Birds of Prey Episode 2 Belling the Cat - Chapter 9 Turnabout

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    Birds of Prey
    Episode 2 Belling the Cat


    Story by L’Espion


    [email protected]


    Chapter 9 Turnabout

    “Ya deaf?” Harley spat. “Whatcha doing in my cell and how’d ya get into here?”


    “That’s a damned good question and I don’t think I can answer it,” Vampirella replied.


    Each of the women studied the other. Harley saw a petite, dark-haired, dark-eyed woman endowed with a magnificent physique. In fact magnificent was a complete understatement. Her curves seemed to have curves and when she moved it was with the grace of a gazelle. Moreover, she seemed completely unintimidated by Harley’s aggressive posturing.


    “Hmmpp!” Harley snorted. “Looks like yer in the same fix as me.” She jumped off the bed and offered her hand. “The name’s Harley. Harley Quinn. Ya heard of me?”


    “Can’t say I have,” the woman answered, taking her hand. “I don’t think I’m from around here. The name’s Vampirella.”


    “Vampir…,” Harley began and then stopped as the woman smiled. She hopped back onto the bed. “Yer not gonna bite me are ya?”


    “I must admit at I feel a little peckish,” Vampirella replied, “but I only bite my enemies.”


    “Well then, it’s a good thing we’re best buds,” Harley said.


    “Yes,” Vampirella agreed. She flexed her fingers. “Strange, I seem to have lost my powers.”


    “Oh ya?” Harley said. “What does that mean?”


    “It means that we are stuck in here until someone opens the door.”


    “Well, that won’t long,” Harley said, sticking out her tongue. “We’re on TV.”


    Meanwhile

    “Boss, you better come see this.”


    “See what?” Rozanov growled. He glared at the henchman who had poked his head into the room. He was lounging back in his chair with a glass of vodka next to him while he watched a live broadcast of FC Locomotiv Moscow playing PFC CSKA Moscow. Given the time difference he was watching a recorded version, but despite that his men had strict orders not to disturb him while the game was on. “This better be good,” he added.


    “Olga and Zeiss think it is,” the thug added.


    Rozanov sighed and hefted himself out of his chair. “Why can’t anyone think for themselves?”


    He found Olga, Zeiss, Szazz, and Hellfern all gathered in the viewing room perched over the one-way glass looking down into Harley Quinn’s cell. He walked over to join them. “What’s this all…? Where did she come from?”


    Damned if ve know, boss,” Olga answered. “Ve vere just about to let the next set off customers into cell, vhen suddenly poof she vas zere.”


    “What do you mean ‘poof?’ Someone must have let her into the cell. Send a few men to sort this out.”


    “I’ll go,” Zeiss volunteered. “I wouldn’t mind having a crack at that blonde clown and that brunette is a nice piece of ass.”


    “So she is. But she’s a nice piece of merchandise as well. Go easy on her.”


    Zeiss shrugged. “I’ll do my best.”


    A few minutes later

    “Heeeere they come!” Harley shouted, bouncing up and down on the bed.”


    “I don’t understand,” Vampirella said. “Aren’t they going to rape you?”


    “Well, yeah, but I might get a couple of licks in first. A gal’s gotta look on the bright side.”


    “I find that disturbing,” Vampirella said.


    “Yah, well get used to it,” Harley rejoined.


    There was the sound of the door locks releasing and then a hiss as the seal was broken. As an upgrade the room had been completely sealed so that if so desired the air could be pumped out of it for the amusement of the perverted members of the underworld who were willing to pay for such a show. It hadn’t happened to Harley yet, but she been informed that Selina had suffered such an episode.


    The door swung open to reveal two henchmen, both armed with shock batons. Just a few feet behind them Philo Zeiss stood with a mocking smile on his face. “Why don’t you make my day, Harley? I’ve been promised a turn with you if my help is needed.”


    “Yah?” Harley shouted. “Just come at me and we’ll see who comes out bestest.”


    “My pleasure,” Zeiss said stepping past the two henchmen. “Let’s see how well you do without your baseball bat.”


    To his surprise the petite brunette who had somehow made her way into Harley’s cell moved to stand in front of him. “What the hell?” Zeiss exclaimed. “You got a suicide complex?”


