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Growing Wonder, Part I

Written by TwiceOnThursdays :: [Tuesday, 02 June 2015 01:26] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 07 June 2015 09:43]

This is loosely based in the same altered DC Universe as Stealing Thunder I, II, and III, but you don't need to read those first. Mary Marvel from that story does show up at the end of this one, but I don't think you need to read those first.

I have a longer comment on writing this on my DA account: and the second part is already published there.

It’s not fair!”

She let loose a frustrated jab at the large punching bag in front of her and was mildly surprised when it barely moved. It brought another frustrated growl and she hit the bag with everything she had. The force moved the bag only slightly and she winced from the force she’d put into the blow. The movement sent her golden hair flipping behind her, brushing along her back.

Just a short while ago that blow would have knocked the punching bag through the wall.

You’d not know this from looking at her. She was quite fit for her age, with a trim athletic build. She wore a black tank top that displayed her toned arms and wide shoulders. Still, they were the arms of a slim young woman, not someone who spent time in a gym lifting serious iron. Not the arms you’d expect to be able to break a punching bag, knock it off its chain and through a wall.

The logo on her top, a stylized symbol of two golden W’s, revealed her identity as Wonder Girl. She was a daughter of Zeus, a demigod possessed of many of the powers of her mentor and idol, Wonder Woman.

An equally trim young man, only slightly taller than she was, came up and put a consoling hand on her shoulder. He was dressed in a bright red outfit, a black domino mask and a black cape with a bright yellow lining. On his breast was a bright yellow circle, with a black R in it. The world knew him as Batman’s sidekick, Robin.

Come’on Cass. It’s not the end of the world. She’ll come around!”

I helped save the world! And for thanks, my mother petitions Zeus to strip my powers! I’ve been a hero for years. I’m sixteen! I’m old enough to make choices for myself. Even Superman said that without my efforts delaying Mongul, he would have destroyed the planet.”

She punched the bag again in frustration.

It wasn’t anything I’d not done before, I just did in front of a network TV camera and a worldwide broadcast.”

Cass, your mom’s just scared. Like any mother she doesn’t want you to get hurt.”

Yeah. I get that. But most teenagers can’t save the planet. I do put myself at risk, but it’s for a good cause. And if I hadn’t been there, Mongul would have won!”

She jerked a bit, as he moved his hands down her shoulder to her arms. A large bruise where Mongul had grabbed her and slammed her repeatedly into a wall covered her right arm. She turned to look at Robin and displayed a large black eye.

He did beat you around pretty severely. You’re bruised, you’ve probably got a few cracked ribs and you can’t walk without limping.”

Let me say it again: SAVED. THE. PLANET.” She limped over to look into the mirror along the wall “Besides. If I had my powers, I’d be fine tomorrow. I heal fast. Without them, it’s going to take me awhile to get better.”

This isn’t fair. I can’t believe Zeus listened to her.”

Well, there’s nothing you can do about it. Get some rest and get better. I need to go back to see Bats. He’s got a case. I’ll check up on you when he let’s me free.”

He gave her a gentle hug, which brought another slight jump as his arms went around her ribs. “It really sucks that you have to go. I want you here with me.” She snuggled a bit more into his embrace. “But I get it. You have work to do and things to learn.”

The stood that way for a few minutes before Cass let him go. “You take care of yourself. Come back when you can.”

She looked over at the wall for a moment, trying to keep herself centered. She’d had a long day and she just wanted to spend the night with Tim watching a bad movie and cuddling. Anything to forget the day. But she wasn’t going to cry; Tim didn’t need to see that before he left. He needed to be at the top of his game while with Batman.

She looked back, to find Tim gone. “How does he do that? I just looked away for a second?” It was a long-standing joke with them, Batman constantly appeared and disappeared to everyone, startling them when he arrived and puzzling them when he left. Tim had been practicing, trying to master his mentor’s skills.

That he pulled it off flawlessly, left her with a bemused smile. She’d not smiled since the battle. Tim was thoughtful, in many small ways, leaving her the gift of a smile was better than a hurried goodbye. The boy was dark and mysterious and that drew her in like a magnet.

She trudged back to her room and plopped into bed. Sleep came quickly, she slept deeply and soundly as only true exhaustion can bring.

