.

Before Holly answers, Zatanna mutters a backwards whisper under her breath. Holly then reaches forward to shake Lyta's hand and smiles.

Holly: It's nice to meet you, too.

That's when everyone's eyes go wide.

Rose: What the-

Becky: Qué mierda!

Holly: I- I... I'm talking? I can... I- I can talk again! I can talk!

The poor girl is nearly in tears of joy over this sudden occurrence, a broad smile on her face that isn't going away. Rose glances towards Zatanna, meeting her gaze. The magician simply smiles, then gives a very small nod. Rose can't help it; she smiles, too.

Holly then suddenly reaches out and grabs Lyta's hand, bringing the girl farther inside the penthouse.

Holly: Come on, I'll show you my room! Oh my god, I'm talking again! This is so awesome!

Circe blinks, watching as her daughter is dragged away.

Circe: Hey, wait a minute!

Rose: Relax, they'll be fine. Let them play. In the meantime, come inside. We need to figure out where you'll be staying.

Closing the door behind her, Rose leads the group of women into the living room.

Becky: Anyone want a drink?

Zatanna: Oh, I'll have something. What do you got?

Becky: Well, aside the hard stuff, there's some beer in the fridge-

Circe: Uck, beer. Vile stuff, the drink of curs. Please tell me you have wine.

Rose smirks slightly and lifts her eyebrows. Circe may be mortal now, but she really has to work on her people skills.

There's some irony for you, Rose. You thinking someone else needs work on people skills.

Rose: We'll see what we can find. Just make yourself comfortable; we have a lot to talk about.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter #48 Preview: It's Christmas time, and merriment is in the air! As is a failed police escort, when a highly dangerous metahuman prisoner is freed en route to a high security prison. In the next issue, Rose deals with the holidays, an explosive prisoner, and a familiar face, as the big crossover event kicks off!

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My Fan-Fic Timeline

Alright, so because I was bored and had nothing better to do, and because I really like being neat and organized, I decided to create a timeline of events that have occurred in my current fan-fic. This is really just for me, though anyone else reading my fan-fic might find it interesting, too, I don't know. I will be updating it as I add more chapters, of course, but for now this is what I have. The events are broken down by year, month, and date, pretty simple.

Rose Wilson: The Ravager

Year 1

February

5: Ravager inadvertently causes the death of Bart Allen and several police officers during a mission, causing heavy strain in her relationship with the other Teen Titans. Saving them the trouble of having to deal with her any longer, she leaves.

February 6 - April 30

Rose wanders the country, no real goal or destination in mind.

May

1: Ravager arrives in Gotham, taking up residence with Dick Grayson for a few days while she figures out where to go with her life. However, as Batman, he forces her to come out on patrol with him that night. They discover suspicious men loading boxes into an unmarked van. Though they beat up most of the men, Ravager is shot and mildly injured, allowing the van to get away.

2: Ravager decides to investigate the suspicious activity on her own. During her investigation, she runs into the Scarecrow and is forced to retreat after taking in a heavy dose of fear gas.

3: Ravager and Batman intercept Scarecrow and Dagget's operation, putting a stop to it. She then leaves Gotham.

24: After arriving in Silverstone City, Rose enters into an underground fight club as a way to earn money.

May 15 - June 23

Rose works her way up the tournament brackets, gaining renown and earning plenty of cash to get by.

June

24: Rose discovers that Arnold Pavoni, the man running the tournaments, has been abusing young, kidnapped children. Before she can stop him, she is captured and sent to a facility to be experimented on, but escapes. Later, Jeremiah Belmont attacks her at her apartment, but she defeats and threatens him. As a bargaining chip, Jerry gives her the location of where the kidnapped children are being kept, as well as where Pavoni lives. Ravager leaves to save the children, though learns that one in particular, a girl named Holly, has been taken by Pavoni to his mansion.

25: Ravager confronts Pavoni in his home, brutally beating him and then killing him for his sick practices on innocent children. Jerry ambushes her and sends a newly created Blockbuster after her, but she defeats it and gets away. After saving Holly and finding out the girl has no other family, Rose decides to become her legal guardian and look after her.

July 16 - January 27

After being set up with a new identity, Rose undergoes training to become a police officer in Silverstone City, while also taking care of Holly, as the girl's new legal guardian, and fighting crime at night as Ravager.

Year 2

January

28: Rose officially begins her career as a cop, becoming very close friends with her partner, Rebecca Chavez, over the following two weeks. Meanwhile, local crime bosses agree to each hire assassins to eliminate the city's new vigilante crime fighter.

February

10: Deadshot makes his attempts at killing Ravager. Though he fails, he manages to escape.

11: Cheshire arrives to kill Ravager, but is talked into leaving when learning that her target is actually Rose, her daughter's former nanny. However, Rose ends up poisoned after the fight.

12-13: Rose is hospitalized after her fight with Cheshire

14: Lady Shiva arrives to challenge Ravager, and the two fight to a draw. When Deadshot interrupts them, they work together to take him in.

22: Becky takes Rose out to celebrate her birthday. Becky reveals her lesbianism when making a move on Rose, who initially rejects these advances.

23: Becky is shot and hospitalized. Jerry threatens Becky and Holly's lives if Rose doesn't work for him.

February 24 - March 1

Ravager commits her forced crime spree.

March

2: Red Robin and Batgirl arrive to try and stop Ravager's crime spree. Instead, Ravager uses their help to put a stop to Jerry and his schemes.

3: Rose and Becky celebrate Becky’s birthday in the hospital. Rose decides to take a break from being Ravager, as a way to clear her head and decide if she should officially give it up, so she doesn't have to keep lying to Becky and getting the people close to her hurt.

March 4 - June 10

Rose continues living her life normally, as a cop of Silverstone, a friend to Becky, and a guardian to Holly, without being Ravager.

June

11: After investigating a robbery involving a ninja, while on duty with Becky, Rose decides to take up her Ravager persona again to do further investigation that night. She is confronted and defeated by a man named Shao Shen, who knocks her out and then calls the police, who have been searching for her ever since her crime spree. Ravager wakes up in time to lead the police on a high speed pursuit, though is eventually cornered and discovered by Becky, working a late shift. Rose is forced to reveal her secret identity to Becky who, while helping Rose to get away, feels betrayed and lied to, becoming very angry at Rose.

12: Rose arrives at work the next day to find that Becky did not come in, and does not answer her phone, no matter how many times Rose calls.

13-15: Rose continues trying to reach Becky, but is unsuccessful. Realizing that Becky is simply avoiding her now, Rose falls into a state of depression and begins to question where her life is going and where she really belongs, as she has now lost her closest friend.

16: Rose contacts Dick Grayson about her problems, and he suggests a friend that may be able to help her figure out her life. Rose agrees to meet with this friend and travel wherever she needs to.

18: Rose brings Holly to stay with Dick while she is away, then meets with Renee Montoya, Dick's friend.

19: Renee brings her to Nanda Parbat to meet with Richard Dragon, who helps to train her and find enlightenment about herself.

20: Back in Silverstone, Becky investigates strange murders around the city and deals with two suspicious detectives, Kubrick and Riggs. She is later attacked in her apartment by a woman dressed as a ninja, but manages to shoot and kill the intruder.

June 21 - August 5

Rose continues her training in Nanda Parbat. While only a month and a half passes, she experiences several years worth of time within the city's walls. Becky, meanwhile, continues her investigation.

August

6: While meditating, Rose experiences an extensive precognitive vision, detailing Becky being brutally beaten for information. This vision gives her a sudden revelation about where she what she wants her life to be, and rushes to return to Silverstone to stop the vision from coming true.

7: Rose returns and meets Becky at her apartment. Though Becky still holds ill feelings, she allows Rose to explain things. Rose reveals every dark and traumatic detail about her life, including how she was protecting Becky when forced by Jeremiah Belmont to commit those crimes. Becky comes to understand and forgive Rose for keeping those secrets, happy now that she is being honest and open as her true self. Realizing that Becky still wants something more between them, Rose initiates things this time, claiming that she likes Becky for the person she is, and would not want a deeper connection with anyone else at that time.

8: Rose takes up her Ravager identity once again and works alongside Becky to uncover the strange occurrences that Becky has been investigating during the past month and a half. They determine that the two suspicious detectives, Kubrick and Riggs, are involved.

9: Becky obtains files off Kubrick's computer, and they learn that he is working for Shao Shen, leader of the Fist of Shadows, who are trying to develop working neural stems that allow for mind control over their victims. Ravager tracks down Kubrick later that night for more answers, though soon discovers that he is a werewolf. After fighting him and his friend, Zaria, an alien being known as a Celarian, she is forced to retreat back to her penthouse, where Becky is abducted by Detective Riggs. Ravager finds where Riggs has taken Becky and stops him before he can do much damage, then interrogates him for the location of the Fist of Shadows' base.

10: Ravager calls in help from Batman, who sends Cassandra Cain for assistance. Reluctantly working together, the two women work to take down the Fist of Shadows by assaulting their base. Ravager defeats Shao Shen, takes him into custody, and then meets with the local police chief. The two come to an agreement that allows Ravager to work alongside the cops, instead of being chased by them.

11: It is revealed that Kubrick, thought to be serving Shao Shen, is actually working for the President, who apparently has sinister plans in mind, behind the scenes.

18: Rose signs a lease on a building to use for her new martial arts studio.

September

1: Rose puts on a martial arts demonstration to get people to sign up for her studio. Meanwhile, her old bite wound from Kubrick begins to flare up, while her body begins to undergo brief, but frightening, changes.

3: Rose experiences a strong episode of pain, her body starting to change more rapidly. Though she manages to suppress it, she contacts Batman for help. Batman sends Zatanna to magically cure her obvious lycanthropy. However, Zatanna is unable to cure it, since her lycanthropy comes not from a simple virus, but from a curse that was placed on Kubrick, a curse that Zatanna can't break. Zatanna then takes Rose to Doctor Occult's home for more assistance. Doctor Occult gives them information on a medicinal cure that works as long as Rose hasn't had her first transformation, as well as most of the ingredients for it. They are forced to find Kubrick, however, as they need blood from the werewolf that bit her. While managing to track down Kubrick, he refuses to give them his blood, and before they can take it from him, Rose experiences her first full transformation. Zatanna puts her to sleep, then transports them to her home, Shadowcrest.

4: When Rose wakes up, Zatanna reveals that she used her magic to read Kubrick's mind and found out who placed the curse on him. If they want to cure her now, they must find this person and get her to lift the curse. That person is Circe, who currently suffers damnation in Tartarus. After meeting with Dr. Fate to arrange a meeting with Circe, they come to a deal with the sorceress: she will lift the curse if they enter the underworld and free her daughter, Lyta. With Hercules a a guide, they travel the underworld and find Lyta at the Palace of Hades, where they are able to get the god to give up Lyta by magically forcing water from the river of forgetfulness down his throat while he's distracted. When Hades temporarily forgets who he is, the others free Lyta and exit the underworld.

5: During the second meeting with Circe, the sorceress is reunited with her daughter, but still won't lift the curse from Rose. She also wants parole, so she can raise her daughter properly, which she can't do in Tartarus. Circe is granted parole under the condition that she is stripped of all her magical power, and that she is made mortal. Zatanna then brings them all back to Silverstone.

September 6 - December 23

Rose helps Circe and Lyta settle into their new lives, giving Circe a job as bookkeeper for her new martial arts studio, which begins to boom with business. Circe also takes Becky's apartment, when the latter moves in with Rose, while Lyta is enrolled in Holly's school, with the two girls becoming very close friends.

December

24: Rose, Becky, Holly, Circe, and Lyta all celebrate Christmas Eve together.

25: With Holly staying at Circe's place after opening presents, Becky and Ravager work a police escort in charge of transporting a very dangerous metahuman prisoner to Bell Reve. However, they are stopped a ways down the highway by a federal road block with presidential order for them to release the prisoner. This doesn't sit well with the cops, and are hesitant to follow the orders. Ravager sees a vision of the feds attacking the police, however, and instead initiates the attack herself. While most of the agents are taken down, some of the police are killed and injured as well. Shortly after that, Deathstroke appears, claiming to have been hired to make the transaction go smoothly, and proceeds to kill all the other cops, except for Becky. After defeating Ravager and Becky, the two retreat while he frees the prisoner, Holocaust.

31: A large funeral march is held for the fallen police officers. Afterwards, Becky learns that the FBI has taken over the investigation on the highway massacre. Enraged over this fact, she meets up with Rose to blow off some steam, and then the two go to pick up Holly at Circe's apartment. There, they witness a political talk show on TV detailing a new law being put into place that will require all superheroes to register with the government, follow federal mandates, and divulge all their personal information, including their secret identities, all to be regulated by the Vigilante Regulation Agency. The future director of the VRA is then revealed to be Slade Wilson. The Flash shows up at the interview, berating the government for hiring a well known criminal. However, Slade reveals that he has received a full presidential pardon. The Justice League then meets to discuss what they should do about the law being passed, and eventually decide to issue a written counter and protest to congress.

Year 3

January

1: The Justice League delivers their protest to congress, hoping that their counter points to the outrageous law will be considered. When they leave, however, congress throws their proposal in the trash.

22: The new law is passed and the VRA is activated, with Slade Wilson beginning his duties as director. He orders a hired Holocaust to put together a very specific task force, then begins making plans for what to do with those heroes who do not register.

February

5-6: Rose and Becky are confronted by a VRA agent under orders to arrest them; Rose for failing to register with the VRA, and Becky for actively helping an unregistered vigilante. When they refuse, they are forced to come in by Scandal Savage and Knockout, who are working for the VRA. During the ensuing fight, Lyta uses her magic abilities to try and help them, but she is also taken in, as is Circe for attacking the VRA agent after he takes in Lyta. Holly is also taken away to be put into foster care. Elsewhere, other unregistered heroes are all arrested, including Batman, The Birds of Prey, the Teen Titans, and the Justice League, with the other registered heroes suddenly turning on their former friends to take them in.

7: While Becky and Circe are imprisoned in a low security facility, Rose is transported to a high security facility along with another unregistered vigilante, Roy Harper. The two manage to escape custody before arriving, then flee their captors until eventually rescued by a disguised Power Girl, going by her alias Karen Starr. After finally losing the VRA squads chasing them, Karen drives them back to her apartment in New York City, where Wally West and Raven are waiting, two others to have escaped the VRA arrests. Raven reveals that the registered heroes who turned on their former allies are devoid of emotion, and must be controlled somehow. Together, they determine that something is very wrong with the new laws and the VRA, and resolve to make things right. After escaping Slade's task force that attacks them at the apartment, they head to the low security VAR facility to rescue Becky, Circe, Linda West, and Jai West, then flee to a new safe house. Elsewhere, Hugo Strange, also working for the VRA, is busy applying unspecified medical procedures to captured heroes in order to put them under the VRA's control. This procedure fails with Cyborg, whose computer brain provides superior defenses. Later that night, Becky and Rose have a fight over the fact that Rose still doesn't want Becky helping her when it comes to her work as a hero. After storming out of their room, Becky comes across Power Girl and the two discuss the issue, with Becky feeling useless most of the time, since she doesn't have the means to help Rose. Power Girl offers a way to fix that.

8: Becky reveals a new power suit, given to her by Power Girl. The prototype suit of Starr Enterprises offers super strength, agility, stamina, and durability, giving her the means to really help Rose and the other heroes. The team then heads out to the children facility, where they are forced to fight through the controlled Teen Titans before freeing the imprisoned meta children, including Iris West and Lyta. After returning to their safe house, Raven is contacted by the escaped Cyborg through her old Titans communicator. After retrieving him, Cyborg reveals that the heroes that were arrested for being unregistered are actually being sent straight into the lab to be controlled like the others. He also reveals the method of control, the same neural stems that Rose came across with the Fist of Shadow the summer before. Cyborg then uses his tech experience to manually disable the stems controlling the captured Teen Titans, freeing the teens from control. Later that night, Rose confronts the Titans for the first time in two years about Bart Allen's death. While the others are willing to finally forgive her, Wonder Girl refuses to let go of her grudge. She and Rose trade vicious words, until Wonder Girl accidentally puts Becky through a table in the process of attacking Rose.

9: The team heads out to make one last assault on the VRA headquarters to capture Slade and get answers on who is really behind everything. During the conflict, they are attacked by other heroes under the VRA's control, but some manage to push ahead. Becky ends up fighting Deathstroke alone, and is eventually defeated before Ravager shows up. Together, she, Becky, and Red Robin fight Deathstroke before they are interrupted by explosives set off by Calculator, under orders from the person in charge. In the explosion, Becky is grievously injured and dies shortly after in Rose's arms. Rose takes out her emotions on Slade, beating him to a pulp and almost killing him for what he's done, but can't bring herself to pull the trigger. Slade, distraught over having actually caused his daughter such pain, comforts her and then together they go off to stop the man in charge: Jeremiah Belmont, who has used his powers to take the disguise of the President, and has used the neural stems to control all of congress. Together, they stop him, with Rose seemingly cutting off his head and killing him. Meanwhile, Cyborg arrives with a method of remotely disabling the stems controlling all the other heroes. A short while later, Rose is arrested for murder, while the other heroes start to clean up the mess left behind, including taking in most of the villains that had been working for the VRA.

14: Rose and Holly attends Becky's funeral, both pained by the loss. After the funeral, she is confronted by a few of her fellow heroes who assure her that she isn't along and can talk to them any time she needs to. When they return home, Rose and Holly comfort each other, with Rose making the decision to officially adopt the girl, since they need each other now more than ever.

February 15 - May 9

Rose continues to try and move on from Becky's death, going through a heavy grieving process, as she continues to go about her daily life. She mostly keeps to herself, except for when she's teaching her martial arts classes or spending time with Holly. During this time, she officially adopts Holly as her daughter.

May

10: After ending her daily training with Holly and allowing the girl to spend the night with Circe and Lyta, Rose returns back to her apartment alone. Chief Palmer arrives a short time later, requesting her aid in a series of strange cases, but she refuses, as she's given up the Ravager persona. This is mostly out of the need to care for her daughter, not wanting to end up dead an unable to care for her. Once he leaves, Rose comes to the decision to go out that night, at Circe's urgings. She ends up at a bar, where she rejects every man who tries to hit on her. There, she meets a woman named Ruby Lawson, who invites her out to have a cup of coffee with her. They leave to a coffee shop, where they engage in delightful conversation, and where Rose inexplicably begins to feel surprisingly happy. Once she leaves the coffee shop, Rose makes her way home, only to be ambushed by Lady Shiva, who is intent on having her rematch with Rose. However, Rose isn't in the mood to fight, stating that she doesn't do it anymore, nor is her heart or head in it. Lady Shiva soundly defeats her as a result, though before the killing blow can be delivered, a teleporting, costumed heroine called Apathy appears and saves Rose.

11: Rose and Holly are shopping at the mall. While eating lunch, Holly brings up that she doesn't understand why Rose isn't still helping people at night as Ravager, and actually expresses disappointment in that fact, in spite of Rose's explanation on why. A short while later, they run into Ruby, and decide to continue their day shopping with her. On the way home, they come across a police scene, where a boy had collapsed dead from a brain aneurysm. There, she talks to Palmer again, who explains to her the strangeness of these recent episodes, with kids dropping dead from similar aneurysms all over the neighborhood. After returning home later that night, Rose decides to once again take up her Ravager persona in order to help investigate the recent deaths. While on her investigation, she runs into Apathy, who is also working on the same case. Apathy explains that they're looking for a man named Dr. Atkinson, who had stolen various equipment over the past couple of weeks to build extremely realistic virtual reality pods, which addicts the recipients to their own private fantasy world, while in the process degrading their minds. Ravager and Apathy split up to search for Atkinson's hideout, though in the process Ravager is ambushed and knocked unconscious by hypnotic lights. When she wakes up, she finds herself back in her apartment, where Becky is alive and well. Overjoyed and thinking that Becky's death must have been a dream, Rose asks Becky to marry her, and she accepts. However, she soon wakes up again to find that the entire thing had been a hypnotic illusion caused by one of Dr. Atkonson's (otherwise known as Trance) machines. While her initial reaction is to bust him, he convinces her to continue using his machine in the future, so that she can be with Becky again.

12-15: Rose continues to use Trance's machine, living an alternate fantasy life with Becky. This doesn't come cheaply, however, as each trip into the pod costs her money. This habit causes her to burn through her funds rather quickly, while her overall mood, health, and relation in the real world begin to deteriorate.

16: Angered by the fact that she's run out of money to spend on more uses of Trance's pod for the time being, Rose wanders the city streets. There, she comes across Ruby, who invites her out for to dinner. When Rose claims that she doesn't have any money, Ruby offers to pay for the both of them, but insists that it be counted as a date. Rose accepts and goes out with Ruby on a date, actually having a wonderful time. She feels amazingly happy when around Ruby, for some reason. After the date, they return to Rose's penthouse, where Ruby initiates further advances. Overtaken by a sudden onset of lust and desire, Rose reciprocates passionately, and the two sleep together. Later that night, Ruby slips out into the living room and place a call to a mystery man, claiming that she wants no more part in breaking down Rose, who is not the cruel bitch that she was told, but rather a wonderful girl who she really likes. However, the man persuades her further, under the promise of returning Ruby's dead loved one to her. Against her better judgement, Ruby agrees to continue working for him.

17-24: Ruby severs contact with Rose, who falls into a state of depression, addicted to Trance's machine and desperate for her next 'fix' on it. She blows through her next paycheck again, and further deteriorates her relationships, health, and attitude.

25: Palmer stops by Rose's apartment to see if she's alright, since she hasn't been contacting him lately. When he sees the state she's in, he berates her for actions, saying that she's destroying herself. She doesn't listen, instead arguing with him. When he leaves, Holly comes to see if she's alright, but in a sudden fit of annoyance, Rose lashes out and strikes the girl. Holly immediately runs back into her room to be alone, horrified that her mother would hit her like that.

26: Rose goes to pick up Holly from school the next day, but finds out that the girl instead went home with Circe and Lyta. Rose returns travels to Circe's apartment, getting into an altercation with the woman and demanding her daughter back. Circe reveals that Holly wanted to come with them, however, and that she was terrified over Rose's outburst. Circe further chastises Rose for her actions, saying that she's been hurting herself and everyone around her these past couple weeks. After a vicious slap from Circe, Rose starts coming to her senses, but before she can express her regret and remorse, she collapses with a brain aneurysm and is hospitalized. Apathy, revealed to be Ruby, realizes that she can't continue doing this anymore and goes to Trance's hideout, taking him in and dragging him off to the police station, thereby cutting ties with the man she had been working for.

27: Ruby visits Rose in the hospital and confesses what she had been doing these past few weeks, revealing that she is an empath who was hired to break down her emotions in tandem with Trance and his machine, after being promised that she would be able to have her loved one, Jeanette, back again. However, she realized that bringing one life back isn't worth destroying another. Rose forgives her for this, coming to a revelation herself. She returns to Trance's hypnotic pods and takes one last visit into her fantasy world, saying goodbye to Becky for good. She and Holly make up later, as well, with the latter forgiving Rose, knowing that she hadn't been herself and that she's better now. Later that night, while Apathy is patrolling the city, she is met by one of the men she had been working with, a man revealed to be the werewolf Kubrick. While he distracts her, another mystery man attacks her from behind, critically wounding her. The mystery man leaves her for Kubrick to deal with.

28: Rose gets a call that Ruby was admitted to the hospital the previous night, after teleporting into the waiting room. Rose heads to the hospital and meets with Ruby's doctor, who describes the injuries and gives her a note that Ruby left behind, a note that has her name and an address on it. That night, Ravager investigates the address on the note, finding the scene where Ruby had been injured. There, she is met again by Lady Shiva, who wants a definitive rematch, not pleased that their last fight had been interrupted. In no mood to play games this time, Ravager handily defeats her and goes back about her investigation. She finds a tuft of fur on the roof, and brings it back to her penthouse command room, where she determines that it is wolf fur. After doing a DNA analysis on the fur and old blood on one of her broken swords from months ago, she determines that Kubrick is back in Silverstone, and likely Zaria, by extension.

29: Palmer calls Rose and requests her presence at a crime scene that he's investigating. Ravager shows up to find a couple of mutilated bodies, most likely having been attacked and ripped apart by Kubrick and Zaria. That night, she further investigates to track down their whereabouts. She goes to Zaria's old bar and interrogates the bartender for information, but finds nothing. Frustrated, she leaves and determines that she needs a better strategy to track them down.

30: Kubrick attacks Circe in her apartment, killing her. Meanwhile, Hugo Strange injects the hospitalized Ruby with a substance that causes her heart to stop. Zaria attacks Palmer later on, killing him, as well. A Rose lookalike then kidnaps Holly and Lyta at their school. The real Rose awakens later on to the Impostor Rose, who turns out to be Jeremiah Belmont in disguise. Jerry reveals to her that her closest friends in Silverstone are dead, while he's taken Holly and Lyta and brainwashed them to become his personal 'pets'. He tells her that his intent was to tear away everything that she held dear, and destroy who she is as a human being. Once he destroys the city that she loves, his plan will be complete. Rose then witnesses the destruction of Silverstone, awakening in its ruins. Jerry proclaims his triumph, which is Rose's greatest failure.

30: Rose comes out of an extensive vision, in which she saw all that was described above. Using the information the she gained as a seer, she calls for aid from Zatanna, who works to help her in defending Circe, Palmer, Ruby, Holly, and Lyta. In the process, they arrest Hugo Strange, Kubrick, and Zaria, but Jerry himself gets away.

2 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - Ravager Rising (#34-40)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics. I do, however, retain the rights to all characters and locations of my own creation, which include: Rebecca Chavez, Holly Sanders, Jeremiah Belmont, Michael Kubrick, Zaria (as well as her Celarian race), Shao Shen, Chief Gerald Palmer, Officer Stevens, Emilia Marconi, Francis Baldoni, Arnold Pavoni, as well as Silverstone City and all its interior locations of my own creation.

Rating: T+ (Or M maybe? For some implied sexual content... I don't know, but you've been warned either way)

Note: The sixth story arc involves Rose Wilson's return to Silverstone and her efforts to uncover a new force that has taken hold of the city in her absence. Along the way, she discovers monstrous enemies, works with an unexpected ally, and attempts to make her Ravager persona the official vigilante hero of Silverstone City once again.

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Rose Wilson: The Ravager

Chapter #34

Int. Becky's Apartment – Night

The bedroom is dark and mostly quiet, save for the soft glow of the digital clock on the bedside table, and the steady patter of rain against the window. Clothing litters the floor; a jacket here, a pair of jeans there, a bra slung over a chair, a shirt tossed across the room, underwear near the hamper. Rose lies calmly on her side in the bed, above the sheets. She takes in a deep breath, feeling Becky's chest heave against her backside in a steady rhythm.

Rose: Alright, so that was...

A small chuckle finds its way out of Becky's mouth, as one of her arms latches firmly around Rose's waist.

Becky: Fantástico.

Rose: Yeah, fantástico... that sounds about right.

Becky: It's been quite some time since I've had a night like that.

Rose: Though, I would like to apologize a little for my, uh... inexperience.

Becky laughs again, then moves in closer and kisses her lips gently along Rose's neck.

Becky: S'alright. Just means I have a lot to teach you.

Rose: And something tells me you'll be more than happy to.

Becky: Oh yes, very much.

Rose inhales another deep breath, her neck curling a little against Becky's light kisses. Bringing one of her hands up, she grabs Becky's and interlocks their fingers.

Rose: So, about me coming back now... and about you knowing who I am... I suppose we're going to have to figure out what to do about it, right? How to handle things.

Becky: I suppose we are. What did you have in mind?

Rose: Well, you know I'm Ravager. Or The Blade, whatever. And you know why I am... I do it to help people. If I'm back here, I'm going to keep helping people, and in the best way I know how.

Becky: Somehow, I figured you would. It's in your blood at this point, ah?

Rose: Pretty much. I know that what I do isn't within the confines of the law, but it works. Most of the time. I'm just letting you know right now that I will be putting that costume back on, and I will be trying to help this city again. I'll understand if you don't want to be a part of it.

Becky: Please, I'm already a part of it, just by keeping the secret. Not to mention, actually sleeping with the person behind that mask generally compounds my involvement.

A small smirk comes to Rose's lips.

Rose: So you're okay with it, then?

Becky: As long as you keep helping people and doing good, and tell me all about your nightly adventures... then yeah, I'm okay with it. I can even help you.

Rose: Help me how? Becky, I'm not going to take you along and put you in that kind of danger every night, no way.

Becky: Ha, no. I meant I'll keep the police off your back, at least until you build up your reputation again. They still haven't forgotten about you.

Rose: Oh, right... thanks.

Becky: Speaking of which, you plan on coming back to the station? I have to say, I miss having you in the car with me.

Releasing a long breath, Rose slowly shakes her head.

Rose: Nah... It just wouldn't feel right. I thought about it, but I don't think I can really be a cop again and still do what I do. Plus, I already resigned from the place, and trying to get back on the force again would just be a real pain in the ass.

Becky: Well, I suppose... but then what are you going to do as a day job now?

Rose: I'm sure I'll think of something eventually. Right now, though, I'd rather concentrate on cleaning up some of the messes I left behind. It's time for Ravager to make her comeback.

Becky: Oh, speaking of which, there is something I should mention.

Turning slightly, Rose looks over her shoulder at Becky, gaze narrowing.

Rose: What is it?

Becky: Well, lately... a lot of strange things have been going on around the city, and the station in particular. The corpses of mob bosses have been showing up all over the place, the investigations are being handled poorly, case files are blank, and then I've had a ninja and a fellow cop try to kill me in the past few weeks.

Rose's eyebrows raise in surprise. She's leaning up now, supporting herself with her elbow against the mattress. For a brief moment, she thinks about the vision she had, the one with Becky being tortured for knowing too much about... something.

Rose: Are you alright? Who tried to kill you?

Becky: Ah, yeah, I'm fine. Nothing I couldn't handle. Some chica dressed up as a ninja broke into my apartment and tried to stab me, but I got to my gun first... she didn't have much of a chance. And then there was Stevens, he tried to shoot me right in the middle of the station.

Rose: The middle of the station? Seriously?

Becky: Si, and that's not even the strangest part about it. Right before he drew his gun on me, he said something about me getting too close, and that 'they've' been watching me... kinda freaked me out a little.

Rose: Well I don't blame you. Did they interrogate him, find out anything?

Becky: Oh they tried, yeah. But he insisted that he couldn't remember anything. Don't really know where they took it from there, but you can bet he doesn't have a badge anymore.

Rose: Wow... I mean, I knew Stevens was an odd one, but that... I don't know what to make of it.

Becky: All I know is that something is very wrong about this whole situation, something that isn't getting resolved the regular way.

Rose lifts and eyebrow at her.

Rose: Why Becky, are you asking for my expertise?

Becky: Well... maybe.

Rose: Don't worry, we'll figure it out. In the meantime, you're staying in my penthouse.

Becky: Hey now, we just got together. Taking things a little fast, aren't we?

Rose: Very funny. I'm talking about your protection. My place is a lot safer than here.

Becky: Hmm, how much safer?

Rose: Well, considering Batman built my security system...

Becky: Ha, alright, point made. In that case, you can help me move my things there tomorrow... on one condition.

Rose: And what's that?

Rising up from the mattress, Becky rolls over on top of Rose, who shifts slightly onto her back. Hands coming down to Rose's wrists, Becky leans forward and gives a long, gentle kiss, before pulling away and smirking.

Becky: Just that you don't plan on going to sleep yet.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Rose and Becky sit at the kitchen table, pouring over the notes that Becky made during the past month, regarding the recent strange happenings. They had moved over some of Becky's things earlier, mostly clothes and a few personal belongings. As long as this is going on, with people having already tried to kill her twice, Rose doesn't want Becky going back to her regular old apartment, where she's vulnerable.

Rose: These notes are pretty extensive. You've done a lot of work.

Becky: Yeah, it kept me pretty busy. Plenty of strange crap going on, and I'd bet my life that it's all connected.

Rose: Most likely... so you said that the first person who attacked you was someone dressed up like a ninja?

Becky: That's right.

Rose: Just like that guy we found in the warehouse, the last time we went on duty together. Definitely not a coincidence.

Becky: He wasn't the only one we saw that day, remember. A couple of his buddies went and took him away.

Rose: Right, and the man I fought later that night, Shao I think his name was, mentioned something about that guy being one of their ' lesser members'. Question is, members of what?

Becky: A super secret underground ninja society of assassins?

Blinking, Rose looks up at Becky, who gives an amused grin.

Rose: I wouldn't joke about that... there actually is one of those, and it's nowhere near as humorous at you'd think.

Becky: Oh... well, maybe that's what we're dealing with?

Rose: I suppose it's possible... though, the last I heard, the League of Assassins was basically at war with itself. Still, I'll add it to the list of possibilities.

Becky: Don't forget that freaky looking metal device you pulled out of the guy's head. Jueputa, I wouldn't want one of those things drilled into my brain.

Rose: I haven't forgotten that, but I really don't have any idea what it was. I've seen some scary kinds of tech in my day, so it could be anything as far as I'm concerned. What I'm curious about is those two detectives you mentioned, Kubrick and Riggs. They're the ones handling the cases with the dead mob bosses, right?

Becky: Yeah, and they give off mucho creepy vibes. That, and they haven't been handling their investigations the way I'm used to, when dealing with detectives on crime scenes. Add the fact that all their case files I checked were mostly padded with blank forms, and I'd say they're definitely involved somehow.

Rose: About those blank files, did you mention them to anyone?

Becky: Just Chief Palmer. He said he'd look into it, but I haven't heard anything back from him yet.

Bringing a hand to her chin, Rose thinks for a moment, staring down at the notes in front of her.

Rose: Alright, I think I know where to start.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Ravager leans over the edge of the rooftop, gazing down at the East District street below. Her target walks casually down the sidewalk, hands stuffed in his pockets and a cigarette smoking between his lips. As he begins to distance himself from her, Ravager continues moving, jumping over to the next rooftop and following him.

Ravager: He's heading to the shadier part of town. I'm in pursuit now.

A brief hiss of static comes in over her ear piece communicator, followed by a familiar voice.

Becky/Comm: Okay, yeah, copy. This set up is really cool, by the way.

Ravager: Everything working?

Becky/Comm: Si, everything looks good. I'm following you on the map everywhere you go. You are the blinking dot, right?

Ravager: That's me.

Becky/Comm: Then yeah, it's good. Thanks again for letting me help.

Ravager: I know it' not much, but at I wasn't taking you out with me.

Becky/Comm: Too dangerous, I know.

Ravager: But at least if anything happens to me, you'll know right where I am.

Becky/Comm: I'd personally rather it not come to that.

Ravager: I wouldn't worry; I'm good at what I do.

Becky/Comm: One of these days, though, you're going to teach me some of those moves. No way am I going to date someone who can beat up a ninja and not learn a thing or two.

A small smirk comes to Ravager's face, as she descends into a nearby alley.

Ravager: We'll see.

Peering out of the alleyway, she watches as her target heads across the street and enters a building. Glancing up at the glowing neon sign of said building, her gaze narrows slightly.

Ravager: Huh, interesting.

Becky/Comm: What is it?

Ravager: He just went into The Fuego Lounge.

Becky/Comm: Oh, the strip club?

Ravager: You... know it?

A brief pause comes over the line.

Becky/Comm: I, uh... might have been a few times.

Ravager: Didn't take you as the type.

Becky/Comm: The type to enjoy naked women? No, definitely wouldn't make sense for me.

Ravager: I meant the type to want to hang around a male dominated environment, while watching a bunch of emotionless pin up dancers prance around on stage and cater to the drunken pigs.

Becky/Comm: Um, that really isn't a problem at The Fuego Lounge.

Ravager: Why's that?

Becky/Comm: Because it's a lesbian strip club. It caters specifically to gay and bisexual women. The atmosphere is completely different.

Ravager: Oh. Well then that raises a pretty big question.

Becky/Comm: Yeah... why the hell did Detective Kubrick go in there?

Ravager: I'll just have to find out. Though, I find myself with a bit of a problem.

Becky/Comm: What problem?

Ravager: I can't just go walking in the front door dressed like this, now can I?

Becky/Comm: That... might get some odd looks, yeah.

Ravager: I usually keep a change of clothes with me in my ride for when I have to go into public settings... but I lost that thing when I crashed it.

Becky/Comm: Ah, right... I was there when they cleaned up the wreck. You completely totaled it.

