Dark Knight, Rising Son, Pt. 2
Continued from part 1
Part 3: The
Dark Knight Awakens
Crais and Kanor
stood in the middle of the large circular room, their eyes anxiously
darting down every few moments at the floor beneath them. Rarely
were individuals allowed to see the upper sections of the Peacekeeper
Tower where Scorpius himself dwelled. The upper quarter of the building
was in fact, mostly empty space, which is exactly what the two men
were looking at beneath their feet.
used to render metal invisible was still relatively new, even among
the Peacekeepers. The image of them standing on a transparent floor,
seemingly floating over one hundred and eighty feet in the air over
a vast interior arboretum that spread out below them was dizzying,
to say the least. The tallest of the trees that were planted in
the contained ecosphere was still at least thirty feet below where
they stood. Crais found the whole scene baffling. It reminded him
of flying above treetop level in a prowler, only here he was merely
standing in midair, glancing at a forest beneath him.
is it not? I find it very relaxing when I need to put my mind at
ease. One can almost imagine themselves as a spirit floating amongst
the heavens, if one actually believed in such things."
the sound of the voice, Crais and Kanor watched the spectral form
of Scorpius enter the chamber. Captain Braca, his personal assistant,
flanking him on his right.
indeed, sir," said Crais. "The view is magnificent up
here. I can see why you have made it your personal dwelling."
his head slightly. "Ah, yes. You are Commissioner Crais? I
must commend you on the quick and efficient job you and your people
did in apprehending the human terrorist. You saved us all the trouble
of worrying about another traitor in our midst."
his head slightly as Scorpius walked past him. "But you, doctor,
you disappoint me very much." He approached Kanor, who was
beginning to shift back and forth uncomfortably. "We came very
close to losing all the precious work that will eventually tip the
balance of power in our favor. Or do I have to remind you of our
conflict with the Scarrans and the Nebari?"
of course not, sir," Kanor said nervously. "But the safeguards
we installed against such potential attacks worked perfectly. They
With his right arm, Scorpius grabbed Kanor by his neck and lifted
him off the clear floor. "We are working against time, Dr.
Kanor. This new weapon we are developing will be operational within
the time that I specified. I will not tolerate any kind of interference!"
Scorpius' voice changed from the light soothing tone he normally
used to the deep-throated growl that evolved from his Scarran half.
for air. He could only make faint gurgling sounds as he looked into
the pale corpselike visage of Scorpius. He was considered an abomination
among Sebaceans, but their leader nonetheless. Tyrant would
have been the better description to them.
Kanor was mere
inches from his face, and he could make out the details of his bloodshot
eyes, the cracked surface of his skin and the rotting stench from
his stained teeth. Kanor managed to gasp out a response as he felt
himself blacking out.
double· our efforts and the· safety pre-precautions·"
his grip. The doctor fell to the floor in a heap, gulping fresh
air into starved lungs.
you do, doctor."
to leave. "Come, captain. We have much to do. Good day, doctor,
and, best of luck with your new assignment, commissioner."
Braca fell in behind the despot, remaining silent throughout the
over to help Kanor up as Scorpius and Braca walked back out the
door. Kanor rubbed his throat and wiped the tears away from his
eyes as he composed himself.
can now see, commissioner," Kanor said through a raspy voice.
We cannot afford mistakes."
"Then we best not make them."
The two men
looked down at the floor once more. The transparency faded, and
it slowly turned solid again, taking away the view of the forest
be an understatement. John stared at the giant video screen, visibly
dumbstruck. "You're who?"
The image on
the screen smiled. "My name is Bruce Wayne. In life I was also
known as Batman. Welcome to the Bat Cave."
Bat Cave? Oh, I don't believe this. You mean you really were real?"
John said. "You weren't just some story my Dad once told me?"
"I was very real, John. I protected Gotham City for many years
against criminals and any that threatened the safety and freedom
of its citizens."
you, wasn't it? You were the one who sent me that message on my
I did. Although the Peacekeepers aren't aware of it, I use their
surveillance systems to watch what goes on in Gotham. I can also
enter their data banks without them knowing. I've spent the last
thirty years studying, replicating and even improving on their technology.
I know what they know, and use it to my advantage."
taking the words at face value, but still trying to absorb what
he had seen so far. "Quite an operation you got here. So, I
guess the $100,000 question is, why did you invite me here?"
I'm charging you with carrying on my work. I want you to be the
John blinked and waited for the next punch line, but Bruce's face
looked absolutely serious. "Me? Why me?"
watched you for a long time now. Our lives are very similar, yours
and mine. We both lost our parents at a very young age to violence.
You have a brilliant mind; you're in excellent physical shape· well,
until you recently began your heavy drinking. But we'll work on
whoa, slow down a minute," John said, slightly irritated. "This
is going too fast. Where are you? Why don't you come out where I
can see you? I feel like I'm talking to Max Headroom."
I can't, John. I know you have a lot of questions, but everything
will be answered soon. In the meantime, I want you to have something
to eat and get some rest. You had a long night, from what I've seen.
There's no need to worry though. The Peacekeepers have been dealt
with. They don't know we're down here. We have safeguards in place
in the event they did find us. And now, ALFRED is bringing you some
Bruce said, as a tall silver robot silently glided into view holding
a tray of steaming food. "ALFRED stands for All-purpose, Free-moving,
Repair/Electronics Darter. I named him after my old butler. He was
a dear friend of mine."
not help but smile as the robot approached. Its head was a smooth
silver sphere with two white lights for eyes and a series of holes
for its mouth. Best of all, it was wearing black coattails- like
a real butler.
morning, Master John," ALFRED said in a synthesized voice.
"I have prepared you some buttermilk pancakes, bacon, a fruit
cup and some orange juice. Please eat while it is still warm. Master
Bruce had a terrible reputation for leaving the meals I made go
his head and sighed. Things could not get any stranger. Complying,
he sat down and quietly ate everything on the tray while ALFRED
waited. He must have been hungrier than he realized. His flight
through the forest had taken a lot out of him. He desperately wanted
to sleep, and the urge was becoming irresistible as ALFRED removed
will show you the living quarters we have down here," Bruce
said. "Once you've rested and cleaned up, we'll talk more."
as Bruce's image faded from the video screen. He got up and followed
ALFRED through a set of sliding doors into an ornately decorated
room filled with the remaining furnishings of the manor above him.
