After Thames

August 29, 2015:

After the fall of Thames House; Superman requests Hawkgirl's presence for answers.

Watchtower Station

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Weeks after the fall of Thames House, Superman transmits a very concise message to his winged teammate:

"We need to talk."

The delay between the collapse and now is far from ideal, but ultimately necessary: on top of his usual duties, he spent some time at the Fortress, plugging from every last sensory impression from the Thanagarian ship into his computers and cross-referencing with terrestrial metals, propulsion systems, and so on to try and get a sense of what he encountered.

At the moment, Superman is on one of the Watchtower's observational decks, leaning against a railing that might, at first glance, appear to have been erected to keep visitors from tumbling into the starry void just beyond it.

It's an illusion, of course: there's a force field stretched between widely spaced stretches of the Watchtower's superstructure to offer the least obstructed, most streak-free view possible.

The message that was sent from up high down below in the Halls of Justice was met with dread. It seems as if everytime she came around Superman, there was some dastardly thing that happens which would embarrass both. Not so much that they could make friends from the situation; but it would recount for awful retellings when someone would say.. 'How is he/she as a teammate?'

Great people skills!

Awkward. Though, the transport from the Hall of Justice to the Watchtower was an easy one. A simple pad of 'beam me up Scotty' was stepped on and soon she was transported through time and space.. to there.

It took her a while to actually find the observational deck, stopping off in one of Watchtower's many hangers to check for the Valmorra; she was still in good shape, could use a little polishing, one of the grunts had to work for that. And then to the mess hall, burger taken along for the ride and soon to her final destination.

The Deck.

"Clark." She says outright. Myxlplyx ruined that for her. The pure mystery behind the name, though.. he's ruined a lot for her as well. "You shouldn't sound too serious. It's something that's not becoming of you." She takes a bite of her burger, then offers it out with a golden, clawed grip.

Text is not good at conveying tone. Kal could have been smiling and petting a puppy while sending the message; who would ever know, besides Kal and the puppy?!

Then again, no pleasant conversation in history has ever started with 'we need to talk', so Shayera probably has a point.

"It was 'professional'," he nonetheless supplies with a glance and a smile for the winged woman. He fully turns towards her, but despite his protestations, his motives for contacting her were troubling, to say the least; the smile melts in no time flat.

"How are you?" He takes the burger and a bite from it, then hands it back. "It's been some time since we've talked."

Shayera takes the moment to dust off her hands as she draws up a faint brow, that smile beating against the surface which finally cracks, and then her head shakes as she lets out a little sigh. "I'm fine, for the most part." She reaches out to take the burger again, gesturing towards a row a seating upon the observation deck. The placement was excellent; it allows most to view the stars undistrubed, giving a moment of reflection and awe.

"Though I have a feeling you didn't call me out here to share a burger and ask me how I am." She takes a bite, drawing a hand to press against her lips to hide her chewing, keeping her gaze upon the many stars that little the black backdrop. "Pardon me for being terse," she explains. "I.. rarely interact with people much now a days."

Superman's eyebrow rises along with Shayera's hand, the relatively polite gesture clashing just a little with the unfettered warrior he's grown used to fighting beside.

It goes unremarked upon, though. There's nothing wrong with a little politeness, as Ma often reminded him.

"Not entirely, no," he admits, eyes drifting towards the stars briefly. He doesn't make a move towards the seats, but he'll follow if she does; the standing doesn't exactly bother him, what with his Super-Spine and all. "It's… well. I'd rather not talk around it: I went through the portal above Thames House and found an alien craft. Some of its systems carried traces of a metal that I've only ever seen in three other places: the Valmorra, your arsenal, and— you."

His tone is neutral— almost gentle, even. He's speaking to his colleague about a mystery that they both have a stake in, not accusing her. The statement is left to hang in the air between them for a moment, and then:

"How common is Nth Metal, Shayera? Intergalactically speaking."

It was almost natural really; right after the gesture is when she too takes a moment to gaze, then turns with a flutter of wings (which avoid him entirely, of course) to take her perch upon the bench. She has to lean forward just a touch to make room for her appendages, which fold slightly behind her yet remaining at a stubborn hitch.