Ravager: Well, until I can get another one, I'm on foot. And I still don't have a change of clothes.

Becky/Comm: What are you wearing underneath your armor?

Ravager: A T-shirt and underwear.

Becky/Comm: Okay, well that's not going to work. Hold on, let me check something.

Several moments of silence go by before Becky's voice comes in again.

Becky/Comm: Okay, you see the alley on the left side of the building?

Ravager: Yeah, what about it?

Becky/Comm: According to the map, it goes all the way around to the back. Maybe there's a rear entrance or something? Though I'm not sure what you'll do when you're actually inside.

Ravager: Worth a shot, I'll check it out.

Int. The Fuego Lounge – Night

Ravager pushes the door open slowly, glancing inside. It looks like she's in some kind of back hallway behind the dressing rooms. She hears voices coming from farther down the hall, probably the workers getting ready to perform, or whatever they do. Easing herself inside silently, she closes the door behind her and moves cautiously. She can't afford to be discovered just yet.

Ravager: Good call, I'm in.

Becky/Comm: Any sign of Kubrick yet?

Ravager: No sign of anyone yet. I'm still in the back of the building, nothing much here except a few boxes and a coat rack.

Becky/Comm: Well, be careful in there. And don't go spooking any of the girls; I know a couple of them, they're good people.

Ravager: Only been here a few times and yet you know some of the workers, huh?

Becky/Comm: Wha- uh, n-no.

Ravager: Smooth recovery.

Becky/Comm: Okay, I used to be a regular! It was just a phase! Qué mierda, what do you want from me?

Ravager: To hear you flustered.

Becky/Comm: You're smiling right now, aren't you?

Ravager: Maybe.

Stopping near the end of the hallway, Ravager peers around the corner. She sees a couple women in various states of undress walking to and from a couple of the side rooms. Still mostly in the shadows, Ravager goes unnoticed by them, as they're currently too busy working. The only problem is that the only way to get to the rest of the club is walk straight through this area, which she can't do in her current costume. Moving back behind the corner of the hall, she thinks for a moment, her eye scanning the surrounding area. Her gaze falls on the previously mentioned coat rack, an idea suddenly coming to her.

Ravager: Think I found a way in.

Reaching forward, she takes one of the long coats off the rack, then tugs her mask and swords off. After hiding her blades off to the side, she pulls the coat tightly around her and stuffs the mask in one of the pockets, effectively concealing her armored costume. This should at least keep some attention off her. Moving around the corner again, she walks straight through the women's area, keeping her head down. She receives a couple passing glances, but most of the women don't even notice her. Soon after, she pushes past a small curtain and enters into the main area of the club.

Glancing around, she takes a brief moment to soak in the atmosphere. It really is different than a normal strip club... the music isn't as mind numbingly annoying, the patrons aren't as rowdy, and everything seems a lot... calmer. Yet, there are still three separate stages, each occupied with a stripper, and quite a number of customers enjoying the performances.

Becky/Comm: Anything?

Ravager: Not yet... I'm only seeing strippers and the women watching them.

Becky/Comm: Well it isn't a big place, he has to be around there somewhere.

Ravager: Wait, hold on.

Her gaze falls on a table in one of the corners of the room, way in the back and away from most of the other. At that table, she spots Kubrick sitting and speaking with someone, a woman in a red blouse and black skirt, with small, narrow glasses and her blonde hair tied back in a braid. They seem to be in a deep discussion about something, though about what she has no way of knowing.

Ravager: Alright, I have eyes on him. He's talking to some woman.

Becky/Comm: Any way to hear what they're saying?

Ravager: Not without getting right up next to them.

A few seconds later, though, Kubrick and the woman get up from the table and start walking towards the other side of the building. Ravager's gaze follows them carefully, watching as they head through a door labeled 'employees only' next to the bar area. Casually, she makes her way after them, waiting for the bartender to be distracted with a customer before sneaking through the door herself. On the other side, she finds a long staircase heading down into the basement levels. As she heads down those stairs, she pulls out her mask again and slips it back over her head. She then shrugs the coat off and keeps going.

Probably safe to go in costume now. With or without it, I'm not supposed to be down here either way.

Ravager slows to a stop when she hears voices. Holding a finger to her ear piece, she whispers through her comm.

Ravager: Going silent.

Becky/Comm: Copy, be careful.

Coming to the bottom of the stairs, Ravager leans forward and peers around a wall that leads to a long hallway. A door at the very end of it is slightly ajar, from where the voices are coming from. She presses on until she reaches the door, then listens carefully.

Kubrick: And exactly how long after implantation did this occur?

Woman: About seventy-two hours, give or take a few. It works fine before that, but then she just dropped dead.

Kubrick: I see... looks like we keep running into problems. First I've heard about this particular one, though.

Woman: You know I want to be involved, but I can't subjcet my girls to it if they're going to keep keeling over like this.

Kubrick: Believe me, we'll work on a fix. Faulty stems aren't good for the plans, anyway. Having puppets to control only works as long as the puppets can be used... dying seriously complicates that.

Woman: You come back with ones that work, and my girls are yours. Until then, I'm not going to keep exposing them to... this.

Kubrick: Of course. I'll report back the Shen immediately and give him the update.

Ravager's eye narrows slightly at the mention of the name.

Shao Shen... So he's the one in charge? Good... I still owe that guy a serious beating.

Woman: You do that. I have to get back to work, in the meantime, then figure out how I'm going to clean up this mess...

Ravager moves quickly back through another one of the partially open doors, hiding in the shadows of what looks like a storage closet. The figures of Kubrick and the mystery woman appear in the hallway a moment later, walking back towards the stairs. Within a couple minutes, they're gone, leaving Ravager alone in the basement.

Ravager: Did you get all that?

Becky/Comm: Yeah, any idea what they were talking about?

Ravager: Not a clue, but I get the feeling I'll have a better idea when I check out what's in that room.

Moving from the closet, she turns into the other room, flicking on the light. It doesn't take her long to see what the two were talking about, her gaze falling on it instantly. Her eye goes wide instantly in shock, as she just stares, barely able to utter a word.

Becky/Comm: What is it? Do you see anything?

But all she can do is keep staring.

My god... this is sick.

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Chapter #35 Preview: Rose and Becky continue their investigation, trying to figure out just what is going on in Silverstone. While they uncover more information about their enemies, Becky ends up having a close call with Detective Riggs, which could spell problems for her later on.

Chapter #35

Int. The Fuego Lounge – Night

Ravager swallows, taking a step forward and kneeling down closely to inspect the scene. Her stomach is still churning a bit, but she forces the nausea down. She's seen bad before, but this is right up there at the top.

Becky/Comm: Rose? Hey, you there?

Ravager: Yeah, sorry. Was just... thinking.

Becky/Comm: Well what is it? What do you see?

Ravager: It's... a body. I'll spare you the details.

Becky/Comm: It's that bad?

Ravager: Yeah.

The body belongs to a young woman, probably one of the strip club's dancers, judging from the conversation she just overheard. The only problem is, the back of her skull is split wide open, like an overripe melon. There is no brain matter anywhere, though, at least not in a solid state. Anything inside her skull appears to have been liquified, draining out all over the floor in a bloody, sticky pool. More fluid exited her body through her nose, eyes, ears, and mouth. It's as though the contents of her head just... melted. And then exploded.

Moving forward, Ravager examines the body closer, taking close observation of the woman's head. Aside from the gaping hole in the back of her skull, nothing else appears out of the ordinary... until she sees something rather familiar. Pulling back the woman's ear, her gaze narrows.

Ravager: Well that's interesting.

Becky/Comm: You find something?

Ravager: There's a small hole just behind her ear. Same spot as that needle device I pulled out of the other guy's head.

Becky/Comm: So you think whatever happened to her has something to do with those devices?

Ravager: Looks that way. My only concern is the purpose, though. They mentioned using people as 'puppets'.

Becky/Comm: Wait... you don't mean, like, mind control or something, do you? Is that even a real thing?

Ravager: We live in a world where people can fly, shoot lasers out of their eyes, and lift a jet-liner over their heads, and you're seriously asking that question?

Becky/Comm: Well, mierda, I don't know! I'm still new to this whole... superhero thing, and the kinds of stuff you deal with.

Ravager: I know, I know. Sorry, I just... this whole situation is bizarre.

Becky/Comm: Now that I already figured out.

Ravager: To answer your question, though, yes, it could be some form of mind control. Only, it doesn't look like they've perfected it, yet, judging from... this.

Becky/Comm: Dios Mio... it would certainly explain why Stevens suddenly went loco on me.

Ravager: And why a family man living on Levitt Street was moonlighting–or daylightning, rather–as a ninja. But the question is why? What are they trying to accomplish?

Reaching into one of the compartments on her belt, Ravager pulls out a miniature camera and begins taking pictures of the scene. Any evidence is good evidence at this point, especially a dead body. She can add it to their notes and go from there. As she stands there clicking the camera, however, a voice suddenly cuts her off.

Woman: Who the hell are you?

Blinking, Ravager slowly turns her head to see the same woman from before standing there in the doorway.

Ravager: Oh... well hi there.

Woman: What are you doing down here?!

Ravager: Shouldn't I be the one asking you that question? You really should learn to clean up after your messes.

Perfect, now I can take this b*tch down and squeeze some answers from her.

Woman: Great, now I have to hide two bodies.

With an angry growl, the woman rushes in forward to attack her intruder. Ravager merely smirks, ready to put the hurt on... but what she sees in her precog makes her suddenly duck and flip out of the way. As the woman swings her arm, it opens up, revealing it to be a cybernetic prosthesis. A long, razor sharp blade suddenly extends from the woman's wrist and swipes forward, just missing Ravager's neck.

Becky/Comm: Jueputa, what's going on?!

Ravager: Just a minute, little busy right now!

Ducking beneath another slashing strike, Ravager dances off to the side and reaches back for her own blades. That's when she remembers that she took her swords off earlier so she could disguise herself in the coat.

Ravager: Sh*t!

The woman charges again, this time thrusting the arm blade forward. Fortunately, her actions are wild and undisciplined, making it easy to evade. Turning her body out of the way of the attack, Ravager then lunges forward and tackles the woman. They land on the ground hard, causing the woman's breath to rush suddenly from her lungs.

Another wild swing comes in. Ravager ducks below it, then reaches her hands out and grabs the woman's arm, the one with the blade. In one hard, twisting motion, she bends it the wrong way, causing it to snap. The woman doesn't cry out with pain, considering the arm is robotic and likely doesn't contain any pain receptors, but at least her main weapon is neutralized.

The woman raise her other arm this time in a furious punch, but Ravager catches her fist, followed by a vicious headbutt to her face. Now, the woman feels pain, nose crooked and nostrils spewing crimson down her face. For good measure, Ravager delivers a hard knee to her gut, then lifts her up and pushes her against the wall, cracking the plaster.

Ravager: So, you want to try that again?

Woman: Who the... f*ck do you think... you are?! You goddamn c-

A hard elbow to the jaw silences her.

Ravager: I'm The Ravager; remember it.

Woman: What do you... what do you want from me?

Ravager: I want answers, and you're going to tell me what I want, or that broken nose of yours will be the least of your worries.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Letting out a long breath, Rose pushes open the door to her penthouse and tugs her mask off. It's been a long night, and she's just about ready to turn in. She utters a small yawn, then walks into the kitchen to find herself a drink. Before she can even make it to the refrigerator, she feels a gentle pair of arms coming around her from behind, and an even gentler kiss on her neck.

Becky: Welcome back.

Breathing inwardly, Rose pauses a moment to turn back and give Becky a proper kiss, then returns her attention to the fridge to grab a beer.

Rose: Thanks.

Becky: So, here's a question, how the heck to you make it all the way up to the top floor of this building without anyone noticing you in that costume?

Rose: Easy, I take the elevator from the parking garage, brings me right up to this floor. Not too many people wandering around there at three in the morning, and even if there are, I'm good at keeping out of sight.

Becky: Hmm, still sounds risky to me.

Rose: I've managed this far, haven't I?

Becky: Ah, so you have. Anyway, what are we going to do about this? What the woman said...

The woman that Rose had interrogated, who goes by the name of Madelyn Stravos, had revealed some rather unsettling information. Though Madelyn didn't know many specifics, Rose got her to mention that she had been recently contacted by Kubrick, an old friend of hers now working for a man called Shao Shen. He offered her future position and power in exchange for a few favors, one of them being to offer up her workers as subjects to his new neural devices.

Those devices, the ones that drill into a person's brain, not only allow control of the victim, but also increases biological functions, everything from cognitive functions to physical ability. As for what Shao is trying to accomplish through such means, Madelyn had not been informed of.

Rose: We keep digging, that's what we do. Whatever Shao is up to, I'm going to find out, and I’m going to stop him. Kubrick is still our best lead at the moment, so I'll keep following him, see what I can find.

Becky: Hey, you're not the only one who can do something here, you know. You're forgetting, I work at the same station as Kubrick. I can look in on him there.

Rose: No way, I'm not letting you get anymore involved in this than necessary.

Becky: Then what would you have me do, huh? Just be useless and sit here at night, talking to you over the radio? Come on, Rose, let me help you.

Rose: They've already tried to kill you twice. I'm not going to keep putting you at risk like that!

Becky: Rose, my life is already at risk everyday, just by being a cop. Every time I put on that uniform, I know it might be the last. This isn't any different. Not to mention, you can't be Ravager during the day. That's a whole sixteen hours that you aren't investigating. Please, let me do what you can't.

Releasing a long breath, Rose leans forward against the counter and holds a hand up to her head. She closes her eye for a moment, then shrugs her shoulders and brushes her fingers through her long white hair. No way Becky is going to let this go, she's too stubborn for that.

Rose: Alright, fine. Just... please, be careful, alright?

A small smile comes over Becky's face. She moves in and gives a light kiss, then rubs her hand on Rose's back.

Becky: I'll be careful, promise. Now, come to bed. It's been a long night.

Returning the smile, Rose takes Becky's hand and walks with her into the bedroom.

Rose: Yeah... it really has.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Day

Becky works quickly, rifling through all the papers in each desk drawer, hoping to find anything useful, anything out of the ordinary. She doesn't know how long she has, so she can't afford to waste any time. Kubrick might be out on a case right now, but if he comes back to find her in his office, things definitely won't end well. Hearing someone walking down the hall, she glances up over the desk for a moment and freezes up. Fortunately, whoever it is keeps on walking. Breathing a sigh of relief, she goes back to her searching.

Nothing written down in his desk... maybe his computer?

Moving up into the desk chair, she wiggles the computer mouse to disperse the screen saver, surprised to find that the computer isn't password protected. Digging through the computer’s files, however, she doesn't actually find anything very suspicious. Just the standard documents she'd expect a detective to keep on his computer... except for one thing. Buried deep in the folder containing his personal case notes, Becky comes across another file, named only “X”. Giving it a curious look, she brings the cursor up to it and double clicks it.

More documents, most of these untitled. She opens one of them and quickly scans through, then another. Her heart starts beating faster with every word that she reads. This is the kind of information she's been looking for. Only problem is, she can't go and sit here reading it all; she'll have to bring it back to Rose's place, then they can sort through it all there. Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out a flash drive and sticks it into the computer's usb port, then quickly copies the files over. A short few moments later, she pulls the flash drive back out, closes out of the folder, and then heads for the door.

Halfway across the office, the door opens. Becky freezes, heart skipping a beat, as Detective Riggs appears. For a moment, he stops and just stares at her, then moves forward.

Riggs: What are you doing in here?

Becky: Oh, I, uh, was just... looking for Detective Kubrick. Was, uh... going to see if he wanted to grab dinner some time, yeah.

Riggs: I don't think he'd be interested...

Becky: Oh, no, sure he would, I mean we totally have a connection and-

Riggs: He's married.

Smooth, Becky, real smooth! How did you not notice a wedding ring?

Becky: Oh, uh, ha, imagine that... guess I don't need to worry about it, then, I'll just be going...

Without taking another look back, she quickly heads out of the room and back down the hallway. As she leaves, Riggs gives her a very long look, before walking around behind the desk. When he sees that the screen saver is off, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out his phone to make a call.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Hovering over the computer, Rose and Becky examine the files closely that were pulled from Kubrick's office. The room is dark, the only light coming from the glow of the screen, which flickers every now and then, as Rose scrolls down or opens a new file.

Rose: So you grabbed these off his computer, huh?

Becky: Uh, yeah... was pretty surprised he had no password, to be honest.

Rose: No use worrying about it now, we have the files.

And boy are these files ever revealing. Though they don't give all the answers, there's plenty of new information to be had. Kubrick isn't really a member of the Silverstone City police force. Well, he is, but he's not just that. He's a sleeper agent of sorts, for an organization referred to as the Fist of Shadows. The files don't go into detail on the organization itself, though it does describe some of their plans.

Becky: They're killing off all the mob bosses to take control of organized crime in the city... weeding out the competition.

Rose: And then using those neural stems to sink their fangs even deeper, gain control. Only the devices aren't ready yet, which is why they've been testing them on nobodies. Until they can make stems that don't fail, malfunction, or otherwise kill their victims, they're not going to be attempting to advance their plans.

Becky: Do I even want to ask what that is?

Rose: I can make a few guesses... Hold on, I have to make a call.

Closing out of the folders, she opens her video conferencing software, once again putting out a call to Gotham. It isn't too late yet, so hopefully he'll be there... Fortunately, he is. Though they have to wait about five minutes for a response, soon enough a familiar face pops up on the screen. Well, half a face, as Dick Grayson answered the call from the Bat Bunker, dressed in the batsuit.

Rose: Good, you're still there.

Batman/Computer: Caught me just as I was heading out, Rose. What is it?

Becky: Whoa... I still can't believe you're friends with Batman. That's actually really cool.

Batman/Computer: Who's that?

Becky: Oh! Lo siento, forgot to introduce myself. Rebecca Chavez. It's a real, uh, honor to meet you... um, sir.

Batman/Computer: Just Batman, is fine. I've heard about you, though, Rebecca. Glad to see you two worked things out.

Becky: Oh, we more than worked it out.

Grinning a bit, Becky holds an arm around Rose's shoulder and gives her a brief kiss on the corner of the mouth. Rose clears her throat and averts her gaze momentarily, a bit embarrassed; she hadn't really been intending to mention that to Dick just yet... but oh well. In response to this, even the mighty Batman shifts slightly in his seat, as he clears his throat.

Batman/Computer: I see... so, what is this about?

Rose: Just a question. What can you tell me about a group called the Fist of Shadows.

A small pause passes between them. Batman narrows his eyes, thinking.

Batman/Computer: Fist of Shadows... sounds familiar. Let me check.

In an instant, his fingers are flying across the keyboard, using that super powerful batcomputer to its fullest. Within minutes, he pulls up some useful information. Bringing a hand to his chin, he uttes a cool breath and stares at the screen.

Batman/Computer: Interesting...

Rose: What is it?

Batman/Computer: According to my records, the Fist of Shadows is a sub-sect of the League of Assassins. When the main group began warring with itself for control of leadership, a smaller collection of members broke off for good and began their own organization, the Fist of Shadows. I don't have much more information on them, since I've never come across them myself. I can, however, add that they still hold similar beliefs as their former allies, but go about it in much different ways.

Rose: Don't suppose the name Shao Shen is familiar?

Batman/Computer: Afraid not.

Rose: Well, add it to your records, because I'm pretty sure he's the leader of this Fist of Shadows. Crossed him once before... it didn't go well.

Batman/Computer: I'll add the name. But before I go, do you want any help dealing with this? I can have someone on the way tonight.

Rose: Not yet. So far, things are pretty under control. If I do need help, I'll call again.

Batman/Computer: Alright, then I'll leave you to it. I have to get going.

Rose: Wait, hold on.

Batman/Computer: Yes?

Rose: How... how's Holly doing?

At this, Batman gives a very small smile.

Batman/Computer: She's doing well. Looking forward to you coming back.

Rose: Yeah... I'll be there soon as I finish up this case. Tell her I said hi.

Batman/Computer: Will do. Anything else?

Rose: Just one more thing.

Batman/Computer: What?

Rose: Stop picturing me and Becky in your head.

Batman/Computer: ...goodbye, Rose.

The screen goes blank a second later. Becky purses her lips, shifting her weight and putting a hand to her hip.

Becky: Well, interesting guy... not as scary as I would have thought.

Rose: Should have seen the first one... Anyway, time for me to get a move on. I get the feeling it's going to be another long night.

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Chapter #36 Preview: Just who is Michael Kubrick? As Ravager is about to find out, there is a lot more to that question than one would think. In fact, it's more a question of: what is Michael Kubrick? She'll discover firsthand what kind of secret he's hiding, but that's not all; he's not alone.

Chapter #36

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Releasing a long breath, Kubrick steps out of the dry cleaner's and heads down the sidewalk. Another malfunctioning stem, fantastic. Not what he needs to deal with right now. Shao is already getting impatient at the slow development. He wants better results, something he can use without running the risk of killing half the people they implant. The technicians are working as fast as they can, though; shockingly, fine tuning a way to control and enhance brain functions isn't as easy as Shao believes.

In the meantime, Kubrick has to keep other people's noses out of their business; Rebecca Chavez, for example, a woman who just doesn't seem to know when to quit. After the previous two attempts on her life, one would think that she would learn to stay away, but she just keeps coming back. Unfortunate as it may be, now she has to be dealt with.

As he stops at a crosswalk, waiting for the light to change, his phone begins to ring. He pulls it out of his pocket, briefly looks at the name, then answers, keeping his voice in a low whisper.

Kubrick: What is it?

The voice that comes over on the other end is calm, yet eerily sinister at the same time. He thought he'd be used to it by now, but each time is like the first.

Kubrick: No... things are coming along fine. It's just-

The voice cuts him off in mid sentence, the words cutting like knives in spite of how relaxed they are.

Kubrick: I don't know when they'll be ready. We keep coming across more problems than we anticipated... yes, we're working on solving them... no, he doesn't know. I've been careful.

And there it is, the subtle, yet very noticeable threat. A combination of insult and menace that chills even someone like Kubrick to the core, and that's saying something.

Kubrick: I assure you, sir, Shao doesn't suspect a thing. The stems will be completed eventually, and as long as he believes I'm working for him, you'll get what you want.

The voice seems pleased, or as pleased as a voice like that possibly can be. Kubrick's nerves settle down slightly. He's still not used to that; usually he's the one doing the intimidating... not the other way around.

Kubrick: Of course. I'll call you when I have more information. Goodbye.

Turning his phone off, he stuffs it back into his pocket and turns down an alley. Suddenly, he's really hungry; feels like he can eat a horse. After this next meeting, he'll have to stop somewhere and grab a bite. Taking in a deep breath, he glances back over his shoulder briefly, then stops outside a small door. Tucked away here in a back alley right in the middle of the slums, it goes unnoticed to the general public. But not to him. No, to him, this is a very familiar location.

He raises his hand and taps his knuckles against the old wood. Two knocks. No more, no less. The small eye slot on the front of the door slides open a second later, a blue pair of eyes looking back at him.

Kubrick: The sound of winter is cold.

The phrase is completely nonsensical, but it gets the door to open. He gives the man within a simple nod, then pushes past him farther within the dwelling.

Int. Zaria's Pool Hall – Night

A brief walk through a narrow hallway, followed by a descent down a small set of stairs, and Kubrick reaches one of the least known places in the city. It's no different from a normal pool hall, except that it also acts as a safe house for some of the lowest scum in Silverstone. Thieves, mobsters, murderers, rapists, and so much more, they've all been known to frequent this place. Of course, that's only if you're lucky enough to find it, let alone be allowed inside. You want in? You'd better make sure the Silverstone underworld knows your name.

Kubrick moves past a couple of men playing pool and heads straight up to the bar. The woman behind the counter gives him an amused look, mouth twisting into a half smirk, and hands going to her hips. She's dressed in torn, low cut jeans, and a half-shirt that seems one size too small.

Woman: Well, well, look who's back. Just couldn't stay way, now could you?

Kubrick: You know me, Zaria. Once I get a taste...

He loves the way she shifts her posture, hips popping out to one side and body leaning gently. If looks could kill, she'd have offed him a long time ago. Everything about her, from the toned body, to her short, silky black hair, red lipstick, near perfectly shaped breasts, it all drives his senses wild. That body of hers is a canvas, too, tattoos in all the right places. Most of the ink runs along her arms and up her neck, but the rest of her skin isn't perfectly clean. A small red star sits just above her right breast, while a skeletal tail curls across her abdomen around to her back, where it attaches to a dragon of bones.

She's not a twig, either, she's built well, works out, throws a mean left hook. Not to mention, she's like him. She's special. He once saw her lay waste to an entire room full of guys just because she was bored. Bored. Normally, he'll only do something like that when he's hungry, but she's something else entirely. Zaria is his kind of woman.

Zaria: Oh I know, you always come back for seconds.

Kubrick: A little beyond seconds, aren't we?

Zaria: Hmm, so we are. Best not less the missus hear that, though.

Snorting out an amused laugh, Kubrick sits down in one of the seats in front of the bar. He leans forward, folding his arms and hiding the wedding ring on his finger, as though it'll suddenly disappear.

Kubrick: All part of the cover, you know that. Only thing Stacy is good for is keeping the house clean, and even then not so much. Your beautiful ass is the only one I need.

A wide grin comes to Zaria's lips.

Zaria: Keep talking like that, and I might let you have it later. Now, did you come down hear just to ogle me, or do you have something important to discuss?

Kubrick: You know why I'm here, Zee. Just letting you know the offer is still on the table. What I'm working on right now... it's big. Life changing big. I want you there with me when sh*t hits the fan.

Zaria: Ah, right, the big plan. I told you I'd think about it.

Kubrick: And you've been thinking for quite a while.

Zaria: That's 'cuz I haven't made up my mind yet.

Kubrick: I'm offering you something more out of life, Zee. We won't have to hide anymore when this is done. We can be who we are. We can be what we are. And no one will be able to stop us.

Zaria: You know I'm perfectly content with what I have now.

Kubrick: And what do you have, really? An underground hangout infested by these fodder, these cattle. That's all they are: food. Yet we're forced to hide from them.

Zaria: Yes, well those cattle also pay my bills. When I feel like paying them, anyway.

Kubrick: Work with me, and you'll never have to worry about paying bills again.

Zaria: Like I said, I'll think on it. Now, you want a drink or not?

Releasing a slow breath, Kubrick leans forward and taps his fingers on the counter a couple times.

Kubrick: Just a beer. You know my brand.

Zaria: Coming right up.

Turning around, Zaria moves towards the back of the bar. She leans forward, bending over to reach one of the ice boxes below the shelves. Kubrick sits back, watching and enjoying the view until she finally stands straight again and slides the bottle to him with a wink.

Zaria: There you go.

Kubrick smirks briefly, before taking the bottle and raising it to his lips. Before he even gets a chance to take a sip, however, a commotion draws his attention. He looks over at the sounds of shouting coming from the entrance, up the stairs. Suddenly, the man who works the door comes tumbling down the steps, landing hard and rolling across the floor. With a groan, the man starts to crawl away. A figure begins to descend the stairs, at first hidden in shadows, and then finally coming into the light of the pool hall.

Ravager: Evening, everyone. I hope I'm not interrupting anything.

The two men nearest her abruptly charge. Whoever she is, she isn't supposed to be here, and that's enough to attack her. Knowing the tendencies of some of the people in this place, they'll do a lot more than just attack, too, if given the chance. But they don't get that chance. Ravager moves around their attacks with minimal effort, countering with a few hard blows that knock them out cold. Three more men from the other side of the room come in, two wielding pool sticks and the third with a switchblade.

Ravager catches one of the pool sticks and breaks it half with one hand, then kicks the man in the face, sending him rolling backwards. The second man swings his pool stick, but he isn't anymore successful. Yanking the stick from his hands, she spins it around like a bo staff and pummels the guy, dropping him to the floor unconscious. The third man, the one with the knife, somehow thinks he'll fare better than the last four guys she beat up, and lunges at her. Ravager turns to the side, swings the pool stick around, and bashes him in the back of the head. He falls unconscious instantly.

Ravager: So, anyone else want to try?

The few other remaining patrons decide they want no part of this woman, running around the sides of the room towards the stairs to get out. Ravager lets them go; they're not the ones she's after.

Zaria: What the hell do you think you're doing?! What gives you the right to barge in here and attack my customers?!

Ravager: Technically, I only attacked the guy at the door. The rest of them attacked me.

Jumping up over the counter, Zaria lands on the other side in a crouch, a scowl on her face. She has that look in her eye, the one she gets when she wants blood.

Zaria: I'll bleed you like a pig!

Kubrick: Zee, calm yourself.

Glaring back at him, Zaria stands straight and curls her hands into fists.

Zaria: But she-

Kubrick: I'll handle it, relax.

Though keeping a hot stare on him, she backs down, taking a couple of steps back and allowing Kubrick to deal with the b*tch.

Ravager: Kubrick, right? Good, you're the one I want to talk to.

Kubrick: Oh, you wanna talk? Sure, we can talk... but first, I'm gonna grab a bite to eat, if you don't mind.

Ravager: Wasn't really planning on waiting around for you to order a meal.

Kubrick: Don't worry about that, you won't have to wait long.

Ravager stands there, waiting for Kubrick to make a move. After all, he's just a normal guy, right? This really shouldn't take very long. A few well placed punches, maybe a broken kneecap, and she can start interrogating him for more information on Shao Shen and the Fist of Shadows. Unfortunately, things don't quite go according to how she expected them to. Holding his arms out, Kubrick grits his teeth and starts crying out, as if in pain. Lifting an eyebrow behind her mask, Ravager watches curiously, wondering what the hell is the matter of him.

Kubrick's body begins to change. Muscles spasm and start to grow, splitting his clothes apart. Thick hair, or rather fur, begins to spontaneously grow everywhere, covering him from head to toe. His face elongates, narrows, with his jaws coming together and forming a snout with razor sharp teeth, while his fingers extend and form equally sharp claws. Within a short few moments, the man Kubrick was is no longer standing there. In his place is a beast, a monster, a... a...

Ravager: Hey, Becky?

Becky/Comm: Yeah?

Ravager: How's your knowledge on werewolves?

Beck/Comm: Uh... pretty limited? ...why?

Ravager: Because there's one standing right in front of me.

Becky/Comm: Uh... wait, what?

The speed at which Kubrick blitzes her is astounding. Granted, it's nowhere near speedster fast, but it's still far greater than a normal man. Guess that makes sense, considering he's a giant wolf monster now. On the bright side, Ravager's own speed and reflexes are at a new level, ever since her training in Nanda Parbat. She reacts instantly, ducking below a sweeping claw strike and flipping herself backwards over a second attack.

Ravager: Yeah, about your detective buddy, Kubrick? He's a werewolf. Or a shapeshifter. Or... or something!

Silence comes in over the comm. Presumably, Becky is just too stunned to answer, and Rose doesn't blame her. Women with robotic blade arms? Werewolves? Just what the hell are these people? The Fist of Shadows is apparently full of some really diverse people. Kubrick moves forward again, snarling. Spittle drips from his fangs, lips curled back. When he speaks, his voice is much deeper, and scratchier.

Kubrick: I will rip the heart from your chest!

Ravager: Yeah, I don't think so.

Ravager darts around another claw strike, and this time delivers a hard kick to the werewolf's face... which does just about nothing except make him angry. Kubrick lashes his hand–or paw?–out to grab her ankle, before she can retract her leg. With an effortless motion, he swings his arm around and tosses her through the air. She manages to twist her body around in midair, controlling her flight enough to land against the wall and push off without sustaining any injuries, though that doesn't solve her wolf problem.

Ravager: So, does that transformation come with or without fleas?

Kubrick growls again, charging in on all fours this time. He leaps at her, but Rose rolls beneath his grasp. In the same motion, she draws her blades and slices upwards with them, feeling steel ripping open flesh. The werewolf lands awkwardly, hitting the floor and colliding with the wall. He isn't down for long, though, returning to his feet a moment later. Though he's clearly bleeding, this doesn't seem to slow him down much, as he runs forward again.

Ravager twirls around his outstretched claws and cuts downward with her blades, slicing through the tendons at one of his elbows. This time, he howls with pain, clutching the wound. He might be resilient, but a severed tendon is a severed tendon; he won't be able to use that arm anymore.

Ravager: Alright, so are you ready to talk, or do I have to go all 'Van Helsing' on you?

She really should have remembered to pay more attention to her surroundings. She's so concentrated on the menacing werewolf trying to bite her face off, that she doesn't notice the next attack until her precog goes off, and even then it's almost too late to get out of the way. Jumping back suddenly, she feels razor claws slicing straight through her armor and tearing open several long wounds across her midsection. Had she not moved at all, her intestines would be on the floor right now.

Zaria: You never should have come here!

Dropping one of her swords, Ravager holds a hand to her wounds and looks back at the woman from before... or at least, the person that used to be a woman. While still feminine in appearance, most of her features have changed. Zaria's skin has changed shades to bright blue, and seems to be covered in scales, while her mouth has widened and grown multiple rows of sharp teeth, like a shark. With her body also growing slightly and becoming more muscular, her clothes have torn off almost completely, while spiky ridges developed along her backside. Add to that a long, whip-like tail growing out from the back of her waist, and Ravager has no bloody clue what the hell to make of it.

Ravager: The f*ck are you supposed to be?

The only answer she receives is an angry growl, as the she-beast lunges in again and swings wildly with her claws. Ravager dodges a few times, then counters with another vicious sword slash. Only problem, she hits air. Apparently, Zaria is quite agile, having no issue moving out of the way of the attacks. No only that, but she's strong, too, a lot stronger than Ravager anticipates. Zaria dives forward landing on top of Ravager and pinning her against the floor.

Not good, not good!

Zaria opens her mouth wide, exposing the multiple layers of of razor sharp teeth, then dives in, with every intent to tear open the woman's jugular. Unfortunately for her, Ravager manages to twist her blade around at the right angle to place the sharp edge between herself and her attacker. Zaria bites down right on the blade, instead, and although her jaw strength shatters the sword, she recoils with a howl of pain, as the insides of her mouth are cut open.

With the grip on her shoulders loosening, Ravager slips out from beneath her attacker, rolls backwards, and pops back up to her feet again... just in time for Kubrick to body-check her into the nearby wall, causing her to smash straight through it into the next room. Slightly dazed, Ravager looks up from her backside to see the werewolf standing over her and lunging in again. She just manages to get her arm up in time, feeling Kubrick's jaws clamping around her forearm. At the same time, his claws sink into her side, puncturing straight through her armor and into flesh. Suppressing a sharp scream of pain, Ravager reaches for her fallen sword, the one that Zaria shattered.

With a deft motion, she thrusts the short, broken point forward and stabs the side of Kubrick's neck. The werewolf instantly releases her and howls, staggering backwards through the broken hole in the wall. He kneels there for several moments, then yanks the blade out of his neck and coughs blood. Slowly, his body begins to revert to his normal, human self. Zaria, now also having reverted to her human form, hurries to his side. She spits out a large mouthful of blood, then helps him to his feet.

Zaria: Michael! We have to get you to a hospital, now!

Kubrick: I'll be fine!

Zaria: You will not be fine. You're bleeding too much, and you don't heal as fast in this form. I am not going to let you die.

Growling slightly, Kubrick holds a hand to his bleeding neck. She's right, of course. Even with what he is, he won't last long like this without medical attention.

Kubrick: Fine. Still keep a change of clothes in the back?

Zaria: Of course.

Kubrick: Good, grab them. I'm going to finish taking care of our problem.

Hobbling to his feet, Kubrick walks over to the remains of his pants and pulls out his gun, then stalks forward towards the giant hole in the wall, to take care of the woman that attacked them. When he makes it into the next room, however, he doesn't find her. The woman is gone, with only her broken sword remaining. Angrily, he beats his fist against the wall.

Kubrick: Damn it!

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Making it up to a nearby rooftop, Ravager collapses against the parapet and lets out a grunt. She's losing blood, but not too much. Her armor, though it was cut through like paper, did offer some protection, and the wounds aren't too severe. But it hurts. A lot. These aren't normal wounds. She's had cuts and gashes like this before, and she knows how they feel. But these... they burn. Like fire.

F*cking werewolf, and... whatever that other one was. Was not prepared to deal with that.

As she takes in a few sharp breaths, the radio hisses against her ear.

Becky/Comm: Rose! Are you there? What the hell happened?

Ravager: I got torn up by a couple of monsters, that's what happened.

Becky/Comm: So, you're serious, then? A... werewolf?