There was a large canopied bed in the corner- and it was practically
calling his name.
up and rest yourself now, Master John," ALFRED said. "It
is well past 8:00 am. You have been up the better part of twenty-four
hours. Master Bruce will converse with you again later. If you need
anything, do not hesitate to pull the cord and summon me."
He indicated the braided gold cord that hung down next to the bed.
"I will make any accommodations to ensure your comfort while
you are here with us."
servant departed, leaving him alone. John sat down on the edge of
the bed, gauging its comfort. Only now, after the long and harrowing
night, did his body relax. There were so many questions, but only
sleep occupied his thoughts now.
where it all begins.
with a start. He had dreamed again of the evil men surrounding him
and his parents, the fear, the flash of light and the look on their
faces as they died and the shadow that covered them.
He lay in the
bed perfectly still, staring up at its canopied ceiling and listened
to the rhythm of his breathing, slowing down as he came out of sleep.
He began to look around at the unfamiliar surroundings. It was not
his apartment, since there were no windows. The furniture that was
present was far too fancy for anything his tastes cared for.
Not his home,
he was still in the Bat Cave.
He sat up and
placed his bare feet down on the elaborate Oriental rug that covered
the hard floor. He reached out and pulled down on the gold cord
to summon ALFRED.
He used the
shower earlier that was adjacent to the bedroom before going to
sleep, washing away hours of dirt and sweat he had accumulated during
his night flight from the Peacekeepers. He then put on the silk
pajamas that ALFRED had laid out for him and slid under soft, clean
sheets. Stretching out his arms, he yawned deeply. He had slept
like the dead, and not just dreamed about them.
manor was a godsend. But finding the Bat Cave underneath its remains
had been an unexpected shock. His mind was still swimming with questions
before he went to sleep and waking up did not change that. The image
of Bruce Wayne had said he called him here to charge him with becoming
the new Batman.
The new Batman·
He still was trying to comprehend that there had even been
in the doorway, with a set of black clothing draped over one of
his mechanical arms. "Good Afternoon, Master John. I have bought
you a clean set of clothes. While I am preparing dinner, Master
Bruce would like to speak with you."
slightly. "Good. I need to talk his ears off about a lot of
things. What time is it, anyway?"
pm, Master John. You slept for quite some time. This is very good,
as it will place you in cycle with the training that Master Bruce
is preparing for you."
this is very impressive, I admit, but it still doesn't answer my
question." John looked back towards the screen at the image
of Bruce, turning away from the black suit with the image of a bat
on its chest that sat behind the lit glass booth.
followed him warily as he walked across the floor to the main console.
"John, when the Peacekeepers came to Earth, we were not prepared
either for their intentions or their superior technology. They defeated
the Earth's forces in a very short time and have been plundering
our resources ever since. They want complete mastery of space, and
there are resources here not found on other worlds to aid them in
that. While I was Batman, I was not prepared to deal with them.
He smiled slightly.
"I consider you a worthy successor. I've watched your life
for a long time. I know you've worked to help the Earth resistance.
I also know you've lost friends and loved ones, and that you are
a moral person, but bitterness is eating away at you. I'm now offering
you the perfect solution to helping your fellow humans."
to make me into a soldier? How many Peacekeepers do you think one
guy can snuff out? They occupy the whole goddamned planet, you know."
understand, John. I will not train you to kill. The Batman does
not kill. He fights to protect life. And he is not a gutter
mouth, either. Please curb your profanity."
sarcastically. Bruce Wayne- the last Boy Scout. The man was just
too noble to be true. "That's great, Bruce. You want me to
just rough them up? Scare them a little? In case you haven't noticed,
they don't play fair, plus they do have all the big guns. Plus,
I'm a little too old for you to be bawling me out for cussing."
narrowed slightly on the screen. "Understood. But, you underestimate
the power of fear, John. Look how fear affects you when you dream
about your parent's death."
up at him, surprised. "How do you know about that?"
I said, I've studied you, to determine if you were worthy. I know
your parents were gunned down in front of you in a dark alley, just
like mine were. In fact, it was the exact same alley. Synchronicity
is strange that way."
also know my father once told me every man gets a chance to be his
before he answered. "Yes."
ask you this," Bruce said. "When they died, how did you
his head. It was difficult for him to think about. Words often failed
to describe that moment. "I felt· hatred. And fear."
Fear is good. But travel lightly. Lose hatred. The Banik slaves
used that as a proverb, before the Peacekeepers killed off most
of them. John, you must not become that which you seek to destroy.
Your actions will not only protect your fellow humans, but you'll
inspire those who see your actions."
one man, Bruce. This is not fighting a few street thugs. This is
an empire operating under the false guise of hired police work.
And they don't ask or give quarter. There will be deaths,
like it or not."
that can and will happen. But the Batman stands as a protector as
well as justice. We're fighting a war, but we want to stem the tide
and prevent the loss of many lives as possible. It's one man that
leads nations, empires; one man who sets the example."
are you in all this, Bruce?" John looked across the expanse
of the cave, hoping to see some curtained booth where Bruce, playing
the great and powerful Oz, would show himself.
this is as good as it gets, John. I died recently."
an eyebrow. He was dead wrong about it not getting any stranger.
was able to download my consciousness into this computer before
I expired. It was a complete sensory download of all my synapses.
I managed to duplicate the technology the Peacekeepers possessed
to accomplish that, as well as the new equipment you'll be using
to fight them, if you accept my offer."
his parents and of DK floated in his mind, as well as the little
girl who cried desperately for the Batman. The dream that haunted
him nightly now had a clarity he had never imagined. He first thought
it was pre-ordained, but this was not fate that beckoned to him.
He felt it on the street after DK was killed. It was serendipity:
a fortunate accident. Either way, he was there now, and he treaded
a path that allowed no turning back, not even if he wanted to.
do this," John said, "It's not for me, it's for all of
Bruce, or his
neural remains at least, did not need John to explain who Îthey'
were. "I wouldn't want you to do it any other way, John."
"All right, then. I accept. Let's do this."
what you just said, but I still don't believe it," Barbara
said, growing irritated at the Peacekeeper guard on the other end
of the phone. "Why didn't anyone tell us he'd been found? Are
you sure it's him?"
The guard made
a grunting sound. "You didn't need to know until we were sure.
