Drowning Before My Eyes
Chapter 1 - Bright Gift
What was in a name? She sighed and stared at herself. Names were important, she knew that as much. It was one reason why her Grandfather's name meant the Demon's Head. Through the magic of the green glowing pits, Ra's al-Ghul had lived lifetimes. Sure, the green glowing liquid twisted his mortal mind over the years of of existence. It didn't help that he was the leader of the League of Assassins and raised his own daughter as a bloody minded psychopath. So when she learned her name, Damian, and what it meant "to take" or to "tame". She was sure her purpose in life was to sit the Throne and become the next Head of the Ghoul.
That all changed years ago when she was barely twelve-years-old. She, Damian Wayne, was thrust away from Nanda Parbat. And the turmoil which resulted was traumatic to say the least. All in one, she dealt with her mother going beyond rogue and trying to kill her. Early dealings with the Court of Owls, and sadly, a lot of wonderful fucking bullshit. Standing in front of the mirror she sighed as she stared at the dress Koriand'r gave her. The dark skinned Tamaranian had a pretty "exhibitionist" taste. She was twenty-one, and after years of hiding it she was going to come out.
Scanning the entire bedroom, she twisted around and tossed off the black turtleneck she was wearing. Yup, the slim muscled build of a scion of the Wayne family smiled back at her. Narrow hips, cut abs, and of course, a set of broad powerful shoulders. Damian stared at her reflection and began to note the pros and cons.
"My voice is...reedy at best," the way she was able to pitch her voice was from years of quiet study.
I'll never be built like Kori or Selena. A pair of crossed arms over her bare chest revealed the young woman's feelings. Being a queer twenty-something in Gotham wasn't a big deal. Her brothers had accepted her when she told them the day before, and father had even hugged her a week ago. Bruce Wayne had fought so many versions of himself and seen how the psyche warring with itself could cause outright slaughter. No way in the depths of Hell or by the name of the Trigon would he not accept his daughter.
Good, she'd come out, and felt a sense of freedom. But, years of discipline and indoctrination under the League had locked a lot of it away. Even talking to Orphan did little to assuage her unease. They both knew what it was like to let their feelings loose, and to fight in the shade of blood thirsty birth givers. Damian was groomed to be the Heir, and Lady Shiva brutalized her daughter into a living weapon. So now, she was going to go out on a date with another literal daughter and heir of the massacre.
Nevermore: Jinx is getting bouncy...please tell me you are almost ready.
Damian read the text after hearing the silent beep of her phone. A slow chuckle came from the bottom of her throat.
Desdemona: You were the one who wanted to bring her.
The little writing emblem squiggles for a bit before the reply came.
Nevermore: She bribed me with sour candies, and goreporn. The body is weak.
Desdemona: When did the Unkindness become addicted to candy and bad horror?
Nevermore: You are to blame mortals, it is your fault for making me watch all the Tremors movies.
Desdemona: Never drinking Tequila again.
Nevermore: To quote Jinx, "Stop being a little bitch and get down here!"
I still don't know why I'm doing this. Damian bit her right knuckle and stared at the dress again. A stupid slinky piece of shit, made of lycra. WHY did she have an obsession with Lycra?! Fuck this. The ravenhead turned and dove toward her massive closet. One of the perks of being a wayne was the ability to order a lot of clothing without questions asked. Years of self-repression carved away by sharpened knives of her own need.
A pair of black jeans, black as night, made from that stupid "uber black" material. They were painted on, and as she did a quick clean up job on her nails she considered going open toe before deciding against it. I don't want to shave my legs or rush a pedicure. Instead she rooted out a pair of leather calf-high boots. Pulling them on she remembered buying them with Raven at an upper class punk shop in Jump City. The place was run by an ex-Dominatrix who made most of it all by hand. Staring at the boots as she finished the buckles she enjoyed the platforms built into them.
Next she had to figure a top, they were going to some sort of Goth or Industrial Queer Bar. A place where she would be expected to not stick out like a Wayne at a Charity. Frowning, the transgirl sighed before snagging a new solid black bralette. It was a simple high end sports bra style, with a black silver demon skull painted across the front. Jinx had bought it off some video game website saying it was a "Doom Skull" or something.
Now the finale, out came the long sheer charcoal turtleneck. It would be all on display and even if she didn't have the hips or the tits. She had her muscles, and that ass. Another throaty chuckle and the daughter of Bruce Wayne finished it all with a simple bit of winged eyeliner and black mascara. Hell, even without her mothers legendary cleavage, Damian was the spitting image of femme fatale.
She sat down in front of her vanity, and did it once over. Her hair was in a refined cut, long front fringe with a stylistic skull shaved into her undercut. If it rains it pours. I'm overdoing the skulls. I might as well get a bat undercut next time. Grabbing her phone she slipped on a ring over her finger fitted with a tracking device just in case. Then, she added a knife to the back of her right boot.
If looks could kill. Grabbing her clutch, she sighed before walking out of the hall into the primary study. Father was there, his long, muscled and scarred body laid out on the couch. Selina, her step-mother, and her favorite sparring partner was busily giving him a massage. The olive-skinned woman glanced over her shoulder and poked her husband.
"Heading out?" he asked without really moving, and she could see the ghost of a smile on his lips. A genuine one at that.
"Going to a place called Batcave," she sighed, "I know it's damn ironic.
"Kate still joining you?" Selina asked as Bruce sat up and slowly began work through a few stretches.
“No, she’s on a double date with Alex Danvers,” Damian sighed.
“What is my cousin up to these days with Alex Danvers” Bruce queried.
“Astra Zor-El,” Damian scoffed, “I’m being ditched for Kryptonian ass.”
Bruce frowned at his daughter's vulgar reply even if it was in the articulate accent of the League. He shook his head before saying, "If it goes south, Orphan's on standby and so is Halo."
Damian sighed, "I figured you would be the overprotective type."
"He's -Batman-, he doesn't kill people, but it doesn't mean he'll break spines to protect his widdle princess." Selina giggled at her own joke before checking her phone and laughing louder. "Harley and Ivy say, have fun, wear protection and don't forget to order a Diana Prince at the bar."
"A what?" she asked before leaving.
"It's some fucking horrendous concoction made using Absinthe and Ouzo, do not drink it. I did once, and I ended up dancing in Gotham and waking up in a Yacht off the coast of Dalmatia."
"Hey, that was my yacht," Bruce chuckled as he leaned in to kiss her cheek.
"Still," she replied before waving to Damian who was on her way out. The young queer rolled her eyes a third time before heading downstairs to catch a zetatube to Jump City. The walk down to the actual lab itself was not long, and even a little fun if she considered how her father kept remodeling the ways to the Batcave. The small elevator which took her down this time even had some stupid little bit of musak to pass the three-second wait. She stepped out, her boots clomping with each step, into the cool air of the cave itself.
A massive redux of her Father's mainframe sat to her right as did the various hermetically sealed cases holding the historical uniforms of the Batfamily. Passing one featuring Robin, and an early take on Nightwing made her smile. Next was Oracle's old Batgirl costume along with one featuring a less Rambo style for Redhood. Jason, did buy me that Knife and I'm pretty sure he did it for a reason. The folding blade hidden in her boot wasn't just typical fancy Damascus steel oh no. It was a molecular sharpened blade stained with fucking Trans Pride Colors.
Yup, one of her big brothers bought her a queer as fuck knife. She gave a small shake of her head before heading toward the transporter.
"Robin, recognize," the computer said as a flash of white light struck her eyes and she felt a sudden pulling of her body. A second later she was running into Gar as she found herself in Titan's tower. Jump was home to both the Titans, the Team, and the Outsiders. A touching point for a lot of the more complicated work of the League. Gar was dressed in his usual red tank with white outlining, and a pair of pajama pants His sleepy eyes met her own as he gave her a goofy grin.
"Hey bae," he laughed and gave her a once over, "Looking Crash."
"Thanks." She deadpanned.
"Pick a name yet?" he asked, walking over to the terminal near the boom tube entry-point.
"No. Still thinking one over. It's not easy, especially since I don't want to keep using Robin either." She found her voice was a bit reminiscent of Robin's own throaty rasp.
"Welp, whatever you choose will be pretty crash no matter what," he replied with a smile.
I see why Terra likes him. A light smirk graced her lips before she made her way toward the lift to meet Raven and Jinx in the lobby. Damian waltzed out of the lift and froze. Raven was dressed in a fitted suit sans bra, her silken trousers hugged her long athletic legs, and a pair of stiletto heels capped her feet. A silver chain finished the look and glistened against the soft pale sliver of greyed skin visible reaching from the middle of her navel all the way up to her collar bone.
Jinx was bald at the moment, her body fitted in a pale purple body suit that fit her like a glove. Her legs were encased in sheer black leggings. She was wearing a pair of black ballerina flats. The Indian meta gave a small smile as she sauntered over and slipped her arms around Damian's neck.
"Glad to see you," she purred and pulled Damian into a tight embrace, and the trans femme let out a gasp.
"Damian," Raven said from where she stood, "Are you ready?"
The Wayne Heiress let her nerves chill a bit as all the steel from the League of Assassin's came to her command.
"I can do this." Her tone was all the determination of Talia al-Ghul herself.
"Good, because Raven wants to use her shadowself to transport us there," Jinx giggled.
"Isn't that a little overt?" she asked, turning to face the half-demon.
"Well, it's that or we show up in a limo," Raven replied.
"Do you know any company we can trust?" Damian asked as she removed her phone and immediately began bringing up some bookmarks from an earlier search.
"I was thinking Hive," Jinx stated.
"You always -think Hive-." Raven stated.
"They did break away from the Light and disavow the madness of Queen Bee." Damian pointed out. "Even grandfather approves of them."
"Fine." Raven relented and waited as Jinx texted her contact. There was a minute-long wait before the confirmation came.
"Okay, so they can take us home tonight, we'll have to get there ourselves," Jinx stated before letting out a sigh of frustration.
"Why?" Damian questioned.
"Same old song," Jinx scoffed, "Jackass broke into a lab Hive was funding in Markovia doing interdimensional viewing."
"I take it the League is already investigating?" Damian asked as Raven drew closer to the two of them.
"Yeah, the chatter between various main Hive Agents, and their connections with King Brion are already blowing up on the dark web," Jinx replied.
"Let's go dancing," Raven said just as the darkness of her shadow self engulfed the two of them. Damian felt the world stretch around her in a fashion that could only be described as being shunted down a long pipe and pulled by some great hand. Faster than the blink of an eye they were sitting before the entrance of an alleyway. A pair of tall thickly muscled men stood on either side of a pair of steps leading into a basement entrance. Above the entrance itself with a bat shaped golden neon sign red "The Batcave."
"Father would find this entire thing so shallow," Damian huffed as they drew closer to the entrance. The two bouncers glanced at them and the shorter of the two asked for IDs. Each of the women produced the necessary cards and were waved inside.
"Glad to have you here Raven," one of them said as they passed.
"What about me?" Jinx asked.
"Are you going to start shit again?" the taller bouncer asked.
"Hey, if you don't let terfs in again then I won't!" The woman chirped.
"We did expel that particular patron, she's no longer welcome."
The trio moved past the entrance and made their way down the stairs. What once appeared to be a simple basement entrance turned into a twenty foot staircase opening into a large thirty yard wide dance hall. At right and left sat two active bars with seating areas carved into the wall itself. Tables for standing to drink as well as patrolling security checking drinks. Even at a gay bar, there was so much risk of someone drugging drinks. THey didn't ban cisgender straight folx from coming so any absent drinks were immediately trashed.
Across the massive open dance floor a series of lights from above swam at different intervals, a raised platform at the far end showcased a DJ dais. Behind the dais sat a massive OLED screen showing scenes from Bram Stoker's Dracula. She could see Gary Oldman in his ridiculous double-bun hairdo on screen as a heavy double bass section ripped into the air. Her ribs reverberated with the sound of the music. Raven floated across the ground not gaining a single reaction from anyone as two metawomen, one with long green bioluminescent quills watched her, and another with arcs of electricity wriggling up her arms.
"Am I the only regular human here?" Damian asked simply as they made their way to the bar on the right.
"That's an overstatement," Jinx chortled.
"Damian, you are definitely not a normal human," Raven nodded, "You're blood crackles with your father's demonic heritage."
"Can you be more specific?" she asked as they reached the bar.
"Well," Raven ordered a rum and coke as Jinx ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. "Your family has been using the Pits for how long now?"
"A while, more than a few centuries," she sighed, "I always assumed grandfather was a meta or a homo magus."
"Likely," Raven nodded slowly, "Whatever your lineage is, you aren't normal, and that's fine."
"Hotness means that you fit in with us perfectly," Jinx seemed intent on being flirtatious tonight. Damian still wasn't used to people finding her attractive or much else. Well, attractive in the sense of her queer self, and how she wanted to showcase herself. It was all quite complicated. There was what she saw in her mind's eye and what the world was presented. Truth was, there were a lot of options before her, especially in a world with magic and mutagens. It all came down to how she would forge her future.