Ravager: Yeah, and some kind of demonic shark/lizard/alien thing. I swear, if I run into a sparkly vampire next, I'm gonna be really pissed.

Becky/Comm: Dios mio... are you alright?

Ravager: I'll live. Might need to get patched up quick, though.

Becky/Comm: I'll have the first aid kit ready. Just- what?

Silence suddenly comes in. Ravager blinks, eye narrowing.

Ravager: Becky?

Becky/Comm: Rose, uh, the power just went out.

Ravager: What?

Becky/Comm: I got nothing, I'm stumblingly around in the dark here.

Ravager: If something happened to the power, the building's back up generator should have come on.

Becky/Comm: Well there's -ow! Hijo de puta! I do not remember that chair being there!

Ravager: Alright, just hold on, I'm not far. Be there in five.

Becky/Comm: Do you have any candles or anything? I could really use-

Her words cut out again, stopping in mid sentence. At first, Ravager thinks it's just a glitchy signal, but she soon realizes that Becky went silent on purpose. A second later, she hears the sound of a gun being cocked.

Ravager: What the hell is going on, Becky?

Becky/Comm: I don't know, I thought I heard something.

Ravager: What are you-

Becky/Comm: Sh*t, there's someone in here. I can hear him.

Her voice is in a low whisper, remaining hushed and trying not to be heard. Ravager flinches at the declaration, though. No power means no security. No security means that anyone can waltz right inside. But who is it? Did they come for Becky? How did they even know where to find her? Ravager's heart starts beating faster, going into full on panic mode. Ignoring the pain from her wounds, she starts sprinting across rooftops.

Ravager: You see anyone and you shoot them, got it? I'm on my way now, I'll-

Two gunshots go off. Then she hears the sound of crashing furniture. A dazed grunt, followed by glass shattering. And then static, as the communicator dies. A numb sensation bubbles up in Ravager's throat. She moves faster now.

Hold on, Becky, I'm coming!

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Chapter #37 Preview: Less than a week ago, Rose had a vision in Nanda Parbat, a vision that depicted the person closest to her being brutally beaten for information. She came back in order to stop that vision from happening, but now it looks like she may not be able to stop it after all.

Chapter #37

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Ravager crashes through the front door and forces it open, not even slowing down to open it properly. By now, the building's power has returned, allowing her to get a good look at just what condition her penthouse is in. The entire place is in shambles, ransacked to the fullest degree. Moving past the overturned furniture and scattered belongings, she heads into the bedroom, flicking the light on. She finds much the same in here, as well.

Becky's gun is on the ground, two shell casings lying nearby. Ravager kneels down for a moment to examine it, then looks behind her, towards the door. Two bullet holes in the wall. That means Becky missed whoever she was aiming at. But she didn't go down without a fight, either, judging from the scene. The bedroom is an even bigger mess, the entire place torn apart. Regardless of how well she fought back, though, Becky is still gone.

Ravager is suddenly reminded of the vision he had in Nanda Parbat, the one of Becky being beaten and tortured by someone for information. She'd come back in order to make sure that didn't happen, but now it looks like coming back didn't change anything at all.

No, no, no. I came back to prevent that, I'm not going to fail. I am not losing her!

Whatever it takes, she's going to find Becky, and she's going to help her. But she can't do that in her current condition. Fighting through her worry and panic, Ravager stumbles into the bathroom and pulls out a first aid kit, while stripping off her armor. She works quickly, trying not to waste any time as she patches herself up. She does a crude job at it, but it's passable for now. The worst of it is her mangled forearm; though she can still move it and use it fairly well, her effectiveness with that arm is nowhere near top form, and it hurts like hell.

And why does it burn so much? Sh*t, feels like it's on fire.

She doesn't dwell on it, though, heading back out into the bedroom and putting her armor back on. The biggest problem she has right now is that she doesn't know where to even start looking. She doesn't know who took Becky, or where they could have gone. With no power in the building at the time, it means there won't be any security footage, either. No leads. No way to find her. Unless...

Alright, please work.

Sitting down cross-legged on the floor, Ravager closes her eye and inhales a deep breath, trying to calm and clear her mind. The vision she had before, it occurred during meditation. She doesn't know how it happened, but it's clear that it was a form of her precog. So long ago, Dick had guessed that her power was evolving, and so it has. First to extend to those around her, and now to full on being able to see the future. But... was it a one time thing? Or can she figure out a way to make these visions happen? And can she control what she sees?

Taking in another deep breath, Ravager feels the outside world beginning to disappear. She's retreating into herself, her mind delving deep into her subconscious. Slowly, but surely, the world begins to change. At first, it's only subtle, just a few odd sounds. Several seconds go by, and then the sounds become clearer. She opens her eye, sees a fuzzy image coming into focus. Just like before, everything is washed out and colorless, a bit blurry even, but it's definitely a vision.

Standing up, Ravager moves forward, taking a careful look at her surroundings. Something is wrong, this place isn't the same as it was before. In the first vision, she'd been in some kind of large tool shed, or something of that nature. Now it looks like she's in a restaurant kitchen. Her heart skips a beat. Did something go wrong? Is she seeing a different vision entirely, unrelated to Becky?

Damn it! Come on, this can't be wrong!

A sharp sound stings the air. Ravager's gaze snaps in its direction, teeth clenching. Sounded like... a pained yelp. Straining her ears, she listens closer. This time, she hears a loud thwack, followed by another yell. And then shouting; a man, angry. Swallowing a lump in her throat, she follows the sounds through the kitchen, coming out on the other side of large, swinging doors. The back area of the kitchen, now, that's what it looks like. Extra supplies, a sink, and a partially open door to a large, walk-in freezer.

Ravager hurries to the freezer, throwing the door open wide. What she sees makes her stomach twist in a knot. It's Becky, tied to the chair just as in her previous vision, only this time she's in worse condition. Knocked to the floor, several long cuts are open across her forehead, and her nose is twisted at an odd angle, clearly broken. Blood is already starting to pool around her face, some from her nose and some from the large crack on the back of her skull.

The man administering this punishment slowly circles his victim, a steel pipe in hand. One end of his weapon is dripping with fresh droplets of crimson. Ravager recognizes this man now, though. She's seen him before... Riggs, she thinks. Detective Riggs, Kubrick's partner.

Riggs: One last chance to tell me who you're working with. If you cooperate, I'll make it quick. Painless. Refuse... and I get to have a little fun.

With a twisted smile, he takes the end of the pipe and jabs it between Becky's legs, letting out an amused laugh as he does so. Becky grunts, closing her eyes and trying to crawl away, but it's no use. There's nowhere to go.

Son of a b*tch...

Ravager clenches her fists tightly, wanting more than anything to rip that man apart. But she can't do anything right now. This isn't real, it's a vision. She has to find out where she is, has to get there before this happens. Sprinting out of the freezer and kitchen, she heads through the main part of the restaurant until finally pushing outside. The city streets are blank, nothing more than a black, quivering abyss. She isn't here for the sights, though.

Turning around, she stares up at the restaurant's sign. It's blurry, too blurry to read. Taking in a deep breath, she focuses, concentrates... things slowly begin to come into focus. Just a little more...

Got it!

In the next instant, the entire world fades away, as Ravager comes out of her vision back to the real world. Snapping her eye open, she lurches upright. A sudden stab of pain in her sides causes her to flinch, stumble, but she keeps going. She can't let a few scratches slow her down now.

Int. Marchini's Italian Restaurant – Night

Rebecca Chavez breathes outwardly, trying to come to her senses. Everything is in a haze, after that shot to the head. She can't even remember coming here... one minute, she was fighting tooth and nail against an intruder trying to kidnap her, and the next minute she's waking up here, in some kind of walk-in freezer. Where the hell is she?

Riggs: Rise and shine.

Suddenly, something hard is poking the side of her head. She blinks, glancing to her right to see Detective Riggs stand there, holding a long metal pipe. A few more seconds, and things finally come back into complete focus.

Becky: Pendejo... keep that thing away from me.

Riggs: What, this?

Crack! The pipe smacks into her shoulder, eliciting a sharp cry of pain from her throat. She swallows, gritting her teeth and glaring back at him, shoulder throbbing.

Riggs: Should have just left well enough alone. You'd think after the first couple of times we tried to stop you, you'd get the message. But no, you just had to keep digging.

Becky: Well, I am a curious one. Didn't really think your sloppy work was going to go unnoticed, did you?

Riggs: Just needed it to go unnoticed long enough. Once you're out of the way, that won't be a problem.

Becky: How'd you even find me? I wasn't at my apartment.

Riggs: Those files you stole from Kubrick's computer? They contained a very special virus. As soon as you uploaded them elsewhere, the virus infected your computer. As long as you were connected to the internet, we could track exactly where the virus spread to. Led us right to you.

Becky: Must think you're pretty clever.

Riggs: I do my part. Now tell me, who are you working with?

Becky: You ask that like you expect me to tell you.

Riggs: We know she's come back; 'The Blade'.

Becky: Actually, she prefers Ravager. Just an FYI.

Riggs: Who is she?!

Becky: Go to Hell.

Frowning, Riggs takes a few steps to the side, then suddenly swings his weapon at her. Hard. The pipe caroms off the side of her head, knocking her straight to the floor. She hits with a thud, too dazed to even utter a word of pain. Instead, she just lies there, gazing up at the now spinning room. A cold trickle of blood begins to spread through her hair, dripping onto the floor.

Riggs: Wrong answer. Care to try again?

He holds the tip of the pipe against her chin, eyes narrowing at her. She doesn't say anything, mostly because she's still in a daze from that last blow. He's patient, though, he can wait for her senses to come back to her. He never gets that long, though, as suddenly he's under attack. Without warning, the freezer door flies open and a figure lunges at him, knocking him to the floor. Fists pummel his face, hard and without mercy.

Ravager: Touch another hair on her head and I'll kill you!

For several moments, Ravager remains bloodlusted. Her fists don't stop, driving down against the man's face viciously, beating him to a bloody pulp. She feels bones cracking, blood spurting, but still she doesn't stop. Not until she hears Becky's voice.

Becky: Rose, stop!

Her fist freezes in mid swing, still raised high above her. She breathes in deeply several times, staring down at the man. Riggs' face is a crimson mess, already swelling up. The only sounds he utters are a few, agonized groans, followed by a short, hoarse cough. Swallowing, she moves back off of him and sits on the floor, leaning against her hands.

Ravager: Right... right, we still need him.

Becky: Si... now how about giving me a hand here?

Looking back at her, Ravager scoots forward and quickly unties the bonds holding Becky to the chair. Becky pushes herself up into a sitting position, teetering slightly, as a bubble of nausea finds its way into her gut. Holding a hand to her head, she closes her eyes and inhales.

Ravager: You alright? You're bleeding.

Becky: I'll be okay... just dazed. No big.

Ravager: I'm sorry... I shouldn't have gotten you into this.

Becky: I was already in it before you even got here, remember? Besides, I'm the one that insisted I help.

Ravager: And I let you.

A small smirk comes across Becky's face.

Becky: Like you had a choice. I'm just glad you found me... how did you find me?

Ravager: I'll tell you later. Right now, I need to squeeze a few answers out of mush face over there.

Becky: And then?

Ravager: And then we're going home. I've had enough excitement for one night, and I could use a hot bath.

Becky: Mmm, you and me both.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Rose lies calmly on the bed, trying not to pay attention to how much of a mess her penthouse is. There will be plenty of time to clean it tomorrow, and right now all she wants to do is get some rest. The night had been far more eventful and painful than she wanted. As she sucks in a deep breath of air, she feels Becky's arm come around her, and a light kiss against her neck.

Becky: Does it hurt?

She's referring to the wounds marring Rose's body. They're now at least properly wrapped up, but Becky is still concerned. How can she not be? Her hand gently drifts across Rose's naked midsection, very gently brushing against the bandages. Rose instinctively flinches, her stomach coming inward slightly. Even the slightest touch causes a strong burning pain to ripple through her.

Rose: Nah, it's fine, really... just stings a little. I heal fast, though, so don't worry.

Becky inhales a deep breath, cuddling closer and resting her chin on Rose's shoulder.

Becky: Think I'll take tomorrow off, help you clean up here. Don't really feel like going in with this headache, either.

Rose: Or with Kubrick still on the loose. I messed him up pretty good, but with what he is... for all we know he could be perfectly fine again by tomorrow. I don't think Riggs will be a problem, though.

Becky: Yeah... you really did a number on him.

Rose: He wouldn't talk... and we needed that information. Plus, he hurt you. He was going to kill you. I wasn't letting him get off for that.

Becky: I know, but still... it was hard to watch.

Rose: It's nothing he won't recover from in a month or so. The hospital will take care of him.

Becky: So what's the plan, anyway?

Rose: Tomorrow, we go after their source. We know where they're building those stems now, so we're going to shut them down. And when I say we, I mean me.

Becky: But, Rose-

Rose: No buts, Becky. Even I'm starting to get in over my head here, I'm not putting you in that kind of danger again.

Leaning up on her elbow, Becky frowns at her.

Becky: So what, you're just going to keep me locked up in a protective cage until all this is over? I'm not some helpless kitten that needs to be sheltered.

Rose: I almost lost you today. And that was just to Riggs! What if Kubrick finds you? Or that monster friend of his? What if I'm not there to... I don't want you getting hurt anymore because of me.

Becky: So then teach me.

Rose: What?

Becky: You heard me. If I'm not capable of handling myself, then teach me how. Teach me what you do, everything you know.

Rose: Becky...

Becky: You listen to me, Rose Wilson. I like you. I really like you. And I want to be with you, no matter the risk, got that? I'm not going to have you feeling sorry for yourself because you can't protect me, because guess what? You're not always going to be able to. If you really want to make sure that your work doesn't get me hurt, then you teach me how to deal with it.

For several moments, silence comes between the two. Rose is still lying on her back, with Becky poised over her, staring. Rose knows that look, knows when Becky isn't going to let something go. Holding a hand to her forehead, she breathes out a long sigh and closes her eye.

Don't do it. You'll regret it. But she argues with herself. It would be for her own protection. It's not like you'd be taking her out with you every night.

Rose: Alright, fine. Eventually. Something like that isn't going to happen over night, it takes time... a lot of time. Hell, I've had a whole lifetime. But I have to move on those stems tomorrow, and I'm not leaving you alone again while this is going on. If I promise to train you, can you please agree to stay safe until this is over?

Inhaling deeply, Becky purses her lips, thinking. Her eyes continue to stare into Rose's, until finally she sighs and nods.

Becky: Si, I can do that.

Rose: Good... I know just how to do it, too. But we can deal with that tomorrow. For now... I just want to get some sleep.

Int. Silverstone City General Hospital – Night

The hospital room is dark and quiet, the only sounds being the steady beeping from the heart monitor. Riggs takes in a deep breath and slowly lets it out, barely awake. The drugs they put him on really took him for a loop, but they didn't quite knock him out. The whole room is swirling, rippling... but at least there's no pain. His thoughts are still clear, though. He still remembers the b*tch that put him here. When he gets out, one way or another he's going to make her pay. First, he'll carve up Rebecca, maybe leave a few remains behind for The Blade to find. Then, when he gets his hands on her... oh he'll have some fun alright.

As he lies there, lost in his thoughts, he doesn't notice the door opening. He doesn't even notice that anyone else has entered the room until a figure appears in his vision, standing over him.

Riggs: Kubrick...?

Kubrick: I heard you were here. What happened?

Riggs: That b*tch... one with the swords... did this.

Kubrick: I see... yes, I can certainly believe that. But you did at least take care of Chavez, correct?

Riggs: I... couldn't... she stopped me...

Kubrick utters a small sigh, slowly shaking his head.

Kubrick: Couldn't even complete the one job I assigned to you... and she probably got the location of our base out of you, didn't she?

Riggs: She... I could help it... had to...

Kubrick: Now look at you, lying in a hospital bed, useless. Very unfortunate. Looks like we don't have need for you anymore.

Riggs: What... what are you...?

Kubrick: Although, there is one thing you might be good for... I am still rather hungry.

And then it happens. The man standing in front of him, the man known as Kubrick, transforms into a monster. That's the only way to describe it. A hulking mass of fur and claws, some kind of wolf beast. If he could scream, he would, but his voice catches in his throat. The last thing he sees is Kubrick's snarling jaws snapping down at him.

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Chapter #38 Preview: With people, or rather, monsters, like Kubrick in the Fist of Shadows, Ravager needs help in taking them down. She manages to acquire some assistance from Gotham, but she won't like who it is! Read the next chapter to find out who, as Ravager and her unexpected new ally go after the enemy's base.

Chapter #38

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Rose holds the phone to her ear, as she works her way around the living room, picking up overturned furniture, sweeping up broken glass, vacuuming, and pretty much cleaning every corner of the place. Riggs really tore the place apart when he came to get Becky. Whether it was a product of their fight, or whether he was looking for something, she doesn't know. Either way, she has several hours of cleaning ahead of her at least.

Rose: So, you're okay with it?

The response on the other line is calm, yet caring.

Dick/Phone: Of course, whatever you need. Send her out this afternoon, and I'll keep her safe until you're done with whatever it is you're dealing with.

Rose: Yeah, whatever, is right... Thanks, though. I don't think any place in this city is safe for her right now, not after the lengths they've gone to trying to kill her already.

Dick/Phone: And do you still not need any help?

Rose: I'm... not sure. I thought I was fine, but after last night...

Dick/Phone: What happened?

Rose: What do you know about werewolves?

Dick/Phone: ...werewolves?

Rose: I know it's a stupid question, just answer it.

Dick/Phone: Actually, it's not as dumb as you might think... I've encountered one before.

Rose: You have?

Dick/Phone: Yes, or rather I worked with one; long time ago. His name was Kyle Abbot... though I'm not certain if he was a werewolf in the sense most people think. Why do you ask?

Rose: Because I fought one last night, goes by the name of Michael Kubrick. One minute he was just a man, and the next he transformed at will, not exactly your full moon type.

Dick/Phone: I see...

Rose: And then there was that friend of his, some kind of shark alien chick. I don't know what the hell she was, but same deal. Perfectly human one minute, and then freak monster the next.

Dick/Phone: Well, I can't help you on the “shark alien”, but if this Kubrick is in fact infected with some form of lycanthropy, and isn't just a shapeshifter, I'd try silver. From what I've heard, it's like poison to them.

Rose: Silver, huh? Pretty sure I can round up some of that.

Dick/Phone: Oh, and try not to let him bite you. That's how some strains of the lycanthropy virus are spread, through the host's saliva.

Rose freezes, her back suddenly stiffening. She swallows, glancing down at her forearm, the one bitten by Kubrick last night. The noticeable physical damage is already beginning to heal, pretty normal for her, and the regular pain is dull. But it still burns. Somewhere deeper in the wound, it's like fire.

No, can't be... just being paranoid.

Rose: Uh, yeah, right, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks.

Dick/Phone: You're welcome. Now, I'll be sending someone out to assist you later on. She'll be there tonight.

Rose: I'll keep a lookout. Becky will be by later, too, I've already given her the address.

Dick/Phone: Sounds good. Later, Rose.

With that, he hangs up and the connection clicks off. Taking in a deep breath, she gives another cursory glance to her bandaged arm, then stuffs her phone in her pocket and continues cleaning. A short while later, Becky exits out of the bedroom, hair wet and dressed in nothing but a towel, having just finished up a shower.

Becky: So, what's the dark and mysterious Batman say?

Rose: It's all taken care of, you're good to go as soon as you're ready.

Becky: And you're sure you'll be fine?

Rose: No worries here. If all goes according to plan, this will end tonight. I just need to stop Shao... Kubrick, too. Once the head's been cut off, the snake dies.

Becky: Yet the head can still bite, so be careful.

Rose: I will be.

Moving across the room, Becky approaches casually and wraps her arms around Rose, pulling her in and smiling.

Becky: Good.

Leaning closer, she plants her lips firmly against Rose's, pushing them both back against the couch. In the process, Becky's towel falls to the floor.

Becky: Then before I go, let's have a little fun, ah?

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Leaning back against the rooftop parapet, Ravager looks up towards the sky. Any minute now, that's when Dick said that his 'help' would arrive. Of course, he hadn't exactly been specific on just who that person is. All she knows is that it's a 'she'. Probably Batgirl, which doesn't exactly lift Ravager's spirits. That's just what she needs when battling a master martial artist, a werewolf, and a shark alien; an excitable, overeager spaz.

A short moment later, it appears on the horizon. At first, it's just a small glow of light, but soon the aircraft approaches into full view. It's the Bat-Jet, alright. Definitely Batgirl, then. Taking in a deep breath, Ravager tries to mentally prepare herself on how to deal with this woman, while she watches the jet hover momentarily and then descend to park itself on the rooftop. When the cockpit begins to open, she pushes herself away from the parapet and walks towards it... only to freeze in mid stride when she sees the person getting out of the jet.

Ravager: You have got to be kidding me.

Not Batgirl, no. A different member of the Bat Family, and one that is unfortunately very familiar. Her outfit is modified since they last met, but the stylish domino mask around her eyes does little to conceal her actual identity. The rest of the costume is almost the same, all black with a gold bat symbol and utility belt, though the cape is pretty torn and shredded. Whether by design or from normal wear and tear, she can't tell.

Cassandra-f*cking-Cain.

Ravager: What the hell are you doing here?

Cassandra: I was sent here.

Ravager: No, I get that, but why you?

It's not exactly a secret that these two women don't get along well, so why on earth had Dick decided to send her?

Cassandra: Because Batman thought I would best be able to help you. If you have a problem with that, take it up with him. In the meantime, we have a job to do.

Grumbling slightly under her breath, Ravager turns away and begins walking across the rooftop towards the other side.

Ravager: Fine, just try to keep up.

Cassandra: I can do more than keep up; you know that.

Leaping down into an alley, Ravager makes her way between the line of buildings, stepping around garbage and climbing over a chain-link fence. Naturally, Cassandra keeps pace with her the entire way, with little effort.

Ravager: So what am I supposed to call you, anyway? Or are there two Batgirls now?

Cassandra: I go by Black Bat now.

Stopping, Ravager slowly turns her head to stare at the woman.

Ravager: Uh uh, no way, I'm not calling you that.

Cassandra: And why not?

Ravager: Seriously? Black Bat? Were you that short on ideas that you just took a color and threw it in front of the word “bat”? It's almost as bad as Red Robin.

Cassandra: I don't see the problem with it. Call me by it or don't, it doesn't matter.

Ravager: If you were that desperate for a codename, I could have come up with a few... like Batb*tch. Yeah, I think that suits you.

Folding her arms, Ravager sneers slightly, trying to get a read on the woman. Cassandra's expression doesn't change, though. Indifferent, stolid.

Cassandra: Black Bat is fine.

Ravager: Whatever, it's still lame, and I'm still not calling you by it.

Cassandra: And Ravager is a better name?

Ravager: Of course it's a- what the hell's wrong with Ravager?

Without saying anything, Cassandra simply turns away and continues making her way down the alley. Ravager blinks a couple times, then chases after her.

Ravager: Hey!

Ext. S.T.A.R. Labs Storage Warehouse – Night

It all made sense, after she'd found out where the stems were being manufactured. The day she and Becky had searched this place and encountered that controlled guy dressed as a ninja. He hadn't been breaking in to steal anything, he'd just been running home to his puppeteers. Had it been a test run? Maybe. Or just another malfunction that made him go running around the city in broad daylight dressed like that. Either way, those two that had taken him that day hadn't been his backup, they had just already been there.

And how Shao had 'known' that Ravager would come back. He hadn't known at all. He'd just stopped by to check on progress, and they happened to cross paths. At least, that's how Ravager put it together now in her head. Either way, it's pretty straightforward. Get in, break up the operation, and get out. If Shao is there, then it's a bonus; means she doesn't have to go hunting him down later. She's ready for him this time.

The two women keep low, moving through the shadows and making their way to the side of the building.

Cassandra: So, the woman you sent to Batman for protection... a friend?

Ravager: Partner.

Cassandra: Ah, right. He told me that you were a cop now.

Ravager: Uh, not anymore actually. I meant the other kind of partner.

Blinking, Cassandra gives her a brief, but curious, look.

Cassandra: Oh... I see. Didn't take you as the type, what with your tendency to-

Rose: Flirt with guys? Yeah, I know, I came on strong sometimes. But a little while ago, I realized something... why should I let something stupid like gender get in the way of someone I like?

Cassandra: Yes, well... I was going to say: your tendency to throw yourself naked at men in their beds. But whatever works for you.

Slowly turning her head, Ravager glares hotly.

Ravager: That was one time. And I was drunk. And he kicked me out anyway!

Cassandra continues to stare back at her.

Ravager: Okay, it was several times. But I was only naked that once! Ugh, come on, we're wasting time.

Int. S.T.A.R. Labs Storage Warehouse – Night

It's dark inside, as expected. Ravager clicks a button on her belt, causing the lens on her mask to switch over to night vision and allowing her to see just fine. How Cassandra manages to keep pace without stumbling over herself is a mystery, but whatever. After a quick descent down the stairs, they find themselves in the main storage area. This isn't their destination, however. According to Riggs, their actual base is located in an underground cave system below the building, the entrance to which is across the room and down another set of stairs.

As Ravager and Cassandra make their way in that direction, however, they are suddenly interrupted. Ravager freezes, as her precog goes off, a hand flying out to Cassandra's shoulder, who stops as well. Kneeling down, Ravager carefully inspects seemingly thin air. However, she sees it clearly now that she's paying attention to it: an almost invisibly thin line of wire running across the aisle in front of them.

Ravager: Trip wire. Probably rigged with explosives.

Standing straight again, Ravager goes to step over the wire, only to feel Cassandra's hand come to her shoulder this time and pull her back.

Cassandra: There's a second one right behind it. There.

Ravager stares down and sees the second trip wire, right in the path of where her foot had been coming down. Narrowing her eyes, she turns and gives Cassandra a small glare, then carefully steps over that one as well. Keeping her gaze pointed forward, she continues down the aisle of crates and pallets. It should be around here somewhere... they're looking for a small grate in the floor, one covering up the secret entrance to the caves.

And that's when she realizes that they aren't alone. Cassandra notices it, too, suddenly tensing up and going on guard. It wasn't her precog that gave it away, though, no. Just... a feeling, a feeling that suddenly, something was different. Glancing upward, she sees them. A lot of them, standing atop the surrounding shelves and stacks of pallets. She assumes that they're all controlled, just like the others, but either way she counts at least fifty ninjas. Yeah, ninjas. For a brief moment, she feels as though she's in a badly written comic book.

Ravager: You take the ones on the left, I'll take the ones on the right?

Cassandra: I can deal with that. And remember, try not to kill them.

Ravager: Hmph, I'll do more than try.

And then they attack. The ninjas all jump down, coming at the two in swarms. A shame, really, Ravager had half been hoping that they'd do the whole 'one a time' thing. No such luck. Still, it isn't anything she can't handle. She finds that they all move incredibly slow, relatively speaking. When they come in to attack, she barely even has to move to avoid them, countering with staggering blows. She doesn't pay attention to how Cassandra fairs; she doesn't have to. She can sense it, rather, that Cassandra is tearing through her opponents with similar ease.

The two allies move around each other, as the enemy group closes in on them. They cover each other's backs, assist when needed, and keep the other alive. In spite of their overall distaste for each other, they work surprisingly well together. Within several minutes, every last ninja is on the ground, either unconscious or rolling around in pain, unable to stand.

Ravager: Not bad... for a Batb*ch.

Cassandra: Likewise... for, well, you.

Ravager glares again, hands coming to her hips. She can't decide if that comment brings Cassandra up a notch in her book, or down. After a short few seconds, she turns to continue through the warehouse.

Ravager: Come on, we have to- Look out!

In a sudden flash of precog, Ravager moves back towards Cassandra and tackles her, knocking them both out of the way of an incoming attack. The large brown fur ball descends upon them, missing his target and instead colliding with the floor. Unfazed by it, the figure recovers and moves in again for an attack, but Ravager is ready, swinging up one of her blades. She misses, though, as the attacker dodging backwards.

Kubrick: Not that time. I know your moves now, girl. This time, I tear you apart!

A second later, another form leaps down from above them, this one going for Cassandra. With little effort, Cassandra avoids the incoming claws and prepares to defend herself against the new attacker. It's that Zaria woman, Kubrick's friend. And just like Kubrick, she's already transformed, in all her blue skinned, scaly, razor toothed glory.

Cassandra: Werewolves and shark monsters. That's new.

Ravager: Tell me about it.

Zaria shrieks and lunges in again for an attack.

Zaria: I am a Celarian, you ignorant sow!

Cassandra ducks around the incoming strikes easily enough, though she's working for it this time. Zaria's motions are fast, vicious, and unpredictable. Well, unpredictable to anyone other than Cassandra and Ravager, both of whom have their own ways of figuring out attacks before they happen. Ravager isn't dealing with Zaria, though. Kubrick is the one she gets to contend with, lucky her. Kubrick pounces forward, claws outstretched, but Ravager rolls beneath him. He lands on two feet, turns and slices at her again. Ravager ducks below it, then flicks her sword out, cutting the underside of his arm. Recoiling, Kubrick, takes a few moments to circle her, studying her.

Ravager: I guess you heal pretty fast, I could have sworn I crippled your ass last night.

Kubrick: One of the benefits to what I am.

Ravager: And just what are you, huh? Shape shifter, right? Thought the whole wolf motif was cool?

If a wolf could sneer, Kubrick would be doing so right now.

Kubrick: I think you already know. By the way, how's your arm?

Ravager flinches, glancing down briefly at her forearm. Beneath her armor, it's still bandaged tightly. Most of the pain is gone, sure, and she regained most of its functionality by that night, but that deep, dull burning still lingers, and it's not going away. Bringing her gaze back up to Kubrick again, she charges him. She isn't going to wait for him to attack again, no. This time, she's the one on the offensive.

Kubrick is fast and agile, sure, but so is Ravager. He might have her beat on pure strength, but she has a lot of something he doesn't have: skill. His actions are wild, unfocused. Hers are graceful, precise. She also has a secret weapon that she just happened to bring with her for this occasion. Ducking below another one of his attacks, she thrusts one of her blades forward, piercing him through the shoulder. Kubrick emits a howl of pain, but at the same time digs his claws into her backside, pulling her towards him.

That's what she's waiting for. Reaching into her belt, she pulls out a small round pellet, something she cooked up earlier. Hitting him square in the face, the pellet explodes in a shiny mist, the cloud engulfing his head. Theoretically, it should take him down...

So long as it works... please work.

Instantly, Kubrick releases her, reeling backwards and clawing at his face in agony. Low, scratchy growls of pain erupt from his throat, as the furry beast collapses to the floor, twitching and slowly transforming back to his human form. He begins to cough, spraying the floor with blood droplets.

Kubrick: Wha- What did you do to me?! What is this?!

Ravager lets out a small groan, feeling the burn of the fresh claw marks across her back. But she's still smirking, arms folding across her chest.

Ravager: Ionized colloidal silver. Heard it was like poison to you guys... looks like it is.

With Kubrick currently incapacitated, Ravager turns to where Cassandra had been fighting Zaria. She catches sight of them just in time to see Cassandra move underneath one of the monster's incoming claw strike, and then deliver a crippling blow to the back of the neck. Zaria goes down hard, landing flat on her face and rapidly changing back to her tattooed, human form. Uttering a small, annoyed breath, Cassandra stands straight and brings her hands to her hips, refraining from so much as grimacing, in spite of the several long claw marks slashing across her torso and tearing her costume open.

Ravager: So what took you so long?

Cassandra: Yours didn't have a tail with barbs on it.

Ravager: Fair enough.

After taking a short respite to get their breath back, the two women continue through the warehouse, to the entrance into the underground tunnels.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter #39 Preview: Ravager and Cassandra finally catch up to Shao's operation, but will they be able to stop it? Next time, it's Ravager vs. Shao Shen - round two!

Chapter #39

Int. Underground Cave System – Night

It's dark, dank, and quiet, about what anyone would expect from a series of underground tunnels below the city. Where they came from or who built them is a mystery, but Shao Shen and his Fist of Shadows have been using it as their hideout. One would think that they'd string up a line of lights or something so they could see where they were going, but apparently ninjas can see in pitch darkness. Not even Ravager's night vision lens is helping, considering there has to at least be some amount of light, no matter how dim, for it to work. Here, there's just blackness. Instead, she and Cassandra glide their hands along the tunnel wall, using it as a marker to figure out where they're going.

Eventually, however, the darkness is broken. At first, it's just a tiny glow in the distance, but the illumination gradually grows as they approach. Soon, they are able to see clearly, as the tunnel empties out into what looks like a man-made hallway, like what one would find in a building, complete with florescent lights on the ceiling to light the way. The corridor is completely flat and empty, though, no doors or windows, no furniture, nothing. Just long white walls.

Ravager: And I thought a hospital was about as depressing as it got... they could at least throw up some pictures, or something, to spruce this place up...

Cassandra: Are you really contemplating how to best decorate the enemy base?

Ravager: Wha- no, I'm just thinking out loud. Shut up.

Continuing down the corridor, they keep their eyes peeled for... well, anything, really. Not that there's much to see. The hallway has no turns, no bends, no markings, no nothing. All they can do is follow it straight to wherever it leads. That turns out to be some kind of laboratory, or engineering station. Ravager doesn't really know how to describe it, but eventually the tunnel empties out into a large room with all kinds of mechanical and medical equipment, tools, devices, and the like. As for the workers, they're nowhere to be found.

Ravager: Looks like this is where they made those stems...

Cassandra: But they're not here, nor are the 'stems' that you keep referring to. Batman told me that they can control minds?

Ravager: Yeah, something like that, though there's a lot more to it. All you need to know, though, is that we can't let Shao finish working out the kinks and proceeding with whatever his plan is. If it involves mind control, it can't be good.

Cassandra: Looks like we may be a little late, in that case. If the workers are not here, it probably means they don't need to be. Unless the villains are now in the practice of giving their subordinates time off.

Ravager: Doubtful. Let's keep looking.

Int. Vehicle Storage Building – Night

Danny looks back and forth frantically, as the workers hurry to load the massive semi-trailer truck full of their work. He so did not sign up for this when that weird guy with the ponytail hired them. He's a simple sort of guy. He does the work he's paid for, doesn't ask any questions. But being invaded by a couple of psycho-b*tches who want to beat the crap out of them was not in the job description! And now they have to relocate as many of the completed stems as possible before those two women get to them.

After all, said psycho-b*tches have already torn through most of Shao's personal guard back in the warehouse. The security cameras had shown them as much. A few scientists and technicians are hardly qualified to go up against that kind of crazy.

Danny: Come on people, move! Faster! We have to get this stuff loaded and out of here before they show up!

Ravager: A little late for that.

Poor Danny utters a loud yelp, turning around to see both crazy women standing right behind him, having come up through the rear access tunnel that leads into the underground work station. He tries to run, but a swift kick to the head by Cassandra knocks him out cold. He never had a chance. Walking forward, Ravager cracks her knuckles.

Ravager: Alright, we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the fun way. What's it gonna be?

Answering her question, the workers start running around in a panic, grabbing a few supplies on the way by and disappearing. A few of them load up what they can in the back of the truck before taking off. Placing her hands on her hips, Ravager lets out a disappointed sigh.

Ravager: Man, I was really hoping for the fun way.

Cassandra: I wouldn't complain. We got what we came for.

Ravager: True... but my job isn't over, not yet. Doesn't look like Shao is here, so I still have a lot of weeding out to do.

A voice from above, however, gives her other ideas.

Shao: Are you so sure, Miss Blade?

Looking up, they spot the man himself, Shao Shen, standing atop the back of the semi-trailer. At his side are two other ninja-esque goons, only these couple are garbed in red, instead of the traditional black.

So, either they're a step above the others, or they're red shirt fodder... Somehow I don't think it's the latter.

Ravager: It's Ravager, actually.

Shao: Ah, my mistake. Miss Ravager, then.

Cassandra: So, this is the guy who humbled you?

Ravager: He's a lot tougher than he looks... But this time, I'm ready for him.

Shao: I'm afraid your preparedness will have to be for naught. I've already defeated you, and have no interest in fighting again. You, however...

He's looking at Cassandra now. Jumping down from the back of the truck, he lands softly on the balls of his feet, maintaining perfect balance.

Shao: I see something when I look at you, something great. Perhaps you can challenge me.

Cassandra: I guess we'll find out.

Shao: So we shall. In the meantime, dispose of Ravager, please.

