Growing Wonder, Part II
Written by TwiceOnThursdays :: [Wednesday, 03 June 2015 20:40] Last updated by :: [Sunday, 07 June 2015 11:47]
Her alarm beeped. And unlike the day before, Cass wanted to smash it. Instead of a well of vitality, she still felt like she was carrying around a few extra tons.
For the last few years she had been gifted the power of the Gods. Adventuring as super-heroine Wonder Girl, she had saved the world more than a few times. Her last battle had been televised. Her valiant and almost futile stand to hold off tyrant Mongul was seen by her mother. Her mother promptly freaked out and contacted her estranged father, Zeus. Yes, that Zeus, ruler of the Greek Gods. She was demi-god and that was the source of her powers. Zeus had listened to her mother and stripped her of her powers.
Her half-brother Hephaestus let her know it was really her bracelets that were blocking access to her power. If she focused, she could learn to access the power despite the bracers. He also let her know the most carefully guarded secret: demi-gods were actually gods themselves. They were told they were less, so they were less. After accepting limitations, it became true and almost impossible to change. She was young and could potentially access much more power than she had been before.
At the moment though, she was a normal girl. She recovered faster than normal, even without her divine abilities, she would be faster and stronger than a normal human, but not much more. She was used to drifting through the world, accessing a large wellspring of strength and vitality. Now she had to push herself. Right now, she had to get to her first training session with Black Canary.
She was still groggy, a hot shower woke her up, and she used a timer to give herself a few minutes of meditation to center herself. She made her way to the dojo to meet Canary. Even though she was a half an hour early, Canary was already there, going through some kata at super slow speed.
Cassie sat, and watched, keeping still and quiet. Her time with Hephaestus had taught her patience. She was calm, peaceful and ready for when Canary stopped, and gave her a piercing stare.
“What are you really doing? You left the base yesterday via some mysterious method. You attacked the gym yesterday like a wild woman. And now you want special training.”
With that, Canary stood silently. And waited. Cassie didn’t want to explain, but Canary could help her, could push her. Push her beyond limits, beyond what she imagined she could do.
“I left to talk to my brother, Hephaestus. Zeus can’t take my powers away, he is using my bracers to restrict my access to power of the Greek Gods and, with training and effort, I could focus through them and get my full powers back. If I did this, my power would be mine to control.
“He said that I’m of the age, that if I tried, I could discover the true depths of my powers. That I’ve likely let myself be limited by thinking I’m half human and accepting what others think I can do. I need to break myself out of that, to push myself beyond what even I think I’m capable of.”
Canary studied her for a moment. “And why do you want to do this? It seems like you are going through a lot of effort. I’m certainly going to put you though a lot of pain, if you are still in this room in 10 minutes.”
“Though I helped save the day, I was almost worthless against Mongul. I want to be able to own those fights. I want to be able to keep up with anyone. I want not only to achieve my full extent of my powers, whatever they may be, but also I want to master myself. To know what I can do. And to be able to fight with the best. Anytime. No matter what the situation. If, for some reason, I don’t have my powers, I want to be able to hold my own like you and Batman can do. I want to rely upon myself and my training and augment that with my powers.”
“Before we start, run through you plans, how you are going to achieve you goals and what specifically you think you will get.”
It took longer than the 10 minutes Canary had thought, as Cassie laid out her plans, her assumptions of her quick recovery time and potential access to her powers.
“You are off to a good start – but you need to do more. You need to push more. You need to not stop. If you want to do this, I’ll set myself and a few others up as your trainers and we’ll push you mercilessly. Some days you won’t get but a few hours sleep. You need to know pain. You need to meet your limits and not accept them.”
“We’ll have to keep you under some constant medical supervision and make sure you don’t spontaneous manifest your powers, becoming dangerous during training. But I can handle that risk quite comfortably.”
“I’m going to push you for days on end, until you can’t remember anything but pain and more pain. You will grow to hate me and those I send after you. But it’s the only way to discover what you are capable of.”
Cassie stood for a moment, and drank in her words of warning. “I will. I’m in your hands. Until we are done.”
“We shall see. I haven’t agreed to take you on. Ask me again in two hours.”
“Then let the pain begin.”
Without seeming to move, suddenly Canary’s foot was flying towards her face. She barely blocked the blow. It felt like getting hit by Mongul! She rolled with the blow, came up and spent the next 20 minutes getting tossed, beaten, kicked and pummeled to an inch of her life. Canary only relented after the 20 minutes, to ensure that she’d not actually sprained her wrist, when had flipped her across the room.
Then proceeded to destroy her again. And again. Until Cassie couldn’t move and she kept coming. She kept fighting. She wouldn’t give up and kept pressing on.
Until, when she laid on the ground, attempting to get back up and failed. And then tried to get back up again. She had to stop and focus. Lifting a falling airplane was easier, but she stood. She wasn’t quite steady, but she was standing. And ready.
“We are done here.” and Canary turned and started to walk out.
“But … are you going to train me?”
Canary stopped, and looked back over her shoulder and smiled. “I said ask me again in two hours, four hours ago. I expected you to give up after fifteen minutes. I got progressively more ruthless. You didn’t quit, you didn’t question. Despite being on the run the entire time, you watched and learned.”