Now she had a drink to order. The bartender, a rather tall broad-shouldered enby with short-cropped vibrant pink hair, watched her with catlike eyes. Fanged teeth shined from their smile.
"Okay cutie, what you having," the meta asked.
"A Diana Prince."
Everyone stared at her, and the bartender tapped their jaw. "Wow kiddo, I knew you rich kids had a sense of danger but damn."
"Rich?" she squeaked.
"If anyone is here with Jinx you make money, that girl drops tips like no other." The bartender was already moving and lining a series of bottles before Damian could even react. Before she even saw a dissolving cube of sugar. Whatever she ordered, was a sickly green color, and likely was going to make her sick. The others were already halfway through their drinks as the next song picked up in the background. She wanted to do a bit of dancing before the night started to die.
"There is one rule tonight, no matter what we -do not split up." Raven stated with finality, Jinx eyed both of them and offered a nod. Damian checked her phone and saw a smile emoji text to her from Selena and Harley.
"Jinx...why is Quinn texting me?" she queried.
"Oh, your aunties want you safe," the hexer replied.
"...How is it that I have villains as family?" She deadpanned.
"You are the one who ended up with a former member of the LIght for a grandfather, and your mom's pretty hung up on murdering her way in," Raven said it all matter of factly.
"It’s why you and Raven fit so well," Jinx laughed and the bartender pushed her drink toward her. She sipped it and almost spat the thing out. It was...licorice. All she could taste was black-fucking-licorice. By the Pits of Lazarus, it was so damn bad. Why was this named after Wonder Woman of all people?!
"Gods dammit," she coughed as she finished it in two gulps and pushed it away.
"Bad life choices!" Jinx cheered as she reached over and led both of the women out onto the dance floor. Damian's feet settled on the floor and she closed her eyes. Dancing wasn't something she did very often. But she was a trained assassin, and honestly, a pretty good swordswoman. So as a ringing bell and whispering voice rolled over her body she smiled. Identifying the bouncing opening beat was easy, and then sliding her feet into a simple shuffle was even easier.
She rolled her shoulders, and then her body. As she did so Jinx imitated her and as they started to they synced their movements and swiveled their hips. Slowly swinging their hands out and then back outward. The growing relationship with Jinx was still new to Damian, but even as they moved together it felt real on a level that wasn't possible for her before. When she still warred with who she was, she wasn't able to really understand it until she started cutting away all of those repressed feelings.
Raven floated behind her before she felt arms encircling her shoulders from behind and she was being lifted a few inches above the ground. The two twirled there as Raven pressed her lips against Damian's causing the young woman to swoon. Wanting to be desired, and chosen for who she was, and not what she was shown to be was - uplifting on so many levels. She shivered as memories of the night dealing with the Court of Owls and being used by Talon. Raven drew a hand along her jaw and calmed Damian with a small kiss.
"Thanks for coming with us?" Jinx was beside them in an instant as she used her hands to press them apart and insert herself between them. As the Indian girl shimmied her hips and started grinding her behind against Damian's front. Raven was on the opposite watching the two of them as she bit at her lip. Damian closed her eyes, letting her mind wander and being taken by the sensation. She wasn't the most sexual of beings. But, the close contact did bring a lot more sense of wholeness and love than she'd felt in a long time.
Sure, there was that carnal desire, and want mixed in, a hell of a lot of it honestly. I need to sit down and have a long talk with Aunt Kate. Damian still wasn't sure if she was a lesbian, a bisexual, or perhaps something a bit more complicated. Their dance continued for a few more minutes as Damian attempted a simple twerk and ended up colliding with a swaying Jinx. Both girls laughed to themselves as Raven guided them to one of the booths for a bit of a snack before ordering another drink.
The booths were built into the walls of the underground bar, each about six feet tall, and enough benches to sit seven people. The thick metal table on top appeared easily cleanable, and she noticed a line of circuitry running from the base. On the very top embedded into the table itself were a series of circles each ready to provide a warm or chill point for a drink. Beside each sat a small control as well. As the trio found their seat Damian took an outer seat as Raven sat beside her with Jinx across.
At the center of the table a small screen popped up and displayed a simple list of appetizers to order. Jinx immediately swiveled the screen over and began to select a series of vegetarian options. Raven was busily scrawling something over the edge of the table itself. After mouthing the words, 'Azarath metrion zinthos.' Damian felt her ears pop.
"Privacy ward," Jinx chuckled as she finished.
"I hope you all like curry and hummus," Raven cautioned.
"I'm Arabic and some Han Chinese," Damian chuckled, "My grandfather named me Hafid."
"What do you want to call yourself?" Daven asked.
"Blake." She said quietly, "Blake Hadiyya Wayne."
The words came so easily and so did the name, Jinx blinked and smiled as Raven gave a nod. "Shining Gift."
"Do you think Father would approve?" Damian-no-Blake asked.
"I think your father would definitely approve, he's acknowledged you as his kid hasn't he?" Jinx asked quietly.
"Yes, publically he has, after Grandfather's resurrection he used an alias under Leland McCauley. An Arabic-Scottish philanthropist." Blanke muttered. "Mother is still going by Talia McCauley when she travels, and apparently she and Father have an agreement."
"What is that?" Raven asked, slightly curious.
"She's out of my life, I get to not be a bastard with the story being, I was an accident. Selena adopted me years ago anyway she's my real mom." That statement felt so right to say. Even if as a kid she had called the former thief a "harlot" she still considered her more of a mother than Talia al-Ghul.
"Talia also knows I'll shred her soul if she comes near Blake at all," Raven started with a quiet fury. Jinx nodded and smiled as their platter arrived. Large amounts of curry, hummus, and what appeared to be fried flatbread along with a large assortment of cheeses.
"This place has a weird appetizer selection," Blake noted.
"I may have bribed them to carry some of Raven and your favorite foods for tonight," Jinx giggled.
"Why?" Blake asked.
"Well, unlike Nevermore here, you, I have to impress," Jinx twirled a lock of Raven's dark indigo hair around a finger before kissing her cheek. "You two have known each other longer, and while she and I have dated. This Polyamorous thing is still new to me."
"Me as well," Blake replied before both looked at Raven.
"It was quite natural on Azarath, they just didn't like extremes in hedonism," she replied matter-of-factly.
Their conversation halted for the moment, then the trio dug into their food. Jinx started to eat the lion's share as Blake sampled a few bits of cheese on a plate set aside just for her. Raven was simply using her magic to float various bits of hummus and roti directly into her mouth before they all suddenly ceased eating. Without warning an invisible miasma of disquiet pervaded the club as the air near them started to crackle with energy. Just as Raven was about to react when a large circle appeared, filled with alien runes, and shot her with an arc of energy.
The TItan screamed in pain as she fell on top of the table, knocked out. Blake immediately rose in her seat as the circle disappeared and a tear in reality began to slowly unzip itself before them.
It reminded her of the zetatubes the League used to use for teleportation, a vast flash of light, except in this case it burned a scar in the atmosphere before her ears. Jinx leaped atop the table and stopped as a woman clothed in black composite armor stalked from the opening. Her ears were cold, uncaring, and focused. In her hands was a long sharpened sword covered in red searing markings pulsating with arcane energy.
"Lady Shiva," Blake scoffed at the woman as she stood from her seat and glared at the woman. "Are you here to enact some foolish vengeance on my lineage once again?"
"No actually," the woman replied, her face while beautiful, held only the cool detached expression of a hardened killer. As she waited, another woman exited the portal halfway, this one appearing to be the source of the reddened magic. Her face was covered in a series of markings easily identifiable as ancient Sumerian and proto-Atlantean. An emblem of the Lords of Chaos was branded upon her brow, and her hair was arranged into a series of spiral horns atop her head.
Unlike Lady Shiva, Mother Blood fit the part of a cult leader. A simple silken crimson robe hung around her body and she wore a red a-line dress beneath it.
"Fuck sakes, the Light and the Shadows are using the magic of the Church now?" Jinx growled. "You'll pay for what you did to Raven, Blood."
"Unlike my predecessors, I see no point in provoking the Unkindness," Mother Blood replied, seeming to want the act before she finished. "I am a mercenary in this job."
Lady Shiva glared at Jinx and nodded to Mother Blood as she placed a simple black package on the ground. "Either you come with us Damian, or we kill everyone here."
"So fucking typical," Jinx sighed as she was spinning bright hex magic in her hands, "Can you take them both so I can wake Raven?"
Blake tried to analyze the scene and showed not a single bit of worry on her face. Jinx's hesitation was all real though. The former Hiver was not likely to attack foolishly and the threat of an explosive was a classic cliche deterrent. What worried her though was the spell used to knockout Raven. If Mother Blood could incapacitate the daughter of Trigon, one of the most powerful heavy hitters of the modern Justice League, then what else could she do?
"What do you want with me?" Blake asked as she took a step forward.
"You, we want nothing, we simply want your body," Shiva replied as she cocked her head and glanced at the bomb. "Tick-tock Damian, we have more outside ready to kill all your little queer friends."
The daughter of Batman exhaled, she knew the answer, there was no choice. A single step and just as she signaled her surrender Lady Shiva was in motion. The woman drew a dart from her armor and tossed it directly at Blake. Before the young woman could react the bladed end struck her and the entire contents of the weapon were emptied into her veins.
"As I said we need your body, not your mind, not your useless mouth," Lady Shiva stated. "Move and you all die, understand me?"
"Copacetic," Jinx muttered as the two women strolled up to the now downed body of Blake. As they hefted her over Shiva's shoulder; Blake's eyes were already growing heavier. Her body lacked any sense of feeling as she felt her senses except for feeling and hearing shutting down. What was this? Why make it so she was still partially cognizant? As they turned to leave she heard Lady Shiva say, "Welcome to the Light, Project Tartarus."
Chapter 2 - Transition
Quiet met her as she felt herself awakening. Upon her senses coming back to her, she found herself unable to move, her body completely unresponsive to her mind's demand. Concern flooded her senses as she tried to open her eyes and found that after a few seconds she did, in fact, have one thing on her body that would move. Breathing hard Blake found herself strapped against something, her body felt the weight of gravity against the restraints so she knew she was in an upright position.
As her eyes lazily opened she saw the clean, sanitized steel of a medical room around her and noticed a few things. First, she was restrained inside of a clean room with an outer door connected to what appeared to be a reinforced glass wall. Fuck, it was probably something akin to what they used at Arkham or Belle Reve. Blake knew from her inability to shift her neck, that she was stuck with moving her eyes the best she could. Beside where she sat was a singular stainless steel rolling table. What caught her attention was what lay upon the table itself.
A pair of vials containing a sickly, dark, charcoal-gray liquid. Green eyes focused on the vials as she glanced at the wall and noted a series of strange vents built into the side. That was when she realized the second fact about where she was restrained. A large test tube-shaped tank, well one with the glass portion of it opened to the air. She still couldn't move her head at all, but she strained her eyes to make out what appeared to be mechanical injectors on either side of her prison.
Are they going to inject me with Tar? That was certainly a possibility, then she noticed her singular observer. She eyed Lady Shiva who was apparently just viewing her as a guard this time. Whatever the strong enforcer was doing she was certainly waiting for someone to join her. Blake sat there, waiting for her fate to be ripped apart by another plot by the Light. Five minutes passed, and nothing else happened. The door on the outside of the anteroom opened and the dark looming shape of a large albino silverback gorilla entered. Half of its skull was sawed away at the top showing a massive blastproof case filled with a throbbing brain.
"Ultra-Humanite," Lady Shiva gave a nod before the dark brunette hair and wire-frame glasses of Helga Jace made their debut. Yup, I'm about to be a mutagenic experiment.
"What is the status of the subject?" he asked clinically.
"I have found Talia's wayward sprog," Shiva nodded, "With Mother Blood's assistance we were able to incapacitate Raven and take our target."
"Excellent, she will be paid with the book Ninth Sorrow," the Ultra-Humanite replied and gestured to Helga who instantly sprang into action on a clear tablet in her hands. A few taps and Blake felt a gasp from her mouth as the injection mechanisms on either side came to life. Two robotic hands slid out beside her and snatched up the vials. In seconds they were loaded in the two massive needles beside her neck.
A few seconds later the door to the observation room opened again as the hulking muscled form of Vandal Savage came into view. The massive man was the soul and mind of the Light. It was his centuries-long life which not only birthed modern metahumanity, but also the threat of supervillains in general.
"I see Project Tartarus is ready to begin," the man stated with his usual pragmatic flair, "How long do we have before the Bat comes himself?"
"Knowing Batman, Jinx has already told him and if Raven isn't awake she'll be able to give trace information via witchsight." Shiva replied without blinking an eye.
