The JLA Satellite faded from his distorted view, to be replaced by a view of a typical city rooftop. Vents, antenna, and a massive metallic globe filled his vision. Changeling looked around to get his bearings and noted that his previously minuscule body now seemed about two-feet tall.
“Didn’t shrink down to match. I’ll have to do it now.” Calling upon the strange power conferred upon him by a witch doctor’s potion, he shifted his body into that of a common housefly, of a size that would seem normal to those within the shrunken building.
He flew out of the teleporter cabinet and under the door to a stairway leading down into the building. Spying nobody around, he reverted to human form just long enough to press a button on the communication unit on his belt. A single tone was emitted on several radio frequencies, ranging from the subsonic to the ultrasonic. The carrier wave would travel through miles of earth and several thousand feet of ocean, if necessary.
Switching off the signal, he changed back into his fly shape and started searching for a certain red-headed photographer.
High above the Earth, sensitive monitoring devices noted the addition of a single radio signal to the cacophony of transmissions that blanketed the planet.
“Beacon A! The teleporter didn’t shrink him!” cried Batman, looking up from the monitor board. “Superman, Wonder Woman, and Firestorm, go with Raven. I’ll feed the signal location directly to the monitor in the other room.” As three of the most powerful heroes on Earth rushed to join the teen empath, Batman looked over at his young ward. “If you hadn’t shown us the truth of how the Planet disappeared, we would likely have killed everyone in there, and possibly a number of our own as well. Good work, son!”
“I have it, Batman. Fortunately, my own teleportation powers are proof against materializing in a solid object — something that your technology cannot prevent.” Raven looked around and saw that the six heroes she had chosen were ready. Superman, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Artemis, the Flash, and the Elongated Man all stood ready.
“I don’t get it,” said Steel. “Why take Elongated Man along, when I could lend my strength to the battle? I mean, I know he’s a great detective and pretty powerful in the stretching department, but don’t we need all the firepower we can get on this raid?”
“Don’t forget, we’ve got a building full of miniature bystanders down there. If necessary, he can reach right into the building and pluck them all out in a minute or two. I mean, it’s creepy as hell to watch, but he could even send an eye down through the halls of that building, looking for stragglers.” Nightwing shuddered as he pondered his own suggestion.
Before Steel could reply, Raven raised her hands in the air. Her long, flowing cloak seemed to expand around the gathered heroes, and rolling red-black smoke curled up from the floor. It swept upward as she brought her outstretched arms forward to enfold her companions; then they were gone. All that was left in their place was a faint odor of burning sulfur. Nightwing and Steel rushed out to join the others, just in time to be caught up in a sweeping globe of emerald light. They passed through the walls of the satellite and streaked toward the Earth. Nightwing had just enough time to note that they were descending toward the mountains of Turkey before they reached the surface and started flowing through the Earth like ghosts.
“Master! The security monitors are showing seven intruders in the armory!”
“Sir! Radar shows an incoming object, coming directly toward us from high altitude. It’s — wait! It disappeared!”
Ra’s al Ghul had no time to decipher the confused and conflicting reports coming from all over his base before the entire complex shuddered, and a wall of his control center collapsed under the impact of three pairs of inhumanly strong fists and a few well-placed bursts of atomic fire.
“Ra’s! Give it up! We’re here for the Daily Planet Building and the people that were in it. So help me, Rao, if you’ve harmed even one of them…” The Man of Steel left the threat unfinished, hanging in the air.
“I must admit to feeling rather astonished, Kryptonian. Not in my worst projections had I anticipated your finding me this soon.” The nigh-immortal mastermind walked slowly, with calculated steps. While appearing to walk toward Superman and his group, he also moved sideways toward the glass dome holding the Planet Building. Under his robes, his hand moved toward a holster on his hip. “You must tell me how you did it!”
“You can thank a certain Teen Wonder and his computer skills for that. Now, where are those people, Ra’s?”
“My, you must be in a rage, Kryptonian. Haven’t you been using that vaunted x-ray vision of yours? Surely if you did, you would have spotted your goal by now. You would also have spotted this!” Ra’s shrugged his robe back, revealing the pistol that was now aimed directly at the dome. “Imagine, if you will, the effect a nine millimeter bullet will have on people who are barely a quarter of an inch high. Aimed at the heart of the Planet‘s newsroom, I imagine the bullet will strike at least three or four of them. Oh, and before you try that little trick of heating the gun with your heat-vision so I drop it, please note that I have already pulled the trigger back enough to cock the hammer; if I let go of the gun now, it will still fire, and I assure you, it would take a great amount of heat to disturb my aim at this range.”