“You didn’t ask me two hours ago if I’d train you. You didn’t need to. By not stopping, you answered your own question.”
“Now, go. Eat. And try to use your meditation trick to recover. I have left the cafeteria with a menu for you to eat. The gym will have a new routine for you, there are instructional holograms and monitors to ensure you do the exercises correctly. Keep at it. I’ll monitor your progress. Tomorrow I’ll have someone there with you.”
Her world became a blur. Martial arts training, high intensity training, running for long distances, days without sleep. Canary was a demon, who never seemed to tire, but also had others come in and push her. They kept at her, relentless in the gym, in martial arts training for both armed and unarmed combat, in training for larger scale tactics. Cassie had had some training in all those, but nothing so concentrated. The list was long and varied: WildCat, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Green Arrow and a few people she didn’t know. Dr Fate talked to her about magic and expanding her perceptions, which was followed up by Dr. Midnight teaching her about working in the dark and expanding the use of her normal senses. She had Jay Garrick as her long distance running partner. If she fell behind, he pushed her so that every time she set a new personal record for speed. He was a kindly trainer, though still quite merciless if he thought she was slacking off.
This went on for 30 days straight, until one day she came in and her martial arts instructor was Batman. If she thought Canary was merciless, Batman was in an entirely different class. He was efficient, methodical and unrelenting. Canary was a better fighter, but Batman was analytical. In addition to the beating she was getting, he gave her a calm measured running commentary on what she was doing wrong. And in the middle he started to ask her why her heart rate was up, why she wasn’t maintaining her calm and why she was letting him set the pace. He kept at her, never giving her a moments rest.
Until at one point, when he was going to hit her, her perceptions blinked and she let out a punch that rocked past his defenses, knocking him halfway across the room. He tumbled nimbly and she had to duck two Batarangs, then again she was chased around the room.
Batman continued in, “Why can’t you do that again? Keep calm. Know what is going on. Feel yourself. Focus.” It was unnerving to have someone calmly taking her to task and effortlessly knocking her around the room.
Eventually he stopped and walked over to some weights in the corner. They were huge, and looked well over 1,000 pounds. She’d made great strides in her strength, but no normal woman could lift that.
“Ignore everything else. Ignore yourself. You think you can’t lift this, so you can’t. You can. Lift it.”
She readied herself and centered. And strained. She focused her entire being to get the bar to lift, though it stubbornly remained in place.
Batman appeared beside her. “You are fighting yourself to lift it. You are straining. Instead, feel your power, know you can lift it and simply lift it. Ignore that you cannot. Feel it move. It will move. It will move NOW.”
With a jerk, she pulled the weight off the floor and lifted it above her head. She gently set the weight back down, beaming a smile so wide that it could have lit up the room.
“Do better next time. You should have been able to hold that for as long as you wanted.” with that, he stalked out of the room. Since his back was turned, Cassie didn’t see the ghost of smile as he walked out.
But she was busy being happy that she’d managed to briefly access a sliver of her former strength.
After this, things became a longer blur. Canary upped the pace, pushing her even harder, swapping her out with multiple instructors to keep her going for 20 hours each day. She let Cassie have a few meditations sessions to recover, but a few days she just pushed her and gave her scant hours of sleep, not time for recovery and kept pushing her. Every once in awhile she would let Cassie catch back up, but it was only so she could continue the punishing regimen.
Midnight taught her in the dark, focusing on meditation and some physical training. Eventually, Cassie could swear that she could feel him and they started to spar in earnest. After a bit, she felt like she could feel a flow in the room, and sense where Midnight was. He wasn’t as good as Canary was, but he could see perfectly in the dark and that gave him an advantage over people who needed to see to fight. Each session she became more adept at sparring in the dark. She wasn’t as good as she was when the lights were on, but she was rapidly improving. And the extra sense seemed to get a bit sharper after every session.
Still, the last exercise of the day, Canary would let her relax and try to enter into a meditative state while being awake and moving. It was fiendishly difficult, but eventually she learned to let the power flow while fighting. Canary would push her to use her super-strength and work out, lifting ever greater weights. She was still a far cry from her former abilities, but she could bench over a ton.
After months of this regimen, she was seeing results. Even without tapping her abilities, she was quite strong. She didn’t think her stats were all that impressive, as she was used to moving much larger weights. Still, when she remarked on them, Canary told her that she’d put on 30 lbs of muscle in a short period of time and that just wasn’t possible. She was much stronger than a woman of her size and weight should be. She was startled to learn that her lifts were higher than what Canary herself could do!
Bench press: 300
Single Barbell rows: 110
Bicep curl: 60
DB Military press: 90
1 hour run: 14 miles
Even without access to her divine power, she was much stronger than a woman of her size and build should be. She’d gone from a lean physique to one with a fair amount of muscle on it and greatly increased her strength. She’d measured her arms the other day, and they were now over 13”. She’d put in a lot of hard work, and her body had responded. Tim was even a bit jealous of her strength, but he also seemed to get a real kick out of it too. This was her native strength. Gods had good genes even without their powers.
Everything went up by a factor of 10 when she was channeling her power. She could sprint for minutes at a time. Or run 30 miles in an hour. Just the other night, while meditating, she had managed to float for a few minutes after it. Now when she stopped meditating, she gently dropped to the floor, which was better than the undignified drop that she’d gotten used to.
