"Cameron, my boy, we really have to stop meeting like this."
"Cameron, my boy, we really have to stop meeting like this."
Maggie was currently taking a break, neither the albino nor the metal man were saying anything relevant.
This warehouse could masquerade as a S.T.A.R Labs testing chamber if you didn't look too closely. All of the staff are dressed well and wear the appropriate gear to shield themselves from the chemicals they're handling. Two or three men and women walk the aisles between workstations checking on the progress of their colleagues, and noting things down on clipboards as they observe the various tests being carried out.
Two chemists at one workstation inject unknown drugs into a caged dog and make feverish notes about the horrific effects the canine exhibits. A young woman with dead eyes pumps gas into a transparent box containing a chimpanzee, and raises an eyebrow as the chimpanzee begins to claw at its own flesh. She ticks a box and then turns her back on the animal.
One chemist, a man who goes by the name of Blakely, stands to one side of the workers and pulls a cellphone from his labcoat. He gets some glares as he uses it within the protected environment but ignores them. "Doctor; Diggs, Emmanuel and Issac have all made remarkable breakthroughs. Mm-hmm. The pills donated to Star City will mean that even those grungy youths will have something to smile about. We also have a new recruit joining us later. A big man with a big brain." He suddenly goes red and lowers his voice. "You said you wouldn't mention that. You know I can't control these things. You know it makes me feel ashamed. Yes, I know that's the point. You needn't mention my father again. I apologise."
Blakely walks to a quiet corner and looks over his shoulder to see if someone is watching. Confident that nobody cares, he continues. "So you will be making a visit to the lab tonight? Yes, I know you're not prone to exaggeration. Well we will have to tidy up a little. Well, you don't want to see dead animals all over the place, do you? Oh, okay. Well if these things don't bother you then..." Blakely begins to chew the inside of his cheek. "Don't say these things! Please! Look, I have to go. Please just.. There's no need to scare me like that."
Blakely hangs up, breathes out, and fans himself. He then storms across the lab and into a side room.
All the while unaware that a Boy Wonder is watching him...
Whale's voice came from a computer setup in the warehouse where Chiller made his original address to the 100's recruits. His voice was altered so as to be unreconizable along with failsafes bought from the Calculator to guarantee no one could hack the signal back to the source.
"Now before immediate objectives are laid out, I wish to establish some ground rules. First, no killing of police officers. The underworld and Gotham's finest once had a symbiotic relationship and I believe this can be reestablished if shown we are reasonable people. Two, members do not go on personal vendettas against private citizens unless directed. We are not the crazies who have run rampant in this city and such activity will not be tolerated. In reference to the crazies themselves, we do not deal with them unless they provoke us first. In which case, zero tolerance. If any of the freaks try to hinder our organization, terminate them with extreme prejudice. Three, in regards to protection, we offer a legitimate service to Gotham's operators. Rather than milking them dry, we offer the protection of our operatives against any who would hinder their work in exchange for a percentage. Anyone going into business for themselves will suffer the consequences."
The voice took a pause.
"Now before I go into our immediate agenda, does anyone have questions?"
"The underworld's in tatters right now and is ripe for someone to step up and fill the void. Of course if we know this so do the capes, so they'll be on extra guard." Chiller extends his arms out to the gathered criminals. "That's where you gentleman come in. We will ingrain ourselves into the very fabric of this city. By the time we're finished, not even Batman himself will be able to dislodge us."
Chiller smiles as he takes in the crowd.
"Now I'm sure you hae questions, so feel free to ask."
The trip into Gotham was pretty tedious. Toll booths, speed limits and traffic were the order of the day, but eventually he made to the East Side.
"Man, this place looks like Beirut. "
Getting off the bike, he waved away the trio of tacky and tired hookers that approached and made it clear to the nearby pimp that he wasn't a mark. The streets were filthy and there were allot of cracked or boarded up windows all around. Gutters backed up with trash caused dozens of little filthy lakes in the street, and he was pretty sure the smell that assaulted him was the result of a dead 'something' nearby.
Wheeling the bike into a nearby alleyway, Cam pulled out his mobile and began looking at local maps and searched for the motel he had chosen to stay at.
Kick-ass sushi, primo sake, and the ambiance was nice too. On the inside, it was crooked. Years ago the local Yakuza had turned the place into a watering hole and (in theory) a neutral ground for the various factions of the criminal element in town to gather in relative safety.
