Gotham City is flooded with darkness, and atop the building which houses the police station, a squadron assembles. Some of them are clad in uniforms which blend with the shadows of the night, others in uniforms whose bright colors stand out in stark contrast. They glance towards the skies as an emerald comet seems to descend from the air to join them. "Gentlemen!" Green Lantern says. "So who sent the signal for this meeting?"
"I did, Green Lantern,“ the Batman says with a smile; “new business to discuss"
Green Lantern blinks at an unfamiliar feminine form in their midst, "Hello, Miss, I don't believe we have met."
The woman smiles. "Thanks boys, pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm Batwoman, the newest sensation in the Gotham environs, well if they let me stay in ‘Batman, Inc’ anyway."
The Flying Fox strokes his chin quietly. "Guess I've been out of the loop awhile." Silently, he wonders whether she is another reformed villainess, a la his old teammates The Witch and The Lady in Evening Clothes.
Wildcat grins, eyes taking in her attractive figure beneath her black and yellow uniform. “On behalf of my friends here from the Justice Society, we welcome you to the community.”
Dr. Mid-Nite nods, extending a hand, making sure to use a gentle grip. "A fine organisation and I am sure you will be a credit to it."
Batwoman takes his hand warmly. "I've only been with the Dynamic Duo a while now. I don't think I've met any of you fine gentlemen here tonight, other than Robin of course."
The Batman continues, "Actually, as Batwoman is joining us, I suppose that makes perfect time to explain why I called a meeting. A new mystery man has joined the crusade against crime in Gotham City, and I wanted to bring him in to join this company. Ladies and Gentlemen ... the Nightwing."
A man stepped forth from the shadows, clad in a blue-black costume from the neck down. On his chest inside a while circle stretches the silhouette of a black wing. A gold utility belt wraps around his waist, and his eyes are obscured by a stylized domino mask, the ends of which curve up and down in imitation of a bat. His black hair stays in place despite prevailing winds. Gloves cover his hands to the wrists, and short demi-boots cover his feet to his ankles, flaring backwards in a way reminiscent of Peter Pan. A rather plain blue-black cape falls from his shoulders. "Greetings, my friends."
Batwoman pouts a little, feeling her thunder stolen. "And here I thought I was the newest kid on the block," she whispers to Robin.
“Aw, I been around longer than most of these mooks.” Robin whispers back and shows off his muscles. "I may be short ... but I am tough."
Batwoman reaches over and squeezes Robins' cheek through his mask. "And cute, too." Robin blushes brightly under his eyemask.
"Ahem.” Nightwing looks down, as if gathering strength. “All-Stars, I come with grave news for you. One of your own has fallen and been taken captive. I discovered the facts and immediately went to Batman. He suggested we bring this to your attention."
Dr. Mid-Nite nods, and turns to the Nightwing as we come to business. "Who is in danger?"
Nightwing pauses, "The man known as Superman was captured by a quartet of super-villains... he needs help in being rescued from the condition he is in."
The Batman says "I am confident the heroes assembled are up to the challenge ... Nightwing and I couldn't handle this job alone"
The assembled heroes gasp in surprise. Flying Fox speaks first, he being the only one of the assembled who has had no personal contact with the Metropolis Marvel. "Who could have captured him?"
Nightwing unfurls a trio of photographs from somewhere behind his cape. There are pictures of the heads of three men, the last one being a drawing not a real photo. "I was able to get these pictures from the All-Star Squadron’s files. They are Bird-Killer, normally one who torments my fellow crime fighter Robin; Swastika Lad, enemy of the Star-Spangled Kid; and Haldane, one of Superman's own foes."
Flying Fox says, "I don't know any of these crooks."
Green Lantern nods. "Haldane has also been a menace to the Spectre, I believe, a very dangerous man."
Batwoman ers, "Yeah," and mumbles something about having to help Robin do some homework before the next meeting.