"So we should continue with the experiment, and then induce the rage state as we planned." Savage turned to the Ultra-Humanite who gave a nod to Helga. The woman tapped a few more keys on her tablet as a warning klaxon sounded in both rooms. A secondary layer of blastproof clear plating sealed in front of the first layer.
She could feel the muscles in her neck coming back to life, and as she did she twisted her head to watch as a neck restraint forced her head into a stationary position.
"What - are you doing?" she gasped out as she found the sedatives wearing off further.
Helga Jace adjusted her glasses and replied, "Shiva recently recovered a strange bit of DNA from an alternate universe. In this one, a female Wayne, killed Aquawoman; slaughtered all metahumans; and drowned the world."
"Who better to kill the Batman than his own daughter," Vandal chuckled. "It's a bit cliche, but it'll annoy and distract the League for long enough."
He waved to Helga who drew her hand across the tablet as a mechanical piston sound signaled her worst nightmare. All at once, twin pinpoints of searing agony tore into her neck. A few seconds was all it took, through gritted teeth, she smothered her scream. Her eyes pinned on Vandal Savage as the machine's emptied the last of the black sludge into her veins which became filled with acidic burning.
"She called herself, the Drowned," Vandal stated, "We've been bouncing a few better ideas in a focus group. For now we're sticking with Tartarus."
"How inventive," she coughed as she could feel her vision starting to blur. The door to the tube closed shut and pressurized immediately and gave her an impromptu mirrored view of herself. Her eyes were ringed by dark circles, her lips were bloodied and cracked. She’s wearing some sort of off-brand sports bra and boyshorts.
Already she could see the veins around her neck and her face starting to turn black as the sludge spread. "By the Demon's Head I'll have your head."
Her words slurred as her body was slowly wracked with a growing sense of not only pain, but outright atrophy. The first sign of actual change was when the cracks in her bones began. Loud enough to fill the entire tub with a din of crackling nonsense. Her arm twisted in the wrong direction as she felt it realign itself. Her right arm and hand did the same next. Each finger curled in the wrong direction. As each slowly slipped back into place she watched as her fingers were shedding their nails. Slipping off like rotting scales, they fell to the floor as her skin was already starting to turn red with stress.
"Subject is experiencing distressing activation of her metagene," replied the unfeeling voice of Helga.
The black veins were already spreading down toward Blake's stomach causing her body to clutch with pain as her muscles spasmed with each beat of her heart. Snaking along each capillary the blood of the Drowned seeped into her very being. Blake felt her body starting to build tension, every single limb attempting to move backward; forcing her up into a hard arch against the bonds of her restraints. As her back arched harder and harder she felt her spine stretch. Each vertebrae stretching out as she knew she was gaining at least an inch in height. Once it was done she felt her body locked in place, every single muscle frozen.
"Her biology is rewriting itself, harder bones and soon skin for the pressure." Helga replied over an intercom. "Even her muscles are becoming denser to deal with the heavy pressures of the deep ocean."
"She'll make a useful weapon indeed," Vandal nodded, "And if we can maintain control, we'll use her as a template for a new breed of Atlantean."
The words earned a roar of pain from the woman who finally broke. Her right hip shifted as a loud crack resounded on both sides. First, the right side concaved inward, and the leg went loose as it was dislocated.
"The subject seems to require more nutrients," Ultra-Humanite observed, "Prepare a vitamin and protein drip."
A hissing sound alerted Blake to a series of needles popping out of the back of her bed. Each was aimed downward from her skull down at intervals of every four inches. Squeaks and scraping rang in her ears as the machine lined up its points of entry. In rapid succession they struck home, and as they impalted her skin each let out a loud hiss and hum. She felt the pressure of the contents being pumped into her. The black sludge ate it up as she bent forward and screamed involuntarily.
"Now the subject must rid itself of the unnecessary toxins to prepare for secondary alignment and the actual transformation," Helga replied.
What began as a scream started to became a round of coughing. Black blood and bile began to spray with each movement and seeped from her nose. Whatever was happening she could feel the agony intensifying as her bones felt like they were liquefying. As if her body had started to change, found the incorrect ingredients and decided to start over, instead more violently. While the needles continued, her muscles started to ache more as her once sleek frame shifted in appearance.
Both broken hips widened taking on the rounded childbearing hips of her infamous mother. Staring at her body she noticed she was far more birth female in appearance. Her eyes widened as she tried to move her legs, but found them numb and now locked in place. The bone reframing of her hips began to crawl up her stomach, a knife wound opened in her groin as it felt like someone was castrating her.
The young transwoman's testes were dissolved as whatever was left of them retracted into her body. The remainder of their sperm mutating into a series of eggs as her womb was steadily being formed. Each heart beat passing she noted how where once a small bulge remained in her boyshorts, now was nothing but smooth plains. Well, not entirely. Her penis appear to be snaking back into her body. Shifting as if her change couldn't make up it's mind, then as if someone cut into her again she felt the skin parting to form her outer lips.
"Ah, seems she's starting on the road to being assigned female," Helga stated happily, "This will prove our genetic study for transition is well founded."
"Good, we'll repackage it for the next pride celebration when we toss out the usual rainbow nonsense," Ultra-Humanite replied.
"Fucking corporate posers," Blake finally bit out, the crawling stabs of pain switched to a churning itch. Her new vagina felt strange and yet eye opening to her. But she had no time for reflection as her womb finally kicked into her overdrive forcing her internal organs to suddenly shift. As it did, she fought against her restraints as she hacked up bits of necrotic flesh. Each she spat out with as much force as she could. But like ghostly hands of god, the crawling torture continued.
Her stomach was reshaped, utilizing the new nutrients instead of the hardline v shape to her hips, she once possessed, her abs now curved down to her stomach line. Even worse, her skin started to blister, and reddened with each passing moment as it appear to be dissolving before her eyes. Crunch, the changes drew further up and attacked her rib cage. Fat began gathering under each nipple as her areola widened and shifted. Breast tissue forming as she she blinked at the growing cleavage tenting her sports bra.
Fucking dammit, I had to get mother's assets. The realization struck her as the ghostly pain slid down her arms and her bones creaked. CRACK. Her shoulders and neck screamed as she felt them grow closer. Her arms regained musculature, and yet it was sleeker than before. Her finger tips bled as something wet broke the skin resulting in a rather loud squelching sound.
"Hmmm, she's got claws now, interesting," Helga noted. Blake felt her hands break again and again, each crack as she could feel muscles untying from their ends. Tendons rerouting as her claws were cemented to provide greater strength. Even more so, she found she could feel the numbness of her legs spreading now into her hands. It was a cool burning sensation as if someone had placed liquid nitrogen on her skin, painful, and without any end.
Once again, showing it had a mind of its own the mutation began to drag itself up her neck line. She stared at it, the blackened veins growing far more vivid as red welts appeared on the side of her neck and then six more lower on her chest. Before she could focus though Blake felt an invisible fist strike her nose. CRUNCH! Black blood leaked as it broke instantly, another struck a cheek bone and the bone snapped. Then her jaw, her forehead and the pummeling came on in a torrent of unthinkable assault. What felt like hours was revealed to only be three minutes as she opened an eye and spied the digital clock on a wall beside Ultra-Humanite through the glare of her tube.
Her reflection showed a beaten woman, her face covered in black and blue bruising as each wound bled tar. That's when a finger dug into her eyes, and she screamed once again, but as she started to she found herself without breath. No sight came to her as she felt six wounds opening along her neck. Lungs twisted with the change couldn't take in air and as more pain seared across her chest all she could do was choke.
"FLOOD IT!" Vandal barked and through her increasing delirium she heard a valve above her open. Suddenly, chill brine began to fill up, and through the haze she felt it subsuming her legs; chest; and her neck. As the water hit her she felt it filling the cuts along her body and as the salt struck the pain she choked and gagged. Her eyes clawed for any sensation and as she felt the fingers receding she closed them and snapped them open again.
"UHHHHHNNNN!" the wailing came as her voice was overtaken by the water and her mouth and ears filled with salt. But as it embraced her she found her body ceasing its gagging. Air, beautiful air was pulled from the water for her, she fought through the blur by blinking her one working right eye five times, her gills. Large obvious slits, gill plates, sat along the lower sides of her chest and her neck. Each opening in time and as they did she coughed out more black blood flooding her vision.
Crackling filled her ears in the dull din of the water as she heard the voice barely, "You've finally reached the basics of Homo Mermanus biology."
She twisted in her restraints as she noticed the amount of detritus and silt filling the water around her. As it did she realized the dead skin along her body was gone, and what filled her vision was her very shed remnants. Gagging further she tried to wriggle away from it. After another minute a loud sucking sensation at her feet drew the filth away and new fresh water was filtered in for her.
Inhaling more air from her gills she felt the needles of the drip line recede and pull back into the restraining bed. More came as her arms and legs began to respond to her commands for movement. Clenching her hands into fists revealed each was now fitted with thin webbed membranes. Even her feet featured the mutation. Even she noticed one last thing, she was bald, or, appeared to be bald.
Every single hair on her body had been sucked into the filter below her, shed along with bits of teeth which had fallen from her mouth during the worst of the changes. In rage she tried to spit at the Light agents sending several rotting bits of teeth against the wall before they too were consumed by the filter. Now in a sort of final state of her transformation she felt her head and jaw starting to throb, as if on cue bits of blood burst from her mouth as new needled sharp teeth entered it. Running her tongue along them she noted how - reptillian or fishlike they were in appearance.
Her head appeared to be the final piece as she twisted in place to find a way to look and soon found a shock of midnight blue-black hair filling her vision. It shifted and floated in the water, and yet seemed almost hydrophobic in how it gave her no drag. The transformation seemingly done, she turned to face her torturers and captors. No sign of glare to look at her self she let out a loud hiss in place as a cloud of bubbles burst from her mouth.
"Seems she’s about done, with some fine tuning to happen, sedate her and we'll prepare her for feed and training later." Vandal waved before turning to leave. In his stupid military uniform he looked as bad as any Star Wars villain and just as he did she found out the words, "Go fuck yourself Tarkin!"
Just as she finished her statement, a weird taste entered the water, and before she could react her body turned sluggish. Darkness soon forced down into a deep unapologetic slumber. Dragged from the world of the living into dreamland. She felt the claws of nightmare hooking into her flesh as the water darkened around her. Creatures crafted from decaying flesh in the form of benthic monstrosities. An angler fish with the arms of a man and the tail of a lobster.
Massive shrimp with human hands instead of feet as well. They swam around her as she felt her body sink deeper and deeper. Blake twisted in the water letting her see the faint glow of the surface above. All she could see was the darkness consuming on all sides. As she felt something swim just past her back she twisted around in the water and glared down. Beneath, like a great yawning monster was a massive black mountain. Its great form covered in writhing black forms. The metawoman sank further and further and came closer and closer. Finding her faculties she tried to swim away from the ziggurat below her.
A few kicks and she felt herself making progress until a hand grasped her right ankle. Hard and cold, it bit her flesh and pulled her down further. Glancing over her shoulder she let out a wordless scream. Under her floated the form of her mother, skin greyed with death, worms and crabs covered her body. Bits of flesh peeling away, and her half eaten jaw in a rictus grin. More bubbles streamed from her face.
Then her eyes snapped open.
Blakes gills pulled air as she gasped and exhaled a long line of bubbles. Without hesitation she fought at the restraints, her mind swam with rage as she felt her arms straining. The metal began to groan, itself warping as she pulled harder and harder. Suddenly, it gave way with a loud creak. Free, she reached out to press at the test tube. Her eyes tried to focus, but all she could tell was she was no longer in the room from before.
Now her tube was being kept in a small dark room. A single light provided a locus of light bathing a chair in front of her. The metal restraints thunked to the ground and without warning a hiss filled her ears. Water around her feet and legs started to disappear, being drawn down into the filter below. However, it wasn't being replaced as before. Unsure how to react she calmed herself and as it past her neck gills she started to choke.
"Good evening Damian or shall I say Blake?" the form of Vandal Savage strolled into view. Beside him was his shorter daughter, Scandal, a mercenary who rarely showed her face around her older sister Cassandra.
"Water -" she choked as the life sustaining liquid was now past her chest and she tucked herself trying to get at the remants. When she did, she felt it stop, and was able to pull herself into a fetal ball at the base of her tank.
"So you understand then miss Wayne," Savage stated, "Without sea water you will die."
Blake lifted her head just enough above the water to croak out, "Is this revenge against the League? Against my father?"
Vandal tapped his fingers before he gave a small shake of his head. The man's powerful body sat down on the chair and Scandal stalked a bit closer, her form dressed in a pair of jeans and a bomber jacket.
"No, in fact, attacking your father too directly is messy business," he chuckled, "No. This is payment for your mother."
Chapter 3 - Lacrimosa
Blake Wayne floated in the water, her body still as she rested from another day of tests. Nearly a month had passed after they dragged her out of the tube and into the much larger holding tank. Her body it seemed could only take short periods outside the water before she became severely dehydrated. Already feeling the greater loss of her humanity she sat in the middle of the massive olympic pool sized tank floating a few inches above the bottom. Her long black hair had continued to grow since her change, now reaching the small of her back without much trouble.