She woke up late the next morning, the first time she’d slept in since she got her powers. Normally she had a supernatural endurance and woke supercharged with energy, ready to attack the day.

Today, she felt like she weighed a ton. She wasn’t used to not having her strength. Just moving around felt like she was carrying a jeep on her shoulders. But she kept moving and noticed, to her surprise, that she wasn’t limping and didn’t feel a jolt of pain every time she took a breath.

She still looked pretty rough. Her arm was still a massive bruise and her eye still had a shiner. She noticed it didn’t hurt as bad, it just looked painful.

Still, she was a bit stiff. Since she didn’t seem to hurt, she figured she’d try a light jog around the track and see if that cleared her head some.

To her surprise, she didn’t feel any pain and her stiffness fell way as she picked up her pace. She lost herself into running and ran for a bit before she stopped. It felt like she was running with weights through molasses, but she just kept going. This was where she was at, it was what she could do.

She let herself just run, letting her body move and relax her mind. In the middle of the run, ideas would flip through her head. She’d never been one to let things hold her down. If she didn’t have her powers, she was far from useless. She’d trained with some of the best fighters in the world – Amazons, Wonder Woman, Batman and Black Canary – but that training was always hard to do. She had been supernaturally fast and strong and that made it easy to rely upon those gifts, instead of truly learning. Wonder Woman and Superman both had this problem. For all his talk of knowing Kryptonian martial arts, Superman could barely fight, he relied upon his speed and strength to carry him through. When he fought someone of his power level, Doomsday or Mongul, He would get knocked around. Curiously, he never ever used his “martial arts.” training in those cases when it would help.

Wonder Woman was different story. She might have had a hard time learning from normal people, but even an average Amazon was far from normal. She had trained against some of the gods and other mythical creatures. That training against people of her own power level, meant that she’d learned to fight with skill and finesse. In a Wonder Woman versus Superman fight, she would put her money on Diana. Not out of loyalty, Diana was only a bit slower than Superman, but she was far better trained and trained to fight against foes equally as powerful as Superman.

Diana was one of the only people she could train against full throttle. It was difficult to hold back her speed and strength when trying to learn from Black Canary. Not that Canary didn’t try and to that she hadn’t become a much better fighter by training with her. She just wasn’t yet in Diana’s league, let alone Canary.

Why not take the opportunity to really train while she was like this? She could really learn and become the best fighter she could be.

These thoughts made her feel better. She wasn’t going to let someone else, even her well-meaning mother run her life.

She lost herself into the run and let her thoughts drift away. After a bit, she felt relaxed, if a little winded and decided to end her run. She didn’t normally need to stretch out, thanks to her godly healing, but she tried to do a few stretches she remembered from gym class before her powers kicked in.

She glanced down at her watch. Time: 64.7 minutes Distance: 8 miles. That was pretty slow. She’d lost so much! She felt a flick of despair, but quickly halted the thoughts. She didn’t have to be better than Mongul, better than Superboy, better than Diana, or even better than she’d been yesterday when she had her powers. She just had to be a better Cass tomorrow than she was today.

She wasn’t used to feeling tired, or being all sweaty after only an hour run, but she felt good, like she was glowing.

Still wrapped in a warm fuzzy feeling, she drifted back to her room. She tossed off a quick note, explaining her current predicament and asked Black Canary if she’d be willing to train her.

Canary had powers: a scream that could shatter steel and knock men unconscious. But her real power was her unrelenting will and her drive for mastering herself. She was probably the deadliest hand-to-hand fighter in the JLA, including Batman. It might be some debate if Batman was better, but wasn’t up for debate is that she was a far better teacher overall. Batman just didn’t have the time to focus on a person long enough to properly train them.

A terse reply came back in minutes. “Be at League Gym 4-b at 5:30 am tomorrow.”

Canary was always open for someone who wanted to learn and Cassie had taken many lessons. But those were when she was much faster and much stronger than a human. She still would get her ass handed to her by Canary, if she didn’t cheat. She could throw cars at her or smack the ground so hard Canary was knocked off her feat, move so fast she’d pummeled her before Canary could react in the air. They fought like that a few times, each time it got harder and harder to get the drop on Canary even using her full powers. While she was learning lessons from Canary, Canary was learning and adapting to fight people like her better.