    “Yah,” snarled Harley from behind her. “I don’t need yer help.”


    “I’m not doing this for you,” Vampirella replied. Moving with surprising speed she took a single step forward, threw her arms around Zeiss’ neck and held on in a passionate embrace. Or at least that is what it looked like until she stepped back.


    “What the hell?” Zeiss gasped. “The bitch bit me.” Suddenly his knees buckled and he grabbed for the doorway to keep from falling, as a trickle of blood pulsed from his throat.


    “Ahhh!” Vampirella breathed. “I needed that.”


    “You’ll pay for that, whore,” one of the baton-carrying thugs said. He stepped forward brandishing his weapon.


    “I’d get out of here if I were you,” Vampirella said, wiping the blood away from her mouth. She grimaced at the thug, revealing one-inch incisors.


    “Jeezus,” the thug paled. He hastily backed toward the door, his companion stepping back with him.


    In the observation room Hellfern suddenly turned toward Olga. “The door,” he shouted. “Close the door. Quickly, she’s some sort of metahuman.”


    Olga jammed her finger onto the button that controlled the door. To their relief it quickly swung shut sealing Harley and the strange woman inside. “Damn, that was close,” Rozanov said.


    “Damn, you let the door close,” Harley shouted. “Now how’re we gonna get outa here? Pretty good trick with the fangs by-the-way.”


    “I can make my own door,” Vampirella replied. She flexed her fingers and four-inch talons sprouted from her fingers. She scored the wall and ripped an opening through the one-inch metal wall into the adjacent cell. They found themselves looking in on a very beleaguered Selina Kyle.


    She was fully dressed, or almost so. Apparently the five thugs who had purchased her services had decided it would be more fun to have her fully clothed for their session so that they could have the pleasure of stripping her costume from her before they really had their fun. She was being held down by three of her assailants while the other two stripped her costume from her. She was still wearing her mask, but her outfit had been opened to the waist revealing her breasts and a number of bruises that indicated she had put up a bit of a fight before being overwhelmed in the confined space of her cell. Her eyes widened in surprise as Harley and Vampirella burst into the cell.


    Her astonishment, however, was as nothing compared to that of the five would-be rapists. “What the fuck..?” one of them began, but that was as far as he got before Harley vaulted through the jagged opening Vampirella had provided and tore into the stunned goons.


    She bounced forward onto her hands and then cartwheeled her feet into the chest of her closest adversary. There was a crunch of breaking bone and a scream of agony as his ribs shattered and then he was hurled to the other side of the room.


    But Harley didn’t stop there. She landed on her feet, spun and delivered back-kick to the head of the man who had been holding Selina’s arms.


    “Christ, get her!” one of the men yelled, but Harley’s diversion had allowed Selina to get free. Bruised and battered as she was, she was still full of fight and she immediately tackled one of the remaining men while Harley went after the other two.


    Through all of this Vampirella watched calmly as the five thugs were quickly dispatched. “What’s with that, Vampi?” Harley said. “Ya let us do all the work.”


    “I thought I’d let you enjoy yourself,” Vampirella coolly replied. “You seem to be having so much fun.”


    “Yeah, well there is that,” Harley admitted.


    “Who is your friend?” Selina interjected.


    “Oh ya,” Harley said. “I fergot. This is my new bestest bud Vampi. Vampi meet Sel…, I mean Catwoman, another bestest bud.”


    “Pleased to meet you, Catwoman. My full name is Vampirella.”


    “Likewise,” Selina replied nervously, glancing at Vampirella’s still extended talons.


    “Yadda yadda yadda,” Harley chanted. “We’ll catch up with the civilities later. “Can ya get us outa here, Vampi?”


    “With pleasure,” Vampirella said. She slashed her claws against the door of the cell, and with a shower of sparks and a screech of anguished steel the door was ripped open.


    “Hawk-a-a-a!” yelled Harley as she bolted through the door followed immediately by Selina and then Vampirella.


    “Hawk-a-a-a?” Selina repeated. “What the hell is with that?”


    “Whatsa matter? Ain’tcha got no culture?” Harley retorted. “Uh oh!”


