"…..still can't believe you're Amazon's daughter! I mean, seriously! That is so cool," Pinkie was gushing as she followed Adana to their usual table at the cafeteria for the evening meal.
"It's not all it's cracked up to be," Adana sighed, sitting down, and eyeing the tray ruefully. "Honestly, it's not."
"But….Amazon! I remember when she still fought with the League. She was so…..so…..awesome! So, have you been to Paradise? Isn't that what you call the island? Paradise?"
"Themyscira," she sighed, and reached for her milk as she eyed her tray as the entire cafeteria seemed to be eyeing the pair of them. Or rather, her. "Paradise Island was what some guy labeled it when he first heard Princess Diana came from an island of women."
"And they're all warriors? All Amazons? Right?"
"Uh, yeah," she sighed. "But we are more than warriors. We're physicians. Poets. Astronomers. We all have…..other interests."
Pinkie only grinned.
"Any chance I could ever visit?"
"That….wouldn't be my call."
"Why not? Don't you go back on Spring Break, or something?"
"Actually, I go to my mom's home in Tylerton."
"Really? Amazon actually lives in Tylerton?"
"Pinkie, we're not heroes. We're just….?"
"Super-powered Amazon warriors," the girl's tone rose in awe.
"Like I said. It's not all it's cracked up to be," Adana sighed.
"So, when you said your gran was all super-strict, and all…..?"
"I spent all my time on Themyscira training, and learning a warrior's discipline. Honestly, it takes a lot of effort to keep myself in check. My strength can be….difficult to control at times. When my metagene first manifested, I couldn't even pick up a can of soda without crushing it," she said, holding her milk carton up before she took a drink.
"Wow. That could suck. So, you really don't have any boyfriends," Pinky asked bluntly.
"Girlfriends," she asked, her eyes overly bright.
"Jeez, Pinkie," she groaned. "What are you, trying out for the National Enquirer?"
"Nothing. Nothing. I had some….issues with the press when I first….manifested. It's not something I ever expected."
"You're kidding," her very peculiar friend exclaimed. "You're Amazon's daughter! You had to know that you'd…. Well, be like her?"
"Actually, I was born….pretty normal. My older sister was the powerhouse from birth."
"Do I know her? Is she a hero?"
"She's….ah, in undercover work," she demurred. "Anyway, I was kind of a shrimp. About as normal, and average as you can get. Until….I wasn't."
"That had to be so cool," Pinkie enthused.
"Scariest day of my life," Adana murmured.
"Really? I'd think it would have been awesome."
Adana smiled blandly as she eyed the girl.
"In ways, it was….interesting. I learned a lot about my mom that I had never understood before then. Of course, meeting Queen Hippolyta was about as scary as it could get, too. I had heard stories about her, and, of course, you know the mythologies."
"She's in myths?"
Adana sighed at the girl.
"You haven't read the Greek myths?"
"I know about the Greek gods. They're the one that turned that statue into Wonder Woman, right?"Adana sniggered.
"Grandmother actually hates that story," she told her, but didn't tell her why.
The truth, after all, was far less romantic, and a lot more tragic. Tragic enough that even Diana would not speak of it. The only reason she had learned about it was because she had been reading in the archives during a rare break, and ran across the Queen's own journal of certain critical years in the early days of Themyscira.
"Right. Wonder Woman is your grandmother. That is so weird. And so cool. Suddenly, all that bowing, and stuff makes sense. So, do you know who your mom's dad was, then? I mean, I've heard all kinds of guesses over the years, but no one ever…."
"Pinkie, some things I'm just not free to share. I hope you understand?"
"Oh. Oh, yeah. Secret identities, and all. That's cool. Still, seriously, I'm really, really glad you are who are you are, Adana. I mean, you saved my life. You saved everyone."
"Not everyone," she said quietly, the death toll ending at twenty-three by the time they cleared the building after that attack. That was not counting the two dead madmen. One, indirectly, at her own hands when she had stopped his shooting. The other man was one she had flung aside upstairs who had cracked his skull, and it went unnoticed until too late while the paramedics worked on his back and hip.
She still found it hard to care.
