Touching Base

June 18, 2017:

Diana invades Batman's invention time, and they're both interrupted by Hal Jordan, Aquaman, and Mera.

Hall of Justice

Built in the same architectural Art Deco style of buildings such as the Empire State Building and Union Terminal in Cincinnati, it harkens back to a simpler time. With its wide open rotunda as the lobby and carpeting gracing the marble and granite floors, the Hall of Justice seems to embrace the concepts of Liberty, Freedom and the Rights of all Humanity. It is a practical building; a front desk is manned 24/7 with a less-than-obvious security force, ready and able to help any who may seek aid from those within. Beyond, down massive lines of corridors, lies the inner workings of the JL. High tech labs that mix both alien and earth technologies can be found there, conference rooms, and even some living areas.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Flash, Dr. Strange

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Batman, always wearing his cowl and cloak, sits alone. It is his desire to be left as such, most of the time, and most members of the League seem inclined to grant him that space. Precious few people have the temerity to bother him un-necessarily; perhaps thanks in part to his desire for isolation, even fewer /want/ to associate with him socially.

Which suits Batman just fine. He works more efficiently alone.

Senior League members have access to the mainframe computers that tie into the Watchtower's databases, and Batman's using one of the smaller satellite areas to work on something. A holographic display shows a partially constructed object floating in midair, the end design of which isn't quite clear, and the computer in front of his chair flickers with data and technical specifications as Batman's gloved fingers fly over the controls.

Naturally, the lights are off save for the glow of the computer screen.

***

Diana enters, pausing briefly at the threshold to assess the glow. As she recognizes the shadowy occupant and his work, a smile touches her lips and she enters anyway. "What's that?" she asks crossing to look at the holographic object. Her brows knit faintly as her eyes trace the lines and patterns of the technology. "A new piece of bat-equipment?"

***

Batman pauses at his work, just for a moment. He presses a button on the keyboard and saves his labors, then the chair slides back from the console and he faces Diana, elbows on the arms of the chair.

"Diana," he greets the woman in a neutral gravel. Which is almost a warm welcome, compared to how he speaks to anyone else. His blue eyes, visible without the electronic white cowl lenses in place, flicker towards the holodisplay. "A prototype," he confirms. "I recovered some of the footage of the incident from last year with the terrigen mists and the dimensional fluxes. Most of us seem to have experienced at least one partial displacement. Maybe multiple. It's entirely possible several members of the League were replaced outright and we're completely unaware of it."

He tilts his chin at the holo display. "I'm calling it the Ark. A way to lock occupants against shifting chronal or dimensional shearing forces."

***

Diana nods to that, understanding well enough. "So, anyone within it is unaffected by external shifts in timestream?" She can't deny its usefulness or utility. "Or is it used, instead, to test the temporal quantum signature of those within it?" She has a very loose understanding that people from different realities have different base signatures, though she can't explain the full science behind it. But, she's found over the years, that it well behooves her to at least try to keep abreast of developments in science and technology, since they often enough present as many threats as solutions to the League and the people they protect.

***

"In theory," Batman says, looking mildly surprised. Diana's insight into the design of the craft comes swiftly for a woman from a group of bronze-age Amazons. "It forms a baseline energy reading that should be consistent from one reality to the next. Someone who is not 'of' this timeline— like our new Superman— would set off the ship's sensors. It works as an informational storage device, too. A time capsule of sorts," he explains, finally rising. His cloak falls forward around him, concealing his hands from view as he walks towards Diana near the display. "If a shift occurs, I've designed a number of contingencies that should make it easy for myself— or other versions of myself— to find and penetrate."

***

Save that the 'bronze age' Amazons are only so externally. They have had centuries to work on their own science, much like the Asgardians — though not remotely to the same effect. That said, Diana also has the advantage of Athena's gifts of understanding and wisdom. She's a very quick learner.