Stranger still, her movements were now far more natural than before. Even simply changing her swim bladder was second nature allowing her to maintain neutral buoyancy in the water. Watching the surface, the woman stared at her nearly white hands and legs. Dressed in a black single piece swimsuit she noticed how every bit of her had changed. Not even her once tanned skin remained, only the whitish-grey of the pelagic mutations imposed upon her. A finger tapped the shackles at her wrists, constructed of hardened Atlantean steel they were fitted with Nth metal needles which would flood her with a similar poison upon any sign of disobedience.
No, Blake was bound to the water, and even if she waited longer, she wasn't sure how much more of the "training" she could take. First, they wanted to know the full extent of her supposed amphibious nature. Two Light soldiers were required to fish her out of her tank the first day, and to hold her down using the Nth metal as a threat. After three hours of testing they were able to get her to remain above water for a few minutes at a time. Each preceding day resulted in a longer test, and finally after four hours they decided to test different means.
Hydration apparatus were the next test. A few simple recycling systems were clunky to say the least. One armored version allowed her to inhale salinized mist through her gills and required her to use a strange waterproof adhesive. The tests continued for hours until they were satisfied with a slim breathing mask and a pair of sealing patches over her chest gills. To Blake it was another round of painful waiting and being prodded by various abusive scientists. All under the gaze of Ultra-Humanite.
Fighting came next, usually against expendable androids and a few fellow Metahumans in their employ. Last night she went up against KIller Frost,, a cryokinetic who'd nearly frozen her in place. Only her enhanced strength and training with Batman saved her ass. The two had fought in and around the water. Frost doing her best to maintain the cold temperature thinking that she had the upper hand. Apparently, thanks to her adaptions to the deep water, it gave her some advantage against the cold.
It all came to a head when Frost was able to touch her rebreather, causing her gills and lungs to choke with ice. Groaning through the pain she ripped it from her neck and tossed it aside. Helga appeared annoyed at her desperate move, but fuck that Markovian dog. Does Brion sleep with her in some weird Oedipal Complex? Three icy daggers shot past her side cutting into her bathing suit and her right gill plates. DAMN FUCKING BITCH! Once again she ignored the pain and focused on the blood pooling fom the cuts and the spit in her mouth. Black oil like liquid flowed from both and she spat a wad straight into the ice bitches face.
GAG. THe woman scrabbled to clean up as the blackened substance seeped into her ice and instantly it started to melt. The Black Water could infect any and all liquids giving full control to Blake once it was absorbed. Whatever ice was around Frost fell away and as the woman backed away to reach for the pool Blake made her move. A quick dash and a hard impact with an open palm sent the woman straight into her holding tank. Frost actually skipped across the water once before sinking into it.
More of the Black Water spread into the tank, tendrils of it swirling around Frost like the tentacles of a Kraken. She swam to the top and started tto climb out, but as the dark veins reached her they instead locked her in place. A prison of her own making. With a chuckle Blake twisted a cross-section of the water into two sharpened blades before the woman's neck. Holding her fist open to indicate she was ready to end it. Frost's eyes while cold were fixated on her with fear.
Justice not vengeance. She released her hand and the water pulled away to drag Frost to a pair of awaiting soldiers.
Instantly a needle pressed against the back of her neck, and she froze, "You were ordered to kill the other subject."
"I DO NOT KILL." She bellowed at the observers as she felt the needle's Nth metal burn against her skin.
Now, she was in her tank, with nothing to do, and just staring off into the distance. Pretty much all she could do until the next test. Ultra-Humantie had voiced interest in her ability to fight other hydrokinetics. Maybe even use her powers to overwhelm Mera of Atlantis.
It all sickened her. She let some of her Black Water leak from her nostrils and used it to take control of a small current. Bored, she started to form a few patterns to amuse herself. She couldn't even really care, she wanted to sleep, but even when she tried to they flooded the pool with light to keep her awake.
A month of being worn down, with not much else she could do. Blake reached around as the lights above flickered and shifted to their powered down status. Twisting around in place she shot through the water to the far side. With a quick movement she scratched another day ending in the tally already present along the wall of the pool. Turns out it was about thirty-three days since she'd been dumped in the fucking pool. Gliding back to her resting place she let herself float to the bottom and closed her eyes.
Maybe they would let her rest a bit.
For about five hours they did, the lights above didn't flash. Instead, they seemed to be letting her do her own thing. A singular eye opened and a singular loud horn blared above. Ah, yes, she was being summoned, Blake shot up and landed in a crouch on ground and fitted the rebreather to her neck. Before her stood Vandal Savage along with his two daughters, Cassandra, and Scandal. Cassandra was sporting a fairly shiny new arm. Glaring at them both Blake remained in her crouch.
"We've tested your ability to fight, healing and much more," Vandal stated, "Today we're going to see how much you can take."
"Didn't you just say I already have an obvious healing factor?" she asked carefully.
"Yes," he replied, "But we want to know how much of a beating you can take, and how much is required before you lose control of your Black Water." So more wonderful torture started anew.
It turned out that before the very grace of the Underworld, that she was quite hard to hurt. A few strikes from Scandal's bladed fists did nothing, and even the cybernetic arm of Cassandra was only able to send her flying. After an hour of being forced to stand and take a hit she was told to infect and control some water. Rinse and repeat. as time moved on, they required bigger and heavier hitters.
It wasn't until Scandal was asked to strike with a laser sharpened diamond tipped knife that she finally bled. A few more hits and she was finally bruising with it requiring significant trauma for her to actually be hurt physically. Gunfire though did seem to work as it easily pierced her skin after Savage personally shot her leg with a hollowpoint round. Grimacing through it all she limped back into the water after they were done.
Eight hours, eight fucking hours of this torment. That was her life right now. And she wasn't sure if she could take it much longer. Blake trembled as she tried to take off the rebreather and found a strong pair of hands assisting her. There stood Scandal Savage, in a wife beater and a pair of skinny jeans. The womans cool eyes flashed momentarily with remorse before she finished taking off the aparatus.
"Tomorrow we fight, they found your mother," she said simply making Blake give her a weary look. Scandal picked up the rebreather and held it aloft in her hand.
"We don't all chose our parents Wayne, most are kind, but some are unkind as well." She bit her lip and sighed, "Tomorrow we will learn what your mother truly is."
Blake didn't say a word. Years of training with the League of Assassins was what kept her from speaking out. Scandal was obviously hinting at something and so as she slipped back into the water she let her mind wander. Years ago back when Vandal thought he was going to die he'd involved his daughter and ended up nearly getting killed by the infamous Suicide Squad. As Harley put it, "He shot up his own daughter's girl right before her eyes. Cold blooded bastard."
She blinked, Scandal was a fairly well known player in the meta and extranhuman queer community. Her last girlfriend had been a redhaired New God from Apokolips. Someone who made her escape after Big Barda broke out of the Furies. Doing a small barrel roll in the water let herself drift slowly back toward where her tally remained. Staring at the marks she considered why Savage was allowing her to make the marks in the first place. Some play at excising every last bit of her hope? She flicked her eyes over to the bottom as a loud stomp from above signalled her dinner.
How long had she been under. The girl didn't rise from the water quickly, instead she drifted and pulled herself along the wall to come up quietly. Above her stood Cassandra Savage, former member of the League of Shadows and now one of her father's enforcers. The woman's tanned skin was darker than when they first met at the facility. Where are we. Blake rose further till she was treading water in front of the woman who was pointing at the plate of food in front of her.
If one were to ever call Cassandra weak they would find those thick muscles arms and hands breaking their neck. Unlike Scandal who was short, and built like an acrobat, Cassandra was tall, voluptuous and carved from solid muscle. Well, minus her cybernetic hand. She was without her usual dark blue eye shadow and her face was set in a grimace. The dark skinned woman sat down cross legged at the water's edge and sneered.
"You've changed from that suave pretty boi your mother bred you to be," Cassandra laughed.
Blake didn't make a sound and drifted closer to her food, this was how their interplay always went. If Cassie gave her food, it was always a reminder of how hard she had hit rock bottom.
The monologue continued, "Your mother popped up in Biyalia of all places, walking across the Quraci border looking for you."
She's slightly dehydrated and been in the sun, harsh sun, so we're in one of Queen Bee's bases. Blake made the quick deduction as Cassandra fed her information likely to fill her with anger.
"Shiva spent hours playing with her, even cut off a few fingers before we sedated her." Cassandra growled, "The Great Talia al Ghul, the most hated traitor to the Light. The bitch who took my arm, is now only two cells away. Ready to see the monster her child has become."
A wan hand reached out to grasp the fish and shellfish that made up her dinner, and as it did she found it in the vise grip of Cassandra's.
"Let me go," she whispered and met the woman's eyes, "You have my mother, you have my body. What else is there to do?"
Blake watched the woman's face, which was carefully laid in an expression of judgement. The League had been tricked by Cassie Savage once, and she wasn't going to fall for the woman's tricks at all.
"I'm going to break you, train you to kill a few targets, and maybe toss you to my sister when she gets over that half-dead redhead of hers," the woman leered.
"You really think your father is going to let me live that long?" she asked simply.
"I know he has plans for you," she stated, "If you are made obedient, we plan on causing chaos in Atlantis to install a more favorable government."
Blake's eyes flashed with rage, she remembered the failed Project Thrinos where an imposter of Arion had tried to seize the High Throne. This time when Cassandra did not relent in releasing her hand she twisted her hand in a swift movement and shot out of the water. In seconds she was atop the daughter of Vandal, her claws pinned the woman's neck as a loud hiss came from her mouth. "Didn't daddy warn you about what lurks beneath the surface, chum?"
Cassandra showed nary a sign of fear, but did seem aware of the threat the mutant posed. She made a singular motion with her hand and without warning a burning pain plunged into Blake's hands. Nth metal needles bit her wrists causing her to back away and without warning she had her feet kicked out from under her. Landing with a gasp on the ground she felt a hard knife at her throat and the cybernetic arm at her left gill. Without even having to guess she knew that both were edged with Nth metal. The very nearness of it caused her skin to crawl and blister from the proximity.
"Under one thing fish, if father decides to keep you as his little kill machine or a pretty fish in a bowl it is his say. I am his voice, attack me, and he'll end you." Cassandra kicked the food into the water and stepped away letting Blake gain time to roll back over into the pool.
She didn't eat her dinner right away instead choosing to gather it all up in a corner as far away from the entrance as possible. As the lights switched to downtime mode she made work of the fish and pried open the mussels for sustenance. Trash was quickly piled up on the side as she settled at the bottom of the pool in it's middle well under ten feet of water. The lights themselves actually shut off suddenly causing her to think they perhaps wanted her to actually sleep for once.
So, warily, she glanced at the walls of her cage, and up at the surface. Letting her mind wander once again, back to that stupid painfull little sliver of hope still left in her heart. She blew out a line of bubbles slowly, trying to calm her mind so she could maybe sleep just a little bit at least. Feeling her gills slowly opening and closing she let the natural fluttering of the plates calm her further. Driving her deep toward the periphery before sleep finally took her.
Again, she found herself looming over the obsidian benthic ziggurat. This time no death things found her as she was above the very top of it, and felt the darkness envelope her further. Blue and black, it all swirled around her as she felt the cool currents of the chill water. It all felt so damn nice. Correct, for who she was. With a wave of her hand she felt a bit of the Black Water spill out from her neck gills and start to infect the surrounding seawater. She could feel the tendrils spreading out like veins of a living thing.
It grew easier for her to do even in her dreams. As she floated there, all Blake could think of was her lack of a future. The Black Ziggurat loomed in the distance as she felt herself coming closer and closer to the bottom. Really, maybe she should just toss herself out into the ocean and live alone. She was a monster. Some sort of diseased entity crafted from a super villain slain in another multiverse.
As she let the self-doubt get its claw into her she fell faster and faster toward the ground, and as she did, she noticed something odd about it. There was a long flowing river there. Maybe not of water, but of something else. Each heartbeat her descent grew quicker and at least she was perhaps ten feet from the bottom when she suddenly passed through a gelantinous layer. It sucked her in like quicksand and as she did she found herself landing on dry ground.
All around her, a stark dark world filled with cold air lived around her. At her feet were black waters, flitting with green and blue lights. Each moving of their own accord. A strange alien world before her, and a massive river crafted from the very same water which she exuded. Standing from where she landed Blake sniffed the air and noted how it felt old, ancient even. A sign carved with letters in ancient Punic lettering caught her eyes. Blinking at it she sound it out, "Styx."
Nothing happened, she glanced around her, and noted that there seemed to be a wind blowing over the water. Thinking it over she drew closer to the waters edge.
"I wouldn't touch it if I were you," the voice caught her attention and held it. Turning around she nearly fell backward into the water at what she beheld.