By the end of the third month, she actually landed a blow on Dinah.
That was when the oddest teacher of all showed up. She was a young oriental woman. She came in, dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt. She was the same height as Cassie, but had a slimmer build. She didn’t say anything, but gave her the Bruce Lee “come on” hand gesture.
Cassie attacked using all the tricks she’d learned from Canary and her Amazon training. For the first five minutes, all the woman did was smile at her and not get hit. She didn’t even look like she was moving half the time. Cassie would throw a blow that somehow landed just millimeters to the side of her.
After the five minutes were up, the woman started to throw blows at her. They were impossibly fast, whipping out of nowhere and she struggled to keep up. Canary was difficult to fight. She’d landed ONE good blow in three months, but this woman was never where she struck! She looked like she wasn’t even trying.
It was then that she held up her hand in a stop motion. She then indicated to watch her, and silently started moving through martial arts moves. They were … ok, but they weren’t as fluid as what she had been doing before. After doing one sequence. She stopped and motioned for Cassie to watch her. She did the movement again, slowly. Then repeated it, with some slight changes. Her weight was better positioned, the strike more fluid. She did this again and a light bulb went off in her head. Those were HER movements. She was showing her how she moved and then showing he how she SHOULD move.
After this, Cassie started to follow along with the corrections and the woman repeated them. Stopping every once in a while and touching Cassie to show her to move a bit differently.
After a few hours of this, the woman stopped and looked at Cassie again. “Now. With focus.”
Staring at her blankly for a moment, Cassie concentrated and focused on her power. She felt power flood into her limbs and her perceptions speed up.
They went at it. No matter how fast Cassie moved, she still couldn’t lay a hand on the woman. Only now the woman was focused, no longer moving casually. She moved with an eerie grace. If Cassie made a mistake, she found a fist slamming into a part of her body, or found herself thrown to the ground.
Somehow, the woman knew when she was focusing properly and when she’d lost focus. She spent some time harrowing Cassie until she learned to keep up her focus for a prolonged time in a fight.
This continued for a bit, before she halted. The young woman smiled, patted Cassie on the shoulder and walked out. She would come back every few days or so and repeat the lessons. After the third time, the lessons were always with her abilities utilized to the fullest, training her to maintain her focus and power.
It was after the second such lesson that she started to be able to occasionally hit Black Canary in training. In one awesome exchange, she managed to get a good throw in (which Canary immediately rolled out of and returned a kick that almost broke her nose).
Her strength started to ratchet up a bit, every day it got easier to focus on her powers and she got stronger when she did so. She could also fly, though not as quickly as she was used to.
Diana started to stop by occasionally to teach, this let her utilize her full strength and taught her how to use it effectively. She could go all out against Diana. She found that though Diana was much stronger and faster, she could actually land blows on her and toss her around the room. She had never been able to test Diana before. Some of the teaching had found root and she’d become a much more skilled warrior than before.
Diana’s response to her bringing a challenge was to show up 2-3x a week and fight harder. Cassie had never enjoyed anything more in her life that the mad abandon of combat with Diana. Diana pushing her around the room and taking blows. She was still outmatched, but she was able to give Diana a fight. She was probably actually a bit better at hand-to-hand combat and reading her opponent, but she was far slower and a lot weaker. Her heaviest blows didn’t give Diana much pause and Diana could punch through some of her blocks by sheer strength or speed.
But each fight she learned, especially how to fight someone stronger and faster. How to best use super-strength in a fight, how to leverage her flying to augment her strength and do moves that would not be possible for someone who couldn’t fly. It had been the strange oriental woman who had taught her that. She’d still rarely talked. She would let a few words of approval now and then mixed with that charming smile.
At the end of an exercise one day, she came out and went to eat and get restored, when Kon-El – Superboy – stepped next to her and walked with her to the cafeteria.
“So I see you are almost up to your old strength! That’s good, you’ll be able to go on missions with us!”
He seemed slightly nervous, but what he said was mostly true. Both Dinah and Diana had told her that she was now more than capable to go on missions.
“Yeah, I’m recovering nicely. I was cleared for missions again, though Diana wants my mother to approve first. She’s coming around. I’m more than capable. I’m a much better fighter than I was a few months ago. You should come to the sparring sessions!” She let out her wonderful smile, but was met with a gruff response.
“I’m Superboy! I don’t need to know that fighting stuff. I’m one of the strongest and fastest people around. I can give Superman a fight for a while! And, unlike you, I don’t loose my powers!” He laughed to let her know he thought it was a joke. Kon-El seemed a bit uneasy and left her to go in to get another huge portion of food.
She’d had a goal of matching her former strength. She was only half way there, but she’d just set a new goal: to beat Superboy’s best.
This was the spice she needed, her strength started to climb. She could now fight blindfolded almost as well as she could without. This didn’t even need much focus, she just could sense where things were, who was in the room and how they were moving.
It had taken her months to get to a percentage of her former strength, but a few days after Superboy had irritated her, she matched her old strength level. She was still well short of Superboy’s power level, but she was working towards it.
And that feat warranted another encounter from Superboy a few days later.
“You’re really hitting those weights! You’re looking pretty buff girl!”