She suspected that Canary wasn’t going to have one iota of sympathy for her and was going to make it her mission to pay her back for every time she used her powers in training. But that was fine, she wanted to learn everything she could – to master unarmed combat and be able to fight with the best.

In the meantime, there was still time left in the day, so Cassie went down to the gym, she might as well work to be the best she could be and that included increasing her strength. It felt like her body still weighed a ton. She wasn’t used to being normal, so it took her a bit to figure out what she should be lifting.

Each exercise, she made some guesses and then picked the weights. If it seemed to light, she raised the weights. If it seemed heavy, she lowered them a bit. She then repeated the loop twice more, making sure she pushed herself until she couldn’t move. When she managed to complete the third loop with a full 10 reps for each exercise, she repeated another loop. For most of this one, she would get to a bit over six and want to stop and she would push through two more.

By the end of her fourth cycle through, she felt totally drained. But she had some good baseline numbers:

  • Height: 5’5.”

  • Weight: 115lbs

  • Bench press: 125

  • Single barbell rows: 45

  • Bicep curl: 25

  • DB Military press: 40

  • Squats: 275

At first she was a bit embarrassed by the numbers, she was used to lifting 10’s of thousands of pounds! But she remembered reading somewhere that most people could not bench their bodyweight and she had done that on her first attempt.

Before she started, she felt like she was carrying a few tons, now it felt like she was carrying 100’s of tons. She could barely lift her limbs. Her legs felt like they were made of rubber. She was absolutely soaked with sweat. Even her hardest workout had barely ever made her sweat a bit. She’d had superhuman stamina and recovery!

She dragged herself to the shower and luxuriated in the hot water pounding out of the shower head. She adjusted the spray until it became a nice rhythmic massage and let it soothe her aching muscles.

As she toweled herself off, she admired her lithe form. She was in pretty good shape for a teenager. Her bruise was still present, but seemed to have lightened up a bit since morning. Her eye wasn’t even slightly puffy, but still had a purple sheen around it.

A rumble from her stomach interrupted her inspection, making her realize that she was famished. She felt like she’d not eaten in a day or so. Dressing quickly, she bounced downstairs to the cafeteria.

Superboy was sitting in a corner table, looking off into space. He jumped a bit when a tray thumped down on the table across from him. With a slight nod, Cass began to wolf down her meal. Superboy just stared as the slim blond polished off all the food. He tried to engage her in small talk, but she mostly just kept eating, only half listening to him. He’d never seen anyone other than Kid Flash eat that fast.

Sorry. Hungry.” she mumbled between bites.

As she slowed down, he tried to talk to her again. “I heard what happened. It’s pretty unfair!”

She paused, her fork holding a helping of pot roast. “S’ok. I’ll adapt.” And she shoved a bit of pot roast into her mouth and speared another piece.

He rambled at bit, but she just kept eating with a vengeance. She was a bit intimidating. She was a small blond woman, but she always had this focus that unnerved him. Half the time he was blustering around and it always seemed she looked right through him. Plus she was astonishingly pretty, could bench press a bus and punch him through a wall. He was more powerful than she was, but few women could even hang in his power class. It always made him want to posture and emphasize his power, to try to leave an impression.

He wasn’t used to people just mostly ignoring him and he felt more awkward than normal.

But he braved on, he was about to try to get her into some more conversation when a blue dot appeared just behind her and slowly grew into a shimmering circle. Some sirens started to go off.

Priority Alert! Unknown energy detected in Cafeteria! Priority Alert! Unknown energy detected in Cafeteria!”

A voice echoed out of the light. “Sister. If you have some free time, I’d love to chat with you.”

One of the stranger things about finding out she was the daughter of Zeus, was shifting from being an only child to having a bunch of famous siblings. Mostly her divine family ignored her.

The exception to this rule was the owner of the voice: her half-brother Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods. To her surprise, Hephaestus always greeted her warmly. She ached for some knowledge of her new family and godly heritage and he always took time to talk with her.

Normally, she’d fly to visit him under her own power. If she was in the right spots she could transition to Olympus and make her way to his forge. Now such trips were beyond her.