    Her last comment was directed down the hall. Rushing toward them were more than a dozen of Rozanov’s henchmen, armed with everything from shock batons and truncheons to shotguns. “Holy shit,” Harley said, “we got trouble.”


    “No,” Vampirella replied. “They have trouble.” She moved almost faster than either Harley or Selina could follow and swept into Rozanov’s stunned goons before any of them had a chance to do more than scream.


    “Gollikers,” Harley said. “That was bloody. But cool though. Didja notice she had wings?”


    Selina had noticed. “I’m damned glad she’s on our side,” she muttered.


    “Waddya say we go look fer something to wear?” Harley suggested. “I’m tired of being starkers.”


    “Good idea,” Selina agreed. “But this first.” She spun and delivered a brutal kick to Zeiss as he staggered from the cell where they had left him. The thug grabbed at his genitals and collapsed in a moaning heap. “That felt good. I should do it more often.”


    “There’s some lockers over there,” Harley said as Vampirella returned. Both she and Selina ignored the fact that their new friend was dripping blood from her mouth and talons.


    “What next?” Vampirella asked as Harley inspected the lockers.


    “Clothes first we hope,” Selina replied.


    “Damn,” Harley grunted as she jerked on the handle of one of the locker doors. “Locked. Guess that’s why they call ‘em lockers.”


    “You are full of astute observations,” Vampirella said. “I think I could really get to like you. But allow me.” A second later her claws opened the first locker with the precision of a can opener.


    Harley peered in and hauled out a handful of costumes. “Hmm, that’s PG. Too white and busty fer me. Did I tell that me and PG are best buds? Solved a lot of crimes together.”


    She tossed the first outfit aside and pulled out a midnight purple and black outfit. “Here ya go, Selina. This looks like you.”


    Selina held up the costume. It was an exact copy of the outfit she usually wore; although completely lacking any of the tech she had put into the original. She eyed it with distaste as she recognized it for what it was; something she would be required to wear so that Rozanov’s paying customers would have the pleasure of stripping it off her. “Bastard,” she muttered, but she began to put it on.


    “An here’s one fer Zatanna,” Harley continued.


    “Zatanna and Power Girl?” Selina asked, suddenly twigging to the implications of the other costumes. “But that means…”


    “That means they’re here too,” Harley interrupted. “Ta da!” she continued, as she jerked a red and black reproduction of her outfit from the locker. “Not the best quality, but it’ll do.”


    “Anything there for me?” Vampirella asked.


    “Maybe this?” Harley answered, pulling a gossamer harem outfit from the locker.


    “Not exactly,” Vampirella said, holding up the filmy see-through outfit. “But close enough. Now, did you say that two more of your friends are here?”


    “Yeah,” Harley confirmed. “PG and Zats. They are probably in these other cells.”


    “Then we better get them out of there,” Vampirella said as she pulled on the last of her very brief costume. It hid almost nothing of her exquisite body, but as she had said, it was close enough.


    “Yeah, and maybe we better hurry,” Harley said. “I’m thinkin’ undesirable reinforcements are about to show up.”


    Less than ten minutes had passed since their dramatic and very bloody escape. No doubt Rozanov and his henchmen had been stunned by the turn of events, but it wouldn’t take them long to recover. They moved down the corridor opening one door after the other courtesy of Vampirella. Selina and Harley noticed that she had wiped her talons clean of the blood she had shed, but that did not prevent one or two nervous shudders when she used them on the metal doors.


    The first two rooms were empty, but the third produced a nude Power Girl and the fourth held Zatanna. Both heroines were in less than desirable condition. Karen’s body was marked by multiple bruises and Zatanna could only point to her throat indicating that she couldn’t talk. They were both nude, but Harley had brought along their facsimile outfits which they gratefully donned.


    “Now,” Selina said, “we’ve got to decide what to do about Rozanov and the rest of his entourage.”


    “I know nothing of this Rozanov person,” Vampirella said. “Exactly who is he?”


    “It’s a bit of a story,” said Selina said, “and it starts with me. Meanwhile I think we might want to get out of here. “I’ll explain as we go.”


