"You all did a very good job," Captain Atom told Team Gamma as the remaining team was gathered on the Watchtower two days later.
Most of the Canadian town was rebuilt by then, and most of those in need had been tended in transit.
Gaia, having expended herself using so much power, simply needed a long rest, and she was back to nearly full strength soon afterward. Robert was unusually quiet just then, as was Pinkie, and Gordon remained as somber as ever as he stood in front of their senior League sponsor as he came to see them the moment he was able to move again.
"Just tell me you guys got my dad's body out of there before you buried what was left of that heap," Pinkie finally asked after all the speechifying was done, as she deemed it.
"About that," Captain Atom said as he turned to her.
"We found the bodies of all the dead, and injured personnel left behind," he told the team. "We did not find Damien Steele's body. Or Target, as he was apparently calling himself. However, we did find his….blood. Enough for a DNA sample."
"Why do you sound like…?"
Captain Atom cut Adana off as he said, "We found a match in our database."
"And," Spark asked.
"It's not Damien Steele's. Who, apparently died forty-three years ago at the age of two."
"What," Pinkie almost genuinely screeched.
"The DNA was a match for one Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke," the hero went on.
"Whoa," Adana frowned now. "Are you saying….Deathstroke? The same Deathstroke from….back when….is still running around? That's he's…?"
"Nightwing always said there was something strange about him," Captain Atom nodded. "Apparently, he's close enough to immortal that he's still alive. Even now."
"I saw that thing stomp him. It broke almost every rib in his body," Adana frowned.
"Always leave yourself an escape plan," Pinkie murmured.
Adana frowned remembering those words, too.
"Well, looks like he suckered all of us. Again," Adana scowled.
"When I find him," Pinkie hissed, clenching a gloved fist.
"That brings us to you, Miss Steele."
"What," she sputtered. "You gonna lock me up for being his daughter now," she huffed. "Try, and see what you….."
"I was about to offer you a provisional placement in the League. Perhaps on this very team, since we are, regrettably, down a member."
Pinkie looked positively grim for one of the few times since Ada had known her.
Then, slowly, her smile returned as a crooked slash across her expressive face as she eyed Captain Atom.
"Only if the guys agree. I can't replace their friend, after all. But maybe….I can fill in."
"You'd be more than welcome," Spark told her.
"I think Todd would have liked that, too," Gaia nodded her way.
"I think you're all nuts anyway, but who listens to me," Adana said, rolling her eyes.
"Says the girl that ripped that Doomsday-wannabe apart like tissue," Robbie murmured somberly, still looking grim.
"It wasn't that easy. And I had help," Adana protested.
"Speaking of help," Captain Atom added. "You'll also be getting a new sponsor, and training partner, too."
"Who," Robbie asked, though he was still sounding less than interested.
"I believe some of you have already met Connor Kent. Better known as Superboy."
The young clone walked into the room only then, nodding at Ada, and then eyeing Pinkie who grinned, and gave him a long wolf-whistle.
"Sure you want this gig," Adana asked him. "I'll tell you now, she's nuts."
"I've noticed. By the way, O'Brian wants to talk to you," he told Pinkie. "He seems pleased that his genes got passed on, even if in a slightly unorthodox manner. He'd like to give you a few tips with dealing with your…..powers," he said, frowning as Pinky's right arm stretched across the room, sliding around his shoulder, then the rest of her body snapped into place right beside him.
"Sounds like fun. But what about us, tall, dark, and gorgeous? Are you going to show me your tricks, too," she cooed.
Connor shot Captain Atom a scathing look, but said nothing.
Adana had the feeling this assignment had not been Connor's idea.
That didn't surprise her.
"Plasti-Girl," Captain Atom snapped. "Behave. Meta, your grandmother requested you return to Themyscira before continuing with your own duties. We still have some serious follow-up on this mission, but I was told you were….needed. I suggest you go now, and return as soon as possible."
"Needed," she frowned.
"I only relay the message," he told her. "Now, tell your friend to release Connor, and the rest of your return to your scheduled duties."
He turned, and all but marched toward the door.
"By the way," he stopped at the hatch to look back at them. "Tomorrow afternoon we're having a special memorial service for Ember. Since he had no family, we're giving him a burial in space."
"He would have liked that," Robbie nodded as Spark just stared at him.
"No," Gaia cut in. "He is a creature of the fire. He doesn't belong to space."
"What do you suggest," Captain Atom asked her.
"The sun," Adana half said, half asked.
Gaia glanced back at her, her dark face somber, and thoughtful.
"Yeah," she nodded. "That, he would have liked. No cold dust and ash for our friend," Gaia called him. "From flame, to flame. He lives forever in fire."
"Sounds about right," Gordon finally remarked.
"I'll arrange a…..pyre," Captain Atom told them. "And, Team Gamma. You all did well. Very well. I hope you know I am very proud of you. All of you," he nodded at Adana.
No one said a word as the silver hero left them.
"Wow, guess almost dying almost melted that stick up his…."
"He's energy. Energy can neither be created, nor destroy….."