She nods to he talk of contingencies. He wouldn't be Batman without contingencies. And contingencies for contingencies, for that matter. "I wonder what it would make of Flash," she comments. "He's also, apparently, originally from an alternate reality, except he seems to have blended with his counterpart from here."

***

"I've been scanning Flash repeatedly for several months now," Batman informs Diana. "I suspect a higher power" he grimaces at that term "is to blame for the situation. There's no other way to reconcile it and whatever this 'Speed Force' he refers to actually is, it seems to act with a sense of will and self-direction."

"He's a useful source of data, though. Temporally sychronous with us, but the subtle deviations in his quantum resonance were my first hints that something like the Ark might be viable. If it works for the Speed Force— which by all metrics is very nearly a cosmological constant— it might serve to insulate us against magical forces as well."

***

Diana raises a brow at that. "That's interesting," she says. She knows magic has its own internal logic, but it's very symbolic in nature and, from a scientific standards point of view, highly unreliable given its propensity to be different for each being that attempts to use it. "I expect Superman would greatly appreciate that," given his weakness against magic. "You might speak with Dr. Strange about testing those aspects of it."

***

Batman nods at the suggestion. "The solution isn't a complete one. We'd need to be sheltering /in/ the Ark at the time of a major incursion for it to do any good," he tells her, his low gravel betraying none of his thoughts. "But it might provide a lifeboat when facing something like the mists again. I'm working to isolate the probability engines and extend the fields with a short-term effect that could be man portable."

Up close, Diana might notice that even for Batman, he seems… tired. In the last month alone, the work he's done for the League has been substantial. Improved computer systems, repairing satellites, upgrading equipment, even adding new information to their vast and ever-growing database. A busy Bat, it seems.

***

Diana cants her head at Batman, as she reads his face through his cowl. "All well and good," she concedes. "But when was the last time you honestly slept? I'd rather you didn't burn out trying to solve all the world's potential problems in a single month." Even she needs sleep regularly, and she's gods blessed with exceptional resilience and endurance.

***

Batman looks back at Diana and shrugs slightly. "I am getting enough sleep to get the job done," he says, enigmatically. One of the half-truths that dances against the edge of Diana's awareness without actually /being/ a lie. "There's too much to do. I can sleep when I'm dead," he tells the Amazon princess.

"The Ark needs months of testing. Maybe years. The Watchtower's sensors need recalibration and our defense system requires an upgrade. And things in Gotham are suspiciously quiet right now."

The small room, barely lit by the computer, casts him into even deeper shadows than usual, particularly when standing next to the glowing icon that is Wonder Woman.

***

Diana shakes her head, offering an aborted rueful sound of amusement at his Franklinian assertion. Other than that, however, she doesn't comment upon it. "Most of North America is suspiciously quiet, right now," she notes. "Most of what I've been dealing with, lately, are building fires, train-derailments, and a lone, bomb-wearing hijacker on a cruiseship in international waters." None of which tax her too strenuously, for obvious reasons. "I've actually almost caught up on my UN paperwork." Almost. That sort of thing is never done.

***

Not quite within the same area as them yet Hal's presence is acknowledged by the Watchtower while sailing from the darkness of space through one of the window portals, a waver of glass-to-liquid and he is dscending to the deck. One of Magnus' robot stewards of the Tower coasting on by offering a beverage in the form of water. Accepted! Not a lot of water stops out in the vast frontier that is… well… space.

Lately hes gotten quite used to being the most Tower-based off the League, it makes sense anyways. It's a good stop point between Earth and patrolling Sector 2814.

***

"You /are/ Wonder Woman," Batman says, his tone so dry that it is difficult to say if he's being humorous or sarcastic. The sort of cerebral humor few members of the League appreciate.

"It's a good time to focus on training," he suggests. "Drills. Preparations. Working with the younger League members," he remarks. "My proteges are rising to new leadership roles," he grunts. "There are at least a half a dozen new appications to the League worthy of fast-track review; that's more than we see flagged in most of a year, all in the last month. And that's not considering the ddozens more in the wings that might be suitable in the next year or two."

