Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Two Annual
His lips’ utterances and their touch drove her wild. It was all she needed. She could feel nothing of the caresses on her leg. “Put me on the exam table,” she breathed hotly, “and I’ll make you forget your own name.”
As if to illustrate the point, her hands slid down Dick’s back to cup his ass possessively.
"The Cliff’s Notes." She hadn’t read the book but she was familiar with the basic premise. Multiple levels. In fact, she’d once dreamed of being trapped on the Gluttony level with Booster Gold before being released. What that meant for her head she hadn’t bothered to consider.
"I think of most who go to Hell as being cleansed by the fire. The ultimate in criminal rehabilitation. You suffer so you can move on to heaven when you’ve truly learned your lesson." Shaking her head, she added. "And there has to be a place for the irredeemable. After all was that not part of the reason Lucifer was cast out? Because God considered him beyond redemption?"
"The version that is retold is only part of the story. There was a man named Dante, and he did go to hell and come back. The basic premise was that there are different punishments for different crimes, but that is not the whole story."
"It is interesting that you bring up Lucifer, because he was the first among the angels, and the one’s favorite. It was Lucifer’s love that drove him to do what he did, his love for humanity and his belief that he knew better than the one did about what to do. But the story of the fall is one for another time; suffice it to say that the one created hell because he could not bring himself to destroy Lucifer. The one is a being of infinite mercy and compassion, and while he could simply unmake that which disobeyed him, he could not do so."
"This in turn caused a problem. He could not destroy Lucifer, and he could not convince Lucifer to come back. Even Lucifer could return to heaven, if he wished to. If he was willing to admit that he had done wrong, that what he was doing was going to be bad for humanity in the long term, then the one would welcome him back with open arms."
"Forgiving is not the same as condoning what is done. Any person, no matter their crimes, can be redeemed, provided they desire to do so. Redemption is not a single act of realization either. It is a journey, and the worse your crimes the longer it is. But that is the purpose of hell."
"Over time, its purpose has changed in the minds of mortals to that of a place of punishment. Dante tried to set the record straight, but it was adapted to the ideas of the time. In essence, Hell is not one punishment. It is not a universal place of suffering. It is a place where those that have sinned undergo a punishment fitting their own crimes, in an attempt to get them to understand what they did wrong."
"We spoke of Lucifer before, and the hell that was created to try and get him and others to understand. His pride keeps him from seeing the truth of what he was doing. His hell is emptiness. An eternal void, a place where you can see nothing but emptiness, not even blackness. You can scream, but there is no sound. You can feel, but there is nothing to feel. The point is to get him to understand that where he is is where he would have brought the universe to if he had continued. But his pride keeps him from understanding this. Were he to admit that he could be wrong, he could then ask what would occur if he was wrong. This would make him question what he was doing, and eventually realize that his rebellion would have ended reality entirely. But he cannot fathom that he might be capable of being wrong. He blames the one, despite the fact that it is he who has done evil. It is the same for every soul there. They could get into heaven, but they do not understand that they are there because of their own actions. The blame others for their own failings.”
Barbara couldn’t suppress a snort. “Really. Then is it blaming Joker for my own personal hell in that same category? Because all I see as a lesson here is not to open the damn door without looking through the peephole.”
Events like this were the most difficult to understand in the context of a single, all-powerful God. Though she’d been raised vaguely in the Catholic faith in accordance with her late mother’s wishes, Barbara found other means of making sense of the world.
The Greek pantheon tended to make more sense. There multiple deities were as much in conflict as those on Earth. And if Man was indeed created in the image of a God, then how could we all be so flawed?
Her mother died in a car crash when Barbara was only four. Roger, the man she’d known as her father until the age of six, died only two years later. Jim lost his first wife to infidelity which was, in his daughter’s view, probably the only failing in his entire life. Then he lost his son to madness. A wife to yet another of Joker’s bullets. While some ran around, dancing about and giggling, others didn’t have to wait for Hell to claim they for they lived it every day.
And yet a statement uttered once by one of the nuns at Our Lady of Mercy bubbled up in her head. “God gives the heaviest crosses to those he loves best. It’s a lesson to them; in times of trouble, they learn of inner strength they didn’t know they had.” Her father had held up. He was the object lesson. Barbara had been angry, and still struggled with anger and pain over it all. Every moment of her life almost without fail was there for instant and flawless recall.
"I’m not sure I like your view of things," the redhead admitted between sips of strong coffee. "There are some who can’t be redeemed. They can only be kept away from the rest of existence."
Barbara laughed. “Probably the best thing to do would be to hire an interpreter.”
"My rates are cheap. All I need is dinner. You think you can swing that?"
"Yeah, I mean you were going to be filled in on it anyways. And i’d love to take you out somewhere nice again. "
"Somewhere your order isn’t ended by saying whether you want a ‘boy’ toy or a ‘girl’ toy?" she quipped.
If nothing else, Barbara would’ve had to concede that the response was unique. Most of those she had run a gauntlet didn’t fare so well, and even among those who did, they often ended by excitedly jumping in, offering a response intended to maximize prestige while downplaying a lack of experience.
"Are you prepared to make such a choice?" she asked honestly. "Because the cases I take an interest in are often anything but black and white. We all exist in the gray area, playing as heroes and cops of a sort while breaking the law and acting as vigilantes."
Aiden’s candor was, at the very least, refreshing. “And I’ll note that you’ve not answered the question.”
Fanning her hoodie a bit to cool herself down, Aiden thought more on what Oracle had said. It didn’t feel right to do such self introspection right here in front of the audience she couldn’t see, but she was trying to be honest. There existed a tiny chance that not only could she help and get help herself, a better understanding of what she was. “I don’t think anyone can really be prepared to make those choices until they’re there. In theory, yeah, I can see myself begrudgingly making them.”
At the comment the meta rolled her eyes slightly, “It was meant to show my answer. Situations exist where one is more important than many…” she stopped for a moment, “If they could help more than was injured, who am I to prevent future lives from being saved, no matter my reservations.”
"Your feet are firmly on the ground. That’s a rarity in this business. Most join it thinking it’ll give them wings. You, on the other hand, seem to understand how difficult it can be. That this is a trust rather than a game. Knowing this will help to keep you alive." The voice boomed from seemingly everywhere and nowhere.
But Barbara didn’t yet know Aiden. Not well enough to let her in on the secret. Eventually, maybe, she could be trusted that far.
But Nightngale had won the respect of the Oracle. Though she hadn’t truly needed it, it would go a long way respecting the Bat.
"Within forty eight hours, you’ll receive a package with a pendant and earrings. The earrings contain GPS and tiny speakers for a custom comm system. Considering your nom de guerre, I don’t expect wearing birds at your throat and ears will strike anyone as unusual." And then the beam energized and Aiden found herself back where she’d gone earlier. A nondescript kitchen in downtown Gotham.
Via closed circuit cameras, Oracle kept watch. The young woman was now a Bird, if she wanted to be. There was certainly enough to keep them all busy.
Barbara hummed appreciatively, settling into Ted’s embrace. “Alright. How many Chocos did you and Booster steal from J’onn, and how long am I going to have to work to smooth it over?”