Chapter 4 Friends
“Here I stand head in hand, turn my face to the wall, If she's gone I can't go on, feeling two foot small.”
“What is that you are singing?” asked Diana. Her companion, a lithe, athletic young woman wearing tie-dyed jeans that were so tight it seemed impossible that she could move, had been humming the same ditty off and on for the last fifteen minutes.
Barbara looked at the tall brunette. “It’s a Beatle song. You know from the movie, Help!”
“A beetle song?” Diana asked, her blazing blue eyes expressing confusion. “A song for a species of insect?”
Barbara shook her head. She was getting used to this by now. “No,” she said patiently, “The Beatles are not insects. They are a rock group. Or they used to be. Half of them are dead now. Don’t tell me you have never heard of them?”
“A rock group? Oh yes!” Diana’s eyes brightened. “Rock music. I understand. They are musicians.”
“Yes musicians,” agreed Barbara in nodding her head, her auburn ponytail bobbing as she did so.
“Seems like a strange name for a musical group,” Diana persisted as the elevator door opened on the thirtieth floor.
“No,” said Barbara, remembering other similar conversations with Diana, “it’s actually rather clever. Beatles – B, E, A, T, L, E, S. The beat, get it?”
“Oh I think I do,” replied the Amazon, her gorgeous face lighting up in a smile. “But aren’t they a little passé? They broke up thirty years ago.”
“You’ve been having me on,” said Barbara, returning the smile. “Tell me, what sort of music do you like?”
“I have a collection of aulos and kithara music,” Diana replied. “I doubt that it is something you would like.”
“Aulos and kithara?” echoed Barbara. Her eyes were checking the apartment numbers.
“Greek musical instruments,” explained Diana. “Very old.”
“Oh,” said Barbara, brightening. “like in Zorba the Greek?”
“Sort of,” agreed Diana. “Why is it that you are so interested in old music and old films?”
Barbara shrugged. “I’m studying film in uni. Those films are regarded as a couple of classics of the genre. Ah, here we are, 3028.” She pushed the doorbell. Thirty seconds later she pushed it again.
“Doesn’t look like she is home,” said Diana.
“No, but you never can tell with Kara. Something may have come up. I’m sure she’ll be back soon. She knows we’re coming. I’ll just let us in.” Barbara produced a key and unlocked the door. “Kara gave me this on our last visit just for such an eventuality.”
The two women entered a well furnished apartment. “Looks like she’s fairly well-off,” observed Diana.
“Kara doesn’t really need money,” said Barbara. “With her powers she can get all she needs, as you probably know.”
Diana nodded. She did know. Part of being able to devote one’s life to fighting crime was not having to work for a living. Thanks to her heritage, she like Kara and Barbara, was able to focus exclusively on the pursuit of villains.
At that moment a large gray cat jumped up from the couch, meowing ferociously. Barbara jumped back. She had bad memories of a certain “cat.”
“I think it’s hungry,” Diana said. “Perhaps there is some cat food in the kitchen. Speaking of which, it’s six o’clock. Do you suppose she’d mind if we got something to eat?”
“You want to order out? Maybe some Greek food?” Barbara teased.
“I’ll check her fridge,” said the powerfully built brunette, heading for what she hoped was the kitchen.
“Fine,” said Barbara. She watched the tall woman walk away from her. She was an impressive piece of femininity. Over six feet tall, with broad shoulders, and muscular arms, she moved with the grace of a ballet dancer. Surprisingly, her tight backside was much smaller than would be expected. Pursing her lips, Barbara moved toward the bathroom to freshen up.
A minute later she was headed for the kitchen, her mission forgotten. “Something’s wrong,” she said as Diana came into view.
The Amazon raised her eyebrows. “Kara must have left the cap off the toothpaste,” Barbara said. “It’s completely dried out.”
Diana hefted a carton of milk. “This is sour. The expiry date was five days ago.”
“It looks like she hasn’t been here for a few days,” said Barbara, frowning. “No wonder the cat was so hungry.”
“Let’s check around,” suggested Diana. “Perhaps she left some sort of message.”
“Nothing, “ Diana said ten minutes later. “It’s as if she just stepped out for a little while and then got delayed.”
“I think this might be serious,” Barbara said. She was really worried now. Kara was one of the most meticulous persons she had ever met. It seemed very unlikely that she would just up and leave. Especially with her cat left to fend for itself.
“What do you think we should do?” asked Diana. “You know this town better than I do.”