***

Again, Diana nods. She chuckles softly, "Oh, don't get me wrong," she says amiably. "I can always find more work to do," training and applications includied. "But, I do like to keep an ear on the pulse of the world at large, too. It's too easy to fool myself, in the quiet times, that just maybe Man's better nature is beginning to win out." While she doesn't believe the 'better nature' will 'lose', she knows it never lasts. Mankind is an ever-shifting balance of light and dark. It's one of those things she's had to come to terms with over the last half dozen and more years.

"Perhaps I'll pull together some of the younger group for a wide patrol."

***

A Thanagarian Transporter Tube later and the Green Lantern is back on Earth. No scenic route required, Hal Jordan with water bottle in hand is whistling to himself as he struts through the Hall of Justice, it's a hitch in his step caused by the sounds of Diana talking to herself? That has him wandering that direction. That Whistle Stop song from Robin Hood still carrying with the green and black uniformed Leaguer as he joins the other two, "Younger what? Amazons?" No hi or hellos just inserting himself.

***

Batman turns to look at Hal when the Lantern arrives. Somewhere between Diana's words and the foosteps impending Hal's arrival, the lenses over his eyes snap back into place, giving him a goulish appearance with neither pupil nor sclera visible.

"Lantern," he says, greeting the man with a perfunctory nod.

"Young Leager members. Proteges," he tells Hal. "The ones we're suppsed to be training."

He makes a show of looking around. "Don't you have a new Lantern you're training, around here?"

***

"Hello, Hal," Diana greets the Lantern as he arrives. She stands next to a glowing hologram of a half-designed ship of some kind, though she is no longer paying any attention to it. Batman's subtle change in demeanor isn't unobserved, merely un-remarked-upon. Instead, she focusses on Hal. "What have you been up to, lately?"

***

"Spooky. Princess." Hal offers before chugging down some of his water, "Nope. Rayner is a fully trained Lantern and no rings have come out this way, they come with their own instructions most the time and are sent off to Oa. Unless you know… " A hand wave up and out, "Frointier lanterns that are too far out."

"Big sector to cover even with another Lantern present. We've got a serious influx of anomalies out there and we're no longer just a mudball in the eyes of the galaxy, I mean, that whole Apokolips ordeal didn't help things. Lotsa attention coming this way. Think of it like… the in-laws all want to move in suddenly. It's a thing. A whole stupid thing."

***

"You know," comes a voice from down the hall, "I remember there being more lighting in the old days." the sound of wet bare feet on concrete floors precedes the King and Queen of Atlantis into the room, the pair of them still dripping water from the teleporter's sudden shift. He pushes his wet hair back from his face and grins at the room, "You keep recruiting all these new kids I'm going to start feeling old." he tells at least two of his oldest friends. "I think you know everyone here?" he asks his wife, just making sure. He's not great with introductions when he's not having to be a dutiful sovreign.

***

Mera doesn't have to push her hair back from her face. That's why she wears the tiaras. The drippy footsteps the couple leave behind disappear as the water follows her and rests in a small puddle at her feet. She's looking around curiously until Arthur addresses her, and she focuses on the three Surfacers.

***

Diana and Hal she met recently, and she remembers the black-clad man from when Arthur had been presumed dead. "I do, yes." Her tone is calm and neutral and she offers the three a small nod hello.

She can't exactly fault Arthur, considering she's less than chatty normally anyway.

***

When no one is looking, Batman takes a small step backwards. Not a big one. But enough that everyone's firmly in his forward vision instad of his peripherals. His cloak slips forward a little until he's almost completely obscured from view, lurking in the one shadow to him.

"Aquaman. Queen Mera," Batman says, his tone cool, but cordial enough— well, positively friendly, for Batman. He nods at Aquaman. Mera gets a look, then a civil little nod for her, too.

Nothing makes for a chummy acquaintancy like a pair of misanthropes in the same room, after all.

