All's Fair, part 12

by Chicago

Disclaimers in "part 0"



"Did you think you would go unnoticed?" Superman's challenge boomed through the thin atmosphere.

"NOW!"

Fire concentrated her energy on the expanse of ice beneath her, superheating it so it evaporated to steam, opening direct line to Prometheus in the ice cavern below. She ignored the streaking blaze of the Centurian headed up to battle the Man of Steel. He wasn't her concern. Instead she dropped down next to the girl at Prometheus' side, tackling her aside as Steel followed her into the stronghold. She saw the Atom wrapping his arms around the other sobbing child, gathering her up to take her to safety.

"We're clear!" Green Lantern announced. "All sixty accounted for and heading down the mountain."

"Plasticman?"

"Kid's drugged up, but I've got her. Could use a little help getting-"

The audio feed cut off suddenly and a rasping laugh in her ear startled Fire. "Fools," a child's voice hissed, seeming to fill every corner of the space. "Don't you realize you've played right into my hands?"

She felt a stinging pinch against her neck and stumbled back, blinking against vision suddenly dominated by swirling spots. "Steel?" she gasped.

"Lock him down, Prometheus," the voice ordered, and Fire was able to focus enough to see the glowing eyes on the girl she had sought to rescue.

A chuckle answered the order. "With pleasure. Foolish, Steel. You thought I wouldn't anticipate your effort to control my armor again? Now we'll get to reprise our first little dance. Why don't you pick up that hammer -"

"I don't think so," Steel gritted. "You're not the only one who can anticipate."

Fire turned to her companion to see him frozen in place. He wasn't picking up his hammer, but he wasn't doing anything else either. She snarled. "Let him go!" she ordered, firing a blast at Prometheus. A shower of ice rattled down as he slammed into the wall.

"Be careful, Fire," Steel advised. "He's-"

"Silence!" Prometheus roared, pulling himself to his feet.

A crackling sounded in Fire's ear, and Wonder Woman's voice echoed in the static: " ... -eport... -ticman, nee... Atom, stat... "

Batman's voice suddenly overrode Wonder Woman on a clearer signal. "Alpha team, switch to fre-"

"Prometheus, I thought I told you to shut down their communications!" the girl raged.

"-crowave lin-"

Static once again drowned out the voices as Fire steadied herself. "Mordru, let the girl go," she ordered.

The girl glanced at her dismissively. "Prometheus, silence her. I don't want to miss the moment when our friendly neighborhood sacrifice realizes that the Centurian's blade will not just bounce right off him."

"With pleasure," Prometheus rumbled, moving forward to loom over Fire. "You're not in my databanks. Perhaps-"

"Without commentary," the girl snapped.

Prometheus shot an annoyed look at the child just as Fire unleashed another bolt. This one bounced harmlessly away, deflected by some shielding that hadn't been there before.

"You see I am adaptable," Prometheus smirked. "Now we'll-"

"SHUSH!" the girl shrieked, the glow of her eyes intensifying as she threw back her head and arms. "First blood!" she crowed, and Fire felt a cold fear settle in her stomach. Superman wounded, Steel frozen rigidly in place, Prometheus blocking all communications, and Mordru channeled through the body of an innocent - she flashed back to the last time she'd been in these caverns, chained to the wall as her teammates - NO! Not again. She summoned her power, firing again at Prometheus.

This time he laughed. "Perfect," he remarked. "Now I know how to do THIS!"

The blast that knocked her back forced all the air from her lungs and crystallized the air around her into frigid iciness. She felt her limbs stiffening as ice solidified around her, rapidly encasing her. She crossed from pain to numbness too fast to think about it, and as the temperature around her plunged, her earpiece again crackled to life.

"-pinned down here. Hostage is safe but ghost warriors -"

"-perman, hold tight. I'm dropping the ladies off now and can -"

"-still can't raise Steel or Fire. Atom -"

"-swell in magic but no assault yet. Superman, do not, I repeat, do NOT let him get more of that blade on you. Contacting beta te-"

~Fire~. Her head was swimming, lack of oxygen beginning to darken the edges of her perception, but she swore she heard something breathing her name.

~Fire.~ Again. She tried to focus on the sound through the chatter continuing in her ear.

"-trouble evading. Think there might -"

"-las! Lantern, we need -"

"-blocked my access. I can go smaller, but -"

~It's not your time, Fire~

The darkness was closing in. No air.

~Ice is not your enemy.~

Of course not. Ice was - Ice was - She felt the flame rising in her as she fought against the darkness.

~Good.~ The voice sounded like air through windchimes. ~You will do what must be done.~

There was a sudden, enlivening brush to her mind, like a burst of oxygen through her system, and she felt the ice around her melting away. The communicator in her ear again faded to static, and she realized that the cold must have had some superconductive properties - or the ice had shielded her from Prometheus' interference.

It didn't matter. She had her own mission, and knowing what was happening with the rest of the team would only distract her.

She could not prevent herself from gulping for air when her energy finally sluiced through the entombing ice. Her still numb legs folded under her, tumbling her to the ground in front of the child Mordru had taken as his mouthpiece - the little girl who was now hovering two inches above the ground.

Fire's gasp and collapse caught the sorcerer's attention. "Prometheus!" the child barked.

Fire turned her head weakly to see that Prometheus was gleefully dissembling Steel's armor as the other man stood helpless. "No," she whispered, forcing still numb arms to push her body up. "I have - deal."

She sat and wrapped her arms around herself, summoning up the flame residing in her to give her body strength.

"Fire?" Steel asked. "What-"

Prometheus slapped him brutally across the face and turned. "I'll freeze her again." Energy crackled at his finger tips.

"No," the child's voice forestalled. "A deal you say?"

"That isn't the body you want," Fire observed. Her legs began to tingle, but it was better to stay down. She was the supplicant here.

The little girl's head nodded slowly. "It won't last me long, I grant you. But it will do to get me back onto the material plane. Since it's clear our little purified virgin turned demon won't be an option - no thanks to my compatriots."

Good, Fire noted. Plasticman had succeeded in freeing the other girl. Outwardly, she nodded sympathetically. "You won't have long to find another host."

The glowing eyes narrowed. "What are you suggesting?"

Fire shrugged. "Perhaps I can interest you in this body?"

"Fire, no!" Steel protested, only to earn himself another backhanded blow to the face.

The glow in the child's eyes intensified greedily as Mordru examined Fire's body. "Hmm. An interesting offer. But I have to ask, what's in it for you?"

Fire shifted her position slightly, looking up beguilingly. "You let the girl go, obviously, but also-" she glanced down coyly - "I'll get a taste of some real power."

There was a moment's silence before childish laughter echoed in the cavern. "You are foolish and naive! You imagine that I will allow you any sway once you become my puppet? Oh, I'll spare the child for all the good it will do her once the world is mine, but you think you'll taste my power?" More laughter. "No, my sweet. I'll take your offer, but you won't know what hit you."

An aura of light began to swirl around the little girl, mesmerizing Fire. One corner of her consciousness was aware Prometheus grabbing suddenly toward his heart and freezing in that position, of Ray Palmer jumping free of the villain's armor and Steel lurching forward to grab for Fire as the Atom reached out to the child collapsing to the ground and then...Silence.



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