    Meanwhile again

    “What the hell just happened?” Szazz asked. “We can’t see into the corridor, but it sounded like the the Huns descending upon some village in Eastern Europe.”


    “I knew we should have put cameras in the corridor,” Rozanov said. “Why wasn’t that done?”


    “Ve didn’t sink zhey could get out ov zhe cells,” Olga explained.


    “Yes, but now they are all out, including Power Girl and Zatanna. How long will they remain helpless, Doctor?”


    “Zatanna was due for another treatment today, but Power Girl should remain helpless as long as she breathes the air in this facility,” Hellfern replied.


    “That’s something at least,” Rozanov said. “But in the meantime they are out and have somehow managed to deal with the men we sent after them.”


    “I haff sent for reinforcements,” Olga said. “Zhey should be here shortly.”


    “Good,” Rozanov said. He turned the Hellfern. “You got anything?”


    “I have developed a kryptonite-powered laser. I was going to test it on Power Girl, but in theory it should work; and it should also work on anyone else.”


    “Anything else?” Szazz asked. “We’ve got three heroine level vigilantes loose as well as the Quinn nutjob. And then there’s that thing with claws that can cut through steel. We might need a bit more help than that.”


    “What?” Hellfern said. “The great Victor Szazz asking for help?” With his grotesquely twisted features it was hard to tell if the demented scientist was being sarcastic, but the sneer in his voice was unmistakeable.


    “Listen, you misshapen freak,” Szazz began. “You get smart with me and…,”


    “Gentlemen, please,” Rozanov interrupted. “Arguing with one another won’t help. Doctor, do you have anything else?”


    “Well,” Hellfern answered slowly. “There is something I was working on; a continuation of my life’s work. A toxin that can alter the genetic structure of the human animal and cause them to revert to more primitive forms. It is untested, but I have a liter of it in aerosol form.”


    “Let me guess,” Rozanov said. “You were going to test it on one of the captured heroines.”


    “Of course,” Hellfern replied. “But only when you were finished with them.”


    “All right,” Rozanov said. “Olga, go with the doctor and help fetch his toys.”


    Olga padded off and Rozanov continued to organize his troops. By now several men had entered the room; all of them heavily armed. At that moment another man entered. Rozanov recognized him as one of the men that had been sent down to deal with the escaped heroines. “Boss,” the man gasped as he staggered into the room, “they’re all dead. That black-haired bitch tore them apart.”


    Rozanov did not ask how the he had managed to escape death. No doubt he’d gotten the hell out of the way as soon as things had started to go wrong. “Go with the others,” he said as still more men piled into the room. “We’ll deal with these damned heroines.”


    Szazz and Olga returned along with Hellfern. The demented scientist was holding a small plastic bottle and giggling fiendishly. “This should deal with them,” he said. “I’ve placed it in an aerosol container. Just press this button and throw it.”


    “Give me that,” Szazz said, taking the container from Hellfern “Now we’ll be able to deal with those bitches.” He started to move toward the other men, but Rozanov stopped him.


    “Stay here,” the crime boss ordered. “I want you just in case those mugs screw up.”


    “Just as you say, boss,” Szazz grinned.


    And Again

    Power Girl stumbled as Selina led the other three women through the converted warehouse. Although some of its layout had been changed it was still close enough to the blueprints she had studied that she could find her way. “What’s the matter?” the catsuited woman asked. “What did those bastards do to you?”


    “They did enough,” Karen answered. “The last few really worked me over. But I think it’s something in the air. That horror-show Hellfern is here and I think the air has some elements of kryptonite.”


    “Then we better getcha outa here,” Harley said.


    “Maybe,” Selina agreed, “but maybe we could also check out the machine room. If there is something in the air it would most likely be connected to the air conditioning and heating system and I know where that is.”


    “Let’s go then,” Karen agreed. They were high up in the upper levels of the converted warehouse. Catwoman, Harley, Vampirella, and even Zatanna had made the climb easily, but Power Girl had found herself somewhat winded. It was a humiliating situation for someone who relied so much on her incredible strength, and she was heartily sick of it. “Rozanov and those other bastards have a lot to answer for. And I’m going to make them pay for it,” she added.