And yes, ma'am, it's him."
uncomfortably in her chair. It had been almost a year now, and hardly
any news. And now this·
send him up. I'll let Dr. Kanor know he's here."
up the phone, and sat back down in her chair, scarcely believing
the news. For almost a year he had gone missing. Like DK once was,
John was one of her oldest and dearest friends. Her father had served
with his on the International Space Station before its destruction.
She looked upon him as family, and when he had disappeared·
minutes, she could see a tall figure standing in the doorway out
of the corner of her eye.
to face him. "John?" It was him, in the flesh.
He walked up
to her slowly, letting her take in his familiar features. He flashed
a big smile. She hesitated, and then embraced him. It had been nine
long months, and now she could let herself be relieved. She let
herself cry again in his arms.
really back?" She said, in between weeping. "My God, John,
I don't believe it, we thought you were dead!" She stood back
a moment; still stunned he was alive. He was quite healthy despite
a long disappearance. It was like finding out her father was still
alive after the ISS tragedy. She had been fortunate enough to have
her parents around when she was growing up.
And now, he
was back. There had been a story of a man resembling John that had
assaulted two guards at the Gotham's northern perimeter and escaped
into the country. Peacekeeper Command received a video soon after
that, showing a former terrorist thought dead from four cycles before
who bore a near-identical resemblance to John. This was made more
convincing by the real John Crichton sitting beside him tied up
and held for ransom, with the threat of execution hanging over him.
Footage of him performing manual labor was also sent to the Peacekeepers
to keep them second-guessing. Bruce had woven an elaborate plan
over the past eight months, sending Peacekeeper patrols to abandoned
warehouses, landfills and ramshackle buildings on the city's outskirts
to convince them their top human scientist was a captive of some
fictitious terrorist organization. John listened with delight as
Barbara went over the elaborate ö but false ö details of the story
that he and Bruce masterminded in order to slip John back into the
city without suspicion.
on the phone said you were found two days ago tied up in a warehouse.
Have they been questioning you all this time?"
Barb, I'm all right." John said, reassuring her. It was a necessary
lie, but it had to be convincing, so he could continue on with what
he came back for.
can see, Dr. Crichton." Kanor said, as he entered the office.
"We should have guessed that the survivors of that attempt
at sabotage on us would have tried to kidnap some of our people.
We underestimated their ingenuity." He extended his hand. "It's
good to have you back, John."
the handshake without apprehension. "Thanks, Doctor. I'd like
to get back to work, now that my little ordeal with the terrorists
has ended. I think it would help clear my head."
We look forward to you looking over the work we've done. Without
you, it's been much harder for us."
He did his
best to hide his satisfaction at that revelation. It would have
been the general idea from the start.
will excuse me, I have to attend a meeting with members of Peacekeeper
High Command. I'm sure Dr. Gordon here can bring you up to speed
with everything we've been doing. Good day, Dr. Crichton."
Kanor walked out of the office, giving them a moment alone, to John's
dropped away. "So John, tell me all about it?"
He shook his
head, laughing. "I just spent the past two days telling Peacekeeper
interrogation teams all about it. Let's talk about something else.
Part 4: The
Dark Knight Returns
Night had arrived
early. Fitting, since it was Gotham's natural habitat.
whipped his cape around him in irregular patterns as he stood on
the ledge of the skyscraper, silent and still as the stone gargoyles
that surrounded him on either side. Casting his eyes downward, he
inhaled deeply at the sight of the city streets far below, their
distant lights forming the glowing chasm that spread out before
disappeared for the night. Batman now stood on the ledge of the
building looking over Gotham City- his city.
time you're ready, John." Bruce's voice came to him over
the radio built into his cowl.
his arms out by his sides and held his head back. For an instant
he stood like a crucifix, a living part of the statuary on the décor
of the old building. Leaping forward, he was airborne, free of gravity
and plummeting rapidly downwards between the buildings. The windows
of the buildings streaked past him in a blur of light and shadow,
while the forms on the streets far below were rapidly filling his
field of view. The wind roared over his earpieces as his speed increased
with the descent.
feet above ground zero, he extended out his left arm and fired a
cable from the gauntlet he wore. A thin braided strand of metal
fibers with a small bat-shaped hook shot across his line of sight
and anchored to an old brick building.
were honed to steel tensed as they absorbed the shift from the freefall,
the cable drew tight and it bought his body into a sweeping arc,
swinging fully around the building with perfect precision. As he
reached the end of the arc, the hook released itself and he dived
forward, allowing the momentum to open his cape, its metal armature
inside unfolding into leathery black wings. As the cable retracted
and readied itself to fire again, the wings carried him on the night
breeze like a glider.
John, you did that perfectly. You'll be able to cover a lot more
ground in shorter time this way." Bruce sounded pleased.
the process with the cable and the wings and traveled across the
breadth of Gotham's midtown in only minutes. The progression seemed
so much easier now than it had when he first began training with
Bruce. The darkness concealed him from anyone looking upwards and
the design of the suit made him invisible to conventional scanning.
He sailed far above the streets, free of the Peacekeeper's yoke.
There only remained the need to test him on the streets below before
he felt totally confident in his new role.
cut to the chase, Bruce," John said. He cleared his throat
to hide his nervousness. "So, am I supposed to do my bat impression
all night, or have you actually found anything for me to do out
John. It can happen anytime." There was a pause. "Swing
over to 28th and Metro, there's a Peacekeeper patrol
bothering a woman and her child."
out the cable again and swung towards the far end of Gotham's business
section. Using the night vision optics built into the cowl, he could
easily spot anything moving on the ground-especially Peacekeepers.
The woman and
her young daughter were returning from a store when they encountered
the patrol. There were five of them, and considering their behavior,
patrolling was the last thing on their minds. She held her groceries
and her daughter tight against her trembling form.
to say you human females are quite nice for a primitive species.
Enough raslak in me, and I wouldn't know the difference between
you or Sebacean." The dark-haired Peacekeeper leered over the
woman's lean body.
us alone, we didn't do anything." The woman pleaded.
girl! Be nice. We won't bite, not much anyway." The soldier
grabbed the woman by her blouse and knocked her groceries out of
her bag. Her child was screaming at the laughing detail of Peacekeepers.
my mommy alone!"
A large bald
male carrying a heavy pulse rifle laughed hard. "I don't think
she likes you, Torq. I guess she should join the crowd, eh?"
you, Dex. Hey, Zamia, shut the brat up, will you? She's too loud."
