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The New Frontier IV: Subversive

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They say
We fight
For freedom.

And yet
They wish
To be tyrants.


Louise Cates
"American Eagle"
1953 C.E.

Selina walked into The Lavender Club, a small establishment below street level on a slightly seedy side street in Gotham. She had given the password at the nondescript door, the other side painted light purple.

Selina was fond of purple. Her costume was currently that color. It seemed to fit this benighted city.

The dim interior was hazy with smoke, but she knew her way around. She walked comfortably on black slip-on shoes, swaying her hips gently in her deep purple Capri pants and low-cut matching sweater, an amethyst necklace sparkling around her throat. Her raven-black hair was cut stylishly short and she carried a black purse, which she placed on the bar.

“Margarita, please.”

The redheaded bartender nodded, her creamy skin attractive as she wore a low-cut blouse, emerald eyes quickly giving Selina the once-over.

Doris Day’s clear, sweet voice wafted from the jukebox, “I once had a secret love…” as couples danced. Selina noticed the platinum blonde at the end of the bar, dressed in a short black leather jacket and skirt that barely covered her thighs. She wore a tight sleeveless nylon shirt with a matching black choker and stiletto heels. The fishnet stockings attracted Selina’s attention.

Men liked to call themselves breast men or ass men or leg men. Selina considered herself a leg woman, and the blonde’s legs were strong and shapely, accentuated by the stockings.

The blonde was drinking a pink cosmopolitan, one leg wrapped around the barstool and the other swinging out, the stiletto walking up the bar.

“Hey, Blondie. Fancy meetin’ you here.”

The blonde smiled. “Come here often?”

Selina laughed. “Not as often as I’d like.”

The blonde’s stiletto pushed the barstool next to her toward Selina, who slid off her stool and sat down on the new one.

“Glad to see you, Pretty Kitty.”

Selina grinned. “Thanks, hon.” She sipped her drink. “Rough day?”

Dinah rubbed her eyes. “The worst. I just found out that I’ve got to go back to Washington tomorrow.”

Selina grimaced. “I thought you were done with the witch-hunters.”

“Oh, no, they want to find out our answer.”

“What, disband or go to jail?”

“Federal prison.”

Selina frowned. “They’re serious.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Fuck ‘em.”

“They’re not my type.”

Selina smiled. Her foot slid up Dinah’s leg, and the blonde returned the smile. She finished her drink and left the bar with Selina.

& & & & & &

Gotham had plenty of seedy hotels for secret assignations, and Dinah and Selina had easily found one well-suited to their tastes, the Hotel Lilac. The woman behind the front desk had seen better days, but she ran a hotel that catered to female couples. Her brother ran the hotel next door for male couples. They paid their protection money to certain members of the Gotham City Police Department and were usually left alone.

Dinah and Selina climbed the stairs, Selina’s hand cupping her ass once they were out of sight. They reached their regular room and Selina kicked the door shut as she pulled Dinah to her.

They kissed hungrily, stripping each other of their clothes as they stumbled to the bed. Dinah stretched out, clad in her bra, panties and fishnets, Selina working on unstrapping the stiletto heels, her own clothes on the floor. She smirked at the matching black bra and panties she wore, and once the shoes were off, she slid her hands up shapely calves, then up her thighs, resting her hand on the front of her black panties. She smiled at the heat she felt.

“Looks like this pussy is going to enjoy some.”

Dinah laughed and unhooked her bra, her breasts spilling out as she moaned, Selina’s hand rubbing her crotch. Selina began rolling down her lover’s stockings, then her panties.

“Mmm,” Selina purred. “Let the Cat lick up your cream, Pretty Bird.”

“Go to it, Kitty.”

Selina bent down, her tongue lapping Dinah’s juices as she grew wet herself. Dinah moaned, writhing on the bed. Orgasm shuddered through her body and Selina grinned, crawling up a little closer. She bent down and Dinah eagerly latched her mouth onto a nipple, her fingers playing with her lover’s clit.

“Fuck,” Selina groaned.

Dinah pushed her fingers in deeper while her sucking increased, Selina gasping as she came. “Oh, wow,” she said, collapsing next to Dinah.

“Mmm.” Dinah combed the fingers of her other hand through her partner’s hair. “This will be a pleasant memory when I have to deal with those dicks in Washington.”

“Want me to come with you?”

Dinah looked tempted, but said, “You don’t want to get involved with this mess.”

Selina traced a finger down Dinah’s stomach. “We’ll be careful.”

Dinah thought about it. “Okay.”

Selina purred as she bent down and began suckling Dinah’s breast.

& & & & & &

Black Canary could feel the hostile eyes on her out here in the hall outside the House chamber. Inside the chamber was packed with people, klieg lights shining for the cameras. NBC, CBS, and the Dumont Network were ready to start broadcasting when the session of the House Un-American Activities Committee began.

She wondered where her fellow Justice Society colleagues were. At least Selina did not have to be part of this circus.

“Miss Canary.”

She turned to see a young man in a brown suit and red-and-white tie standing a few feet away.

“Yes?”

“Would you come with me, please?”

