Operation Blackout

Mercedes Graves adjusted the projector a touch to the left, carefully aligning the display with her target. When the light was perfectly caught between the black edgings, she tapped away at the tablet, connecting the two blue tooth devices and throwing her introductory presentation on screen. When everything was set just perfect, she took a step back, observed her setup, and breathed a sigh of relief. The room was ready, with eight rows of tables and close to a hundred chairs that were overbooked lining them, all turned towards her.

It was odd, really. Just a decade ago most of these kinds of meeting were held in secret, hidden from the world at large. Luthor's obsession with bringing down Superman and the Justice League meant he knew a lot of big names, but before couldn’t bring that fact to light of the public. Now, this was her thirty eighth meeting, twenty biannual meetings and eighteen more based on opposition activity, the latest a joint operations planning session to engage remaining military bases around the globe. The list of invitees included hundreds of former criminals and counters to Earth's “heroes,” and extended to hundreds more officers of Luthor's professional army, giving her a very long course of three days for presenting, open panels on joint operations, mission planning, and situation specific tactics such as identifying metas, engaging super-human opponents, and training under other’s of Luthor's once secret Society.

She picked up a stack of folders, filled with paperwork that included details on some of their more recent developments, and counted them out to each seat, only getting halfway done when the first members of the Society entered, joking about some subject they had started outside the meeting hall, and more proceeded to pour in. There were a few faces she always immediately recognized, Slade was one of them, so was Victor, and David, all out of their regular outfits they used so long ago, and then dozens more, actually greeting each other like civilized people. Some even came up and asked for folders directly, as if this were a regular business meeting, and she supposed that it was now. Without the threat of the Justice League or some international anti-terror unit kicking in their doors, this lot was surprisingly friendly. Maybe it was the breathing room. Maybe it was the fact that they were the anti-terror experts now.

Over the course of a few minutes to room filled out nicely, with the more professional regulars patiently waiting in the front rows, with the rowdier lot adopting the back, a gradient of all types through the middle. There were a few seats left empty every meeting, many she knew exactly where they were, like with Dorrance, who took Lynns with him to get a hand on the situation in Metropolis. Zod would probably be there too, since he certainly wasn’t here.

Some seats had gone unoccupied since Luthor took power, either lost in the war or having fallen out with his Society in the aftermath. Talia's chair always sat empty, and Graves could always pick it out from the crowd.

She stopped by Wilson and Lawton who were arguing about optimal headspacing on their rifles.

“I’m telling you, you’ve got too much headspace, its lettin' too much gas out the back,” Lawton said, drawing back the bolt on Slade's rifle to show the less than obvious space.

“Half of a tenth of a millimeter doesn’t make enough of a difference when you’re putting follow up shots on a target at less than six hundred meter,” Wilson replied, arms crossed indignantly.

“Maybe, but what about those times when you’ve got to make twice that distance? Or you’re on your last mag?”

“It’s fine, Floyd. Its not like I’ve gone and warped the barrel.”

Graves cleared her throat . “Gentlemen, pleasure to have you two here.” She then handed them their packets. “Now, I’m certain you two won’t be discharging those in here, right?”

Both took their packets and began leafing through them.

“Yeah, uh-huh, we were just talkin’ for the last couple of weeks about some of the jobs LexCorp has been handin' out. Wish you’d sent us up to the arctic for that raid on the Navy SEALs, would’ve been an actual challenge instead of fightin' rebels in the Amazon.”

“I doubt it, many of those soldiers were old timers. Probably older than you by about ten years at least. Ice probably left them all slow in the joints too.”

“Yeah, still, would ‘ave been nice to see professionals at work again.”

Graves rolled her eyes over a smirk, “Glad to see you two are enjoying each other’s company.”

Both nodded wordlessly, now lost in the less than exciting, if important, paperwork.

“Oh, Slade, if I could have you wait after the meeting for a bit it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve got an assignment that may require your experience.”

Wilson nodded without looking up, but Lawton snapped right up. “Wait, hol' on a second. You’ve got a special assignment for him but not for me?”

“Mister Wilson has both an exceptional record as well as a unique depth of experience in this particular matter. As of now the information is classified, but I’m certain there are other things that will catch your eye.”

“This ain’t some work inappropriate kind of classified is it?”

Wilson snorted, turning the page.

“It’s a matter that requires experience only he possesses, and no, he’s not my type.”

