Disclaimer: None of the characters in this story belong to me. They are copyrighted by DC Comics/Time Warner. I am using them without permission or profit.

This story was written for 'rith in conjunction with the 4-Color Heroines challenge. 'rith chose Sasha Bordeax, Anita Fite (Empress), Danette Reilly (Firebrand), Mari Jiwe McCabe (Vixen), and Shayera Thal (Hawkwoman) as possible options. The first four appear in some manner in this story. Poor Shayera never made it in. Many thanks are owed to Domenika Marzione who beta'd through my prima donna fit and made this story better.

En Passant 1
By Smitty

There were no mirrors in the Checkmate headquarters, not even in the women's washrooms. Sasha Bordeaux wondered idly, as she shook the water from her fingertips, if it was because so many of its operatives were wearing different faces than those with which they were born. She knew from experience that catching peripheral glimpses of oneself wearing an unfamiliar face was somewhat disquieting. Sasha ran her damp fingertips over her unnaturally brown hair2 to tame down the flyaways and wiped away what little was left on the legs of her suit.

The walls outside were padded with beige carpeting and lined with maps and newspaper headlines. Sasha ignored them all as she walked briskly to the end of the hall and turned left to knock on appropriate door.

"Come in."

Sasha entered and stood at attention in front of the desk. Two women were behind it. Agent Midnight, Sasha's Bishop3, sat in the chair, secure in command of her own space. The woman standing behind her was older by at least a decade but her hair was still fiery red. Sasha recognized her as Kalia Campbell, the King's White Bishop4. Her demeanor was no less confident for playing the intruder.

"Roberta," Agent Midnight greeted her. "Thanks for coming."

"Bob," Sasha corrected her mildly. She had chosen Roberta for the sole purpose of using 'Bob' as a nickname. 5

"Right." Agent Midnight hadn't been amused. Agent Midnight probably didn't like the Three Stooges, either. "I assume you know Kalia?"

"In passing," Sasha confirmed.

"Good. You've done well in the past six months, Roberta," Agent Midnight continued, "and you're ready to move up to Rook, but I don't have an open slot."

"There are knights who have been here longer," Sasha pointed out, bemused.

"But not knights with your prior qualifications." Midnight leaned back in her chair. "Kalia lost a Rook last week. She has an open slot."

Sasha didn't say anything. Rooks were usually drawn from senior knights, field agents on the cusp of retirement, and they were usually drawn from the ranks of their own teams. For a Queen's Black Knight to become a King's White Rook was something close to sacrilege.

"I have a mission," Kalia Campbell said, walking slowly around to the front of the desk. Her voice was husky and her body was still trim in its dark jumpsuit. "It has two components. The first is recruitment." She picked up a remote from the corner of Midnight's desk and pointed it at the wall. An image appeared, projected by an unseen computer. "This is Cindy Berman, aka Shiv.6 She battled the Star-Spangled Kid under the tutelage of her father, the Dragon King, and after his death, joined up with the Injustice Society." The image changed. "Icicle, incarcerated. Johnny Sorrow, presumed destroyed. Black Adam is in Kahndaq. Killer Wasp is incarcerated. The whereabouts of Artemis Crock and Cindy Berman are unknown."7

"And you want me to find her? And bring her in?"

"Cindy Berman is seventeen years old. She was manipulated, both psychologically and genetically, by her own father, to be his weapon." Another gesture changed the face on the screen to that of a scarred snake. "As you can see, the Dragon King altered himself to survive for decades beyond what nature intended. This man," and the image changed again to a small, sneering face obscured by massive glasses, "is called Dr. Graft. DEO has him in custody and if Miss Berman comes along quietly, we'll be able to reverse most of the damage he's done to her."

"You don't expect her to come along quietly?"

Kalia Campbell turned off the monitor and set down the remote. "I don't. And that's where the next part of your mission comes in. Let's take a walk to the Dome."8

"Is the staff standard issue?" Sasha asked, her eyes fixed on the petite fighter in standard black and white Checkmate Knight armor. Campbell had informed her in the hallway that the girl was only seventeen -- the same age as Cindy Berman. "Because I don't think I got one."