On command, the two red cloaked ninjas leap down as well, landing in front of Ravager and attacking. Ravager moves back, defending from both sides as they move in. Yeah, they're definitely a step above the others. The way they move, the way they coordinate their attacks... she hasn't seen anything like it before. From what she can gather, they might only be a small improvement over Shao's other forces on their own, but together, they're quite amazing.

It's a good thing, then, that Ravager is no slouch herself. A couple months ago, this combo probably would have had her playing cautiously, defensively. Might have even beaten her. But now, it just makes for a good work out. She doesn't play it safe, doesn't back away. Instead, she goes straight in. They come in hard, she comes back harder, right at them. Her knuckles batter jaws, boots crash into chests, elbows break noses. It takes two minutes tops to put them on the floor.

Brushing her hands off, she takes in a deep breath and turns back to where Cassandra had been fighting... and instantly lets out a small sigh. Somehow, she had been hoping for a different outcome. Standing there with one hand clasped behind his back, Shao holds up a dazed Cassandra, his grip on the front of her cape.

Shao: I see you have improved, Ravager. A pity, though, that it comes too late. Your friend here put up more of a challenge than you did when we fought, though not much more, granted.

Ravager: Put her down, and I'll show you a real challenge this time.

Shao: I am afraid that won't be required. I have no further need to waste my time with you. Consider this one last chance to walk away; continue to pursue me, and I will show no such mercy again.

On those words, he tosses Cassandra back over in front of Ravager, then begins to move back towards the truck, closing the rear doors of it. Frowning, Ravager begins moving towards him, ready to tear him a new one.

Ravager: Like hell.

Before she can get to him, however, she finds herself under attack again. Precog flickering through her head, she jumps to the side, spinning out of the way of an incoming sword that would have taken her arm off. Or her head. The red ninjas are on their feet again, having recovered astoundingly quickly for how hard she hit them, and they don't show any signs of lingering injuries. Uttering an annoyed shout, she attacks the nearest one and beats on him repeatedly, this time making sure that he won't wake up. By the time she's finished with him, though, the large garage door to the building is opened, and the truck is rumbling out into the street.

The second red ninja didn't even try to attack her, instead completely bypassing her and hopping into the driver's seat, while Shao hangs onto the passenger door, just watching her momentarily before finally entering the vehicle. Springing forward, Ravager takes off in a dead sprint towards the truck. She just needs to reach the back end of it before it gets too far, then she can jump on and find a way to stop it. Just a little more...

On a good day, her top speed on foot is somewhere around thirty-five miles per hour. But that's only when she's in perfect condition. With nagging injuries from the past two days combined, she isn't in perfect condition. She hits maybe two thirds of her top speed, managing to gain on the truck for a short while, even comes to within two arms length away from it. But then the truck finally begins to go faster, putting distance between them. In a desperate attempt, she leaps forward, fingers outstretched in attempts to grab on... all she grasps is air, falling flat against the ground. Just a couple more inches and she would have had it.

Ravager: Damn it!

With an angry shout, she beats her fist against the ground, slowly pushing herself up to her hands and knees. She doesn't even realize that Cassandra managed to stumble outside with her at first.

Cassandra: Okay, you were right... he was a lot tougher than he looked.

Ravager: Yeah, and now he's getting away!

Cassandra: Not if I have anything to say about it.

Reaching to her utility belt, Cassandra pulls out a small device and pushes the button, causing it to start blinking with a red light.

Ravager: What's that?

Cassandra: A tracking beacon. I have a jet, remember?

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

The Bat-Jet zips through through the night air at astounding speed, racing off in the direction that Shao's truck of supplies went. They should be able to catch up to him shortly, though Ravager isn't too thrilled about the current seating conditions. Practically squashed behind the pilot's seat, she is forced to contort her body awkwardly in order to fit inside the cockpit. Needless to saw, she has an uncomfortable frown on her face the entire way.

Ravager: You know, with more money than he knows what to do with, I would think that Dick could install a passenger's seat in his vehicles.

Cassandra: If I had known I'd be carrying a passenger, I would have taken the larger model.

Ravager: And why do you get the big comfy seat, huh?

Cassandra: Because I'm the only one of us who knows how to fly the jet.

Ravager: ...alright, dumb question, admittedly. Just hurry up already, I'm not losing this b**tard again.

Cassandra: You think you can beat him?

Ravager: Please, I know I can beat his sorry ass.

Cassandra: I see...

Ravager: Gee, try not to sound so convinced.

Cassandra: Well, he has already defeated you once before. He even defeated me... and I've beaten you before, too.

Ravager: That was one time. Back when I was, like, sixteen. I would have beaten you the second time if we hadn't been interrupted!

Cassandra: I guess we'll never know.

Ravager: Hey, you want to settle things? Any time, any place. I'd be quite happy to smack you around a little.

Cassandra: Perhaps later; the truck is coming into view now.

Ravager: Good, get into position.

They're flying low over the highway now, up on the overpass that runs through the center of the city. Fortunately, a large semi-trailer truck isn't exactly the easiest thing to lose. Compared to the Bat-Jet, it moves along at a snail's pace. Cassandra moves the aircraft in over the truck, matching speeds and then flipping the jet over. Flying upside down now, Cassandra hits a button on the dash, causing the cockpit to slide open.

While the seat straps keep Cassandra firmly in place, Ravager falls out immediately, twisting her body around and drawing her swords in mid air. Hitting the top of the trailer, she stabs both blades into it, using them to stabilize herself and keep from tumbling off the side onto the highway. A few moments of adjustment, and she is able to stand up and begin walking across the top of the truck towards the front. Cassandra, meanwhile, flips the jet back around the right way, closes the cockpit, and follows from above.

Ravager moves forward cautiously, careful of her steps and swaying with each jerk that the rig makes. What she is not expecting, however, is for Shao to suddenly crawl out the passenger side window and flip himself up onto the top of the truck himself. His actions are almost inhuman, the way he launches himself through the air, maintains perfect aerial balance, and lands on top of the truck without so much as a stumble.

Shao: Should have walked away, Ravager. I did warn you.

Ravager: Yeah, yeah, so you told me. You know, I'm really starting to get annoyed with the sound of your voice. I think it's time I shut you up.

Shao: By all means, you are welcome to try. Just remember, this time I fight to kill.

Battling atop a semi-trailer truck speeding down a busy highway. Not quite what Ravager had in mind for her final showdown with Shao Shen, but there's no use complaining about it now. She watches as he takes a defensive stance, readying himself for her attack. While she would love to wait and have him come at her first, she knows that isn't going to happen. She has to make the first move, just like last time. Only difference is, this time, she has a lot more at her disposal.

Keeping her balance, Ravager runs across the surface of the trailer and lunges forward, starting to bring her hand back as if to punch, but suddenly twisting her body instead to deliver a spinning kick. Shao tries to remain calm, uninterested, but she sees it in his eyes: surprise. He hadn't been expecting such an unorthodox approach. One thing that Rose realizes, though, is that when attacking him, unorthodox is the only way to go.

She doesn't know if it's pure skill or some kind of enhanced ability, but Shao's combat speed is off the charts. If she just comes straight at him with attacks, he'll likely block or dodge them all, just as he did before. In order to hit him, in order to beat him, she has to mix it up, and it looks like it's starting to work. Her attacks have him actually working to defend himself this time. She can tell by the harshness of his blocks, the wide look in his eyes... but in the end, he still does block everything she throws at him.

Now it's time for Ravager to go on the defensive. When they fought before, Shao's counterattack had been so viciously fast that not even her precog could keep up with it or give her a chance of dodging. It forced her to rely on pure skill and muscle memory, neither of which had helped her keep up. This time, though, she sees the whole fight better than before. Her precog still can't keep up, so she ignores it. Instead, she fights through sheer instinct and reflexes. The fact that her natural attributes are already enhanced beyond normal levels only serves to help her cause.

Ravager's mind is barely even able to process all the actions they both make, but her body reacts just the same. He makes an attack, she dodges. She makes an attack, he blocks. So many actions, all in mere seconds, and neither combatant lands a blow. During one particularly wild exchange, Ravager pushes herself back a little, sliding across the top of the truck and very nearly falling over. She remains standing, however, and takes a moment to herself before pressing another attack.

Shao: I see you really have improved, and by much more than you could have accomplished in a mere month and a half... tell me, just where did you learn all that in such a short amount of time?

Ravager: Sorry, it's a secret.

Shao: Very well. In that case...

Darting forward again, Shao leaps through the air, a risky maneuver on the back of a moving semi. And yet his precision is astounding, delivering a perfect flying kick straight at his foe. Ravager brings her hands up to block, but the impact pushes her back a step. This step happens to come at the same time the truck takes a sudden turn, causing her feet to stumble a little to the side. In order to catch her balance, she falls to one knee, a hand coming down to stabilize herself. That's all Shao needs, spinning around with another whipping kick that smacks directly into her jaw and sends her rolling across the back of the trailer.

Suddenly, Ravager is falling. She just plain ran out of truck, sliding all the way off and plummeting towards the highway below. In a reflexive motion, her hand darts out for something to grab on to, fingers just barely managing to grip the handle on the rear doors. In the same motion, the latch unhooks, causing the doors to swing open. Ravager quickly struggles to get a better grip on the door handle, so she doesn't slip into a probably very painful landing. Briefly, she brings a finger up to her ear and presses down on her comm link.

Ravager: Hey, Batb*tch! A little help here!

Cassandra/Comm: Well, since you asked so nicely...

The Bat-Jet flying above gradually swoops down lower, over to where Ravager is hanging. The passing cars swerve out of the way, honking their horns, while their drivers yell profanity out their windows. Frowning, Ravager glances down at some of said passing cars. One driver in particular throws up a middle finger on his way by.

Ravager: Hey, screw you, buddy!

When the jet is in proper position, Ravager pushes herself off and grabs onto the aircraft. She very nearly slides right off, before finding a suitable place to get a grip. Cassandra then flies the jet higher, back up over the truck, where Ravager jumps off again and lands with a thud. Shao is still there, waiting for her with his hands clasped behind his back.

Shao: Welcome back.

Ravager: Bite me.

Raising her hands again, Ravager takes a fighting stance and inches herself towards him. Going against him in straight hand to hand hasn't been working so far, so she needs to improvise. If she can get him on the ground, maybe... With a sudden idea, she charges him. Shao brings his guard up, preparing to block her attacks again. Unfortunately for him, she isn't planning on throwing a kick or a punch, or anything like that, no. She figures he won't be prepared to block her entire body.

Leaping forward, she lowers her shoulder and lets the momentum take her. Shao's hands move up to guard himself, but he figures out too late that she isn't attacking normally. Instead, he takes a few quick steps back and pushes his arms forward to try and throw her away, but she adapts. Upon impact, she grabs hold of his arms, disabling him from diverting her direction, and dragging him off his feet with her. They both fall to the top of the truck hard, rolling a few times near the edge.

Ravager rights herself first, sliding into place over Shao, as he flips himself back to his feet. On the way up, her boot catches his gut in midair and sends him straight back down. She mounts him now, trying to give him nowhere to go, and delivers several strong punches to his face. She feels his nose break, lips split... and then his legs suddenly come up and wrap around her neck from behind, pulling her off of him.

This time, he makes it back to his feet and leaps at her again, fists raised to deliver a crushing blow to her skull. But she's ready for him. Falling purposefully backwards, she grabs onto his shoulders, plants her boot against his chest, and then flips him up through the air over her. Shao lets out a desperate cry, as he falls over the edge of the truck, just barely grabbing hold with his fingertips. Taking a few moments to gather himself, he kicks off against the side of the trailer and hoists himself back up top...

Right into Ravager's awaiting fist. She doesn't hold back, either, throwing everything she has into it. Her knuckles smash against the side of his face, knocking him straight to his backside and out cold. Taking a few steps forward, Ravager reaches down and lifts the man up by his collar.

Ravager: I told you, didn't I?

Cassandra: So you did. Impressive.

Ravager: Alright, come back in and pick this a**hole up. I have a truck to stop.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter #40 Preview: For quite a while, Ravager has been on Silverstone City's police watch list, wanted for various crimes tied to her vigilante career. But with her recent return and capture of an underground secret criminal organization's leader, can she shade herself in a new light in the police eye? And just who is Michael Kubrick really working for? Find out in the next chapter!

Chapter #40

Ext. Silverstone City Park – Night

Police Chief Gerald Palmer stands calmly beneath the lamp post, checking his watch. It isn't often that he's called up in the middle of the night to come meet secretly with someone who claims to have information about an underground criminal organization. He also can't fathom why this supposed informant would call his home number, instead of the police station, but the voice on the other line sounded urgent. That being said, just where the hell is she?

That's when he sees the silhouette appear at the edge of the lamp light. The figure stands there for a moment in the shadows, watching. Raising an arm up, Chief Palmer tries to block some of the light from his eyes and get a better look.

Chief Palmer: You the one I spoke to on the phone?

Woman: That's me, yeah.

Chief Palmer: So why don't you step into the light, where I can see you?

Woman: I plan to, in a minute. I just need you to not overreact when I do.

Chief Palmer: The hell you talking about?

On that note, the woman slowly walks forward, stopping only for a brief moment at the edge of the light and then stepping into it. She stops about five paces away from the man. Chief Palmer's eyes go wide, instantly recognizing who it is.

Chief Palmer: You! You're The Blade!

Ravager: It's Ravager, actually... people really need to start getting that right.

Hand flying to his hip, Chief Palmer draws his gun, something he brought as insurance, just in case this little meeting was a setup, as it now appears to be.

Chief Palmer: Hands on your head, now! On your knees!

Ravager: See, now that's overreacting.

With a motion far too quick for the chief to react, Ravager snatches the gun out of his hand, empties the clip, and then pops the chambered round out. She then hands him back the empty shell of a weapon.

Ravager: Wanna try that again?

Chief Palmer: What...

Ravager: I came here to talk, not to get arrested.

Chief Palmer: You expect me to let you go after what you've done around here? Just because you disappeared for a while doesn't mean your crimes went with you!

Ravager: I can explain all of that, if you'll just listen. Are you going to listen?

Pausing briefly, Chief Palmer glances down at the useless gun in his hand.

Chief Palmer: Suppose I don't have a choice, do I?

And so she tells him everything, about how she had been forced to commit those crimes in order to save the life of a friend, about how she was the one that tipped them off about Jerry and his operations, and all about the Fist of Shadows, Shao Shen, Kubrick and Riggs' part in everything, and the mind control stems that they'd been creating. She of course leaves out key details, though, like her identity, Becky's involvement, and the fact that Kubrick is a werewolf.

When she finishes, Chief Palmer looks about as confused and amazed as a man can possibly be, blinking back at her and running his fingers through his hair.

Chief Palmer: That is... quite the story, Miss...

Ravager: Ravager.

Chief Palmer: Right, Ravager. So, you're telling me that some secret ninja society has been working under our very noses to come up with a way to mind control innocent people to further their objectives?

Ravager: That's the gist of it, yeah.

Chief Palmer: And Stevens...

Ravager: Was likely being manipulated by one of the stems. He's a complete dunce... but an innocent one.

Chief Palmer: You say that like you know him.

Ravager: I, uh... have my ways.

Chief Palmer: And you're telling me now that you want my approval to continue running around this city as a masked vigilante?

Ravager: Not really your approval, no. I'm going to be doing it either way. I'm just trying to get on good terms with you before I do. Believe me when I tell you that I only want to help this city.

Chief Palmer: And why should I believe you?

Ravager: Because I stopped Jeremiah Belmont and his operations. Because I stopped the Fist of Shadows. Because I exposed two dirty detectives in your station. Because I have helped countless other people during my time here in Silverstone, and saved God knows how many lives.

Chief Palmer: So you say.

Ravager: Listen, I may not act within the strictest confines of the law, but that's what you need around here. If I've done anything, it's at least show you that there are some things that go on in Silverstone that the police can't always stop. I can do the things that you can't. Let me help you.

For a long moment, Chief Palmer stares at her, studying her. Every instinct he has as a cop tells him in his gut not to listen to her, to just throw the cuffs on her now and take her in. Yet, another part of him not only argues that he wouldn't be able to if he tried, but that she might be right. If she truly does wish to help the city, and work with the police, rather than against them... well, she might just come in handy.

Chief Palmer: Before I make a decision on this, you said something about capturing the leader of this... Fist of Shadows, or whatever? Where is he now?

Lifting a hand to her ear, Ravager speaks over her comm.

Ravager: That's your cue.

A short few moments later, the sound of an incoming aircraft reaches their ears. Chief Palmer looks up to the sky, as suddenly a bat shaped jet appears overhead, hovering in place.

Chief Palmer: What in the Sam Hill?

The Bat-Jet then descends slowly, parking itself on the cement walkway. Once the cockpit slides open, Cassandra exits through the top and pulls out an unconscious and bound Shao Shen out of the vehicle. Without so much as shift in expression, she tosses the man to Chief Palmer's feet.

Chief Palmer: Wait just a darned minute. You work with the Gotham bats?

Ravager: I know them, yeah. Work together from time to time, when I need the assistance.

Cassandra: If it makes a difference, Batman personally vouches for her.

Chief Palmer: I, uh... I see...

Ravager: Once you take in Shao, here, there's a semi truck parked off exit 29 full of those stems and other equipment. I can also give you the location of their base; you can probably find some more evidence down there.

Chief Palmer just stares down at the unconscious man for a few moments, then slowly turns his gaze back to Ravager.

Chief Palmer: I have to say... this isn't... I mean you're... not what I expected.

Ravager: I get that a lot. So, do we have an agreement?

Chief Palmer: An agreement? Right... I'm probably going to regret this, but yes, we have an agreement. For now. If you ever give me reason to, though, I will slap a pair of cuffs you faster than you can say 'sorry'.

A small smirk comes to Ravager's face.

Ravager: You're certainly welcome to try.

Int. Wayne Tower's Penthouse Suite – Day

Taking in a deep breath, Rose stands in front of the door for a brief moment, making sure that she looks presentable. She doesn't want to go worrying Becky by looking too roughed up after the past couple days. Eventually, she reaches forward and pushes the door open. At first, she doesn't see anyone in the immediate vicinity. It isn't until she makes her way into the living room that she finds them. Sitting at the coffee table, Holly toils away at a coloring book, while Rebecca lounges on the couch, watching television with Damian. On the other side of the room, Alfred is busy dusting the furniture.

Rose: Well, isn't this a sorry sight?

All eyes immediately turn in her direction. Holly is the first to react, running over and partially lunging at Rose with a tight hug. Mute as she is, her greeting is wordless, but then again, words aren't really needed.

Rose: Hey there, Holly... told you I'd be back, didn't I?

Looking over from his spot on the couch, Damian sits up and folds his arms across his chest.

Damian: Heard you were fighting werewolves and ninjas... some people get all the fun.

Rose: Not as exciting as it sounds, believe me.

Placing her hands on her hips, Becky shifts her weight to one side and smiles.

Becky: So, safe to come back yet?

Rose: Yeah, everything is taken care of. Shao's in custody, Kubrick and Riggs are nowhere to be found, and the cops raided their underground base.

Becky: Good, because I really did miss having you next to me the past couple nights.

Coming forward, Becky leans in and gives Rose a firm kiss, hands wrapping around her waist. At this sight, Damian's eyes go wide, eyebrows lifting up.

Damian: Whoa.

Alfred, on the other hand, barely changes his expression, going from overall indifference to slightly less indifferent.

Alfred: Oh my.

Holly glances back and forth up at the two women, as their kiss ends. Confused, she begins to sign her question.

Holly: You two are... together?

Rose: Uh... yes, yes we are. Is that... alright?

Holly merely smiles.

Holly: Of course! I like Becky, so I'm happy you're together.

Becky: Ah, gracias. I like you you too, girl.

Rose: Wait, you understand sign language now?

Becky: Sort of. Holly was teaching me the basics the past couple days. Can't really hold a whole conversation, though.

From across the room, another figure enters the room, coming from the kitchen. He just stands there for a few moments, sipping the water from his glass, then finally approaches. Rose turns her attention and gives him a small smile.

Dick: Finally made it.

Rose: Yeah, had to stick around for a couple days to make sure everything was taken care of. Wanted to be sure that the Fist was out for good.

Dick: Cassandra tells me you did good work.

Rose: Yeah, well... so did she. As much as I'm loath to admit it, she makes for a decent fighting partner. But don't tell her I said that.

Dick: Not a word.

Rose: And... thanks again for looking after Holly. And Becky, too. Really... I mean it.

Dick: It was no trouble. You're a friend, remember? Friends help each other out.

Rose: Yeah... thanks.

Dick: And by the way, what have you been teaching that girl?

He briefly glances down at Holly, who just sort of shifts her weight and tilts her head.

Dick: She's got some real talent. Even worked as Damian's sparring partner for a while.

Damian: Ha, she still has a long way to go, though. Can't even touch me.

Rose: I just want her to be able to defend herself. It's a crapsack world out there, after all.

Dick: So it is.

Rose: You didn't dress her up as some kind of winged animal and take her out with you, did you...?

Lifting an eyebrow, Dick folds his arms across his chest.

Dick: Of course not.

Rose: Sorry, had to ask... never know with you bat people sometimes.

Becky: Speaking of which-

Reaching an arm out, Becky holds it around Rose's shoulders and gives her a long look.

Becky: -you haven't forgotten your promise, have you?

Rose: No, I haven't forgotten. We'll start soon as we're back in Silverstone, alright?

Becky: Good, because from the sound of it, I'm already behind.

Holly holds her hands behind her back and smiles innocently, as Becky gives the girl a look.

Rose: Just one more thing before we head out-

Moving her gaze to Dick again, she gives him a hard look.

Rose: -we need to talk about some upgrades.

Ext. Secure Government Facility – Night

The large black van rolls up outside the plain white building, coming to a halt. Kubrick turns the key, shutting the engine off, then glances up at his reflection in the rear view mirror. Most of his face is burnt, cracked. It's actually a pretty sickening sight. Sure, it will heal in time... but slowly. Silver tends to have that effect on him. Next to him, Zaria sits with her legs crossed and arms folded. She's staring out the window, frowning.

Kubrick: Glad you decided to come with me, Zee.

Zaria: Yeah, well, it'll probably do me some good to get out of Silverstone for a while. Plus, I want a little payback after what that b*tch did to us.

Kubrick: Don't worry, with what we have planned here... everything will be better soon.

Zaria: I hope you're right. This little meeting isn't going to take long, by the way, is it?

Kubrick: Should only be a few minutes.

Zaria: Good, because after this we're hitting up a hotel. I need a good lay right now.

Kubrick: Hmph, no arguments here.

Int. Secure Government Facility – Night

Kubrick glances at the men in suits surrounding him. He doesn't know why these guys bother to show up when he visits. It's not like they could really stop him if he decided to attack. Not that he would, of course. He knows his place, when it comes to this. If the world is going to change, he certainly isn't going to be doing it alone. No, this guy is the one who's going to do that. The one he came to meet with face to face today. The one whose words give him that nagging sense of intimidation.

Zaria still can't quite believe what she's looking at. After all, when Kubrick said that they were meeting a powerful man, she had no idea that he meant this. He doesn't hold power in the traditional sense; as a matter of fact, she could transform into her more monstrous form and tear him limb from limb if she wanted to. But she doesn't. At that moment, she actually does believe Kubrick's statement that this man can make things happen, especially when going to these sorts of lengths... just working with Kubrick behind the government's back is a sign of something. Of what, she's not sure, but it's definitely nothing she could expect.

Kubrick: Good to see you, sir.

Man: Yes, it has been a while, hasn't it?

Kubrick: Been busy. But, I do have what you wanted.

Kubrick lifts the box he's carrying a bit higher, allowing the man to remove the lid and reach inside to pull out one of the long metal devices, one of Shao's stems. The entire box if filled with them, plenty for what they need.

Man: And these ones work, correct?

Kubrick: They should. This is the latest batch that the technicians created, after correcting the problems from the earlier design flaws. They'll give you total control over the people they're implanted to.

Man: And if they do still malfunction...

Kubrick: Then the host will die, naturally.

Man: Works either way, I suppose. I'll have your payment transferred to your account, as per our arrangement.

Kubrick: Much appreciated, sir. I'd like to continue working for you, too, if that's alright.

Man: Of course, not a problem. I could have further use for someone with your... talents. But what about your friend here?

Zaria: Who, me? Oh, right. I'll work for you, too, if you'll have me.

Kubrick: Zee's cool. She's like me; special.

Man: In that case, welcome aboard. I trust the two of you will do your jobs well.

Zaria: Yes, sir.

Kubrick: I guarantee it.

Man: Good. In that case, you two are dismissed. I'll be in touch.

Kubrick: Of course. In the meantime, I have a little business to take care of.

Reaching his arm out, he grabs hold of Zaria's waist and pulls her in close to him. As they turn to walk away, his hand comes down to firmly squeeze her rear end, at which she grins.

Zaria: Damn straight, you do.

When the two leave, the man looks down at the box now in his grasp and then passes it off to one of the surrounding men in suits.

Man: Load this on the truck, and have it delivered the lab immediately.

S.S. Agent: Right away, Mr. President.

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Chapter #41 Preview: With her life finally beginning to settle down and take shape, Rose is feeling better than she has in ages. She's in an amazing relationship with Becky, she's looking after Holly once again, she's working on setting up a new job for herself, and her moonlighting as Ravager couldn't be better, now that the police are on her side. There is one problem, however. The bite she received from Kubrick isn't healing, not completely. It burns. It hurts. And it's changing her. Before long, the biggest question on her mind is: can she find a cure?

6 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - Prelude of Shadow (#27-33)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics.

Rating: T+

Note: The fifth story arc covers Rose Wilson dealing with a lost sense of direction and trying to figure out what kind of life she really wants to lead, after her identity is exposed. It also answers the question of just how far her relationship with Becky will progress.

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Rose Wilson: The Ravager

Chapter #27

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Standing in front of the stove in her kitchen, Rose works busily to cook up a big breakfast. She'd been careful this time, and managed to keep most of the food from burning. She was really starting to get the hang at this whole cooking thing. She whistles quietly to herself as she cooks, in an astoundingly good mood that morning. Her life is going well right now, though, so why shouldn't she be happy?

This is, of course, mostly attributed to giving up her nightly escapades as Ravager for the past few months, allowing her head to sit on straight and clear out the overwhelming stress she'd been building up during the past year. Also, with the disappearance of 'The Blade' from Silverstone, the local media and police force have been turning their focuses elsewhere. No purpose in trying to chase a ghost, after all. Perhaps she'll put her costume back on again some time, but for right now she's perfectly content living out her life the way it is.

Just as Rose is finishing up the last of her cooking, Holly enters the kitchen and sits down at the table, swinging her legs playfully and waiting to be served. Rose's whistling turns to humming, while she dishes out a nice big plate of food for the girl and brings it over to the table.

Rose: There you go, hot off the stove. Careful not to burn yourself.

Holly rolls her eyes a little and goes through several hand signals.

Holly: I'm not going to burn myself.

Rose: Yeah, yeah, I know. Just finish up quick so we can get going, you don't want to be late for your last day of school, do you?

Holly: I won't be late.

Rose: Alright, I'm gonna hop in the shower real quick, you finish up here and brush your teeth. I'll be out in ten minutes.

Rose quickly heads out of the kitchen and makes her way into the bathroom, hurriedly stripping out of her clothes and getting into the shower. She's brief, but thorough, cleaning herself up in a little over five minutes, then taking another few to dry herself off and get dressed again. Normally, she might linger a little longer in the shower to enjoy the feel of the hot water on her skin, but they're already running a bit later than usual.

When Rose returns to the living room, Holly is already waiting there and tying her shoes. The girl looks up and makes a few signs.

Holly: You're going to make me late!

Rose: Oh I am not. Now come on, finish tying your shoes and let's go.

Holly finishes with her shoes a short moment later, then grabs her backpack and hurries after Rose out the door.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Day

Later that morning, Rose leans back in the passenger seat of the police cruiser, with Becky behind the wheel as usual. As much as she enjoyed driving, for a change, the circumstances were most unfavorable. She's happy with never driving, so long as it means Becky is well and not sitting in a hospital.

Becky: So, the kid's last day of school today, right?

Rose: Yeah, then I have to figure out how we're going to handle the summer. I'm hoping Mrs. Silva won't mind watching Holly throughout the day now, instead of just the afternoons. I asked her about it already, but she couldn't give me a definite answer.

Becky: I'm sure you'll work it out. Besides, what else does that old woman have to do, ah? She barely leaves her house as it is. Plus, she already took care of Holly when you were in the hospital, remember?

Rose: Yeah, good point. It's not like I wouldn't be paying her for the extra time, either.

Becky: The more important question is, what are you going to do about vacations?

Furrowing her brow, Rose glances back at Becky with genuine confusion.

Rose: Vacations?

Becky: Well yeah, girl! It's the summer, kids need to go out, have some fun, cut loose. And I know you got some vacation time saved up, right? Take her camping, or head up to the beach or something.

Rose: I... hadn't really even been thinking about that.

Becky: Ha, Dios mio, you really are clueless sometimes, you know that?

Rose: Hey, I don't try to be. I'm just... still not that experienced with this.

Becky: Ah, don't worry about it, happens to the best of us. Besides, you're pretty cute when you're clueless.

Rose shifts in her seat slightly at the comment, bringing a hand to her hair and clearing her throat casually. Becky immediately smacks a hand to her forehead and shakes her head.

Becky: Oh, mierda, I'm sorry. I didn't mean-

Rose: No, it's fine, really. Don't worry.

Becky: Still, sorry.

Rose: Guess you're not quite over your crush, huh?

Becky instantly turns her face to the side. If her tan wasn't so dark, her blushing might be a bit more noticeable.

Becky: I, uh... guess not. Sorry.

Rose: Oh come on, stop apologizing. I know I'm awesome.

Becky: Not quite the word I would use... but yes, you are.

A brief moment of awkward silence passes between the two, as Rose attempts to think of a way to change the subject.

Rose: So, uh, got anything special planned later on?

Becky: Ha, kind of. Picked up an extra shift.

Rose: Now why would go and do that?

Becky: Gonna be heading up to Vermont for the weekend with my family, kind of a traditional camping thing we do every year. But we leave Friday morning, so I'm working those hours tonight.

Rose: Oh, so I get the cruiser all to myself on Friday?

Becky: Si, so try not to to ruin it.

A short moment later, their radio goes off, interrupting the conversation.

Dispatch: Possible 211 in progress down at the old S.T.A.R. Labs storage warehouse, address 8294 Duster Street. Witness reported a masked individual entering through one of the side windows, need the nearest unit to please respond.

Becky quickly reaches for the radio, pulling the speaker up to her lips.

Becky: Copy that, dispatch, we're on it. Be there in five.

Rose: Someone breaking into a warehouse owned by S.T.A.R. Labs... Doesn't sound good.

Becky: Maybe The Blade's come back, ah? She stole from S.T.A.R. Labs once already.

Rose: Somehow, I doubt that... she only operates at night, right?

Becky: True, true... well, let's go and find out then, shall we?

Ext. S.T.A.R. Labs Storage Warehouse – Night

Becky pulls the cruiser up to the front entrance of the warehouse, shutting the engine off and leaning forward to take a closer look.

Becky: Don't see anything suspicious yet. Let's check it out.

The two get out of the car and head up to the entrance. Rose tries the front door, but it's locked.

Rose: Guess the place is closed today.

Becky: Dispatch did say the suspect was seen entering through a window, right?

Rose: I'll check the left side, you head right.

Moving around the side of the building, Rose carefully inspects the row of windows, but they're all shut tight and locked, too. Except for one, however, which is broken. The only problem is, this broken window is three floors up, with nothing nearby to climb up to it save for a storm drain. Scratching her head for a moment, she ponders if the suspect did indeed enter through that window, and if they did, how did they do it?

Becky: Find anything?

Rose glances to her left to see Becky coming around the corner of the building. She shrugs, then points up to the broken window.

Rose: Only place I can see that they could have gone through.

Becky: What, did they fly up there?

Rose: Maybe... or maybe not.

Stepping forward, she takes hold of the storm drain for a moment, testing its strength. When it doesn't budge at all, she lifts her foot and presses it against the side of the building. Every few feet or so is a small indentation in the paneling, providing very convenient footholds. With her grip firm on the storm drain, and using the footholds to her advantage, she begins to climb up to the window.

Becky: Oy, be careful.

Within a few minutes, Rose makes it up to the window and crawls her way inside. Looking back down, she waves for Becky to come on up.

Rose: You're not just going to stay down there, are you?

Becky's eyebrows lift suddenly, as she lets out a small, uncertain breath.

Becky: I, uh... suppose not.

She glares at the storm drain for a moment, then carefully takes hold of it and starts to climb upwards, though going much slower than Rose did.

Becky: Qué mierda... They did not teach us this at the academy.

Int. S.T.A.R. Labs Shipping Warehouse – Day

When both women finally make it through the window inside, they find themselves in a small, dim office. Rose looks around, then leads the way through the door and into the third floor hallway. She takes her flashlight from off her belt and clicks it on, and Becky does the same. If there is someone here, they don't want to alert the person by turning all the lights on, so their flashlights will have to do for now.

Coming to the end of the hallway, the two head down the stairs and come out to the main storage area of the warehouse, with a tall ceiling and rows of boxes and crates stacked along the room's length. Remaining silent, Rose waves Becky to one side of the building, while she goes the other way, paying careful attention to every dark nook and cranny. If anyone is lurking about in here, they'll find him.

Ten minutes into the search, Rose comes around the corner of one of the rows of crates to see Becky standing there and shining her light across the room, staring intently.

Rose: You see something?

Becky: I thought so... might have just been my imagination, though. I take it you didn't find anything?

Rose: Not yet, but there are plenty of places to keep looking. I'll try the offices.

Becky: Right, I'll keep checking this area.

As they begin to go their separate ways, however, Rose's precog flickers through her head. She turns suddenly and throws herself at Becky, knocking the woman to the floor.

Rose: Get down!

A split second later, a pair of razor sharp throwing stars sail over their heads, embedding into one of the crates behind them.

Becky: Qué me queda! What was that?

Rose doesn't have time to respond, though, as her precog goes off again. Flipping herself back up to her feet, she brings her flashlight up to deflect another incoming pair of shuriken. This time, the attacker follows, jumping down from a stack of nearby pallets with a flying kick. Rose jumps backwards, avoiding the attack, then comes forward with a countering punch that strikes the man across the jaw. Though her blow knocks him backwards, he recovers his balance quickly and lunges in again, this time drawing a sword on his back and swing wildly.

As Rose dodges the incoming blade, Becky is getting back to her feet and taking notice of the current situation. Shining her light on the two combatants, she blinks a couple times in disbelief. Not only is her partner pulling out moves straight out of a Jet Li flick, but the guy she's fighting is...

Becky: I'm dreaming, right? I must be. No way this is real.

But she knows she isn't asleep. She's wide awake and this is really happening. Her partner, Rose, is currently engaged in an impressive display of hand to hand combat with a ninja. Or at least, someone dressed and armed like a ninja. But with the way he's fighting, she wouldn't doubt if he were an actual ninja.

Of course, he isn't the only one fighting that way, with Rose not only matching him step for step, but actually beating the crap out of him. Not once does the ninja land a hit on her, while she in turn repeatedly pummels him back with vicious strikes that send him reeling. Within a short few minutes, Rose delivers a hard shot to the guy's neck, knocking him out cold. Taking in a deep breath, Rose brushes her hands off.

Becky: Madre de Dios... what the hell was that?

Rose: Some doofus dressed as a ninja, from the looks of it.

Becky: No, that I got. But you- and he was- and then you were- where did you learn all that?

Rose: Oh, uh... twelve years of karate? Sixth degree black belt.

Still shocked, Becky just blinks and raises her eyebrows.

Becky: Oh is that all?

Rose: I was... really good at it.

Becky: Well I guess so. Okay, so, we should, uh, probably check the guy for identification now. Yeah.

While Becky holds her flashlight beam on the unconscious ninja, Rose kneels down next to him, inspecting the man. She reaches forward and pulls his mask off, revealing a square face with bushy brown hair and a small goatee. He certainly doesn't look like what one would think of when they think ninja, but apparently they come in all forms. After a brief moment, Rose starts digging through the guy's pockets, because apparently standard ninja uniforms include pockets.

Rose: Well what do you know?

A second later, she pulls out a wallet, complete with driver's license and credit cards.

Rose: I guess ninjas carry around their personal information with them.

Becky: And go running around in broad daylight. So what's it say?

