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The Spoiler's Diary:
Nightmare World
Chapter Five

by Sean Taylor

Working together. Each member knowing his place and doing his job. I remember Robin mentioning that as the reason he and Batman was so effective together. I always thought it was just an excuse for his good-little-soldier act. But watching our "team" get ourselves wiped across Apokolips like a grease spot had me thinking that maybe there was something to that whole teamwork thing after all.

The boomtube had arrived shortly after Catwoman sent the guys ga-ga and it dropped us right in the middle of an ocean of parademons. As I fell into the thick of the soldiers, I remember hoping that the old saying about the good guys and the white hats was true. Because it sure didn't look like the odds were in our favor.

And if that weren't bad enough, I had the little primadonna watching my back with her little trick arrows. On Nightwing's orders, she'd paired up with me to work our way through the mob and try to find some point of reference that might clue us in on where DeSaad might be.

"Move it, Arrowette," I yelled to her, watching her shoot a few trick arrows into the crowd. A glamour girl with trick arrows and a Robin wannabe in purple spandex against the hordes of some evil god who had almost killed Superman.

We were so out of our league.

"Suzy."

"What?" I grabbed her wrist and pulled her behind me through the tangle of legs and swinging fists.

"Suzy," she said and let another net arrow fly. "My name is Suzy."

"That's great. We'll play slumber party later, bowgirl." I pulled harder, weaving when we could, and throwing a few well-place kicks to the green knees around us when needed. Still, if the soldiers hadn't been so busy focusing on the heavy hitters, me and Junior Miss would have been cream of wheat.

Thanks to Nightwing and Oracle, we were all connected by wireless com units, and Nightwing's command to stick to the plan screamed in my ear so loudly that I could hear it easily above the noise of the battle.

"Centurion and Junior, we need a diversion so the stealth team can regroup." A few grunts and then silence. "And fast! We're getting outclassed by just the footsoldiers here."

Immediately, there was a burst of blue and gold as the Centurion and Fawcetty City Jr. streaked against the black canopy that passed for a sky. Four full troops of parademons bolted after them, leaving us more than enough to trash us royally. Almost as suddenly, they dogpiled on the good guys and I heard Nightwing grunt his disapproval over the com unit.

"Not good enough," the voice in my ear said. "What can you give us, Argent?"

I ducked under the fists of a parademon who got almost close enough to hit me. Stay low, Nightwing had told me. I was the only one who knew how to reach DeSaad, and they needed me. At least he didn't say what he was probably thinking, that I was practically useless against the stone-faced troops from Hell. There was a crackle of energy and my attacker dropped to his knees.

"He'll only be out a few minutes tops," Arrowette said, still holding the electro-gadget arrow she had zapped him with. "But that should help a little anyway."

"Thanks." Great. Even the junior prom queen had shown more usefulness that I had.

A few seconds later we were again dodging the legs and arms of the tangled battle, working our way to some vantage point where I could give Batman Jr. some clue as to where we needed to go. As we scurried through the web of people and parademons, I heard a break in the fighting, and I looked up. Argent had risen about the crowd on her slide and was hacking away at hordes of the demons with a giant silver "blade." Finally, she was using her power for something other than just fancy transportation.

The lull was over as soon as it had started, however, and the fighting resumed. In the whirlwind of falling and fighting, I tripped over a unconscious parademon, pulling Arrowette down on top of me. The three parademons closest to us noticed quickly and rushed toward us. I pushed Arrowette off me and jumped to my feet. I scanned for an opening, but there was none. Well, I thought, it looks like I get another shot at seeing how worthless I am in this war, and I braced myself to use the speed and weight of the quickest attacker against the others, and catch up with bowgirl in the close save contest.

But before I could attempt to catch him off guard with a flip, all three disappeared. They just rose into the air and flew backwards into the side of what looked a factory.

"Superboy's quick save service," came a cocky voice from above, "Way better than Triple A, if I say so myself." Superboy grabbed me and Arrowette and lifted us into his arms, and we rose above the battle. "Always ready to lend a hand," he said, and I felt him readjust his grip on me, 'lending his hand" awfully close to my rear. "Anything look familiar yet?"

"Not yet," I said, "and if you don't move your hand back around my waist, Romeo, I just might forget you're one of the good guys."

Bowgirl giggled and smiled. Maybe he was lending his other hand to her.

"What?! You thought ...?" He faked a good look of surprise, but moved his hand anyway. "I was just securing my grip so you didn't fall,"

"Right ..." I scanned the area. From the higher vantage point, I thought I could make out the ramshackled hobble I had hidden in before. And if I was right about that, then the place where DeSaad had taken me before wouldn't be too far beyond that. "That shack ahead. The one between all the torn down places. I think I recognize that."

"You sure?" asked Superboy.

"Mostly. It was dark and I wasn't really thinking about planning a tour last time."