A tall woman with dark olive skin watched her, her long hair was crafted of silver strands and shined like the waters under the stars. Her eyes themselves were cast from starlight as she wore an ancient chiton just above the flash of her tanned legs. The broach holding her tunic in place was fitted with a strange emblem, similar to one she'd seen in the old Temples of Hades in Greece. Something older though.
"If you touch the waters you lose some of your memories, if you drink it you lose them all," she knelt beside Blake with a smile.
"Who are you?" the young woman asked, trembling.
"I have many names, and yet, my most well known is on that tablet behind you," she giggled. "And it is you who have summoned me."
"You're kidding," the girl tried to put her words together, "You can't be the primordial goddess...Styx?!"
"Zeus can father a modern Goddess, and yet you can't comprehend one speaking to you in a dream?" she laughed which sounded like the falling of waves.
"There's no way you would come to someone as insignificant as me," Blake scoffed.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that Blake Haddiya Wayne," she smiled, "The Bright Gift, born of the Gentle Dew and the Bat."
"Why are you here then?' Blake countered, attempting to keep her overwhelming anxiety under control.
"You called, and I am here." Styx said and held her hands aloft, "You bear my powers, and thus I have come."
"The...Black Waters are yours?" she asked.
"Yes. I am the oldest daughter of the Oceanids. Mine is the darkest Brine, and the deepest of the Rivers. No matter how high Poseidon holds himself, it is THEIR oaths which are sworn upon MY NAME."
Her words thundered, causing Blake's bones to rattle. She cowered before the vision before her and tried to avert her eyes.
"Do not fear me child of the Undersea, I am here to give you my blessing and a clue." She smiled as she then sat down beside the tired heroine, even sitting her form towered over Blake.
"Okay...what then?" Blake murmured.
"The True Heir of Shadows spits in the eye of Attila. An Avenger from beyond our world, and the Unkindess will come." She smiled as Blake felt herself beginning to wake. The Goddess rose to her feet and stroked the other woman's cheek. "I give you my blessing and my mark Blake, do with it what you will."
The last words hit her, and without warning she felt herself coming too.
Blane's eyes opened slowly. They never really snapped open unless she was about to be attacked, but this time she let them open as slowly as possible. Her eyes screamed with pain as she let out a small gasp and covered her eyes. Again, they were forcing her to the surface with obvious motivation, pain. Before even considering it she rose and popped her head up.
A loud airhorn burst through the air and she let out a hiss in defense before covering her ears. "I'm UP!"
"You were asleep for too long, we have work to do." It was Ultra-Humanite's voice again and she instantly focused on his form. He was standing along with a few faces she wished she didn't have to face again. Helga Jace hovered by his right side, that same bloody tablet in her hands.
"What are you testing today?" she asked as she began to pull on her rebreather and the clothes Cassanda left her the night before. A body suit made of a thin chain mail like material which fit her like a glove, as well as a. Um it appeared to be some sort of rod.
"Today, we are taking you for combat training," he turned as a pair of guards leveled their guns on her. She knew they were fitted with hollow points laced with Nth poison. Gritting her teeth she went first through the open door and spied the corridor outside her tank room.
It was white walls and floors both ways. As cold as the LIght itself. Blake coughed at how dry the air was outside and increased the recycling on her rebreather. She sniffed the air twice, it was hard to pick out through sanitized undertones. But it was there, yup, the same damn background scent she remembered when on a mission to Qurac.
I am in Biyalia. It was hard to really pick it out, but her increased senses apparently had one perk outside giving her endurance in facing torment.
She was forced down the hallway for at least a hundred meters. A massive door to her right opened up wide enough to allow two of the Ultra-Humanite to walk through. On the inside it was far more climated controlled than outside. What she found was a simple fighting arena. One straight out of the old training grounds of Nanda Parbat.
A square hallway fitted with smooth stone floors crafted of carven tile. An outer ring marked by wrought silver and laced with ancient Sumerian runes. At the center stood another ring where the primary light of the arena shone. On the outside were a series of chairs arrayed for everyone to watch. Yup, she was going to fight someone. Is this where they hope I kill mother, or she kills me? Or maybe Lady SHiva will kill us once we're both weak.
Blake wasn't a fool. They told her what was happening today, she just wasn't sure where the fight was going to take place. She was pulled to the side as a door to her right opened and several people filed in. A tall, thin boy with pale grey skin entered first. Dressed in a black collared shirt, pants, and boots, his black hair was even done up in a pair of horns. Upon his shoulder perched a ginger cat with four eyes, who spoke to him in a creaking voice. Klarion, the Witchboy, a Lord of Chaos, a Celestial Demon.
Behind him walked a gold-skinned woman dressed in a black evening gown and a gold Diadem upon her head. She kept her distance from Klarion, yet seemed to be his equal, Queen Bee. Vandal Savage entered next meaning at least four members of the Light's inner council were present. Beside Queen Bee came a woman dressed in peculiar armor.
Blake considered it strange because it reminded her of Big Bardas. A helm that clung to the edge of the face with twin flaring horns on eithher side. Her chest plate split into a v-neck delving past the crest of her breasts. Enameeled in red and black, she bore the badge of Apokolips on her right shoulder. Who the hell was that?
"Walk into the circle," she blinked as she eyed the New God standing beside Queen Bee. Redhair, reminded her of Knockout, a lot, but wrong facial shape, still she did look similar. Scandal Savage was with her father as well as Cassandra, both were dressed to the nines with Cassie in a military dress uniform like her father and Scandal in a fitted dark blue suit. What was really strange was the fact that she had a wonky red S shaped pin on her breast.
"Tonight we shall watch the Heir to the Demon's Head face off against her own spawn," Vandal Savage said from his seat. Lady Shiva walked from the Crowd,d, wielding her sword and pointed it to the far end. As the doors opened a half-broken figure was shoved through the entrance.
Very few could say they would have called Talia al Ghul unattractive, but Blake knew her mother had seen better days. Her face was scraped, a cut on her cheek likely from fighting back, and a bruise on her opposite side eye. Wearing her signature catsuit, the opening zipped down to flash some cleavage it too had seen better days. Razor cuts and bits were missing. Both legs had large gaps in their parts and it wasn't until she looked closer she noticed the fucking zipper was jammed.
Blake inhaled hair through her rebreather, it misted against her gills hard as she thought about talking through the mask. With half her face covered she wasn't sure if her mother would see the resemblance. Apparently, just as she was thinking about it, she felt someone unbuckle and removing it without her permission.
"Sorry, Boss says you have to fight without it today," Helga Jace said behind her and she hissed loudly, baring her fangs at the woman.
"You beat me for six days and offer me no food Savage," Talia spoke ever the charmer. "And you have me here to fight this half-mad Atlantean cur?"
The young Wayne's eyes snapped back to her mother and instinctually her hands formed into fists.
"Talia, you were given an option to enter retirement with your father, or join the Light." Vandal stated with a dismissive wave, "Only the Shadows are permitted to serve with the Lights blessing."
Talia's still graceful face twisted in rage as she growled, "Shiva is a pitiful attempt to play in my shadow Savage. I would have sat on your Council if you had asked instead of pushing my father out."
"Well, your time is done Talia," Vandal stated, "The al Ghul line dies with you and with your daughter."
Talia's eyes switched back to Blake who was watching her with her teeth bared. Her body slowly rose to its full height and after a few minutes of looking the woman showed recognition on her face. Yes mother, I might be paler than a ghost, but these are your fucking assets I've inherited!
"Damian?" she said with slight questioning, "What...did they do to you?"
"Really Talia, do I really have to be the one to come out and explain what gender identity is to you?" Vandal sighed. "I've been around for thousands of years, and even I have adapted to the idea that transwomen are women."
This left the dark haired woman at a loss. She mouthed her daughter's deadname before Lady Shiva pressed her sword at her back. The blade drawing a small line of blood as Vandal clapped his hands.
"Too late for renunions Talia, now you and your daughter fight, or I kill you both." He stated and then he said, "Plus, I believe we'll drug your daughter to get things going."
And with that he glanced at Helga who again like clockwork pressed a button on her tablet. That same stupid needle from before struck the back of her neck and she felt it inject something into her. Crying out in pain as the serum inside started to spread through her veins and quickly into her mind she fell to the ground.
"What did you just do Vandal?!" Talia demanded.
"Oh, a small minute form of Venom, she'll go into a rage state and attack you in a few minutes."
Blake was trying to think clearly, but as she heard a command behind her, "Activate your weapon." She did as she was ordered. The strange small rod in her hand immediately expanded out with the top end seemigly constructed of liquid metal. Upon closer examination she could feel it reverberating with the same fucking frequence that burned her skin. It wasn't Nth metal though, it didn't make her ill, but it did have that same, aura to it.
"Alright Tartarus, kill her, and be done with it," Vandal order, and Blake leaped into action. The top of her weapon formed in the flash of an eye into a two pronged spear and she immediately ran at her mother. At the start of combat, Shiva tossed her sword to Talia before retreating as mother soon found herself pressed by her mutated daughter.
The fight while uneven, wouldn't prove unfair. Talia used her enhanced senses from years of exposure to the Lazarus to counter each of Blakes thrusts. Each step the younger woman moved forward producing quick jabs in rapid almost invisible succession. As Talia tried to counter she found herself bending backward impossibly low to dodge a swipe from the weapon.
"You abandoned me!' Blake screamed as she jumped into the air to deliver a hard thrust. Talia caught the blade with her sword and diverted the movement to her side. "And nearly killed the family I had!"
"I." Talia tried to speak, but Blake would not give into to such pitiful false apologies. She danced to the side and struck her mother with a backhand, even with her increased endurance Talia rolled across the arena like a ragdoll. SHe got to her feet, but slowed. Leaping at her Blake nearly impaled her with a downward stab, only missing by centimeters. So hard was the attack that the weapon was suddenly stuck in the ground.
"I tried to save you Damian...your father was making you weak," she said, resulting in Blake wrenching the weapon free and kicking her in the side. A soft crunch relayed her cracked ribs causing Talia to cry out in pain.
"Every time, you were just playing with me." Blake's hand shot out and she jabed her fist into the other side of Talia's ribcage. A loud snap and her ribs broke. The great Talia al Ghul was being taken down systematically by her own daughter and faster than even the Batman could.
"I'm sorry Da-" she tried to say before she was shoved to the ground, the words cut off by the impact.
"MY NAME IS BLAKE HADDIYA WAYNE!" the young woman screamed. "FOR YEARS I'VE been repressing myself just to gain your love!"
The teen crouched down and spat out a wad of the Black Water. Splitting apart it snaked across the ground and shackled Talia's hands and feet to the arena floor. Breathing through her pain Blake's mother met her eyes, and she could see tears in them. Miasma of rage filled her, and the desire to end it all was pushing at the tips of her nerves. She glanced around the room taking in the expressions and jeering faces of the crowd.
Scandal Savage had moved, now sitting directly behind the redhead New God. The redhead in turn was now fingering a strange elaborate little pendant in her hands. She looks like one of those Sinestro Corp bitches. She thought through the haze.
"I believe this has gone on long enough," a loud ear piercing sound filled the room as he then said, "End her."
THe pain forced the rage further into her skull, and she turned as demanded. With the strange liquid metal spear in her hand she drew it up over her mother's heart and watched askance at her mother's face.
"I am so sorry dearest," Talia whispered to her daughter, "And I swear it upon the Styx. I hope one day you forgive me."
Maybe it was all the clues before, or teh dream the night before. But it all began to slowly snap into place.
"What did you say?" Blake croaked.
"I swear by the Styx, I am sorry," her mother replied a weak smile on her place.
Unkindess...oh fucking hell.
A loud bang filled the air as well as a bright eye burning flash. Every bit of air around her seemingly sucked in one direction and shot out the other. A boomtube, a mother fucking boomtube. Through the glare, Blake thought back to the woman in the weird armor, and then the pendant. She snuck in a motherbox.
"I INVOKE THE NAME OF SKATH! I CALL UPON THE SOUL OF DIVINE AZARATH!" Scandal's voice sung through the air. That was when darkness surged through the light of the boomtube, and the massive form of a screaming bird of prey coalesced against the wall. As if on queue Raven slowly rose above the floor, all four of her red eyes flaming red fire. Tendrils of black shadow immediately shot out towards the various leaders of the light.
Klarion appearing bored rose to his feet and snapped his fingers, a single bit of black witchfire lit in his hand. His dark eyes were firmly on Raven as Vandal stood to find himself facing a strange dark metal sword covered in glowing red circuity.
"Bekka of New Genesis, it is good to finally meet you," he said clearly to the woman as she gave him a wink. "I thought you were out raiding the Indigo Tribe."
Bekka, or the redhead, swiped at her face which shifted and now held a far more ready resemblance to Knockout. "Not that Bekka, no, but you did hurt my sister from this plane. So I had to have a hand in the fun."