"She came to us with...certain skills," the White Bishop said, glancing at Midnight.

Sasha knew what that meant.

Superhero, costumed. Or, she considered, thinking of the ultimate goal of her new assignment, supervillain.

"Voluntarily?" Sasha asked. Midnight -- who had never admitted to having a first name -- hadn't given Sasha herself much choice in the matter, but Sasha recognized that she owed her life to Checkmate. She was just more wary these days than in some past.

"She was provided with compensation," Kalia Campbell replied coolly. The White Bishop tapped her mouth with her fingers and sighed lightly, surprising Sasha. "She's extraordinarily talented but so very young."

Sasha nodded. Campbell had confided on the walk to the Dome that the girl was currently acting as a pawn but under close watch. Part of Sasha's mission was to evaluate her potential for immediate promotion.

"She fights well," Sasha conceded, watching the girl use her staff to lever herself over an enemy drone and neatly dispose of it. She kept herself protected on all sides, leaving no openings.

"Indeed." Campbell toggled a switch and the simulation ended. A 97% flashed up on the screen. "What do you think?"

"When she's at one hundred, she'll be ready," Sasha said mildly. It was the same standard to which she had held herself and both the women behind her knew it.9

"Would you like to meet her?" It was a rhetorical question. They had already been assigned.

"Please."

Campbell walked down the catwalk stairs and Sasha followed. Midnight brought up the rear. Her silence was not lost on Sasha -- this was Campbell's show.

The door of the Dome opened and the Knight stepped out, pulling her helmet from her head. She was a dark-skinned girl with a topknot. The ponytail was braided and wrapped around the base. She was very pretty and almost six inches shorter than Sasha.

"Bob, this is Anita Fite. She'll be answering to Pawn One on your mission. Anita, this is Roberta Slatington. She'll be acting as Rook and Knight One."10

Anita's face lit up and she held out her hand to Sasha. "Pleased to meet you," she said in a thick New Orleans accent. "Guess we'll be working together?"

Sasha smiled reluctantly. "Call me Bob."

Blue Valley, Nebraska had been the site of more than its fair share of action for a town of its size. That action had resulted in a steady supply of burned-out buildings and at least two teenaged superheroes.11

Teen superheroes were a topic with which Sasha was not entirely comfortable. She had never met Robin but she'd seen the costume hanging in the Cave and she'd seen the tightening of Bruce's mouth when she'd brought it up. She knew about the Teen Titans, about Stargirl, about the members of Young Justice who had never been seen again, at least not after the incident that had resulted in the deaths of Lilith Jupiter and Donna Troy -- teenaged superheroes who had survived their childhoods only to die before thirty.12)

Sasha didn't ask the tiny Pawn-in-Knight's-clothing which one of them she had been. Sasha had her own suspicions.

The girl was well-trained. Sasha had seen her performance in the Dome the day before and watched her perform stretches and calisthenics on the transport plane. Knights were instructed to remain silent while on assignment to avoid any manner of identification. Pawn One was taking that to heart, and all the better for it, Sasha thought, considering her accent.

Now, Pawn One went straight to the computer and began unloading the components for an auxiliary battery pack from pockets on her belt. Sasha prowled the abandoned lair, observing the patterns of wreckage. She found a room that looked like a cross between a dental office and a smack lab, complete with restraining chair and racks of hypodermic needles.13 Several were broken and various substances stained, congealed on, or corroded the floor. Sasha stepped around them and inspected the chair.

"Knight One!" The call came from the front room and echoed more clearly in the communicator in Sasha's helmet. The masks tended to muffle verbals.

Sasha turned on her heel and strode back into the main hall.

"What did you find?" she asked, noting the assembled battery unit on the floor and the picture on the computer viewing screen.