***

"Arthur," Diana smiles in greeting, extending the same to his wife, "Mera. It is good to see you both." She chuckles at Arthur's observation and moves to a console to bring up the room's lights via computer. In moments, the softly glowing hologram, while still visible, dims some in the light of the overhead lamps. "What brings you to the Hall today? Have you considered my offer?" A glance is offered to Hal, her look saying 'behave yourself'… despite the futility of it. "Lantern was just commenting on the fact we seem to have attracted more cosmic attention."

***

"Hey Arthur, Mera, whats Kraken?' Hal chuckles, his eyes shift over to catch Diana's look, "What?"

Waving his hands in front of him Green Lantern carries on, "In my defense I thought they said 'young Amazons' that is the only reason my interest was piqued."

"Cosmic attention, yeah… " The Lantern trails off, conversation shelved for a tick as the question stands. The invitation that was put out.

***

Aquaman quirks a brow, "Cosmic." he says flatly before glancing at Mera, "Outstanding." his tone is flat and resigned at the word, "Not just another Sinestro then, something real." he nods once and straightens a bit, "You know where I stand." with them should they require it. As he always has.

***

Batman's small step back gets Mera's attention and she watches him while the others exchange pleasantries, though Arthur's flat tone has her looking at him again for a moment. "How may we assist with this 'cosmic attention'?"

She's also telepathically asking Arthur to explain that in more detail. She understands about the cosmos, but was always under the belief that this planet wasn't significant to garner attention.

***

Batman makes a low, annoyed sound at Hal's really terrible pun. One gets the sense that he's rolling his eyes behind the mask.

He remains still when the lights come up, mouth thinning a bit at the extra, un-necessary light ruining a perfectly good place to brood.

"No specific threat has arisen," Batman says, heading off their worries. "Oa has diverted more resources to this sector to guarantee Earth's safety and security. We've become a larger player at the galactic level and it's attracting new levels of attention."

***

Diana nods to Batman's explanation, returning to stand with the rest of the group. "It's inevitable, really," she admits. "At this point, the best we can do is remain vigilant." Good thing they have 2 Lanterns, no doubt, to monitor incoming traffic. Diana's concerns are far more terrestrial in nature.

***

"No. As far as I am aware Sinestro is still being held on Oa." A look is given to Batman as he speaks up about the galactic issues, "Yeah, just informed Di and Vlad here whats going on." A grin appears on Hal's features and he cannot resist, "So uh, Lady Ariel, are you joining the League?" He is way more insistent than Diana. Actually hovering now near Mera and Arthur in a green wash of light, almost like hes being daring then lands to whisper to Arthur, "Dude, how did you land her?"

***

Aquaman glances at Mera as he communicates a basic breakdown of the actions that have lead to this sudden turning point, and more importantly, what they might mean. Atlantis, for all it's advanced technologies and magics, has never been greatly conserned with alien life, and for their part the aliens have left Atlantis alone. Still, a nation with it's own skilled intelligence service isn't usually completely out of the loop.

The silence between the pair stretches on as Arthur 'talks' with his wife without speaking a word, apparently signaling their completion by turning back to face the others. "Atlantis has been rebuilding since the war with the Lord of the Deep, and we are quick builders, but the fear it instilled in the people remains. I would prefer we not end up embroiled in some sort of galactic conflict, assuming we can avoid it."

Hal's words just make Arthur smile, "By being both more charming and better looking then you." he says, reaching up to run a hand along his jaw as if to emphasise it's contour. "Don't worry, one day you'll find yourself a wonderful woman with low standards and she'll sweep you off your feet. Or try to murder you," he grins at Mera, "it's what worked for us."

***

So no immediate cosmic threat. Mera is glad to hear it. And vigilance is something that the Atlanteans are already experts at, so no real hardship there either. Arthur is right, though, about the Atlantean people still recovering from the Lord of the Deep.

Hal's question about joining the League has her drawing her eyebrows together in mild confusion. "My name is not Ariel." He already knows that, why would he intentionally address her incorrectly? And, lucky for Hal that Arthur answered his question, considering that her confusion went to ire almost instantly.