"Jeez, Brainiac, can you ever give it a rest," Pinkie complained at Adana, then eyed Connor. "Now, where were we?"
"I'd better go see what Princess Diana wants….."
"We need to talk, too," Connor told Adana. "We are practically…..cousins, it seems," he told her.
"I guess. I should be back in time for the service," she told them.
"Don't rush," Pinkie said, smiling at Connor.
Adana was pretty sure she heard Robbie mutter, "What am I? Chopped liver?"
"Ada….? I mean, Meta? Have you heard anything yet," Barb asked, standing in a door to her assigned quarters as she called out before Ada could go on up to the bridge.
"Not yet. We're still looking, though, Barb. We'll find him. We're getting closer," she told the young woman. "We'll find him," she said again as she paused to talk to her.
"Is it true? Did one of your people…..die?"
"We lost Ember. Todd," she reminded the blonde.
"The boy that drove the van," she asked.
"Yeah. He….saved a lot of lives by giving his," Adana told her.
"He seemed….nice," she said.
"He was. He was very nice," Adana nodded.
"Ada…. Tell the others… Will you tell them, how sorry I am?"
"It was hardly your fault, Barb," she told her, seeing the girl was paler than ever, and obviously not sleeping well.
"My dad….. I got you all into this, and now….."
"Hey, we'd have been in it either way. This whole thing was a plot against all of us. What they turned loose," she told Barb. "It wasn't going to just kill metas. It was going to kill everyone. If we hadn't been there, ready for it, it might have done just that. You should go rest now. I'll personally let you know the minute we hear anything."
"Promise," the blonde asked uneasily.
"Promise," she nodded.
"Yeah," she turned back just when she was about to walk away.
"Apparently, it's what I do," she told her with a faint smile, and headed for the lift to carry her to the bridge.
She found Diana standing on the bridge waiting.
"Captain Atom said…."
"Mother wants you back on the island. She didn't say why. Only that it was important."
"Okay. Mysterious much?"
"You should know mother by now," Diana smiled.
"Right. Frankly, I'm still getting used to the idea that the Greek gods really are real."
"I grew up with them, and I'm still not all that thrilled myself," Diana quipped as they stepped onto the transport pad.
"Coordinates locked," J'onn reported. "By the way, the President denies he knew anything about Cadmus, Janus, or anything related to Failsafe. I think I may have to visit him….in person."
"Do whatever it takes," Diana told him. "This is one time we can't risk turning a blind eye. Not if they could unleash any more of those abominations."
"I agree. I'll keep you informed."
"Do so," Diana nodded, and nodded again at the tech who activated the beam.
"Holy…..crap," Carla said as they watched the newscast that featured the simulated animation of the battle that devastated part of a Canadian town. "Ada did all that?"
"I'd say she had help," Lena remarked staring just as hard as the others in the lobby just gaped as Meta was identified as one of the young heroes that someone suggested may have gone rogue, and the government had tried to contain without success.
"That is so bogus," Janey Evans sputtered. "Ada wouldn't go bad. She was helping people. Someone is lying!"
"Cover-up," Carla nodded. "Pops always said you couldn't trust the government."
"Can we watch something else," someone else whined.
"No," more than a few voices shouted, least of all Carla and Lena.
"You know what it is," another girl suggested. "Our girl found out something she wasn't supposed to know, so they're trying to make her look bad. Who knows what was really up there, and they didn't want her getting back to tell anyone."
"Wasn't Barb with her," Janey asked uneasily.
"Nah," Carla told her. "Pinkie told me they took her up to the Watchtower before they came for her."
"Right. Where is Pinkie, anyway," someone else asked. "She still has all my history notes."
"Knowing Pinkie," Lena giggled. "Probably trying to get a date."
They laughed at that.
Just as they all agreed it was more than likely.
The man jumped when the costumed man appeared out of the shadows.
"Feral! What are you even doing here," Agent Dillon Connors spat at him.
"It's over. Failsafe….failed."
"Impossible," the man spat, and edged toward a file cabinet.
"Looking for this," he asked, pulling out a small taser that had been modified for a killing burst.
"Tell me, Agent Connors, how long have you been living a double life?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," he spat.
"No? So, you deny that you willingly signed the death warrant on your own daughter, Mr. Wilson," the costumed detective growled.
"Nosy freak. That girl outlived her usefulness long ago."
"Why? Because she wasn't as smart as you deem yourself? Or she didn't carry her mother's meta-gene, which you hoped to exploit?"
"You seem to know a lot," the federal agent spat at him. "But you know what you can prove? Nothing. Even if you could, you can't take any of it to court. Nada. So why don't you…?"
The feline-clad hero was on him in an instant, diamond-tipped claws at his throat as he literally growled, "And what makes you think I'm interested in putting you through a show trial."
"What," he sputtered.
Feral picked him up bodily, and flung him through the nearby window. The man screamed as he began to fall. It was, after all, a very long way down.
Connor ran by Phase, who stared at him, and gaped when he jerked open a storage closet, and pulled it shut just after saying, "You did not see me. On your life, you did not see me," he hissed, and pulled the door with enough force to wedge the latch.