“Kara carries an emergency beacon with her. If it is activated we should be able to find her.” She crossed over to what looked like an expensive stereo system and pressed a hidden button. A small drawer slid out and Barbara reached in and brought out a small black electronic device.
“That’s pretty small,” said Diana. “Do you think it will work?”
“My Uncle Bruce gave it to her,” replied Barbara. “You know how good he is with gadgets.”
Diana nodded. “No one better,” she agreed. She had incorporated a number of those same gadgets into her crime-fighting gear, although not into her personal attire. She preferred to travel light, and use her special abilities rather than load herself down with high-tech crime-fighting paraphernalia.
“It’s emitting a signal,” said Barbara, studying the tracking device.
“I’ll call for my plane,” said Diana, heading for the apartment balcony.
“But we traveled here by car,” said Barbara.
“That doesn’t mean my plane didn’t follow me here. It’s always close by.”
Barbara shook her head. The wonders of Diana’s powers never ceased to amaze her.
“Great view from here,” said Diana, but I’m going to change into my costume. “Might as well look the part.”
Barbara nodded, she had already pulled her ebony outfit from her backpack. It was handy that teenage fashions allowed her to carry a carryall the size of a small suitcase. She was always equipped and ready for action.
Diana headed for the bathroom as Barbara changed behind her. She had no aversion to stripping in front of her new friend, but thought it might be considered a bit forward. She had only met the younger woman a few days ago. Brought together by their friendship with Kara the two heroines had decided to travel to Metropolis together. Quickly she stripped off her clothing and replaced it with her form-fitting red, blue, and gold costume. Briefly she studied herself in the window. She had always considered her costume a bit risqué, but it was too late to change it now. The public had gotten used to seeing her the way she was.
A gold tiara emblazoned with a red star helped control her great mane of hair. It was blacker than coal, almost glowing in its luxuriance and reached to the middle of her back. Her shoulders were bare, leaving the curve of her large well-formed breasts thrusting up from her tight bustier. The top of the audacious outfit was lined with gold trim that followed the curve of her breasts. Below the trim, the bustier changed to a blood red that descended to her navel. It was separated from her hips by a heavy gold belt that secured a pair of incredibly tight deep blue bikini pants. A coil of gold rope of hung from the belt. Her incredibly long legs ended in a pair of calf-length red leather boots. Silver bracelets circled each wrist, completing the startling and erotic outfit. Satisfied with her brief inspection, she went to join Barbara.
The girl had donned her own jet black outfit. Unlike Dian’s colorful costume, Barbara’s was stark, consisting of only two colours; black and gold. It completely covered her body from head to toe, but it was so tight that it revealed every enticing female curve. Her head and half her face were covered in a cowl that had been artistically modified to resemble a bat’s face and ears. A long flowing cape reached to her knees. On her chest was emblazoned the yellow symbol of a bat and a yellow utility belt girdled her narrow waist. She wore gloves and her lithe, powerful legs ended in a pair of knee high leather boots. Diana knew that in the dark the statuesque beauty could almost disappear, using her bizarre appearance to terrify criminals when she suddenly appeared from out of nowhere.
Both women moved to the balcony. Diana led the way. For a brief instant Barbara’s eyes widened in shock as her new friend vaulted over the balcony rail, seemingly headed for the ground thirty floors below. But the scarlet and blue heroine seemed to hover in mid air and then walk calmly away from the building. “The plane,” Barbara thought. A bit tentatively she followed the older woman, trusting that what the Amazon could do she could also.
“Ridiculous,” she murmured. “Why did the Amazon’s plane have to be invisible? It didn’t hide anyone who rode in it. She stepped out on the wing, feeling very insecure. Below her was a 250 drop to the street, and under her feet was an invisible wing. She looked toward Diana. The tall woman was looking at her expectantly. With a shrug Barbara moved toward her.
“Get in behind me,” Diana instructed. Barbara did as she was directed. Fumbling about she found that there was a second seat in the plane, although to her it appeared that both she and Diana were sitting in mid air. As soon as she was settled the plane moved off, propelled by some powerful but silent force.
“Amazing,” thought Barbara. “I wonder if Diana could get me one of these.” She checked the tracer. “Go a bit to the right,” she instructed. Diana nodded. Without seeming to do anything the plane banked, or at least Barbara felt it bank. In a few seconds they were following the beacon exactly. “Let’s hope this works,” Barbara thought. “If it doesn’t Kara could be in a lot of trouble.”