Rose: Jason Higgins, age thirty-five. Lives over on Levitt Street.

Becky: Not really the kind of guy I'd expect to be dressing up like that.

Rose: Or pulling off those kinds of moves.

Becky: Maybe he took twelve years of karate, too, ah?

Rose: Maybe...

Her gaze narrows slightly, as something catches her eye, a small metal chip situated just behind Jason's ear. She glares at it, no larger than a fingernail, then reaches down to try and dig it out of the man's skin, as it's been embedded pretty firmly. Once she gets a good grip on it with her fingers, she pulls at it, hard. The chip begins to slide out, but as it does, she realizes it's connected to something else, a long, thin, needle-like device that punctures deep into his head.

Becky: The hell is that?

Glaring at the strange device in her hands, Rose merely shrugs her shoulders.

Rose: I have no idea. Looks like it went all the way into his brain, though.

Becky: Freaky...

As Rose stands back up, another precognitive flash goes through her head. Grabbing Becky, she pulls both of them back, just in time to avoid another set of sharp throwing stars. Dropping down from the shadows, two more men dressed in similar attire appear.

Becky: There's more?! Ay carumba...

Jumping back up to her feet, Rose readies herself against any impending attack, but the two newest arrivals don't seem too interested in them at all, instead focusing on the unconscious man in front of them. While one of them leans down to pick up Jason and carry him off, the other reaches down to take the discarded device that had been embedded in the guy's head. During this time, Becky gets back to her feet and draws her gun on them.

Becky: Alright, freeze! Hands up!

Of course, the two ninjas don't comply. Instead, one of them pulls out a small round object and throws it on the ground, causing it to emit a heavy cloud of smoke. That combined with the dim interior allows them to make an easy escape. By the time the smoke clears, all three men are gone, with Becky and Rose left wondering what on earth just happened.

Becky: So, uh... do you want to fill out the report on this one, or should I?

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

It seems like just yesterday that Rose was sitting in this same spot on her bed, staring at her display of Ravager gear. Last time, she came to the conclusion that she needed a break from it, in turn giving up her costumed crime fighting for the past few months. She had wanted a clear head, so she could better decide whether or not she should give it up for good. While it would be easy to do, and while she really did want to (after all, her life so far without it has gone along just fine), it seems that there are some things that still require further action.

Random individuals don't just go around dressed up as ninjas, break into storage warehouses, and attack police officers. And even if they did, they wouldn't have other ninjas as backup to come take them when they fall unconscious. That's not even including the strange metal device that was drilled into his brain. A lot of things about what just happened don't make much sense, and there's only so much she can do during the day as a cop. Even if she could properly investigate while on duty, a nagging feeling claws at the back of her brain, telling her that something isn't right about this, something isn't normal.

Guess it's time to suit back up, she concludes, letting out a long sigh.

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Chapter #28 Preview: Putting on her costume for the first time in months, Rose investigates the recent (and strange) 'ninja' situation. During the process, she finds a new foe,a nd ends up on the run from the police, with her secret threatened to be exposed!

Chapter #28

Int. S.T.A.R. Labs Storage Warehouse – Day

The warehouse is a good place to start, at least by Ravager's estimation. That ninja guy had to have come here for a reason, but she and Becky stopped him before he could finish whatever he was trying to do. If she can find out just what the guy was after, maybe she can start piecing together what his purpose was. And of course, if that doesn't work, she can always go investigate the guy's home and see if she can find anything suspicious there.

Moving through the rows of stacked crates and pallets, Ravager examines each container closely, looking for anything out of the ordinary. It seems like just a normal warehouse full of goods, but then nothing is that simple in this world. With nothing really to lose, she heads over to a random crate and inspects it.

Wonder what's inside...

Drawing one of her swords, she swings the blade horizontally, cutting through the top of it like butter and causing it to pop open. A lot easier than trying to pry the thing apart with a crowbar or something. Leaning forward, she takes a look inside, but only finds what looks like a bunch of old computer parts. Whatever she's looking for, it's definitely not in this one. Putting the lid back on the top, she turns from the crate and moves on to the next one.

She continues like this for the next half hour, looking inside every container she can find, but most of the contents are nothing more than scrap metal or spare parts. She supposes that a place like S.T.A.R. Labs wouldn't leave really important or valuable stuff lying around in a warehouse, but still, what had that ninja broken in here for then? Letting out a small sigh, she walks back towards the front end of the room, away from the rows of containers.

Guess it's time to try Jason's place.

Before she has a chance to leave, however, she sees an attack coming in from behind her, precog once again saving her hide. She ducks low, the spinning bolas sailing above her head and colliding with the far wall. Turning around immediately, she takes a defensive stance in preparation to defend herself against another attack. Standing behind her is man she did not hear approach, or in any way notice before her precog went off.

The man is tall and well built, but still agile in appearance. From his face, she can tell he's from some Asian descent, probably Chinese or Japanese, with his long black hair pulled back into a braided ponytail. He wears a black and white martial artist's uniform, a dragon patch on the shoulder. For the moment, he just stands there staring at her.

Ravager: Hey, buddy, the hell you doing?

Man: Studying you.

Ravager: Uh... huh. And why are you doing that?

Man: I like to learn about my opponents, naturally.

Ravager: So what does throwing a weapon at a person with their back turned tell you, exactly?

Man: That the rumors are true.

Ravager: Alright, you lost me. What rumors?

Man: You are Silverstone's... 'protector', yes? I believe they called you 'The Blade', at least before your sudden disappearance. Yet, here you are now... I find that intriguing.

Ravager: That's hardly a rumor.

Clasping his hands behind his back, the man begins walking forward, still staring at her.

Man: The rumors I speak of are those regarding your skill. I thought them to be exaggerated, but already you have impressed me. You 'see' things, don't you? Before they happen. That's how you are able to evade attacks that you could not otherwise know are coming.

Ravager: Well aren't you the perceptive one? Now, how about you stop with the analysis and tell me who the hell you are, and why you're lurking around in this warehouse at night?

Shao: Ah, forgive me, where are my manners? The name is Shao Shen, and I am here to test myself against you in combat.

Ravager: And you just happened to know where I was going to be tonight?

Shao: After hearing of your earlier victory over one of our lesser members, I had my suspicions that you would return to investigate, yes.

Ravager flinches, her stance faltering. This guy had already figured out who she was, just by hearing about her fighting another one of his 'members' from earlier that day?

Shao: Relax, please. I won't go targeting your loved ones or anything like that; I am no coward. Though your presence in this city could have great complications to our goals, I would rather defeat you in a fair fight.

Ravager: Well gee, how reassuring. Then what are you waiting for, huh?

Shao: To discuss the terms. Firstly, no weapons. I would do this purely hand to hand.

Narrowing her gaze slightly, she reaches back to draw her swords and tosses them off to the side. She's plenty confident in her hand to hand ability.

Ravager: Fine, anything else?

Shao: Yes, actually. When I win, I would have you leave this city, or at the very least give up your costumed identity for good.

Ravager: First of all, when you win? And second, why in the hell would I agree to that?

Shao: Because if you don't, I will simply kill you.

Ravager: Right, sure. Let's get this over with, then.

The two square off briefly, circling each other and waiting for the other to make the first move. Growing impatient, Ravager comes in first. She unleashes a flurry of attacks, punches mixed with kicks, some elbows, and a few backhands... but to her shock, she never hits him. Somehow, he is able to dodge or block each one of her strikes. Baffled, she takes a step back and glares at him.

Ravager: Okay, so you're pretty good.

Shao: Allow me to show you just how good.

Ravager isn't even sure of what happens next. She knows that Shao came in with a series of attacks, and she knows that her precog predicted all of them, and she knowsthat her body reacted to defend herself. And yet... she still somehow finds herself on the ground, staring straight upward with every part of her body aching with a dull, throbbing pain. She could only keep up with the first few attacks, after that everything became a blur.

So... fast.

Groaning, she slowly starts to roll over and push herself back up to her knees.

Shao: That was... disappointing. I would have expected you to at least provide a bit more of a challenge; I didn't even have to try.

Ravager: So you're really good. I get it. But I'm not done.

Shao: Actually, you are.

With a swift blow to the back of Ravager's head, he knocks her out cold, dropping her straight to the floor. Letting out a small sigh, he holds a hand to his chin and contemplates what to do with her know. He knows she won't comply with the terms, it's not in her nature. But still, she'll be an annoyance if allowed to continue her activities, and he really doesn't want to have to kill her. He could control her, but the devices are still in development and might end up killing her, which would be waste. Instead, he comes up with a better solution.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Becky drives along, alone in the cruiser. Very rarely does she ever work these hours, but since she needs to make up for time she'll be missing on Friday, she doesn't mind too much. It's been a fairly quiet night so far, and her shift is just an hour from finishing up. Then, she can head back to her apartment and get a few hours of sleep before waking up and going back to work in the morning.

It is quite a bit dull, though, without a partner to talk to. As her thoughts fall back on Rose, she lets out a small groan and brings a hand up to her head, shaking it. That had been one hell of a stupid slip up earlier, calling Rose cute. Becky made a point after the initial mishap to try and not noticeably come on to her partner again, especially since Rose herself was not into women. Because of that, continuing to have a crush on her is pointless, and yet at the same time she can't help it. She's never met anyone quite like Rose; smart, funny, strong, caring, sexy, adorably cute, and with ninja skills to boot.

Ay carumba, easy there, Beck, she thinks to herself, taking in a deep breath. Gotta stop thinking like a lovesick puppy. It's never gonna happen.

She's called from her thoughts a moment later when her radio goes off, grabbing her attention.

Dispatch: Attention, all units, we've just received an anonymous tip that The Blade is back again and seen down by the S.T.A.R. Labs storage warehouse. I repeat, The Blade is at the S.T.A.R. Labs storage warehouse. All units, please respond, we're taking her in.

Becky's heart immediately jumps, a surge of adrenaline pumping through her. Sitting up straighter, she flips her sirens on and turns onto a new street. This is what she's been waiting for, a chance to finally take in that masked vigilante running amok around the city. The odd fact that The Blade is down at the same building where she and Rose were earlier that day only passes briefly through her head; her focus is elsewhere, as she mentally prepares herself for the job to come. From what she's heard, taking this person down won't be easy, so it's bet to be ready for anything.

Becky: Alright, espada, we're coming for you.

Int. S.T.A.R. Labs Storage Warehouse – Night

When Ravager wakes up, Shao is long gone, the warehouse now dark and empty. She lets out a long moan, a throbbing pain in the back of her skull. Add to that the pain in the rest of her body and it feels like she got hit by a truck. Then, add to that the fact that a single man did this to her, and through her armored costume no less, and it becomes a thoroughly humbling experience.

Alright... that was embarrassing. Who the hell was that guy?

She emits a sigh and slowly stands up, teetering on her feet for a second before regaining her balance. That's when she hears them; the sirens. Snapping her gaze over to the nearest window, she sees flickers of blue and red light, a lot of it. From what she can hear, there has to be at least half a dozen police cars approaching, already nearly at the warehouse.

Ravager: Sh*t!

Taking off in a sprint, she grabs her swords and then heads for the back of the building, where she parked her bike. She has to get out of here, now!

Ext. S.T.A.R. Labs Storage Warehouse

Ravager bursts through one of the windows at the back of the building, hitting the ground on her feet as shards of glass rain down around her. Instantly, she's off and running straight at her motorcycle, just a short distance away. The sirens are louder now, and the lights bright; the cops are already at the warehouse entrance, she's sure. No time to think, though, just have to act. Hopping on her ride, she puts her helmet on and then guns the engine, peeling out momentarily before flying off around the building towards the street.

The police don't see her coming until she's almost past them, driving up a small embankment and launching herself through the air, right next to one of the squad cars. She can't hear the officers yelling and scrambling to get back in their cruisers to chase after her, but she knows they are. They won't catch her, though, no chance. She's already putting way to much distance between them. Unfortunately, they aren't the only ones she has to deal with.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

A mere two blocks from the warehouse, another pair of squad cars with their sirens blaring and lights flashing come peeling around the corner, hot on her tail. She glances back momentarily and curses under her breath, then begins weaving around traffic. The fact that most of the other cars are already pulling over because of the high speed chase works both with her and against her. On the one hand, she has an open lane to increase her speed and distance herself. On the other hand, the cops have clear sight of her. If she can just lose them, though, she can find a place to hide until the chaos settles down.

She never gets that chance. As she jolts up the on ramp onto the overpass, another three squad cars come up from her side, already waiting for her. They were prepared for her, guessed she'd try to take the highway. There's more traffic here, but nothing she can't work around. She glides around the cars expertly, gradually increasing her speed more and more. The needle hits one hundred and fifty, about as fast as she's willing to push it; any faster and she'll probably lose control and crash. At least she's losing the cops behind her. A little bit more and she can hit an exit and find a place to disappear.

That's when the spotlight hits her. Ravager glances up suddenly to see a police chopper flying above her and keeping pace. Immediately, her heart jumps with panic, as she focuses back on the road. Her throat goes a little numb, a lump forming.

Crap, they're serious about this.

Apparently, the police really want to bring her in. She knows that she's been pretty high on the city's wanted list, but she didn't realize she was police chopper worthy. Then again, she supposes that any high speed chase is chopper worthy. Still, this greatly complicates things. Now, not only does she have to outrun the ground troops, but the aerial support, too. She has her work cut out for her.

Ravager turns sharply, moving from the overpass and heading down a ramp to one of the city's main streets. She doesn't get very far before she sees a wall of flashing lights, however, a police blockade standing right in front of her. Hitting the brakes, she spins her vehicle around, tires screeching as she changes directions. This catches the cars pursuing her off guard, as they suddenly hit the breaks, as well, trying to continue chasing her. She hears two of the cruisers crash into each other, though fortunately it isn't a serious accident.

While getting away from the squad cars is easy enough, the chopper proves to be astoundingly difficult to elude. No matter what side street she turns on, what new path she takes, the spotlight stays on her. It forces her to go faster than she wants to, almost to the point of losing control from the slightest turns. Still, she has to take chances at this point or she'll never get away. Coming back out onto a main street, she changes direction and heads towards the East District.

She doesn't get very far. As soon as she turns onto a second street, another police blockade greets her, approaching way too fast to simply put on the brakes and turn around this time. No, she has to keep going forward, but she can't just drive straight into the squad cars, either. Instead, she lurches the bike to the side, crashing through a chain link fence on the side of the street, rumbling over loose gravel and rocks, and then hitting a small bump on the ground that sends her flying.

Ext. Construction Site – Night

That brief instant lasts a near lifetime to her, as she flies quite literally through the air, her grip on the handle bars slipping and coming free. The bike skids out from beneath her, and suddenly she's airborne with no real way to land properly. The only thing she can do is tuck and roll, trying to reduce the impending injury as much as possible. When she hits the ground, her body bounces, spinning wildly and head smacking repeatedly against rocks and dirt. If not for her helmet, her skull probably would have split open.

When she finally comes to stop, a long moment goes by before she's able to move, her entire body refusing to work with her. She forces herself up into a sitting position, but the pain is phenomenal. It feels like her entire body is one giant bruise, though remarkably nothing seems to be broken. Taking in a deep breath and groaning, she staggers up to her feet and throws her helmet off. She teeters there for a few moments, everything still spinning around her.

Ravager hears the shouts of the surrounding police officers, as they race towards her location. She doesn't see any of them yet, but they have to be close by. A few moments later, she realizes that she's in the same construction site where she fought Lady Shiva several months before. Though a lot more work has been done since then, the place is still a giant metal skeleton of a building, with a lot of debris piles and shadows to take advantage of. Stumbling farther into the construction site, she disappears into the darkness, evading the incoming spotlight as it sweeps by.

Int. Foreman's Office – Night

Ravager pushes her way inside the transportable office, slamming the door shut behind her and collapsing forward to the floor. She manages to catch herself on one hand and her knees, her other arm coming up to wrap around her side, a sharp pain flaring. But she ignores it, she has to. Crawling forward farther into the office, she makes her way around a dividing wall and behind a chair and desk. Propping herself up against the wall, she takes in deep breaths and grits her teeth, just waiting. As much as she wants to keep running, her body can't take it, not in this condition. All she can do now is wait and hope that they overlook her, somehow.

Several minutes later, she hears voices coming from nearby the office, one officer giving directions and telling the others to go search some other areas. The officer giving those directions then heads up the stairs to the office, opening the door and entering. Closing her eye and holding her breath, Ravager waits, silent. She hears the footsteps approaching, coming around the dividing wall. The flashlight beam sweeps above her head and keeps going, searching elsewhere.

One minute goes by, then two, then three. The officer takes another sweep around the back of the office and then comes to the front again, still closely examining every dark corner. Just when Ravager thinks that she's safe, that the officer somehow missed her, the flashlight pauses and then swings around again, just above her hiding spot.

Keep going, keep going.

But she isn't that lucky. The officer suddenly moves forward and turns the desk aside, shining the flashlight directly on her. Ravager squints, holding an arm up to shield herself from the light. At first, all she sees is a silhouette, the officer standing in front of her with a gun drawn and pointed at her. When she realizes who it is, however, her heart skips a beat and jumps into her throat.

Becky: Got you! Hands in the air, now!

Ravager: Wait-

Becky goes for her radio, clicking the button and bringing it to her lips.

Becky: This is Officer Chavez, I have-

Ravager: Becky, wait!

Her words stop mid-sentence, as she slowly brings the radio down and stares at Ravager. The voice sounds familiar... but it can't be, right?

Becky: How do you...

Swallowing hard, Ravager reaches up and pulls the mask from her head, revealing herself to Becky. Right then, she isn't Ravager, or The Blade. She's just Rose.

Rose: Its me, Beck... Just me.

Becky falters, gun lowering as she takes a step backwards. Confusion flashes across her face, one hand coming to her head while the other holds herself up against the wall, legs buckling. She actually looks physically hurt

Becky: Rose...?

Rose: Rebecca, please... I need your help right now.

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Chapter #29 Preview: Rose's secret has finally been exposed! At least to her best friend, Rebecca Chavez, anyway. Now, Becky is the only one standing between that secret being kept and going public. But can Becky go against her morals as a cop to help Rose? And what will this do to their relationship? Find out next time!

Chapter #29

Int. Foreman's Office – Night

For several long moments, the two women just stare at each other. Rose swallows again, sitting herself up straighter against the wall and twinging at a sharp jolt of pain in her side. Her crash messed her up a little more than she thought. Becky, meanwhile, appears to be trying to process the information, now knowing that her partner and best friend is actually the Silverstone vigilante known as 'The Blade', who has been acting outside the law and, more recently, outright breaking it.

A sudden hiss of static breaks the silence, as Becky's radio goes off.

Officer/Radio: Officer Chavez, can you repeat that? Didn't get all of it. Did you say you found something?

Rose: Becky, please-

Becky: No, don't, Rose. Don't... don't make me-

Her sentence cuts off, words catching in her throat. The look on her face says it all, torn between her duties as a cop and her friendship (though, more than just a friendship, at least to her) with Rose.

Officer/Radio: Officer Chavez, are you there?

Bringing both hands up to her head, Becky drops herself into the nearby chair, fingers gripping her hair and gaze pointing to the floor. A second later, she grabs her radio and brings it to her mouth.

Becky: I'm here, I-

Again, she pauses, slowly glancing back at Rose. She releases a long breath and mutters something in Spanish, then clicks the button on the radio again.

Becky: -nothing, sorry. I'm just... jumping at shadows. Gonna take another look around this area.

Officer/Radio: Alright, keep at it. If we don't find anything here soon, we'll spread out our search into the surrounding alleys and buildings; there's a chance we might have missed her sneaking off.

Becky: Copy that...

When Becky lowers her radio, Rose brings her gaze to the floor and lets out a heavy sigh. She doesn't dare look up at her partner, though, knowing full well she just asked her to do something she really shouldn't have.

Rose: Becky... thanks.

Becky: Don't, Rose, just don't.

Rose's face goes hot, her heart sinking. Slowly, she glances up. The look on the woman's face is enough to make her physically ill; grief, pain, disbelief, anger... emotions that Becky has every right to feel.

Becky: I... where the hell do I even start? This whole time... it was you?

Rose: Yeah... it was me.

Becky: Hijo de puta... How can you do it? I mean how can you... how can you honestly sit next to me everyday, call yourself a cop, and then go out every night breaking the law? Is it all a big joke to you?

Rose: No, of course not, I just...

Becky: What? Explain it to me, Rose, help me understand, because right now every fiber of my being is telling me to turn you over.

Rose: I just wanted to do good. That's all I've ever wanted with my life.

Becky: And you do that by stealing? By hurting people? By driving like lunatic and putting god knows how many lives in danger? You're supposed to be a cop, for Christ's sake! We don't do enough good?

Rose: It's not- it's more complicated than that. There's only so much I can do on the force, inside the law. Doing this gives me another outlet, another way to get things done, things that I can't do from inside a squad car.

Becky: Puro cuento! All you've done is be a criminal!

Rose: Becky-

Becky: And more than that, this whole time you've been lying! About who are, about being a cop, about being my friend... Has anything you've said been truthful?

Rose: I never lied about being your friend. That's true, that's real. And I am a cop, I just want to do everything I can for this city, and help people every way that I can. I know you might think it's wrong, but what I do in this costume, behind this mask... I'm good at it. I'm damn good at it, and I know I've helped people because of it, in ways that I couldn't have in a police uniform. People like Holly.

A brief moment of silence passes between them. Becky's jaw clenches, her hands gripping her knees tightly as she glances off to the side. Her anger seems to subside slightly, but is instead replaced with a look of pained sorrow.

Becky: But you have been lying about who you are, haven't you?

Another dead silence.

Becky: Is your name even Sarah Walker?

Rose: No...

Becky: Then I guess Rose isn't really your middle name either, is it?

Rose: It's... my first name.

A few moments go by. Rose keeps her gaze lowered, while Becky stares at her. Eventually, Becky stands from her seat and pushes the chair back against the desk, which she returns to its spot in front of Rose.

Becky: I just... I have to go. I'll lead them away from your location and come back when everything is clear. I'll bring a change of clothes, too... Just don't ask me for anymore favors after this, Rose.

When Becky leaves, Rose leans her head back against the wall and squints her eye shut, jaw tightened.

You are... such a b*tch, Rose.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Rose sits quietly at the kitchen table, staring into her full cup of coffee. She had made it because she thought it would help clear her head, or at least soothe her nerves. But she hasn't even touched it, not a drop. Instead, she thinks, contemplates. Becky didn't say a single word after coming back to help Rose back to the penthouse. Rose tried to start a conversation several times along the way, but never got a response. Eventually, she realized that Becky just didn't want to talk, at least not to her.

Couldn't leave well enough alone, could you, Rose? she scolds herself. You just had to put the costume back on. You just had to ruin one of the few good things left in your life, didn't you?

Along with Holly, Becky really is – or rather, was – one of the best things in her life. She was a friend, a partner, and someone Rose actually felt a connection with. Sometimes, she had even wondered about Becky's other feelings for her. Due to her own personal preferences, Rose had initially rejected those feelings... but after what they'd been through together, and how much she cared for Becky, there were times when she really did think that maybe the two of them could have...

Doesn't matter, we'll never find out now, will we? You went and screwed it all up.

Rose clenches her jaw briefly, still staring at her dull reflection in the cup of coffee. Eventually, she can't stand the sight of herself anymore, stomach twisting into a knot. In a sudden outburst, she sweeps her arm across the table and launches the glass mug across the room. It crashes into a cabinet, shattering and spilling the hot liquid onto the floor. She takes in a few deep breaths, calming herself, then grabs a sponge and walks over to the mess to clean it up.

Rose: Goddamn it...

When she finishes mopping up the coffee, she grabs the trash bin and starts picking up the shards of the broken mug by hand, tossing them out. Not the smartest thing she could have done while not really paying attention to her actions, as one of the sharp pieces cuts into her thumb, drawing blood.

Rose: F*ck!

It doesn't really hurt that much, especially when compared to the rest of her sore and battered body, but that's not what bothers her about it. What bothers her is the fact that she had been so careless, her mind so enamored in other things that she can't even pick up some broken glass without cutting herself. For several moments, she just kneels there, sucking on her bleeding thumb and staring at the floor. She doesn't even notice when Holly enters the kitchen. It's not until the girl walks up behind her and puts a hand on her shoulder that Rose turns around and takes notice.

Rose: Oh, Holly. I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you.

Though apparently still half asleep, Holly can tell something isn't right, that something is bothering Rose. Her eyes soften, and she starts to sign.

Holly: It's okay... what's wrong?

Rose: It's... it's nothing, really. I just... had a bad night.

Holly: Do you want to talk about it?

Rose: I... yes, I do. But not right now. Maybe later. You just... you go back to bed. Sorry again for waking you.

The girl lets out a small breath and nods, then gives Rose a warm hug before returning to her bedroom. Rose continues sitting there on the kitchen floor for several minutes, taking in slow breaths. Eventually, she brings herself to get up and finish cleaning.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Day

Rose exits the women's locker room and looks around down the hall. Still no sign of her. It's a half hour past when their shift starts, yet Becky is nowhere to be found. It took everything she had for Rose to get up today and come to work, and not just because every time she moves it feels like her body is about to collapse from pain. But she forced herself. She has a lot she wants to discuss with Becky, a lot she wants to try and explain. That is, of course, if Becky will even listen to her. Rose wouldn't blame her if she doesn't.

Heading down the hallway, Rose briefly fixes her hat and then turns to see Officer Stevens walking back. Though she normally tries to avoid talking to him, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Rose: Hey, uh, Stevens. Have you seen my partner around? Haven't been able to find her anywhere.

Stevens: Oh, Rebecca? Uh, yeah I think I heard the Chief mention she called in sick or something, came down with a really nasty bug.

Rose's heart sinks.

Rose: Oh... a bug, huh?

Stevens: Yeah, she asked for the rest of the week off. Guess it was pretty sudden, too, I mean she was fine yesterday, right?

Rose: Uh, yeah... right.

Stevens: By the way, you never got back to me on that rain check. What do you say? You, me, dinner, Friday night?

Rose: I'll, uh... have to take another rain check, I gotta get out on patrol.

Stevens: Wha- hey, wait a second!

But she ignores him, hurrying down the hallway and heading out the door.

Guess I should have seen it coming, her not wanting to see me. Don't blame her. I only went and ruined our friendship after all.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Rose tries calling Becky's apartment later that night. She gets the answering machine. So, she tries Becky's cell phone. Straight to voicemail. For the better part of the night, she continues trying to contact Becky, and with no success. While it doesn't surprise her, each time she gets the answering machine or voicemail she feels her heart grow just a little heavier.

Stupid, you're being stupid, she thinks. You lied to her, betrayed her trust... she doesn't want to talk to you. She probably never will.

Still, she keeps calling. Not just that night, but each day following. Tuesday comes and goes, then Wednesday, and then Thursday. Rose loses count of just how many times she calls, but never once does she get an answer. Finally, sitting at the living room couch, she lets out a frustrated groan and throws the phone across the room. At least she remains calm enough to just lightly toss it, instead of whipping it into a wall and breaking it. Sighing, she leans forward and drops her head into her hands.

Holly, sitting next to her and watching television, turns her gaze and gives a sad look. Rose glances up a moment later, as Holly signs to her.

Holly: I'm sorry about Becky.

Rose: Not like it's your fault. I'm the one that screwed things up... don't worry about it.

Holly: I hope she answers soon.

Rose: Yeah... me, too.

And yet, a small part of her knows that Becky won't answer, no matter how many times she calls. Plus, with her taking time off work now and avoiding the station, Rose doesn't know if she'll ever get a chance to talk to her. She had contemplated showing up at Becky's apartment... but she really didn't want to cause more problems than necessary. If Becky is trying to avoid Rose, going to her apartment would only make things worse.

Rose: You watch some more TV for a while, Holly. I'll be in my room for a bit if you need anything.

Releasing a heavy sigh, she gets up and returns to her bedroom, sitting down at her desk. For a while, she just leans against the back of her chair, staring at the blank computer screen in front of her. Eventually, she reaches forward and pulls up her video conferencing software, making a different call. It connects to another penthouse about 300 miles away, in Gotham. She just hopes he's there... To her relief, the familiar face pops up on the screen several minutes later.

Dick/Computer: Rose?

Rose: Hey, Dick... glad I caught you before you went out.

Dick/Computer: Something wrong? You usually just call my phone.

Rose: Yeah, well... I don't know, I felt like talking face to face, I guess.

Dick/Computer: I take it you didn't call just to chat about the weather. What happened?

Leaning forward and holding her head up with one hand, she breathes outwardly and closes her eye.

Rose: I... I really screwed up, Dick.

A small pause, as Dick goes from standing in front of his desk to sitting down.

Dick/Computer: Go ahead, start from the beginning.

And so she tells him, about running from the police, Becky finding out about her secret, and her subsequent avoidance of Rose. She didn't really expect to feel like such crap when explaining things to him, but just recounting the events puts her in a terrible mood, mostly upset at her own stupidity, her own mistakes.

Rose: And now... I don't know what the hell to do anymore. Seems like Becky doesn't want anything to do with me anymore, and I can barely stomach sitting in that squad car alone everyday. I mean, she was right, who am I kidding? I'm no cop, never was. I'm just a freak in a costume doing whatever I want to do, and I'm not sure if I can even be that anymore.

Dick/Computer: Rose, the most important thing you have to remember is that you always tried to do good. You might have different ways of going about it, but it's part of who you are; you want to help people. And you do.

Rose: But what's the point in doing good if you just end up hurting everyone around you? You didn't see the look she had in her eyes when she found out who I was. She looked so... betrayed. Hurt. I had a life of my own, Dick, a good life. But then I went and ruined it, all because I couldn't keep the costume off.

Dick/Computer: I guess it's because that's another part of you. We do this for so long, and that's what happens. Our other identities become a part of us, and we can't let it go.

Groaning, Rose lowers her gaze and shakes her head.

Rose: How do you do it? I mean, how have you kept it up for so long without going insane?

Dick/Computer: Years of practice, mostly. I've been doing this since I was kid, after all.

Rose: Gee, thanks for your words of wisdom.

Dick/Computer: I'm being serious, Rose. I don't just mean physical practice, it's a lot of mental practice, too. The kind of life we live, it's difficult, stressful, not to mention dangerous.

Rose: And pretty much guarantees you no social life.

Dick/Computer: A lot of times, yeah. But sometimes you find something, or someone, special.

Rose: But how on earth are you supposed to keep that something special without screwing it up? I had that... and now it's gone.

Dick/Computer: Well, for starters, I try never to start serious relationships outside of the superhero community.

Rose: You're still not funny, Grayson.

Dick/Computer: If you really want to know, it takes a lot of care and a little luck to make your regular life work alongside your secret one. Sharing that secret with someone you trust can be a big help, too. Gives you someone to talk to. Plus, it also helps to try and be on good terms with the local authorities.

Rose: Well it's a little late for all that, isn't it?

Dick/Computer: Maybe, but not for certain.

Rose: Dick, let's face it, I'm not really cut out for this.

Dick/Computer: What are you talking about? You're good at what you do, we've been over this.

Rose: No, not that. I mean this. The normal life, the secret identity, the lying, all of it... I was never meant to be a happy person. Ugh, I feel like I don't even know who I am anymore. It's like I'm all the way back to square one. The hell am I supposed to do now?

There's a small pause, as Dick takes in a small breath and taps his fingers against his desk.

Dick/Computer: You still have Holly, right? You're doing a good job with her.

Rose: Save the pep talk, Dick. I know I'm not exactly the best person in the world to look after a kid. Hell, I leave her alone every night with nothing but a suped up security system keeping her safe, while I go and get myself shot at. Social services would have a field day with that.

Dick/Computer: You still cared enough to look after her, to give her a home. A lot of people would have just let her go back into the foster system, but you stepped up. What's that say?

Rose: Either that I have a soft spot for kids, or I like getting in over my head. Maybe both, I don't know. I just... I can't do this anymore, Dick. I'm not sure I even know how.

Dick/Computer: Look, Rose... I can tell you're in a rough spot right now.

Rose: Gee, what tipped you off?

Dick/Computer: And if you keep going about things the way you are, you'll only keep beating yourself up until there's nothing left.

Rose: Your confidence in me is endearing.

Dick/Computer: Rose, I'm trying to help you. Are you going to listen or not?

Rose: Sorry, go ahead.

Dick/Computer: I may not be able to help you get past what you're going through, or make you gain some kind of sudden clarity on what you should do, or how to live your life. But I do know someone who went through something similar a while back. It... might be a bit of an extreme way to go, but she does owe me a favor, if you're interested. She has connections to someone who can help you gain that kind of clarity.

Rose: So you know someone who knows someone who can help me? Isn't that always the way? But what the hell, it's worth a shot. Even if I don't think it'll help.

Dick/Computer: Well, before you agree to it, I should mention that you'll have to travel; you could be gone a while.

A long pause passes between them. Rose sits up a little straighter in her seat, staring back at Dick on the screen. Taking in a deep breath, she presses a hand to her forehead and shuts her eye, thinking. It doesn't take her long to come to a decision, though.

Rose: Yeah, sure, whatever. Not a lot left for me here anyway, is there?

Dick/Computer: If that's what you want, then I'll make the call.

Rose: Oh, uh... just one more favor?

Dick/Computer: What is it?

Rose: Could you watch Holly while I'm gone? She... deserves someone nice looking after her.

Dick/Computer: I'd be happy to. Alfred's great with kids, anyway. Plus, she and Damian are almost the same age.

Rose: Ha, right... I'm sure they'll get along great.

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Chapter #30 Preview: Now that she knows Rose's secret, Becky has stopped talking to her former friend, upset over the betrayal and being lied to. This apparent dissolving of their friendship leaves Rose at a loss for what to do now with her life, her sense of direction gone. One of her only other friends, however, comes up with a wild suggestion to help get her back on track.

Chapter #30

Int. Rebecca's Apartment – Day

The phone rings, but there's no one around to pick it up. Eventually, the answering machine clicks on, just as it has the last hundred times over the past several days. The only difference is, this time the call waits for the beep to leave a message.

Answering Machine: Hey, you've reached Becky, I'm not in right now. Just leave a message or try my cell, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Gracias.

A second later, the beep goes off.

Rose/Phone: Hey, Becky... it's Rose. I know you haven't been around lately, and you haven't wanted to talk to me... but that's okay, I get it. Look, I... I'm sorry about everything, alright? I never wanted to betray you, or hurt you, or lie to you. I just... I screwed up. Maybe I should have told you about it sooner, or I should have just stopped altogether, I don't know... either way, I just want you to know that I'll always consider you a friend, no matter what else happens. Even if you never speak to me again, that's fine... but I want to thank you. For everything you did for me, for just being my friend... thanks. It's not something I say to very many people, but you deserve it.

A small pause goes by, as Rose takes in a small breath and slowly lets it out.

Rose/Phone: So... listen, I... I need to figure some things out for myself, try to get my life straight after I went and messed it up. I'm uh.... I'm leaving soon. Tomorrow, actually. Not really sure where yet, but I'll find out eventually. I... I could be gone for a while. Maybe weeks, maybe months... don't really know. I've already gone and handed in my resignation at the station, so no worries there...

Another pause.

Rose/Phone: Sh*t what else am I supposed to say? I'm not very good at this kind of thing, you know. I just... again, I'm sorry. I just wish I got a chance to explain things to you face to face before I have to leave.

Suddenly, a figure moves into the living room, slowly. It's Becky, making her way over to the phone and answering machine. She's been listening to the whole thing, not sure if she wants to pick up the phone and answer it. For a moment, her hand comes forward, as if about to grab the phone, but then pauses. Eventually, she lets out a small sigh, bows her head, and pulls her hand back.

Rose/Phone: So... yeah, goodbye, Becky. And take care, you hear me?

A short moment later, the phone and answering machine click off. Letting out a small groan, Becky raises a hand to her head and lowers herself into a chair. For a while, she just sits there staring at the wall, shaking her head. She wanted to answer that phone, but something inside her just wouldn't let her do it.

Becky: Adiós, Rose... adiós.

Ext. Gotham City Streets – Day

Rose takes in a deep breath, staring up at the tall Wayne Towers building in front of her. Holly is next to her, holding her hand lightly and also gazing up at the massive structure. They've been standing there now for several minutes, as if hesitant to go inside.

Rose: Well... this is the place.

Looking towards her, Holly takes her hand back and makes several signs.

Holly: Do I really have to stay here?

A small sigh escapes Rose's lips, glancing back down at the young girl.

