Author name: Cloudtrader -- author LiveJournal
Recipient name: Sandy Claws
Requested character(s): Helena Bertinelli / Huntress II
Story title: Fallen
Rating: Appropriate for teens and adults.
Spoiler warnings: Set just after the events of "World War III" (circa 1999), so there are spoilers for that.
Author's notes: It is suggested that readers know about the WWIII event that ran in the DC series JLA (issues #34-41) before reading this, but it isn't absolutely necessary as long as some knowledge of Helena Bertinelli's history is known to the reader. I have played a bit loose with canon and with characterization. Huntress was not actually present in the comics in the scene with the Spectre. She could have been lurking in the background, though, and I have assumed that she was, saw what the Spectre was showing the JLA, but didn't see what the Martian Manhunter showed them afterwards. And I have also played up the Catholic influence on Helena's thoughts.
Three days into the start of a new semester and two of her students were dead. Helena Bertinelli found that completely unacceptable, which was why she was lying belly down on top of the roof of a bodega across from the subdivided brownstones where both those students had lived. The evening air was rich with the smells of Gotham – trash wet from an afternoon shower, exhaust fumes, cat piss, burning plastic, and in this particular neighborhood, the faint reek of fish from the nearby harbor. The bodega was only one storey tall so Helena was continually assaulted with the sounds of the street, sounds that were muted on the tall building tops where Batman and his crew tended to work and which were completely absent in the cool silence of space where the JLA dwelt.
She shifted, the gravel on the roof digging into her skin even through her costume. The JLA. She tried not to feel bitter about it. She hadn't really belonged with them anyway, up in their pristine, shining tower on the Moon. This was her level – sunk in the shadows and mud of Gotham. And that was okay. Here was where she was needed, here. She was made for retribution… not saving the world. She didn't think that the world could be saved, in the end. The accumulated sins of humanity would surely add up to Armageddon sooner or later – an Armageddon Earth's defenders would be unable to stop. Even guardian angels could falter and let bad things happen, as she knew all too well. So many sinners, preying on so many innocents. It was her job to stop them, and sometimes, it was her job to send them to their eternal damnation.
Helena wondered if any of them had protested her expulsion. Or if they had even asked after her at all…
Wonder Woman might have. Helena and the Princess of Themyscria were by no means best friends, but they had respected each other. She remembered one conversation they'd had shortly after she'd joined the JLA.
"It is interesting, Diana had said to her, "that you claim the title of a pagan goddess and yet also wear the symbol of Christendom." Diana indicated the crosses Helena wore as part of her costume.
"You think there is a dichotomy then? That the two can’t be represented in one individual?" she rejoined.
"No, I think they can, as you obviously stand before me, but I do not understand how. Or maybe it is that I am unsure as to whether you truly understand the significance of the name you've chosen for yourself."
Helena had given her a flat stare. "Artemis. Greek goddess of the hunt, called the Huntress. Diana to the Romans." She'd bared her teeth at Wonder Woman in mock grin. "Goddess of Wild Things, blah blah blah…"
Wonder Woman was a class act and said with dignity, "You can recite it, but do you know what it means?"
"The Huntress is a symbol of female empowerment independent of male authority. Unlike the other major virgin goddess, Athena – who was truly a father's daughter and furthered the interests of a male hierarchy –, Artemis represented the feminine aspect untamed by men. She was also the protector of youth, of innocents." Helena looked Diana straight in the eye and held up the weapon strapped around her wrist. "That is what I do."
"How, then, do you reconcile using the symbology of a female goddess with that of a male god that rejects her in totality?"
She was tempted to say something like "I'm Catholic – we thrive on contradictions," but a witty answer was a disservice to both of them. She thought a moment, fingering the cross around her neck. "In the end, it comes down to how I was raised, I think. The Huntress is an ideal I understand here" she tapped her head, "but my faith is in my gut – like the difference between reason and instinct." She smiled at the princess. "And, like all good Catholics, I am constantly struggling with my faith." And myself, she didn't add.
Wonder Woman had nodded her understanding and they had moved on to other topics of conversation. They were both warriors struggling to do what was right.