Wonder Girl. Code Beta-12-4-Foxtrot. Cancel alarm.” She pushed her tray over to Superboy. “Could you clean this up for me?” With a pat on his shoulder, she stepped through the portal and disappeared.

She appeared on a ledge on the great volcano that Hephaestus used as a forge. As she walked towards two large metal doors they glided open without the slightest sound. Winding stairs led down, the air growing hotter the farther she walked down. At the bottom, the room widened and was filled with a flickering light that poured from a great forge in the center of the room. Giant metal constructs walked around the room. Some looked like suits of armor, others strange tripodal forms that ambled about the room, yet more had various animal or insect forms. A giant metallic spider skittered off into the corner.

By the forge was a giant of a man, about 7 feet tall and built to scale. His arms were larger than a linebacker’s legs. He was wearing giant goggles, which protected his eyes from the sparks that came as he pounded a small hammer, each blow making a metallic ring. She couldn’t see what it was, but kept walking around, to get into his line of sight. This was Hephaestus, in front of his forge as always.

He was also about the only Olympian that Cassie really liked. Zeus and Hera were aristocratic. Hermes was probably nice enough, but rarely stopped enough to talk. Aphrodite was more interested in looking in a mirror and looking down her nose at Cassie’s teenage attire. Forget Ares and Hades, they seemed like they’d rather kill her than talk to her. Athena was nice enough, but she left Cassie tongue-tied. She was so beautiful, wise and smart that Cassie always felt like a bumbling idiot when she talked to her. Athena seemed to realize this and always worked to put her at ease. She was probably the only Olympian on Olympus worth anything, one of the few that cared about humanity.

Despite being a demigod, the thought of which still confounded Cassie, she really thought and identified herself as human. It should be no surprise that the two gods that had any care for humanity, Athena and Hephaestus, were the only ones she really got along with.

Hephaestus’ only problem is that he was almost constantly working. But whenever she stopped by, he took a break, animatedly talked to her and showed her all the things he had been creating. She wasn’t sure, but she suspected that not many of the Gods visited him often and when they did, they always wanted something.

It did seem that Hephaestus and Athena were the Geek Gods, not Greek Gods. Athena was the epitome of the hot nerd girl: she was whip smart, knew everything and loved things to an obsessive level. Hephaestus was the geek who toiled away in the garage, coming up with devices that changed the world, but got little respect from business and the rest of the world because he didn’t care about the things they cared about. Creation was what drove him, not power, wealth or even admiration.

As she rounded the forge so he could see her, what he was working on came into view. She also noticed that the “Small Hammer.” he was deftly wielding, was larger than both of her hands put together. As he rapped the object a few more times, she saw flashes of gold, until Hephaestus stepped back and a golden mechanical owl strutted out and started making mechanical click and whir sounds.

Your wing should be all better. Go on now! Fly around and give it test while I talk to my sister here.” He made a waving motion and the owl leaped into the air, with a few unsteady wobbles quickly righted itself and flew up the stairs.

Ah, Cassie. I’m glad that you could spare the time to talk to old Hephaestus.” He walked over to give her an encompassing hug. She was completely enveloped by his huge arms, her head resting on his chest. “How are you doing young one?”

Ok, really. I’m a bit upset that mom got Zeus to strip my powers.” She shyly kicked the ground, she was new to having a brother. She stepped back from his embrace. “I’m going to make the best of it through!”

With a quick motion, Hephaestus hung up his leather apron and his gloves. He gave the forge area a critical eye and clapped his hands. One of the metal automatons came over and started to organize the tools and clean up the miscellaneous scrap from his morning’s work. He spoke a few other words and more automatons started to hurry around. He led Cassie off to the side, into an open room, in which the wind gently gushed through, cooling it down from the heat of the forge.

He motioned her to sit at the large wooden table. As she sat, the automatons started to bring food in and drop it off at the table.

I might live alone, but few have the amenities I have. If there is something you want to eat, tell me and it’ll be here shortly!”

He opened up a crock, filled with meat and spices and ladled some in a bowl and tore off a hunk of steaming hot bread. “Go ahead eat! Troubles are always smaller on a full stomach!”

Though she’d just eaten a normal size meal, for some reason she was still hungry and the food smelled awesome.

Now, young one, tell me more about your troubles and plans.”

I really don’t want to bother you with my stupid problems.”