Rose: I know you don't want to... If I could take you with me, I would, but I don't even know where I'm going yet.

Holly: Can't you just stay?

Swallowing a hard lump in her throat, Rose kneels down in front of her, at eye level now. She takes in another deep breath and puts her hands on Holly's shoulders.

Rose: I... I want to. I do. But... my head is all over the place, Holly. After everything that happened with Becky, I don't really know what direction my life is going in right now. Kind of soon for me to be having a midlife crisis, but I guess you could call it that... Maybe I'm just stressed, I don't know, but apparently this mystery guy can help me, or something, so I'm going to give it a try. One thing to keep in mind, though: I will come back. I promise you that.

A small, sad look comes over the girl's face, one of distant understanding. She slowly brings her hands back up, signing.

Holly: How long will you be gone?

Rose: I don't know... I hope not that long, but it could be a few months. Maybe longer. If I'm not back by the end of the summer, though, my friend here will get you into Gotham Academy come September. It's a good school, really, you'll learn a lot.

Holly: It won't be the same.

Rose: I'm sorry, Holly, I really am... I promise I'll find a way to make it up to you alright?

Holly: I guess so...

Breathing outwardly, Rose stands back up and takes Holly's hand again, then begins to lead her inside the building.

Rose: Come on, let's go meet who you'll be staying with. They're good people, I promise.

Int. Wayne Tower's Penthouse Suite – Day

A short few minutes later, both Rose and Holly are standing in the middle of the large penthouse. Dick, Damian, and even Alfred are all present and there to greet them.

Dick: Good to see you again, I trust the trip here went alright?

Rose: About as alright as four and a half hours in a car can be. Nothing special.

Turning to Holly, Dick took a knee, lowering himself down to her level and giving her a friendly nod.

Dick: Good to see you again, Holly. Do you remember me at all? We met briefly a while back.

Taking a few moments to study is face and contemplate, Holly eventually nods and holds out her hand for him to shake, which he does so gently. He then stands up and introduces the other two.

Dick: This is Alfred. He's been a good friend to me for a long time.

Coming forward, Alfred takes a steady bow.

Alfred: A pleasure to meet you, Miss... Holly, was it?

Holly nods in affirmation, then holds her hand out again to shake.

Alfred: Can I get you anything to eat? Or perhaps you'd like a drink? You must be famished after such a long car ride.

This gets the girl's attention. She immediately goes through several hand signs to explain what she wants. Lifting an eyebrow, Alfred watches her signs carefully.

Alfred: Oh dear, my sign language is a bit rusty... but I believe you said you wanted peanut butter and jelly? And a glass of milk.

Smiling, Holly nods again.

Alfred: Very good, I shall prepare it for you at once.

As Alfred heads over into the kitchen to fix up a snack, Dick glances back over at the other person in the room, who thus far has been standing off to the side with his arms crossed, just sort of staring at Holly, studying her.

Dick: Damian, you can say hi, you know.

Damian: I could.

Dick: Holly, this is Damian. He's my brother, through adoption.

Holly steps forward and makes a few hand signs, while also mouthing the words. Damian just sort of stares at her with his brow furrowed.

Damian: I have no idea what she just said. What did she say?

Rose: She says that it's nice to meet you. And you'll say the same, if you know what's good for you, twerp.

Damian leans a little closer to the girl, still studying her. He then brings a finger up and points it at her, poking her forehead.

Damian: So why can't she talk? There isn't anything wrong with her, is there?

Before anyone can answer his question, Holly's hand shoots up, grabs his finger and twists it around, while pushing forward. Instantly, Damian recoils, bringing his other hand up to try and yank her grip away.

Damian: Ow, ow, ow! What the hell!

He manages to break free of the hold a second later, shaking his finger.

Damian: Why didn't anyone tell me she could do that?!

Dick: Shouldn't have let your guard down.

Smirking a little, Rose raises a palm, which Holly immediately slaps in a vigorous high five.

Rose: Just like I taught you.

Damian grumbles a little, glaring at Holly.

Damian: This isn't over...

Then, he turns from them and marches back over to the couch. A few moments later, Alfred finishes preparing the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, prompting Holly to go join him in the kitchen, leaving Rose and Dick alone in the center of the penthouse.

Rose: I should probably get going soon.

Dick: No need to hurry. You can stick around for a while, you know.

Rose: Yeah, I know... but if I don't leave now, I might not be able to. My mind is a pretty fickle thing at the moment.

Dick: Guess I can understand that.

Rose: So, this friend of yours I'm meeting, she really knows someone who can help me straighten my head out?

Dick: According to her, yeah. She was in a similar sort of situation a while back, and she had it worse than you. But he helped her figure out her life. I figure he can do the same for you.

Rose: Well, here's hoping.

Dick: She'll be waiting for you at Gotham International. I've taken the liberty of preparing a private jet for you. Oh, and here, you'll be needing this.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulls out a small blue booklet and hands it over to her. Flipping it open, Rose sees a picture of herself, as well as a bunch of personal information.

Rose: A passport? Where the hell are you sending me?

Dick: You'll see soon enough.

Rose: Right... it had better not be anywhere cold.

The smirk that forms its way on Dick's face makes her cringe. Fantastic. She hates the cold.

Dick: Should probably say your goodbyes, then.

Rose: Yeah...

Taking in a deep breath, she heads on over to the kitchen, grabbing Holly's attention. At first, she can't bring herself to say anything, unsure if she can find the right words. For all she knows, this is the last time she'll see the girl for half a year. It's Holly who breaks the silence, in her own way, by smiling and holding up a single hand sign, one that causes a hard lump to form in Rose's throat. Reaching out, she wraps her arms around the girl in a warm hug.

Rose: I love you, too, Holly.

Damn it, there you go getting all sappy.

But she can't help it. She does love Holly. This girl brought out a side of her that she didn't even know existed. She really is going to miss her.

Rose: Goodbye, for now.

Ext. Gotham International Airport – Day

Rose looks around the tarmac, holding an arm up in front of her face to block the bright sunlight from blinding her. It doesn't help that it's about thirty degrees hotter on the sun soaked pavement than anywhere else. Dick couldn't just have his jet hooked up to the terminal, no, he had to go and be all secretive, have her head out onto the tarmac and cook to death.

And then he's sending me somewhere cold. Damn it, Grayson, I hope you're having a good laugh over this.

Hoisting her large duffel bag higher on her shoulder, she marches forward, heading towards the large jet in the distance. By the time she reaches it, sweat is pouring off her brow, her breaths heavy. Letting out a long breath, she marches up the plane's lowered steps and emerges inside the cozy interior. At least the thing is pretty decked out and comfortable, and the air conditioning feels great. She's just found her new favorite way to travel.

Woman: You must be Rose.

Blinking a few times to let her eyes adjust to the dimmer interior, Rose glances to her left to see a woman sitting there in a soft leather seat, holding a root beer.

Rose: And you're... Renee, right? Renee... Montana or something.

Renee: Montoya. Drink?

Reaching over into the nearby mini-fridge, she pulls out a cold soda and offers it up. Lifting an eyebrow, Rose takes the bottle and plops herself down on the seat across from her.

Rose: Don't mind if I do.

Renee: So, I'm told that you're going through a tough time.

Rose: Uh... yeah, you could say that. Most of the good things in my life sort of went and collapsed around me.

Renee: And now you don't know what to do, who you are, or where you belong.

Rose: Something like that. I'm told that you went through something similar.

Renee: That was a long time ago. But yes, I did.

Rose: And this mystery friend of yours can help?

Renee: If you let him. He helped me figure out who I was, who I wanted to be, and I've been on that path ever since. He was my teacher, in more ways than one.

Rose: Well, this teacher of yours, where's he live? I mean, just where are we going?

Renee: Ah-

Smirking slightly, Renee lifts her beer to her lips and takes a brief sip.

Renee: -that's the question, isn't it?

Ext. Somewhere in the Tibetan Himalayas – Day

Rose pulls the heavy jacket closer around her. She can normally handle the cold just fine, she just simply doesn't like it. Hell, she even knows a few breathing techniques to help regulate her body temperature. But this... this is a different kind of cold, the kind that freezes over Hell. Then again, when you're in the middle of nowhere up in the Himalayan Mountains, that's probably to be expected. Exhaling a shaky breath, she watches the frozen cloud of air escape her lips and then trudges through the snow, trying to keep pace with Renee. It isn't that she's slower, she's just miserable. Has she mentioned that she hates the cold? And snow. She hates snow.

Renee: Better hurry up, I'm pretty close to just leaving you behind.

Rose: I'm c-coming, h-hold your horses.

It just had to be somewhere cold. Damn you, Grayson. Just damn you.

Marching up the snow embankment, Renee keeps her eyes on the state of the art GPS tracking device in her palm, carefully keeping track of where they are and where they're going. She learned the hard way the last time she came here, you don't try to find this place without knowing where you're going. Pausing a moment, she looks around and then heads east.

Rose: We almost there? I can't feel my t-toes.

Renee: If you don't have patience now, this is going to be a very long experience for you.

Rose: So sue me.

Their incessant trek through the snowy mountains of Tibet continues for another couple of hours. By that time, Rose is sure her feet are frostbitten. They have to be, with how numb they are. Then again, she probably wouldn't be able to walk if they were. Still, it's not very comfortable. Finally, the two turn the corner around a rocky outcropping to the sight of a large walled city tucked between two mountains. Immediately, Rose's eyebrows lift, her demeanor suddenly changing somehow.

Rose: This... is where your friend lives?

Renee: That it is.

Rose: It's... I mean... wow.

She can barely formulate coherent thoughts just looking at this place. Something about it just seems... calming. Peaceful. Awe inspiring.

Renee: Welcome to Nanda Parbat.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter #31 Preview: Rose gets set up in Nanda Parbat and meets Renee's former teacher, but is she ready to begin learning? Meanwhile, Becky comes across a curious mystery involving a dead body that might just put her in harm's way.

Chapter #31

Int. Rose's Living Quarters – Day

Nanda Parbat. It is a place of healing and enlightenment, according to Renee, watched over by the goddess Rama Kushna. The inhabitants are mostly comprised of monks who are in service of Rama Kushna, though there are other residents who have come seeking peace and tranquility. It is a very strange place, and yet very soothing at the same time. To Rose, it feels like a place where maybe she really can start to clear her head.

The first hour after arrival is spent getting situated in the city. The living quarters are small, nothing more than a single square room, and the furnishings are simple; a small bed, a desk, a few baskets, some kitchenware, and an old fashioned stove. There is no electricity, either, only candles. No television, no radio, no computers, no phones, no distractions. Rose drops her single duffel bag on the bed and takes a brief look around; not much to see, after all. She does take a small respite, though, sitting at the desk and taking in a deep breath.

I just hope coming all the way out here is worth it... It seems like a nice place and all, but that means squat if I still can't figure out what to do with myself.

Ext. Nanda Parbat - Day

Rose leaves the room a few minutes later, heading back outside. Though still wearing her heavy coat, it's now unzipped, and she can feel her toes again. Each breath she takes only emits a small, barely noticeable cloud now, instead of a huge white puff. A strange place, Nanda Parbat. Things within the city don't appear to be affected much by that outside the walls. It's still chilly, sure, but the frigid, biting cold she had to endure on the way here is long gone, almost as if the city is in it's own little world.

As her boots crunch through the snow, Renee appears from around the corner of the small wooden hut. She gives Rose a silent wave, motioning for her to follow. Rose obeys, of course, in turn also not saying anything. Words seem to have little meaning at the moment, and she already knows where they're going now. It's time to meet the mystery man, Renee's teacher and the guy who is supposed to help Rose gain clarity. She has her skepticism about it, of course, but she also has her hopes.

The two come to a small snowy field near the very back end of the city, behind a grouping of buildings and just beneath the shadow of a temple situated higher up on a rocky precipice. The space is completely empty, save for a single rock in the center of the field, on which a man dressed in nothing but a tight T-shirt and long pants sits cross legged with his eyes closed and fingers pressed together. The man's brown hair is long and shaggy, coming down past his shoulders, and a big bushy beard covers his jaw. He's an older man, maybe in his forties from the looks of it, but is in remarkable shape, with lean, hard muscle making up his body, and very little excess fat. As the two approach, the man slowly opens his eyes.

Man: I heard of your arrival earlier. It's good to see you again, Renee. How have you been?

Renee: About as good as I can be, Richard. It's good to see you, too.

The two shake hands briefly, and then Richard jumps off the rock to his feet, standing tall.

Richard: Glad to hear it. Who is this?

He's looking at Rose now. She doesn't know what it is, but something about the man twists a knot in her stomach. It's like he can see into her soul or something. Just one look, and she feels like he knows everything about her.

Renee: Don't stand there tongue tied, introduce yourself.

Rose: Right, sorry. It's Rose. Rose Wilson.

She holds a hand out to shake. For a moment, Richard just looks at it, then eventually reaches forward to take her hand.

Richard: Richard Dragon. Tell me, why are you here?

Rose: Uh, well... I was told you could help me.

Richard: Help you how?

Rose: I was hoping you could tell me that.

Richard: You lack direction in your life, is that it? A real purpose, perhaps? Or are you just running away because it's the easy thing to do?

She pauses a moment, gaze narrowing. His expression never falters, hard and serious.

Rose: I just... can't figure out what to do with myself. I made some big screw ups with my life, and now... I don't know. I just have some problems I need to work out.

Richard: Everyone has problems, yet most of us are able to deal with them on our own. I can't make you understand what you're supposed to do, or who you're supposed to be. Only you can do that.

Rose: But-

Richard: However... I can help you find the path that will lead you to those answers. If you are willing to learn what I have to teach.

Rose: Wouldn't have come here if I wasn't.

Richard: I hope you mean that.

Rose: I guess we'll see, won' we? So when do we start?

Richard: Not now. Take a while first, grow acclimated to the city. Learn the customs, the routine, ready your mind, and then come see me again. That is when we will start.

Shifting her weight, Rose gives him a curious look. Seriously? She has to waste her time getting accustomed to this place and learn about its routines and customs first? Sure, it's doable, but why does she have to? What is that going to get her that she can't get by starting right away? But she doesn't voice her opinion on it. Something prevents her, something nagging in the back of her head that tells her to just suck it up.

Rose: Alright... and about how long should I spend doing that?

Richard: As long as it takes.

Rose: Okay... in that case, I'll go get 'acclimated', then. I think I'll start with the local cuisine. Got anything to eat around here?

Richard: I'll have someone bring a bowl of rice to your quarters soon, if you want to wait there.

Blinking, she just stares at him for a few moments, trying to process the information.

Rice? A bowl of rice? Is he serious?

One look tells her that he is quite serious, though. Apparently, the people of Nanda Parbat don't really eat that much. One thing to add to the list of stuff she's going to need to get used to about this place.

Rose: Fine, I'll be in my room, then.

As she walks off back towards her living quarters, Richard folds his arms, watching her disappear.

Richard: I sense she will be a stubborn one.

Renee: Yeah, I got that vibe, too. Try spending fourteen hours in a plane with her.

Richard: It doesn't make a difference, though. I've handled worse before.

Renee: I wasn't that bad.

Richard: Weren't you?

She pauses, giving Richard a sidelong glance.

Renee: Alright, I was pretty bad. But not your worst.

Richard: True. That prize goes to Charlie.

Ext. Nanda Parbat – Night

Later that night, Rose takes a long walk throughout the city, just trying to get a feel for it. She has no idea on how to know when she's acclimated to Nanda Parbat, but she supposes she'll find out eventually. Richard is one weird guy, in her mind, but he should know what he's talking about. At least, she hopes he does. She could do with a little less philosophical-like speech, but whatever; she can't change it.

Hugging her coat tighter around herself, Rose lets out a deep breath and looks up at the sky. A light snow is beginning to fall, the wispy flakes fluttering down calmly in the windless air. At night, the city streets are lit with paper lanterns, which cast long, flickering shadows. Her own shadow seems to dance in the dim light, as she walks down the street with her hands in her pockets, footsteps crunching over the snow.

One thing specifically absent from the streets right now, though, are people. Every now and then she'll pass someone going about their business, but for the most part the place feels deserted. It isn't even that particularly late, either, and yet with the sun down, most of Nanda Parbat seems to have retired for the night. Turning the corner of one street, however, she notices Renee sitting on a nearby bench, sipping from a thermos. The woman looks up, as Rose approaches, and leans back.

Rose: That seat taken?

Renee: Be my guest.

Letting out a small sigh, Rose seats herself next to Renee on the bench and holds her hands up behind her head.

Renee: So, regretting coming here, yet?

Rose: Uh, well no... I mean, should I?

Renee: It's not for everyone, believe me. When I first arrived, I didn't know what I was doing, why I was here. I just wanted to leave.

Rose: But you didn't?

Renee: I couldn't. I owed too much to the friend who brought me here to just turn my back. So yeah, I stayed.

Rose: And it worked out, huh?

Renee: I figured out what I needed to do to put my life in order, if that's what you mean. I'm sure Richard can do the same for you.

Rose: That remains to be seen... So where's that friend of yours now, anyway, the one who brought you here?

Renee: Gone.

Bringing her thermos back up to her lips, Renee takes a small sip. Rose sinks back against the bench and breathes a heavy breath.

Rose: Oh. Sorry.

Stupid question.

For another few moments, they two just sit there in silence. Rose leans forward, staring at the ground with her elbows on her knees. Renee takes a few more casual sips from her thermos, just sitting back and watching the fluttering snowflakes fall from the sky.

Rose: So, uh... how long did it take you? To complete your... learning or whatever here, I mean.

Renee: Months, years maybe. Hard to say.

Looking up suddenly, Rose's eye goes wide in surprise. She expected to be gone a little while, but years?

Rose: That long?

Renee: Don't worry too much about it. Time passes... differently, here in Nanda Parbat. Days, weeks, months, they don't matter. Pretty soon, they'll all start to blend into each other and you won't be able to tell the difference. You might spend half a lifetime within these walls, when only a fraction of that time will pass beyond them.

Rose: So you're telling me that this city is in... some kind of time bubble?

Renee: I couldn't tell you how it works; don't really understand it myself. All I know is that I spent a long time in here learning, training, finding myself... and when I returned to the outside world, it was like I'd never left.

Rose: I see...

It's like the freaking Twilight Zone in here...

Rose: Anyway, nice chat, but I should get going. Gotta work on getting 'acclimated' to this place, after all.

Renee: You'll get used to it eventually. Took me two weeks before I finally understood what I needed to.

Rose: Right... thanks for encouragement. See ya around.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Day

It's a rainy day in Silverstone, and hot, too. The kind of rainy day that causes a sudden kick in the humidity once the sun hits again. Officer Rebecca Chavez takes in a deep breath and wipes some of the water from her brow, then takes a closer look at the dead body in front of her that she's investigating. The poor sap is face down in a dirty alleyway, dressed in nothing but his boxers. The cause of death is obvious enough. Judging from the massive bruising and the odd angle of his head, his neck was snapped. Of course, the medical examiner will take a closer look later.

She doesn't touch anything, of course, or tamper with the scene in any way. Can't go making life difficult for the crime scene investigator. Instead, she just stands there, looking at the corpse. It had been pure chance that she stumbled upon it, noticing the body behind a few trash bags as she was driving past on patrol. She put the call out immediately, and now waits patiently for the forensics team to get there.

The large white and blue van pulls up just a few minutes later, followed by another couple of squad cars and an unmarked vehicle. The forensics team, more patrol officers, and the detectives assigned to the case, most likely. Becky moves away from the scene, ducking back out of the barricade tape she had set up in front of the alley. The two men in suits from the black car are already there to greet her.

Kubrick: Officer Chavez, I'm Detective Kubrick, this is Detective Riggs.

Becky: Right, yeah. I think I've seen you two around the station before.

Kubrick: I understand you're the one that found the body?

Becky: Uh, yeah, just a little while ago. Followed standard procedure, secured the area, called it in. No witnesses in the immediate vicinity to take statements from.

Kubrick: And tell us again how you found the body.

Becky: Was just driving past on patrol, like normal. Happened to look over and there he was, face down and dead.

Kubrick: And was there anything unusual about the scene?

Becky: You mean aside from the dead guy in his underwear? Nothing I can think of, no.

Kubrick: Alright, in that case why don't you help us canvass the area, interview some of the people in the neighboring buildings, see if they saw anything? Give us any statements you get, then you can head back to the precinct and fill out a report.

Becky: Yeah, sure. I'll get right on it.

The two detectives nod to her, then move past her to the crime scene itself. Becky watches them for a couple moments, eyes narrowing at them. Something about that conversation just felt... weird. But she can't put her finger on it.

Qué mierda, calm down, girl. You're just paranoid. Take a deep breath, settle your nerves, and do your job.

As she makes her way back to her squad car to get her notepad, however, Detective Riggs, the silent of the pair, looks over his shoulder briefly to give her a hard look, eyes narrowing. By the time she turns around again, his attention is elsewhere.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Night

Becky lets out a long yawn, leaning back in the desk chair and stretching out her arms. Exhaustion is starting to set in, but then that's what she gets for working another double shift. Seems like all she's been doing lately is working, ever since Rose left a week ago. But the work helps take her mind off other things that she'd rather not be thinking about. Like Rose.

And yet you're still thinking about her, estúpido. Get over it.

Releasing a long sigh, she rubs her eyes and finishes filling out the last of her report. That's one of the few things she hates about being a cop, the paperwork. They never quite covered just how much of it there would be at the academy. And with double shifts comes double the paperwork, naturally. She just hopes that some of this is useful, especially her report on the John Doe from earlier. The statements she took from some of the people in the buildings next to the alley were... interesting. Some didn't see or hear anything, others thought they heard screaming, and others still claimed they saw some guy dressed in all back leaving the alley. Yet none of them bothered to notice the half naked man lying face down in a puddle.

Becky: Weird...

Whatever the case, she's about ready to head home and get some damn sleep. She only has to be up in about five hours to do it all again tomorrow. Yawning, she flips off the desk lamp, then gets up to leave.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Another long yawn leaves her as she heads down the sidewalk. Her apartment is just a couple of blocks, within walking distance. Helps save on gas money, at least. Shoving her hands into her pockets, she keeps her gaze pointed down and tries not to nod off in mid walk. Maybe she should take a day off soon and just take a nice twelve hour nap. That might do her some good.

Turning down the corner of her street, she doesn't notice that she's being followed. The figure peers around the edge of the alleyway, watching Becky near her apartment. Several moments pass, and then the figure scales the adjacent building in an astounding display of acrobatic prowess. Within moments, the figure is gone.

Int. Becky's Apartment – Night

Becky glances at the clock. Two thirty in the morning. Well, it's about what time she figured she'd get home, give or take a few minutes. Just another late night in the world of Rebecca Chavez. It's not going to be easy to get to sleep, though, not when it's this muggy. All she has is a small little table fan to keep herself cool, and short of sleeping in the buff, she can't can't really do anything else. She'll manage to fall asleep by four, if she's lucky.

Turning the light on in her bathroom, she takes a few moments to brush her teeth and wash up, then heads back to her bedroom. She yawns again, undressing down to her underwear and just plopping herself down on the mattress, eyes closed. She's already starting to sweat.

Dios mio, I hate the summer...

That's when she hears it. The sound is only slight, but she knows it well. One of the floorboards in the kitchen is a little loose, not by much, but just enough to creak ever so slightly when you step on it. The fact that it's creaking now has her suddenly wide awake and scrambling to her feet. Whoever else is in her apartment apparently realizes that the creaky floorboard just gave away the element of surprise, because suddenly she hears harder footsteps racing across her apartment.

Becky lunges for her bedside table, pulling the drawer open and pulling out her home handgun. By the time she turns around, the figure is almost upon her, so fast. She gets off two gunshots before the dark mass hits her, feeling a hot sting across her arm. The two collapse to the floor hard, knocking over the end table and lamp. For a moment, Becky just lies there, grunting at the combination of the pain on her arm and the weight upon her. Eventually, she pushes the person off her and rolls away, breathing in deeply and clutching the bleeding wound near her elbow.

Becky: The hell?

She gets a good look at the intruder, now. Clearly female, judging from the smaller frame and the ponytail sticking out from beneath the head mask. And the breasts, of course. But the woman is dressed up the same as those strange men that she and Rose had encountered several weeks ago at the warehouse, like some kind of ninja. Reaching forward, Becky flips the woman over with her good arm, then sighs, hanging her head.

Well, she's not getting up any time soon. Jueputa.

Two bullet wounds bleed freely dead center in the woman's chest, her eyes wide open and staring blankly forward. Her cold grip holds a long knife, the one used to slash open Becky's arm. After taking a brief moment to wrap up her wound, Becky sits on the edge of her bed and grabs the phone. She won't be getting much sleep tonight after all.

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Chapter #32 Preview: Rose finally begins her training with Richard Dragon, but finds it to be a lot more challenging than she anticipated. Also, Renee attempts to teach her the finer points of meditation, much to her chagrin. Back in Silverstone, Becky continues to investigate strange occurrences around the city.

Chapter #32

Int. Temple of Rama Kushna – Day

Three weeks. It takes three weeks before Richard Dragon starts training Rose. At least, she thinks it's three weeks. Just as Renee had said, time doesn't have any meaning in Nanda Parbat. Minutes flow into hours, hours flow into days, days flow into weeks, all in the blink of an eye. Trying to keep track of how much time passes is utterly pointless.

Rose lets out a pained grunt tumbling backwards and crashing to the floor. Holding a hand to her cheek, she sits up and glares up at her new teacher, already starting to wonder just what she's supposed to be learning here, other than getting her ass kicked. Richard stares at her, doesn't offer a hand to help her up, just waits for her to make a move. In a quick motion, she flips up to her feet and lunges in with a vicious kick. He sidesteps it easily, pushing her leg to the side and delivering a palm strike to the chest that sends her stumbling backwards again.

Richard: You're starting to get wild, sloppy. You're giving in to your anger and your frustration.

Rose: It's not my frustration making me sloppy, I have no depth perception right now. You try fighting with one eye and nothing to compensate for it.

She's really beginning to hate this temple, where he's been training her. According to him, it's protected by Rama Kushna, who disallows all outside powers, abilities, strengths, or whatever. Within these walls, all those who enter are on equal ground, unpowered. That means, her enhanced strength, agility, reflexes, speed, even her precog, it's all gone in here. She just has her skill and her body. That also means she has nothing to compensate for her missing eye.

Before, her precog and reflexes more than made up for her blind side, but now... now it's like she's missing a part of herself. She can't tell what's coming from her left and her depth perception is shot. It's like she's trying to fight while crippled. That matter isn't helped at all by the fact that Dragon is good, real good. Like, Shiva good. Maybe better, though it's really difficult to tell with her current handicaps.

Richard: You rely too much on your enhancements, and not enough on your skill. What happens when those meta abilities of yours are a non-factor, such as now? Then what to you do?

Rose: I get my ass handed to me, clearly. This is stupid, I didn't come here for you to beat the crap out of me, I came here to learn.

Richard: And I am teaching. If you could look past your clouded mind, you might be able to see the lesson.

Rose: What lesson is that, huh? That I'm next to useless without my enhanced attributes?

Richard: You must figure it out on your own. Until then, we continue. Come at me again, and this time actually try to hit me.

Ext. Nanda Parbat – Day

Walking slowly down the long set of stone steps leading down from the temple, Rose holds her side and groans, a slight limp in her stride. Some lesson. All she learned is that she's barely passable as a fighter when her abilities are taken away. It isn't because her skill is lacking that much, but rather her missing eye severely limits her effectiveness. Fortunately, she doesn't really ever have to worry about her enhancements suddenly disappearing, not outside that stupid temple. Outside, like now, she's already back to normal.

And it feels really good. Don't know what you have sometimes until you lose it.

Of course, the bruises aren't just going to suddenly disappear. Those are still there, and they still hurt. At the very least, they'll be mostly gone by tomorrow, now that she has her enhanced metabolism back. The question remains, though, what exactly is she supposed to do now? It isn't that late in the afternoon, and Richard already concluded their training for the day, saying that she needed to contemplate the lesson more, instead of looking past it.

Right, because that'll happen.

Upon reaching the bottom of the long steps and walking back into the main area of Nanda Parbat, someone is already there waiting for her. Renee stands in front of a nearby building, arms crossed and watching her approach. Rose gives an odd look, then stops in front of her.

Rose: What?

Renee: Nothing. Just thinking.

Rose: About?

Renee: How hard Richard must have kicked you to cause a limp like that.

Narrowing her gaze, Rose stands straighter, trying not to favor her leg.

Rose: Don't know what you're talking about.

Renee: Of course you don't. Now, come with me. Your lessons aren't over today.

Rose: Wait, so you're going to teach me stuff too now?

Renee: Good question. Am I?

Rose: You're not making sense.

Renee: I mean, are you willing to learn?

Rose: Oh, that again... Let's just get on with this.

Int. Ice Cave – Day

Rose glances around at the shimmering, reflective walls of the cave, all coated in a thick sheet of ice. The ice has been smoothed over, too, making them appear as mirrors. Everywhere she looks, she sees herself staring back at her. She's not sure she likes it. A circle of candles are set up in the center of the cave room, quite a ways from the entrance, adding to the almost surreal atmosphere.

Rose: This place is... weird.

Renee: That's one way of putting it. Come here, sit.

Renee has already lowered herself to the cold floor of the cave, sitting cross legged in the center of the candle ring. In front of her is an empty space just large enough for Rose to sit down in the same manner, and so she does.

Rose: Alright, so what the hell are we doing here?

Renee: Here is will you will look into yourself and learn what you want most. That lack of direction you feel? That sense of doubt? This is where you find the source, eventually.

Rose: Looking into myself... so all the mirrors are supposed to be a metaphor? Real cute. But if this is where I'm supposed to figure out the problem, then what's Richard teaching me?

Renee: And that's the question.

Narrowing her eye, Rose folds her arms over her chest and lets out an annoyed sigh. She's starting to get a little tired of these ambiguous answers. Why can't these people just tell her what she needs to know and let that be the end of it?

Rose: Okay, so how am I supposed to do this then?

Renee: Have you ever meditated before? I don't mean contemplated a problem on your own time, I mean true meditation; retreating into your mind to gain a true understanding of yourself. One of the many things I learned while I was here.

Rose: Meditation... right. Tried it, didn't like it. Not my thing.

Renee: Well, now you're going to make it your thing, because that's what we're doing here.

Rose: Swell.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Day

Becky quickly sifts through the long cabinet of folders, her eyes scanning the case titles. She hears a sudden noise near the door and looks over, but no one's there. Uttering a breath of relief, she turns back to the drawer to find what she's looking for. Finally, she spots the proper folder and takes it. Then, she stuffs it in an empty folder of her own, closes the drawer, and hurries out of the file room.

She really shouldn't be doing this. She isn't a detective, she's a patrol officer. This isn't her case. And yet... too many weird things have been happening lately for her to ignore it. Ever since she found the John Doe last week and was then attacked in her apartment, things around the station haven been off. She can't tell exactly what it is, just that it's... off. The dead body in the alleyway she stumbled across was the body of one Francis Baldoni, suspected family crime boss. While no one would judge that weird on its own, a Jane Doe surfaced a few days later. Emilia Marconi, another suspected family crime boss. The day after that, it was the body of Colum O'Malley, believed to be the head of the Irish Mafia in Silverstone.

Aside from the simple fact that highly watched, suspected heads of organized crime families are starting to show up dead all of the city, there's the inconsistencies in the investigation, from what she's heard around the station. No leads, no forensic evidence, nothing to give them a hint on who the killer is. Or killers. It doesn't make any sense. There's always evidence left behind, that much she knows, especially considering the poor ways in which the bodies were dumped and handled. Whoever had killed them didn't bother to cover up their tracks, and yet the crime scene units never found any evidence at all? No, she doesn't believe that.

And then, there are the detectives in charge of the investigation, Detectives Kubrick and Riggs. Something about those two men... she can't place it, but something about them is just wrong. Call it a woman's intuition, but she gets a bad vibe from them. The way they've handled themselves at the crime scenes hasn't been what Becky has come to expect from detectives, at least not the ones she's dealt with in the past. Whatever is going on, she intends to find out.

Sitting down at one of the empty desks, Becky places the folder down in front of her and slowly opens it. The first couple pages are just basic background information on the case, nothing interesting. The details is what she wants. Taking in a cool breath, she flips the pages over, getting into the meat of the case file. And when she does... she suddenly freezes, glaring in confusion. At first, she thinks it's a mistake, so she goes onto the next page. And then the next one. And the next one.

Qué diablos? They're all blank...

Now she's convinced. Something is very, very wrong. Closing the folder again, Becky stands up and looks around. A few of her fellow officers are in the immediate vicinity, going about their business. Nothing out of the ordinary... But has someone been tampering with the case files? Is it just an honest mistake, or is something more sinister going on here? Can she even trust to bring this information to anyone?

Calm down, girl, calm down. Take a breath.

The Chief, she can bring it to the Chief. If she can trust anyone in this station, it's him. Hurrying quickly down the hallway, she heads for his office. Before she can get there, however, a voice stops her, calling out.

Stevens: Hey, Rebecca!

A small groan escapes her lips. She could have gone without running into him right now. Or at all. Turning around, she breathes outwardly and tries to remain as calm looking as possible.

Becky: Uh, hey look, I'd love to talk right now and all, but I'm kind of in a hurry, so-

Stevens: Ah come on, no need to be in a rush. I just wanted to ask you a quick question.

Becky: Alright... and what would that be?

Stevens: Well, I was thinking, we're both single, we know each other pretty well, so why don't we go out some time? We can grab some dinner later.

And sometimes, she wishes that she had already come out. It would save her from having to deal with frustratingly annoying men like Stevens.

Becky: Sorry, really, but I'm pretty busy later. Uh... rain check?

Stevens: Man, what is it with you women and rain checks, huh?

Becky: Couldn't tell you. Now, I really have to get going...

Stevens: Alright, just one more thing in that case.

A small sigh leaves her throat.

Becky: Yes?

Stevens: See, we've been watching you for a while now, Rebecca. We know what you're doing.

A small twinge of nervousness goes through her. She stiffens up, taking a slight step back and glaring at the man. What the hell is he talking about?

Becky: Come again?

Stevens: You're getting too close, Rebecca, and we can't have that. So I'm afraid I have to say goodbye.

That's when his hand goes to his belt, starting to draw his gun. In the first instant, Becky almost doesn't react, but once she sees his arm coming up to point the weapon at her, she snaps her own hand out to grab his wrist, pushing it away. The gun goes off, bullet ripping into a nearby desk, as Becky turns to the side and brings her knee up into the man's gut, doubling him over. He tries to rush forward at her, but she's already gabbing her taser. With a swift motion, she clicks the button and brings the prongs up into his chest, causing him to twitch and flop to the floor like a dead fish.

By this time, the other officers and personnel in the building are springing into action to find out who just discharged their firearm. Rebecca takes another step back, lifting a hand to her head and brushing her fingers through her long brown hair. Her heart is beating a hundred times a minute, it feels. As she leans back against the desk behind her, trying to steady her breath, she swallows and gazes down at the unconscious Stevens.

He... he just tried to kill me! Why? And what was he talking about? They're watching me? Who's watching me? Jueputa, what the hell is going on?

Int. Ice Cave – Night

Silence. That's all she hears. In this cave, all sounds from the outside world seem to vanish, separating it into its own, quiet void. And yet, it doesn't help her concentrate. Though Renee spent the better part of the last three hours trying to teach her the details of meditation, she just can't seem to 'get in touch' with herself. Grumbling, Rose opens her eye and stares at the large reflective ice wall in front of her. She doesn't like her reflection right now. It's her face, yes, but beyond the appearance, she doesn't know anything else.

Who is she really? What is she supposed to be doing? Where does she belong? These are the questions she came here to get answered, and yet she's no closer to figuring it out than she was when she arrived. She's now beginning to doubt that she ever will. Maybe coming here really was a mistake. Leaning back on her hands, he exhales a long breath and uncrosses her legs.

Nope, definitely not feeling it. How the hell is this supposed to solve my problems?

Finally, Rose stands up from her spot on the icy ground and marches back out tunnel to the entrance, using an oil lantern to light her way.

Ext. Nanda Parbat – Night

When she makes it back outside, she looks up at the night sky, watching the moon for a few moments as it floats high above her head. Apparently, she had been in there a lot longer than she thought. Again with the whole time warp thing; it's really starting to creep her out.

Renee: So, make any progress?

Glancing to her left, she notices Renee standing there, leaning back against the rocky wall and sipping hot tea from her thermos.

