being relatively new to the city, she hadn't really had a chance to familiarize herself with the inside of all the abandoned buildings, but this one seemed especially different. like it had a different feel to it than the rest of the city did. she looked around, not catching a glimpse of anyone or anything in her presence.
"hello? i'm awake now, you can come interrogate me or whatever," she called out, head pounding from a blow she had undoubtedly taken when she was snatched off the street. she looked at her clothes, trying to figure out if she was on the job, or on the job when she was taken. jeans, boots and a t-shirt told her she was probably doing neither, but simply running errands. dinah sighed and looked around some more, all while trying to free her hands from the restraints that tied them behind her.
it felt like another hour or two by the time someone had finally come back and she looked up at them. her vision was a little blurry and her mouth dry. there was no way for her to gauge how long she had been there, but she didn't expect to be there much longer.
the person in front of her suddenly became two people when a second body emerged from behind the first. one was tall, definitely male, and held a cane, while the other was a slender, shorter female with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. she tried to focus on their features, wondering if they were people she had come to know in her travels, deranged fans , san francisco's newest villain club...anything.
"isla wilson," the woman spoke, stepping forward. "you're a hard woman to track down. last time i saw you, you lived in boston." this woman spoke like anyone from a second-rate crime syndicate would. she tried to sound calm and confident, but there was a lack of sincerity in her voice.
"usually when i'm being tied up, i go by dinah. it's just a professional courtesy," she grumbled. "who are you? you sound like a shiva wannabe, though i hardly doubt she'd mind." there was a small part of dinah that wanted to be afraid, but there were only two people and they didn't appear to be as threatening as they probably wanted to appear.
"you don't know me, but i know you."
dinah interrupted her, "yeah, that's how the whole superhero thing tends to work," she mused, one manicured eyebrow raised.
the woman hissed at dinah. "shut up, you foul woman. you have no idea why you are here, do you?" when no answer came, she continued. "a year ago, you and your pet assassin broke into our business and kidnapped my sisters. you took everyone but me and he killed the rest, leaving my family in ruins."
"whoa, whoa, whoa. you're grossly oversimplifying this," dinah butted in, still not entirely sure when or where this was. in her line of business, she was always careful about getting women out safely and making sure no one was left behind. they hit cities with higher chances of trafficking and prostitution in order to rescue these girls, but they were clean and efficient, something she was being told she was not. "i don't know who you are, lady, but we didn't kidnap anyone. we save people. we get them out of dangerous situations and give them new lives. what makes you think i did anything other than that?"
the man that had stood several steps away stepped forward, leaning heavily on his cane as he walked. he stopped a few feet ahead of her and signed something.
dinah looked puzzled and over to the woman. "what did he say?" she asked, looking back at him.
"you left him to die after your scream took down a wall," she said. "he was just a security guard and when he pulled a gun, you screamed and left him paralyzed."
there was a long, contemplative silence from dinah. her cheeks were hot, skin reddening. "i remember..." she muttered as she looked up at him. she could feel her eyes wanted to well up with tears, but she blinked them back. "he was going to shoot me," she hissed, looking back at the woman.
"of course, you were kidnapping my sisters and he was guarding the business. it's his duty." the woman circled dinah, shoes scuffing against the floor. "Where did you take them? Why did you take them? What gave you the right?”
Dinah could admit that there were situations that meant not abiding by the law, but she knew these women left willingly. They were being worked for nickels a day, no breaks, no time to live. “They left willingly!” she cried in disbelief. “They wanted to leave, they were miserable. They hated it. You’re being abused and used and all for what? What do you get out of it?”
“Safety. Shelter. What more could you need?”
“I don’t know, a life? Joy? So you had a roof over your head, but what were the conditions like? How many of you fit into a single bed? Or did you all take turns sharing one? I remember what it looked like.”
“Then why did you leave me? Why did you take them and not wait for me?” the woman’s confidence faltered, but isla could see the anger and fear in her eyes. She remained calm, trying her best not to amplify the situation and make it worse by mouthing off to someone who was showing signs of unstable behavior.
“There were only two. You weren’t with them, we could only find two…” she tried to remember back to that night, what the circumstances were and how they would lead her here. The man tapped the girl on the shoulder and she turned around to read his lips.