"Not much," Pawn One answered, her fingers flying over the keys. "But there's quite a bit of labwork on here. Numbers and spreadsheets. I'm downloading them and some clips of surveillance vid. How's this look to you?" She toggled a switch and the frozen picture on the screen blinked out and was replaced by one of the same people in different positions. Sasha recognized the Dragon King, his daughter Shiv, Star-Spangled Kid, and the giant robot known as S.T.R.I.P.E.

Checkmate had sent a Knight to acquire the specs on S.T.R.I.P.E. That Knight had failed. Sasha had been that Knight -- the only black mark on her service record with Checkmate.

She hadn't liked the mission from the beginning. Pat Dugan had a family and finding her sneaking around his basement was more than enough justification in her book for self-defense. When she couldn't acquire the plans covertly, she refused further strikes and the Rook running the mission backed her up.

On the screen, the Dragon King pointed the hilt of his sword at a man in modified medieval armor. The recording had been damaged and the sound quality was poor. "...hadn't...*crackle*...through time...*static*...saved her...and her friends...*crackle*..."

"... Dragon! Firebrand will...*crackle*...avenged!" The recording froze. 14

Briefly, Sasha wondered who Firebrand had been to inspire so much grief on the man's face. Then, even more briefly, she wondered what expression had been on Bruce's face when he'd learned of her alleged death.

"Do we know who he is?" Sasha asked instead, nodding at the tragic visage.

"Shining Knight," Pawn One replied. "Sir Justin of Arthur's roundtable. Frozen in ice for centuries, member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory -- the group that got time-shot, and there's nothing else in the files past the JLA bringing them all back."(15

Sasha nodded. "What about this Firebrand he mentioned?"

"Member of the All-Star Squadron," Pawn One said after pulling up the data file. "Died fighting the Dragon King." She looked up at Sasha and shrugged. "If that's the right one. There were a couple of them."16

"Fine," Sasha said dismissively. Firebrand wasn't part of her mission. "Any word on Shiv?"

"Data sets," Pawn One replied. "Looks like her dad was using her to experiment on. Genetic enhancements. Speed, strength, flexibility...the usual ball of wax. And...maybe some other things. It's hard to tell from the data. Lots of numbers, not many notes." Her voice sounded tight.

Sasha gauged her tone carefully. Pawn One was the daughter of retired All Purpose Enforcement Squad agent Donald Fite. Reports were that she and her father were close and she had demonstrated no metahuman abilities. Her skill levels were within range for a normal human female of her age, extensively trained in a handful of areas.17

"Bring the data," Sasha said. She looked around at the debris and dust littering the room. "She won't be coming back here."

Sasha sat in the cockpit of the small transport plane, surveying the data collected in Blue Valley. The experiment data showed that Shiv's enhancements were not limited to intrinsics, but also included mutating her existing limbs into weaponry. It was nauseating to read and Sasha was beginning to doubt that even Checkmate could recondition this girl after the damage she'd endured.

She tapped the console as she pondered, hearing the quiet thumps of Pawn One performing her evening workout in the living section of the transport. Finally, she reached out and opened the Personal Data Administration Network, or the P-DAN program and typed in the password Kalia Campbell had given her. It allowed her Rook-level access and would expire in a week. She intended to take full advantage of her new allowances.

"Firebrand," she murmured as she typed in the name. Three names came up on the screen.

FIREBRAND I, ROD REILLY
FIREBRAND II, DANETTE REILLY
FIREBRAND III, ALEJANDRO SANCHEZ

She clicked on each in turn and checked the dates each had been active. It was fairly clear to her that Shining Knight had been referring to the only female of the group, Firebrand II, Danette Reilly. Sister of Firebrand I, lover to Shining Knight -- Sir Justin, Sasha noted with some amusement -- and adoptive mother to Teri Rothstein, nee Kurtzenburg, before her death by the Dragon King in 1960. Reports stated that she had led a team against the Dragon King in his lair. All the bodies were found except her own.18

Sasha's mental red flags went up. No one had buried Sasha Bordeaux's body and for good reason. She wondered if Bruce had asked to see the body. She wondered if that was why he'd attacked Checkmate so confident in her survival. She shook her head and logged out of P-DAN. Her research for the night was finished. The Dragon King had had a lair in Ivytown before Blue Valley and she had already set the transport controls to take them there. 19

The cockpit seats were deep and comfortable and the plane was on autopilot. Checkmate's version of autopilot allowed the plane to not only fly itself to a specific destination but circle a specified area upon arrival. The plane could land itself, but would not until the correct authorization code was given.