Rose: Depends. Is no progress still progress?

Renee: You'll get it eventually, just takes time.

Rose: Somehow, I'm not so sure.

As the two begin to walk down the trail to the main part of the city again, Rose holds her hands to her hips and lets out a heavy breath.

Rose: I just... I keep asking myself the questions. Who am I? What am I supposed to do? Over and over again... and I come up with nothing. I don't think this place is helping much, either.

Renee: As an old friend of mine would have said, those are the wrong questions to be asking yourself.

Rose: Of course they are... Then what's the right question?

There is a small pause, as Renee hesitates to answer and takes another sip from her thermos.

Renee: Who do you want to be?

Rose's gaze narrows.

Rose: How is that any different?

Renee: You'll figure it out. Eventually.

Rose: At least one of us has confidence.

Releasing a frustrated sigh, Rose brings her arms up over her chest and stares at the ground.

Renee: Let me ask you something, do you have anyone special back home? Anyone you regret leaving behind?

Rose: And what's that have to do with anything?

Renee: Call me curious.

She hesitates a response, giving Renee a sidelong glance before finally shrugging her shoulders.

Rose: Yes. I mean, maybe. Kind of. I don't know.

Renee: Sounds like it's pretty complicated.

Rose: It is. I think. I just... ugh. It's hard to explain. I mean, she was probably the closest friend I had. Ever had. And we'd only known each other for like half a year, but hell, she was a fun one. She added a new dimension to to my life.

Lifting an eyebrow, Renee slowly curls her lips into a knowing smirk.

Renee: Just friends, huh?

Rose: I don't kn- well yeah. Sort of. I mean, she... I didn't know she thought more of me, not until she made a move... that was awkward.

Renee: And you didn't feel the same way?

Rose: No. I mean... not at first. I don't think. We were close, yeah, but I'm not... I mean, I've never been into women. But she... look, it's complicated. Why are we even talking about this?

Renee: Like I said, I'm curious. So what happened between you two, anyway? Something tells me you wouldn't be here if things were still good.

Rose: Oh, you know. She just found out that I'd been lying to her during the entire time I've known her. When she found out my other identity... it wasn't pretty. She wouldn't even talk to me after that. I wanted to try and explain things better, but it's hard to do that when the other person shuts you out completely.

Renee: Sounds like you miss her.

Rose: So what if I do?

Renee: Then I'd say you're already a little closer to answering the question.

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Chapter #33 Preview: After spending the equivalent of years in Nanda Parbat, Rose's training an enlightenment of herself is progressing to levels she couldn't have imagined. However, her precog power develops even further during a meditation session, prompting a sudden return to Silverstone City to find Becky, also learning that only a month and a half has passed in the outside world. When the two women meet again, can they patch up their damaged relationship? Or will they drift apart forever?

Chapter #33

Int. Temple of Rama Kushna – Day

How long has she been here now? Months? Years? She can't tell. Time has even less meaning now than it did before, and that's saying something. All she knows is that it's been a long time, much longer than she intended to stay. And yet... she knows she isn't done. She's getting there, but she hasn't quite figured out everything she needs to figure out. One thing she does know, however: she's better. A lot better.

Richard comes in at her with a powerful set of blows. His actions are hard, precise, and blindingly fast. But Rose sees them coming, and not because of her precog or enhanced reflexes. No, it's her skill that matches him, deflects his punches, blocks his kicks. Even with her missing eye, blind side and lack of depth perception all, she goes toe to toe with Richard Dragon. He still lands a couple of strikes on her, but she gives back just as much, delivering sharp strikes to his torso and kicking him backwards.

Her actions are reflexive, instant, newfound muscle memory the likes of which she never even imagined. The training that she's gone through under Richard's tutelage has taken the potential that Shiva saw in her and not just nurtured it, but brought it out full force. She can feel it in the way she fights, the way she thinks, the way she acts. She's a far more capable fighter now than she has ever been before. And she likes it.

As for the lesson that he's been trying to teach her all this time, she finally understands that, as well. She doubted herself for the longest time, maybe not always out in the open, but deep down it had always been there. The incident with Becky brought out that self-doubt and had her so unsure of herself that her entire life's purpose folded in around her. But just as she relied on her enhanced abilities as a crutch, she relied on the people around her and the material things in her life to define her. When one of those crutches was kicked out from beneath her, she toppled like a house of cards.

It's time to start trusting in herself, who she is, who she wants to be, to determine how she wants to live her life, just as she has come to rely now on her skill, not her attributes. As for just who she wants to be, though... she still hasn't quite discovered that yet. But she's getting there. Even her meditation sessions with Renee are making progress, somewhat. In spite of how long she's been at this, the finer points of meditation still escape her.

She's ready to grasp it, though, this time for sure.

Int. Ice Cave – Day

Rose sits there on the floor of the cave, just staring back at her reflection on the walls. She still can't see who she is beyond the appearance, but God be damned if she doesn't figure it out. Taking in a deep breath, she pulls her legs in, going cross legged and holding her palms together. Her gaze stays locked on her reflection for another brief moment, and then she closes her eye.

Come on, Rose... just think. Who do you want to be? Where do you belong?

For the next three hours, she sits there motionless. Her mind concentrates, breathing steadies, heart slows... and then it happens. It feels like her precog, and yet it's something so very different... so very more. It isn't just a bunch of images flashing through her head this time, her entire consciousness leaves her body, goes elsewhere... or rather elsewhen. She's seeing the future again, of that she's sure, but not just a few seconds or even minutes later. Instead, she's seeing... well, she doesn't really know how far, just that it's in the future.

Rose opens her eye and looks around, expects to see the cave around her. But she doesn't; she's not in the cave anymore. She doesn't really know where she is... but everything appears hazy and washed out, as if in black and white. A few tools are scattered around the small space, which seems to be a shed of some kind, some hanging on hooks and others fallen haphazardly on the floor or on tables. A few boxes here and there, some barrels, a broom, and... blood?

Getting to her feet, Rose moves forward and inspects a large dark blotch on the floorboards. It's fresh, still wet. Her attention is suddenly drawn by a sharp cry, coming from farther within the structure, beyond a door on the far wall. She cautiously heads towards it, easing the door open and looking inside. The square room is mostly empty, with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. In the center of the room are two people, a man and a woman. The woman sits on a chair, bound tightly to it with thick rope, and a handkerchief gagging her mouth. Her head hangs forward, stringy hair veiling her face.

The man paces around the chair, a steel pipe in hand. For a few moments, he rests the pipe on his shoulder, just tapping it against himself. Then, abruptly, he turns and swings the pipe, beating it across the woman's shoulder and eliciting a muffled scream of pain. Rose flies immediately into action, lunging forward at the man.

Rose: B**tard!

But she goes right through him, stumbling to the floor as her momentum carries her forward. Right, this isn't real... it's just a vision. Not a brief flicker of precog, but a full blown vision of the future. But a vision of what?

Man: Should have just left well enough alone. You'd think after the first couple of times we tried to stop you, you'd get the message. But no, you just had to keep digging.

He takes another swing, this time cracking the pipe across the woman's arm. She screams again, her strained voice muffled behind the gag.

Man: Who else did you tell about us, huh? Who else knows?!

An uppercut swing this time. The tip of the pipe caroms off the woman's jaw, sends her and the chair flying backwards and crashing to the floor. She barely moves, taking in deep breaths and sobbing lightly, the pain flaring through her body being excruciating. And that's when Rose sees the woman's face. Rose's heart seizes up, her body going numb.

Rose: Rebecca!

Just as the man starts moving in again to make another strike, everything around her starts to flicker out of existence and fade away. Her consciousness returns to her, and suddenly she's back in the ice cave again. Releasing a panicked breath, she snaps her eye open, multiple reflections of her face staring back at her in the mirrored walls. Only, this time it's not just her face that she sees. There's a second one beside it... and right then, she realizes something. She's finally answered her question. But that isn't any cause for celebration. Her precog is never wrong, and with something as extensive as she's just seen...

Lurching from her spot on the ground, she takes off down the tunnel back towards the mouth of the cave in a hurry. She has to find Renee, has to get of Nanda Parbat.

I have to get back to Silverstone. Now!

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Night

Twenty-eight hours later...

A steady rain falls from the night sky, soaking the quiet back street of Silverstone. A taxi cab pulls up outside the small apartment building, allowing its passenger to get out. Rose quickly hands over money for the fare, then pushes the door open and practically sprints up to the front door, which she finds locked, of course.

Rose: Come on!

In her current state, it takes her a few moments to realize that she has to press the buzzer for the proper apartment and request to be let in, since she isn't a resident here. Taking a moment to calm herself, she takes in a deep breath and presses to button.

Rose: Rebecca? Are you there? Becky? It's... it's me. It's Rose. I... listen, are you there? I want to talk... I need to talk to you.

Come on, be there... please be there.

But she receives no response. She buzzes in again, but ten minutes later and there is no sign of Becky. In frustration, she gives the door a solid kick and then takes a step back, her hand coming up to brush back her wet hair and wipe the rainwater from her eyes.

Rose: Sh*t!

Is she too late? She can't be too late... She can't lose Becky like this, not because she was halfway across the world, too busy running away from her problems again. Uttering another angry breath, she beats her fist against the door, then bows her head, trying to think. Maybe Becky's just out right now, maybe she's working. Maybe she's-

Becky: Rose?

Spinning around, Rose sees Becky standing there, wearing a long raincoat and holding an umbrella. The woman blinks a couple of times in confusion, wondering what the person who left a month and a half ago is doing standing outside her apartment building now. Breathing a sigh of relief, Rose comes forward and throws her arms around Becky for a brief moment.

Rose: You're alright...

Becky: Uh... I'm fine. What are you doing here, Rose?

Rose: I... needed to talk to you.

Becky's eyes slightly narrow, giving a hard look.

Becky: So talk.

Rose: Okay, look... I know when I left before, things between us weren't... good.

Becky: You lied to me, betrayed my trust, and had been acting as a criminal on a nightly basis. 'Not good' is a bit of an understatement.

Rose: I know. You're right. And not just about that... everything. I lied to you. I betrayed you. I hurt you. But damn it, I never meant to. I never wanted to.

Becky: It's a little late to change that.

Rose: Maybe... but I want to explain things first. Everything. I lied to you before, about who I was, what I do... a lot. So now I'm going to be completely honest. Who I am, where I come from, what I've done, everything. No matter how you feel about me now, I don't want to keep these secrets from you anymore.

For a long moment, Becky doesn't respond. She sucks in a deep breath through her nose, just staring back at Rose and softening her eyes a little. The only sound is the pattering of the rain around them, and the occasion car driving by. Eventually, Becky simply pushes past, heading to the apartment entrance and unlocking it to walk inside. Clenching her jaw, Rose bows her head, staring at the ground. But Rebecca doesn't close the door behind her, instead turning around and holding it open.

Becky: So are you just going to stand there and catch cold, or are you coming up?

Int. Becky's Apartment – Night

The tension within the apartment is thick enough to cut with a radial arm saw. Rose sits quietly on the couch in the living room, while Becky heads over to the kitchen. They haven't said anything else since entering the building, not since they were outside. Shifting her weight uneasily, Rose holds her hands in her lap and takes in a deep breath.

Becky: So, can I get you a drink or anything?

Rose: Oh, sure. Water's fine.

Pouring a glass of water, Becky walks over to the living room and hands it off, then takes a seat in front of Rose. She crosses her arms and stares, tilting her head to the side.

Becky: Alright, so explain.

Rose: Well, for starters, my name isn't Sarah Rose Walker. But then you already knew that... my real name is Rose Worth Wilson. I grew up in New York City with my mother, until I was fourteen. It was a good childhood... a great one. My mom had me tutored privately, only the best for her little girl. She also taught me to defend myself... yeah, those twelve years of karate I mentioned? More like an entire life of martial arts. My mother... she was the best. I loved her more than anything, up until the day I lost her.

Becky listens carefully, but she doesn't say anything, doesn't even move. Letting out a deep breath, Rose bows her head and continues.

Rose: And then I met my father and his side of the family... that's when things got bad.

And so she explains everything. It takes the better part of two hours, but she doesn't leave anything out, covering her entire life: her father's half-brother, Wade DeFarge kidnapping and torturing her. Her mother's presumed death. Her first stint on the Teen Titans. Her time as Lian Harper's nanny. Wade DeFarge coming back and killing her new adoptive parents. Slade taking her in and training her, followed by her subsequently killing Wade and taking over his Ravager identity. Her father drugging her with his serum and controlling her for his use, leading to her carving out her own eye to prove her loyalty to him. Finally breaking free of his control and returning to the Teen Titans. And everything else, up through getting Bart Allen killed, causing her to leave the team for the umpteenth time and eventually arrive in Silverstone.

She explains about how she found Holly, how Batman set her up with a new identity as a cop, how she was forced into crime for Jeremiah Belmont in order to keep Rebecca safe, and of her time in Nanda Parbat, where she finally realized that she needed to stop doubting herself and take charge of her life. When she finally finishes the account of her life story, she takes in a soft breath and slowly glances up at Becky for the first time since starting. What she sees surprises her.

Sitting there on the edge of her seat, Becky leans forward, arms wrapped around herself and soft, sympathetic eyes gazing at Rose. For a brief moment, the two just stare at each other, but eventually Becky's hand comes forward and rests on Rose' shoulder.

Becky: I had... no idea how much you've been through. No girl deserves that much pain in her life. And the whole time I thought you were a criminal, you were just... you were protecting me? Dios mio, now I really feel like a b*tch.

Rose: Well it's not your fault... you didn't know. I... didn't tell you. I should have told you.

Becky: I guess it couldn't be the easiest thing to do, though, revealing your secret... your life, to someone.

Rose: Yeah, well... now I have. I'm sorry I didn't tell you all of this sooner.

A small smirk comes to Becky's face.

Becky: Would have saved a lot of drama, ah?

Rose: Yeah... anyway, that's all I came here for, to tell you that. I'll go now, probably don't want me hanging around your place any longer than I need to. So... goodbye.

As Rose gets up to leave, however, Becky stands, too, reaching out to gently grab hold of her arm.

Becky: Now hold on there. Who said I don't want you around?

Rose: I... just figured, considering everything that's happened...

Becky: Ay carumba, Rose. You might be trying to take charge of your life, but you're still one socially awkward woman, you know that? Look... we both acted a little loco. It happens. But now that you're back and being yourself, your real self... I'm not letting you walk out on me again.

Rose swallows, her posture relaxing. She turns fully towards Becky now, looking back at her warmly.

Rose: Well if you don't want me to leave, then I'm not going anywhere. Not this time.

Taking in a deep breath, Becky's hands come up to Rose's shoulders, her touch soft, gentle. She hesitates a moment, looking off to the side briefly. Then, she just shakes her head.

Rose: Something wrong?

Becky: I want to do something right now, but the last time I tried... it didn't end so good.

Rose breathes outwardly, her expression softening and a small smile coming to her face. Her hands come up and tenderly turn Becky's head towards her, their eyes meeting again. With her hands pressed gently against Rebecca's cheeks, she comes in for a kiss, her heart beating at what feels like a thousand times a minute and her body is warm... hot.

Their lips come together for several seconds, before Rose finally pulls away. Becky blinks and stares half in disbelief, half in elation. Swallowing, she brings her hands down to Rose's waist and comes in closer.

Becky: And here I thought you didn't like women...

Rose: I don't.

Becky: But you-

Her words go silent, as Rose's finger presses itself against her lips.

Rose: I like you, Becky. Just you.

Becky: Cáspita... you really know how to make a girl blush.

Rose: I try.

Becky: And you really mean that? You're not just... I don't know, being nice? You don't have to do anything just for my sake.

Rose: To be completely honest, if you didn't want anything more, if you never had a crush on me, I'd never even consider it. But let's face it, you've been crushing on me hard ever since we started working together.

Turning her gaze to the side again, Becky smiles slightly, even if she does looking quite a bit embarrassed.

Becky: Okay... yeah, maybe a little.

Rose: And you do want something more. I think deep down, I've wanted that with someone for a long time... and right now, I wouldn't rather it be with anyone else.

Becky: Well in that case-

She suddenly turns towards Rose again and moves in, locking their lips together. This time, she's a bit more aggressive, pushing Rose back down to the couch and straddling her lap. Rose emits a tiny breath of surprise, as she's suddenly forced down into the seat, powerless to do anything to stop it (well, okay, if she really wanted to stop it, she could do so no problem. But she doesn't want to). Becky holds the kiss for a few more seconds, before finally pulling back and smirking.

Becky: -we have a lot of catching up to do.

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Chapter #34 Preview: With her life now planted firmly back in Silverstone, and now officially involved with Rebecca Chavez, Rose returns to her identity of Ravager, working alongside her cop girlfriend to unravel a dangerous, growing mystery that threatens to consume Silverstone for good.

24 Comments

Rose Wilson: The Ravager - Every Rose Has Its Thorn (#20-26)

Disclaimer: I do not own any DC characters or locations. All rights belong to DC Comics.

Rating: T+

Note: The fourth story arc sees Rose Wilson forced into a crime spree when those closest to her are threatened by a familiar villain. Towards the end of this experience, Rose must make a difficult decision about her life and her future as Ravager.

All Chapters: http://www.comicvine.com/forums/fan-fic/8/ravager4s-fan-fic-archives/660884/#1

Rose Wilson: The Ravager

Chapter #20

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Standing in her kitchen, Rose busily works to cook up a large breakfast, even going so far as to include foods she normally destroys on a stove. It's mostly to keep herself occupied, while her mind is a total whirlwind of questions. She is, of course, thinking about the previous night. What had begun as a rather enjoyable birthday outing with Becky had taken a very bizarre turn in the way it had ended. Could she really have been that oblivious to what her friend had been doing, not just that night but in the days before, as well?

Rose had always been a master flirt, or at least an incessant one. Even if her actual relationship experience amounted to zilch, she liked to think she was good at flirting, and telling when someone was flirting with her. But she had never once taken into consideration that Becky, of all people, could be attracted to her, and so it had all gone straight over her head. Now she just feels dumb for missing it. A lot of embarrassment could have been saved last night, if she hadn't been that incredibly ignorant.

So what do you do about this, Rose? she asks herself, while flipping over a few pancakes. Turns out your partner on the force is a lesbian and has the hots for you, so to speak. But of course you're not, so that leaves you... where?

Letting out a sigh, Rose brings a hand to her head and closes her eye. How the hell is she supposed to face Becky today? They're still partners, they'll still be sitting in the same car together all day, they'll still have to coexist, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it is. Sooner or later, she supposes that she and Becky will just have to talk about what happened, and try to clear things up in a calmer manner than the stammering confusion of last night

Yeah, that'll go over well, I'm sure.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Day

There's no sign of Becky when Rose arrives first thing in the morning, but then she did get there a little early. It gives her a chance to get changed into her uniform and think about what exactly she's going to say to the woman. While walking down the main hallway toward the lobby, however, she catches sight her partner sitting at a desk in one of the adjoining offices, filling out a form. Apparently, Becky had arrived even earlier than she did.

Pausing for a moment, Rose takes in a deep breath and heads to the office. She announces her presence with a small knock on the open door, causing Becky to look up and freeze, then shift awkwardly in her seat.

Rose: Hey.

Becky: Uh... hi.

Rose: You came in pretty early, huh?

Becky: Yeah, I... wanted to take care of a few things.

An uncomfortable silence descends over the pair for a moment, both women just staring at each other.

Rose: So... are we going to talk about what happened last night or what? You kind of ran out in a hurry.

Becky: Well hell, can you blame me? I've never been more embarrassed in my life! I mean, I... I kissed you, for Christ’s sake.

Rose: Yeah, that... was a bit of a shock.

Becky: So you'll excuse me if I wanted to get as far away as possible at that moment.

Rose: Guess I really can't blame you for that, huh?

Another awkward pause, as Becky fidgets in her seat and goes back to filling out her form.

Rose: What exactly are you working on there, anyway?

Becky: Oh, this... it's a transfer request. I mean, I figure I'd probably be better off at a new precinct, you know?

Rose: Whoa, hey, wait a minute. Why the hell are you doing that?

Becky: You're joking right? I can't stay here now, not after what happened last night. I mean, with me... and with you...

Rose: Look, I get that you're a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable right now; hell, you think I'm not? But you can't just go and leave.

Becky: And why not? You really want to be stuck in the same car eight hours a day with another woman who... well, who likes you?

Rose: Believe it or not, I actually like being your partner, Becky. And I like you. Just... well, in a different way, I guess? What I mean is... okay, look. Friends aren't exactly something I have a lot of. Actually, I barely have any, if I'm being honest. I don't want to lose the best one I have over something this stupid.

Becky: You're... being serious?

Rose: Why wouldn't I be?

Becky: So, even after what happened last night, even after I... you'd still want to be my partner?

Rose: I wouldn't want anyone else.

Becky: Then, you don't care about, well, that I'm...

Rose: What, a lesbian? Not what I expected, I'll admit, but I'm the last person to be judging someone else, trust me on that. I'm pretty sure I'll get over it.

Leaning back in her seat, Becky blinks a couple times and holds her hands up to her head. She takes a deep breath, then slowly lets it out, a bewildered expression on her face.

Becky: Wow, uh... I mean, not what I was expecting to hear you say, I'll be honest. I thought I went and destroyed our friendship last night.

Rose: You really think I'm that shallow?

Becky: Wha- no, of course not. I just... sorry. I guess I was just a little mortified, is all. I mean... I haven't exactly 'come out' yet, not completely. My sister is the only one who knows, and she's cool with it, but my parents... well, they're pretty religious, you know? Really... really not a big supporter of that kind of lifestyle. It makes it difficult trying to find a relationship, especially when my family lives just ten minutes outside the city, always coming to visit, always checking up on me, wanting to know what's going on in my life... But, I was so sure that you were, too, and... then you weren't. I just sort of panicked, I guess.

Lowering her gaze, a heavy sigh escapes Becky's lips.

Becky: I really misjudged that one, huh?

Rose: Hey, everyone makes mistakes, right? Even me. Well, especially me. I mean, let's be honest, I don't know how I missed all that flirting.

Becky: Well... it was pretty heavy, wasn't it? I thought I was coming on a little too strong, actually, but you kept right up with it. Thought you were just flirting back.

Rose: See, I'm just as guilty as you are.

Becky smiles a little, folding her arms across her chest and taking in another deep breath. She purses her lips slightly, giving her partner a long look.

Becky: Suppose that makes it a bit better, ah? But you're really okay with this? I mean, you're not just saying it to make me feel better, right?

Rose: Yeah, it's fine, don't worry about it. Besides, so what if my partner has a crush on me, right? It's actually a little flattering... means I have options.

The comment elicits an amused laugh from Becky, who casually averts her gaze and reaches a hand up to her head, curling her fingers in her hair. She tries not to smile too much, but she isn't doing a great job of hiding it.

Becky: Ay caramba... you are a very strange person, Rose.

Rose: You don't know the half of it. Now, come on, we should be getting out on patrol soon.

Glancing back down at the transfer request form, Becky taps her fingers a couple of times and then stands up out of her seat. She crumples the paper up into a ball, then tosses it into the nearby trash can.

Becky: Si, let's go.

Ext. Silverstone City Streets – Day

As Becky drives the cruiser around the busy city streets, Rose leans back in her seat with her elbow resting outside the window, enjoying the passing breeze. She watches the people walking by on their way to work for a few moments, then glances back over to her partner when they stop at a red light.

Rose: So, just out of curiosity, how long have you known that you... uh, didn't like boys?

Becky: Honestly? I think I've always known, in a way. I mean, I didn't know exactly, but I always felt kind of different. Had a few boyfriends in high school, but nothing ever happened, and I never felt quite right with them, if that makes sense.

Rose: I suppose, sort of.

Becky: But if you're asking when I first really discovered I liked girls, was about a month after I graduated. Got a job working at one of the local gyms, nothing special. One of the other girls working there, though, she took a quick liking to me, started flirting. Didn't realize it at first, but I ended up flirting back. Was just having fun, being nice, you know?

Rose: Now that I get.

Becky: Anyway, one day she makes a move on me in the locker room. Kinda panicked at first, I mean so many things going through my head at the time. But...

Rose: But you didn't stop her?

Becky: Yeah. I think something clicked in my head when she kissed me the first time. I realized just why I'd always felt so different, and... well, the rest is history.

Rose: So, whatever happened to her?

Becky: Oh, we were a thing for a little while, but it didn't last. Just like any other couple, you have your differences, your arguments... the relationship just didn't work out.

Rose: Right...

Of course, Rose doesn't really know anything about that. She might enjoy flirting, but she's a real loser when it comes to relationships. She's never had a boyfriend, or even been on a date for that matter. Considering her track record, she has her doubts that she ever will. Letting out a small sigh, she goes back to looking out her window. The rest of the morning is rather uneventful and goes by quickly. When lunch time rolls around, Becky changes course and drives over to one of the local food vendors.

Becky: You want the usual?

Rose: Yeah, but no onions this time.

Becky: Coming right up.

After parking the car, Becky gets out and heads over to the vendor, waiting patiently in line. Rose, meanwhile, occupies herself with the newspaper. She never thought that she'd ever take enjoyment out of doing word jumbles, but it does help pass the time. Holding her pen to lips, she stares at the page for a few moments of contemplation, then begins filling in her answers. With her attention drawn, she doesn't notice a black car with tinted windows turning the corner of the street and quickly increasing its speed. In fact, she doesn't know anything is out of the ordinary.

Until her precog goes off. Snapping her gaze up from the paper, a momentary jolt of panic goes through her chest. Hurriedly, she pushes her door open and sprints around the side of the car.

Rose: Rebecca! Get down!

The warning only causes confusion, however. Turning from her place in line, Becky gives an odd look, having no idea why her partner is suddenly out of the car and running straight at her. Before she can respond and ask Rose what's going on, the black car rolls by, one of the windows drawn down. Rose runs faster, but she knows she won't make it time; she's too far away. The gunshot goes off, and then the car is gone, speeding through a red light and turning the corner.

Rose: NO!

She makes it to Becky a second later, dropping to her knees at the woman's side. The rest of the crowd is in a panic, screaming and running. It isn't everyday that they witness someone getting shot.

Rose: Becky! Becky can you hear me? Come on, stay with me!

Becky's eyes are wide, her breathing rapid. Her gaze darts around wildly, finally coming to focus on her partner. She tries to say something, but nothing comes out, only frantic, raspy breaths. Rose presses her hand firmly against the gunshot wound, dead center in Becky's chest, trying to get the bleeding to stop. With her other hand, she reaches up to her shoulder radio and brings it close to her mouth.

Rose: Dispatch, we have an officer down! I repeat, officer down! I need an ambulance at 1756 Timber Street! Now!

Lowering her hand from the radio, she holds one of Becky's hands now, giving it a firm squeeze. Becky barely manages to tighten her fingers in response, her strength fading quickly. A few moments later, her eyes roll into the back of her head, closing. Rose's heart skips a beat as she sees this

Rose: Rebecca!

Int. Silverstone General Hospital – Night

Twelve hours. That's how long Rose has been at the hospital now, with the brief exception of picking up Holly from school. After Rose explained the situation, Holly insisted on going back to the hospital with her; she likes Becky, too, after all. Since then, they've just been waiting. Becky's been in surgery for a long time now, and the doctors won't give any information on the progress. Still, she hasn't left this spot, not even to go change out of her uniform.

Sitting in her seat in the hallway, Rose leans forward, elbows on her knees and gaze pointed at the floor. Holly is next to her, curled up in the adjoining seats and fast asleep. It is past midnight now, though the young girl stayed up as long as she could. They're both worried, especially Rose. Normally, she'd be out patrolling the city by now, dressed up in her Ravager gear and taking out street thugs, breaking up drug deals, or busting weapon smugglers. But right now there isn't anything more important than being there in the hospital, waiting for news on Becky's condition.

She's never felt like this before about anything, never had something so important to her that nothing else mattered. Then again, she's never had a friend like this before, either, nor has she ever had to go through having such a good friend get shot right in front of her and carted off to the hospital barely alive. This kind of worry, this kind of... torment, it's new to her, a different type than she's accustomed to. She honestly can't imagine losing Becky, not like this.

I'll find who shot her... she thinks, coldly. I'll find him, and I'll kill him. Doesn't matter who, he's a dead man.

Doctor: Miss Walker?

Glancing up from her seat, Rose notices a doctor now standing in front of her. She'd been so enveloped in her thoughts, she hadn't even heard him approach.

Rose: Yes, that's me. What is it? How's Becky?

Doctor: She just came out of surgery now.

Rose: Is she alright?

Doctor: She's stable right now, but her condition is still critical. The bullet that hit her missed her heart by less than inch, nicked the aorta, and very nearly hit her spine on the way through. It's quite honestly a miracle that she was still alive when she got to us.

Rose: But she'll recover, right? You'll keep her alive?

Doctor: We've repaired the damage as best we can, but the rest is up to her, I'm afraid. The next forty-eight hours will be crucial in telling us how well she will recover, if at all.

Rose: Can I see her?

Doctor: She's still under sedation at the moment, but you can go in briefly, if you like. Her room is just there, second one on the left from where we're standing.

Rose: Thanks.

Getting up from her seat, she checks one more time to make sure Holly's still sound asleep, then quickly heads to Becky's recovery room. The first thing that greets her is the steady, rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor, the glowing lights of which offer the only illumination in the otherwise dark room. Taking in a deep breath, Rose walks to the edge of the bed and looks down at the unconscious Becky. If not for all the IV's, tubes, and other wires attached to her, she might actually look pretty peaceful.. Instead, the sight makes Rose almost sick.

This... is how she felt when I was the one in the bed, isn't it? Think I'm starting to understand...

Swallowing a lump in her throat, Rose sits down next to the bed and exhales, bowing her head. Reaching forward, she takes Becky's hand in both of hers.

Rose: I'm sorry, Beck... I shouldn't have... I mean, I-

She stops mid sentence, bringing one of her hands to her forehead and closing her eye.

Goddamn it, I can't even talk straight.

Rose: I saw it happen... should have stopped it, but I was too slow... F**k, I should been there, I'm sorry.

Swallowing again, she leans back in the chair and holds both hands to her head, brushing her fingers through her hair. Taking in another deep breath, she stands up, staring down at Becky one last time.

Rose: Just... get better, alright? Please? You're not the only one who doesn't want to lose a partner... and a friend.

Clenching her jaw, she finally turns and exits the hospital room, then heads back down the hallway to get Holly. They can probably head home now, and at least try to get some real sleep. Halfway there, however, Rose glances up and freezes, her heart suddenly going numb and cold. Holly isn't alone; someone is there, sitting next to her with his legs crossed. He's a familiar man, with a dark fedora hat and long coat, round glasses, and a smug grin that's just begging to be slapped off his face.

Rose: You!

The man merely tilts his head, holding a finger to his lips and bringing his other hand down to gently stroke Holly's hair.

Jerry: Shhh, keep your voice down, Rose. We wouldn't want to wake her, would we?

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Chapter #21 Preview: The mysterious Jeremiah Belmont has returned, and this time he's holding all the cards. What is he planning now, and why has he begun to attack the people closest to Rose? Fine out next time, when he makes an offer that she can't refuse!

Chapter #21

Int. Silverstone General Hospital – Night

Rose reacts instantly. Still in her cop uniform, her hand flies to her gun. Before she can even draw it from her holster, however, Jerry flicks a small knife from his sleeve into his hand and holds it dangerously close to Holly's neck. With his other hand, he wags his finger at her, tauntingly.

Jerry: Ah, ah, ah. You really don't want to be doing that.

Clenching her jaw, Rose's fingers slowly leave her gun. She glances around the hallway for anyone else, but the wing is deserted. It's after midnight, most of the staff has gone home by now.

Rose: Hiding behind a child? Classy.

Jerry: Simple insurance.

Rose: What the hell are you doing here?

Jerry: I wanted to chat, that's all.

Rose: Take the knife away from Holly's neck and maybe we'll talk.

Jerry: Ah, but you see, if I do that, then you go for your gun and try to shoot me. Not much of an incentive, is there?

Was worth a shot.

Rose: Just talk.

Jerry: Now you're getting it. See, your nightly adventures as the vigilante Ravager–or rather, The Blade, as they're calling you nowadays–make it very difficult to get any kind of hold on this city. Before you came along, oh it was easy, you saw yourself what I had going. But now... well, I'm afraid it just isn't the same.

Rose: Well gee, sorry to ruin your fun. Do you want me to buy you an ice cream cone, make you feel better?

Jerry: Ah, sarcasm, it really is unbecoming of a lady.

Rose: You're breaking my heart.

Jerry: Are you quite finished?

Rose: Oh please, continue.

Jerry: Anyway, as you can no doubt assume, allowing you to continue running around at night unchecked and causing trouble is unacceptable.

Rose: So this is your big plan to stop me? Threaten Holly and tell me to back off? The moment you leave and she's safe, I put a bullet in you.

Jerry: Yes, that would be problematic, wouldn't it? I suppose I could take her with me, but then kidnapping isn't really my forte. I'm not Pavoni, after all, I have standards. But there are other ways to get you to do what I want, other... people to go after. As you've seen.

A cold sensation begins to spread throughout Rose's body. She tenses up, flinching at the indication.

Rose: You... you're the one who put her in here, aren't you?

Jerry: Well, not me specifically, but I did give the order. Was supposed to be shot in the stomach, though... much greater chance of survival. Oh well, can't go back and do it over now.

Tightening her hands into closed fists, Rose grits her teeth and glares a hole through the man. The cold numbness from before is gone, now replaced by seething hot anger.

Rose: You son a b*ch... you're a dead man, I swear.

Jerry: Rose, there is something you need to understand. The people that work for me, well, they're everywhere. There isn't a place you've been where my eyes aren't watching. Take this hospital, for instance; it's no exception. I have people working here for me, as well, and they do what I tell them. For example, should anything happen to me, they have very specific orders to 'pull the plug' on your poor friend. Would be a real shame, wouldn't it?

Rose flinches, her eye twitching slightly at the declaration. She takes in a deep breath, arms shaking at her side now, she's clenching her fists so hard.

Rose: So what? You want me stop? Fine, I'm done.

Jerry: My, that was quick. One would think such a decision would at least take some time to think over... how much do you care for that woman, I wonder?

Rose doesn't answer, merely swallowing a hard lump in her throat.

Jerry: But no, I'm afraid that isn't what I want, either. You see, I wouldn't have you simply give up doing what you do; you are quite good at it. I would merely see your actions... overseen.

Rose: What are you talking about?

Jerry: You'll be working for me now, that's what I mean. If you even think otherwise, your girlfriend dies. Then, I move on to Holly here. Everyone you hold dear, gone.

The numbness is back. Rose swallows, her gaze slowly moving towards the floor.

Jerry: Thinking things through, are you? Please, take your time, I don't have anywhere to be tonight. A tough decision, though, isn't it? On the one hand, you could just shoot me now. Of course, the aftermath would lead to that cop, and this girl, both dying. You'd stop me, yes, but lose everything in the process. Or, you simply listen to what I tell you, and everyone lives. Your move.

Slowly, Rose's hand moves back to her gun. She fingers the side of it with her thumb, contemplating whether or not she really should just shoot the b**tard.

Maybe he's bluffing. Maybe he doesn't have sh*t against me, maybe Holly and Becky aren't in any danger... As soon as the thought goes through her head, she drops her hand back down by her side again, closing her eye. No, I'm not making that mistake again. No one else is dying because of me.

Rose: Fine...

Jerry: What's that now? Speak up a little, I couldn't quite hear you.

Rose: I said fine, a**hole. I'll work for you.

Jerry: Really now, that is no way to talk to your employer. I suppose we'll have to work on that.

Rose: Just tell me what I have to do.

Jerry: For now, take dear Holly here back home, get some sleep, go to work in the morning, all that good stuff. Tomorrow night, nine o'clock, come to the old toy factor in the East District. Be sure to dress for the occasion.

On that note, Jerry removes the knife away from the sleeping Holly and stands up, slipping his hands into his coat pockets. He gives her a small nod, then turns to leave.

Jerry: Have yourself a goodnight, Rose.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Night

Rose kicks the door open lightly with her foot, as her arms are mostly occupied by carrying Holly. The poor girl was able to wake up long enough to make it back to the car, but then she fell fast asleep again. Rose didn't have the heart to wake her up again, instead carrying the girl into the building and up through the elevator. Letting out a long breath, she brings Holly into her bedroom and tucks her in. Then, she heads back into the living room and just stands there, staring out the window.