“My strength has been returning quite nicely this week.”
“It’s nice to know that you’ve hit your peak again. It’s great having you around during fights! You can actually almost keep up with me.” He mimed a biceps flex. “Let’s see those guns, girl!”
Almost keep up with him? She fumed. Almost! She felt a surge of anger ripple through her, which she quickly harnessed. You can’t fight properly if you are angry and loose control, but anger was good fuel.
She lifted up her arm, and flexed her biceps. It’d been awhile since she’d done that and she was really impressed by the pretty bulge that grew out of her arm. She’d worked really hard to put it there, and seeing it brought a smile to her face.
Superboy reached out and wrapped his hand around her biceps and gave it a slight squeeze. “Hey, that’s really hard! You’re pretty built. For a girl.” Then he started to squeeze a bit more and he kept ramping up the pressure. Cassie started to flex harder to stave off his grip, but he kept squeezing harder and he was starting to cause her some pain as he compressed her biceps. “Gosh. Your arm is almost as hard as mine is!” A pulse ripped through her, similar to when she pushed her powers and she grabbed ahold of it. She had this sense of Superboy, of his strength, and something in her was rising to meet it. She squinted, set her mouth and let the power flow, drinking it all in. The energy built and the pain ebbed. Her biceps started to push bac, and his fingers were pushed apart, until her biceps rose undaunted by his grip. He grimaced and squeezed harder, but nothing he did caused the slightest change in her arm. She could feel his grip, but it was just a firm pressure, no different from an average handshake, except Superboy’s face was turning red from the exertion.
“Don’t you mean, far harder than yours? You aren’t even denting my babies a bit!”
He stopped squeezing and let go. “I’ll admit they are pretty hard, but they aren’t harder than mine!” He stepped back a bit, and shuffled his feel. “There’s no way your muscles are even remotely as hard as mine.”
She let out an evil grin. She could feel it. She had this sense of Superboy when he was grabbing her, and she KNEW she’d grown stronger. She could feel it. She wasn’t quite sure how it worked, but she could tell. It felt a bit like when she was fighting in the dark, like it was related to how she could tell where people were and how they were moving.
She grinned evilly. “Well, then. Prove it, SuperBOY. Flex that arm up so I can squeeze it down. I’ll try not to make you cry.” He was biologically a few years older than her, so she could tell her emphasizing “boy” got to him. He angrily lifted his arm, and flexed.
It was a shame he was being a jerk. The boy was pretty fine and had a great body. But, Amazons don’t back down and he’d started the challenge.
She wrapped her hand around his bicep and gave them a light squeeze, which made him jump a bit. She’d already got him a bit rattled. “After I squeeze this, I’m going to go set a new record in the gym.” and she gave him another wide grin.
She slowly started to squeeze. Again, she could somehow feel and judge his strength. But she felt the tide inside her, she was already stronger, but she just let it flow. She gripped his biceps with just her index finger and her thumb. It was nicely formed. But she started to squeeze and she kept it up. Then she noticed his grimace and she squeezed a bit more.
“You can just admit my arm is harder, and I’ll stop!” she squeezed a bit more, “Otherwise I’ll just keep doing this until you tell me to stop.”
He let out a grunt and muttered something. It sounded like “Never!”
She smiled again, and squeezed a bit harder, and harder still. His muscle was now compressed quite a bit and he finally said: “OK! You win!”
She immediately let go. And he rubbed his arm. “Jeez Cass! Your grip is incredible!”
“That’s right. Now I’m going back in and show this machine who is boss!” He followed mechanically behind her. She’d just matched her own record. How was she going to do more in such a short period of time?
She pushed a few buttons. “Computer, match to best record for Superboy.”
Then, she reached out to do a biceps curl. Boys were always fascinated by how strong their arms were. She gripped the machine firmly and pulled. She was a bit startled when the weight rose easily. Her biceps flexed and the weights moved. Up. Down. Up. Down.
“Computer. Confirm Kon-El’s best weight.”
“WEIGHT CONFIRMED. SINGLE REP MAXIMUM FOR SUBJECT KON-EL.”
“Computer, double the weight.”
She felt the resistance, but she was keeping up. The energy just flowed into her, and made her muscles feel warm.
“Computer, double the weight.”
“CANNOT COMPLY. SAFEGUARDS MUST BE REMOVED. EXTRA POWER MUST BE ROUTED TO UNIT. USER WONDER GIRL DOES NOT HAVE ACCESS PERMISSIONS.”
“Computer: raise Black Canary.”
“Canary Here. What’s up?”
“Is there some extra power laying around? The equipment here says that it needs it.”
“Uh? Wait. In order for that to happen, you’d have to have been maxing out the system! That only happens for the heavy hitters!”
“Well, it’s telling me that it can’t comply. Could you let it do its thing?”
“Computer. Canary. Override Alpha-Zeta-Chuck-Wilcox-4-9-2. Route all non-essential free power to the gym equipment. Save all recordings from the last half hour and keep saving. Priority Canary-1.”
“UNIT POWER UPGRADED. AWAITING ORDERS.”
Cassie looked back at the unit. She looked over at Kon-El who was a bit shocked. She winked at him. “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“Computer. Keep doubling weight each repetition until I say to stop.”