Deep in the heart of the Daily Planet Building, a green dragonfly streaked through the halls.
“Man, even with the map Superman showed me on the computer, finding my way in here is tougher than finding deep meaning in a Madonna song! Wait, is that him? Yeah!”
Seconds later, Jimmy Olsen nearly fainted when a red-and-white-clad, green-skinned youth appeared out of thin air before him.
“Jimmy! Here, take this, and slip into these!” Gar first gave Olsen the vial of gingold, practically pouring it into Jimmy’s mouth, then pushed the costume into his hands. “We’re going to get everyone out of here!”
“Jeepers! How about giving a guy some warning next time, OK?” Jimmy gulped down the sweet, sticky ginko plant extract; then, as it took effect, he seemed to flow from his own clothes into the purple tights that had previously been on display in the JLA Satellite. “I hope this stuff is up for some serious stretching, ’cause I can’t wait to get in on the action! Let’s go!”
A deep rumble was first heard, then felt in Ra’s al Ghul’s command center. The ceiling started to collapse as a green bulldozer blade pushed down from above. Followers of the Head of the Demon scattered as nearly two dozen more heroes appeared from over their heads. They were followed by Wonder Woman, Artemis, Firestorm, and the Flash. Two heads did not turn, despite the disturbance — Superman and Ra’s al Ghul.
“You see, Kryptonian, I do try to anticipate every eventuality. Even though you have found me out, I shall see you suffer!” Ra’s’ finger tightened around the trigger, preparing to fire into the miniature building, when the bottle appeared to move under its own power. “What madness is this?” The building lifted up on thin, spindly purple legs and walked off. As he attempted to pull the trigger, he found it was blocked by a thin black finger that stretched around his wrist through the trigger-guard, then wrapped up to hold the hammer of the gun in place even as he released the trigger.
Chaos ensued as Ra’s attempted to wrest his hand free of the grip of the Elongated Man. The dome holding the Daily Planet Building was carried off to a relatively sheltered corner by Elastic Lad, with an assist from Changeling, who morphed into a green German shepherd, taking most of the weight on his back. Superman launched himself at Ra’s al Ghul, even as Batman leaped down from Green Lantern’s dissolving energy bubble to join him. Leaguers, Titans, and Ra’s’ followers battled throughout the complex. Ra’s reached for a device and fired it at Superman, staggering the Man of Tomorrow long enough for Ra’s to slip into an adjacent laboratory. There, his daughter Talia was waiting near a complex-looking beam projector.
“Now, my daughter, before they come through the door!”
Talia stabbed at a button on the projector, then leaped over it to join her father as a brilliant, blue-white light flashed forth. A second later, when the projector turned off, they were gone.
The door to the laboratory in Ra’s al Ghul’s mountain lair fell before an overwhelming onslaught. When the dust cleared, the heroes saw that there was nobody in the room, and there were no other exits. It was Superman who spotted the projector standing by itself near the center of the room.
“I recognize this. Brainiac rebuilt it shortly before his transformation. It’s a shrinking ray, much like he used to capture Kandor and other cities from around the galaxy.”
“You found a way to reverse its effects, though, didn’t you?” asked Green Lantern.
“I did, but it appears that Brainiac built it into this one.”
“What about Ra’s and Talia? Where did they go?” asked Robin.
“This projector was just used,” answered Superman. “They may be under our very feet now, but I haven’t spotted them.”
Nubia glanced down at the floor. “If they are that small, we may as best leave them here. They surely can’t travel far at that size, and if we take the projector with us, they cannot restore themselves, either.”
“That makes sense, Wonder Woman, but don’t underestimate Ra’s,” said Batman. “This is one enemy of mine that has always got a surprise up his sleeve.”
In the tunnels leading out of the now-crippled base, a tiny craft flew through the air.
“It was most wise of you, father, to have one of our fastest shuttles shrunken to microscopic size and waiting in the laboratory.”
“Of course, my daughter. One must always be prepared for every eventuality. Now, it will take a few days to fly to our base in Tibet, but once there, we can make use of the duplicate projector I built and restore ourselves to our proper size. Then, my dear, we shall see which of my other plans may now be brought to fruition.”