It had been a long time since Sasha had really allowed herself to think of Bruce. She'd walked away from him in Robinson Park and she did not regret that. There was no place for her in his life. Even his desperate, romantic gestures had seemed awkward, the movements of a man who knew what he needed to do but was so far detached from his feelings, that they were academic at best and foreign intruders at worst.

It didn't stop her from loving him. She wasn't in love with him, not anymore, not after months without seeing him, speaking to him, hearing of him. The memory of his mouth on hers in the cold park had faded to brief flashes of a fever dream, but his hand still burned her shoulder. He had risked much to comfort her and sometimes, when she closed her eyes, she could still feel the warm weight of that one touch.20

The lair in Ivytown was nearly a duplicate of the one they'd visited in Blue Valley. The damage patterns were different and the computers less advanced, but the similarities were enough to give Sasha a definite sense of déjà vu as she walked into the vast room.

"You can't tell me she's hiding out here," she murmured directly into her comm device.

Pawn One shook her head. "Not my first choice of places," she agreed, sotto voce, and crossed to the computers, unsnapping the pouches on her belt.

Sasha wasn't even sure why the Ivytown lair was still in existence. Standard procedure was for DEO to comb the place for data and any useful technology, sanitize it, and bulldoze it. Underground lairs were usually destroyed by dynamite and filled in with cement or dirt, she recalled. Maybe DEO was behind. They weren't particularly known for their efficiency, though Sasha had heard that Cameron Chase was good people, and there certainly wasn't a shortage of evil plans interrupted by costumed do-gooders. Sasha might have helped in the destruction of one or two herself. She had another flash of Bruce, and tamped it down before it became an actual memory.

She wouldn't be one to wallow.

As she toured the facility, she began to catalogue the slight differences between this lair and the one they'd left late last evening. She had yet to find the entire generator system and that bothered her. The Dragon King had needed a lot of power for his mind-control satellite and even though he'd been nowhere near the level of readiness he had been when the Star-Spangled Kid had destroyed his headquarters, Dr. Graft's experiments would have required a massive power supply.

"Any luck with the files?" she asked into her comm unit.

"Not a thing," Pawn One replied from the outer room. "Where are you?"

"Looking for what ran this place," Sasha replied. "I don't see a single generator down here."

"I think the DEO wiped the comps," Pawn One said. "There's a whole lotta nothing on here and I can't patch into the security cams. You see any still up there?"

Sasha looked up at the corners of the hallway. "They're still here," she reported. She walked around a corner and found a metal door, bolted shut. "I've got a locked door down here. Do you have a release?"

"Give me a minute."

Sasha waited patiently and was pleased to hear the lock pop.

"That work?"

"It did, thanks." Sasha pushed on the door and nudged a piece of burnt and twisted metal under the edge to jam it open. Satisfied that she wouldn't be locked in the room, she stepped inside and surveyed the gruesome contents. There were no bodies or blood, but the machine against the back wall was definitely intended for human use. Metal bands for the wrist and ankles were twisted and broken, and small pads at hand-level were charred black. A large panel perpendicular to the machine housed burnt-out controls and power containment boxes rest dark and dead in the corners. A desk opposite the machine was scorched across the front but relatively undamaged. Sasha yanked on the lowest drawer and found it locked. Checkmate Knight's kits came with equipment designed for breaking and entering so it was only a matter of time before Sasha was able to get inside.21

Laboratory notes, reams of them. Dates that sprawled decades, power level readings that were measured every eight hours. Human vitals -- temperature, heartbeat, respiration. Initials in the upper left-hand corner of each cover page -- DR. Sasha stacked them on the desk and searched the rest of the desk. The upper drawer held the skeletons of two rats and half a Twinkie. She shuddered to wonder what had caused that tableau. She shut the door and approached the torture machine. It had wires and leads, but the power direction seemed, to her untrained eye, to be out, as in draining, rather than in, as in electrocution. Had someone been in here? Had -- and she hesitated to think it, because there was not enough corroborating evidence -- Danette Reilly been held here?