Wildcat hits the wall. "We need to do something!"
"Normally, Haldane is a powerful sorcerer,” Nightwing says. “However, he has somehow managed to remove Superman's powers from him. I do not know what he plans to do, but Superman was weak as a baby when I left the scene to get help."
"An evil wizard huh,” Wildcat grunts, “take away his spell book, and he is just a street punk in a dress."
Robin grins wryly, "Street punks in a dress? Sounds like fun!"
"Depends on your idea of fun, I guess." Batwoman looks over to Robin, her face showing her bemusement.
Robin looks back at her and shrugs sheepishly. "Sorry. I seem to allow my mouth to get ahead of my mind"
"But this punk may have Superman's powers." Green Lantern carefully maintains a stoic expression.
"Nightwing, do you know where Superman is being held?"
Nightwing nods. "I was snooping around there, so yes, I can lead you back. He isn't held in his home city, but in the wilderness of New York State."
"You left him?” Dr. Mid-Nite scowls. “So then...there is a possibility he is beyond our help now?"
"It was not intentional, I assure you,” Nightwing says, “but he warned me to leave before they returned."
Green Lantern looks around at the assembled party. “I can see why I was invited … a tight fit for the Batplane, eh?” He concentrates, and a glowing green platform, complete with a railing, generates from his ring for the others to stand on. “I’ve done this for the JSA often enough. “
Soon, they arrive at a section of New York State woodland which would ordinarily be quite beautiful. There are trees all around, a creek is nearby and the clearing they are in is a great potential campsite, but something in the wind has offset the natural charm of the place.
The Batman lands easily off Green Lantern's ring-generated flying platform, his senses alert. Nightwing looks around, a little unsteady. Wildcat takes a close look at him for a moment and frowns to himself a little. Batman puts his hand on the man’s shoulder. "Steady, my friend."
Batwoman hmms and shivers a little in the wind. "Spooky."
Robin in all his bravado says, "I'll protect you." Batwoman smiles down at him.
Flying Fox looks around. "Was this the spot you left him?"
Nightwing shakes his head. "No, it's further up in the woodland, in the mountains. We should approach on foot, to get the element of surprise on our side."
Dr. Mid-Nite nods, "I think I can see a path."
Robin says "Who wants to lead?"
"Nightwing will take the lead as he's been here before,” Batman replies. “Green Lantern should cover him as he's the most powerful."
Before they can make much headway into the woods a rustle is heard in the trees overhead.
Dr. Mid-Nite pauses in-step. "Did you hear anything?"
Batman looks up at the sound, reaching into his utility belt for a Blackout Bomb. Robin waits and looks around nervously.
Green Lantern flies up and tries to put some light on the subject, and as he does so two men leap down from the trees. However only one of them touches down: a young teenager wearing a red and black uniform spotted with tiny swastikas, with a gun holstered on his hip. The other one is a pimply punk in a leather jacket; behind his eyemask his face is screwed up into an ugly visage that makes Robin wish to slug him one. He tosses a shiv up and down and hand to hand as he floats in mid-air, "Good speech, longjohns. The element of surprise? We're not as lax at our posts as you think we are."
Robin looks up at Bird-Killer. "I dealt with you on my own, you little punk. I think we'll manage, a few new tricks up your sleeve or not."
Batwoman smiles. "Besides, we outnumber you two boys."
"Don't get cocky,” Wildcat growls, “these boys are just a disposable alarm system."
Swastika Lad says, "You may have us outnumbered, but we've got you outgunned. Time to signal the reinforcements!" With that the boy clad in red and black looks backwards and twin beams of visible red light flash out of his eyes into the sky like a beacon. He looks back at the assembled heroes, his eyes smoking.