Blake was trying to stand as she felt a black darkness wrapping around her body and supporting it. Another was pulling and lifting her mother up so they were face to face. Talia gave another weak smile before staring at Raven.
"You have four here including my traitorous daughter I take it," Scandal had drawn a gun and was pointing it point blank at Cassandra's head.
"Yes and no," Raven said her voice filling the entire room. "You might have warded the base from me, but a blood sacrifice and my invocation has brought me full strength here."
Scandal made a little wave holding up a bandage hand and tossed her little S badge onto the floor. Raven levitated toward the gathered crowd and stood. Her eyes flashing as she revealed her fanged teeth. "Klarion. Your foolish associate took what is mine. I'm calling in a favor."
At those words Klarion's witchfire died and he took a step back, his face gaining an annoyed look. Vandal immediately glared at his compatriot who was now refusing to partake in the battle leaving them all minus one Lord of Chaos. "FINE! I won't touch your stupid toys!"
Klarion's pinched face sighed as he snapped his fingers and disappeared before their eyes. Now Vandal bereft of said Lord of Chaos found himself facing the full might of a Demonic High Lady.
"I believe we have a check then," he answered and raised his hands, "You may leave with our guests. But the Light will remember this."
Raven gave a firm nod. "As do I Vandal Savage."
Blake tried to fight free of the tendril, her rage slowly flagging, but still driving her. As the restraints held her tight she let out a loud scream and growl of frustration. With a hard yank, she found herself, and her mother being pulled towards an opening boomtube. More forms ran through as all light suddenly winked out all at once.
Swirling air surrounded and filled her vision. Blake fought harder and harder to get to the betrayer from across her. She desired to rip and tear, and draw blood from the false mother who had tossed her aside like dead weight. But when they were out of the boomtube she was instantly let go. Feeling new air around her that smelled familiar she turned to face everyone who was beside her. Her body seething with energy she fixated her wide gaze at her mother while ignoring the others.
"Blake. I need you to hold still," Talia said to her and Blake did the exact opposite. She dashed forward grabbing the woman by the throat and raised her in the air. Hissing loudly she started to squeeze the woman's throat and paid no heed to her whimpers of pain. Then, a soft cool hand stroked her cheek and she froze, her eyes slowly growing heavy. The burning pain filling her nerve endings was starting to fray further.
"Ra-raven?" she gasped. The hand reached over and unlaced her fingers from Talia's neck as she was pulled to stare into the cool red eyes of Raven.
"Blake," the other woman sighed, as she drew Blake's head against her own and inhaled. "I've missed you so damn much."
Each touch seemed to drive the poison in her system away as Raven reached around and phased the collar off her neck. Feeling the Nth laced metal away from her she gasped loudly. Blake felt the fog receding further as she stared at her hands and her mother.
"What...did - I do?" she stated looking between all four women.
"You almost beat me half to death," Talia coughed and winced before collapsing to the ground. Both Scandal and Bekka rushed to her side to lift her up.
"Mother - I never meant to-"
"Quiet!" Talia hacked and coughed again, "I ruined your fucking life. Even if you didn't mean to nearly kill me I deserved all you threw at me."
The young Wayne Heiress trembled with emotion as she leaned against Raven and started to limp. Without her rebreather, her gills were starting to feel dry and she knew she would need a source of water soon. She attempted to contain herself as she recognized the room around them. THey were in - the Batcave? Well, the medical portion of the Batcave, she closed her eyes. Bright light started to tear at them and she let out a hiss of pain.
"Turn down the lights, please," she was able to mumble to Raven who gave the order to the cave's computers.
"I need salt water," she choked out as the burning was getting worse, "Please, my gills."
Talia came astride Raven and gently reached down to touch the gills along Blake's neck. The pale-skinned woman winced as she let out a moan, "I dehydrate easily. I'm not made for the surface."
Those words drew Raven's attention and she reacted with a frown. She lifted Blake up in her arms and levitated them over to a medical bed. A door nearby opened and out walked, what could best be described as the extended Wayne family. Alred was first, his hands covered in gloves as he stopped and stared at Blake. A shake of his head and he came to assist Raven in laying her down. She let out a loud squeak as she touched the ground and grimaced.
Her father was the second out the door and came to stand above her. His eyes were, hard and his face set in anger. She chuckled, coughing at the air before Alfred refit her retrieved rebreather to her neck. Instantly the saline solution struck her gills and she let out a loud restorative gasp. Wriggling on the table, she flinched again seeing her webbed hand and claws.
"Father," she gulped, "Did you and Mother plan the rescue?"
Talia was still checking her neckline before stepping away to let Alfred continue his examination.
"No," Bruce replied, "The League and I were able to pin down where you were, but it was Talia who volunteered herself as bait for the job."
Raven stroked a hand through Blakes long black hair and whispered into her ear, "You're beautiful."
"Even after all you've done, after what I am." Blake croaked, "You wanted to save me?"
Talia visibly flinched at the words, and rubbed her right temple. She glanced at Scandal who gave a simple nod.
"I was given an avenue of redemption, by a Goddess," Talia stated she appeared, "I believe she already spoke with you in a dream."
Its that simple?
"That's...is Diana in on this as well?" she asked carefully. Bruce gave a small chuckle as he gestured for her to hold open her mouth. A quick swab and he was off to test her DNA.
"They injected me with a mutagenic retroviral," Blake said, "They said it was from an alternate version of you, Father."
"An alternate version who was a woman." He deduced before activating the Bat Computers expanded database.
"They called her the Drowned...and she killed everyone on her planet," Blake replied.
Selena, who was hovering behind Talia, frowned at the information and turned away to speak to Alfred. Bekka was busily checking her sword and Raven was just stroking her hair. Everyone, except where was Jason, Barbara or Dick? She blinked searching out her surrogate older siblings wondering what could have happened that they weren't there.
"Dick is out patrolling with Katie," Selena said looking over where she stood with Alfred who was busily mixing a bucket of salt water.
"Where's Barb and Jason?" she asked.
"Jason's on his way with Barb, she was playing overwatch and had physical therapy today," Selena replied.
"I am so sorry I let-" she was cut off by Talia and a look from Bruce.
"This is the Light's fault, they kidnapped you and they injected you with the mutagen," Bruce said with his usual level of clarity.
"Okay," she replied uneasy, a month of hell had cut through her usual bravado. "I wish I could sleep in my own bed without - water tonight."
"We may be able to do that," Alfred said wiping his brow and staring at the bucket before him. "Scandal sent us the plans for your rebreather well over a week ago just as we were finishing plans for the operation."
Immediately she shot a gaze toward the Bat Computer where a simpler version now implied a neck-wrapping face mask. Blinking, she stared at it, eyes widening. "How did you compact it so well?"
"We stole some tech from Atlantis as well as New Genesis," Bruce smiled, "The Heiress of the Wayne Corporation must appear the part."
She stared at her hands, and her legs. Doubt sewing its way into her skin, her nerves, and the rest of her body down to her bones. He couldn't be serious could he? They had acknowledged her years ago, but her being the actual Heir. THat made no damn sense.
"Father you can't be serious," she replied shakily, "I mean - I haven't finished my doctoral plans yet."
"Blake, you are one of the smartest women I know, and you've been working at the company on and off for years," Selena pointed out.
"But I'm a fucking metahuman with gills, claws and -" she finally lost it. Panic ran through her as Raven gently brought her into an embrace and she felt herself starting to hyperventilate. Was she in a daze now caused by a drug, she tried to breathe harder and harder as Raven picked her up and she instantly buried her face in her girlfriend's neck.
"Bruce, I think we should let Jinx and Raven handle Blake for now," Selena said to everyone present as well as her husband. There was a quiet agreement among them all as Raven phased through the ceiling and took Blake back to her room to sleep.
Chapter 4 - Awakening
Light ran through the massive neo-gothic window into a room large enough to be its own studio apartment. In said room lay a rather massive bed which would properly bear the name Empress rather than King. The light was already slowly starting to stain the bed with its red and orange colors. A form rolled over as two others grabbed said form and pulled it back into the den of blankets built atop the bed. A gasp was heard from said pile of bedding as a bald head rose from therein and cackled.
"Heh," Jinx slowly sat up staring down at the limp form of the woman beside her. Blake was awake, but barely moving. Her legs felt like jello and her back was sore. She watched Jinx and tried to smile, but coughed instead. The night before had been, wild. Not sex, but something else. Her eyes zeroed in on the third member of their polycule who was stroking her side. Slowly, those umber finger tips were dancing down her sides before stroking a naked gill plate. Blake let out a loud squeak at feeling fingers stroking her chest gills and she shuddered.
"If you had told me a month ago I'd have a girlfriend who gets hot and bothered by me stroking her gills." She trailed off before leaning forward and kissing the very same place.
"Just don't push into it," she gasped, as Raven awoke beside and she felt the Dark Titans body stretch. Hard muscle from years of training were made even better by something long pressing against her right thigh.
"Hmmmm," Raven pressed her face against Blake's neck and ran her teeth over where she bit the girl the night before.
"Raven, you really need to acclimate our mermaid better," Jinx said as she leaned forward and grasped Blake's right breast and gave a soft squeeze. The woman shifted on her back and tried to sit up before she felt them pinning her arms to the bed.
"Babe, we are going out for brunch today, so that means we get to have some fun and then you are putting on a hot little thing for us to wear," those words held such control. Blake nodded at her in a daze and started to shake as both women took their time in eliciting delightful sounds from her.
An hour later she was standing in front of a full body mirror finally able to look at herself. Blake Haddiya Wayne was a definite mix of her father and mother as logic dictated. She bore her fathers striking blue eyes as well as his dark hair. Her facial features were closer to her mother, Delicate high cheekbones and a thin nose. Her neckline bore more muscle than her mother, and she was happy for that. However, once she got to her womanly assets it all was Talia al Ghul.
Large pert breasts, well a D-cup to say the least (or as Jinx put it, good to hold) curving down into a taut pair of hard abs. Her hips swelled out to a fairly round heart-shaped bum and flowed into her runner's legs. She glanced at her face and noticed that she had some freckles appearing on it in a splash across the bridge of her nose. Shifting her gaze she admired her pouting lips.
"I wish I wasn't her fucking clone." Blake sighed before continuing to get dressed. After waking up she refitted the mask to her face which enclosed both sides of her neck just under her ears. Small raised pads were where her gills were kept in a constant state of cold sea water immersion. A space including a barely noticeable chin strap allowed her to keep her mouth free. It was black, which gave her the appearance of a cybergoth of sorts.
"Far from my clone," Talia al Ghul spoke from the doorway. Wearily, she stepped aside as the older woman stalked into the room wearing a baggy t-shirt and a pair of Justice League pajama pants.
"I look like your pale ghost," Blake pouted and glanced to the side. "That or her fucking dead corpse."
"You aren't Bryce Wayne," she felt her mother cup her chin and pull her close. The affectionate moment of intimacy was awkward and honestly alien for her.
"I just," she clamped her mouth shut and stared at the ground, "They made me watch the footage they were able to pull from their probes. She killed millions, mother, and they injected her infection into me."
"Yes, and now you are not only the Heir of the Demon's Head, but also the avenger of the House of Wayne." Her mother always spoke in that stupid stupid high manner inherited from her own father.
"Today though she's off to play with her girlfriends," said a voice on the bed and Talia eyed Jinx who was sitting there cross legged.
"Good to see you again as well," Talia sighed before noticing Raven floating above the bed in a meditative trance.
"You didn't knock mother," she chided her mother.
"Yup, all you know we could have been fucking Blake's brains out!" Jinx chortled loudly and fell back on the massive bed.
"Trust me, I know what a sex bed smells and looks like," Talia replied waggling her finger, "And that's a bed of bloody foreplay nothing else."
"MOTHER!' Blake covered her mouth, blushing a bright crimson.
"Oh hush," Talia sighed gaining a glare from her daughter before she found a seat near the window. "Your Father wishes to speak to you, apparently, something has come up."
"Why didn't Selena come and tell me?" she asked.
"She was pulled away to Themiscyra via boomtube along with Bekka," Talia said staring at her hands, as the anxiety between the two of them was growing.
"Are you staying?" Blake asked carefully, walking across the room she disappeared into her massive closet and retrieved a simple outfit. A sportsbra, leggings and a pair of her own monogrammed crocs. Yup, she had a pair of shoes with her name "BLAKE WAYNE" on them. God, it was weird being super filthy rich.
"No," Talia replied and looked away, "I want to dearest, I want to be here to help you go through this trauma. And...to make up for all my mistakes."
"Not how it works," Blake replied, there was a desire to have her mother back. But years of broken promises, death threats, and outright attempts on her life made her pause.
"I know," she sighed, "Your Grandfather has me working with Sensei and Chesher to work through all of the baggage."
"What are you to me then, Mother?" she asked bluntly.