“He wants to know why you tried to kill him.”
“I didn’t try to kill him,” dinah said, looking up at him. “I was trying to slow you down,” she mouthed slowly. “You weren’t supposed to get hurt.”
A long time ago, she was told that she wouldn’t be able to save everyone. That no matter what, there were people that would become collateral damage no matter how hard she tried. Dinah fought with this for years, not wanting it to become a reality. She wanted to make sure that no matter what happened in the aftermath, she at least tried to save everyone she could. But she wasn’t blessed with superspeed, she couldn’t stop a bus from careening off of a bridge with her bare hands, she was one person with human speed, human sight, and human features that just so happened to have a metahuman power.
“He’s going to be deaf for the rest of his life because of you,” the woman said, snapping dinah out of her tenured stare with the man. “You disfigured him for life. He can’t even provide for his family any more because of what you did that night.”
She was speechless, looking between the both of them. “I’m sorry, but it was an accident.” the words felt weak and insincere coming from her just then. She had never wanted something like this to happen, but now faced with the consequences, she didn’t know what to say. She looked from the man to the woman, facial features hardening. “If that man shot me, my son would have died that night.”
There was another long, calculated pause as the woman thought about this. “That doesn’t give you the right to--”
“No, you’re right. It doesn’t. But he was protecting something that takes women away from their families and puts them through years of trauama, neglect and abuse. He may have thought he was just a security guard, but he was protecting something that should be exploited and you know it. You hated it too, you’re just mad that you didn’t get out when they did.”
There was malice in her voice now, angry at herself, angry at this man, angry at this woman. “You think it’s okay to take my from my child, tie me up and point fingers because i accidentally made a guy go deaf and gave him a bum knee? You clearly have rank. If you’re so bitter that your sisters were taken out of here safely, then why haven’t you just walked out the door and started over elsewhere?”
“It’s not that easy! I can’t just leave whenever i want. They can find me. They can always find me. Just like they can always find my sisters, no matter how well you hide them.” there was shock in her voice, as if she shouldn't have let out that small tidbit of information.
"they're not being hidden, they're just living normal lives. i can take you to meet them if that's what you want, but you need to let them move on from whatever this was. i can take you both and get you out of here, but you need to let me go first." this was the first time dinah had tried to bargain with them. she wanted to remain as nonplussed as she could, so she showed no sign of struggle and no eagerness to leave. "please," she began, full eye contact with the woman. "i have a little boy to go home to."
again, a long pause as the woman walked back to the guard and signed something. he looked over her shoulder and at dinah, who quickly looked down, averting her gaze to the floor.
the man cleared his throat and stepped forward. "you think what you did was heroic, and the right thing to do, but you did not consider the effect it would have. you did not think." he spoke for the first time, which shocked dinah at first, but then she understood. he had only been deaf for a short time, so his speaking ability hadn't suffered.
"i'm sorry, but you're telling me that what i did negatively affected an illegal business and trying to guilt trip me? i don't think so." her words were signed to him by the other woman.
she sighed and looked at them, shoulder slumped as she tried to reason with them. "if you think what i did was wrong, then we're both wrong. what you were guarding, and what you're defending is immoral and inhumane. you both owe it to the other girls to let them go if you think what i did was wrong in any way, but they are safe and happy where they are now." dinah was feeling a little agitated and uncomfortable. she wasn't sure she could talk herself out of this, but she owed it to the man she crippled not to punch her way out of it either. "i can give that to both of you...if you just let me go."
the woman sighed and moved toward dinah, looking like she was ready to hear the voice of reason, but the man stopped her and put his cane up in front of her.
"you have mocked us and talked down to us since you woke up and it is clear that you are not taking this very seriously." he pulled a handgun from the waistband of his pants and held it in front of him shakily. before she could protest, the gun went off.
dinah's chair fell back and she swore she saw her life flash before her now clenched eyes. there was a deafening silence and she breathed heavily, her heart beating in her ears. when she opened one tear-filled eye, she stared up at the pipework above them. he hadn't shot her. he shot the ground and she threw herself backward in shock. several beats went by as she mustered up the energy she needed. with all she had, she flexed and channeled her kryptonian strength to break out of her restraints and get to her feet.
"you are going to pay for that."