Dr. Mid-Nite hears something approaching on the wind. He looks up in time to see another figure descending down the mountain, huge leaps at a time. Batman mumbles under his breath, seeing he was too late to stop Swastika Lad's alert from reaching his compatriots. The figure lands on the edge of the clearing with a loud resounding thud: a young woman with a muscular figure, an attractive face and short black hair, wearing a purple bodysuit which has a wide black stripe running down its center, and a turtleneck collar.
"Now, I see what Haldane did with Superman's powers,” Nightwing says. “Keep alert, everyone."
The woman says, "Overgirl is here as requested, boys. Who would have thought so many gorgeous men would have come here for little old me to play with." She strides towards the group.
"This is no game, sister,” Batwoman snarls. "You are outnumbered and outgunned; you had best surrender to us now."
Batman narrows his eyes assessingly, "Green Lantern, you take the girl, we ... we don't know what she's capable of yet."
Green Lantern lifts the girl with a force beam pushing her backwards and upwards. Force powerful enough to move a battleship. Overgirl slams backwards into a tree.
Bird-Killer begins inhaling, but Batman utilizes his swing spring and 200 feet of steel line wraps around the boy’s ankle, and with Robin’s assistance the pair of them pull him back down to earth.
Flying Fox growls, "Give it up Nazi-boy! I've been doing this since before your ancestors were born!" Another blast of heat from Swastika Lad’s eyes is deflected by the mirror in Batwoman’s compact and before he can react, he is double-teamed by Wildcat and Dr. Mid-Nite.
Nightwing looks around, uncertain whom he could help. "I might hit Robin... oh I hate huge melees like this," he mutters to himself. He draws a batarang from his utility belt and lets it fly, aiming at Bird-Killer's forehead; it collides with his left wrist, blatantly off course.
Swastika Lad grunts, and his eyes light up. Bird-Killer recovers enough to fly, and he draws his knife as he does so. He gasps out, "You All-Stars play for keeps. Time to get this going in our favor. *wheeze*"
Overgirl rises to her feet. "You didn't have to do that, Green Lantern. I've got a lot of respect for you Justice Society guys. But now I've got to return fire." The tree she slammed into cracked. She picks it up as if it were nothing and swings it like a baseball bat at Green Lantern and everyone in the path. The emerald gladiator is clipped by the trunk hidden in the leafy branches as it whips around. He rolls with the blow and tries to soften his landing with a glowing green pillow. Batwoman blinks at Overgirl swinging trees around and wonders if she's in over her head.
Nightwing runs forward, scoops up the batarang he tossed at Bird-Killer before and throws it at Overgirl in an attempt to distract her. The batarang goes way off course, and it would seem Overgirl didn't even see it.
Robin removes a ‘birdarang’ from his belt and throws it at the back of Bird-Killer's hand, attempting to make him drop the knife. Bird-Killer shoots up like a rocket, and there isn't a junior villain there to connect with. He says, "Alright, but you asked for it. I'm the new Jack Frost!" He flies down while inhaling big time. He comes close to Robin and Flying Fox and exhales a cold stream that catches them both and pushes him back some.
Wildcat punches at Swastika Lad's head and stomach. Between his and Dr. Mid-Nite’s attack, the junior fascist is soon down for the count.
Green Lantern destroys the tree with a heat beam leaving Overgirl unharmed. Her club is burned to a crisp and after a subsequent blow from a giant green boxing glove she is knocked down.
Batman swings down on and blasts Bird-Killer with his doom-beam torch, generating infra-red heat rays capable of starting fires. Green Lantern grabs him with a force beam and smashes him into Overgirl. Bird-Killer screams in pain from the intense heat, and then he goes unconscious in mid-air as he is propelled towards Overgirl at high speed. He slams into her and she doesn't move an inch; neither does he, afterwards.
Batwoman hums thoughtfully. "You seem to be quite new at this type of thing, eh Nightwing? I wonder if you're good at something else?"
Robin scowls and wonders if Batwoman still thinks he is cute
"I try,” Nightwing says. “It would appear I'm not ready to join the Dynamic Duo yet."