She started to pump the handle again. Her arm swelled. A nice vein appeared on her arm and wandered down to her biceps. She just kept pumping.
“Am I almost keeping up yet? Is this good for a girl?”
She kept pumping the weight, with the meter on the side increasing. Things weren’t happening fast enough for Cassie thought. “Computer, Maximum resistance!”
She tried to move the weight, and it initially did not move. Kon-El looked at the monitor and said: “That’s higher than Superman’s best. It can’t keep that up for long! There is NO WAY you can move that.”
His words ignited something inside her. There was absolutely a way. She wasn’t going to be limited by ANYTHING. She felt the energy warming her. It filled her and kept coming. The weight didn’t move. She steadied herself and let it come. She let it all come. The energy was a stream before, now it was an ocean. It slammed into her and she took it all.
There was a great cracking sound, her gauntlets shattered and fell to the floor. The spell dropped and her full power blossomed. She though it was an ocean before, but it was so much more. She looked back down at her arm and began to curl the weight. She watched her biceps bunch, it pulled the weight up and strain as she set it back down gently. It was almost hypnotic watching her muscle flex and respond to the weight, generating an unreal amount of strength.
As she absently curled the huge weight, she looked over at Kon-El. “So, I’ll never be able to move this? It seems pretty light to me? Do you want to give it a try?”
She stepped back and Superboy sat down. He gripped the bars and tried to move them. He strained and struggled but the bar didn’t even rock. He might as well be a normal person trying to move tons of weight. Nothing happened.
“Limit EXCEEDED. EXTRA POWER RETURNED. RETURNING TO NORMAL LIMITS.”
With that, Superboy finally made the weight rock a bit. He tried in vain, and it still would not move. Until he finally gave up.
“How the hell did you move that?”
She looked down on him, with a grin.
“Easy. I’m just stronger than everyone else.”
At that moment Canary and Superman walked in and just looking at both of them, knowledge flooded her brain. She knew how strong Canary was, how fast she could move. She could tell the limits of her scream. She could SEE it. And Superman … she could see his powers. She KNEW how strong he was. And how strong she was. SHE WAS STRONGER THAN SUPERMAN!
Following behind them was his cousin. She took a look at Kara and blinked for a moment. By Zeus, she was off the charts! She hadn’t realized how strong Supergirl was! She was going to have some challenges later.
“I hear that someone broke my record? It’s a good thing that I held back to not break the machines! Otherwise I might be worried that someone was stronger than I am.” Superman strode into the room, assured of his presence. He had a light smile on his face like, obviously he thought what he’d said was pretty funny.
Cassie laughed. “Oh there isn’t any doubt about it. I’m much stronger than you are. The only one here that’s stronger than me is Kara.” Cassie walked over to Kara. “Can we test my strength? I think I can ramp up some more if I had something strong enough to test myself against!”
Supergirl gave Cassie a inscrutable look. Then she gave a half smile. “How did you know? No one knows. Kal thinks he’s better than I am. He seems so invested in it, that I just let him have his illusions.”
Superman got a look on his face. “I have you know, I hold back against Kara. I don’t want to hurt her. I always have to hold back, because my power is so incredible.”
“The older I got the more powerful I got. The more CAREFUL I had to be. Because if I ever truly let go, ever truly forgot the things my parents taught me I would have KILLED someone.”
“Kara just doesn’t know her limits and doesn’t know how to hold them in check.” (In the background, if you were paying attention, you could hear Kara mutter, “Yes, I do. Else I’d have hurt you.”)
At this point, Cassie was trying to withhold from laughing. Fortunately she’d had several months of martial training to control herself, so she managed to hold back.
“But just so we’ve VERY clear. I could catch and I could stop Kara ANY TIME I WANTED TO.”
Supergirl obviously couldn’t contain herself and let out a brief snort. “Interesting Theory. I’d like to see you TRY it.”
“No.” Superman stated firmly, “You wouldn’t. I’d hurt you.”
Cassie looked on with a bit of bemusement, and finally decided she had to jump in.
“I know that your power level is high, and you’ve had some control problems. You’ve built up this entire complex in your head, but you need to seriously get over yourself. You’re nowhere near as strong as her, you can’t even best me. Diana might not be as strong as you, but she’d wipe the floor with you. She’s faster than you are.”
Superman looked over at Batman. “Can you believe this? She thinks Diana is faster than I am!”
Bruce just stared at Superman. “Wait. You can think she’s faster than I am?”
Cassie broke in again. “Your reflexes are really quick, and you can move fast. You ARE faster than she is in that regard. But she’s a trained warrior, she has muscle memory and training to handle fights against opponents faster and stronger than she is. She’d wipe the floor with you.”
“Batman, can you believe this? She thinks Diana is faster than I am!”
Batman gave Superman his patented creepy stare, and growled, “Who is faster? Usain Bolt or Bruce Lee?”
“And, that doesn’t matter really. Because I’m better trained than you are. And faster. And stronger. Canary is still a lot better than I am, but I can give Diana a run for her money now. I’ve had more experience fighting stronger and faster opponents. Mostly her, for a lot of sparring sessions, but that silent girl. She’s the best. And she taught me how to REALLY fight with my super powers.”