It didn’t stop there either. If you knew where to look you could see a bent cop or two and maybe a bought judge in the crowd. Not just anyone could make it in however. Okoze was technically a private dinning club. You had to be a member or a guest. It’s where the criminal elite liked to showcase their affluence. Slick suits, flashy jewelry and in general a pronounced display of power and or wealth was the theme.
Cameron mostly liked it for the food. Not saying that it wasn’t a great place to pick up information and make connections, but holy crap was the food awesome. He did however dress that part.
The suit he wore was custom tailored to fit from cuts of cool blue and white silk of varying shades. Given the frost white of his hair and the ice blue of his skin, the unusual colors looked great on him. The Rolex on his wrist, the tie pin at his breast and the cufflinks on sleeves were each tastefully accented with high quality diamonds. Maybe he was playing into the cliché, but he really did like the ‘ice’ of gemstones.
Several stacks of large bills, crisp and bound in their bank bands were piled up in the middle of the table. The most recent job had been good to Icicle and the client had paid as promised. No muss, no fuss, no last minute double dealing. It had been a lucrative week.
Despite the blasé acceptance of the underworld element in the establishment, the presence of a an actual metahuman criminal (or ‘Supervillan’ as Cam preferred to call himself) still raised eyebrows. Cam loved it. He knew it was a little shallow, but he liked the ‘big fish among minnows’ celebrity status. It was an idle luxury. Now and then, real business came his way but most of them were just content to sneak glances at him when they thought he wasn’t looking. The expressions of wonder and a little bit of jealousy were fun and flattered his ego. The braver and more influential ones sometimes invited him for a drink or conversation. They would make small talk about current events, share a joke, talk shop and maybe drop a rumor or two. Mostly it was simply a way of demonstrating their own cosmopolitan sensibility and status to the others by hanging out with Icicle, but Cam was fine with that. It was an arrangement of mutual benefit.
Now and then however, real business came his way and the setting was perfect for that kind of things. Tonight had not proven to be such a night, but Cam wasn’t impatient. His companion for the evening, Nicole, was a dark haired young little thing that had an accent he still couldn’t place. She was an ambitious day trader that secretly belonged to that unofficial and taboo sub-culture of Supervillain groupies that got a thrill out of being in the company of ‘dangerous’ and ‘famous’ men or women. Tigress and he had encountered her a year ago and sometimes one or both of them would give the girl a call to invite her to be the arm candy for the evening. It was an interesting arrangement.
“Yoshiko, can I get a refill?” Icicle called out to the pretty waitress.
To his companion for the evening, “You honey? Need anything?”
A slightly intoxicated titter bubbles up from the lass and she shakes her head. Some folks can’t hold their sake.
He tapped a few buttons on his computer, accessing the secure network the Calculator had set up for the society, contacting all members. He leaned back in his chair, waiting for them to respond.
He also has a small box with him - gifts for his colleagues that should help keep them another step ahead of the good guys, and their fellow bad guys.
Two costumed criminals prepare to breach the walls.
"I don't like this. Even if we did get paid a load of money. Actually, I don't like this especially because we got paid a load of money. Who the hell cares that much about baby Boomer? Maybe it was his mysterious Mom.."
Icicle and Zoom had been sent to rescue Owen Mercer, after a substantial payment was made to the Society on his behalf. Icicle had been requested by name, for the security systems - Calculator sent Zoom along as well, 'just in case'.
Cameron plants a hand on the wall of the facility, beginning to super-cool the steel-reinforced concrete.
"You ought to be able to pop this like an eggshell in about a minute."
Cameron rings the doorbell of one of the Shade's Opal City apartments - Calculator's intel suggests that he favors this one during the spring months, because of the incredible view it affords of one of the city parks. And since things are starting to thaw, it seems as likely as any of the others.
He awaits the arrival of his colleagues, before beginning.
"I'm not quite sure what to make of this 'Miracleman' character. Whoever.. whatever he is, he survived a bath in Chemo without what I would consider substantial damage. He's tough. Maybe even Boy Scout tough."
He leans back in his chair.
"Fortunately, Luthor's Infinity Incorporated appears, thus far, to be primarily a public relations dodge. He's made no signs of going on the march with a super-powered army."