    “Amen to that,” Selina replied. She would have liked a bit more time with Zeiss, however, there was still Rozanov himself and several other members of his gang. “We’re here,” she said, standing before a metal door from beyond which could be heard a low humming.


    Vampirella did not have to use her claws as the door was unlocked. Inside the noise of the air conditioning unit was much louder. It didn’t take long to reveal that Selina’s guess as to where the kryptonite had been placed was right. As Power Girl stepped through the door she gasped and fell to her knees. If there was any doubt about the presence of kryptonite that had now been quickly dispelled. Harley grabbed the fallen heroine and dragged her away from the door while the others scanned the room.


    “Urrhg,” Zatanna grunted. She still could not form words but her vocal cords were beginning to thaw. The others looked toward her and saw that she was pointing to a strange-looking cylinder attached to the plenum of the air conditioning unit. It was about nine feet above the floor, but Selina leaped high and knocked it loose with a swipe of her hand. There was a loud “pop” and a greenish vapour expanded from the cylinder and then slowly dissipated.


    “I’d say that’s that for the kryptonite,” Selina said. “Once we get PG away from here she should returned to normal.”


    Following their escape Vampirella had watched the her fellow escapees with growing interest. She had no clear idea of what sort of strange universe she had fallen into, but all of the women appeared to be far beyond the ordinary. All of them with the exception of Zatanna were dressed in highly revealing costumes, although nothing quite as revealing as the outfit they had found for her. It was interesting that the one calling herself Catwoman had immediately taken charge. That was a role she would have normally assumed, but she was out of her element so she did not challenge the dark-suited figure. Then there was the almost maniacally exuberant Harley. She had dressed like a clown and seemed incapable of keeping her mouth shut for more than a few seconds.


    “Let’s head up to the roof,” Catwoman suggested, interrupting Vampirella’s thoughts. The air will be clearer up there.” The suggestion was readily accepted, particularly as the release of the green vapor had further weakened Power Girl to the point where she could barely walk. Harley and Zatanna took the tall blonde under the arms and helped her toward the roof, leading Vampirella to wonder if the curvaceous woman deserved her name.


    Selina threw the door to the roof open and suddenly tumbled back down as the world outside exploded with the sound of automatic weapons’ fire. “Jeezus, did someone call on the army?” Harley yelled, as bullets struck the metal roof housing and ricocheted down the stairwell. The hail of bullets continued for some seconds and then suddenly stopped. A second later an object clunked down the stairwell.


    “Pineapple!” Harley shouted. “Duck and cover!”


    “Enough of this,” a quiet voice said calmly. Power Girl stepped forward and picked up the grenade. Without the slightest effort she crushed it into the palms of her hands. There was a small ‘burp’ and then she contemptuously tossed aside the smoldering kernel of the explosive. “Time to take out the trash,” she added as she used her powers to rise into the air and swoop up the stairwell.


    “I’ve got to see this,” Vampirella said as she followed Power Girl onto the rooftop. As she exited the door right behind the heroine there was an immediate fusillade that would have swept away any ordinary mortal. However, to Vampirella’s surprise the bullets simply bounced off the heroine. There were more than a dozen men standing in a semicircle all firing weapons set on full automatic. So many bullets were hitting Power Girl that her body became a haze as bits of lead, nickel, and brass struck her body. It seemed impossible that the sheer volume of metal would not have knocked her head over heels, but Power Girl stood firm like a rock in a hurricane. Then something even more incredible occurred. Streams of fire shot from Power Girl’s eyes targeting the weapons that were directed against her. With screams of pain and fear the thugs dropped their red hot weapons, but not before the ammunition in a few of them exploded in their hands.


    “Impressive,” Vampirella muttered. Power Girl indeed. I wonder what else she can do.”


    That was answered a second later as Power Girl rose high in the air and scanned the warehouse hideout with her x-ray vision. She landed a few seconds later. “I’ve located Rozanov and the rest of his thugs, but they appear to have at least two kryptonite powered weapons.”


    The rest of the escaped heroines had followed her and Power Girl onto the roof. “Don’t worry, PG,” Harley chirped. “Just tell us where they are. We’ll take care of ‘em for ya.”