Everyone looked at her blankly. “Silent girl?”, asked Diana. “We’re your only trainers. No one else but the League and Young Justice can get in and out of here. Bruce handles the security, no one can get in.”
“And no one has violated security protocols,” Batman said. “I audited them last night. There is no way past them.”
Canary cleared her throat. “Who designed those security protocols for you? I think you are forgetting Oracle and that she’s my friend.”
Batman looked startled for a moment. “You don’t mean Cass has been training her?”
Cassie looked on blankly. “Who have I been training? I’m the one who has had six months of extensive around the clock training.”
“Yes, Cassandra has been training Cassie. I had Oracle add her to the protocols and remove her from the logs. I figured that Bruce might have a cow, but Oracle thought it would be good for her and good for Cassie here. The agreement was that I wasn’t allowed to watch. All I know is that a few sessions with her and Cass here started to be able to hit me all the time.”
“Oracle thought that she would be a good teacher. She can speak body language like we speak English. Oracle thought that she would be able to write it like we write English. When we make martial arts, it is like someone who knows a bit of Russian trying to write a poem in Russian. For Cassandra, she’s writing in her native tongue and she’s really good at it.”
“This was NOT supposed to happen.” growled Batman. “I told you to stay away from her. She’s had enough done to her.”
“And that is EXACTLY why Oracle talked to her about it. Showed her all the tapes of Cassie’s fighting. Before AND after she started this training binge. Then she watched them again and she said, ‘I like her. Can I help her?’”. She was actually excited about it. And after Cassie started to use some of her powers in a fight, she would come back excited and happy. She’s never fought anyone like that, because you won’t let her. You are keeping her in a box and that is DANGEROUS for her.”
Diana looked pensive. “Is that why Cassie suddenly improved? She kept coming up with unexpected moves and interesting ways to use her flight power in combat. It was like she was tapped into something totally new. I’ve trained my entire life and this was something new and unexpected. I’m probably twice the warrior I was a month ago just from sparring with Cassie.”
She looked pointedly at Superman. “And I say this without a doubt. You would have had a hard time with her if she were simply at her previous power levels and her current level of training. Now that I’ve seen her strength readings, I’m sure that she would have little problems with you. Especially if her speed has had any improvement.”
And she looked back over at Cassie. “And just how powerful have you become?”
“I’m not sure. But, it seems that red britches here needs a bit of proof. How about a test? Something simple, like arm wrestling. We can contain the force and, though there is some skill involved, it can be reduced to some bits of main strength. I don’t think either of us have had much training in it.”
“Then I want to arm wrestle Kara.” She beamed at the stunning blond Supergirl. She was slimmer than Cassie, but carried herself with a confident poise.
“I’m sort of interested in what will happen too!”, Supergirl said. “You’re on. I’ve not had a challenge in a while.”
The area was quickly reconfigured into an impromptu arm-wrestling area. Superman strode over to the table. “You really want to do this?”
“Yup”, Cassie beamed. “I do.”
“I’ll try not to hurt you.”
“Doesn’t matter. You can’t. And I won’t hurt you. Physically. I’m not sure about your ego.”
Cassie flopped her arms a bit, sat down casually and put her arm up in the classic pose. She then wriggled her fingers. “Come on. It’ll be over soon and then you can get on to the task of readjusting your world view, when you realize that two.” She glanced over as Mary Marvel walked into the room. “Uh, Three, young women are stronger than you are.”
“Three? Who is stronger than me now? Star Girl?”
She kept wriggling her fingers. “I won’t out her if she doesn’t want me too. But I know I’m right. All you have to do is be brave enough to sit down and face the truth.”
Superman looked around the room. Diana said, “Clark she beat your record. At the very least she is in your ballpark. Sit down and take your loss like a warrior.”
He gave Wonder Woman a hurt look.
“Wipe that look off your face. You look silly. If one of my Amazon sisters says she knows she’s stronger than you and she can best you. She can. That you don’t believe her isn’t my problem. I know my strength and I know I’m not a match for yours. So I’m admitting that my protégé just passed me. You seem to feel humiliated by this, my heart is swelling with pride.” Diana walked over and sat down opposite Cassie. “I’m going first. Not because I think I can win. Cassie deserves her chance to test her mettle in a fair contest.”
She gripped Cassie’s hand. “I am not going to go easy on you. I expect you to show me your power. As your mentor, I deserve that much respect.”
Cassie looked like she was going to cry and then she smiled. “You are the best. I’m just a bit stronger that is all. I will hold you for 10 seconds. Try to move me, then I’ll end the match.”
The Flash walked over and assured that everyone was ready. “Go!”
Diana threw all her strength into moving her arm down. And nothing happened. Cassie initially had a grim look on her face, to match her power, but quickly broke out in a smile. “Keep it up!”
Diana grunted, and pushed harder. As Flash said, “That’s 10 seconds.” Diana felt her hand move the wrong way. She threw herself into opposing it, but nothing happened. She looked up at Cassie who was smiling, and didn’t appear to be straining. She smoothly pushed Diana’s hand to the mat and gently touched it to the table. She then immediately let Diana’s hand go.