Robin waves Nightwing over. "I've got an idea, maybe." Robin whispers to him, and Nightwing nods in response; the two of them disappear further into the woods. He waves to Batman to let him know things are okay.
Green Lantern approaches Overgirl cautiously, wondering if she is still conscious. Batman swings back down from the treetop. "G.L., be careful, don't get within arm's reach of her."
Overgirl seems to snap out of her reverie, and stands up slowly. "I give up. Do whatever you do to criminals. I've realized family loyalties aren't a reason to hurt people in pointless fights."
Green Lantern looks toward Overgirl suspiciously, holding his power ring at the ready, "I’ve seen what she can do, I also know what my ring can do. Don't worry about me old friend, just be careful."
Batman drops down the ground. "So you'll take us to Haldane?"
Overgirl holds her hands out, and looks away somewhat ashamed. "I can't do that. If he thinks I was captured at least he won't hurt me. Just go up through those trees and climb the mountain. You can't miss the hideout."
"Family loyalties?” Flying Fox asks, “what is he to you?"
"He's my cousin.” Overgirl drops her hands and her eyes tear up. “I've known him for years, but he never asked me for help before. He's the only family I've really got left, and normally he's so kind to me. I thought having Superman's powers would be fun, and it's sort of a kick, but ... I could have killed one of you."
"So he was using you as a sort of ... secret weapon,” Batman says. “What could he have hoped to gain? Where is Superman and how do we restore his powers?"
"All I know is he did it with some new magic thing he got,” Overgirl says. “Somehow he gave each of us part of Superman's powers. It's like a circle almost. Be careful. I don't want you to die, but don't hurt my cousin either, please!"
"What can you tell us about his weaknesses, if any?” Green Lantern asks, “to prevent him or us from getting hurt?"
As the discussion continues, Nightwing and Robin come to rest all the way up the mountain on a pass. Around the bend lies some archaic fortress and they make their way towards it. Robin whispers, "That's the place Su … Nightwing?"
Nightwing nods to Robin. "We can get in through there, but Haldane is bound to be directly inside."
"Aha! I've got it!" Wildcat says, "If we keep these three in custody we can give Superman back his powers."
Dr. Mid-Nite walks over and tries to catch Green Lantern's eye. He nods almost indiscernibly. He looks at Batman, and then looks up toward the direction of the fortress. "We can't leave them to face Haldane on their own ... he's faced the Spectre down."
Flying Fox crosses his arms, "We have to face him. Do we have any cuffs that are heat and cold proof?"
Green Lantern forms a set of gravity band shackles to contain her. Overgirl takes her punishment silently.
Batman says, "Cuff the other two and let's get Haldane."
Green Lantern does as Batman asks, and creates another platform and flies the others full speed to the fortress in order to rejoin Nightwing and Robin. Nightwing dives inside the door and disappears just as they arrive. There is a voice, and a flash of light.
Dr. Mid-Nite says, "Blast, are we too late?"
Green Lantern says, "Batman, what is up with your partner?"
"Risking his life unnecessarily,” Batman growls, and examines the area the pair passed through. "Something is not right here.
They enter the strange observatory-shaped fortress through the door that Nightwing opened wide. The room they entered so easily is out of place in the mountain countryside in which they found it: it's metal, observatory shaped and has a very large apparatus in the center. On the opposite side of the room from the door is a glass fishbowl big enough to hold a man; it has a hole smashed in one side, and there is a little blood on the jagged glass. Inside, on the floor, is Superman's uniform, empty and unharmed. The man himself is nowhere to be found.
Haldane is a tall, completely bald man with evil eyes and a pinched, mean face who wears a forked goatee. His build is thin but wiry, and he is wearing a grey costume and a tall hat. He stands before the huge apparatus in the middle of this cavernous room. Nightwing and Robin lay at his feet, breathing but already felled by his mystic might.