    “Thanks,” Power Girl answered. She descended to the roof just in time for her tattered costume to completely disintegrate. “Damn it. I’ve got to find my proper costume. These copies won’t take any damage.”


    “Don’t worry about it,” Harley said. “Just tell us where they are and we’ll take care of them”


    “I can do better than that,” Power Girl said. “I can make you a shortcut.” She soared over the roof to the elevator housing and tore it open. Then she reached in and grabbed the elevator cable and hauled the elevator to the roof. “Just hop in and I’ll lower you to the proper floor. I don’t think they’ll be expecting you.”


    The others accepted her at her word, Zatanna and Selina excepted. The magician still couldn’t speak and would have been more of a liability than an asset and Selina had her reservations about using the elevator. “They’ll hear us coming,” she said. “But it will act as a distraction.”


    “Distraction smaction,” Harley retorted. “Come on, Vampi let’s get going.” She and her new friend clambered into the car and readied themselves as Power Girl lowered them.


    And finally…

    Rozanov and what was left of his underlings huddled in the area that had been turned over to Hellfern. He was down to just three men now in addition to Szazz, Hellfern, and Olga. A few minutes ago they had heard the sound of automatic weapons’ fire from the roof followed by screams and since then there had been silence.


    A crash from the end of the hall had them all jumping. “What was that?” Rozanov asked, fingering the kryptonite special Hellern had developed.


    “Sounds like it came from the elevator,” Szazz answered. He moved to the doorway and peered down the hall. “I’m not sure what that was all about, but we better get ready.” He hefted the aerosol bomb Hellfern had developed.


    Nothing happened for a couple of minutes, a length of time that had Olga edging away from the rest of the group. There was only one way out of the room, but she had spotted a large exhaust duct in the ceiling. If the shit really hit the fan she might be able to hide in there.


    The elevator doors opened with a clunk and Harley and the strange brunette stepped out. Neither one seemed to be armed, although Harley was carrying the broken stock of an automatic weapon. Apparently she had not recovered her baseball bat.


    “What the hell?” Szazz said. Just the two of them? Where the hell are the rest?”


    “Yer in fer it now ya yahoos,” Harley yelled. “Throw down yer weapons and we might go easy on ya.”


    “Stupid bitch,” Rozanov said. “Shoot them both.”


    His henchmen moved forward to carry out his order, but they never got the chance. The scantily clad brunette moved with astonishing speed, closing the gap before their fingers even tightened on the trigger. They had just enough time to scream as she tore into them.


    Szazz didn’t need to see any more. Even as the last man went down he hurled Hellfern’s toxin toward the two women. Then he watched in stunned horror as Harley stepped forward and swung the stock like a bat, catching the bomb before it struck the floor. It rebounded directly back at them and exploded just as it arrived, releasing a cloud of sickly green gas.


    “No!” Hellfern screamed. The gas completely enveloped him, Rozanov, and Szazz and the change was almost immediate. Rozanov and Szazz bent double, their bodies and faces distorting into bestial parodies of human features. Fangs and claws to rival those of Vampirella grew from their jaws and hands. But Hellfern’s alterations were even more extreme. Somehow his body seemed to acquire mass, doubling in size while acquiring other characteristics identical to Rozanov and Szazz.


    “What have you done!” Rozanov screamed, his words distorted by his warped mouth. “I’ll kill you.” but his words were not directed at Harley or Vampirella, but at Hellfern. He lunged toward the demented doctor. Szazz watched for a split second and then with a snarl threw himself into the fray.


    “Looks like they don’t know who their enemies are,” Harley commented. “There musta really been something in that stuff.”


    They watched for a minute or so while their now monstrous adversaries proceeded to tear one another apart. Neither Harley or Vampirella dared go any closer for fear of being exposed to the gas themselves. Suddenly there was a sound from above them and part of the celling disappeared, making way for the appearance of Power Girl. She landed gently next to them. “Looks like you’ve got things well in hand,” she observed.


    Vampirella noticed that the heroine’s snow white costume had been completely restored, a glance that did not go unnoticed. “I spotted this in a storage locker along with everyone else’s clothing. Zatanna is also now appropriately dressed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything crazy enough for Harley.”