"I am your Mother, but I'm not your mom," Talia shot a look to Raven who was now firmly watching the two, a frown on her face. "Selena is your mom, she was here to raise you and help you. I'm -"
Blake stopped her with a shake of her head, "Talia al Ghul, you are my mother, even after all of the torture you put me through. I forgive you, but I won't absolve you."
"What do you mean?" she asked uncertain.
"You have wronged the Wayne family and your blood repeatedly for foolish and selfish goals." Raven's throaty voice was quiet, but filled the room.
"She wants you in her life." Jinx added, her eyes slowly starting to burn with violet energy, "And I would rather drop you on Apokolips for torture."
"But - we are going to respect Blake's request," Raven finished.
"So if you hurt her," Jinx slowly climbed off the bed and completely nude stalked over to Talia al Ghul. "There's a line to kill you Talia. Ivy and Harley, by the hells, all of Themiscyra adores Blake. So you fuck this up, you'll be screaming with Trigon as a friend."
Talia appeared to take the words to heart. She turned giving her daughter a glance, "Blake, before I leave Diana asked me to give you this."
She retrieved a small postcard from her jacket pocket and handed it to her daughter. The pale young woman blinked, and licked her black lips. Her dark eyes stared at it and watched her mother. "Read it when I'm gone."
And like a Shadow, she drifted from the room and was gone down the corridor. The three lovers stayed in silence, Jinx eyed the closet and decided to get dressed Raven merely shifted, drew out her overnight bag from beside the bed and slowly pulled on a dark indigo sundress covered in small bats. Blake let them continue their preparations and eyed herself once again. The sportwear made her look like a young Morticia Adams readying for a run. She tousled her long black hair into a messy french bun, and pulled on a black smoke obsidian choker given to her by Raven.
Blake Haddiyya Wayne was ready to face her father. Wait, the note from Aunt Diana. LIke many children with a rough family history, Blake had a lot of adopted mother figures. Selena was her actual mom, the woman who walked her through coming out and taught her how to dress up. Selena was also the ear she cried to when she wasn't sure what to say to her father.
Harley and Ivy were her big fat queer aunts and while former villains, they had latched onto the young Wayne when she became a proper teen. But, it was Diana who was her first actual "Aunt". The Amazon was the one who trained her further in combat, and instilled a sense of hope when her father was overtaken by his internalized pain.
Blake fingered the edges of the note, it was a little crumpled from being in her mother's jacket. It has that lazy greek script Diana favored when she wanted to add a personal touch.
You've been missing, but, your father called. They have located you in Qurac, and I am glad you are to be rescued. Bekka is a new friend who came to us from a painful past, and she's a strong fighter. I have met someone, well, you know her and I"ll let you meet her when you are ready.
But, the Queen wishes to speak to you as does Annax Mera. There's a dinner happening in a few days, Harley and Ivy will be there. Plus, much more. This is a mix of business and pleasure, so bring your paramours. And dress nice.
Your Aunt Diana."
A few tears sprang to her eyes as she read it. And, she let herself lapse into thoughts of the future. Her eyes narrowed as she turned to see Jinx stalking out in a baggy t-shirt, and black jean cutoffs. Her dark skin highlighted by a slight aura of violet energy. Blake padded over to her and drew the shorter woman into a tight embrace.
"I'll be okay," she said as Jinx buried her face in Blake's neck.
"You were gone, Raven cried, and I could do nothing," the ex-HIver agent clung to the taller woman.
"We're safe now, I'm gonna start training and get outfitted. It won't happen again," she replied and stroked the tense woman's head.
"Agreed," Raven floated to the ground, and while she was shorter than both girls she held everyone's attention with her presence. "Because, I will be - ending the position of Brother, Mother or family blood titles, indefinitely."
Her voice crackled with rage, pain, and sorrow. Turning her four red glowing eyes to meet Blake's she floated up to meet her face to face. In an instance her lips crashed into the Heiress' causing a whimper to release from Blake's throat. Raven was controlling and defensive, whatever harmed her paramour's always ended up - ceasing to exist.
"We need to talk about what you said to Klarion someday," Blake said after breaking the kiss, Raven gave a quiet nod.
"Oh did she pull a favor from the Witchboy," Jinx chuckled from between the two women, "Don't mind the Jinxy filling!"
Blake giggled and pulled away from the two and checked herself in the mirror. Her naturally pale skin made it all, starker, and after thinking it over, she liked it. Well, for now.
Blake entered the Batcave with little fanfare. Bruce sat at the Bat Computer with an impromptu table set for everyone present, and as Blake exited the elevator she was met with a hug from Barbara. The woman was leaning against the door, a pair of braces fitted to her legs to allow her to stand. Years of physical therapy and even more, but Blake respected Barb's choice in forgoing cybernetics. She was strong as a hacker, and with an exoskeletal frame she was able to fight for hours if need be on foot.
"Hey," the redhead said and brushed the young Wayne's cheek, "Hows my little sister?"
"Working on it," she replied as she was soon joined by the other redhead in the extended Wayne family, Kat Kane. Batwoman was there with her girlfriend, a former cop Renee Montoya, who now acted as a self-dense teacher. Barbara shifted from her crutches to her chair and rolled over after leaving Blake's side. Even more familiar faces lingered along the walls. Lucious Fox, head of R&D along with his son Luke and Babs' fiance. He leaned against Barbara's chair and kiss her head.
Gods everyone is here. Jason, Dick, Tim, dammit. DID ALL OF MY BROTHERS HAVE TO BE HERE! Tim was busily chatting with Jason and Duke her precedessor as Robin. All four men turned their eyes and they saw her and she saw Duke vividly do a double take. Jason gave a cat call and mouthed "Baby sis got game!"
"Dad," she said staring at Bruce as he was working on a design program on the computer, "Did you need to invite everyone?"
"Oh, we didn't give him a choice," Kat replied as she kissed Renee's cheek causing her wife to blush red.
"Fuck even Cass and Claire are here!" Duke exclaimed as both Orph and Botham Girl were sitting on the Batmobile.
"Heh, family reunion," Jason declared and shot finger guns at his little sister, and broke away from his brothers. Jason was one of the closest of her adoptive siblings outside of Dick. The two having bonded over shared trauma, and when she came out it was his bisexual ass who backed her first. At the moment he was dressed in a signature black leather pants, black steel toed boots and a blood-red button down.
"I lost your knife," she said coming to a stop behind her father and felt her brother give her a side hug. Noticing she was now a bit taller than him she leaned over and kissed his forehead. "I'm so sorry Jace."
"No worries, gives me a reason to go talk to Shayera for a new one!" she chuckled.
"You are not bothering Hawkwoman for a fucking knife," Selena rolled her eyes from her husband's side and nursing a cup of coffee.
"Well, Blake's got that sweet Dionesium alloy staff!" Jason chuckled. Blake considered using a bit of Black Water to gag him.
"That's actually why I called you all here," Bruce turned around to face them as he sat up moved over to one of the massive fabricator machines sitting to the right of the Bat Computer. Inside was a series of flashing lights, and the churning sound of the machine weaving together a costume of sorts.
"Well, I believe we are all here Father," Blake eyed him, "Why did I need to cancel my brunch plans to speak to my entire family?"
Bruce gave her that signature Wayne smile, and fingered his lip. Selena tapped her foot idly as he reached over and opened up a design display on the computer. Set of armor and even more appeared on screen. Blake blinked and let out a viable gasp. He designed me a new costume?
"I don't think Robin fits you anymore, figuratively and literally, Blake," Bruce replied. "So Alfred and I along with Selena started working on a new design last night."
"After you got home we couldn't sleep, your father was obsessed with providing you with better protection," Selena smiled.
"Both Jinx and Raven sent replies via text when you were still sleeping," the image on the monitor was something else.
Unlike her father's combat costume, the cowl pulled up over the jawline ending in a silver mask. The cowl itself pulled over her face and depicted the lower lips and lower jawline of a Greek goddess. Lips closed in a stoic line as silver metallic highlights outlined where the metal goggles melded with the face itself. Blake smiled at the goggles, they were the standard diamond shape of her father's mask and were a deep sea green. Along the line of the mask and curving in the neckline were lines imitating the waves of a current. They continued down the chestline to the primary plate itself.
Much like her father's bat emblem or Dick's Nightwing, at the center of her chest stood the symbol of Styx. A small circle round by an upside-facing crescent swirling down into tri-part knot. On either side were the prongs of a triad, her trident. Blake smiled at how the sea-green color shimmered across the armor's shoulders. They swept into silver lines along the top edge of her armor with three wrist blades extending along the outer forearm. She could see the way the dark nano-fiber armor fit into thicker plates forming into a pair of gauntlets. She smiled, her eyes noticing the claws on the gloves.
"We've made it so a tube runs from the mask along certain points on your armor and costume."
A highlighted outline indicated the line of tubing running along her legs and arms. She smiled at a reservoir located along the utility belt. Which, was packed with the standard Batfamily holdouts. Personalized batarangs, standard grapple, and a few smoke bombs. What was really interested was how some of the holdouts could be filled with the Black Water. Yes, it would allow her to distribute things easily without being obvious. Typical, her father liked sleight of hand. It made sense, and so she smiled.
The lower portion of her armor's stomach was fitted with a thinner layer of armor to allow flexibility while her hips, and legs were set with more obvious plating. In each place the waving sea green lines swept down her legs. Silver lines edged each side of the legs. She smiled slowly, her eyes tilted to the side as she noted the way the boots could fold back and allow her to swim using her feet alone.
"I used the technology Deadshot utilizes for his face mask, both your mask, gloves and boots can fold out of the way as necessary." Bruce smiled as his daughter drew even closer to where her Father sat. Blake could feel tears in her eyes, and she leaned over the console and selected the design for her batarangs.
They were roughly oval in shape, two large bladed ends shaped like the prongs of a trident. A center bladed end sat at the top of the middle the trident and a grip to hold the weapon for melee combat.
"It's beautiful Dad," she said, again dropping her usual formality.
"You rarely call me that, why the change?" he asked glancing up at his daughter. Selena rubbed his shoulder and shot her adopted daughter a grin of pride.
"I feel more myself," she said, "Even with my changes."
"You are my daughter, half-Atlantean and proper Heir to the Wayne Foundation," Bruce smiled. "And to my legacy as Batman."
Blake blinked, the words struck her heart, and she felt tears well up in her eyes. They were all so supportive, and as she took in the sight of her family. Everyone was here for her, and even her mother appeared to be adopting a new outlook on life. If her mother could seek forgiveness and evolve, there was so much to do.
A thought came to her. The armor was missing something, and after a few moments she had an idea. All it took was a quiet search and as she sensed a presence at the back of her mind.
"Yes, little one, you have my blessing, as child of the Titans."
Her eyes widened, realization struck her as she inhaled sharply. An emblem and others leaped to her mind, given to her by a blessing from her new patron.
"Father may I?" she asked and indicated she wished to sit at the console itself. Bruce easily relinquished his placement and walked over to check on the fabricator itself. Blake sat down and immediately began to apply a rapid series of edits. Just a few touches here and there and finally it was done. She smiled at her handiwork and froze as something popped up into her vision. It was an email or more appropriately a video message sent to her profile on her father's account.
The name was that caught her attention, Diana Acraia, Wonder Woman. Blake shot a quick look at her father who nodded his assent. She opened the message bringing a large image of Diana's smirking face to the monitor. Something tingled along her spine as well when she said it aloud in her mind. Why does speaking the full name make my blood sizzle with electricity.
"My blessing sings in you." She heard a whisper in her ear, twitching she was about to turn around and stopped as Diana spoke.
"Greetings Batman, and family," Her light greek accent caused Blake to smile, even far away Diana was one of her favorite aunts. Wonder Woman was wearing a pale blue sundress, her long black hair pulled into a side fishtail braid clasped with a golden cuff.
"Hey Wonder Woman," Jinx replied with a fake grin.
"Quiet!" Raven said to her partner who promptly encircled the smaller woman in her arms and clasped a hand over the hexer's mouth.
"I take it someone has made a quip by now," Diana's voice chuckled loudly, "But I am here to deliver a few things. First, is a message for Blake. Welcome my beautiful Niece, I am proud you have finally chosen a name for your trueself! Maybe the Gods smile upon your future!"
Blake beamed at her aunt's words, and she glanced at Raven who was tugging Jinx closer to their paramour.
"Your mother is currently staying on Themiscyra, where her and others including Cheetah have agreed to long term parole under the eyes of the UN and Queen Hippolyta."
"Now, that explains why Cheetah is in the background acting like an idiot," Jinx smirked pointing to Barbara who was doing a faux striptease behind Diana's head.
Yes, finally, Jinx owes me some boba for this! Blake remembered their long time bet about when Cheetah would finally convince Wonder Woman to give her a try. It was interesting to see another villain getting a second chance, by the Underworld, it made sense. Harley and Ivy were both left alone and are just living their lives. The Wayne Heiress smiled, and feeling more optimistic by the minute.