"Connor," someone singsonged as the door behind her opened again, and Phase turned to see the new girl peek in. "Hey, Ghost-girl. You see that delicious Super-boy fly by?"
"Went that way," she pointed down the hall.
"Thanks," she beamed, and went running, calling for Connor.
"You owe me," Phase told Connor as she walked to the door to lock it. "But why don't you just tell her you're not interested?"
"Have you talked to that girl? She's insane," he hissed through the door, not coming out.
"Yes," she murmured. "I know. She is O'Brian's, after all."
"I don't care. You tell Captain Atom to get me off that squad, and put me anywhere else he wants. But I'm not staying around here with that crazed….."
"Connor," the singsong voice called again from nearby. "Come out, come out, sweetie. Pinkie wants to play."
Phase was pretty sure that Connor held his breath as the girl went by.
She chortled, and went back to work, ignoring the fact Superboy was hiding in a closet from a girl. Her husband would never believe that one.
"Hello, Mr. Collins. Or is it Mr. Wilson? Or is either of those your real name," J'onn asked as he caught the man.
"You! You will pay for this. I'll….."
"I rather doubt that. You, and your entire organization don't even technically exist. So, it will be far easier to make you vanish than it was with Cadmus," the Martian told him, flying up to the roof to deliver him to a sleek, flying needle where Feral was already climbing into the cockpit.
"You caught him," the grim detective growled. "What a shame."
"You can always throw him off another building later," J'onn drawled.
"Yes. I can," Feral said, and nodded at J'onn.
He dropped the agent into the back of the flying needle, and then started the engines.
"And I will if you don't start talking. I would say you have about…..ten thousand feet to start giving me answers, Collins. Or whatever your name really is," Feral growled.
"Ten thousand feet," he sputtered.
"Yes," Feral glanced over his shoulder as he brought the yoke back, and lifted the ship off the roof. "That's when I either decide you're being honest, and deliver you to the appropriate authorities, or….. When I roll this bird, and let you drop out the hatch. Only this time, the Martian won't catch you."
"You wouldn't dare," he hissed, clutching at the seat he had been forced into.
The Martian, he had noted, had stayed behind.
"Don't dare me, mister. You killed one of my teammates. A friend. I take that personally. I also take it poorly. Now, here's the first question," he began, and the nose of the ship began to climb in the same instant.
"Mother," Diana greeted the queen as she bowed to her, then hugged her.
"My queen," Adana frowned, bowing, but not rising, since she was not that close to her despite that familial bond.
"Rise, child. I have already heard about your exploits. You have proven yourself well over in your battles in Man's World," the blonde queen smiled at her.
"Thank you, your majesty," Adana blushed. "I only did…. Well, I had good instructors," she babbled.
"And good instincts," Diana added. "She spared a lot of innocents, struck to the very heart of that insidious ploy, and managed to stop an abomination that might well have threatened all the world if left unchecked."
"This, I know," Hippolyta said as she led them toward the great temple where she ruled over the Amazon sisterhood.
"Technically, that mess isn't over. And….my friend still hasn't found her father, and we…."
"If I have learned anything, daughter," the queen called her. "It is that Man's World is ever in peril, and there is always danger to be found. And resisted. I know you were reluctant to face many of the challenges before you, but I daresay you have found your own way around those issues."
Adana said nothing to that.
"You are likely wondering why I summoned you," she finally said, approaching a huge statue of Hera.
"I spoke with Hephaestus recently. On your behalf."
"You did," Diana, and Adana both exclaimed.
"The gods agreed," Hippolyta smiled as she reached down, and took a small bundle from the base of the statue. "It is time Man's World had a new champion."
"Diana remains charged with the tasks Zeus first set before her," she told her daughter. "However, Hera has charged that the world may well need more than a diplomat at times. Especially of late. So she is sending them…..a Warrior."
Adana stared at the costume she unfolded.
Diana's winged sigil adorned the blue material, but only so far, making it obvious some cleavage would be showing. The belt was an abbreviated version of Diana's enchanted girdle, and at its side was a new lasso.
The boots, she noted when they dropped from the bundle, rose to the knee, the greaves armored, and gilt like the chest plate and girdle.
"It is time for you, my young daughter, to take a new mantle. And the blessing, and burden, of the gods' command."
"Warrior," Adana half echoed, eyeing the top.
"So, the gods designed your armor, too," she asked Diana.
"They did," Hippolyta nodded, answering for her. "Is something wrong?"
"No. No. It's just…. I just figured out the gods are probably all pervs," she muttered.
They all laughed as Adana just stared at the costume.
"At least you get pants," Diana quipped.
Which made them laugh again.
"So, no more civilian life, huh," Adana finally asked.
"What makes you think so," Diana asked. "Your mother manages. Many heroes do. So will you, Adana."
She sighed, and nodded.
"I think this past week is going to make hiding my identity a lot harder," she said.
"So why hide," Hippolyta told her. "Simply….be yourself."
"The best advice I've ever heard," Diana agreed.
"Pinkie will never believe this one," she predicted, and went to change.
To Be Continued….