    “Hey,” Harley protested, “I resemble that.”


    “How long should we let them carry on?” Vampirella asked, motioning toward the three deformed villains.


    “That should be long enough,” Power Girl answered. She inhaled and let out a blast of air that blew the three monstrosities across the room slamming them hard against the wall. Harley immediately moved in, and using three of the several pairs of handcuffs that were conveniently available, chained them together.


    “Oops, looks like I’m a bit late for the show.”


    The three women turned and found Zatanna standing behind them. She was now properly dressed, probably having used her magic to restore her original costume. She stepped toward Vampirella and held out her hand. “I’m Zatanna and I wasn’t able to properly thank you before for getting me and the other two out of that mess.”


    “Hey,” Harley protested. “I helped.”


    “I’ll bet,” Zatanna replied acidly, indicating her dislike of the colourful blonde. She had never come to terms with the fact that someone who had spent a good deal of her time consorting with the Joker and committing various acts of mayhem could suddenly become a champion of justice. She was always waiting for what she considered the ‘real Harley’ to re-emerge.


    “Actually she was quite a help,” Vampirella volunteered. “She was the one who turned that mad scientist’s invention again him.”


    “Hmmph,” Zatanna replied. “I’ll take your word for it.” She studied Vampirella’s scantily clad form. “If you like I can whip up a less revealing costume.”


    “Thanks,” Vampirella said, “but I wouldn’t want you to go to any trouble.”


    “No trouble at all,” Zatanna replied. “Sserd alleripmaV ni lamron sehtolc.”


    The air shimmered around Vampirella and her harem costume disappeared, replaced by the crimson skin-tight costume that left ninety percent of her anatomy revealed.


    “Well,” Zatanna said slowly. “That isn’t quite what I expected.”


    “Hey” Harley interjected before Vampirella could answer. “Didja know Vampi’s got wings?”


    “Really?” Zatanna asked. “Then your name …,”


    “Means what it means,” Vampirella said. “This is a strange world for me. I don’t think I’m from this world or even this universe. Where I came from I am accepted as a fighter for justice.”


    “I think things are under control here now,” Power Girl said. “Perhaps Zatanna could see about getting you back to where you belong.”


    “Wait a minute,” Harley interjected. “Me and Vampi are best buds. Ya just can’t get rid of her that fast. We were gonna go out fer pizza.”


    “It’s been interesting to be here,” Vampirella said. “But I was in the middle of a crisis situation when I was taken from my world. It would be nice if I could somehow return.”


    “Nuts,” Harley sulked. “Just when things were starting to be fun.”


    “All right,” Zatanna said before anyone could change their minds. “Nruter alleripmaV ot reh Dlrow.”


    The air around Vampirella shimmered and then with a sudden “Pop” she was gone.


    “Shit,” Harley muttered. “Fun spoiler.” She paused a moment and then asked: “Hey where’s Selina?”


    Previously

    Olga wrenched off the grill covering the ventilation shaft. Kicking off her shoes she jumped from the chair she had been standing on and pulled herself into the opening. From behind her came the sound of shouting followed by loud screams. She scrambled deeper into the horizontal shaft, pulling herself along by her arms until she reached a section that was large enough for her to continue on her hands and knees. She had no idea where she was going, she just wanted to be as far away from the danger as she could get.


    Reaching a junction, she paused. Which way to go, left or right? One way seemed as good as another and she went right. By now she was crawling in almost complete darkness, but ahead of her she could see a faint gleam of light. Maybe that is a way out, she thought. She moved on and found herself looking down through the spaces of another grill. Below her was one of the rooms in the museum section of the converted warehouse. If she could just get down there she could make her way out into the street. And once there she would get as far away from Gotham as possible. It’s a good thing I saved managed to put away a few hundred grand. I’m going back to Mockba.


    “Meow!”


    “Bozhe moi!” Olga shrilled.


    “Going somewhere?” a voice from behind her asked. And then an arm tightened about her throat. She struggled furiously as her first her air was cut off, and then her jugular vein and carotid arteries were compressed. And then everything went dark.