When she didn’t seem forthcoming, he pushed food over to her. “Eat. And Talk! No one comes to me to talk! Except you. You aren’t a bother!”

He let her start to eat her food, amused at her surprise on how good the food was, which led to her attacking the food with gusto. He sat in silence, letting her eat and figure out what to say. To work the forge, one must be patient.

As she finished her food, she looked around, snagged a piece of warm baklava from a pile on the table and started to devour it too.

I really don’t have a problem. It’s just that … I saved the world and my reward is that Zeus strips me of my powers because my mother is scared I’ll get hurt. Forgetting that I’ll get hurt anyway if the world is destroyed. She – and everyone she knows – would be dead if it wasn’t for me! And this will sound silly. Even when I had my powers, I was outclassed by a lot of people. Superboy is much stronger, every one of the Gods is better than I am. Diana has me completely out classed. Sure, when I’m compared to mortals, I’m one of the strongest people in the world.”

I had a fight last week, we fought Mongul and he wiped the floor with me. I was knocked aside like I didn’t matter. And I didn’t. I contributed by distracting and delaying him at the right time, so that Superman and Wonder Woman could arrive and take him out.”

I want to be able to handle myself. I want to be able to hold my own against any opponent. And now I don’t even have any powers!”

She grabbed another piece of the baklava and took a bite. “I told you it was petty. And silly.”

Hephaestus sat and thought for a bit. He kept methodically eating and could see Cassie start to fidget. When one was thousands of years old, it was hard to remember what being a teenager was like.

Are you sure you want this thing? Power almost always brings pain and hardship and it’s usually only gained by such as well.”

My friends almost died in the fight with Mongul. The WORLD almost died. And I barely could DO ANYTHING! I want to be able to protect those that I love!”

Again, Hephaestus sat and ate for a bit. “We don’t talk about it much, but there is no half-god, no demigod. There is only God, or not-God. Some of the Gods, haven’t opened themselves up to their powers. And even then, there are differences in their power level. Zeus is far more powerful than any of the other Gods. But as you’ve noticed, Hercules is stronger than almost any of the ‘True Gods’, though he’s but a demigod. The main gods, they don’t want the others to know. They don’t want challengers, people who could usurp their power. So they make it a matter of course to never train their children, to let each find their own way.”

Even an outcast like myself, I am not supposed to train you.” Cassie started to simmer and he could tell she was about to explode. “Calm yourself young one. I said I couldn’t train you. I didn’t say I couldn’t help you!”

Mostly you are going to have to figure things out for yourself. Knowledge gained this way is always more valuable, always more usable and always far more useful in the long run. You shouldn’t limit yourself to what anyone else knows.”

I shouldn’t tell you what I’m about to tell you, but I will, because I find the rules silly. Knowledge should be shared! My place is shielded, do not talk of this outside my forge, or let people know I told you this.”

First. Zeus didn’t take your powers. For all his powers, it is beyond him, or almost any god to remove another god’s power. And as I said, there is no such thing as a demigod. There is just god and not-god.”

But, I don’t have my powers! They were taken away somehow!”

Ah. Have you noticed that you are healing quite well for your injuries? Not as fast as normal, but still healing?” At her curt nod, he continued. “You are divine. This gives you gifts that normal mortals do not have. Even without your power, you are stronger than normal, will heal faster than normal and might have other gifts. ALL offspring of the gods are exceptional humans at the least!”

Zeus didn’t take your power, he merely cut you off from accessing them. He’s blocking the flow of power to you, which reduces you to your basic godly benefits. Zeus doesn’t even have the power to do this, he’s using an item to cut you off from your power.”

I didn’t accept any item from Zeus!” She pounded the table in frustration. “I know better to trust him!”

Ah. You only think you don’t have gifts from him. Fortunately, your gifts were made by me, because none of the rest of them would ever deign to do real work.”

He touched her bracers and then her lasso. “I made both of these. Your lasso as you know is different than Diana’s. Ares told you it channels Zeus’ lightning. This is false. It channels your lightning.”

And your bracers. I made these. I made all the amazon’s bracers, but yours are even more special. As I said, the Gods always want to keep new gods down. Zeus is especially jealous.”

He flicked her bracers, causing them to ring and the red star on each bracer flashed bright red for a moment.