"You shut her up, Torq. This was your idea." The female
Peacekeeper had no interest in harassing the helpless human; she
could get sex anytime, preferably from males. The remaining two
members of their patrol, standing behind her, did nothing but watch
on in amusement.
fire, girl." Torq said. "I like that. I haven't recreated
in awhile, so be good and you'll even get a treat for your daughter
touch her!" The little girl kicked the soldier in the knee
while his companions laughed.
get away!" Her mother cried out. "Run!"
bitch! Torq swung his free arm hard, striking the little girl across
her face. She let out a cry as she fell to the ground.
Her mother cried.
her," Torq said. "Now, where was I?"
the woman and proceeded to tear open her blouse. She looked up into
the air, not willing to look in the soldier's eyes or watch his
hand groping her. She would not give him the satisfaction. As she
did, her eyes widened at the sight she saw bearing down on them.
A dark blur
swung past Zamia and Dex, seizing Torq and pulling him into the
air above the single streetlight the group stood under.
was that?" Zamia exclaimed. "Torq, where are you?"
out and a loud crack was heard just before he struck the
pavement hard behind the other soldiers, the impact knocking him
out!" Dex shouted. "We're under attack!"
could respond, a cloaked figure landed between them and the woman,
who reached for her injured child. He was dressed head to toe in
black, with a dark cape covering him and a bright yellow oval in
the center of his chest. The silhouetted design of a bat covered
it. A cowl covered the man's head that hid most of his face, but
he was definitely a man- large powerful, and spoiling for a fight.
made a fatal mistake, whoever you are," Dex growled. "Cut
him down, now!"
their pulse rifles to fire. The man in black produced a boomerang-like
weapon and hurled it at the soldiers in front of him. The batarang
struck across the heads of the other two nameless soldiers, staggering
them and sending them crashing against Zamia and Dex.
The man was
upon them before they could recover, fists striking against jaws
with lightning speed. Only Dex was able to block some of the blows,
but he was no match for the man. A single uppercut to Dex's chin
finished the fight quickly.
The man turned
at the woman's voice to see Zamia getting back up, pulse pistol
out of her holster and ready to fire. He would not reach her before
He did not
need to. Raising his right arm, he activated the other gauntlet
he wore. A concussion burst, derived from Tavlek technology, fired
and struck the female Peacekeeper like a battering ram. Zamia's
feet left the ground, striking the lamppost, the wind knocked out
of her. The whole battle lasted all of thirty seconds.
The man walked
over to the woman and her child, kneeling down to check her injury.
Her mother looked up at him, gratitude pooled in her eyes, despite
all the tears.
"She'll be fine. It was just a glancing blow. She should be
up and about in no time. The walk home will be safe. I'll see to
up. Her eyes squinted under the light, focusing on the stranger.
He spoke in a low, gravelly voice. She saw a hooded face and a bat
symbol. Her eyes widened. She recognized him instantly. He was not
a dream, he was not a children's fable- it was really him.
"Yes, it's me. There's no need to be afraid." He stroked
her soft cheek lightly. "You're a brave little girl, to stand
up to them like that." He gently helped her to her feet.
your name?" He said to the girl's mother.
And this is Caitlin."
of you will walk these streets again safely, and without fear. I
promise you that." He turned and disappeared into the shadows.
up the groceries with her daughter's help, and they quickly walked
away from the unconscious soldiers lying in the shadows.
you, mommy." Caitlin said. "I told you Batman would come
back someday and save us!"
"Yes, he did, sweetheart. I hope he'll save all of us."
She looked up at the night sky. It was clear and the stars were
out. For the first time, she felt safe.
instructions, John swung across town several times during the night
to potential trouble spots that were detected. He knocked out a
drunken pair of off-duty Peacekeepers harassing an old woman for
her money. A Marauder that was being repaired in a hangar near the
Gotham airfield went up in flames. He attacked several foot patrols
in the residential areas and disabled three armored vehicles that
were on patrol as well. He also took down a half a dozen human criminals
lurking the streets and alleys attacking victims for a wallet or
purse to steal.
John said as he swung from a water tower for the fourth time in
one night. "How am I doing?"
doing very well, John," his voice came in, sounding scratchy
through the static in the radio. "Although I don't remember
us discussing destroying any Peacekeeper military equipment just
Bruce. I have a plan of my own. That was their wake-up call. It'll
give them something to ponder while we make ourselves known."
John. But I would have preferred to start out small, and work our
way towards that. We don't want to jeopardize all that we have worked
big, even though Bruce could not see it. "Bruce, you ain't
seen nothing yet."
over the report a second time while Lt. Teeg stood in front of his
desk, fidgeting. She never got used to the long silences that occurred
when he read bad news. She had served with him on assignment before,
but was never sure how he would respond. It made him unpredictable.
To her, that was worse than knowing for certain.
sure of all this?" Crais said, finally looking up at her.
reports have been streaming in the past few weekens. And they have
come from both on and off duty soldiers, as well as some civilians.
They all reported the same thing."
is a man in a cape, carrying an arsenal of unfamiliar weapons, and
armed with superior fighting skills, who has been attacking Peacekeeper
patrols around Gotham City and preventing robberies and attacks
on human civilians?" Crais grunted, putting the report down.
"It sounds like another one of the human's Îurban legends'
that I keep hearing so much about."
"I understand your doubts, sir. But this Îurban legend' has
also been responsible for the destruction of several of our Prowlers,
Marauders and armored vehicles that patrol the cities. He's also
been sabotaging supply convoys meant for off-world transport and
giving some of the supplies to the locals."
suppose every one of them have also reported this- what did they
call him?" Crais looked at the report again, "Bat-man?"
they did. The descriptions were exact, right down to the pointed
ears on his headpiece."
How could she
explain to him that the man dressed in a rough representation of
a flying rodent? "Well, there are elements on his costume that
are meant to resemble·"
He did not need a description. "And the equipment that was
destroyed, how soon can replacements be brought in?"
know sir, due to the vast distance from Earth to the nearest Peacekeeper
controlled territories, it could take almost half a cycle just to
yes, I understand." He waved his hand, becoming irritated.
"In other words, it will take too long. There are already shipments
of quartz and indigenous plants that have been lost to this terrorist.
Do you know any other world we can obtain these at?"
She shook her
head, unable to offer any alternatives.