Wilson snorted. Again.

“A'ight, I see how it is. I’ll have you know I’m still a better shot than he ever will be.”

“That’s because some of us like to be more well rounded.”

Graves left them to their banter and finished her rounds, greeting some of the others from Luthor's expanded Society retinue as well as military officers from across the world. It was quite the gathering, to say the least. When she took the stage, the meeting room fell silent.

“Welcome one and all to this Joint Meta Combat Exercise meeting, I apologize for the rather sudden nature of it. We’ve had quite the list of recent developments, as I’m certain some of you are aware of.”

She tapped on her screen and began the slideshow, starting with a set of pictures.

“To kick things off, I want to cover the reason this meeting has been called. Five, to be exact.

Here we have our best images of the individuals that have displayed greater than average difficulty in arrest and detain practices, and show themselves to be a considerable threat to the world we have created. Three can be easily identified by name…”

She pulls a laser pointer out of her pocket and points at the top image.

“Julius Luthor. A genetic clone of Lionel Luthor, escaped from a top secret facility in Maine, before retrieving the next subject…”

She circles the image.

“The Brain InterActive Construct, some of you know this one as Brainiac, a sophisticated alien artificial intelligence that has been the center of LexCorp's recent scientific endeavors.”

She then circled the next image, the clearest out of the group, an actual photograph rather than a security still.

“This individual is known as Lyra Hall, she’s a recent escapee from one of our bio-medical labs and has been sighted in the cities of Gotham and Metropolis. She has the ability of flight, but is not much of a concern on her own, however…”

She circled the final image.

“She has been sighted with this individual. At this given time, we don’t have a name to provide with certainty, beyond the list of potential suspects included in your packets, but as you can see he appears to be a young adult white male, possibly in his mid or early twenties, and has adopted the uniform of the Bat, who was confirmed killed in action ten years ago. This individual however has also been recorded to have superhuman strength and durability, which indicates a potential metahuman state or lineage to a meta of some form.

The greatest threat these five have is not necessarily the immediate impact of their actions, but the recent spread of resistance activity that has occurred in relation to their appearance. It is entirely possible that they are connected to a larger front opening within our global nation. While terror cells in South America, Africa, and the Middle East have long been a source of problems, these five represent the possibility of conflict starting in other regions of the world, and an escalation of conflict in every area afflicted.

Currently, LexCorp has issued that these individuals are to be apprehended alive if at all possible, due to the potential knowledge on this resistance movement they may have. Escape however should not be considered an option, and lethal force is advised if any of these subjects are beyond the point of capture.

Now that we have a synopsis of the problem, lets get into the details…”

The meeting carried on for almost eight hours, broken up by hands on exercises and refreshers on combat with metahumans, led by team leaders considered experts in the field, mostly former Society members. By the end of the day, over a hundred personnel were honed to exactness in combat with metas, and everyone aware of the challenge ahead of them.

Just one last thing to address. She found him waiting just outside the doors.

“So, what’s this so-called Operation Blackout you had slipped into my packet?”

She brought up the file on her tablet and showed him. Four minutes of footage from the Sochi incident. His normally even expression turned sour.

“You think… that the League may be involved? It’s nothing like them, that’s for certain.”

“Involved, yes, but not in the way you’re thinking. We’ve managed to translate some ancient texts recovered from ‘Eth 'Alth'eban after we dissolved the League, they reference a being that goes beyond what we’ve seen so far, going as far as to call it Abaddon and Apollyon.”

“The actual angel of destruction? Its nothing I’ve ever heard of, even when I was under Ra's al Ghul.”

“That’s why we want you to investigate further. Pick up where we found the texts, do some digging in the city. If this individual is indeed the one mentioned in the texts, we may have an even larger problem than resistance fighters in our backyards.”

“Seems to me like you already do…”

Wilson sighed, rewound the video, and watched it again.

“Those swords, they’re not typical of the League. They have the same silhouette of Russian sabers, maybe Cossack. Do we have an idea on where this individual is now?”

“After Sochi? Nothing. She vanished after shooting down some of the birds, lost heat signature near Krasnaya.” She stared him straight in the eye, “Slade, you are under strict orders to not engage this individual if you see her. We need to know a weakness, then make a coordinated strike plan to ensure she gets put down. Understood?”

“Understood, Miss Graves. Can’t expect everyone to be allergic to bullets.”

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