Your bracers are made of bit of the metal I used for forge Aegis. It has many properties. It is almost unbreakable. A chain made from the adamantine metal will hold up to even a god’s strength. As physically tough as it is, it’s even more immune to magical forces. No being I know of can do anything with it. The mightiest forges can’t even heat it to make the metal glow. Hercules is incapable of hammering an ingot of it at all. His tightest blows merely shatter whatever hammer he uses. If he’d use a hammer made from this metal, his blows will still avail him for naught.”

But, I have divined the secret, with skill and cunning, I can coax it into shapes and imbue it with special properties.”

I used it to make two sets of bracers. Yours and Diana’s. With them you can deflect any blow, any force, or any spell. To some extent they will help you against some magical attacks.”

But their real power is one of regulation. When Diana was made, she was given a great many blessings from the gods. They don’t want to talk about it, but she was given so many blessings that in many ways exceed their own.”

Initially, this was a bit too much for the earth that formed her to contain. She was merely a baby at that time and her form had not yet hardened.”

My gift were her bracers. They would regulate, contain and restrict her power, so she could slowly grow into it and her form could set and accept the power.”

For awhile, if she took them off her power would increase and run rampant. Now she has a handle on them and that function of her bracers has largely been forgotten.”

Cassie’s mouth dropped open and her eyebrows rose. “You mean … Zeus is cutting me off from my powers with my bracers!”

She immediately tried to slide them off. Even though they were made out of firm metal, they would normally just slide off her arms and slide back on. Shifting form to easy slide on and off.

Now, she kept trying to move them and they would slide easily around her hand, but refused to move. They were totally comfortable, but she couldn’t get them to move off her arm at all.

Take them off! You can take them off!”

Calm yourself little one.”

Take them off!”

Hephaestus rested his hand on her shoulder. “You are a warrior. Control yourself.” He waited a moment and she calmed down.

Please. I didn’t ask for this. I want my power.”

Listen for a moment. For one, I can’t ignore a direct command of Zeus. I can do many things and I am granted many things – mostly as they need me and partly because they don’t remember I’m here. But I can’t do this thing you ask, as I’ve been forbidden.”

Cassie opened her mouth to argue some more and paused. She waited for a bit and closed her mouth. Hephaestus had always been her friend. She should listen.

Tell me more about this.”

A smile played across his face. “You have passed the first test. Control of oneself.”

I also can’t remove these, as it would be very dangerous. As I said, I can manipulate the metal, but once set and spelled, even I have a hard time working it. If it was off of your wrist, I could probably break them. But on your wrist, you’d die from exposure to the forces I’d need to bring to bear.”

And usually the items I craft listen to me. If Zeus ever tries to toss lightning bolts at me, he’s in for a great shock.” This brought another smile to his face. “Pun intended.”

But these are special and are almost totally immune to the power of a god. They are meant to shackle the power of a god, to be able to cut one off them them. I’ve made a few chains to restrain a god, but these are the most powerful version I have made.”

They are even more powerful than the ones we gave Diana. These have a spell on them that allows Zeus to turn them on or off, that is what he’s done. Unfortunately, I don’t have a back door into these. They’re keyed to Zeus himself.”

Cass’ head dropped down. Her voice was small, lacking force and color. “There is no hope then. I’ll only get to keep my power at Zeus’ whim.” She looked up, her eyes were wide and full of sorrow. She met his eyes and another great smile split his face. Giant white teeth beamed at her.

That’s not what I said little one.”

At her puzzled look, he continued. “It really does not cut you off from your power, it restricts the flow.”

It’s a subtle but important distinction. With work and effort, one can focus and feel the flow of power and pull more in. It will try to stop you, but you can still manage to connect with some power.”

From my testing, if a god were to voluntarily wear these, the effect would be even greater. BUT, with work and effort the god would learn to reach right through them, eventually there would be no restriction.”

Hermes actually tried it. For about 15 minutes. Athena tried it for almost two weeks. None of the rest of them will go near them.”

And how long did you try them for.”

Hephaestus snorted in a wonder. “You’re the first person to guess that I used them. The rest don’t even think about me having any power at all.”

Yes, I wore them for months and, yes, what I say is not theoretical. You can access your power fully through them, it may take serious effort, but it can be done.”