Then who ever
this Batman is, we need to stop his little reign of terror before
it reaches the attention of Scorpius himself."
up the report chip and placed it back into her pocket. "What
are your orders, sir?"
Officer Chatto and Officer Sun to report here within a half an arn.
Tell them I have a classified mission I need them to perform."
he added, "I want immediate results."
Part 5: The
Sun Also Rises
you see it yet?"
the optics in his cowl. The night vision settings turned the images
of the warehouse and the vehicle pulling in to it into a sharp outline
of green and gray. The increase in magnification bought the vehicle
into clearer view.
it, Bruce." He paused for a moment. "Shall we?"
all means, proceed."
John had planned
the operation for a week and waited hours for the supply truck to
arrive. It was part of a supply shipment of magnetic coils to the
Peacekeeper Tower for the secret weapons projects that they had
been working on for so long. He had explained to Bruce the importance
of slowing down the progress of the program and convinced him this
mission took highest priority. Now it was only a matter of taking
down the skeleton crew that were standing in the florescent light
of the warehouse doors and stealing it away, back to the Bat Cave.
from the roof across the warehouse parking lot, two quick kicks
to their jaws easily stunned the first two guards while the rest
succumbed to a smoke grenade projecting sleep gas. Walking victoriously
to the truck, he pulled open the loose flap in the back to inspect
There was nothing.
The back of the truck was empty.
under his breath. "Bruce, I think we've been had."
out of there, John." Bruce said, growing alarmed. "It's
Before he could
respond, the lights all over the parking lot lit up simultaneously,
bathing the warehouse in a brilliant illumination. Unprepared, he
raised his arm to cover his eyes against the sudden blinding light.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could make out a pair of figures,
descending the wall to his right.
renegade!" A female voice shouted. "You are under arrest!
Surrender now or we will apprehend you by force!"
by force," a second female voice said.
his arm, defiantly glaring at the two women. They were both dressed
in black, with goggles over their eyes. They were Peacekeeper hunters.
Both were holding a combination pulse rifle/crossbow weapon.
Bruce, time for Plan B." John muttered.
in his cowl instantly came down, blocking the glare of the light.
He raised his fists and put his foot forward in defiance.
it your way," The raven-haired huntress said. She raised her
weapon to fire the net projectile that was already loaded.
As the projectile
fired, a three-foot beam of red light flashed to life on John's
gauntlet. With a flashing arc, the expanding net that opened up
before him was sliced in half and fell harmlessly to either side
of him. The blade made from laser light was based upon the little
known Scarran technology stolen from the Peacekeeper databanks.
Bruce and he had been very resourceful when designing the Batman's
While the raven-haired
woman's jaw dropped from surprise, the lighter-haired huntress charged
forward to attack. She was faster than him, and more experienced
in hand-to-hand combat. Her legs and arms were powerful. She delivered
a series of kicks and blows that could cripple a normal man. He
blocked several of them and let his armor absorb the rest. After
spending a year of training under the greatest unarmed combatant
the world had known, he was not about to yield for a second.
arm from an attempted pantak jab, he flipped her and she struck
the ground flat on her back, the air jolted right out of her. Fortunately,
the Peacekeepers never bothered to learn judo during their long
occupation. No sooner than he did, the other huntress joined the
fight. She was as skilled as the first one, but John matched her
blow for blow.
Her face seemed
familiar. It was her smooth fair skin and long black tresses that
jarred his memory. Then he remembered. She was the one that had
apprehended DK the day he was shot dead. The other one had been
flooded over him, pain turned defiance into rage.
her head slightly; unsure of what he implied.
in, picked her up off the ground, and threw her into the first huntress
who was standing back up, knocking them both down.
heat grenade from his belt, he tossed it between the women as they
struggled to get up. The brilliant burst of heat it emitted used
a combination of temperatures to render a Sebacean unconscious,
as they lacked the gland necessary to regulate temperature increases.
It was only
halfway successful. Walking away, he expected to hear nothing. Instead,
he heard one of them getting back up. Turning around, the raven-haired
huntress was recovering and reaching for her crossbow/rifle. Why
had she not passed out from the heat burst? There was no time to
ponder the answer; he quickly dodged a volley of energy bursts from
came back in over the sounds of pulse fire. "John, get to
the rooftops. I've detected Peacekeeper reinforcements arriving
within a few minutes."
the cable and let the micro motor in the gauntlet pull him up above
the rooftops just as the sirens of armored vehicles became audible
in the distance. There would be too many for him to deal with. Concentrating
on escape was now his first priority. While he did, he failed to
notice the huntress trailing him, swinging from a cable of her own.
was bad, Bruce." he said, opening his wings to glide over a
dilapidated brick building with an old furniture sign mounted on
top. "Got too overconfident. I almost blew that one."
it a life lesson. You reacted well, so learn from your mistakes.
Now, look sharp, you're being followed by that one huntress."
He craned his
neck to catch a glimpse. "That's the same one that was there
when DK was killed. Why wasn't she affected by the heat grenade?"
worry about that later," Bruce said. "You have
to stop her before she signals the other Peacekeeper units and get
a fix on our position."
just the thing."
the right, John swung across several blocks until he reached a dimly
lit block where tall buildings on either side formed a canyon of
concrete and steel. He selected a square building that served as
a bank and swung towards its right side.
As he swung
behind the building, he checked to see if she was still in pursuit.
She was there, and gaining quickly. Whoever she was, she was good
at what she did.
into an arc, John used his wings to brake in midair, and quickly
reversed his direction. If he timed this right, he would take her
down as she swung past.
The wind rushed
against his face as he dived downward to his approaching target.
Just as planned, she came around the corner of the building in a
graceful sweep, completely surprised and unable to change her forward
momentum. The goggles hid her eyes bulging out with surprise as
he struck her in midair, knocking the wind right out of her.
he glided down to a nearby rooftop and laid her down on the ground,
his hand still holding the collar of her outfit in a tight grip.
He yanked the goggles off her face, and stared into a pair of scowling
you?" He demanded.
at him hard. "Officer Aeryn Sun, Retrieval Hunter, Peacekeeper
Law Enforcement Liaison. I was sent to capture you."
in disgust. "I'm sure you know now that's not going to happen.
Your trap failed, and your partner is unconscious back there. Now,
you can tell Scorpius for me that the Peacekeeper's hold on this
world will end soon."