Batman says "Haldane, I presume? Quite a setup you've got here"
"Yes. It is I, Haldane. The Dynamic Duo are somewhat better than their reputation. How did you defeat my Superman Powered Squadron?"
"The question is do we destroy the machine? or do we need it to give Supes back his powers? any votes?" Wildcat pulls out a coin and flips it.
"We'll probably need this set up to bring Supes' powers back,” Dr. Mid-Nite says quietly. "We must be as cautious as possible."
Green Lantern nods, "We must be wary, any man who can take Superman's powers is truly a dangerous man."
Batman says "Your 'Super Squad' had the power, but it takes more than that to make the man."
Wildcat snarls and flies at the sorcerer. "Your only problem is my fist, Haldane!"
Batwoman hangs back to see what transpires. "So much for caution..."
Haldane says, "Fools," and flies off the ground. "The circle is closed, and with the defeat of my cohorts, all their power comes to me!" Energy crackles around his hands and mystic bands wrap themselves around Wildcat and the others who had followed in his leading charge. "Before I kill you with Superman's own vision powers, I will let you hear my grand scheme. So you may marvel at my greatness before you shuffle off into the beyond."
Batman says "Yes Haldane, it seems you actually managed to defeat us ... the first one to do so. How did you manage to steal Superman's powers?"
"The huge apparatus in the center of this fortress that I have isolated up here in the mountains is one of Alexei Luthor's prior experiments in amplifying psychic power. Where he failed, I succeeded. Alexei did not have the knowledge of the occult necessary to tune the device properly."
Flying Fox says, "So ... all that power, just maintained by those machines? Incredible!"
Green Lantern growls and tries to cut his mystical bonds, "Mixing technology with occultism ... very dangerous. When I'm free of this I'll show you how those powers will lead to your own destruction! You make my old foe The Fool look bright!"
Batman says "Haldane, how do you manage to channel it all through yourself? Some mystic token? I marvel at the genius who could out-think Luthor!"
Haldane says, "In the heart of the device is my triumph. The artefact that can steal magic from others. With the artefact I was able to make Superman as weak as the weakest of you. I then encased him in that glass bubble, attuned to his costume. He obviously figured that out while we were out relieving a train of a silver shipment."
Dr. Mid-Nite thinks to himself: The circle's the key but how does it all fit? That's it! Break the circle! Once broken his hold on Superman's power will be lost! "And what happens if you lose this psychic amplification?" he asks, goading the mad sorcerer on.
Haldane lands and looks over at his captors, "The device is useful only in amplifying the artefact’s power. In another few hours it will be permanent. You alone cannot do anything to stop that."
Batwoman whispers, "But he is not alone, Haldane." She is grateful for old men who consider females not worth their notice, and never sought to reveal her as she lurked in the shadows. She reaches for her own batarang, and uses it to crash through the glass door of the apparatus, exposing the interior. Green Lantern, sensing the opportunity, attempts to send multiple beams through the device at many angles; one of them lances through the device. Energy crackles outward from the holes and the entire thing starts to become unstable.
Haldane looks behind him, "What the... a trick! You'll rue the day you attempted to trick Haldane, girl!" He sends a blast of power towards her she has already unleashed a barrage of sneezing powder-puffs, tear gas perfume, and smoke-bomb lipstick at the sorcerer; with his concentration shattered, his opponents fall to the floor.
Batman lands, ducks and rolls, coming up in front of Haldane. "Sorry to steal your thunder Batwoman, but ... good-night, Haldane." He delivers a blow to the jaw. Haldane screams, "This is not possible!" Batman’s fist adds insult to injury as his blow one-punches the mighty sorcerer into unconsciousness.
Flying Fox looks down at their unconscious opponent. "I thought he had Superman's powers?"
Batman says, "Or he did ... with the device disabled, he must have lost them. The question is: who has them now?"
Batwoman points at Nightwing. "I hope he does."