How structurally sound is this building? Mera might want to use Hal to swat a few insects on the floors and walls.

***

"And quieter," Batman growls, almost subvocalizing it. Still, the low basso carries easily enough, and Batman looks at Mera at the ire flashing across his face.

"If you are going to throw him through a wall, the east conference room needs redecorating," Batman suggests to Mera, dryly.

Business time, though— his face settles back into a stoic mask and he regards the little group of senior Leaguers. "Fun aside, just because we can't currently /see/ a threat doesn't mean one isn't lurking out there," he advises them. "I don't take it as a comfort that Oa assigned more Lanterns to this sector. They're spread pretty thin as it is. Earth isn't as strategically or economically valuable as some other worlds out there. Which raises the question of what Oa expects will happen here— and what bill will come due."

***

"The fact is, there are always threats out there," Diana says, her tone and expression becoming serious — but not grim. "That is why the League exists. We plan for what we can and train for what we can't. I have utmost confidence in this team to do what is necessary to keep this planet safe." Her demeanor, however, indicates she is not about to let those threats overwhelm her own peace of mind. They are put in their proper place, within the greater context of all that life sends her way. "Between the five of us here, never mind the rest of the League, we have the ability to anticipate most threats arising from land, sea, air, and space. I am not inclined to allow that to cause me to lose any more sleep than it must."

***

"Eye of the beholder buddy, eye of the beholder." Hal replies, "I'll make sure to tell Power Girl she has low standards! We'll see how that one rolls over, pal."

A chuckle is directed at Mera, "About as much of a sense of humor as Batman. Got it." An exhale and speaks to Bruce, "How do you know how thin we are? You don't know a thing about the Lanterns spread just like I don't know what it is you do there in Gotham, like seriously, what sort of nerd blogs are you reading?"

As Diana speaks again Hal goes quiet, "We're okay in the cosmos. For now. You guys will be the first to know otherwise.. "

***

Aquaman grins a bit wider, "Mock the power of the Bat-telescope at you own peril Jordan, I'm sure it can see into space so far that it breaks the rules of light/time dilation." pause, "He totally stole some tech from Doom or Luthor to build it. You know he did." Arthur can't help it, for a couple of years now he's been buried under work, his assassination, the coup, the invasion, the close call with Namor, the war. He's topside and he's telling jokes. A man has to let of steam somehow.

***

Mera is actually glad to see Arthur finally relaxing enough to joke around. It's been THAT difficult lately. Though from her expression, the names Doom and Luthor are lost on her. She's got a strange and incomplete picture of the Surface world and those who live on it.

"With the cosmic concerns only theoretical currently, are there more immediate situations that might require us to intervene?" It's a bit difficult to tell if she's using the royal 'us', or literally speaking for both herself and her husband.

***

"Math," Batman tells Hal. "I took the quantity of known sectors, divided it by you as a baseline unit of competency. The average was depressingly low."

He looks back at Aquaman and Mera, not smiling at Arthur's joke about the powers of the Bat-telescope. "That's entirely absurd," he tells Aquaman, blandly. "Luthor's astronomy program is pitifully last-generation."

Mera's comment gets a little more focus, and he shakes his head minutely. "No. Nothing immediate, but as I told Diana— just because you can't see them out there, does't mean your enemies aren't planning something," he says, grimly.

***

Diana, too, is pleased to see Arthur relaxing. And she takes Mera's comments to mean her invitation to join the League has been accepted. Thus, she smiles, her shoulders relaxing some. "The most pressing potential threats I have seen currently are weapons testing in the near and far east, which is not something we should directly intervene with, though we should monitor it, of course. My diplomatic contacts are doing the usual delicate dance around coming out and saying what may be a direct or indirect threat in that regard, but I am inclined to see most weapon testing as direct threats to someone." Which is all that matters. "Again, though, it is not something the League itself can directly interfere with — until it breaks the law in some form or directly threatens a populace. Similarly, there are shifting troop movements across the globe that indicates the build of aggression in commonly disputed areas. Unfortunately, that is also not something we can easily diffuse simply by turning up and turning away armies. So, for the moment, we continue to monitor." She cants her head lightly. "How are your recovery efforts in Atlantis? I imagine it has been a stressful time for you, of late?"