She sneered. "What makes you think you can beat us? You're
only one man; we're an army fighting for a glorious cause."
I." He pulled out a small container of sleep gas, and sprayed
it in her face. He held her tight as she struggled against until
work, John." Bruce said. "Now, return to the Bat
Cave. We need to talk."
He looked back
at her sleeping form one last time as he swung away, the sound of
sirens wailing far below him. She would recover soon, but would
have a nasty hangover as a result of the gas.
in mid air had brushed her hair and skin against his face. It smelled
of vanilla. He could still taste her in his mouth as he traveled
back to the Bat Cave.
Her head was pounding from whatever the renegade had sprayed in
her face. Sirens wailed and the shapes of Marauders hovered overhead
in the sky, their searchlights scanning the area, trying to locate
the Batman. He was long gone, of that she was certain, as she struggled
to get up.
landed on the roof and walked gracefully as a panther towards her
despite her earlier defeat at the hands of the Batman. Pride forbade
her from showing any sign of weakness. Aeryn made no move to approach;
she was the worse for wear of the two of them.
Jenavian said, scanning the rooftop, looking for any traces of his
has escaped," Aeryn said. "He was far stronger and smarter
than we had estimated."
it's time to change our tactics."
not be happy with them failing to capture him, but he was right.
Not only was he formidable, but he also became their hunter that
night. Words failed to describe him and his peculiar outfit. He
was a superb combatant- and handsome, too.
She shook her
head, embarrassed, not even able to imagine why that came into her
up at the image. It was Aeryn Sun, the Peacekeeper hunter he had
encountered earlier in the evening. Bruce could access high-level
files in the Peacekeeper's computer network, with satisfying results.
John concentrated on the matter at hand, trying his best to hide
any interest that was more than casual. Since laying eyes on her,
he could not get her out of his mind.
he said, answering Bruce's query. "She's the one I tangoed
with tonight. Said she was sent to capture me. You know anything
born into service with the Peacekeepers. She started out as infantry,
but she's been a hunter with Peacekeeper Law Enforcement in Gotham
for about three years now. She has Decca seven, high-level security
clearance for her file, which is unusual for someone in her position.
There's a part that I'm having difficulty accessing. I'll have to
work on the decoding."
it has something to do with her resistance to the heat grenade earlier
tonight," John added. "There is something that is really
Îoff' about her from the other PKs."
Bruce replied. "Still, there is something about her that seems
But I can't quite place it yet."
"See what you can find out about her. It might be significant."
of which," Bruce interrupted. "You still haven't given
me clear details on what that shipment was meant for. I know the
Peacekeepers are working on weapons projects at the tower, but to
what purpose? Even I can't access that part of their network."
the dark about it as much as you are, Bruce. They assign us to certain
parts of an entire project, and never let us see it as a whole.
They get their results that way, without giving out too much information
about what it is they're doing. It's been a big disadvantage to
information gathering in the Earth resistance movement."
much I can tell you," he added. "I heard a rumor it's
supposed to have something to do about shortening the gap between
Earth and their home systems. Maybe they're developing a new type
of hetch drive. So, maybe this Aeryn Sun knows something. If we
can win her to our side·"
that thought." Bruce looked at him hard. "John, I know
where you're going with this, it's as plain as day on your face.
You don't want to get involved at a private level with someone like
her. Personal indulgences will interfere with your ability to fight."
John had heard
the sermon before from Bruce, and hated hearing it every single
time. He had trained hard for the past year, committing himself
to being the new Batman. But even with Bruce and ALFRED around,
it was a hard, solitary existence. Worse than that, it was just
plain lonely. He had not been in a relationship since Alex was taken
away to Arkham Asylum. He placed the blame on his shoulders for
not trying harder to save her, but like DK; she would never allow
him to jeopardize himself to the cause.
He would never
again allow anyone else to sacrifice themselves for him- not even
a beautiful Peacekeeper. Who even knew if she could be won over
to his side? It was a dangerous gamble. Still, he was only human·
coffee, Master John?"
He turned to
see ALFRED holding a cup and saucer and a silver pot. He lifted
the cup to his lips, grateful for a temporary distraction. He walked
back to his quarters while Bruce's image faded from the view screen,
preoccupied with decoding.
I can appreciate the complications in combating an army of resistance
fighters, Commissioner Crais, I find the amount of time and equipment
lost in trying to capture a man who dresses like a flying rodent
native to this planet rather taxing on my patience."
but remained stoic. The holo-image of Scorpius that flickered in
front of him was the same size as the real thing, and no less intimidating.
Scorpius' presence was enough to scare anyone, even from long distance.
Lieutenant Teeg stood off to the side, watching the conversation,
equally afraid to interject.
respect, sir, this ÎBatman' is no mere resistance insurgent. He
has abilities and resources that are like nothing we've seen amongst
the human fighters. Our intelligence agents have been gathering
as much information on him as we can find from thirty of their Earth
an eyebrow at the commissioner's remarks. "It's somewhat
strange that there would be a gap of thirty cycles before this vigilante
reappears. Crais, what do you know about the human life span?"
for a moment. "I know a few things. Mostly that they only live
about half as long as Sebaceans. They are more prone to disease
I believe common sense would dictate that this Batman is most definitely
not the Batman of the past. More than likely, he is one of the resistance
fighters who has taken up the mantle to rally the humans for an
uprising. A rather poor attempt at comedy on their part, I should
definitely not the original, sir," Crais said. "So far,
patrols have seen examples of Tavlek and Scarran technology integrated
into his armor, and he has used it with devastating results."
uses weapons we have never encountered before. He has something
called a batarang."
Scorpius raised his hand, part of its holo-image passed through
Crais, causing him to flinch. "Whoever he is, he has gained
access to secured files that are not available to the general public.
This would suggest that he either has contacts within the very center
of our command structure, or that he is working among us without
was a human named John Crichton who had disappeared almost a cycle
ago, sir," said Lieutenant Teeg, finding the courage to speak
up. "He had been kidnapped by terrorists and was missing for
almost a full cycle."
so he says," Scorpius added. "Let him be your starting
point, commissioner. Find out what you can."
leaned forward slightly. "And Crais," he continued.
"Do not make me do any more of your detective work for you."
The image of Scorpius faded away.
a sigh of relief. The meeting went better than he had predicted.