She twisted off a piece of metal that had served as a wrist restraint and saw dark stains inside. A small sterile knife flaked enough of the stain into a collection bag for Sasha to be confident it was blood. Sasha was very familiar with the smell and appearance of dried blood, even dried blood as old as this.

She sealed the bag and collected the pile of data before kicking the metal strip away from the door and letting it close behind her.

"Pack up, Pawn One," she said, trying vainly to disguise the tiredness and disgust in her own voice. "It's time to blow this joint."

Back on the transport, Pawn One watched Sasha shake the flaked blood onto a specially prepared slide and slide it into the DNA analyzer.

"Isn't that just going to tell you that it's Danette Reilly's blood?" she asked, peering over Sasha's shoulder.

"It's going to give up the gene sequence which we can compare to whatever DNA samples Checkmate has on record," Sasha said. "And they've got a few."

The stacks of data had eventually revealed that Danette Reilly, aka Firebrand, was indeed the subject of the human data and that Dragon King had collected the energy her powers produced and converted it to electricity.

"This is going to take a while," Sasha told her. "I've got some research to do if you want to go do something else."

Pawn One shook her head. "I've just been trying to figure out where Shiv would go," she said. "Tigress is still out, yeah? Maybe they're together?"22

"That's good thinking," Sasha agreed, making a few keystrokes on the computer. "But we've had a Pawn on Artemis Crock for the past week and we've found no evidence they're in contact. Crock's been spotted in a couple of robberies in the past six months. No sign of Shiv. She's down licking her wounds somewhere, if she's even still alive."

"No mother?" Pawn One asked. "No other woman she might trust?"

Sasha frowned. Of course a teenage girl would gravitate toward a woman she could trust. But who would Cindy Berman trust.

"Wait a minute," she said, spinning in her seat. She called up the data on the Ivytown lair and clicked on the link to the history. The information regarding who destroyed the place was Rook-encrypted and she mistyped the password once before getting in.

Suicide Squad.

She accessed the roster for that mission and was pleased to find a female name. Mari Jiwe Macabe, Vixen, had been with the team at the time. She nodded to herself glanced back at Pawn One.23

"It might be a dead end," she warned, "but it's one worth checking out. Good job, Paw -- " She caught herself and smiled at the girl sitting next to her. "Good job, Anita."

Mari Macabe was taller than Sasha and had legs to die for.

Sasha was above hating her instantly, but not by much.

"Hi," she said, stepping around the table and sitting across from Mari. The tiny café in Sao Paulo had few customers early on a Monday morning and there was no one within earshot. Still, she activated the white noise device on her wristwatch and was pettily pleased to see Vixen's nose wrinkle at the sound.

"You are Roberta Slatington?" Vixen's voice was lovely, as well, deep and rich with a lilting accent, and obviously distrustful.

"Call me Bob," Sasha instructed with a grin.

"And you represent Checkmate." Vixen raised one elegantly arched eyebrow. "Have they given up on uniforms since I left?"

"I'm showing my face as a courtesy," Sasha said, somewhat annoyed that Vixen would question her professionalism. "In a past life, we shared a friend. He had pointy ears and lots of dough."

Vixen smiled suddenly, and the wariness on her face disappeared briefly. "And how is our old friend?" she asked eagerly.

"He's out of jail, at least," Sasha said, before she thought.

"There's that," Vixen agreed. "I hope he's remembering to eat."24

It was the weirdest comment Mari Macabe could have made right then and Sasha decided it was time to change the subject.

"Vixen, I'm under orders from Checkmate to locate and recruit Cindy Berman. We have custody of Dr. Graft and we can reverse the procedures he performed on her if she comes with us."

