Flipping the page of the Earth 2 comic book, Leonard Snart, who committed crime under the alias Captain Cold, winced as he felt a sudden pain in his eye.
Keeping his good eye on the costume clad characters on the page, he blinked and rubbed his other eye vehemently, but to no avail. As a reflex, he moved towards the window to use his reflection to attempt to locate the offending eyelash or stray particle of dust, but glancing up, he was reminded that these particular windows had been specially coated with a matte finish.
“Aarrgh!” He threw his hands into the air and turned an accusing gaze on his cellmate. who was meticulously constructing a house out of playing cards (left in the cell by the previous inmate *cough*). “Why did I have to be stuck in here with you?”
Sam Scudder’s hand tremored as he placed the next piece, and the entire collection was sent fluttering the the dull concrete floor. Making a face, he turned an indignant expression to his former compatriot. “Me? It’s your fault we’re in here in the first place. If you hadn’t insisted on…” his voice increased an octave as he did his impression, “‘having some fun with those righteous rigarolls’ with your ‘new and improved ColdMaster2000’, and we had made a quick getaway like I suggested, we wouldn’t have gotten caught.”
“It’s the ColdMeister2000,” Snart huffed. “And you’re the one who portaled us directly into a Justice League get-together.” He raised his arms in a shrug and then looked down at his clothing in disgust. “Ugh, now I’m stuck in this ugly orange jumpsuit…but I guess you’re used to wearing ugly orange attire…”
Scudder ground his teeth, but then a smile slipped slyly onto his lips. “Well, I guess a decent sense of style can’t be expected of someone who dresses like an inuit in the middle of summer. Maybe you should look in a mirror more often...oh, wait, sorry, you can’t…”
With an angry noise, Snart lunged and grabbed Scudder by the collar of his ugly orange jumpsuit. “Why I outta…”
The awareness of solid footsteps made him pause, though, and as the large, well-muscled guard toting an imposing black baton passed by their cell, he glared at them. Snart released the other man’s collar and patted it smooth, and gave the guard a demure smile. Scudder forced his face into a grin as well and put a peremptory hand on his ‘buddy’s’ shoulder.
After the sound of footsteps faded the hand stiffened and his fingers dug in, his other arm reaching for the coldmeister’s throat. Snart let out a shriek, then reared his arm to punch the self proclaimed Master of Mirrors…
An assault of white light from behind them froze the pair in place. They blinked simultaneously and moved their hands to cover their eyes.
Near a farm in Kansas
The Night was heavy, microscopic particles of water dangling throughout the air, in suspense, waiting for the final curtain to drop. Dense clouds rolled over the Night sky, threatening the occasional shudder of electricity.
In the darkness, two forms met at a crossroads, with cold wind whipping at the fabric hanging behind each.
Finally a vein of lightning ventured to strike down, illuminating the pentagon-inscribed S on one and glinting off the metallic toolbelt on the other.
“It’s down to us,” the Dark Knight spoke. “We’re the only ones left.”
The Man of Steel nodded grimly. A small strained smile crossed his lips. “Also seems kind of fitting, doesn’t it?” Long lashes blinked down and the glimmer of reminiscence entered his gaze. “Remember how we met?”
There was silence, then the reply, “I remember I gave you a pretty good beating.”
Superman’s eyebrow raised and when he glanced up at the face of his friend, he saw something there that wasn’t usually: a grin. He shrugged and took a deep fortifying breath. “Well, let’s go then and pass that good beating onto these Villains.”
"Such naivete,” a booming voice scorned.
The World’s Finest spun to find the armor-clad figure in the red horned helmet floating in front of them.
Batman’s muscles tensed in preparation for an ensuing fight, as they had been well-conditioned to. Superman’s fist clenched and his jaw set into stone.
Ares sighed. “I am not here to fight. Fighting you would be pointless. Here.” He tossed a small black box at Batman’s feet. “We borrowed this, now you may have it back. I have more use for it.”
“Is that…?” Batanova felt around the compartments in his belt, and sure enough, it was gone.
Phil-el’s brows furrowed. “Are you saying we should work together?”
Ares’s laugh was more bitterness than mirth. “No...it is far too late for that.” He raised his arms. “I am the God of War. I know millennia’s worth of battle strategy, and I cannot see a way to win.” His voice took on a grudging tone. “As much as I loath to admit it, the Luthor mortal was correct. Without him, neither of us stand a chance, even if we allied.”
“What are you talking about?” Superman frowned. “I could never ally with you. You are evil.”