“And that is power and the control of a trained Amazon. Despite fighting Diana’s enormous strength, I was fully in control and didn’t damage her or the table.” She looked over at Superman. “Maybe you should have had some better teachers than farmers from Kansas. I was trained by Amazons, Gods and the some of the most skilled people on the planet.”
She stood, and bowed to Diana. “Thank you for properly preparing me sister. Your instructions have been invaluable. I hope to continue to gain from your knowledge, wisdom, and grace.”
In return, Diana bowed back. “I am so proud of you my sister.” And then she rushed over and gave Cassie a hug. And let out a woof of air as she was hugged back by Cassie. “You have gotten strong! Now, make Clark humble. He is in need of it this day.”
Cassie resumed her place. And wiggled her hand again. “Come on Supes, Diana was woman enough to try. Are you man enough?”
Taking another look around the room, and seeing little sympathy there, he relented. He started to walk over to the table. Bruce patted him on the shoulder. “You’ll get through it. After Cassandra handed me my ass a few times, I realized I was proud of her. I just had to get over my own ego. I thought it was Dick who was going to do it, but Cassandra can take anyone. I’m not sure she couldn’t take you – I said something about Kryptonian Pressure points and she responded without thinking that ‘they were not in the same place, but it was easy to take away their powers’. I asked what she meant, but she stopped talking and just ate her lunch. She doesn’t always want to talk. She did say ‘But not Supergirl. She is different.’”
“She’d only seen Kara a few times, so I didn’t know what to make of it.” He gestured to the table. “So take your beating, then adjust your ego. be proud of Kara and apologize to Diana.”
“I still think you are all crazy. But I’ll settle this once and for all.” He strode over to the table, and sat down. He griped Wonder Girl’s hand firmly. She resisted the urge to squeeze back harder. She simply let him squeeze.
The Flash, once again, counted down and said: “Go!”
Initially nothing happened. Cassie could sense that Superman was pushing with only a bit of his power. So she looked up at him and winked. “You better start trying.” Then she started to apply pressure. She was stronger and even his max wasn’t going to do him much good. He was stronger than the amount he recorded, but she’d lifted it easily. Her new sense that cataloged strength let her know how strong Superman was relative to her and he didn’t stand a chance. But she also knew that she grew stronger by exertion and testing herself. She felt around for her power and started to focus. She focused on the flow and started to apply some pressure. Superman’s face twitched.
“I’m not using much of my strength yet. Here’s a bit more” She slowly amped up the pressure, until she started to move Superman’s hand toward the table.
“You better start. I’m not really trying very hard.” and she pushed him an inch more, as he started to strain.
“You have a bit more in you. You can do it.” and she pushed him down another inch. Finally, to try to stop her Superman fully committed. He started to strain with all his might and still his hand moved down a bit more.
“Now there it is. Your best.” She focused on the energy. Focused to relax her muscles. To grow her strength to match this load. So that instead of exerting herself a bit, she was relaxed. So this was easy. She felt the power rise and flood through her. She could feel his strength, but it was no challenge to her.
“You might as well try with your other hand at the same time. As this is your best and I’m not even trying!” She pushed him down to an inch from the table and pulled his hand back up to the neutral position so fast that he almost fell out of his chair. She let him get re-adjusted and then pushed him down again, then slowly back up. “I can keep this up all day. You might as well try the other hand. See if you can give me any challenge. Go head. I’ll wait.”
He repositioned himself so he could best use both of his hands. He was standing up, leveraging himself with his feet and grabbing her hand with both of his. She was focusing all her power, waiting for the surge. She was sure she could match him, but just in case, she was going to pull in even more.
Superman strained mightily and, this time, with the leverage and using his entire body, she started to strain! He moved her arm back and inch. And a second inch. And he started to move on the third inch. But all the while, Cassie was smiling inside. Power flooded into her and her strength grew again. She halted his arm. “Is that all you have?” She let the power continue to flow, until holding him was simple. She’d raised her strength by an order of magnitude during this short encounter.
She looked over at Bruce and she winked. Then she moved her arm firmly down to the table. Superman tried as hard as he could and her arm didn’t stop moving. “I could have done this so fast that you’d have been thrown across the room and I’d have had to catch you, but I wanted you to know that I was strong enough that I didn’t need to surprise you with speed.” Then, with a bit more force that was needed, she pushed his hand to the table. The generators started to whine. Superman grimaced in pain. “Just so you know this isn’t a trick. I really am that strong.” and she let up his hand.
He stepped up, rubbing his hand and flexing it a bit. He looked at it like it was something foreign. How could it have let him down?
Cassie grinned, and flexed her biceps. “I think you need to congratulate the third strongest girl in the room!” She flexed her arm a bit, and smiled mockingly at Superman.
He looked a bit pained, and he said. “I’m forced to admit it. I don’t know how, but you are a lot stronger than I am. Your strength is amazing.”
Cassie looked at Kara, and smiled. She gestured to the chair. “How about someone stand up for Krypton?”
Kara smiled and sat down. And grinned. “I wanted to do that to him for the LONGEST time. But I just couldn’t crush his little ego.”
“You say I’m stronger? Are you sure?”
“I’m sure you are stronger. MUCH stronger. But … can you do me a favor and give me a bit before you put me down? I seem to respond to a challenge. I want to see how much stronger I can get.”