It was really windy that evening - and for a change, it wasn't her fault.
This was the second time Maxine had been in Londonderry for Christmas Eve...she had come years ago when she had been the gawky redhead in 5th grade. Now she was the gawky redhead that was also a member of the oldest, most revered team of superheroes EVER...the Justice Society of America.
And yet she was here for the same reason many people do things like this - because she loved her grammy.
This had been an annual tradition for Grammy Hunkel for many years, even before she discovered that she could come out of hiding a couple years ago...that she could finally be a part of the Justice Society - as the museum's curator. She wasn't just that, though - she was EVERYONE's grammy. Court, Kendra, even Power Girl...all of them loved and revered her simply for just being her.
And it was the easiest thing to do in the world.
She was waiting inside, waiting for Ma to make her grand entrance, as she did every year. They went all out this year...the theme was Rankin-Bass Rudolph, complete with a very large replica of the Abominable Snowman from the classic cartoon that the store manager said had arrived only that day.
She loved that special...especially with Yukon Cornelius. She identified with him a lot.
One being stands in their way. His duplicate Green Lantern ring flares as he contemplates the assemblage before him -
- then he charges, at superspeed.
The old Justice League satellite - completely derelict for years, or so everyone had thought. Even now, aside from the teleportation signatures, the Justice League's own sensors weren't detecting any signs of life or power.
"Hmmm. Some sort of advanced cloaking technology? Magic, more likely - there's no technological cloak this good." Pressing a button, he opens a communication channel. "Faust, I'm sending you some information. There's a location I want swept for traces of a magical cloaking spell."
Inspiration strikes, and a slow smirk spreads across his face, and his fingers move across the keyboard, calling up several detailed photographs. He magnifies the picture resolution a dozen times, comparing the images. And the smile widens.
"Deathstroke, this is the Calculator. Based on the teleportation signatures I just detected, it seems Light's hiding out on the old Justice League satellite. I've confirmed that he's using a cloaking spell of some kind - seems that in the past six months, the Satellite hasn't acquired any new surface scarring from the micro-debris in Earth orbit. Consider that his confirmed location. Faust has - ah, hang on, he's just relayed some more information - he confirms that there are 'powerful dark magicks' in play. You can contact him for specifics on how to penetrate the spell. Calculator, out."
Noah leans back, satisfied with his work. "Really, spelling 'magic' with a 'k'. How pretentious."
Fucking Trickster bothering him. Somebody's got to teach that kid how this job works.
Hey, Quimby! I heard your little laser-beam nearly did in Big Blue...
Lucious Fox stands at the podium, addressing events of the past year that are of concern to various shareholder groups, making note of various growth opportunities (as always, that takes him a lot of time), addressing charitable contributions from Wayne Industries (as always, that takes him a lot of time as well). It's very dry, and it's very dull, and if it wasn't legally necessary most concerned would probably all just prefer a picnic or something instead. But it is most certainly necessary.
Lucious looks tired as he addresses the last of the independent shareholder concerns - some idiot from Ohio asking Wayne Industries to divest their holdings in the Czech Republic for some reason not adequately explained. Once it's finished, he can call for new business. There won't be any. Then they can all go home.
But right now, Titans Tower is on fire in half a dozen places, and the torrential storm overhead isn't stopping the fires nearly enough. Lightning sizzles through the sky, and well over a dozen flying figures soar around the Tower, surveilling it and occasionally blasting it with something. Many more are on the ground and in the Tower itself - parts of the Tower explode periodically as the violence escalates.
The Tower is under siege, and the Titans are fighting a losing battle.
But things change, and Weather Wizard turns his head and sees:
To : SladeW@vmail.com
Subject : Arms Race
I've noticed a bit of an upgrade in Oracle's system resources lately. If you expect me to keep pace, we're going to require additional resources. If you're looking for a birthday present for me this year, my wishlist is short - for my personal PC, I'd love to lay hands on a Mother Box. It's plug and play .. or it will be once I've given it a few tweaks. And no birthday would be complete without a fashionable article of clothing - if one could lay hands on Clifford DeVoe's old Thinker's Cap, I'd be most pleased. Coupled with my own natural gifts, I could keep pace with any intellect the other side can muster. My last, best sources suggest it may be in the JSA's custody.