Nightwing gets up, shaking the cobwebs from his head. "So you saw through my disguise, Batwoman?" He removes his eyemask.
Batwoman grins. "I'm pretty good with makeup, Superman."
Dr. Mid-Nite blinks, "Superman?"
Green Lantern exclaims, "Supes!"
Wildcat shakes his head in dismay, "Wow!"
Batman nods, "Not every man can be a Superman, old friend ... you're a hero to inspire us all, powers or not."
Dr. Mid-Nite furrows his brow, annoyed that even his enhanced senses had not detected Superman’s presence with his altered physiognomy. "Can you restore your powers Superman?"
Nightwing walks over and smiles, "Haldane didn't have all my powers. Overgirl must not have been knocked unconscious. From the way I understand it, they all still share my powers, but only when conscious."
Robin strokes his chin, thoughtfully. "Any idea how to get you back to normal?"
The Nightwing says "I think I can steal my powers back with the artefact, but I'll need to go over each of the criminals."
"Green Lantern!” Dr. Mid-Nite turns to his fellow Justice Society member. “Do you still have them under your cuffs?"
Green Lantern flies towards the door. "I'll go get them."
Nightwing walks over to Haldane and looks dumbfounded with the artefact in his hands for the moment, then he seems to get an idea and a ray envelops Haldane's body, and he begins to glow.
Green Lantern flies back and drops down Swastika Lad and Bird-Killer. Overgirl meekly walks inside after him seconds later. "There ya go. Two criminals and one who's seen the error of her ways. Fire when ready Gridley!"
Nightwing flies over to the others and takes the power from the two unconscious teens and then he goes over to Overgirl. He looks lost in thought and then makes up his mind about something. A beam envelops her body and he glows once more. He flies over to the fishbowl, smashes it to pieces with one punch and picks up his Superman uniform and flies outside with it. He changes clothes too fast for the human eye to see. Superman flies back in.
"Good to have you back with the living, old friend,” Batman says. “Only next time, please remember when you have limits, eh?"
Superman looks around at the others. "I would never have been able to beat all of them without your help."
"Well, not with the way you used a batarang and stuff, that's for sure." Batwoman chuckles to herself.
"So glad we could aid you, Superman, "Green Lantern says. "Shall we melt this place down to a slab of lava?"
Superman shakes his head. "I think I'll transplant this fortress somewhere it will do some good. And Batwoman, you and Batman makes it look very easy when you throw one." He turns to the fallen foes. “I think Overgirl has seen the light. I've even got something to say to her."
Overgirl looks up at Superman attentively, and the he turns back to her, "I didn't take all the power you had back from you. I left the barest tiniest fraction of my power that you had." Overgirl gasps.
"Yes. However, you had better do right by my decision. I'm keeping the artefact in case you go bad." Superman smiles and then laughs heartily "And you'll be as weak as I was when I was a baby for the next few years so don't get any strange ideas either."
Overgirl actually breaks down and cries.
Robin's eyebrows rise beneath the mask. "I don't know if that was a good idea or not Big Blue, only time will tell, I guess."
"I have faith in her,” Superman says. “She sacrificed a lot by helping you when she could have run away." He reflects back on the brave young man known as Sam Stupe, whom he had energized with a blood transfusion after the lad had fallen off a cliff, and how ‘Super Sam’ had been so effective on the war’s front line when Superman himself had been prevented by interfering too directly by the Spear of Destiny.
Wildcat crosses his arms, "I'll put my money on Superman's judgment."
Superman says, "Anybody want a lift? One or two more tons won't make a difference after I'm done taking this thing in pieces."
Batman shakes his head. "I think I'll leave it to the Green Lantern Express, Supes. You've got enough to worry about."
Superman nods and begins the process of taking this fortress apart. The others look on as steel and glass mould like butter in his hands, as the Kryptonian once more revels in the power of his birthright.