Jinx stared at her with a slight frown and sighed before mouthing, "Fine, you win!"
"Hera, Babs, do you have to act the fool?" Diana said under her breath before reaching around and grasping her lover's collar.
"What, I was having some fun!" the metawoman protested in the video.
"Ignoring my new mouthy paramour," Diana digressed, "I extending an invitation to the Wayne family and extended kin to attend a special feast on Themiscyra."
Blake paused the message and waited for her father's response. Her father seemed interested in the invitation giving a sly grin to his wife.
Selena giggled in reply, "I could use a vacation."
"We had one last weekend," Bruce said, shaking his head.
"You pretending to go Yachting to snoop on Penquin in the Maldives is not a vacation," she replied.
"Well, I am all work and no play," Bruce replied before turning back to his daughter. "You do need to rest and if I'm right you can practice water combat in the waters off Themiscyra."
"Father, of all the things to say, you want me to train?" she asked, quizzically.
"Oh, Delphis will be there!" Jinx purred, "I wonder if we can seduce her out of the water with a breather like Blake's."
"We will discuss 'seducing' and all additional intimate partners as a polycule," Raven stated. Blake blushed at the directedness of her lover, and Jinx just stuck her tongue out. "A Brat and a Princess."
"Raven, I would prefer if you didn't give sexual roles to my daughter in front of me," Bruce winced, a little.
"I speak only the truth, Batman," she said simply.
"Keep said truth to yourself, please," he replied as Blake hovered nearby and mouthed "I am so sorry, Dad" to her father.
"Changing topics," Selena said loudly and nodded her head toward the Fabricator. A small ring echoed from the machine signaling its production end. Blake stood from the chair and strolled over to where her newly finished costume lay. Opening up the lid she slid her hand along the length of the cloth and carbon fiber plating. She fixed her gaze on the emblem at the center of the chest plating. It was all coming together.
"Do you like it?" Bruce asked.
"Yes," Blake held it up and considered trying it on right then and there. Something in the back of her mind told her it wasn't the right time, just yet. She waved for her father to restart Diana's message. Selena beat him to the point, sidling up against the console and pressing the button to restart it. Diana's face unfroze and continued speaking.
"I realize you are busy today Bruce, Selena, Blake," she chuckled as a long furred body pressed itself up against her back. "Tomorrow evening is when we are holding it. I know a Wednesday is a bit last minute, but my mother has important words for you we can't trust outside of in-person communication."
Bruce thumbed his chin and let out a loud "Hmmm." His daughter meanwhile was still watching the message.
"And Talia will be present, we have words for your entire family Blake, and I apologize that it includes your birth-mother. Farewell, for now."
The screen froze as the message ended. Blake huffed loudly. Dammit, is everyone getting some stupid redemption? Her sunny disposition set stormy as her features fell into a tight frown. Even if Talia saved her from the LIght she wasn't going to forgive the former Assassin easily. Absolution wasn't easy for the granddaughter of Ra's al Ghul. Indoctrination within the original tenets of the League of Assassin's had placed an unforgiven mindset within her. Even years of careful therapy and self-help had only blunted that edge.
Blake pressed her thumb against the breather of her new costume. It was reinforced with two layers of armor to protect its water lines. Even with a strike from a fellow Atlantean and a light hit from a Kryptonian the armor would hold. Her jaw would likely be bruised or even broken, but she could still breath for long periods of time out of water. Still, the wet air of the cave still lacked the true immersion of the tank. She could feel her skin starting to crawl as she felt her hands shaking.
"Want to test out the new suit before the party?" Bruce asked his daughter drawing her away from her growing anxiety and panic.
That was a very good idea Blake realized, her body did need some action. It was a Wayne family addiction, to take your anger out on criminals who just had it coming. Blake gripped the material of her new suit harder as she contemplated what she was going to say. Did she have the energy to go out and do a patrol? She considered letting the Batcomputer savage its way for a target for the night. A lowly gang trying too hard to make it big. But, something deep down just didn't feel right doing that.
Justice, not vengeance; words her father taught her.
She grasped her costume and whispered to Raven, "I want to try it out."
Her lover leaned into her and kissed Blake's neck causing the young Wayne's pale skin to flush bright red. Shaking, she turned to her Father, and gripped the costume tighter. If she wanted to continue the life, this meant she was no longer Robin. It just didn't fit, and she had a name in mind. But, it would feel better when it started to spread among the criminal underworld. She was the Heir of Batman, she had to make a splash when it all came to a head.
So when the Batcomputer started relaying the crimes of the day, she chose first to catch her eye.
It was an easy job, all they had to do was watch the shipment at the docks and they would be scot-free. The disappearance of Robin had seemingly drawn away the Bat, and even the other members of the family were holding back for some reason. A month and the enforcers of Black Masks operation were ready to move on up. Joker was on ice in Arkham's deep freeze, and with the Injustice League busy elsewhere they were about to make a haul.
Bring in a load of updated Cobra-Venom to make a few new metas and they would make a killing in the underground fight circuit. Black Mask was already hopping with joy at the idea of jumping into the meta trafficking racket. Gain enough money and he could buy into the Light itself. Only his lieutenants were on the streets that day. One of them, Joanna Sloane, was an up-and-comer in the outfit. She wasn't a meta, but she did have cybernetic enhancements bought and paid for by Hive. So, when she sat on the storage container watching the mooks waiting for the shipment she was the first to notice the movement in the water below.
Jo might not be an actual meta, but with her cybernetics she was more than capable of fighting one. She wasn't sure how the science worked since it was all hive mumbo-jumbo. It didn't matter, but with her hands she could shape and wield pretty much any liquid as a weapon. Hell, even shoot spikes of ice at people. Some were already calling her the second coming of Mera. Though she didn't look a lick like the High King of Atlantis, but still. Rep was it's own currency in Gotham, and if she could make it big then she could get her own crew in the future.
Joanna Sloane was a short woman, thick shouldered and pale of skin from her Irish heritage. If it weren't for the shock of redhair she would have had a fine time in the sun, instead she burnt like a bloody lobster. Even as she waited atop the shipping container she was eying the docks. Line upon line of containers appeared into view as large twenty-five foot tall street lights lit the surface. She watched the armed men assigned to her control their patrols. Walking back toward the water's edge she gasped when a large black shape shot out and disappeared behind a container below.
The docks themselves sat about fifteen feet or more above the water, high enough so that any normal human couldn't just jump out of it. She sighed, fuck, there was either a new Atlantean playing hero, or a new meta. This was not what she needed tonight. Luckily tonight she was just wearing her old black wife-beater and a pair of jeans. Steel toed boots were the completion of her look with her red hair shaved on both sides, it was all pretty thuggish in appearance.
A whirling sound caught her attention as several dark shapes sailed out from somewhere in the dark. That sound, she knew it, fucking batarangs. One wrapped around each of the light posts and seemingly shorted it out. Light after light went out around them in succession. Halos of sight cast aside as the Bat began their move. But for some reason nothing came floating out of the darkness, instead her men formed into a defensive square. Jumping across a container she sat as overwatch above them. A small courtyard between the rows was where they would make their stand.
More whirling madness, two batarangs flew out and split apart spinning into bolas. Two of her mooks went down, tripped up by the weapon. Then another batarang whistled at her and struck near her right foot. Staring at it, she reached into her back pocket and called out, "Light em up!"
A series of cracks and hisses were heard as the crew started up their emergency flares. With the partial torch in one hand she leaned forward and picked up the batarang, except it wasn’t a batarang. It wasn't one of Nightwings creations either. It had the general oval shape of a birdarang, but was solid black in color like Batman's weapons. The top forked into a three pronged triad shape. Etched into its center was a strange symbol, a dot floating above an upside crescent swirling into a right sided knot.
"What the hell, did someone update the Boy Wonder or something?" one of the men called as he picked at the bola wrapped around his feet.
"No," said a voice behind Jo and she whirled around to come face to face with a tall muscular woman. For a moment, she swore she was looking at the body of a certain infamous Assassin, but chilled. The woman was wearing a silver goggled mask in the shape of a resolute woman. Her armor was similar to Nightwings, thus lacking the cape, but her entire facade screamed batman.
"Who the fuck are you?" she asked narrowing her eyes. Jo held the flare in her right hand and used her left to activate the machinery in her prothesis. Blue lights streamed up from her arms around her shoulders and toward her neck. Water from the sea shot up in a spout and began to float behind her in an amorphous blob.
The black costumed vigilante chuckled, "I was Robin, once."
Her voice was throaty and cracked, like a jazz singer, she cocked a hip before giving a shrug.
"So I get to kill Robin, excellent," she replied ignoring the obvious shift in gender of her opponent, "Wasn't he a man before?"
"We all have facades we play along with," the woman replied before surging forward fist ready. It was only her water and forming it into a shield of ice which saved Jo's jawline. She jumped away and watched as the woman continued the force of her punch and struck the ground where Jo once occupied. A massive dent in the metal spoke of the mysterious former Boy Wonder's increased strength.
A fucking metawoman.
"Robin was never that strong," she teased as she ducked another roundhouse kick. Servos in her legs allowing her increased dexterity in movement. But as she brought her water around as a whip she gasped as she watched the woman contort herself in a lighting quick flip to dodge it.
"I'm not Robin," the woman said, her voice taking on a more distorted sound, as tears of black tar started to leak from her goggles.
"What the fuck are you?" Jo said just as the woman's fist connected with her side sending her flying off the container.
The men whirled around and open fire with their carbines, the woman disappeared in the flashes of gunfire. Suddenly, water shot out, dark and murk nearby, grabbed two of her men and dragged them out of sight. Three tridarangs whirled out from above and sank into the guns rendering them useless. Whoever their foe was, she was trained and determined.
Jo issue orders to her three remaining mooks, and cut loose the two who were downed with her water. Even as more tridarangs whirled out of the shadow she watched as they exploded in front of them in a dark black mist obscuring their vision further in the dark.
"Come one Dark Robin, come out and play," Jo demanded. Her hand lashed out in a wide arch extending the water into a sharpened whip. Slicing through one container it spread out into a thirty foot strike. She heard a loud cough behind and dashed around a container. The woman was on the ground on her knees, dark liquid pooling around her knees.
"Fuck," the woman said, more liquid came from a small tear near her chest.
"Hurt you so easily didn't I?" Jo drawled. She held out her hand resummoning the water back to her. The whirling sound of its return signalled her water, and she didn't even notice the moisture on her right pant leg
"Not really," the woman said, as the blood around her started to pool at the woman's knees. "I just needed to get your attention."
"For what?" Jo questioned holding the flare defensively toward the mystery woman.
"I'm making a come back, and I needed someone to help demonstrate," the flare revealed something eerie, the blood wasn't blood. It was tar or more appropriately blackened water. It was already on her leg, and as she jumped back she felt it moving farther up. Cold, and uncaring, she used a bit of her water to wash it a way with a blast.
Her move removed the blackened liquid and sent her opponent flat on her back. She just lay there, and Jo drew closer still. This time placing a steel toed boot on the viglantes neck.
"What, your stupid little ink?" Jo scoffed, and swirled her right index finger shaping her water into series of spikes. And just as they started to hover above the vigilante's body. But, she felt resistance. For years, since she had the operation from Hive, the hum of her connection to oxygen hydride, it was gone.
"It's not ink," the woman chuckled as she spat into Jo's face. The black liquid instantly wrapped around her mouth and her nose. SMothering her she tried to scrabble at her face while dropping the flare. The wannabe mob captain was able to free her face, but as she did Jo felt it. Water wrapping around her like a snake as it soaked into her clothes.
"It's the Black Water," she replied and used the now infected liquid to bind Jo forming tendrils of liquid around her like a grasping snake. "And, as I said I needed a demonstration."
Jo fell and struck the hard concrete with a loud huff. The wind knocked out of her lungs and she growled as she felt her body being dragged across the ground. Whoever the vigilante was, she was powerful and dangerous. A second later all of the lights switched back on revealing two of her men out cold, and the remaining three back to back weapons drawn.
"I'll say this once," the vigilante said, she cocked her head as her long wet black hair fell over one shoulder. "All water is mine."
She drew three tridarangs and sent them straight at the three remaining men. They exploded into a burst of grey mist which instantly coalesced into more tendrils of black water. Jo flinched as the black watery tentacles attacked her mooks and sliced through their carbines. They shouted in protest only to be silenced as the water suddenly exploded into mist again. However, this time it seemed to knock them out all under the control of one woman.
"What are you?" Jo asked through gritted teeth.
"An Atlantean half-blood seeking a new home and territory," chuckled the vigilante as she turned that unmoving mask to face Joanna. "Batman has taken me in and taught me a few things. This was my trial run."
"But you said you were Robin!" Jo demanded, "Robin was a damn human."
"I made a change of life," the woman chuckled, "And I have a new name as well."
The apparently anaesthetic gas from before was trailing toward Jo's bound form and just before she felt the darkness take her she heard.
"My name is Styx."