With the Maelstrom project nearing completion, Scorpius' normally
considerable patience had been wavering. He least the real Scorpius
had not been present. He could just imagine a hand around his throat,
squeezing on his windpipe.
might I suggest subterfuge?" Teeg said.
an eyebrow, confused. "What do you mean?"
know, sir, Peacekeeper High Command is arranging their annual banquet
for the Sebacean and human personnel, as a way to keep relations
stable, and to ease any concerns about the recent terrorist attempts
on us. We can plant our people among the humans, especially Crichton,
to keep an eye on his movements."
practical," Crais said, "and an excellent idea."
He walked behind his desk and pushed a comm button. "Huntress
Chatto, are you there?"
A silky voice
responded. "I'm here sir. Your orders?"
Officer Sun. I believe it's time for the change in tactics we discussed
was encouraged for the banquets the Peacekeepers held for their
employees in the tower. Blue jeans and halter-tops were not haut
couture among Sebaceans, it seemed. For a conquering military
race, they were rather fussy about formalities. Humans mingled,
resplendent in tuxedos and evening gowns while most of the Sebaceans
wore their black leather uniforms. The dining hall was decked out
with all the regalia the Peacekeepers used for festivities. Long
red, white and black banners with the piercing wedge adorned the
walls on both sides of the hall, while the dining tables were draped
in linens and laid out with the finest porcelain, silver and crystal.
The center of the hall was reserved for dancing, while strains of
Mozart from the small orchestra filled the room.
the hall with Barbara hooked to his arm. He hated Peacekeeper parties,
but obliged them to avoid any suspicion. Looking around, he found
the décor ironic. The long red banners with the wedge symbol
screamed ÎThird Reich' in any language. The musicians at the end
of the hall were performing a movement from The Magic Flute.
At least they had good taste in music, he thought. He adjusted his
bowtie, while Barbara looked up at him with a smile.
handsome," she said.
ask," he responded coyly.
Her television references rivaled his any day. "I think you
should save that for Lowell in the electronics lab. I hear he has
his eye on you."
her eyes. "There's too much damned office gossip circulating
again. He helps me with filing on his break, and we met at the water
cooler a few times."
see, just a few?"
twenty times in the last week," she said, trying to suppress
a smirk. "What's your point?"
is in the air," John said tauntingly.
A young man
with curly blonde hair and a well-tailored tux appeared among the
throngs of mingling people. He flashed a big smile at Barbara.
I go," Barbara said.
kissed him on the cheek and disappeared with Lowell into the crowd.
John scanned the room looking for other faces as Kanor and Crais
you could make it, John," Kanor said with a smile. I understand
the chicken they are serving tonight is delicious."
at him with mild surprise. "I didn't know you liked Earth food,
on you after awhile." There is so much variety, although, I
do prefer eating it when it's a little cooler. I can't imagine why
you humans eat your food so hot. Can I interest in you in a drink?"
you, but no," he said, shaking his head. "I quit Cold
baffled- for once. "What does a native bird have to do with
much variety indeed, Dr. Crichton," Crais interjected. "In
the short time I've been here, I've been very impressed with your
world. Earth seems to be a jewel in the crown among planets. I can
see why my fellow Peacekeepers have such a vested interest in it."
some humans would call it more then a vested interest, commissioner."
but rest assured, all will benefit once our common goals are met
in the end. And even the Batman, with all the havoc he has wrought,
will not stop it."
unfazed. "How is that?"
woman approached the three of them before he received an answer.
"Really, commissioner, let's not bore each other to death talking
politics this evening. This is a time to have fun." She looked
at John hungrily. "And who is this handsome creature?"
this is Dr. John Crichton," Crais said. "Dr. Crichton,
"Do you dance, Dr. Crichton?"
sheepishly. "I've been known to, once in a while."
doctor," said another female's voice. "Shall we?"
A dark haired woman walked by, quickly taking John's hand and pulling
him away from a surprised Jenavian. The look of shock on her face
as she watched them disappear into the crowd, followed by her pouting
expression, complete with both hands on her hips, made Crais break
out in laughter.
would be Aeryn Sun, Dr. Crichton," he called out to him between
On the dance
floor, the woman turned to face him so he could finally see who
snatched him away from the others. It was her. Raven tresses, full
lips, and skin like milk. She looked at him with deep blue-gray
eyes. And they were no longer scowling, either.
Sun," he whispered.
seductively. "So nice to meet you, John Crichton."
He tried to
avoid glancing down at her gown, since he wanted to be a gentleman.
Subtlety was not a word she used for fashion- she was literally
dressed to kill. The sheer black gown was slit at the thighs, and
partially transparent. As he spun her around during their dance,
he could see clearly she wore nothing underneath, save the dark
stockings that covered her thighs. There was a sheath wrapped around
her right thigh- probably hiding a blade. He could again detect
the delicate scent of vanilla. Her hair was a foaming mass of wavy
curls, a drastic change from the tight braided ponytail she wore
the other night. She was intoxicating, and he had not even had a
drop of alcohol in a year, he thought with a smile.
slowly and intimately on the floor with the other partygoers. Her
fingers carefully explored around his back, arms and chest, delicately
testing the muscle underneath his clothing. For a scientist, he
was strongly built, as the firmness of his muscles would attest.
It was a surprising disclosure; the man was no weakling.
And he was
handsome, too. His jaw line was strong and smooth. In fact, she
was sure it was an exact match with the Batmans. The face, though
partially covered, remained clearly etched in her mind.
well," Aeryn said.
you," he replied. "It's a shame there aren't more parties
like this. It gives everyone the chance to know each other a little
bit better, doesn't it?"
She had a wide,
brilliant smile that lit up her face. They danced for a while, oblivious
to the other dancers, casually asking the other questions, trying
not to reveal too much personal information. Neither revealed the
others secrets, nor would admit they were enjoying the process of
me, John Crichton," she said. "Have you ever been with
a Sebacean woman?"
that's pretty forward of you." John said, taken aback by the
question. "Are all of you this fearless?"
"Pretty much, but some of us are a little more selective than
to romance a woman a bit before we try to get horizontal. You know,
dinner and a movie, meet the folks, etc."
She laughed, teasingly. "You humans have such brief lives.
Why would you not enjoy the pleasures that are offered you at every
about it a moment before answering. "If you live your life
right the first time, the length isn't important. Life always ends,
that's what gives it value while you live."
said. And what do plan to do with your life?"
for a just cause, of course."