Another acerbic laugh, deeper this time, and, perhaps, stained a tinge with madness. “Yes,” the God of War conceded. “Yes, you are right, I am evil. But that is exactly why you could have allied with me.” He shook his head in disdain. “I recognize good and evil. I recognize morality and principle. You know my motivations, you know my capabilities. You could have persuaded me, we could have reached an agreement. But that thing...it has no principles, has no motivations. You could persuade it no more than the force of gravity. All you can do is wait to be crushed in its wake.”
The former deity threw his head back to laugh once more, but instead it was jerked violently to the side with a powerful blow, and his armored shape was sent smashing into a silo a few hundred meters away.
The golden form of the android hovered above the heroes, staring at them with its featureless face. Behind it, the lightning seemed to intensify as its vocal mechanism activated, producing a Mandarin saying Batman recognized.
“Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao arrives,” he translated. “Seems like it has learned some things.”
“Well, let’s teach it a few more things,” Superman goaded, and as he crouch to load his attack his cape and the dust around him lifted into the air.
Keeping his eyes on their enemy, Batman reached carefully behind him to retrieve a batarang and his hand closed in on...nothing?
The unforeseen circumstance only disoriented the League of Assassins trained warrior a split second, but that was enough. A lightning fast spear of green energy pierced the Dark Knight’s chest.
With a cry, the Man of Steel shot towards the android, fists extended in front of him. A sonic boom erupted as his Kryptonian physique accelerated through the weighted air.
The super-beings collided and the momentum carried their tangle into the air, a blur of blue, red, and gold.
The exchange of super-speed punches continued as they climbed, up, up, up...through the stratosphere...the mesosphere...the thermosphere…
Below their battle entwined forms, the outline of the continent could be discerned, nudging out of the green-blue oceans, as a pair of concerted punches jarred the combatants apart.
Amazo’s inorganic limbs hung loosely. His eyes remained on his opponent.
“You cannot win.”
It was not a boast nor a challenge, but a simple, clear statement of fact.
The Man of Steel’s teeth clenched as did his fists. “We’ll see about that...don’t underestimate us...don’t underestimate humanity.”
“You are not…” But before the statement of fact could be completed, the last son of Krypton slammed into the android, and the once again entangled pair propelled back towards the earth.
Sparks flew and the android’s metal shell blazed red as they crashed through the layers of the atmosphere. Superman managed to turn the android’s body so that it took the brunt of the re-entry force, but the pressure front still pushed on him decidedly.
Gritting his teeth, Batman gripped the burning hot spear of energy in his hand. With a resolute grimace, he gave it a hard yank and it slid out of his shoulder.
He allowed himself a brief scream of pain and to fall back onto his back for 2.3 seconds to catch his breath. Then he turned over and pushed himself up.
Ignoring the pain, he searched around the surrounding darkness. His well-honed reflexes had allowed him to dodge just enough so that the energy blade had not hit any vital organs. He’d live...for now. But if that thing had learned the abilities of Superman...well, then he’d definitely need that.
He located the shape of the box a few feet away in an intermittent strike of lightning. Limping to it, he picked the box up and opened the lid slightly. That ominous but expected greenish yellow glow greeted him.
A sudden massive jolt of the ground as a form crashed to earth almost caused him to drop it though, and a closely following second jolt, just as hard and caused by second crash, knocked him off his feet.
The force of the impacts had created compression waves that flattened the wheat around the smoldering bodies in a circle (which no doubt would be trending on Twitter the next morning…#mysteriouscropcirclesinkansas).
Still ignoring the pain, Batman crept up to the nearest circle. The form in the center rose slowly, as if disoriented, and the Dark Knight could make out its smooth metallic outline.
Noticing the green energy spear nearby, he inhaled and quickly grabbed the scorching shaft. With a quick movement, he flipped open the lid of the box and plunged the tip of the spear into the glowing yellow-green rock, coating the edge of the energy blade.
The android had gotten up to its feet and was shaking out its golden head when it saw the dark cowled form leaping towards it. It held up a hand. “Hold on...wait…”
The kryptonite covered energy spear drove into its golden chest. Its form convulsed in shock, then sagged into Batman’s arms.
Sporting an ostensible dent in the side of his helmet, with one shoulder drooping awkwardly and blood trickling from the corner of his mouth, Ares began laughing uncontrollably as he levitated precariously towards them.
Even with every molecule of his body screaming in pain, Batman graced the Greek god with his trademarked cowled scowl. “Now you want to fight?”