Kara had about given up. There seemed only one way she was going to escape from Luthor’s clutches and that was with outside help. She could think of only one way that might happen. There was a homing beacon in the chain that fastened her cloak. If one of her friends discovered that she was missing and knew of the homing device she might be found. But she had no idea whether it would work in Luthor’s lead lined lair. She could only wait and hope. In the meantime she had to survive Luthor’s numerous tests and experiments and she was not sure she could do that without going mad.
After her faint she had awakened back in her cell, completely healed as usual. So far on this day she had been left alone. If it was day. It might be night. She had no way of determining how much time passed. It was all very disorienting as Luthor intended it to be. She sat on the bed and waited, trying to occupy her mind. Boredom was another factor of her life in Luthor’s lair. It occurred to her that she was either bored silly or absolutely terrified. There did not seem to be any in between state. Perhaps when Luthor showed up today she would ask him for something to read. After all he could only refuse. At that moment the door of the control room opened and Luthor stepped in.
“Ah, superheroine,” he said. “I see you have rejoined us. Good; I have quite a bit planned for you today, but first there is something you should know.”
Kara looked at him, trying to disguise her interest. There was no way she wanted Luthor to think that he could manipulate her by dangling enticing bits of information in front of her.
“It appears,” he said with a leer, “that you are about to be rescued.”
Rescued! What did he mean? Of course he had to be tormenting her. Why else would he taunt her with such nonsense?
“Two of your friends have shown up outside my factory. They appear to be searching for a way in. I just thought I’d let you know so that you can get ready to welcome them when they are taken prisoner.”
Kara’s hopes rose, but fear filled her gut as well. Two of her friends. “Who were they?” she wondered. Perhaps she was going to get out of here. But Luthor seemed confident that he was going to capture them too. Very confident. Otherwise why would he tell her they were on their way?
“I was hoping for bigger fish,” he said. “Superman or Batman, but these will have to do.”
“Who are they?” Kara wanted to scream, but she kept silent. She was sure Luthor would tell her sooner or later.
“It’s your two girlfriends. Or I guess they are your girlfriends, I don’t know much about your private life. They’ll soon blunder into the trap I set for them, just the way you did. Oh, and by the way, thanks for luring them into my clutches.”
Luring them? What did the archvillain mean? Oh no, the homing device! Luthor must have found it and planted it in a place where he could trap any would be rescuer.
“As I said awhile ago. You are incredibly stupid. Did you not think that I would check out every part of your costume? I found the homing device several days ago and have been waiting for someone to show up.” He grinned triumphantly. “Smile superheroine, you’re soon going to have company.”
“Kara is obviously being held somewhere below ground,” said Barbara. “The tracking device indicates that she is almost directly below us. The question is how we are going to get to her?”
“If she is a prisoner then someone must be holding her, and there must be some sort of entrance,” suggested Diana. She walked toward a large steel cover and without effort lifted it from the ground. “How about through here?” she suggested.
“Uhm, yes,” said Barbara. She was always impressed by the displays of strength Diana and Kara were capable of. Peering into the space revealed, she shone a tiny flashlight into it. “Looks like some sort of service tunnel. I can see an access ladder.”
“Then what are we waiting for?” said Diana. Before Barbara could suggest caution she dropped into the hole, not even bothering with the ladder.
“Damn,” Barbara muttered. Lowering herself into the hole she gripped both sides of the ladder with her feet and slid down the ladder. Diana was waiting for her when she arrived.
“I don’t hear anything,” the Amazon said. “But the tunnel runs on for quite a distance. What does your tracer say?”
“It’s pointing down the tunnel,” Barbara said. “But I don’t like this. It’s a perfect place for a trap. Anyone who can capture Kara would certainly be a dangerous opponent.”
“Point taken,” said Diana thoughtfully. “What do you suggest we do?”
“One of us should scout ahead to make sure it’s safe. Then the other should follow. If the scout gets in trouble the other can help out or go for help.”
“Sounds slow, but safe,” said Diana. “Let’s hope Kara can wait that long.”
Beneath her cowl, Barbara frowned. “No wonder she usually works alone, I doubt that anyone could stand her for long.” At the same time she understood the Amazon’s impatience. With Diana’s powers, she would probably have acted the same way. With her tremendous strength and other attributes, Diana was simply not used to having to use stealth or prudence when she went after criminals. For Barbara, however, such precautions were almost instinctive. She had to rely on her wits rather than sheer brute force.