She wondered if the Amazon Princess had bowed in submission to Batman's decree that the Huntress was expelled from the Watchtower and from the ranks of its hosts. Because she was a killer, he'd said… as if there were no other killers in the JLA…
Superman. The world's golden boy, the savior of mankind many times over. And yet the Spectre – who was apparently the representative of God's Vengeance – had shown that underneath his righteous façade, Superman was a killer, too, whatever his justifications. She'd been in the background, but she'd been swept up along with the others and seen him kill someone named General Zod and his partners. Superman was like her. And she had also seen the truth of Batman's soul. She and the Dark Knight shared a similar passion for seeing criminals destroyed, he was just afraid to do what was necessary. She was just like them!
She still couldn't believe that he'd fired her.
Prometheus deserved to die. There, in the Ghost Zone, inside his crooked little house, all it would have taken was the application of a little bit of pressure. It didn't take all that much to kill someone, really…
And she hadn't even done it! After everything Prometheus had done, hurting people, he'd deserved to die… but Batman had stopped her.
There was an odd movement below and the Huntress abruptly pulled herself out of her musings and focused on the here and now. Three men had just pulled up in a sleek black car that really didn't belong in this neighborhood. The men didn't belong, either. Black suits, badly hiding telltale bulges under their arms. She sneered at them. Criminal moneymen, she thought, easy prey. A teenaged girl came out to greet them and the four moved into the alley. Helena recognized her from around the school. She'd have to keep her eye on the girl. But right now, the girl was secondary. It was time to take down some scum.
The Huntress did not have the same type of finesse that Batman did. Her methods were blunt and brutal. Her first kick dislocated one tough's kneecap and he hit the cement howling in pain. As the next man turned to face her she punched him in the kidneys, hard. He'd probably have some internal bleeding from that. The last man almost had his gun out when she shot an arrow from her crossbow through his wrist. All three were down. She turned to the stunned girl.
"You helped to kill two boys by dealing drugs to them, Maria," she growled at the girl. Maria eyes were huge and shocked, full of fear. She was only fourteen. "Do it again, and this will be you." The Huntress kicked one of the men writhing in pain at her feet. "Now leave."
With a whimper of fear, Maria turned and ran. The Huntress returned her attention to the thugs. She collected their guns, stabbing one of them in the shoulder with a knife when he tried to resist.
"Bitch!" he gasped.
She smirked at him. "Now now, is that really the last word you want to say before you die?" She pointed his own gun at him. His eyes rolled upwards and he fainted, whether in pain or in fear she didn't know, nor did she care. "What about you two, anything to say?" Both shook their heads in terror.
Helena considered. They were trash – sinners selling death to children. They deserved to be sent swiftly to Hell for their crimes. And this time Batman wasn't here to stop her. He was probably off with the JLA stopping another alien invasion or mad scientists or something. She looked at the men in front of her and saw the monsters that had killed her family. She saw demons.
One of them was crying. The other appeared to be praying. She lowered the gun. None of them were older than twenty, if that. These thugs weren't Prometheus – they weren't even highly connected Mafioso, just the hired help, goons. She shook her head.
"You disgust me. The death of two little boys are on your heads. You will pay for your sins. You will wait here for the police and when they come, you will confess and take your punishment. If you do not," she enunciated her words with careful menace, "next time we meet, I will kill you. Do I make myself clear?"
The one that was crying just nodded frantically, but the other looked her in the eyes. "Yes." She nodded. Good enough.
The Huntress left them there and climbed back onto the roof. She still had her JLA signal device. She could contact Oracle and have Oracle call the police. She considered it.
With a sigh, Helena threw the communicator down and stomped on it, crushing it into the gravel of the rooftop. She'd find a payphone and then watch to make sure the three men did as they were told and the police came.
She didn't belong with the JLA. She'd always known that, but now she actually felt it. The JLA was for threats to the world. All she dealt with was scum killing kids – not important enough for the angels to deal with, after all. What had Prometheus said as he was beating her? She was the wild card, the psycho Batman was trying to tame. Ha! She was the Huntress. She was all the things that men feared, something they couldn't control. She didn't work in Gotham on Batman's sufferance, she worked here because she was needed.
She was out of the JLA, but that was for the best. After all, as Zauriel had demonstrated when he'd rallied the Hosts of Heaven to come to the defense of mankind against Mageddon, fallen angels were often the only ones that could get the job done.
Reference image taken from the cover of BATMAN: OUTLAWS #2.
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