Ares shook his head, mad tears flowing down his cheeks as he tried to restrain his laughter. “No...that’s not…mmh…” He swallowed and cleared his throat. “You mortals are so easily fooled.” A grunt interrupting one last chortle, he popped his shoulder back into its socket and wiped the blood from his lips and then turned a smug, knowing gaze onto the vigilante. “It seems that the android has not only learned my aptitude for strategy...but a little magic as well.”
The scowl remained for a moment, but then turned to alarm as realization dawned on the caped crusader. His gaze darted to the figure in his arms...the limp, lifeless blue and red form of his best friend, now free from the illusion that had been cast on it.
“No...it can’t be…” the man stammered, his usually unusually slow heart-rate pounding. He fell to his knees and cradled the unmoving body. “No...no...NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
Suddenly the masks of the vigilante, the Dark Knight, and the protector of Gotham were stripped away, and all that was left was the shaky young boy whose parents had been brutally murdered in a dark alley.
A flash of lightning revealed a golden form towering behind the bat-shaped outline. An enormous green broadaxe was raised above its head.
Thunder clapped in the distance.
Ares lowered his gaze and turned away as the crying orphan was finally put out of his misery.
Releasing the axe and allowing the energy to dissipate, Amazo turned to his remaining adversary and his golden form ascended into the air slowly, deliberately.
The God of War held his ground (or, more accurately, airspace) and stared stonily at the android - no, it was not fair to call it that. It had been created as an android, but it had been gifted with an unparalleled capacity to learn, and with each ability it learned, it had also learned to increase that capacity, to a degree that even its creator could never have in his wildest dreams imagined. It had been an android, but now...now it had become something more, something that transcended…
A fat raindrop plopped onto Amazo’s smooth head and slid unimpeded down the perfectly curved surface. It was followed by another...then another...then another and another and another…
Plasmares and Nanazo held unwavering gazes on each other as the heavy rain poured down around them, the droplets drumming in anticipation of the battle about to commence. Lightning struck down, as if giving the ready, and then…
As the thunder roared, the titans clashed in a fury, the glint of their armors slashing red and gold streaks into the Night sky.
Dodging a golden punch, Ares crossed his arm and slipped his hands through the seams to pocket dimensions, pulling out a pair of swords he had magically stowed there. Letting loose a warcry, he struck.
Amazo’s arms shifted into the shape of blades as he parried, at first clumsily, but learning and improving at an unfathomable rate.
Finally the blades locked in intertwined crosses, the adversaries pushing with equal strength. With a quick calculation, Amazo opened his mouth and emitted a supersonic cry.
The compression force of the Canary Cry thrust Ares backward, but he managed to catch himself within a few meters.
Keeping his eyes fixed on his opponent, Ares lifted his arms to his sides, palms upward, and magically drew a multitude of swords from their various pockets, beautifully crafted, deadly, carefully collected over millenia.
As the first wave of blades fully emerged, he brought his arms forward and the weapons were sent flying at the golden being.
“Evrews,” Amazo pronounced, holding up a hand. The trajectory of the missiles turned and curved around him.
A second wave of blades pommeled towards it from its side and it created a green wall just in time to block the onslaught.
A third wave was knocked off course by a golden imitation of a batarang.
And so the siege continued, with Ares sending each wave progressively faster and Amazo countering by learning new methods of deflecting the attack at an even more expedited rate.
At last, Ares lowered his arms. “It seems my larder has been emptied,” he remarked wryly.
The emotionless golden stare remained. “Do you capitulate?” the toneless voice asked.
The God of War lowered his helmeted head as if in defeat. Then suddenly, there was a rumbling as all the swords which had been dispatched rose up in a circle around the golden being, a veritable fleet...no an ocean of gleaming metal.
Ares howled and the waves of steel imploded together, a million skewers piercing through Amazo’s golden shell simultaneously. The force of the collision sent a shower of water droplets exploding through the air, spraying all that was around.
A victorious grin spreading over his face as the rain died down, Ares shook the precipitation from his face. “You may have learned my aptitude for strategy, but it seems you still have a few centuries before you are my match.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “Ha...ha...hahaha...ehch…chchch...”
Coughs quaked through his chest as blood spurted into his lungs and up to his mouth. His wide, disbelieving gaze lowered...to find the tip of a blade protruding from his chest, shimmering with his blood.
“I am not your match,” came the even, matter of fact tone. “I am superior.”
The mass of swords being magically held fell as the lanced golden illusion dispersed and clattered to the earth.
The sound delivered memories to Ares’s waning consciousness, of celebrations thrown in his honor, whence great warriors and children who strived to become great warriors clanged their weapons on their shields and exalted his name. A dreamy smile wafted over his bloody lips as his eyelids drifted closed...