To her mind, he had been just one more bully with a gun who wouldn't have hesitated to kill more people if given the chance.
"Hey, you saved a lot of lives. Mine, included. It could have been a lot worse if you hadn't been there," Pinkie said in a very serious tone now. She reached across the table, put a hand over hers, and said, "So, seriously. Thanks, and thanks forever."
"Thanks forever," she chuckled.
"Knew she was a dyke," a certain, perfectly coiffured blonde strolled past, eyeing her coolly. "Guess it only figures, being one of those women."
"Wow, just when you think Barbie can't get any dimmer," Pinkie declared as Adana just blushed.
"What did you call me, you waste?"
"Hey, I'm not the one without brain cells," Pinkie challenged her with a smirk.
"Dykes," the blonde sniffed, and walked on with her three usual friends.
"Don't let her get to you," Adana told her.
"Hey, I was going to tell you that," Pinkie declared, and stuffed a French fry into her mouth. "I mean, seriously? That girl gives new meaning to shallow."
"I'm not arguing," Adana drawled, but noted the brunette with the blonde girls looked back, giving her a wistful expression.
She recognized her as one of those she had gotten out during the shooting yesterday.
The entire cafeteria suddenly fell completely silent as Adana felt a peculiar sensation behind her, and groaned as she shook her head. She knew it was coming, but was hoping for something a bit more low-key than the very obvious hero standing behind her just then.
"Captain," she sighed as Pinkie just stared over her head with hugely rounded eyes. "Couldn't you have just called?"
"I felt this required a more personal interview, Ms. Winter. Would you come with me? Now," the silvery hero as ageless as some of the League demigods remarked in that grim, stern manner that never relaxed. Never changed.
And she had thought J'onn was bad the first time she had met him.
"I can't finish….?"
"Now, if you please, Ms. Winter. Your mother is waiting, too."
"Just step outside."
"Fine," she said, and eyed Pinkie. "I'll be back in time for our study session," she told her. "I hope."
"That depends entirely on you," Captain Atom remarked in that unyielding tone of his.
"Hey, so does that mean you are joining the League," Pinkie asked, following her without hesitation as they headed for the nearest exit.
Everyone else just watched.
"You might want to stand back, Miss," Captain Atom told her as he held up a hand after they took several steps from the door to stand just off the walk. "You wouldn't want to be caught in the beam."
"Beam," Pinkie echoed in confusion.
Just before her best friend, and the silvery stick-in-the-mud just vanished in a haze of iridescent light.
"Whoa," Pinky exclaimed.
"Was that….Adana," Lena, one of Adana's roommates exclaimed as she stood there, just about to head into the cafeteria herself for the evening meal.
"Yeah. League business," Pinkie told her. "Can you believe that guy, though?"
"So, they really do have a teleporter," Lena exclaimed, looking up at the darkening sky as if she might somehow see something more. "And everyone always said that was just an urban legend."
"Yeah," Pinkie said, and found herself looking up, too.
Because if the teleporter was real, then that meant they could have only gone one place.
A place the government continued to refuse to admit even existed.
"I wasn't playing hero," she persisted as Diana and her mother both grilled her with the Captain just standing there eyeing her as if waiting his turn. "I was trying to save my classmates, and get them out alive. That's all."
"You pointedly, and purposely engaged those men," Captain Adam pointed out.
"I was defending myself, and those with me," she countered.
"You put three people in a hospital, in critical condition. Two more died….."
Adana stared at the man, her expression darkening.
"I recognize that one was genuinely accidental," the silver hero said as he easily interpreted her expression. "The one you questioned, however, has a very valid case against you for abuse of powers. Then there is the other you struck that died from his injuries."
"Because a bunch of guys armed with explosives, and mini-guns are so laudable," she spat.
"Motivations are not relevant here. You deliberately attacked a man, and injured him to the point of causing death. Your own report confirms that, and gives his family a solid case against you."
"So, what? I should have let him, and his buddies kill everyone so they could be on TV?"
"I overheard one of them crowing they would be on all the channels. He apparently had no more motivation than media fame. The political statements they made are what's irrelevant," she tossed back at Captain Atom.
He only stared at her in turn, his expression as unyielding as ever.