"At what price?" Vixen asked, heat edging into her voice. She didn't even challenge Sasha's assumption that Shiv was with her. Either she had spotted their surveillance or she didn't care. "She becomes a pawn? You know 'Pawn' isn't just a title in that agency, Bob. Everyone's a pawn. The Pawns, the Knights, even the Rooks are manipulated into carrying out the King and Queen's bidding."

"Amanda Waller is no longer the Queen of Checkmate," Sasha reminded her.25

"Do you even know who the Queen is now?" Vixen asked, her accent deepening with her intensity. "Do you know what goals Checkmate holds? Do you know what you'll be asked to do next week, next month, next year?"

Sasha realized she was holding her breath. She exhaled carefully, holding a poker face. "Do you?"

"No." Vixen sat back and shook her head. "And I don't want to. I'm out."

"That's your choice. But let Cindy make her own choice."

"Have you seen what they did to her?" Vixen's eyes were sad. "Dr. Graft and her father?"

Sasha shook her head. "I haven't seen. I've seen the lab reports, but I haven't seen the results. But we're offering her a way to be cured -- "

"Are you? Or are you offering her body for her soul? Would you cure her if she declined to enter into a contract with your organization?"

Sasha wasn't authorized to make that decision, but she spoke anyway. "We would. But we couldn't allow her to return to her life of crime."

Vixen shook her head. Her eyes glinted dangerously. "Leave her alone, Miss Slatington. She's been through enough."

"At least let me talk to her."

"Isn't your young assistant having that discussion as we speak?"

Vixen had out-maneuvered her and Sasha was reminded that the other woman had once been in her place.

"Very well," she said, inclining her head. "But give me your word that if Cindy does decide to accompany us, you won't stop her."

Vixen studied her. The hostility was nearly tangible. It might have been disconcerting to someone else but Sasha had been studied by Batman and Vixen's stare was mild in comparison.

"Do you approve of teenagers putting their lives on the line?" she asked.

"Teenagers die for their ideals every day of the week," Sasha said evenly, thinking of the suicide bomber who had taken her parents' lives, and of the Robin suit in the Batcave. The images were painfully at odds, reminding her that teenage superheroes were maybe not so different than the rest of the world. "I don't approve of giving them a vehicle to do so, but ultimately I have very little say in the matter." She felt the shift of philosophy inside and it settled in a very uncomfortable way.26

"Well, then," Vixen said quietly. "May God have mercy on their souls."

As expected, Pawn One -- Anita -- returned to the transport alone.

"I told her we'd be here until midnight if she changed her mind," she said briefly.

Sasha nodded and settled in at the cockpit. Anita had taken initiative in making the decision to wait and Sasha was pleased. She didn't think Shiv would appear but giving her the option to change her mind was smart.

The DNA analysis was waiting for her when she logged in and she opened the message fully expecting the blood to belong to Danette Reilly.

It did not.

She spent the rest of the evening doing research and at half an hour before midnight, walked outside to find Anita sitting on the ladder at the hatch.

"If she comes," Sasha said, her voice clear in the still night, "it won't be until the last minute."

"You think?" Anita asked. She held her staff loosely in both hands, rolling it as she waited.

"That's the way it usually happens," Sasha told her. She walked over and leaned against the wing. "What happened when you talked to her?"

Anita shrugged. "She said no and that she'd never let Dr. Graft have a chance to do one more thing to her."

Sasha nodded.

"And then she said that she liked what she was and that she'd...evolved, or something, and had no reason to change. I think she was just scared."

"Maybe," Sasha agreed. "Look." She leaned back and ruffled her hair. "If I don't recommend your promotion to Knight, I want you to know that it's not for lack of skills in the field. I'm impressed with your work on this mission. But you're young and you're capable and I think you should have as much experience as possible before taking on solo missions."

Disappointment flickered across Anita's face, but her nod was calm. "Always something more to learn?" she noted with a smile that wasn't completely forced.