And then she listens, the Nth that formed her claws slowly drawing back into her skin, leaving her fingers to pinch and tug at her lower lip in thought. It was troubling, that bit of revelation, but it doesn't gain a reaction that's visible to the normal eye. However, keen ears could hear the rush of her beating heart, the heat that draws upon her skin, the rush of adrenaline and anger that nearly clouds. "I see."

Her jaw tenses as her eyes cut towards the ground, soon lifting towards her comrade with a touch of worry, a bit of concern, and then nothing. "It's not all that common. My people make it a practice to hunt those who have managed to acquire the Nth that are not of our ilk." Beat. "As it stands, on this terra, there are two beings that possess the metal, one is the Corvinus, and the other an unknown entity who I have yet to try to track."

"This ship. It did not breach the orbit? When you happened upon it, what was it doing?"

"Nothing."

Kal's eyebrow arches again, briefly, when Shayera mentions the unknown entity who she has, apparently, not yet pursued in the traditional fashion.

And then, of course, there are the things she doesn't say that he somehow still hears— and sees, each bead of sweat a tiny rainbow as the deck's light refracts through them.

When he sits, he sits close enough to lay what he hopes is a calming hand upon her shoulder; fingers that could punch holes in a tank squeeze just enough to remind her that she isn't alone. Whether she's frightened, concerned, or simply ready to hunt, whatever lies ahead is a matter for two - if not more - should she wish it.

"When I found it, it was sitting outside of Earth's orbit. I tried to approach it, but I didn't have any good way of hailing it. We might need to make some upgrades to our communications tech in the future, in case we need to make contact with other extraterrestrial visitors in a pinch."

He waves this thought off after taking his hand from Shayera's shoulder. Not really the time or the place.

"It engaged its warp drives before I could get close." He sighs, frustrated at his inability to make it to them in time. Maybe they could have talked things out— maybe it was a misunderstanding.

A fairly grotesque misunderstanding, but a misunderstanding all the same.

"We recovered samples from the spider drones, didn't we? Do you happen to recognize any of the technology?"

The calming touch to her shoulder was not met with ire; but with a certain awkward affection that she herself hadn't felt in some time. Her shoulder that allows the hand to remain lifts a touch, her hand drawing upright to carefully push it away, a smile drawn upon her lips as she leans away then retains her former sitting, that smile fading as she draws in a slight breath to exhale.

"I'll write up a few schematics for upgrades for the tech team to process. However, I highly doubt that they were here for a simple conversation." Hence why they ran. "Yes. I recognize the technology but not the overall design. It did not carry traces of Nth, however, there were talks amongst my people of utilizing 'drones', as terrans would call it to snatch and grab as an upgrade to our military operations." She draws to a stand then, turning to face him.

"A few months ago, Green Lantern and I managed to save an air vessel that was attacked by this very spectre. Which hasn't been seen again until now. My guess, is that those who operated and ran Thames managed to intercept the technology as it was nearly sold to the Iranians to return to us post haste. However.. the reason for its arrival.. and theirs is unclear.."

Kal's arms drape across his knees as he listens, nods. Considers.

"What do you think it is they were looking for? There were needles— the drones were taking blood samples from the people they captured. There was a purpose behind it, and unless they found whatever it is they were after— they'll probably be back," he asks and offers after a few seconds of thought. "I'd like to hope that we can reach some sort of deal with them— even if they did run. You would know better than I would, though."

He joins her in standing after that and briskly runs a hand along the inside of his cape to make sure it's sitting properly. "Who was selling the technology to the Iranians?" he wonders with a thoughtful furrowing of his brow. "I wasn't there when the building exploded— were there any survivors?"

"If it is the same issue that I originally came here with, then it would be The Corvinus."

She moves forward then, turning to only lean against the banister, arms folded about her chest as one brow was lifted. "I assure you, they will. When they hunt, they do not rest until the target is acquired and their own brand of justice is enacted. However, the Corvinus is no where in the area, one could logically assume that they were looking for me as well." She remembered, she never told him about the reason as to why the Valmora was on the Watchtower Station.

"I am unsure. Thames did not reach that conclusion, and if they had, I'm sure that they would not divulge that information to us." She does nod however, "There were no stragglers left behind as we know. Their evacation procedures seem to be top notch. The civilians in the area that were grabbed by the spectres seem to have no ill effects, save for psychological.." She had an eerie feeling about all of this. And it wasn't good.