***

"Math, so, I was right. Nerd blogs." Hal dismisses while folding his arms over his chest. "The guy dressed up like a Bat just told you, you're absurd. These are the best of days. They always ask me why I come back here. I love you guys." They being the Guardians and the rest of the Lanterns of course.

The water bottle is finished and thrown in to a nearby trashbin, he resumes silence as Wonder Woman talks about the state of the world at Mera's inquiry.

***

Aquaman just grins at Batman's expected quip before eyeing Diana, her talk about keeping an eye on people and their military movements has him suddenly acutely aware. Whatever he may do as Aquaman, first and foremost he is King of Atlantis, and the League messing about in a souvreign nations workings is unacceptable to him. But it seems that's not the plan, which has him relaxing a bit. "The rebuilding is almost complete. We have grown skilled at reconstruction over the millenia, buildings are quick to go up, even cities we can rebuild in a few months time, but hope is another matter. The people are worn thin, to much has happened in the last few years, to much has been lost. We sorely need a respite from trials."

***

Mera falls silent again as Diana at least gets back to the business at hand, and Arthur shares his update about Atlantis. She privately wishes there were something more she could do, but she knows as well as her husband does that they're already doing everything they can. Which is, honestly, just a little bid depressing.

***

Batman exhales through his nose, and it's the only warning anyone gets before he speaks. "I have work to be doing," he rasps, at no one in particular. "Enjoy your pep talk. Let me know if any actual threats materialize. I'll be making sure we're protected against the inevitable collapse of reality as we know it."

And without so much as a 'farewell', the Dark Knight turns and walks towards the door, taking his ire and gloom with him.

***

No. Diana has no interest in directly threatening any nation's sovereignty. Her own mother would never forgive her for opening that door. Nor does she wish to, herself. But, it is a balancing act.

"If there's anything I or my people can do," she tells the Atlanteans, "please let me know. I do not know how to give greater hope to your people beyond the rebuilding you're already doing, but if there is some way I can help, I will."

She watches as Batman sinks into his usual pout and stalks out, shaking her head mildly. They all know him, however. That's just the way he is.

***

"Okay, good seeing you all again. I'm beat, Long long patrol… also not it for Monitor Womb duty this next week. I don't want to see another star for at least 24 hours." A wave and Hal is hovering on out, "Arthur, I'm going to come hang next weekend. I'll bring donuts and beer. I know you have an awesome mancave down there, its about time you show it off.' A nod to Mera. Bats is already gone and Di he sees on a fairly regular basis. Formalities tch.

***

Aquaman grins a bit a chuckles, "Deal." he says, bypassing the usual warnings he gives anyone coming down to Atlantis. Hal's one of the few he needn't worry about going squish or letting the doughnuts get soggy or deflated. The ring defies physics pretty blatantly. "And I need to return to the council. There is talk of a new terror cell taking up residence near the Trench, and the last thing I need is for some fools to wake their wrath." he offers a wave to the others, "If you'd like to stay, love, please do. Soem of my fondest memories of the surface have been here. You should form some of your own."

***

Mera nods to Arthur. "Perhaps I shall." She looks to Diana, though, for someone to make sure she doesn't end up wandering the halls here by herself. She'd likely try to eviscerate Hal within five minutes, and Batman … well, he's already walked away.

***

Diana smiles as the men take their leave. "Come, sister," she says to Mera, giving her a warm smile. "Let me show you around the Hall. You may find it interesting." Or, at least, find it enlightening enough. At the very least, it will take them away from grumps and clowns and keep the peace a little while longer.

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