"Always," Sasha confirmed. She looked at her watch. 12:12.

"Are we going to make her come with us?" Anita asked.

Sasha hated that the question was perfectly logical. "No," she said. "We're going home alone."

Roberta Slatington, the Queen's Black Knight, shook water off her fingertips and smoothed her hands over her unnaturally brown hair to tame down the flyaways. She knew better than to look for a mirror in which to check her reflection.

Today, she was glad she didn't have one.

She walked briskly to the other end of the hall and knocked on the right-hand door.

"Enter."

Sasha did, standing at attention in front of the desk. Kalia Campbell leaned back in her chair and studied her.

"Report."

"The subject declined our offer," Sasha said succinctly.

"Very well. Is that all?"

"That is all as relevant to the mission," Sasha said.

The White Bishop nodded, standing and walking around her desk. She leaned against it, crossing her arms and ankles and gazed as Sasha.

"At ease, Knight. Speak frankly."

"I ran a DNA analysis on a sample of what should have been Danette Reilly's blood. Instead the computer told me it was yours."

Kalia Campbell nodded slowly. "It's been a long time since I heard that name. You're far from the first woman to die and get a new face from this agency."

"Dragon King was using you as a power generator for his entire complex."

"Forty years," the White Bishop confirmed, her face serene. "He kept my body in stasis so I'm still spry enough to jog around the block, but I'm afraid that's about it." She held one finger over a holiday-scented candle sitting on her desk and Sasha saw a tiny spark fizzle and crackle as the wick caught flame. "Parlor tricks, these days," Kalia said regretfully. "Cindy was twelve when the Suicide Squad stormed the compound. She let me out of stasis because she thought I'd help her father. I used my powers to destroy the restraints and the power supply and that was all I had left. I woke up in a Checkmate hospital." She chuckled. "We should really start a support group for that."

"I didn't turn this in with the rest of the evidence," Sasha confessed, holding out a data chip. She wasn't sure what impulse had caused her to hold the scene back, but she suspected it was a last romantic notion toward Bruce.

Among hundreds of boring and nonsense bits recorded by the security cameras was an image of Shining Knight learning of Firebrand's death. Sasha had felt it too personal to be stored in the evidence vault. It was pure fancy on her part, but the look on Sir Justin's face was identical to the one she imagined on Bruce's face when he learned of her death.

Kalia Campbell took the chip and regarded it solemnly. She seemed to have an idea what was on it.

"He had been missing for a dozen years by the time I led the charge against the Dragon King," she said quietly. "When I took a new face, I never dreamed he'd be back."

"Is it too late now?" Sasha asked without thinking.

"I'm Kalia Campbell," the White Bishop said firmly. "Danette Reilly died a long time ago. And now she's been avenged."

Sasha nodded. "Thank you, ma'am." She came to attention took Campbell's nod as a dismissal. She had her hand on the door handle before she remembered one last question.

"Ma'am?"

"Oh, go ahead," Kalia said with a smile. "You've figured out everything else."

"Who is Cindy's mother?"

"Who do you think?"

Sasha's mind reeled with the implications. "Ma'am."

"You've passed the last test, Bob. Are you coming over to be one of my Rooks? Or does that witch Midnight get to keep you?"

"Only if I get Fite as a Knight," Sasha countered.

"Is she ready?"

"More than."

"All right, then." Kalia nodded. "Not a word of this, of course."

"No, ma'am. Of course."

"Very well. I'll see you on Monday, Bob. I've got a mission lined up."

"Looking forward to it, ma'am." Sasha saluted smartly and left Campbell's office. She went straight back to the women's restroom and lost her lunch in one of the stalls. There was such a thing as too much knowledge and she kept her eyes on the basin as she rinsed out her mouth. Sasha Bordeax had no choice but to be reborn in Checkmate as Bob Slatington. Danette Reilly chose to end her life in hope of something even a little bit better.

Now Sasha knew why the Checkmate headquarters had no mirrors.