As the God of War’s body tumbled to the field below, the transcendent golden being surveyed the devastation around him impassively. It had been an immeasurable battle, and, at last...
It had won.
“You finally awake?” a female voice teased..
Groaning, Bruce rolled over and his eyelids fluttered open. His blurry vision slowly cleared, and he found himself staring at the ceiling in the medical bay of the Watchtower.
“Wha...how did I get here?” he inquired groggily.
“With great effort,” the female voice answered. It seemed...oddly familiar. “You almost died, but we managed to get to you just in time.”
“Are you…” he turned his head and confirmed his suspicions. “...Zatanna? But you died…”
“Actually,” the magician, the reports of whose death had clearly been premature, shrugged. “I faked my own death, and then used my magic to alter your memories.”
“My death as well,” an arrogant voice added. Bruce turned to his other side and it took all his lauded self-control not to gape.
Sitting besides him, on a sickbed in the Justice League satellite, frowning over a carton of tapioca pudding, was...Lex Luthor.
Zatanna grinned sheepishly. “Sorry...it wasn’t actually my idea.” At the querying look he gave her, she exposited, “Doctor Fate came to me a few Nights ago and told me he needed my help. A greater threat is coming and we needed to prepare, to gather the team to face it.”
The heroic billionaire shot the avaricious one a skeptical look.
The pretty magician let out a small laugh. “Yeah, I know...but...he’s necessary. I’ll explain…”
But before she could, the floor...no the Watchtower...no the world itself began to tremor as a rift tore into the fabric of space and time.
“Too late…” Zatanna gulped. “They’re here.”
...to be continued...
(Whew...sorry that took so long, but I think it was worth, I hope at least some of you do too )
1) Phil1882 [Superman] - no action sent
2) Nana77 [Amazo] - copy Araver
3) bonanova [Batman] - no action sent
4) tolecnal [Martian Manhunter] - watch Plasmid
5) flamebirde [Hawkgirl] - magic find tolecnal
6) onetruth [Green Lantern] - block tolecnal [BLOCKED]
7) dee_tot [Green Arrow] - Phil as BC
8) plasmid [Ares] - N/A
9) TwoaDay [Zatanna] - undo "Ares NKs TwoaDay"
10) Kikacat123 [Felix Faust] - magic find tolecnal, NK Nana
11) Araver [Black Canary] - block onetruth
12) Barca [Lex Luthor] - manipulate bonanova as Hawkgirl to kill Araver
Thanks everyone for playing, it has been a really interesting game to host .
Congratulations to Nana for the the first indie win in Justice League (and associated) history! You did an amazing job controlling the voting in the game thread so that you were never in danger of being outed, and managed to lay low and build up your power base until you were unstoppable!
A special commendation to plasmid for being the most strategically attuned player in the game. Lol...actually I think that was also kinda your downfall...sometimes you considered the optimal Amazo strategy more fully than Amazo did (that double block + Kr kill thing would have totally worked ). But you lead the Villains fantastically and somehow...almost magically, lol...managed to keep your entire team off of the lynching block for the first 4 Days. Great coaching and very clever and amusing strategies, especially the whole claiming Amazo thing ;D.
araver - you once again managed to figure things out...and once again ended up being lynched instead of listened to .
Barca - yeah...I really don't know how you did your Jedi mind trick of staying under the radar until, like, Day 7, but, uh...if it works it works...
bonanova - although you're new to mafia, you handled this somewhat complicated setup like a champ. Looks like you might have some of that Amazo learning potential in you ;P.
dee_dot - bad luck with your Canary search but you made good observations in the game, just wish you could have more of an opportunity to act on them
flamebirde - sorry you died early but it was a pleasure having you to talk to in the ghost thread...it was kinda lonely *whistling*
kika - great job for your first time as mafia, you managed not only to many of the innocents that you were a hero, but an important hero at that!
Phil - good job selecting successful save targets! Most saves aren't that successful .
onetruth - it was good to have you back, and good job confusing the Villains on your role...even if it might not have been entirely intentional...
tolecnal - welcome back, sorry you died so soon
TwoaDay - fun having you around, as always, glad you were here, even if you didn't have much luck with your predictions.
I think that's everyone...I have some general game comments but I'm pretty tired so I'll probably post them tomorrow.
Thanks again for playing, hope to see you in JLU3: Trinity of Crisis...which will have a few changes in the 'line-up' and an additional independent (both of which have been hinted at throughout the story...)