"Adana," Diana said as she stepped forward again. "I ask you, as your princess, and an Amazon warrior, was that encounter truly necessary?"
"If I had not stepped in, everyone in that building would have died. Maybe even more since they had a lot of ordinance, and explosives, and weren't planning on survivors," she told Diana. "What I did, I had to do, grandmother. I couldn't just turn my back, and let those people die."
"And yet people did die," Captain Atom stepped in again.
"Look, I did my best," Adana protested when the energetic hero tossed that barb back at her. "I'm not exactly one of you, you know? I never expected to have to….."
"She makes a very telling point," Amanda told them as they turned when J'onn entered the conference room.
"Indeed," the Martian nodded. "Every account in the charges filed presupposes she is an active, and voluntary member of the League. In point of fact, she is herself a civilian engaged in no more active duty than attending a college class. That undermines many, if not all of the more potent charges against her from the start."
"Thank you," Adana nodded at J'onn. "Captain Uptight here can't seem to make that distinction."
Diana and her mother both smirked, and J'onn merely lifted a single, arched brow to express his own reaction.
"All the same, I want her to start training with our other active provisionals. If she's going to…..defend herself again, I expect her to know how to do so without endangering lives. Any lives," Captain Atom added pointedly.
"I see no harm in that," Diana agreed.
"It would help fine-tune her own training, and keep her from….slipping up," Amanda agreed.
"I don't get a say in this," Adana protested.
"You get to say yes," Captain Atom told her. "Or, you can plead your case in court when you're inevitably charged with manslaughter. Or worse."
She glared all the more.
"For saving lives?"
"For taking them," he spat back, in the same toneless voice. "We have a mandate to operate as special deputies in law enforcement. We are not vigilantes, or killers."
"So, how long did you practice to get that down," Adana demanded after she just stared at him for a moment.
"Get what down," the man asked her.
"That arrogant, 'I'm always right, you never are,' routine," she huffed, and turned, and stalked toward the door. "If we're done, I still have a test to study for," she shot, and her mother reached out, and put a hand on her shoulder. "And I missed dinner!"
"Honey, we are trying to help you here. You could use the extra training. You know that. This is only for your benefit," Amanda assured her.
"Fine. Fine. But it better not interfere with my schedule," she huffed. Then glared back at Captain Atom, and stated, "And I know you probably know it. So, wait for my free time, or better yet….. Just wait."
She didn't look back as she headed for the bridge, and the teleport pad.
"Willful," Captain Atom grumbled as the door shut behind her.
"She reminds me of me," Diana smiled now.
"Gods help us," J'onn deadpanned.
The women laughed. Captain Atom just shook his head.
"I was thinking of Kara," he said quietly.
"Well, she turned out pretty well," Diana pointed out.
"I wasn't thinking of how she turned out. But, rather, how she began," he complained.
"She's still young, Captain," Amanda told him. "Give her time."
"I have no issue with that," Diana told her daughter. "But Captain Atom is right. She does need more training. Like it, or not, she was unnecessarily sloppy, and needs more discipline. Even mother noted that one before she finally let her come home."
"I know. I know. It's not helping that she has so much more to cope with. It's not like Tala, who grew up with her powers."
"Perhaps it was the diluted bloodlines? Or perhaps we're just seeing how an involved metagene reacts with divinely magical gifts," J'onn told them. "Either way, I cannot see any reason to keep her out of the usual training sessions."
"I'll assign her a team, and a practice regimen tomorrow. After I study the best likely fit," Captain Atom told them as somber as ever.
"Just keep her away from Dreadnaught," Amanda suggested.
"You have a valid reason for that request," Captain Atom all but demanded.
"You do know my daughter's past. If that….lothario tries to put any of his moves on her, she might stuff him out an airlock."
Captain Atom only stared at her.
"How did you do," Pinkie asked as Lena came out of the building to join her and Adana.
"I think I did pretty good," Lena told her as the younger girl walked with them toward the quad. "You?""Well, pretty good, I think. But we both know who likely aced it."
They both looked at Adana, who just glanced over at them as she looked up from a book she was reading as she walked.