"That's fine, Spoiler." Nightwing's voice returned to my ear. I was glad he didn't call me by name. Even if I was planning on ditching the superhero gig soon. Maybe. "We'll take what we can get. Kid?"

"What?" Superboy's tone was one of both awe and annoyance, but on him it seemed in place.

"Can you get Spoiler there? If not, I'll get Impulse on it."

"We'll do --" I started, but was interrupted by the Kid with hands of steel. Fresh steel, if you know what I mean.

"I'm on it, Bat-boy. The babes won't spoil with Superboy and his patented tactile telekinesis around to keep them safe.

And Robin had actually teamed up with this guy before. It must have been the longest adventure of his life. But at least he didn't have to worry about the misplaced chivalry of the pajama club Romeos.

Oh well, at least he wasn't the fast kid.

Luckily, the parademons were so busy with the others that they ignored us. Either that or DeSaad was just playing with me, letting me bring some new 'playmates' to him personally. Whatever the reason, Superboy landed us beside the shack I'd mentioned. Superego watched outside while bowgirl and I went inside to check it out. Sure enough, it was the place. The aluminun wrapper was still on the ground where I'd dropped it, not that it didn't fit in with the rest of the trashheap of Apokolips.

"This is the place I told you about, Nightwing." I waited for him to respond. "Nightwing?"

"Sorry, I'm here. Just a little ..." He paused. I heard a muffled thud followed by two loud cracks. "... busy. I'm sending Impulse and Catwoman your way."

"Catwoman?"

"Trust me. If anyone can find a way into DeSaad's labs, it's her. Just make sure you keep an eye on her."

"Okay, you're the boss."

"And Spoiler."

"Yeah?"

"I won't let you down. We're not leaving here until Robin and Damage are safe."

I turned and motioned for Arrowette to follow me outside again. "Thanks for the save back there," I said before realizing it. She smiled. "Don't mention it. You could have handled him, I'm sure. But hey, we're partners, right? That's what we do for each other."

I coughed, clearing my throat. "Sure. Anyway, Impulse and Catwoman are --"

"Right here waiting on you," came the energetic voice of hair boy. "So, what's the plan?"

"The plan is for you , the girl, and ego out there to stay out of sight while Blue and I find a way into this DeSaad guy's lab."

"Ha," Superboy said as he entered and pointed at Impulse. "Wait a minute ..."

It was Impulse's turn to laugh. "She tagged you too." He formed a capital 'L' with his fingers and touched his forehead with it.

"Come on, guys. This is serious," Arrowette said and the two boys clammed up. "You guys find us a way in so we can rescue Damage and Robin already so we can hurry up and get off this nasty planet."

We went out and sneaked along the side of the shack, trying to use the shadows as much as possible for cover. I followed as Catwoman led the way. She moved like air. She could probably even sneak up on Robin. Batman too, I figured, if she really wanted to, anyway. Still, it surprised me that she would be willing to risk her life to save the life of someone who would arrest her if he had to -- especially if Batman told him to.

"Catwoman?" I whispered.

She turned to face me, resting her finger on her lips and shaking her head.

I got the message. No talking until we were out of the line of site. After a few more seconds of sneaking, we made our way to the back of the shack.

"What did you need back there?" Catwoman asked when we stopped to rest against the wall of the shack.

"Well, hmm, it's just that I, hmm, was wondering why."

She tapped her ear, reminding me about the com units. Our conversation wouldn't be as private as I had hoped.

"Oh," I said.

She slipped her com unit from her ear and motioned for me to do the same. When I did, she said, "I'd like to keep this channel private. A girl likes to hang on to a few of her secrets, especially from Batman Junior, no matter how good he looks in his tights."

How did she do it? How could she remain so calm, so light-hearted -- even cracking jokes -- with all we were facing?

"So," I asked again, "Why?

"What's a nice girl like me doing in a place like this?"

"Something like that. I mean, you're one of the bad guys, right? What are you doing trying to save the guys in the white hats?"

She grinned. "If you mean bad guys like Two-Face and Joker, I'd like to think my halo's a littler shinier that that. But don't look for me to start calling myself Batwoman anytime soon either."

"Then why?"

"I like the kid."

"You came to Apocalips because you like him!?"

"Sure, didn't you?"

Her question quieted me. I guess, underneath it all, that's why we were all here -- at least those of us who knew him. We liked him, and knew he deserved better than to be DeSaad's newest lab rat.

"Yeah, I guess so. He's kind of special like that, isn't he?"

"Except when he calls me Catty." She smiled. Friendly even. "I'll bring him back here myself if he does that again."

I smiled. Funny how it took one of the villains to cheer me up. To make me forget how slim our chances of success actually were.

"Come on," she said. "I'll bet a psycho like DeSaad probably has secret entrances around here everywhere."

Read Chapter Four

Read Chapter Six