They once chained me in the dungeon because Zeus was mad he threw a lightning bolt wrong. Instead of being powerless, I just unlocked my chain, came here, worked and returned anytime the alarm said someone was coming to check on me.”

Wonder Girl sat thinking.

First. Accept the limitations. Without reservations and without rancor. Accept the weakness. You’ll get a bit weaker and your recovery time will go down a bit.”

Second, practice meditation. You should be able to feel the spark. Initially you will only be able to do small things and likely only for a short burst.”

Eventually, you will feel your powers return. When that happens, nothing in the future will be able to take your powers away again.”

And this is the part Zeus would rather I not tell you. There is no such thing as a demigod. You are either a god, or you are not. Early in your life you accept limits on your power. Once those limits set in, it is almost impossible to ever change them. If you think you are a ‘demigod’ and therefore lesser, you will be and you will always remain so.”

I suspect that Zeus is not limiting your power at your mother’s request. He’s limiting your power to keep you from finding out how powerful you truly can be.”

Do not accept any limitations, even your own. No one knows your limits, or the actual potential that a god could reach. Do yourself a favor and find your own answers to these questions.”

If you are training, focus on healing at first. You can heal even faster than you could with your normal power level. With some focus, a quick session of mediation should heal any and all wounds. If you remember when I taught you some mediation basics, the warm energy that you felt flowing through your body? That was your power flowing through you to heal you. Lean to focus and direct that and you will heal quite quickly.”

This is a lot to take in.”

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. “I know little one. I know. But you have a rare opportunity to be great. Zeus does not know it, but he has given you a great gift. After I trained with those, I had far more control of my power. It’s my secret to crafting such amazing creations.”

You will find your own blessings. Look for them and hone them.”

The discussion devolved into some small talk and more than a few jokes. Hephaestus kept a steady stream of stories about the gods and their various misadventures, the ones they didn’t want the storytellers and myth makers to write about. In a short while, he had Cassandra snorting with laughter.

Once again her brother had given her hope and left her feeling relaxed and centered. She might have little use for the rest of her family, but Hephaestus was really the best brother one could hope for. She felt the last bit of tangle in her soul un-knot, she knew it was time to make her way home and give her brother back is solitude and his forge.

With a casual gesture, one of the bronze automatons opened another shimmering blue portal and she stepped through to her room. Once again the alarms were buzzing. She had to confirm that it wasn’t an invasion, then spend some time talking to Batman about setting off the security alarms. It was a short abrupt conversation, full of his deep gravely voice.

In the middle of Batman’s grilling, she figured out where Tim got one of his annoying and also extremely sexy habits from. Batman was efficiently determining if she needed any help and the exact parameters of her problem. Tim used to do this and she found his abrupt manner infuriating … and hot.

For anyone else it would have felt rude, but her dealings with Tim, left her wondering. Batman had barked at her and kept her off guard, but also shortly determined she had visited her brother Hephaestus, that she could not longer visit him her normal ways. She was ok. She was dealing with being cut off from her powers and had already scheduled some training with Canary. None of this had anything to do with the security breach. These were questions asked by someone who cared. Batman just seemed to either want to project his scary persona, or, her personal theory, he really didn’t know how to properly express and deal with emotional relationships. Like he had some deep childhood trauma that he had not dealt with.

Tim had a softer side too, a more reflective one. He seemed to realize that this mode was only good for emergencies and was learning to stop and listen. He was full of sexy, dark brooding, but he also remembered little things. And when the boy smiled, it was magic.

The day wasn’t half over, but she felt pretty calm. She figured that there was no time like the present and decided to put Hephaestus’ suggestion of meditating to the test. She’d had a little training from many teachers, including Hephaestus himself, but she kept her first foray fairly simple. She just sat in a lotus position on the floor and started some rhythmic breathing and letting her mind wander.

At first she mostly drifted, she felt like she was slowly spinning in circles the room. She let the feeling continue and slowly, she stated to settle down and felt like she was floating. There was a feeling, like a faint whiff of perfume, or the slightly blacker spot on a dark night. She let her mind try to drift towards it, without trying to think about it much. Eventually, she felt a warm feeling start to flow into her body. She focused on the warmth and let it seep into her. She felt some of it pool around her left eye, it felt like a heat pack had been laid on her eye.