"Still reading? Didn't you just finish the last midterm," Pinky demanded. "What is so…?"
She snapped the manual closed, and sighed.
"League homework," Lena asked knowingly.
"Yeah," Adana grumbled. "Silver-britches is a real stickler for regs. He's worse than Professor Hammed about all the dotted 'I's' and stuff."
"In short, he's a jerk," Pinkie declared officiously, having had that particular history teacher herself.
"Pretty much. For someone made out of living energy, he's got a stick up his backside that must be made out of titanium-steel."
"Really? Living energy," Lena remarked. "How does that even work? I mean, he looked…. Well, normal."
"I don't know myself. Really, I'm not actually involved in the real League….."
Both girls eyed the thick manual in her hand.
"Uh-huh," Pinkie drawled.
"Trust me, so far, it all looks like it's a bunch of glorified jocks, all trying to outmuscle each other to be number one. Or that's what it seems like to me," she huffed.
"But….isn't your mother a member?"
"And your grandmother," Pinkie added, still trying to decide if Adana's threat to kick her into orbit if she called her 'Princess' again was real, or not.
"Mom isn't an active member. She's more like a….legal liaison now."
"But Wonder Woman is still active? Right," Lena asked her.
"Yeah, but even she works more on her own, than with the others these days. Lots of diplomatic stuff, too."
"So, have you met him yet?"
"Him," Adana asked as she looked back at Pinky.
"The Big Guy! The S. The first Leaguer."
"Kal-El? Yeah, I've….seen him around," she sighed. "Honestly, he's like anyone else."
"Yeah. If they flew in space, juggled mountains, and could vaporize you with a glance."
Adana laughed outright now, shaking her head at Lena.
"Seriously? You think he juggles mountains?"
"Well, he could," the girl sputtered.
"Well, boulders, maybe," Adana agreed. "But could you imagine trying to…."
She groaned as she eyed her new necklace watch, which was chirping annoyingly.
"No way," she protested, "Not when I just got a day off."
"What is that," Lena asked.
"You might want to stand back," Adana told them. "Silver-butt is sticking his nose in my weekend again."
Even as the girls stood back, Adana stepped off the walk into the grass, and then lifted her watch to speak into it.
"Okay, I'm clear."
And promptly vanished.
"What was that," Barb Wilson demanded as the blonde girl walked up behind them just then. "Was that lightning, or something?"
"Or something," Pinky agreed, and turned her back on her to walk away.
Lena glanced back at her, and walked after her friend, too.
"Wait," Barb called after them, and actually loped to catch up to them.
"What now, your highness," Pinky demanded.
"I…. I needed to talk to your friend. The…..uh, strong girl."
"Adana. Her name is Adana," Pinkie told her curtly. "And she doesn't like posers, either."
"I…. Look, I really need to talk to her. I'm….."
Barb stared at the two of them that stopped to regard her. Lena warily, and Pinkie with blatant hostility.
"I'm in trouble," Barb finally blurted.
"So get an abortion," Pinkie huffed.
Barb blushed furiously.
"Not that kind of trouble," she hissed. Looking around, she moved closer, and said, "Someone's trying to kill me," she said, and only then did Pinkie notice the usually perfectly groomed girl looked less than perfect.
"No way," she blurted.
"I need help."
"So, call the cops. What about your dad? Call him. Or…."
"My dad's disappeared, and the cops don't believe me," Barb told her. "Please. I'm serious. And I'm desperate. I don't even know what's going on, but….I'm not joking. Please, I really need help."
"You just missed her," Lena told her. "That lightning. She got teleported out for some….League business."
"Then it is true? She's a real hero? Please, tell her I need help. Please," Barb all but begged, and looked ready to start crying now.
"Jeez, don't bawl," Pinkie frowned. "Come on. You can come with us. I'm sure she'll be back pretty soon. But I still wouldn't hold my breath. It's not like she's….."
Barb just stared at her, looking genuinely frightened.
"Never mind. Come on."
"Thank you," Barb gushed at them. "I won't ever forget this. I won't!"
"Whatever," Pinkie said, leading her toward their dorm.
Neither of them saw the two men standing near the parking lot, staring their way.
To Be Continued…