“Ok. Let’s do this. Girl Power!” She held her fist out, and Cassie bumped it.
As they gripped hands, she said, “BTW, you’re #2.” She glanced over to Mary, who gave her a look back. “But it’s all girl power!”
They gripped hands and, as the Flash signaled go, Wonder Girl pushed with everything she had. Kara’s hand did not move. Kara’s eyebrow rose a bit. “Wow. You are really strong! Keep bringing it!”
Cassie concentrated. She felt her power flow, she grabbed onto it and she pulled. And pulled. She grabbed at the power and pulled it into her. She felt her arms harden and she pushed. She was only greeted by a smile. “Keep it coming! You’re improving!”
She pushed some more and the energy built up, swirled around in her arms. She felt it strain and her arms started to grow a bit.
There was a bright flash of light, and a loud clap of thunder. A tall powerfully built older man stepped out of the flash. He had wide shoulders and arms that were still thick with muscle. He had a giant flowing white beard. He was wearing a blindingly white Toga. It was the chief of the Olympian gods, Zeus.
“STOP THIS AT ONCE!” He moved to go to the table and interrupt the match, when Mary stepped out and grabbed his arm. Zeus looked down at her. “You are powered by my power. I take it back!” He let out a charge of lightning, which Mary just sucked in.
She smiled at him: “I figured that you didn’t know how it REALLY worked. Most of you gods don’t bother to learn how this stuff works.” Zeus strained to move, but he couldn’t budge Mary’s arm.
“Let them have their fun.” She looked back at Cassie, “Keep pushing!”
Zeus stuck his arm out imperiously. “STOP!” His hand glowed bright yellow for a moment and he tossed a huge lightning bolt directly at Cassie. It arced across the room, then twisted and landed on Mary. Who smiled at him. “Oh, yummy. A little snack. I wouldn’t do that again though. You don’t have that much left.”
Cassie spared her absent father a brief glance and continued to push against Supergirl’s arm. She felt the energy and pulled. It was even easier to pull the energy now. She sucked power in and felt her muscles swell in response.
Suddenly Hermes, Artemis, Ares, and Apollo appeared.
“STOP SISTER! You know not what you do!”
The flow of energy slowed to a trickle, but Cassie needed more to match Kara. She focused down, feeling the power and called more to her. Cassie grabbed a hold of the power and pulled more power into her body. A little peak appeared on her biceps then, slowly, Kara’s arm started to move! She kept at it. As she pushed harder, the gods in the room started to writhe. “STOP!”
Then, with a mighty push, power exploded through her and she pushed and pined Kara’s hand to the table. The gods fell to the ground, and looked a bit stunned.
Cassie held Kara’s hand for a moment and grinned. “I didn’t think I could do it! You are hella strong!” With an apologetic grin, she let Kara’s hand go. “By Hera woman, you were that much stronger than Superman and never let him know?”
“There really wasn’t any reason to.” She glanced over at Kal’s stunned face. “And look at him. He’ll be useless and pout for a few weeks now. The world needs him as a hero.” She gives him a pitying look, “Though I guess he’ll have to get used to it.”
Zeus was in the corner, mumbling to himself. “Foolish Child. You’ve ruined US! You took it! You took it all!”
Cassie looked a bit puzzled. “Took what?”
Mary stepped in. “Each of the Pantheons of the Gods has their own pool of power. Each god pulls from it. Some better than others. If there are a lot of Gods, the pool gets bigger. This is why Zeus wanted a lot of offspring. Especially offspring who don’t know about their power. More unused power means he can tap more when he needs it.”
“What you did is learn to pull it in better than the rest of them. They still have power, just not as much as before. Those that resisted got drained the most. I’m sure you felt the resistance in the flow at the end and yanked some more power free. Athena and Hephaestus probably faired best. They didn’t fight, they just relaxed and held firm. The others fought and lost. As they fell, their left over power flowed back into Athena and Hephaestus. If they knew how to share, they’d not have had a problem.”
Cassie looked back over to Mary Marvel. “For all that I increased my strength today, you’re still even stronger than I am! That’s simply incredible!”. In response, Mary flexed her arm, causing a nice firm bicep to rise. Cassie walked over and squeezed Mary’s arm. It was harder than anything she’d ever squeezed before and she was stronger than Superman. STRONGER THAN SUPERMAN!
Mary smiled at her wisely. “I’m powered by the power that feeds ALL the gods. So my pool is quite a bit bigger. Still, I’m sharing that pool with another. She’s only sightly weaker than I am, though her magical skills are incredible. Imagine Dr. Fate was Superboy and she’s you. Her power levels are pretty insane.”
She reached down and picked up the shattered bracers. “This is quite extraordinary. You grew your power so much, so quickly you shattered these bracelets. None of the other Greek Gods could have done that. You’ve truly pulled their power into you and you’re so aware of it now they’d never be able to pull anything back. Even the titans are much less of a threat now.”
She looked over at Supergirl. “Any one of us three could easily dispatch all the titans.”
“Except. I’m sure that the game changed because we need to fight someone. I just don’t know who. Someone so powerful that they would have wiped the floor with the Justice League.”
“And I have NO IDEA who that is …”
Wonder Girl looked at the other two young female titans, “Perhaps we can figure that out together. After all, who could stand against us now?”