After a moment, the feeling faded and she felt the heat move around her body, soaking into her muscles. Her arms had felt like noodles since her workout, the warmth soaked into her arms and she felt invigorated. She let the feelings continue until she there was a warm glow throughout her body.

When she felt the flow just moving through her, she slowly opened her eyes and then let out a little yip as she dropped to the floor. She’d been hovering a few feet off the ground as she sat in the lotus position!

With a smooth graceful motion she stood up and stretched. She felt wonderful. Her watch said she’d been meditating for over an hour! She felt like she’d just gotten a full nights sleep and fully refreshed. She looked over in the mirror and noticed her black eye was only a faint shimmer, as was the bruise along her arm. Hephaestus had said that she could tap her power and enhance her healing. Even her arms and legs no longer felt exhausted. She felt really good.

Figuring she had nothing to loose, she went back down to the gym and started another workout.

She grabbed her smart watch and after playing with it a bit, walked back to the gym. This time she was going to start with the weights and then run.

Since she’d managed four cycles the last time, she decided to up her weights by 5 lbs and see what that did. Her first set, while difficult, she managed to up her bench press. The other exercises she could only get out 8 reps at the increased weight on the rows and only six of the biceps curls and Military Press. So her next time through, she moved the biceps and the military press weights back to their original settings. And she forced herself through.

This time, when she hit the fourth set, she kept pushing and managed 10 full reps of everything but the Rows, but she’d gone up 5 lbs, so that seemed ok. She’d improved her reps and a bit on the weight!

Probably because I wasn’t wore out from running.”

At this point, she felt tired and like she could barely move, but she still pulled out her watch and set a pace. Tired as she was she was at least going to match what she did before. The last three miles were grueling, but she managed to hit 7 miles just as the hour mark came around.

She felt like collapsing on the floor. Instead, she went back to the commissary, ordered up three times what she normally ate and managed to eat most of it. She felt bloated and almost undid her belt.

She waddled back to her room, resumed her lotus position and started to meditate again. Once again it took a bit, but she attached to some delicate feeling again, like the faint feeling of cold as a snowflake melts on your hand, only it was a small feeling of warmth. She let the feeling stream in and imagined the snow fall increasing and felt many drops of energy, each one causing a little faint drop of warmth, until it felt like she was in a blizzard of energy and it dropped into her. She felt it begin to flow through her body. It pooled in her stomach and flowed out to her limbs, filling them with warmth.

When she opened her eyes, she managed not to hold out the little scream as she dropped back to the floor. She’d managed to float a bit again. Standing up, she rubbed her butt, it still smarted dropping a few feet onto her rear. Aside from that, She felt rested and clear. Even the heavy weight of her meal was gone, in fact she felt hungry.

In the hour of her meditation session, it was like she’d used all the food in her stomach as fuel to heal from the exercise. She felt refreshed and ready to go again! If this continued to work, she could get several workouts in each day and not have to worry about overtraining.

A cycle would take about 2.5 to 3 hours. She’d have to see how long of sessions Black Canary was going to put her through. Canary probably would want to see her training. She was sure she could just mix what Canary was having her do and do her cycles for the rest.

But, if she trained with Canary for four hours, she’d have 12 hours left. She could get 4 cycles of exercise in. Since you should only exercise about 3-4x a week, she’d be getting in over a week’s exercising in each day, plus whatever Black Canary put her through. And normally someone would break out which body parts they worked, but she decided she would just power through, since she seemed to be fully recovered, like she’d spend a few days resting.

But she’d talk it over with Tim tomorrow. He was crazy smart and knew just about everything. Surely he could optimize a workout routine for her. And she would bring it up with Canary.

Still, best she had for now. She’d already done two cycles today and given that she needed a full nights sleep. She figured she could do another two cycles today, before she got some rest. She’d give Tim a call later and see what he had to say.

The day continued, a long blur of working out and eating. She stopped showering, instead just continuing her cycle constantly.

By the evening, though her body and mind were rested from mediating she was still exhausted and ready for sleep. Tim had suggested doing some Crossfit and HiT training, to help mix up her training.

Unable to keep her eyes open, she drifted off into a deep sleep.

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