The Kryptonian is quiet for a while after Shayera mentions the civilians and doesn't quite look her in the eye as he replays the disaster in his mind.

Eventually, he drifts away from Shayera and bench as he says, "You may be right about the Thames, but after what they've just been through— they might just be willing to cooperate. It's bigger than a black market sale, now; I think we'd both benefit from helping one another out." He slowly exhales, walking alongside the banister. Speaking of mutual benefit…

"Who or what is the Corvinus," he asks while looking from the stars to her, "and why would they be looking for you?"

"I suppose you're right. You would know more about terran intuition than I."

She allows that moment of silence to reign among them, her jaw tensing as she watches him curiously. "I'm shocked that you haven't met him before. He is what is known to our people as the demon entity that ruined Thanagar and turned tuned us into war." Though, much of that was all speculation, the wars on Thanagar have been raging, and most were looking for a scapegoat. Corvinus was that scapegoat. "He's a computerized simulation that acts on his own, artificial intelligence. However, he's managed to sup himself into the body of Jim Reha. A rotund young man who.. is very chatty and high tempered. Emotional." Her hand waves blaise.

"I've managed to capture the entity and prepared him for transport to mete justice. That was when I realized that I nor the Demon Bird were never to arrive upon my former home world, as the Valmorra was tampered with, and set the explode as soon as we reached critical warp. We.. were believed to be dead.." She never really knew why she was targetted.. but now? That information is necessary.

"I was betrayed by my people, and I will admit that I do not know why." She hitches her shoulders faintly, this was the most she's said about the incident save for the few others who were present.

"Tampered with?" Kal's eyebrows rose at that part of the story, and his tone is incredulous now. He turns fully towards his teammate and his expression begins to settle into something more thoughtful. "Please, tell me if some part of this sounds wrong: you were deployed to this planet to find this— Corvinus, who your people have designated as an almost mythic adversary figure, only the ship you traveled in was sabotaged from the start— or so I'm assuming. Who aboard the Watchtower would have both the means and the motive for it?" He waves the question off as soon as he asks, having slipped entirely into Mystery Solving Mode.

It's like he's 8 and running around in his Encyclopedia Brown costume, only now he's grappling with The Case Of The Betrayed Space Bird instead of trying to figure out where his missing baby teeth went.

"But we don't know why they may have turned on you," he reiterates. "Or why, now, they've decided to resume the search for Reha; what tipped them off to you two's survival? It feels like something is— missing." He takes a beat of silence before adding another question to the pile: "What were your circumstances at home, before all of this? Were you… happy?"

The investigative facade slips as the questioning takes an awkward turn towards an intersection of personal and professional.

"Mmh. Tampered with." Hands lower now to grip the rails, one foot crossing over the other as she watches Kal's expressions. It was.. slightly amusing. "Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. Save for the assistance from the worlds greatest detective, I'm still at a loss. I have learned, however.. since then, that the matter was just going to be let go. I was dead. Reha was dead to them. They were victorious, until now." So was there a mole? It could be.

"No. No reason as to why, no means as to how. Though, I assume instead of asking the questions.. the why.. the how.. the who.. this problem needs to be nipped into the bud before they bring the entire weight of my old army down upon this Terra."

However.. his question? It takes her back a bit, catches her off guard. Her wings fluff with agitation as she turns away ever so slightly. "Yes." A hand lifts again to toy with her lower lip, her gaze nearly vacant. "I was to be betrothed to the same man who ordered my death. Returning to him was my number one priority before all of.." She waves her hand around, then draws her hand up to rub slightly at the back of her neck.

"Are.. you happy now?"

Kal wasn't expecting that question anymore than Shayera was— especially since his motives for asking it were at least fifty percent mystery-based, if not more. That she was betrothed to the one who betrayed her(she was betrothed? really?) just serves to confuse things further; why would he, of all people, turn on her?

It's something to consider. Right after he stops staring blankly at Hawkgirl and answers her.

"Sure," he murmurs. It only takes a couple seconds before the quiet reply comes, but it feels like forever for him. "I have a lot to be thankful for, after all. I just— I wonder if there isn't more that I could be doing, sometimes. More that we could be doing." His eyes turn towards space as he momentarily chews on his bottom lip. "What happened at the Thames House shouldn't have. We should've been ready."