Diana moved quickly ahead. She had regretted what she had said the moment she had uttered the words. Her short time with Barbara had made her aware of the girl’s lively intelligence and there was no doubting her courage. She knew that during Barbara’s short career as a crimefighter she had gone up against some of the most dangerous criminals in history. “I’ll have to apologize,” she thought. “It was not an honourable thing to say.”
She stopped and waited for the black-clad heroine to catch up. This part of the tunnel seemed safe. Only the dim light of Barbara’s flashlight illuminated it, but Diana’s super sensitive eyes could see every detail. They were in a long concrete service corridor. Lining the ceiling were high tension electrical lines, and water and gas pipes. The tunnel curved slightly, so she could not see more that thirty feet. It was, as Barbara had pointed put, the perfect place for an ambush. But Diana felt not the slightest hint of fear. Her great strength and other Amazon skills gave her confidence in even the most dangerous situations, and as yet there had been no real sign of danger.
Barbara came gliding up behind her, moving with her usual catlike grace. Diana turned. “I’m sorry Barbara; my words were spoken in haste. I did not mean to impugn that you were lacking in courage.”
“Forget it,” replied the black clad heroine. “If I had your powers I’d be impatient too. I must seem like a real stick in the mud, slinking along in the dark.”
“Far from it,” the Amazon replied, her incredible smile lighting up the darkness. “I admire you for your courage and persistence. There is nothing wrong with using one’s mind to overcome adversity.”
Barbara did not know whether to take the last as a compliment or not, but she assumed it was meant to be one. She wondered what Diana meant by adversity. Was she referring ordinary human abilities? Probably. Diana did not know what it was like to have to use her mind to deal with criminals. Her strength always won out. Not that Barbara did not have some physical attributes. She was amazingly strong for an eighteen year old girl. Years of hard work in the gym and dojo had given her a body as finely tuned as a concert piano. But she had learned that for her brains over brawn usually worked best.
Diana was off down the tunnel again. Barbara let her get about thirty feet ahead and then followed. The indicator on the tracking device told her that Kara was very near now. Increasing her speed, she caught up to the Amazon who had stopped and was waiting for her to catch up.
“Kara is close,” Barbara said. “Can you detect any way out of this tunnel?”
“Not yet,” replied Diana, but it must go somewhere.” Her hypersensitive eyes scanned the darkness, looking for the faintest clue. “Perhaps over there.” She pointed to a metal panel on the wall.
“What is it?” asked Barbara.
“I’m not sure. But that panel looks newer than the metal of the pipes and such.”
“You’re right,” said Barbara. “It is much shinier. Everything else here is a little rusted.”
“Perhaps I can move it,” Diana said.
“Wait,” said Barbara, “let me check…”
Electrical sparks exploded from Diana’s hands; her hair stood straight out from her head, and then a surge of electricity threw her across the tunnel, bouncing her off the concrete wall. She landed on the floor, a look of stunned surprise on her face; her blazing blue eyes wide and staring.
“Diana!” Barbara screamed. The Amazon heroine lay sprawled on the concrete floor of the tunnel. The intensity of the electric shock had blown open her bustier and left much of her clothing a smoldering mess. One of her red boots was twenty feet down the tunnel. Her tiara had imbedded itself in the concrete of the roof and her lasso was tangled about the pipes overhead. Her golden belt had burst open and was lying a dozen feet away.
“Oh God!” said Barbara. “You would be in such a rush!” She knelt beside the injured Amazon and placed a finger on her throat, feeling for a pulse. “Oh please,” Barbara, murmured, “don’t be dead.”
From beneath her fingertips came a faint beat. Diana was alive, but certainly badly injured. Diana’s wide staring eyes frightened her. Desperately, Barbara tried to think of something that might help her friend.
The belt! Barbara remembered reading that Diana was a mere mortal without it. Perhaps it would help if she put it back on. Scrambling to her feet, she located it and scampered back to the heroine’s side. Lifting the Amazon’s hips, she tried to slip it beneath her in order to strap it on, but that was as far as she got.
A bright light dazzled her. It came from a powerful flashlight directed by someone standing a few feet away. Barbara scrambled to her feet. Her hand went to her utility belt, seeking her batarang. She never saw the dart that struck her. It came out of the light and lodged in her right breast. For a second, she stared at it stupidly, and then plucked it out, but she was too late. Already the drug was coursing through her system. Try as she might, she could not keep her knees from buckling, and then stars flashed in front of her eyes and she knew no more.