There's nothing she can do, that's what she keeps telling herself. If she wants the only people in this world who matter to her to stay alive, then she has to do whatever Jeremiah Belmont tells her to do. There isn't any way around it, the b**tard has her on a leash.

Still, she won't let Jerry get away with this. Somehow, someway, she'll find a way around it. She'll find a way to make him pay without putting Holly or Becky in danger. She just... needs to think on it, that's all Surely, she can come up with a plan. For now, though, all she can do is go to sleep and prepare herself for the next day.

Halfway to her bedroom, though, she stops, letting out a sigh. Turning back around, she heads into the kitchen and reaches up to one of the top shelves. She pulls out a bottle of vodka and pours herself a couple of shots, downing them both in quick succession. A small cough escapes her lips, as the liquid burns on the way down. Briefly, she contemplates a few more shots, but knows she won't be able to get out of bed in the morning if she does. Putting the bottle back up on the shelf, she walks back into her bedroom to get some sleep.

Int. Silverstone General Hospital – Day

Sitting at the edge of the bed again, Rose leans forward, elbows on her knees. She brought her lunch with her, but she doesn't eat. The nausea in her gut is too strong, brought on by the sight of Becky sleeping and hooked up to all those machines, barely hanging on to life. Instead, she just watches, hoping to herself that Becky will pull through.

Rose: You know, the day, uh... it's been pretty boring without you. I mean, I finally got to drive the cruiser, but... there's no one to talk to. The day just... kind of drags when you're not there. Everyone's pulling for you down at the station, you know. They, uh... they already bought your cake; it's vanilla, your favorite. Because you'll pull through, right? Of course you will...

A long moment of silence passes over the room, as Rose bows her head and closes her eye.

Rose: I, uh, I just want to say, I... might have to do some things... things you probably wouldn't be happy about. I don't know what, yet, but I will... eventually. But, I'm doing it to protect you, I want you to know that. You and Holly... as long as I keep you guys safe, then I'm still doing good, right? Yeah...

Swallowing, Rose takes in another deep breath and then slowly stands up, running her fingers back through her hair.

Rose: Well, I should probably get back out on patrol... already been here a little too long as it is. I'll be back tomorrow, Beck... just keep fighting, you hear me?

Looking down at Becky for another few moments, she finally lets out her breath and turns to leave. Her day is still far from over.

Ext. Slaton Toy Factor – Night

Ravager drives up to the front gates of the old abandoned factory, giving the place a long look as she kills the engine. It strikes her as an odd place for a meet up, but then villains are never ordinary. Removing her helmet, she hops off her bike and walks up to the chained iron fence, wondering just where the hell Jerry is. She got here on time, with a minute to spare, actually. So where is the b**tard?

As soon as the thought goes through her head, a phone begins to ring. It's a high, shrill sound that grates the insides of her ears. Scowling, she glances around, searching for the source. Her gaze falls on a small, pink cell phone taped to the gate in front of her. Staring at it for a few moments, she walks over and picks it up. According to the caller ID, the person on the other end is someone called “J”.

Ravager: Cute...

Flipping the phone open she holds it up to her ear and listens as the familiar, smug voice speaks to her.

Jerry/Phone: Ah, you're on time, I see. Good. I do love it when my workers are punctual.

Ravager: Just get on with it. What do you want me to do?

Jerry/Phone: Have you heard of S.T.A.R. Labs?

Ravager: The research company?

Jerry/Phone: That's the one.

Ravager: What about it?

Jerry/Phone: Well, it just so happens that they have a facility located right here in Silverstone City. As luck would have it, this particular facility also contains something of great value to me, something I need you to get for me.

Ravager: So you want me to steal you something from S.T.A.R. Labs?

Jerry/Phone: Will that be a problem?

Ravager: Just tell me what it is.

Jerry/Phone: Good. Now, what I'm looking for is contained in their storage vault, under the file name C-67. The code to open the vault is 83934.

Ravager: And you know this how?

Jerry/Phone: Eyes everywhere, remember? I just need someone like you to go and get it for me. But do be careful, security is pretty tight around S.T.A.R. Labs these days.

Ravager: Why am I not surprised?

Jerry/Phone: I’ve uploaded the building's blueprints to this phone, do study them carefully before running in without a plan. When you've retrieved the objective, give me a call; it's the only number on speed dial.

Rose: I'll try to remember.

Jerry/Phone: And keep in mind, Rose, if for any reason you should fail, Rebecca dies.

The call ends a moment later. Staring down at the phone, Ravager frowns and flips it closed, then places it in one of the reinforced compartments on her belt. She takes a brief moment to herself, breathing in deeply, and then returns to her bike to get on with her job.

Int. S.T.A.R. Labs Facility – Night

It's times like these that Ravager wishes she had a little bit more training in the art of stealth. Sure, she's good, but she's no Batman. That fact made itself evident when she tripped the alarm that alerted the entire facility of her presence, coming with a blaring horn, flashing red lights, swarms of security, the whole nine yards. A few teams of goons have already tried their luck in stopping her, but they didn't last long. Ravager isn't screwing around right now; she has a mission to accomplish, and failure means... well, failure isn't an option.

Turning the corner of the wide, open corridor, she comes face to face with another group of five or so security officers. One of them holds a large, bazooka-like weapon, pointing it at her and firing. She sees it coming before he even pulls the trigger, in turn jumping up and over the incoming projectile, a glowing red energy net. She lands on the guy's shoulders, kicks off of him, and moves through the other attacking guards in a matter of seconds. She throws punches, kicks, elbows, all strikes meant to cripple but not kill. Stealing from these people is bad enough, she doesn't need to murder anyone.

Storage vault, storage vault... come on, where are you?

She comes to a fork in the path, stopping only a moment as she tries to remember which way to go. Eventually, she heads left, sprinting down the corridor. Turning another corner, she halts at a large metal door blocking her path, a door with the word 'storage' written across it in big yellow letters.

Jackpot!

Standing in front of the access panel, she pauses a moment, trying to think of what the code was that Jerry gave her. With her heart beating so fast and adrenaline pumping through her, she's having trouble thinking straight. Within a few seconds, however, she remembers, typing it in and taking a step back as the security panel emits a loud whirring noise.

Computer Voice: Override recognized, security disabled.

The heavy door then slides open, revealing a long chamber beyond. Ravager sprints inside, looking around for her target. She sees several rows of storage containers, each one marked with a different label. Finding row C, she runs down the room until coming across the sixty-seventh container and quickly pulls it open. Inside the container is a small metal cylinder, no bigger than a ruler. Though she would like to know what exactly it is, there's no time to sit there wondering about it. She has to get out of here, now.

Guard: She's in the vault! Spread out and find her!

Ravager looks up, peering over the row of containers towards the entrance to the vault. Another team of security goons have moved in, these ones wielding what look like some kind of electric energy weapon, a gun with metal prongs that crackles with sparks.

Mental note: don't get hit by that.

Moving towards the back of the room, Ravager goes around the side of an empty row of containers. She hides herself behind what looks like a large drilling device, equipped with lasers and computer screens. Not even worth thinking about what something like that is used for. Waiting for one of the security guards to wander into range, Ravager jumps out and attacks with a sweeping kick to the head, dropping the guy instantly.

The other men in the room all begin to converge on her location, but she's already on the move, sprinting towards the door. As she nears the end of the room, one of the guards pokes around the edge of a container and fires his weapon, emitting an explosive wave of electricity at her. Unfortunately for him, she saw it happen before he even fired, allowing her to lunge away to the side, roll forward, and kick the weapon out of his hands, then put him down with a chop to the back of the skull. Reaching down, she picks up his fallen weapon with her free hand.

Ravager: You don't mind if I borrow this, do? Didn't think so.

Racing forward, she fires off a couple of potshots at the morons who get in her way. She saw the effects of the weapon in her precog, nothing more than a high caliber stun. The two men go down hard, but they're still breathing. Wasting no time, she continues out of the room and back down the corridor. Triggering the alarm had messed her up before, but now that she's calmed down and has a handle of things, she determines exactly where she is, according to the floor plans she studied earlier.

Turning a corner, she passes by a large set of doors and stops outside a small hatch on the wall. She glances quickly both ways to make sure no one is closing in on her, then opens the hatch and climbs inside, taking hold of the ladder and scaling upwards. It's a small maintenance shaft used to get to some of the more hard to reach areas of the building, and leads straight to the ceiling. It would have made a great entry point, had the rooftop hatch opened from the outside. For now, though, it acts as her escape.

When she reaches the top of the ladder, Ravager opens the hatch from the inside and pushes it open, allowing her to jump out onto the roof. She lowers a hand to her belt for a moment and clicks a small button on it, the one that initiates her bike's autopilot and homing beacon, bringing it right to her. Sprinting to the far side of the roof, she jumps onto the exterior ladder and slides down to the ground.

The moment that she reaches the ground, a team of guards on the outside open fire with non-lethal weapons. Of course, getting hit with them will still hurt, and likely leave her a drooling wreck for a few hours. Best not to get hit. Diving behind a nearby dumpster, she takes cover and waits. The loud hum of her motorcycle's engine beings to approach, drawing the attention of some of the guards. They turn to look behind them, giving them just enough time to get the hell out of the way before being run over.

The bike drives straight up to the dumpster and stops roughly ten yards from Ravager's position. Without hesitation, she leaps out from cover and mounts the vehicle instantly, gunning the engine and exploding forward with astonishing acceleration. She hits a hundred and fifty in mere seconds, disappearing away from the S.T.A.R. Labs facility before the security team can even aim another shot.

Ext. Silverstone City Slums – Night

Ravager stops her bike in a back alley, away from prying eyes. She stares down at the small metal cylinder for a few moments, pondering what the contents could be. Unfortunately, she doesn't really see a way to open it, and so her curiosity will go unsated for now. Instead, she pulls out the pink cell phone from earlier and dials the number.

Jerry/Phone: Ah, Rose, good to hear from you. And sooner than I expected, too.

Ravager: I got your... whatever it is.

Jerry/Phone: Of course you did, I never had any doubts.

Ravager: Now what?

Jerry/Phone: Now, we meet up so you can deliver the item to me. I'll see you shortly.

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Chapter #22 Preview: Now under Jeremiah's employ, Ravager begins to descend further and further down the criminal path, earning to attention of the local authorities, authorities that she is a part of during the day. But if she tries to stop, those closest to her will pay the price, forcing her to continue on her fall from grace.

Chapter #22

Int. Underground Facility – Night

Ravager glances to each side of her, eying the two big guards escorting her with contempt. She knows what they're there for, to watch her, make sure she doesn't do anything unfavorable, as if threatening Holly and Rebecca isn't enough to keep her in line. Being in this place again gives her the creeps, though; the last time she was here, she was strapped naked to an operating table about to undergo some insane doctor's twisted experiments.

The guards bring her down the long corridor to a set of double doors and stop outside, gesturing for her to enter. She gives them another scowling look, then walks forward. The doors open automatically, allowing her to enter inside what appears to be a laboratory with some heavy duty equipment. What the equipment is for or what any of it does, she has no idea, but it sure looks expensive.

Near the center of the laboratory, Jerry stands with his arms crossed. He looks strangely different without his long coat and fedora, now in just a plain black business suit. When she approaches, he gives a small smile, his eyes gleaming from behind his glasses.

Jerry: Ah, Rose, there you are. I was beginning to wonder when you would arrive.

Ravager: The traffic on the way here was killer... here's your whatever.

Raising a hand, she tosses over the metal cylinder. Jerry catches it with a single hand, holding it up to his eyes and examining it carefully.

Jerry: Excellent, this will do nicely.

Ravager: Doesn't look so special to me. Actually, looks more like something you'd find in your standard adult toy store... were you that embarrassed to go buy one yourself?

Jerry ignores her, instead heading towards the back of the lab and placing the cylinder in a small glass container, then sealing it tightly shut. Ravager narrows her gaze at him, folding her arms.

Ravager: So am I done here or what?

Jerry: Oh yes, for now. I'll be calling you again tomorrow night for your next assignment.

Ravager: Good, then I'm leaving.

Turning away from him, she heads back towards the doors. However, they slide open before she gets there, revealing another man entering into the lab. He's bald, with a bushy grey beard and reflective, yellow-tinted round glasses, and wears a white lab coat over a clean pressed suit. The man gives Ravager a curious look, then switches his attention over to Jeremiah.

Man: I take it the sample is ready.

Jerry: Ah, yes, you're just in time. Rose, before you go, I'd like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Professor Hugo Strange.

Strange: Miss Wilson, I presume? Jeremiah here has told me a great deal about you.

The introduction causes Ravager to emit a loud guffaw, holding a hand to her mouth and smirking.

Ravager: No way, seriously? Your name is Strange? Real subtle for a villain. Why not go with something like Dr. Evil?

Strange merely lifts an eyebrow, holding his hands behind his back and gazing at her intently.

Ravager: Or if that is your real name, then wow, you never had a chance, did you? Man, that's good, though, I needed a laugh today.

Strange: Hmm, sarcasm. If you're trying to get a rise out of me, then I am afraid I must disappoint you.

Ravager: Well shoot, now you've gone and ruined my day.

Strange: I should mention that such passive aggressive behavior suggests a mask of your own insecurities, requiring the use of put downs in order to make yourself look or feel better.

Ravager: Who the hell you calling insecure?

Strange: Sarcasm is common in individuals with poor self esteem. By bringing down others, you attempt to make yourself appear more intelligent than you actually are, try to raise your social standing, so to speak. You think it makes you sound clever, but in truth it is the lowest form of wit, and only succeeds in making you appear a fool.

Glaring at the man, Ravager brings her hand to one of her swords and begins to draw it.

Ravager: You want to run that by me again, chrome dome?

Strange: I believe I made my point the first time.

Ravager: That's what I thought.

Strange: However, I would like to take this opportunity to comment on your choice in wardrobe.

Ravager narrows her gaze at him, frowning. This guy doesn't know how to quit when he's ahead.

Strange: In spite of distancing yourself from your father and making it a point to let others know just how much you hate the man, you continue to dress in his style, and his colors.

Ravager: What business is it of yours how I dress? It's just a costume.

Strange: Perhaps. However, it could also indicate a subconscious desire to live up to daddy's expectations, in turn suggesting a deep-seated love for the man, regardless of how he has treated you in the past.

The comment makes her flinch, but only briefly. She takes an immediate step forward and reaches out a hand, grabbing him by the shirt collar.

Ravager: You don't know what the hell you're talking about!

Strange: Ah, did I strike a nerve? Yes, I see. Possible Electra complex.

Ravager: You little-

Jerry: Rose, that's quite enough. Release Professor Strange at once.

Ravager glances back at him for a moment, scowling with her teeth clenched. Eventually, she lets go of Strange's shirt and shoves him back a few steps. She then pushes past him and heads out the door.

Ravager: I'm out of here.

Jerry: Just remember-

Ravager: I know, I got the phone.

After she leaves, Strange takes a moment to straighten his tie and clear his throat.

Strange: And a short temper, too, I see.

Jerry: Don't worry about her, she's just having a little difficulty... adjusting.

Strange: Not worried at all. In fact, I look forward to analyzing her in the coming days.

Jerry: I can imagine. You've spent so much of your time obsessing over Batman, it must be good to get a breath of fresh air.

Strange: Quite. I suppose it was inevitable, though. The Batman currently in Gotham is not the original, the one I... obsessed over, as you put it. It's just not the same.

Jerry: Always glad to help an old friend. Now, shall I show you to the samples?

Strange: Yes, please.

Moving back over to the research table, Jerry removes the metal cylinder from the glass container he put it in earlier, then twists the thing open by its near invisible seam. Inside are a dozen vials inserted into separate storage compartments, each one containing a small glob of what looks like putty. Strange leans in close, examining them.

Strange: Interesting.

Jerry: Will this be enough to work with?

Strange: Oh yes, it should plenty. However, I will need a few more materials to make this work.

Jerry: I know just the person to get them.

Strange: In the meantime, I'll study these samples and run a few tests.

A small smile curls its way onto Jeremiah's face.

Jerry: Good. I'll leave you to your work, then.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Rose walks through her kitchen, carrying her mug of coffee over to the table. She's up a little earlier than usual, mostly due to the fact that she just couldn't sleep. There's too much on her mind. Right now, though, she plans on sitting down and enjoying her coffee. Letting out a small sigh, she sinks into her chair and grabs the remote for the small television nearby. Clicking it on, she changes the channel to the news.

Almost instantly, she spits out a mouthful of coffee, coughing in surprise. A breaking news story is currently in progress, detailing the break in at S.T.A.R. Labs last night. She stands up from her seat a little, staring at the screen and watching as the reporter begins describing what happened.

Reporter/Television: According to the lab's security staff on duty last night, the person who broke in was in fact 'The Blade', the mysterious vigilante that's been lurking Silverstone's streets for the past seven months. There also appears to be video footage to back up this claim. Witnesses describe the woman as fast, faster than a normal person should be. So fast, in fact, that she was able to fight her way through their entire team, enter the lab's private storage vault, and then escape the building without being hit once. The men on duty did everything they could to subdue the intruder, following all standard protocol, but were still unable to do so. This break in also raises quite a few questions. Though acting outside of the law, The Blade has been known for stopping criminal activity, not for committing it. So, why has she suddenly turned into a common thief? And what exactly did she take? I asked the staff that latter question earlier, though they would not release any details on the matter.

Rose sinks back into her seat and holds a hand to her head. At first, she's caught in utter disbelief, but it doesn't take her long to work through that.

Well sh*t, what did you think was gonna happen, huh? You only broke into a facility of the most widely known research company in the world.

Still, this greatly complicates things. The police had always been on the lookout for her before, sure, but they'd never been actively seeking her out. With this, though, it's only a matter of time before they'll be on her tail every single night. A few more of these jobs Jerry has her doing, and what little reputation she had up until this point as 'The Blade' will be long gone.

Int. Silverstone City Central Police Station – Day

The station is abuzz with the recent news story. It's all anyone can talk about, how The Blade broke into S.T.A.R. Labs and stole some secretive item. A lot of the officers have their theories over why their local vigilante would go and do something like this, but of course they're all wrong. That's not what concerns Rose, though. Her concerns lie with the increased efforts in locating The Blade.

They'd all had their fair share of differing opinions around the station about her, some not minding so much to have their very own 'Batman', so to speak, and others wanting to bring her in for going about things outside the law. Now, however, it's a different story. Now, The Blade has officially committed a blatant crime that they need to track her down for.

Rose keeps her head down, trying to ignore all the passing conversation on her way out to her cruiser, but she doesn't go unnoticed. A blonde haired officer with one of those fluffy, 90's porn mustaches, looks up and sees her. This is Officer Stevens, a somewhat grating kind of guy who has a tendency to get on her nerves.

Stevens: Hey, Sarah! You hear?

Rose: Oh, The Blade thing, right? Yeah, uh... heard it on the news this morning.

Stevens: Crazy stuff, right? I mean, I always thought she was one of the good guys, like Batman or something.

Rose: What if she still is?

Stevens: What do you mean? She stole from S.T.A.R. Labs for crying out loud. Doesn't seem too heroic to me.

Rose: Well, no, right, I just... I mean what if there's a good reason for her to be doing what she's doing?

Stevens: Oh come on, what reason could someone have to go from fighting crime to committing it, just like that? Doesn't make sense. Ask me, I'd say she's just been putting on an act, trying to get over with the city, and then bam! She takes it for everything it's worth.

Yeah, well I didn't ask you.

Rose: Right... well, I have to be getting on patrol, so...

Stevens: Oh, of course, yeah. Hey, you going to visit Becky again today?

Rose: Yeah.

Stevens: If she's awake, tell her I said I hope she gets well soon, alright? All the guys at the station are really pulling for her. I've been meaning to get out there myself, but the job keeps me busy, haven't had a chance. Been working extra shifts lately.

Rose: I'll tell her, sure.

Stevens: Thanks, Well, I'll catch you later.

As Stevens leaves, Rose lets out a long breath and brushes a hand through her hair, composing herself. If she's awake. The word runs through her head multiple times.

If.

Int. Silverstone General Hospital – Day

When Rose arrives at Becky's hospital room later that afternoon, a doctor is already there, checking up on the patient and making notes on his clipboard. He glances up as she enters and gives a small nod of recognition.

Doctor: Miss Walker.

Rose: How is she?

Doctor: Same as before, I'm afraid, which is both good and bad. Her condition hasn't much improved, but at least it hasn't gotten any worse. She's stable, though.

Rose: Has she woken up at all yet?

Doctor: For now, we're keeping her on heavy painkillers. It's better if she's sedated right now. Not only does it help with her physical recovery, but I don't want to put her through the excruciating pain she'd be in from simple acts such as breathing. Once her condition begins to improve, though, we'll wake her up and go from there.

Letting out a small breath, Rose looks back at Becky for a moment and nods.

Rose: Alright, thanks. I think I'll just sit with her a while.

Doctor: I'll be right outside if you need anything.

Once the doctor leaves, Rose walks forward and lowers herself into the seat next to the bed. Giving Becky another long look, she reaches forward and takes the woman's hand into her own. She stays like this for the next hour, just sitting, just hoping.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suit – Night

It's late, really late. Rose put Holly to bed nearly three hours ago, and has since been sitting quietly at the kitchen table, staring at Jerry's cell phone. He never told her exactly when he'd be calling, only that it would be sometime tonight. By now, however, she is starting to grow more than a little impatient, tapping her fingers incessantly against the table. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the phone rings.

Rose: About time.

Jerry/Phone: Yes, terribly sorry about that. I got a bit held up.

Rose: Of course you did.

Jerry/Phone: In any case, I do hope you're ready to get to work. You'll be heading over to the Sapphire Industries building in Midtown tonight.

Rose: What do you need this time?

Jerry/Phone: Sapphire Industries is a well regarded R&D firm, focusing in the development of very advanced technology to improve the scientific world. I'll need you to take one of their latest prototypes for me. It's currently in cold storage in a laboratory on the twentieth floor.

Rose: And let me guess, they have tight security.

Jerry/Phone: Naturally. However, considering the little hiccup you had last night with security, we're going to do things a little differently this time. I've arranged for a chopper to pick you up on the roof of your building in approximately thirty minutes, so be ready. We'll drop you off on the roof of the Sapphire Industries building, from where you will be entering. I'll also be giving you a wireless comm link. With it, I can track your position and guide you along the best path to your objective. Hopefully, things will go a little bit more smoothly this time.

A small groan escapes her lips. Great, now he's keeping tabs on her during her jobs, too. This situation just keeps getting better and better.

Rose: Can't wait.

Ext. Sapphire Industries – Night

The chopper moves in low over the building. Ravager hangs out the side on a rope ladder, which slowly lowers closer to the roof. When she's safely within range, she jumps off and lands flat on her feet, taking a brief moment to look around. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a flat roof with various equipment; some air conditioning units, a large satellite dish, etc. A few moments later, that annoyingly familiar voice echoes in her ears.

Jerry/Comm: No time to waste, the night is already getting old. Proceed straight forward and enter through the door. This will take you down into the main stairwell.

Moving up to the door, Ravager notices old rusty chains barring it shut.

Ravager: Oh look at that, it's padlocked. Guess we're gonna have to abort.

Jerry/Comm: Rose...

Ravager: Fine, fine.

Letting out a small sigh, she spins quickly and delivers a hard kick directly at the lock and chains, snapping them in half and sending the door flying open. She glances back over her shoulder briefly at the chopper disappearing in the distance, and then proceeds down the stairs.

Int. Sapphire Industries – Night

Jerry/Comm: You're currently on the twenty-fifth floor, so you'll want to head down five levels to the twentieth.

Ravager: I can count, thanks.

Moving swiftly down the stairs, she keeps an eye on the numbering of each floor, passing the twenty-fourth, the twenty-third, and so on.

Jerry/Comm: I've already taken the liberty of having one of my associates disable the building's alarms and security cameras, so you'll only need to deal with physical guards. I trust that shouldn't be a problem.

Ravager: Please, who do you think you're talking to?

Jerry/Comm: Just checking. Now, once you've reached the twentieth floor, you'll come out to a small lobby. There should be three security guards stationed there, one behind a desk and the other two somewhere in the general vicinity. You'll want to disable them all before they can radio for backup.

Ravager: They won't know what hit them.

When Ravager reaches the twentieth floor, she pauses for a moment outside the door, taking in a small breath to prepare herself. She then shoves the door open and sprints out into the lobby area, processing the layout of the room and the location of the three men in fractions of a second. In an instant, she turns straight at the nearest one and leaps forward with a flying kick to the head. He's out cold before he even realizes he's under attack. The other two guards begin to react now, going for their clubs.

Yeah, that'll work. Morons.

She smirks slightly to herself, as she moves in with her superior agility and throws a few deft blows at the next nearest man, disarming and in turn disabling him in seconds. By the time he's on his way to the floor, she's already moving onto the last one. He takes a swing at her, but she dodges easily and counters with a brutal chop to the back of the head, rending him unconscious just like the others.

Ravager: They're down.

Jerry/Comm: Excellent, now-

Guard: I need backup on the twentieth now! We have an intruder! It's her, it's The Blade!

Whirling around, Ravager catches sight of a fourth guard standing behind her near the other end of the room. She sprints at him, leaping and bringing down a crippling strike with her elbow that knocks him out cold.

Ravager: I thought you said there were three!

Jerry/Comm: Did I? Oops, how clumsy of me.

Ravager: You son of a b*tch, you did that on purpose!

Though she can't see it, an amused smirk comes to Jerry's face.

Jerry/Comm: I hope you're good at improvising.

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Chapter #23 Preview: In the next issue, Ravager continues her forced crime spree, earning a spot as one of the city's most wanted criminals. With the police hot on her trail, her nightly ventures become increasingly difficult, as she attempts to continue following Jerry's orders to keep Becky alive. Meanwhile, her activities do not go unnoticed elsewhere. Batman learns of her actions and grows concerned, sending in someone on his behalf to investigate just what's going on with her. Tune in next time for a special guest appearance!

Chapter #23

Int. Sapphire Industries – Night

Ravager runs around the corner of a hallway, following Jerry's directions. It isn't exactly quick going, though, with security guards constantly showing up in front of her after Jerry went and purposefully allowed them to get out the alert to the rest of the building. A test, he said, to see just how capable she is. Of course, the same rules still apply; if she fails, Becky dies.

Jerry/Comm: Take your next left.

Sprinting faster, Ravager moves towards her next left, not slowing down and practically sliding across the floor as she turns. She can't afford to take her time; right now, speed is everything. From the next corridor in front of her, several guards come around the corner in a hurry. When they notice the woman in costume heading straight at them, however, they instantly skid to a sudden halt and raise their weapons, basic stun guns.

Idiots.

Ravager ducks out of the way of one of the incoming shock projectiles, then spins away from another one, and leaps over the third. Before they even realize that they missed, she's in the middle of them and attacking. She assaults pressure points, breaks bones, knocks them out, but doesn't kill. That's the last thing she needs, for the media to spin that she's not just a thief, but a murderer, too. When all three men go down, she looks up and pauses a moment, then keeps going.

Jerry/Comm: The lab is in the next hallway, second door on the right. It's marked with white and black stripes.

In a short few moments, she makes it to the specially marked door and kicks it open. The temperature instantly drops about twenty degrees, the lab for some reason kept rather chilled. She lets out a deep breath, emitting a visible, wispy cloud.

Ravager: Alright, where is this thing?

Jerry/Comm: Near the back, there's a hatch on the wall, opens to a small freezer. It's inside.

Moving towards the back, she locates the hatch and spins the handle several times before it finally opens, a small hiss of air surging forth. The compartment within is coated with ice, and empty except for a fist sized, heavy duty metal canister, with a buttons on one side of it. Reaching forward, she lifts it into her grasp, feeling the intense chill even through her gloves.

Ravager: Geez, it's heavy, even for me. What the hell is in this thing?

Jerry/Comm: I assure you, most of the weight is the container. What's inside weighs very little.

Ravager: Uh huh, great, now I still have to get out of this place while carrying-

Guard: Freeze!

Turning to look behind her, she notices a security guard standing in the doorway. Another couple men are standing behind him, all wielding pistols and pointing them at her. Looks like they finally brought out the serious weapons, though a lot of good it will do them.

Guard: Put the container down, and step away with your hands up!

Ravager: Hey, is this thing fragile at all?

Jerry/Comm: Well, no... why?

Ravager: Just checking.

Guard: Do it now! Put it down!

Ravager: What, this?

She glances at the canister for a second, tightening her grip on it with her right hand. She then turns to the side, brings her arm back, and launches the thing as though throwing a baseball. Her enhanced strength sends it through the air like a rocket, drilling the first guard in the chest and knocking him violently backwards. His gun goes off, the bullet impacting somewhere in the ceiling. The other guards catch the man before he hits the floor, but quickly work to get into a better position to stop their intruder.

By the time they manage to push past the other man into the doorway, Ravager is there to greet them with a flying kick, drilling the first one in the head. The other man fires his gun, striking her shoulder. She grits her teeth slightly, as her armor absorbs the bullet, then spins low and sweeps her leg beneath the man's feet, causing him to flip onto his backside. She strikes quickly again with a hard palms strike, knocking him out cold. With the area clear, she picks up the canister again and heads back down the hallway.

Jerry/Comm: You threw it, didn't you?

Ravager: It got the job done, didn't it?

A small sigh comes through the other end of the comm.

Jerry/Comm: Proceed back to the stairs and head to the roof. The chopper is on its way back now to pick you up.

Ravager: Working on it!

Jumping low into a baseball slide, she zips across the floor and through the legs of another approaching security guard to avoid his gunshot. By the time he notices she's gone and turns around to face her, she's already bringing her elbow into the side of his head. He drops like a brick. She then continues sprinting back the way she came.

Ravager reaches the stairwell a moment later, bursting through the door and running up to the roof. Another gun goes off, the bullet ricocheting off the railing. Glancing down briefly, she sees several more guards in close pursuit. Pushing herself faster, she puts as much distance between them as she can, until she finally emerges out onto the roof.

Ext. Sapphire Industries – Night

Ravager: Where the hell is the chopper?

Jerry/Comm: Almost there, hold tight.

Glancing back over her shoulder, she notices the first of the security guards come out to join her on the roof. She keeps moving towards the opposite end, taking cover behind a grouping of air conditioning units. A few moments later, the hum of the chopper's rotors reaches her ears. Turning, she sees it coming in from the east side of the building, its rope ladder already hanging out.

Jerry/Comm: Better get moving, you're only going to get one chance at this.

Well this is gonna be a blast.

Sprinting out from cover, Ravager heads straight for the edge of the rooftop. The security guards open fire, some shots missing, others requiring careful use of her precog to avoid without slowing down. Finally, she reaches the ledge at near full speed, kicks off, and lunges through the air. For a brief moment, she's hanging over twenty-five stories of empty space, nothing but the city streets below.

Holding out her left arm, she clamps her grasp around the bottom rung of the rope ladder, just as the chopper flies by. She uses every ounce of her strength to hang on without having her arm ripped from its socket, and all while maintaining her grip on the canister without dropping it. Within several seconds, the chopper is out of range of the security guards, flying back to a drop off point.

Jerry/Comm: Very well done, Rose, you've proven your value yet again.

Ravager: Screw off, a**hole. You alerted security on purpose just to make me sweat.

Jerry/Comm: And you still came through, just as I knew you would. I'll see you shortly.

Int. Rose's Penthouse Suite – Day

Four days later...

Rose stands quietly at the kitchen table, leaning forward against it with her hands pressed on either side of the newspaper. She's staring at the front page headline, which reads: 'The Blade Strikes Again, Hits Keifer Chemicals.' Tapping her fingers incessantly against the table, she moves on to the article itself, reading carefully for a few moments before pushing the paper away in disgust. Finally, she drops herself into her seat and stares up at the ceiling.

I'm a criminal now, plain and simple, she thinks, shaking her head slightly. I might be doing it for a good cause, but that doesn't matter to the cops, or the media, or anyone else.

Not to mention, she's also helping Jeremiah accomplish whatever it is he's working towards. She highly doubts that he's just sending her out to steal this stuff for kicks, he has a purpose behind it, a plan. If she doesn't figure out a way to stop him fast, without putting Becky's life in danger, then there's no telling what kind of ramifications it could have.

As Rose sits there, her cell phone begins to ring. It's not the one that Jerry gave to her, but rather her actual, personal phone. She glances at it for a moment, as it vibrates across the table, contemplating whether or not to answer. The caller ID says 'Grayson'. She wants to answer it, she really does, but she knows she can't. He's calling about what she's been doing lately, no doubt about that. With his resources, there's no way he doesn't know about it.

She can't talk to him, though, not yet, not while Jerry still holds Becky's life in his hands. If she talks to Dick, he'll want to know what the hell she's doing. If she tells him, he'll want to help her. If he helps, then Jerry pulls the trigger on Becky. She doesn't know exactly the extent of the man's 'watchful eyes', but she doesn't want to test it. Instead, she lets the phone continue ringing until her voicemail picks up, then stuffs it in her pocket.

A few moments later, she looks up to see Holly entering the kitchen and sitting herself down at the table. The girl holds her hands up to her chin, kicking her legs back and forth in her seat and just staring at Rose for a few moments.

Rose: Oh, Holly... I'm sorry, just cereal this morning. I... didn't get a chance to make anything.

Holly purses her lips in thought for a moment, then brings her hands up and makes a few motions. Rose has been teaching her sign language now, finally, and the girl's vocabulary with it is actually coming along pretty quickly.

Holly: What's wrong?

Rose: It's... nothing, don't worry about it. I've just had a lot on my mind lately.

Holly: Are you worried about Becky?

Rose: Yeah... I am.

Holly: I'm sorry.

Rose smiles gently and lets out a small breath, shaking her head.

Rose: It's alright, really... everything will be okay, Becky's healing well. The doctors are even considering taking her off the painkillers today, so she might be awake when we go see her later.

Holly smiles at this.

Holly: That's really good!

Rose: Yeah, it is...

Though Rose still tries to smile, the sad, depressed look on her face is still pretty clear. Seeing this, Holly gets up from her seat and walks over, giving a big, friendly hug. Rose swallows a knot in her throat and returns the hug, breathing in deeply.

Rose: Thanks, Holly.

Int. Silverstone City General Hospital – Day

Rose knocks very gently on the hospital room door as she opens it, slowly peering inside and hoping for a response. Holly stands behind her, rocking back and forth on her toes, hands held behind her back and waiting patiently. A short distance away, the figure lying down in bed moves a little, turning her head to look at them.

Becky: Hey... you guys came.

Her voice is raspy and weak, but she's alive; that's good enough for all of them. As Rose sees Becky awake, she can't hide a pleased smile. After days of watching Becky lie motionless and asleep, condition barely improving, it gives her a newfound wave of relief to see her friend actually talking and moving again.

Rose: Of course we came... we've been here everyday, you know.

Becky: Yeah, the doctor told me you have. Thanks, I mean it.

Rose: Hey, you did the same for me, right? That's what friends do.

A weak smile comes across Becky's face; she's still in pain, but she wanted to be awake long enough for this visit.

Becky: The very best, right?

Rose: Nothing less.

Holly comes forward, all smiles, and starts rifling through a series of hand signs.

Becky: Ha, slow down there. Afraid I don't know sign language.

Rose: She says she's glad you're better.

Becky: Aha, gracias, Holly, I'm glad too. Though, I still got a long way to go, ah? Hurts just to breathe.

Sitting down next to the bed, Rose leans forward and takes one of Becky's hands into her own.

Rose: She, uh, she's not the only one who's glad, you know. I... I was really worried there for a while.

Becky: Easy there, girl, you're gonna make me blush.

Rose blinks a moment, then looks down and quickly pulls her hand back, embarrassed.

Rose: Oh, right, sorry. I was... just a reflex. I, uh... held your hand a lot when I was here before, guess I thought it would help or something. Stupid, right?

Becky: Nah, it's sweet. Thanks.

Clearing her throat, Rose looks away slightly, fidgeting in her seat. Now she doesn't know whether to feel embarrassed or flattered. Maybe a little of both.

Rose: So, uh... I don't suppose you've seen the news yet?

Becky: Si, watched it this morning. Didn't I tell you that Blade person was bad news?

Well, guess that was a bit too much to hope for.

Rose: Uh... yeah. I guess you did.

Becky: I mean, I can't say I expected something like this to happen, but I knew she'd be trouble. Looks like we got a lot of work to do once I get back to work, ah? That is, of course, unl