They both froze.
Aeryn's eyes widened slightly. All too similar words were exchanged
the other night. He did his best to act natural, despite fighting
off the urge to slap himself for practically giving himself away.
she said, trying to be casual. "I've had enough dancing. Let's
get a drink, shall we?"
John took her
arm. "All right, but its just ginger ale for me."
Part 6: Revelations
Time had little
relevance to Bruce as his consciousness drifted through cyberspace,
his mind plotting channels and routes through the countless streams
of electronic information. He processed codes and equations at the
speed of thought, breaking down programmed barriers the Peacekeepers
had created to block out hackers. Here, he was a neuromancer,
a master of the pure data stream. There was no access code he could
not break through, regardless of size or time.
file became a new challenge for him. It was surprising that a hunter
for Peacekeeper Law Enforcement would have such a high security
level. Whatever was in her files would be interesting reading to
both him and John.
If Bruce still
had a physical body, he would be shaking his head with a mixture
of amusement and scorn. John had made it quite clear he was taken
with the Peacekeeper female. The worst thing he could do was to
get personally involved with someone like her. While he had been
Batman many years ago, he had occasionally tried to have a relationship,
each one with disastrous results. The burden of being Batman meant
a cause that was fought alone, without personal relationships. It
was necessary to keep focused on the success of the crusade. After
all, John only just started being the new Batman.
John Crichton was not Bruce Wayne, either.
The final barriers
of code fell away as Bruce navigated through the bit stream into
the files of Aeryn Sun. It took him but a moment to absorb the data.
His heart, were there still one beating in his chest, would have
defibrillated at what he saw.
Aeryn as soon as she stepped into the corridor. Jenavian snatched
her by the arm and slammed her against the wall.
you ever frelling do that to me again!" She frowned at her
errant partner. "You embarrassed me right in front of the commissioner!"
gathering information from him," Aeryn answered, unruffled.
"Besides, I was the one he seemed interested in."
gave him the choice, now did you? If I didn't know better, I'd think
you were trying to do a run-around on me to get a promotion."
A metallic flash shot out of Jenavian's wrist, and the stiletto
that she kept concealed under the skin of her forearm was quickly
pressing against Aeryn's neck. "At least, I assume that's the
case, unless you just suddenly had an urge to start slumming with
not daring to unsheathe the dagger she kept strapped to her thigh.
Before Jenavian was a hunter, she had worked with the Peacekeeper
Special Directorate as a disruptor. She kept all her deadly skills
honed, in addition to retaining the tool of her trade. The stiletto
pressed hard, and it began to feel like it was drawing blood.
to find the target," Aeryn said, as calmly as she could, "and
bring him in," she added. "I was the one he tackled and
knocked out with sleep gas."
the one he stunned with a heat grenade. Don't think you've got more
of a claim to the target than I do or that I don't see what you're
trying to do to my position-"
is enough, Huntress Chatto." Crais walked around the corner,
not pleased at the scene that was unfolding before him. "You
will desist now, or suffer disciplinary action."
and slowly pulled back the stiletto, its length disappearing back
into her wrist. "My apologies, Officer Sun," she said
Sun, what have you learned?" Crais asked her, ignoring the
scene that preceded his arrival.
I'm convinced he could be the Batman," Aeryn said without emotion.
"He is in superb physical condition. Also, I saw the lower
part of the Batman's face the other night, and Dr. Crichton's face
is very similar. However, I think we still need to look further."
"What? You didn't take him back to his place and frell him
senseless? You could have found more information."
But he said he couldn't at the moment. So, I respected his wishes."
Aeryn looked away from Crais and Jenavian. Rejection seemed very
embarrassing now that she decided to mention it.
dear, to be so rejected like that. If it had been me, of course,
that wouldn't have happened."
you're a natural born tralk?" Aeryn asked mockingly.
enough, Huntress Sun," Crais warned.
Jenavian added. "This Crichton disappeared for almost a cycle.
He was probably spending that time training to fight."
Crais said. "But there are videos of him being held captive
by a terrorist group at the time. Maybe there are things on the
videos we haven't picked up on." Crais placed the security
card into a lock, opening the door to his office. "Both of
you come into my office, we need to draw up some plans for our next
Crais walk into his office. Jenavian stared back at her, standing
by the doorway, not yet entering.
you, Officer Sun," Jenavian said.
A young man's
image covered one side of the Bat Computer's screen, while personal
information scrolled down the other side in Sebacean script. The
image switched back and forth with the photo and data of a young
female, with long blonde hair and full lips. John walked up to the
screen for a better look. The woman's name was Gilina- Aeryn Sun's
man?" John asked, not bothering to look at Bruce's image appearing
on a monitor to his right.
was Dick Grayson. He was my ward for several years, after his parents
were killed. Shortly after the Peacekeeper invasion, I had lost
touch with him. He decided at my insistence to go back into the
world and try to live a normal life after Earth formally surrendered,
and to try and make some difference in encouraging fellow humans
to continue resisting."
been Robin." John indicated to the red and green uniform preserved
in one of the glass booths.
Bruce said sadly. "And later, he became Nightwing. He's also
Aeryn Sun's father. Well, he was·"
his head, already knowing what he was going to say next. "They
killed him, didn't they?"
and Gilina Renaez, the Peacekeeper tech. She was declared irreversibly
contaminated. She had dared to bend the rules and love a non-Sebacean."
get it Bruce," John said, confused. "How can Aeryn be
in the position she's in with the Peacekeepers? This information
is telling us she's half human, and the Peacekeepers despise half-breeds."
the data I gathered, she was part of a eugenics experiment the Peacekeepers
conducted shortly after arriving here. Some of their scientists
decided humans were merely an offshoot of the Sebaceans, and wanted
to see if mixing the species could breed a tougher, hardier Peacekeeper."
The images on the viewscreen shifted to a raven-haired child of
no more than five years old. "They wanted to see if children
born of human/Sebacean couplings would have offspring with the gland
that regulates heat."
would explain why the heat grenade didn't work on her," John
said, growing annoyed. "This is unbelievable. She's part human,
and she's a hunter for the Peacekeepers. I guess they decided to
be a little more open about whom they recruit, or is it something
down at John, apprehension marked on his digitally created features.
it's something else."
deeply. "Oh. She doesn't know, does she?"
To be continued·
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