Black Canary was wary but followed the aide down a quiet corridor away from the main chamber. She did not like this, not at all.

The aide opened a door at the end of the hall, indicating that she should go inside.

This is nonsense. I’ve faced villains that would make these congressmen quake in their boots. I’m not afraid of them.

She walked in, head held high.

& & & & & &

Selina was careful to stay under the radar. She did not want to cause any more trouble for Dinah than she already had on her plate.

She deliberately kept the slinky factor down. She wore a modest gray suit with black collar and large, shiny black buttons. Her high heels and purse matched the black trim, and she wore a gray hat that gave her a perky look.

It was a gray day, raw and cold, but Selina did not want to stay in her shabby hotel room. As long as she was in Washington, she might as well sightsee.

She walked past the FBI Building but chose not to go in. She had no desire to listen to Bureau flunkies extol the virtues of their Director, smirking as she thought of the rumor she had picked up about his personal life the last time she had attended a Harlem drag ball.

She reached Pennsylvania Avenue, slowing down as she approached the iron railing in front of Number 1600. She put a hand on one of the spikes and gazed through the opening in the fence.

The White House was elegant simplicity, its white façade serene as water splashed in a fountain on the front lawn. She had seen the President’s House in pictures and newsreels, but it was impressive in person, so to speak.

All that power contained in a Greek-styled house. It represents…what?

Her gloved fingers curled around the spike. What did it represent? Witch hunts and smear campaigns and forced conformity? All the while their boys were fighting for freedom in Korea?

Selina let her hand fall away from the fence, and she walked away.

& & & & & &

Canary knew that she was in trouble the minute she stepped into the small conference room. Two men were seated at the table in the dim lighting, the third standing against the wall smoking a cigarette. She spoke to the third man.

“Hello, Faraday.”

“Hello, Canary.”

“Have a seat, Miz Canary,” drawled the rumpled Southerner at the table.

She sat down at the end of the oblong table, several feet away from the politicians. The FBI man was cool, watching her through a haze of smoke.

“What do you distinguished men want from me? You aren’t members of the Committee.”

“That’s right.” Senator P.T. Beauregard’s good ol’ boy persona did not fool Canary for a moment. Dressed in a classic white seersucker suit with a black string tie, his brown hair was unkempt and his suit wrinkled, he was nonetheless a sharp old devil who had been a member of the Klan in ‘his misspent youth’, as he told it. He was a descendant of a Confederate general, proud to fly the Stars ‘N’ Bars from his home in Alabama.

The other senator was sharply-dressed, his gray hair neatly combed and his cufflinks gleaming. He was a sharp operator, ambitious and ruthless from the state of New York.

“We’re just helpin’ out our House colleagues.”

Meaning you’re doing their dirty work for them, in exchange for future favors.

Senator Thomas Blake smiled unctuously at her. “Your colleagues in the Justice Society are being quite stubborn.”

“Heroes tend to be on the stubborn side.”

Blake’s smile was oily. “Heroes don’t wear masks. Look at Superman and Wonder Woman.”

Canary felt annoyed. Clark and Diana had their own reasons for cooperating with the Government. It had nothing to do with the rest of their colleagues.

“They have their thing and we have ours.”

“Now, Miz Canary, you understand that people are wary of masks ‘n all that these days,” said Beauregard.

She crossed her legs, noting both men’s eyes flicker. “We do it to keep our identities secret, Senator.”

“Yes, secrets.” Beauregard rested his interlaced hands on his ample stomach. “Agent Faraday, what about secrets?”

King Faraday never moved from the wall. The smoke got thicker. “We protect our country’s secrets, Senator.”

‘We’ meant ‘FBI’, but the answer dissatisfied the Southerner.

“Miz Canary, we’re askin’ ya to disband. Mystery men have no place in our free country. This is not Soviet Russia.” She said nothing, crossing her arms. He leaned forward. “If you and your Justice Society colleagues unmask, we can permit you to continue. All to our mutual benefit, of course. You can keep your identities secret to the public but reveal yourselves to trusted representatives of the Government.”

“Like you?”

“Oh, that would be an honor reserved for our House colleagues on the Committee." He smiled, tobacco-stained teeth gleaming in the subdued lighting. “And as we all know, the ladies are the power behind the throne. If you agree publicly to cooperate, the gentlemen will follow.”

Black Canary laughed. “You give me too much power, sir. Men like Hawkman and Green Lantern and Dr. Fate will make their own decisions.” Not to mention the Flash, Johnny Thunder, and the Atom. And, of course, Wildcat.

Beauregard sighed. “I had hoped that it wouldn’t come to this.” Blake was watching everything like a hawk ready to pounce, and Canary thought she saw Faraday tense slightly. Her gut was screaming at her that the next few minutes would be crucial.

The Southerner reached down into a briefcase by his chair and pulled out a manila envelope, sliding it down the table. She let herself betray no emotion as she picked it up and slid out the photographs.

The 8x10 black-and-white glossies were sharp, from the secret meeting at The Lavender Club to showing every inch of skin as she and Selina made love in their shabby Gotham hotel room.