A few moments are spent staring silently at the stars before he turns a determined expression towards her. "In any case, you're right: we do need to take care of this sooner, rather than later, but I think that that's going to have to involve a few more questions. It's just going to be matter of finding the right man to ask."

Kal may not know who that man is, but Shayera certainly does.

"How many do you think you could fit in the Valmorra… and how long do you think it'd take to fix whatever tampering was done with it?"

Shayera had a means to say something, but she lets it go for now.

"You're practically a god that walks amongst the people. Cl—Kal. It seems as if the more that you do for these people the more that they aim to hate, to despise, to look with extreme scrutiny.." She draws her words back now, turning to stare out into the stars as well. It was a beautiful landscape to be sure, lit with the glow of the moon and the Earth..

"The Valmorra houses five; yet I am considering going at this alone as originally intended. This is not a fight for these people, for you, nor us." A shoulder lifts faintly, a smile drawn upon her lips. "When I did and have made plans to leave to confront, to ask questions.. I did not expect to consider this place my home. A place to come back to. A place to fight for. But.."

Things have changed, obviously so. "Either way. It's a risk that I shall take alone. And I do thank you for at least.. considering it. If that's where your line of questioning lays."

"Skepticism just means that I need work harder to make sure that they believe I'm really here for them," Kal gently retorts as he leans against the railing. "Earth is— it's not an easy place to live. There's so much hope there, so much potential— but there are predators there, too: people who prey on the weak just because they're stronger, and they can. People so divested of life, of meaning, of choices that they can't help but lash out at those around them. People who don't have anyone to love them… there are so many shadows lurking in the world, so many lies. They're— I can't say that they're right to be suspicious, but… I understand, Shayera. Until I've won their trust, I have to keep fighting for it— and one day, when I've finally earned it, maybe they'll understand that I've been fighting for them all along."

Superman slowly exhales. A gentle current moves through the deck, setting his cape ever so slightly aflutter as he shifts out of Impromptu Speech Mode.

"Sorry," he murmurs after a beat, a hand coming up to rub the back of his neck as he fixes his eyes towards space. "I think I drifted a little off-track." He allows himself another slow exhale, then looks sidelong towards Shayera. His voice is still determined - if lower and more conversational, now - as he says, "But— I don't like the idea of you taking this on alone. I understand that they're your people, but I have to disagree: is isn't just your fight anymore. They brought it to my people." He straightens. "Our home. They were ready to booby trap your ship and let you die on an alien world; what do you think they'll do to you when you come to face them alone?"

While, Shayera believed everything that Clark had uttered, felt it deep down within her bones and shared the same passions as he (though, underneath a very angry exterior), she allowed him that moment to rant, to rave, to speak passionately about his people, all the while she watched him, as if he were a study and his resolve was in question. The strong resolve of a man who had everything to lose upon this planet, even if he didn't know their names. She reaches out then, drawing her own hand upon his shoulder, tall as he was, grasping it briefly before letting it go to return to the banister to lean upon.

"Don't apologize for something that you feel strongly of." She murmurs, "I too hold those beliefs, even of my true home still.. but.."

She doesn't finish her words, her lips pursing as there was a moment as her words would grow sharp.. terse.. possibly admonishing him for the want and will to fight, but it doesn't come.

"And for that betrayal, what do you think I would do when I come to face them?" A brow raises, finger lifts and points at the air. She wasn't dropping the mic, she was showing how truly vicious things could and /would/ come down the line. "I want it to be a reckoning, Kal. A reckoning the likes of which they have never seen. A reckoning in which that I.. we may not return from." She gestures towards Earth, the terra.. "Do you want to leave this all behind, knowing the risks?"

"It's either that," Kal replies after glancing towards her gesture, "or I let my teammate go off and fight for them by herself. Little boys and girls all over the world will be begging their parents for replica Hawkgirl wings; I can almost hear them."

A smile comes out as that last sentence is spoken, only to fade shortly after it's done.

"It's just a matter of figuring out who'll fill the other three seats," he adds. It isn't phrased as a question, but it isn't quite a demand, either. More of a suggestion, now that she's relented in letting one Leaguer join her.

Two of them against Thanagar; they'll need all the help they can get.

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