Fin

1. En passant is a chess move. A pawn moves only one square -- forward when advancing or diagonally forward when attacking. On its first move, a pawn can move forward two squares instead of one to avoid attack from another pawn. En passant is when the attacking pawn moves to the expected square and negates the escape. This move can only be used once.

2. Sasha changed her face and hair color when she took on a new identity for Checkmate (because Sasha Bordreax was legally dead) in the last volume of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive. She is shown with brown hair.

3. Agent Midnight is a Bishop in the Checkmate hierarchy, which consists of a King, a Queen, four Bishops, a questionable number of Rooks, 30 Knights, and countless Pawns. She appeared in Detective Comics and recruits Sasha into Checkmate in the last volume of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive. She's never referred to by a first name, but does identify as the Queen's Black Bishop.

4. Kalia Campbell appeared in the 33-issue Checkmate series as one of the four Bishops. I've assigned her as the King's White Bishop to balance out Agent Midnight.

5. Roberta "Bob" Slatington is a Rook in Checkmate during Gotham Knights #39. (The recruitment of Huntress.) At the time I was SURE the character was Sasha, who had never chosen an alternative name during Bruce Wayne: Fugitive. No evidence has yet been presented to support or refute this assumption.

6. Cindy Berman, as Shiv, was first introduced in the short-lived Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. series.

7. After events of the "Injustice Be Done" arc of JSA.

8. The Dome is the training ground of Checkmate, where Knights run a gauntlet to determine their worthiness.

9. In Bruce Wayne: Fugitive, Vol. 3, Sasha scored a 98% in the Dome and told Agent Midnight that she wouldn't be ready to go out in the field until she'd scored 100%.

10. Anita was last seen as Young Justice's Empress in Graduation Day. She was injured and vanished from all future incarnations of the team. In Young Justice, her parents had been devolved to babies and she was raising them. The "compensation" she received from Checkmate, was their return to normal.

11. Blue Valley, Nebraska was the home of both Kid Flash (Wally West) and later, the Star-Spangled Kid (Courtney Whitmore).

12. Both Donna Troy and Lilith Jupiter were killed in Graduation Day.

13. Courtney Whitmore was held in this chair by Dr. Graft in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #10.

14. Image and words taken from Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #12.

15. In 1948, the Seven Soldiers of Victory were scattered throughout time and lost for decades. The JLA eventually went into the past and pulled out most of them days or weeks (except for Vigilante, for whom it had been years) from when they arrived, but then brought them to the JLA's present, rather than taking them back to 1948.

16. Shining Knight's words from Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. 10-13 implied, though never explicitly stated, that Firebrand II was killed by the Dragon King. All we know for sure is that the Dragon King did something to her that Sir Justin felt the need to revenge.

17. A.P.E.S. kept a close eye on Young Justice. Fite's nickname for his daughter became her hero codename. He's retired because he was turned into a baby.

18. Terri Kurtzenburg Rothstein grew up to be Al Rothstein's (Atom Smasher's) mother. 1960 was an arbitrary date.

19. Shining Knight says that he followed Dragon King to Ivytown and then to Blue Valley in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #11.

20. Bruce managed to put a comforting hand on her shoulder while they were both incarcerated during Bruce Wayne: Murderer. The kiss happened in Robinson Park in the third volume of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive after Sasha became an agent of Checkmate.

21. The Checkmate suits are shown as being tricked out for every occasion in the Checkmate series.

22. Tigress is Artemis Crock, daughter of Tigress II/Huntress I, Paula Brooks, and Sportsmaster, Crusher Crock. She and Shiv were in the Injustice Society together. (JSA #16-20)

23. Vixen has been a member of both Suicide Squad and Checkmate.

24. Vixen was in the JLA with Batman and knew his real identity. When he yelled at Vibe, she offered to cook him dinner and ended up as Bruce Wayne's date in a very fancy restaurant. Proof Here.

25. Amanda Waller ran Suicide Squad and was the first Queen of Checkmate.

26. Bruce reveals in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive that Sasha has no family because her parents were killed by a suicide bomber in Israel.

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