“You got sloppy,” Faraday said. “Used the same homosexual-friendly hotel a few too many times. We set up the room and the desk clerk cooperated.”

“She’s the manager and owner, and you threatened to have the Gotham cops shut her down.”

“Pretty much. A call to the head of Vice…” He shrugged.

She looked at each photograph, one part of her mind admiring the photography and how good she and Selina looked while the other part got quietly sick, then threw the stack on the table.

“Blackmail, gentlemen?” She curled her lip. “Not very honorable.”

Blake’s smile was glacial. “Not very honorable to engage in perverted sexual relations.”

“My private life does not interfere with my work as Black Canary.”

“Miz Canary, we just’ want ya to do the right thing,” drawled Beauregard.

Canary could see the glossies out of the corner of her eye. She stood. “Excuse me, gentlemen. I have a hearing to attend.”

She left the room, heading for where her Justice Society colleagues were waiting to be called before the Committee.

& & & & & &

The klieg lights were annoyingly bright. Worse, they were uncomfortably hot.

The Chairman gaveled the packed crowd in the hearing to silence.

“This session of the House Committee on Un-American Activities is now open. Justice Society, are you ready?”

“We are, Mr. Chairman,” said Green Lantern.

“Are you prepared to work with your Government instead of remaining in the shadows?”

Black Canary stood. “I am retiring from the crimefighting business, effective immediately.”

One-by-one, her Justice Society colleagues stood and made the same statement, then followed her out of the hearing room as flashbulbs popped and the audience babbled in shock, newspaper reporters running out to phone in the story.

& & & & & &

Selina watched a flock of geese float in the reflecting pool as the wind blew. She was sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, hand cupping her chin as she rested an elbow on her lap.

She perked up as she saw Dinah approaching, no longer dressed as Black Canary. Instead she wore a smart pink suit with pearl buttons on the jacket and a matching pillbox hat, shoes, and purse. Her short gloves were white. She no longer wore the Canary wig, her natural dark hair tumbling about her shoulders.

Selina’s euphoria faded as she saw Dinah’s face. She slowly stood.

Dinah took her hand. “Let’s go visit Abe.”

They climbed the steps, the serene marble visage of Abraham Lincoln looming above them. They stood at the base of the enormous statue, gazing up at the impressive monument. They were alone, the cold, gray day keeping sightseers away.

Dina finally broke the silence. “All our wars were fought for freedom, though only for certain types of freedom, apparently.” Selina squeezed her hand. “It’s always the same. After the Civil War, the Radical Republicans got their way after Lincoln was killed, and treated the South harshly, but they could have been treated like kings, and it wouldn’t have mattered. They still would have found a way to treat the former slaves badly. It’s still the same now. Maybe someday they’ll get their rights.”

“Maybe.”

Dinah sighed. “They’ve got pictures, Sel.” She looked at her lover. “They know about you, too.”

Selina felt her stomach knot. “It doesn’t matter for me. I’ve already a deviant. I’ve done time for my cat burglaries. I’m already on the wrong side of the tracks.”

“Looks like I’ve joined you there.”

Selina smiled sadly. “So are you a Government agent, now?”

“I resigned.”

“Resigned?”

Dinah nodded. “I talked with Ted and Alan and the boys. Some of them were blackmailed, too, while some were not. It didn’t matter. Everyone wanted out. We can’t keep fighting crime and propping up a society that treats us this way.”

“I’m sorry.” Selian saw the words of the Second Inaugural Address over Dinah’s shoulder carved into the marble. “I guess there are no better angels of our nature out there anymore.”

Dinah smiled sadly. “I guess not.”

“Well, I suppose Clark and Diana don’t mind working with the Government.”

“Don’t be too sure of that.” At Selina’s raised eyebrow, Dinah added, “They have their reasons.”

Selina snorted. “What reasons would they have to work with blackmailers?”

“Think about it, Kitty.” Dinah stared back up at the chiseled features of Old Abe. “Clark would do well to keep a close eye on the people capable of getting their hands on Kryptonite. If they ever did, they could control him, or worse, capture and experiment on him.” Selina shuddered. “And if he retired, he wouldn’t be able to stop being Superman. He simply wouldn’t be able to help himself, especially with all those powers. He couldn’t just up and leave like Diana can. He grew up in this country with family and friends, whereas Diana’s home is Paradise.”

“Well, she’s got a blond reason for sticking around, doesn’t she?”

Dinah smiled. “With silver wings, but I’m sure she could figure out something. She’s here to bring the Amazon Way to Man’s World, so it’ll take a lot to chase her off. Yet someday she’ll be driven back to the Island.” Dinah gave a salute to the President and swung Selina’s hand back-and-forth. “Let’s ask Diana if we can visit for awhile.”

“Capital idea, Pretty Bird. Paradise is a place where women love women and no one will hate us for it.”

“Hate us? They’ll give us a medal for it!”

Selina laughed and they went down the steps, the cold wind blowing through the marble palace as twilight fell upon the city, its white, gleaming monuments masking the darkness of corruption better than any superhero mask.